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Thread: "Guess-the-Author" Analysis and Critiques

  1. #761
    Disciple of Peperna CatKnight's Avatar
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    More submissions:


    Arboricide in Warfare
    Cows in Warfare



    Why's everyone looking at me like that??
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  2. #762
    GunslingAAR coz1's Avatar
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    Those are good suggestions CatKnight, but I fear you might be the only person qualified to write on such topics.
    Northumberland Lives - new AAR for EUIV

    And check out the Guess the Author thread - back and active!

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  3. #763
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    Here are some I can think of:

    Revealing of a Secret
    An Embarrassing Situation
    A Riot or Begining of a Revolt
    A Speech
    Arriving Home From War
    Writing an Entry in the Guess-the-Author Thread (well, maybe not)
    My first CK AAR: Heirs of Charlemagne 1066- (Ongoing) Best charactAAR writer of the week: 10/1/06

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    To measure kingdoms with his feeble steps;"
    William Shakespeare, Two Gentlemen of Verona, II. vii.

  4. #764
    Arboricide in Warfare
    Cows in Warfare
    Once upon a time there were two herds of cows, seperated by a forest thick with brush. These two herds were bitter enemies, and one day one of the herds found, near a very thick section of brush, a gallon of gasoline and some matches...

  5. #765
    Disciple of Peperna CatKnight's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by J. Passepartout
    Once upon a time there were two herds of cows, seperated by a forest thick with brush. These two herds were bitter enemies, and one day one of the herds found, near a very thick section of brush, a gallon of gasoline and some matches...
    We have a winner!


    Update: I have two submissions in my box, and a third that's hopefully on the way. I'll post them when I get home this evening If anyone else was/wants to be in this round, send 'em in!
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  6. #766
    Disciple of Peperna CatKnight's Avatar
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    SUBMISSION # 3

    (Remember, # 1 was er...found..by Peter Ebbesen, and # 2 uhm..forwarded to... fj44.)

    Stanislaw sat quietly on his bed, wondering if Sergei would come to collect his debt today. He had nothing to pay with. The monthly stipend had dried up within three days. He had received a letter from Sergei last week promising that today would be the day to repay or face ‘consequences’ of nonpayment of debts.

    The young, newest member of the Sejm, stood slowly amongst the august personages seated in the chamber. He addressed the speaker, as he had been told to. Standing independent from the parties of the day, he had argued the importance of honor in the conduct of policy. He postulated that taking moral principle as a guide for policy, rather than the pragmatism of Machiavelli, would result in a better state. From that point on, he had been a marked man, destined for political leadership.

    The young, suave nobleman stepped out of the carriage in front of the Winter Palace. He nodded to his chauffeur, and began to walk slowly towards the great doors. Arrival in the throne room led from one thing to another. The Grand Duchess, previously spreading her affection amongst a half dozen suitors, sent them all away, instead spending all free time with the newcomer.

    After the coup d’état by the Czartoryski Familia, the Commonwealth needed a popular, influential king. Prince Adam had refused his family’s proposition that he rule. Instead, he recommended his friend, who had great influence in Russia by way of a decade serving in the court of the Romanovs. A letter arrived in St. Petersburg, bearing the Czartoryski crest. Its contents were easy to guess. The nobleman, no longer quite so young, left Russia for the turbulent commonwealth.

    Even with the chaos of the Sejm and the depredations of both Russia and Prussia, the king strove to do his best for the Commonwealth. Reforms were enacted, the budget balanced, and unrest quelled. Things began looking up for the Commonwealth. Until a small nationalist confederation formed in open opposition to the Russians and their ‘puppet’. Four years of bloodshed ended with collaboration with the Russian Army.

    Even so, the Commonwealth began to recover. In time for a Russo-Prussian invasion. Entire provinces were ripped off the Commonwealth, and the people suffered great hardship. The king was powerless to oppose the attack, as the Commonwealth was as disunited as any country can get.

    The Patriotic Party, the reformist faction in the Sejm, openly courted the king, and in the end received his support for their reforms, culminating in the Constitution crafted by the king himself. He had used all political capital he had stored up to force adoption of the document. In a moving speech afterwards, he swore to uphold the constitution to the furthest sacrifice.

