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PENTEX: Research & Inspiration Company by Company

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  • PENTEX: Research & Inspiration Company by Company

    So, because it came up in another thread, I thought it might be useful to start a thread looking at the various PENTEX subsidiaries and offering up various fictional and non-fictional sources of information and inspiration about each one. That being the history of those industries, interesting events or scandals, corporate cultures, various criticisms (legitimate or otherwise) of the business, and any fictional works that give ideas for potential plot hooks or horrors for the Garou to stumble upon and fight.

    If anyone has any suggestions that I missed, I will gladly add them to each company's listing. Thank you in advance.

    I figure I'll start with the Wikipedia article on Holding Companies, which is what PENTEX is supposed to be, and people can chase links from there to their heart's content.

    Added: As far as corporate culture goes, PENTEX was heavily influenced by the original Robocop (1987) and it's sequel Robocop 2 (1990). (The second one is not as good as the first one, but does continue the wonderful examples of corporate backstabbing and throwing people under the bus.) Also, Michael Crichton's Rising Sun and Disclosure. (The film versions of these are OK, but the books get more in to corporate culture and its pitfalls.)

    More Added: As mentioned by Crowley, the current series Mister Robot also offers up some potential PENTEX ideas.

    ENDRON INTERNATIONAL (Oil, Petroleum and other forms of Energy)

    So, they're the original seed of the whole thing. Hence, it's probably a good idea to understand the history of the petroleum business. For that, I offer up Daniel Yergin's The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power, a look at the oil industry up until 1990, and it's follow up, The Quest: Energy, Security and the Remaking of the Modern World, which game out in 2011. Also, Upton Sinclair's classic Oil!, which was one of the inspirations for the movie There Will Be Blood (2007). And, of course, no book about the energy industry would be complete without Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind's The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron (which also has a film version). I haven't seen Deepwater Horizon (2016) yet, so can't comment on it.

    Fiction-wise, the X-Files did a long running thread about an alien virus that thrived in earth's underground petroleum supply, which tied into a number of other business-related conspiracy angles.

    More Added: I've not read Adam Baker's Outpost, about the small crew of an Arctic Ocean oil rig during a global pandemic (and possible zombie apocalypse), but it does get good word of mouth from people I usually find trustworthy. I suspect one can get at least a few ideas about Endron workers going stir crazy or Garou trying to take over an oil platform out of it.

    China Mieville wrote a short story, Covenhithe, as something for The Guardian's anniversary coverage of Deepwater Horizon. I won't spoil it, but it's weird in the way that Mieville's stories usually are, and would make a rather odd chronicle idea.

    Quantum of Solace (2008) involves some oil industry shenanigans, but mostly as part of a larger unrelated conspiracy.

    Ida Tarbell's The History of Standard Oil is a period classic that shaped the way pretty much everyone remembered John D. Rockefeller and his rise to power.

    Knowledge Hub on YouTube has a pretty good summery of Rockefeller here.

    And if you feel up for binge viewing, try finding the tv show Dallas (1978-1991). J.R. Ewing is the early 80s poster boy for the Magnificent Bastard trope, and the sort of man who should be running a PENTEX subsidiary.

    Modern Marvels did a number of episodes about the oil industry (3:07 Oil; 5:10 The Alaskan Oil Pipeline; 6:26 Offshore Oil Drilling; 9:31 Gasoline; 11:08 Oil Firefighting; 11:30 Oil Tankers; 12:41 Lube Job), most of which can probably be found at various places online.

    Outside of their original business of oil, there's also the realm of natural gas. There are more than a few films critical to natural gas production, especially hydraulic fracturing. I can't conscientiously call these documentaries, as these sorts of films usually start with a preselected point of view to push and carefully craft the presentation to sway viewers to that point of view. I believe the proper term for this is "propaganda". That said, they are certainly mineable for ideas of stuff Endron might be up to which Garou can uncover. (I think Gasland was the really big one, IIRC.)

    Even though Endron apparently bought out Atlas International in Book of the Wyrm 2nd ed, I'm going to save them for later, as the nuclear power industry is its own animal, and it gets into things like, for example, General Electric, which is pretty complicated.

    ADDED: Steve Coil's Private Empire: Exxon Mobil and American Power, a look at what is one of (if not the) biggest corporations in the US and some of it's various shenanigans. Also, Daniel Ammann's The King of Oil: The Secret Lives of Marc Rich, a man who's somewhat shady and occasionally weird life has a lot of potential plot hooks for Endron and PENTEX.

    Added 3-11: For those looking for something odd to do with Endron, I offer up the 1976 remake of King Kong. The film is, quite frankly, awful, but for the purpose of this list, the plot involves an oil company (named Petrox, which makes me wonder if this is the original inspiration for PENTEX's name) making an expedition to an uncharted island in the Indian Ocean in search of untapped oil deposits. The oil they find is low grade junk, so they decide to bring Kong back as their new company mascot. That's kind of the 70s in a nutshell, I think. But it does offer the interesting idea of an Endron expedition that finds a lost island full of Mokole, Ananasi, Kami, and one of the Great Beasts.