    Russia had smashed it. A small slip of paper could apparently bring the might of tyranny down upon it. The might of tyranny was knocking at the door now. Rather than have such a thing happen again, the small poison pill was swallowed. When Sergei walked into Stanislaw’s room, the old man lay propped against the head of the bed, rigor mortis having set in. Sergei nodded, expecting nothing else.
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  7. #767
    Disciple of Peperna CatKnight's Avatar
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    SUBMISSION # 4

    Death of the King


    This morning I stood within the falling water as the rising sun threw its dazzling light upon the moon’s peak, and I saw what is, what was, and what will be:


    What is…


    The king was dead, of that there could be no doubt, and he would nevermore rise again. A heart attack had struck him down with neither warning nor mercy, the life of the realm snuffed out in one singular moment of agony. He was found by his favorite concubine who quickly summoned his attendants to fulfill their final duty to their lord and master. Solemnly they gathered at his bedside, witnessing the fate of their absolute monarch, their guiding light whom many had worshipped in secret; He had been young, as these things go, a mere two-score and two, and if to some few of his courtiers he had seemed greater than life or even immortal, these things were to be expected of a man who through his noteworthy deeds became a legend in his own lifetime.


    What was…


    He was born in a humble abode, the child of loving, but destitute, parents. As he was their only child, his parents tried sheltering him from the evils of the world, and he grew up a shy boy. Through trials and tribulations he overcame his limitations and rose to greatness and recognition, first through his songs, for he was a poet before he was a king, then through his actions. There were competitors in those days, men to walk the mountains with, as they say, and the man who would be king suffered reversals in his climb to power for they were many and he but one, but ultimately he prevailed and, upon assuming power, tempered his rule with mercy and patience and if he were less masterful than in his youth he was the more loved for it amongst his subjects.


    What will be…


    There would be whispers, of course, of poison and intrigue, of plots in the night, of suicide, and pills and what was worse, but nothing would be proved – death by natural causes would be the official verdict and the doubters would be relegated to the lunatic fringe of conspiracy theorists as had happened to so many before them, caught in the web of rationality, and provide a source of contempt for years to come.

    Laid in a splendid casket, transported to the grave in the hearse of the underworld, his mortal remains would be hallowed by his most ardent subjects, one hundred thousand strong, who would line the royal road in serried ranks paying the king his final due.

    The king had been married in his time and had collected a few concubines, but his acknowledged heir was a slip of a girl, unable to match his accomplishments or his ability. Not for her the voice of authority or the seductive moving and shaking of power; No, her fate would a lifelong struggle to get out of his shadow thrown so far through time and space while his legacy would be used, and misused, by those eager to claim greatness through association – even in death the king held great power, and great wealth would accumulate to those ruthless enough to exploit his legacy.

    Though many pretenders would seek the throne, the king would have no worthy successor.



    This evening I rose to my full height when the water stopped falling upon the moon and night’s caress warmed my body, and I looked up and further up and told the king to get moving, for my shower was done and time waits upon no man, not even one fresh from Rigellian detox bound for the stars with a mind-wiped clone laid in the ground, and a fortune deposited in my bank account.

    And verily the king did bitch about the length of my shower, claiming that I was trying to wash my grey skin white and making fun of my height, and I did take my revenge upon him by activating the machine that goes bing and forcing him to bend over for a pre-liftoff anal probing of little scientific but great commercial value in select circles both here and back home, which did cause him to squeal like a pig, claiming that it was needed to attune his body to my spacecraft. And verily I did take the king from his mortal soil and deposited him on Betelgeuse XI with a towel, a toothbrush, and a Hungarian phrasebook that I claimed was an intergalactic guide book for hitchhikers, on which cesspit of a world he will no doubt find a fulfilling life once he gets over my little prank should he not be sentenced to the mines first for lewd behaviour - but then, I never really liked his songs anyway, so who cares. A gig’s a gig, and I got my money.

    And I did put on my 3-foot platform boots, my blue retinal implants, my makeup, and my spiffy suit, and did return to the role I loved so well, standing tall (MUCH taller than my brothers ever did back home) fooling the natives with a song, a dance, and a twinkle in my big blue eyes as I had done so often before. To think I did all that; And, may I say – not in a shy way, Oh no, Oh no, not me, I did it my way.
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  8. #768
    Disciple of Peperna CatKnight's Avatar
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    We may have a fifth submission. (You who PMed me! Let's go! ) This should give you enough to get started though.

    Since coz1 mentioned October for the next running, let's split the difference. I'll announce authors on September 24.

    Thanks to you who jumped in on this!
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  9. #769
    Disciple of Peperna CatKnight's Avatar
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    SUBMISSION # 5

    The wind's strong prompting made herds of grey clouds run through the sky. The sea also felt this shepherd's blow, sending furious waves bucking against the giant junk's stem and exploding in columns of droplets. The weather was well-tuned with his own interior boiling of contradictory feelings. He had no doubts regarding the impassibility his face conveyed. After all, years at the court then years as an admiral more efficiently petrified a face than salt and sunburning. He had known it all. His hands were clenching the rail strongly though, to the point of whitening his articulations.

    Looking at the thickening shoreline on the horizon, he was already feeling firm ground sickness. He was already missing his supreme authority over hundreds of sailors, servants, soldiers and even scholars. On the other hand, his expedition had been an outstanding success. His vessels didn't hold ivory, giraffes or other exotic goods from the African and Indian coasts like after his previous travels. He did not bring back remote rulers' tributes or submission. No, he had far better.

    He brought a land! An immense piece of land untouched by civilized men was lying to the south. Circumnavigating this new continent took them many weeks. Brief explorations brought back a bunch of strange creatures and unknown plants which delighted the scholars. They found several welcoming shores and he took the responsibility to establish small garrisons to claim the provinces in the name of the Celestial Empire. His Most Serene Majesty Xuande would be enthusiastic at the prospect of expanding the magnificence of the Middle Kingdom to those immense and potentially rich wildernesses. A new era of expansion was at hand and he was the one to bring it to his sovereign.

    He shivered, both from excitation and because of the breeze cutting through his ceremonial outfit. Many ships were sailing around, signaling the proximity of Nanjing. But all of them were small kakams or dhows: none worth to be named "junk" were to be seen. They hastily cleared the way in front of his own huge nine-masted flagship, like poultry fleeing a majestic dragon. He couldn't help a secret burst of vanity. But he was worried too. His fleet had only met coasters for days and even found -and sunk- a Japanese pirate who had successfully dared to venture in China's waters.

    The former capital city grew on the horizon as they approached. Nanjing displayed its fall of colorful tiles flowing from the hills down to the port. Occasional breakthroughs in the cloud cover allowed for shining dots on the roofs. Innumerable jetties were crowded with dangling masts and flapping banners twisting in the wind. There was no way for the hundred vessels of the fleet to make port without preparation. The treasure ships berthed offshore with their escorts and he sent a couple of dhows with officers to settle the formalities.

    He did not have to wait more than half a day before a sumptuous ceremonial longboat came to pick him up. The governor was waiting for him in his palace. The old admiral was a little surprised, since he had expected to receive the high officials on board his ship. An escort was waiting for him on the dock to lead him to the palace without further delays. While a crowd of commoners had assembled in the streets to see and hail him, he saw no nobles, no officials. The surprises were not over for him, though.

    He had expected to be received in the audience hall, but was introduced in the governor's private lounge instead. Two guards stayed with him. The place was extremely cozy with each square inch of floor and wall covered by silky tapestries, carpets, furs and sculpted wooden panels. The admiral did not take time to scrutinize the room though, for his host came in by a lacquered double door. He was not the one in charge when the fleet left almost two years ago, but the admiral identified him as a sycophant he met at the court during Hongzi's short reign. The small adipose governor bundled up in his sleek tunic greeted him with a high pitched voice:

    "Admiral Zheng He! I hope that your little stroll had been pleasant, given the waste of valuable resources it had represented."