    More to come.
    Last edited by No One of Consequence; 03-11-2018, 04:41 PM.

  • No One of Consequence
    replied
    And for those who think the modern cigarette industry is bad, I give you Cocarettes.

    Leave a comment:


  • No One of Consequence
    replied
    Economics and Capitalism

    It's a new year, and I thought I might start by going back to the very basics. Economics is one of those things that tend to be a bit mind numbing, and most people really have no idea about how economies work. Thankfully, there are books for that. And even better, books for people who aren't economists (or at least pretend to be ones on TV) and who have little patience for academic jargon. (This is why I'm not going to get into the various "schools" such as Keynesian, Chicago, Austrian, etc., or the differences in micro and macroeconomics.)

    Alfred Mill's Economics 101 is part of the Adams 101 series of introductions to various topics, and a decent enough intro to the subject. Also The Economics Book, part of the "Big Ideas Simply Explained" series.

    Going a little deeper, I personally find Thomas Sowell's work well worth reading. He's part of the more libertarian "Chicago School", but more than that, he's been a prolific writer on economics and the social impact of economic policies for the past several decades. ( I consider his books The Vision of the Anointed and A Conflict of Visions to be must reading for Mage.) His Basic Economics is a fairly easy to read introduction to the topic. Also worth reading is his Economic Facts and Fallacies, and if you really want to dive into the topic, Applied Economics.

    Economics in One Lesson is by Henry Hazlitt, part of the "Austrian School", which also skews libertarian (likely as a response to the various statist forces that had wrecked Europe at the time this was written in 1947, and of the new wave of statists who had occupied Eastern Europe at the time). This is the same "school" of thought that produced Fredrick Hayek and his book Road to Serfdom, also written around this same time.

    While not exactly economics, Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner's Freakanomics is a really interesting and entertaining look at a number of topics through an economics lens. Including things like why professional sumo wrestling is occasionally fixed and how crack gangs work a lot like fast food franchises. There's also a sequel, Super Freakanomics, as well as two other follow ups, Think Like a Freak, and When to Rob a Bank.

    Regarding capitalism, Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations, written during the Scottish Enlightenment, is one of those cornerstone books of the modern world. Unfortunately, it's a little hard to read. (PJ O'Rourke actually did an entire book about his trying to read Adam Smith, which is easier to read.) Less known is Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments, about the concepts of morality, virtue, and duty, all of which ended up being a foundation for a lot of what he wrote in Wealth of Nations. (Russ Roberts's How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life describes Moral Sentiments as "the greatest self help book that almost no one had read.") There are a few children's books about Smith and his economic theories that explain it in a simple and easy fashion. (Weirdly, he's not part of the Who Was biography series, which annoys me as those are usually pretty good.)

    However, most of what we see around the world is not capitalism, but crony capitalism (also known as cronyism, corporatism, or just kleptocratism). This is when people in government power rig the system in favor of their friends or donors. Wealthy individuals or large corporations give politicians large sums of money (but its ok because its a campaign donation so it's not a bribe), and in return, when laws or regulations are drafted, the donees make sure that there are loop holes or exceptions for their friends. Or they make sure their donors get those big government contracts. Sometimes it's more subtle than this. A big company, lets say Wal-Mart, might invent a well paying position on it's board of directors and have the Governor's wife of the state they are headquartered in fill that position. And suddenly Wal-Mart is getting a lot of special favors from the state government. Or say you have a Congressmen who is chairman of a powerful committee who's wife runs a consulting firm, and companies that have business impacted by that committee just happen to hire that consulting firm. Or you have an entire Congress drafting a major bill that will radically overhaul how health insurance is handled in the entire country, and all of them just happen to starting buying and selling their stocks in various health and medical investments just before the bill is voted on. That's crony capitalism, which has about as much to do with real capitalism as The Village People did with punk rock.
    While he is probably most (in)famous for his book Clinton Cash (about how that family had turned crony capitalism into an art form), Peter Schweizer has also written other books about political corruption on both sides of the political spectrum, including Throw Them All Out, Extortion, and Secret Empires.
    I'm rather irritated that there are no books about the Keating Five scandal in the late 80s. For those two young to remember, this was when five US Senators intervened in a federal regulatory investigation of Charles Keating and his Lincoln Savings and Loan after Keating had made over a million dollars (in 1980s money) in campaign donations to the five men. The S&L later collapsed in 89, taking with it over three Billion dollars of government - meaning US tax payers' - money.

    That's all for now. I hope to have something about corporate culture in general done in the next week or so.

    Last edited by No One of Consequence; 01-13-2020, 09:11 PM.

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  • Fat Larry
    replied
    Just got done watching the recent Hellboy film.