    Zheng He was in shock, he still tried to justify:

    "You do realize that we have traversed more than 100,000 li of immense waterspaces and have beheld in the ocean huge waves like mountains rising in the sky, and we have set eyes on barbarian regions far away hidden in a blue transparency of light vapors, while our sails, loftily unfurled like clouds day and night, continued their course as rapidly as a star, traversing those savage waves as if we were treading a public thoroughfare…"

    "And I don't give a damn about your fairy tales."

    While the tone remained extremely suave, the bluntness of the words hit the admiral like a fist. No one would go that far without a vivid hatred and strong backup. Zheng He staked his all:

    "The Son of the Heavens will certainly have the wish to hear my report by word of mouth."

    "I doubt it."

    "His High Majesty Xuande personally gave me his blessing for these ambitious explorations. I can't imagine him allowing anyone else to decide the fate of his enterprise. I have to meet him."

    The governor allowed himself the most threatening and insulting answer: he smiled.

    "You might meet Xuande in person soon enough. The Emperor is not Xuande anymore though, but his son Zhengtong, who has shown his firm hostility to the scandalous waste of money represented by an ocean-going navy. Hongzi's Hai jin act has been decreed again."

    Zheng He was boiling inside. The new Emperor was only eight years old and the admiral's enemies had probably taken the opportunity to seize influence and power when his father unexpectedly died. Unexpectedly? For what he knew, they might have assassinated him as well. The governor relished his interlocutor's disarray and proceeded:

    "Now, Admiral Zheng He, you are under arrest for high treason. Your fleet will be sunk where it stands and state finances will at last be used for valuable military campaigns against the Mongols."

    Zheng He knew there was no answering. The emperor was dead, a new era had begun, but the aging admiral had no place in it.
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  10. #770
    Big fetid toad
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    I must confess that I have not read submissions 1 and 2 yet. I will at some time in before the end of the week, and post related comments.

    SUBMISSION # 3
    This one got me confused. There are glimpses of an interesting and rich background, but it's hard to get into it, partly due to the fact that it is not clear when the flash-back explanations begin and end (the jump from paragraph 1 to paragraph 2, for instance, looks like a new disconected story begins). I am also in the impression that, just like me, the author doesn't have english as his/her native language.


    SUBMISSION # 4
    This one is from a native! Ouch. Got difficulties with some passages. The end is fun and -for me- unexpected. My guess would be that there is a reference behind this piece, but I can't put my finger on it.

    Looks like the king has met a succubus (well, an alien succubus). And not a friendly one. Ah, I was about to forget that succubi are supposed to eat your soul... but what's a soul anyway?


    pre-liftoff anal probing of little scientific but great commercial value in select circles both here and back home
    Oh my! Is this alien dealing in relics?

    Definitely a pleasant submission.

    SUBMISSION # 5
    A bunch of descriptions in this one, sometimes too elaborate to be really vivid. “Clumsy” might be the word. I would have described the exploration of Australia with more emphasis (I guess that was Australia...), since it's supposed to be of such importance to the admiral in this installment.

    I still like the generally straightforward and entertaining style though.

    [edit]

    SUBMISSION #1
    I really liked this one. Strongly evokes Terry Pratchen IMHO. I'm fond of that kind of absurd tale. The only drawback is that you need to write much in order to convey not that much developped story. Which is not very harmful since the read and the ride are enjoyable.

    SUBMISSION #2
    A nice little story. Very classical in the content, which isn't ad. I still think that it would have benefitted some developpment to gain some originality.

    [/edit]
    Last edited by Nil-The-Frogg; 25-09-2006 at 07:39.
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  11. #771
    Disciple of Peperna CatKnight's Avatar
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    Alright, let's do this!

    ENTRY 1 (found lying around by Peter) (Post 749)

    Amusing! The author had a lot of fun with this...or he's on some really good drugs. Given my recent illness, I'm hoping for the latter and that he'll share!

    It's harder to critique something obviously not meant to be taken too seriously. Certainly a lot would be added in that case...like quotation marks.

    The conversation made me laugh, especially with the obviously over the top preparations. If anything threw me a little, it's that Igor is obviously not what he pretends. Early on he seems to play along with his role and be a bit 'dumb', then abruptly he shows a great deal of insight and criticizes Master's cannon.

    INSTRUMENT!

    Er...right, instrument. I enjoyed the 'climax' where the master was only demonstrating, and his rival died. Berating Igor at the end was priceless!



    ENTRY 2 (submitted to fj) (Post 757)

    Hm. The author sets the scene fairly nicely with Enrique trying to coordinate the defense. I wonder if he loses control of his story right after Sebastian shows up though...perhaps it's just the time limits (and strange nature of this round) of the GtA format...but the author abruptly pulls back. We never get a good grip on Enrique's personality, and none at all for Sebastian. Enrique is simply listed as the 'seventieth' casualty, as if we're watching the battle from a great distance. That would have been a great time for Enrique to come to grips with how he felt about this little mini-crusade.

    Sebastian, too....knowing he's lost, he 'is filled with the crusader spirit' and charges. Well... that's nice, but most folk would retreat. If he was filled with the righteousness of his cause, the author could have introduced that back when he told Enrique to make his stand here, and he could have died screaming challenges or prayers.

    I'd say this has potential. It could use a massive rework...if the author wants us to care about Enrique and Sebastian, then we need to know more about them. The scene itself, with the Portugese and Castillans standing against what I assume is overwhelming odds, conjures up great images for this kind of tale.



    ENTRY 3 (Post 766)

    It took me awhile to figure out what you were up to. It read to me - correctly it turned out - as several small vignettes and I was on the verge of asking what you were up to. "The nobleman, no longer quite so young..." saves your chronology.

    It seems Stanislaw had quite a life. Similar to entry 2, you seem to step away from the scene slightly and paint us an overview of what he tried to accomplish..but that's minor. With perhaps just a few lines more this works exceptionally well. Perhaps we're introduced to the old, tired, despairing Stanislaw and while he waits for Sergei he drifts into memory. (Cut to the other vignettes)

    The final paragraph, where he suicides to avoid Sergei, closes the story nicely. We now know the depth of his disaster, and that his only real crime seems to have been being an idealist and perhaps simply getting old. Very nicely done!



    ENTRY 4 (Post 767)

    Your first three parts are excellent. By the time we're done, you've given us a moderate sense of this man. More importantly perhaps given your title (and the topic), you've told us what happens afterwards. You described a king who apparently did a pretty good job, and the people who tried to take advantage of his legacy afterwards. No complaints, nits, etc. whatsoever.

    Your fourth part (the chap from Betelgeuse)...hm. Didn't belong. I caught the Hitchhiker's Guide references and that our king was actually taken to a new planet, so I see where you were going but the sudden shift to grey-skin's point of view was jarring and took away from the whole. I wonder if you'd have been better served to let the three parts stand on their own.



    ENTRY 5 (Post 769)

    I suppose this qualifies for 'Death of a King', or at least what happens after. I like this one! You let us know what Zheng He is like - a natural explorer and apparently close confidant or ally of the former emperor. You also give us a beautiful look at politics when one's enemies seize control and the general stupidity that follows. The sycophant's (excellent word choice) portrayal is perfect - the mix of complete imbecility, arrogance and power closes the door on Zheng He nicely.
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  12. #772
    the Conqueror Peter Ebbesen's Avatar
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    It's harder to critique something obviously not meant to be taken too seriously. Certainly a lot would be added in that case...like quotation marks.
    No, no, quotation marks would just make it sillier. Instead of the serious discussion about the proper disposal of kings you have now, you'd have something like this (I allow myself the liberty of inserting quotation marks in a select portion of the story to demonstrate...)

    Are the "orbs" of Mars aligned properly with the "zodiac" and the "instrument" prepared?
    Yes, the "balls" are on a roll and the "Very Big Gun" is loaded, master!
    Now, that is silly - not to mention puerile. Quotation marks are overrated.
    Last edited by Peter Ebbesen; 20-09-2006 at 08:39.
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  13. #773
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Ebbesen
    No, no, quotation marks would just make it sillier.

    Now, that is silly - not to mention puerile. Quoation marks are overrated.


    Good point. I withdraw the nit
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  14. #774
    Author #1: An elegant masterpiece, bringing to bear a firm ability to grasp the issues of modern life and intelligently arguing for a solution to those problems which beset the modern man. Igor is perhaps a tour de force, equal to or greater than Shakespeare's Hamlet.