    While the film isn't very good, the first 15 minutes was an AWESOME inspiration for the World of Darkness' Extreme Wrestling Warfare organization.

    Leave a comment:


  • Reighnhell
    replied
    This is amazing. Even though I play more Chronicles of Darkness that World of Darkness these days, I consider WtA my "native" game and this material is incredibly useful for any game (or fiction project) involving corrupt corporations.

    I also thank you for the numerous references to Friday the 13th: the Series. I thought I was the only one who remembered that show! It has had a lasting influence my tastes.
    I look forward to your next entry!

    Leave a comment:


  • Fat Larry
    replied
    Over the last couple of years, Roxxon Energy Corporation has become a mirror image of Pentex. Good job, Marvel.

    Leave a comment:


  • Matt the Bruins fan
    replied
    http://www.hplovecraft.com/writings/...iction/hm.aspx

    Leave a comment:


  • Inertial Frame
    replied
    Even though it's been months since you broached the subject, since there hasn't been much movement I thought I'd chime in on the wax museums. There is a pretty excellent* short story by Hazel Heald and HP Lovecraft by the name "The Horror in the Museum" which is almost entirely set in a wax museum at night. Of course, this is Lovecraft, so Cthulhian shenanigans ensue, but by and large, this could totally be a Wyrm situation in the Victorian era to the 1920's for the World of Darkness. I have no idea if it's available in print or otherwise anymore, but I'm sure it can be found somewhere, if only in a used book store hidden among the anthology works.








    *Excellent may be subjective here. You may or may not find it as good as I did.

    Leave a comment:


  • Konradleijon
    replied
    Yeah. I guess you could look at video game crunch..?

    Leave a comment:


  • No One of Consequence
    replied
    Yes. I've just been badly distracted by work and health issues over the past two months.

    Meanwhile, anyone looking for a potentially weird PENTEX plot hook straight out of the sort of 70s and 80s cinema that heavily inspired a lot of the company in the first place can check out Dead Heat, (1988), starring Treat Williams and Joe Piscopo, and with appearances by Vincent Price and Darren McGavin (of Kolchak fame). Basically an 80s buddy cop film - and honestly feels like it's entirely aware of all the genre cliches it's checking off - complicated by the fact that the criminal plot involves reanimated corpses committing crimes. This leads to a shady research company (named Dante Labs; as I said, you can see where this sort of thing was an influence) that has a plan to allow rich people to live forever, or at least as long as they can keep paying. It's cheesy fun, and can be the basis for an interesting chronicle involving Magadon or some related company.

    Leave a comment:


  • Konradleijon
    replied
    Is this thread still open?

    Leave a comment:


  • Logothétēs
    replied
    Originally posted by Fat Larry View Post
    Just finished rewatching the entire Jurassic Park franchise.

    Ingen really does make for a PERFECT Pentex subsidiary.

    Run by Mnetics/corrupted Mokole. no doubt.

    Leave a comment:


  • Fat Larry
    replied
    Just finished rewatching the entire Jurassic Park franchise.

    Ingen really does make for a PERFECT Pentex subsidiary.

    Leave a comment:


  • No One of Consequence
    replied
    Midnight Circus addendum

    In addition to Water for Elephants, another bit I forgot to mention was wax museums. Normally, these are more stand alone attractions than part of a carnival. However, I am a long time fan of the 80s fantasy-horror series Friday the 13th: The Series, and the seventh episode of the second season, "Wax Magic", involves a small scale chamber of horrors (the subsection of many wax museums devoted to figures of infamy and terror) as part of a traveling carnival. And, following the show's formula, murder ensues. While the two film versions of House of Wax (1953 and 2005) have the idea of the wax displays being real bodies of murder victims, my all time favorite concept for the idea comes from the 1988 movie Waxwork, in which the the displays suck victims into their scenarios and result in their deaths at the hands of the monsters and villains. (The movie is deeply weird, not least of which for the first 10 minutes or so, in which the protagonist - Zach Galligan of Gremlins fame - seems to be totally out of character compared to the rest of the film, and the final climax rivals Blazing Saddles in it's abrupt left turn from the previous film. But David Warner's turn as the villain is fun, and John Rhys-Davies has a bit part as one of the wax exhibit monsters. And the actual evil plot - bringing back 18 of the most evil people to have ever lived by sacrificing victims via this elaborate magical set up - is kind of cool, and I could see being part of the Circus).
    I'll also throw out the 1999 version of House on Haunted Hill, for its use of some of the work of Honore Fragonard, an 18th century sculptor and anatomist famous for his "flayed figures" of humans and animals. He's been featured on Ripley's Believe it or Not also, and his work is very WoD appropriate.
    Last edited by No One of Consequence; 09-04-2019, 11:06 PM.

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  • No One of Consequence
    replied
    Originally posted by Bluecho View Post
    Surprised there's no mention of Sara Gruen's Water for Elephants,
    I knew there was something big I had overlooked. Thanks for reminding me.

    Leave a comment:

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