    Author #2: This could have gone places. I thought it was starting off quite well. Unfortunately the author withdrew to a general overview, when perhaps it would have been more effective to stick with our two gentlemen and continue showing the story from their point of view. The first part was quite good I thought and the second would have been if approached in the same manner.

    Author #3: This also had some of the aura of the overview, although it managed to work. I would have liked to know more about Stanislaw personally, or have more detail about the fighting etc. but this story needs only a bit more minor touching I think.

    Author #4: The first part I enjoyed. The second part about the alien was out of place. One or the other, I thought, not both, at least in the manner presented.

    Author #5: Woudln't have minded more detail about this land Zheng discovered, but the revelation at the end and his reaction was good, and I liked it. Nice politics as usual

    Good stories all.

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    I'm deeply sorry, everyone. I let you all down.

    If you haven't noticed, I haven't really been active in these parts lately. In fact, for the past month or so I've only made one post a day, and that was mere ritual.

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  16. #776
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    Meh. You're back now, that's all that counts! AARland hasn't been the same without you.

    God knows I've disappeared from time to time. Life just sometimes bites us in the... ...tail.

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    Okay, time for the authors! (No links to past works I'm afraid. Just check their sigs! )


    # 1 was the one Peter Ebbesen found. I guess that'll just stay anonymous.

    # 2 was the one 'submitted' to fj44. Again, that'll probably have to stand.

    # 3 was sent to me by fj44, no doubt to show up the one who mailed him directly.

    and # 4 by Peter Ebbesen because he knew he'd have to defend # 1 from reactionaries who wanted quotation marks.

    # 5 came to us from Nil-the-Frogg!


    ---------------------

    Well done, you three, and thank you! I realize this round ended up being a bit unorthodox, and your (rampant?) enthusiasm helped us move forward!

    Also, thanks to everyone who critiqued, counter-critiqued, or wrote about warring cows. Participation is the heart and soul of this kind of thing. Again, well done!

    As for the rest of you... let's hear some chatter! What did you think of the stories? Now's the time for our authors to talk about their work, let them know what you think of them!

    :hopes he didn't just open a Pandora's box:

    ---------------

    And now I turn things over to coz1 for October 1.
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  18. #778
    the Conqueror Peter Ebbesen's Avatar
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    A brief explanation: The Story of the King and the Alien was a one-off joke caused by the title, "Death of the King", with a second joke hidden inside. The real problem with that story is that if you don't get the primary joke... you REALLY don't get it. You are likely to be completely mystified and think bad things about the second half with the alien's perspective because "it doesn't fit". Whereas, once you do get the primary joke, you are likely to appreciate it all the more. Or perhaps not.

    I'm surprised that nobody caught on to the joke, but then, perhaps they did and just didn't post. The King with his seductive moving and shaking is Elvis Presley and the "What is, what was, and what will be" are pretty much copied from his Wikipedia entry (copied from the biographies), just rewritten in a more classic fantasy form.

    The last paragraph from the alien's point of view show us what REALLY happened when the King died.

    It turns out that the king did not die but that he was, in fact, taken by aliens (Elvis lives! He's out there!), more specifically by one of the really archetypical small grey men with big eyes. Since Elvis died aged 42 year it seemed... well, to my mind though yours might obviously differ, obvious to throw in a few more HGTTG references as well as a Monty Python reference. The final joke, somewhat more difficult to pick up (unless you are weird) is that the alien with the big eyes was Frank Sinatra, "Ol' Blue Eyes" himself, which was revealed by...
    but then, I never really liked his songs anyway, so who cares. A gig’s a gig, and I got my money.

    And I did put on my 3-foot platform boots, my blue retinal implants, my makeup, and my spiffy suit, and did return to the role I loved so well, standing tall (MUCH taller than my brothers ever did back home) fooling the natives with a song, a dance, and a twinkle in my big blue eyes as I had done so often before. To think I did all that; And, may I say – not in a shy way, Oh no, Oh no, not me, I did it my way.
    ...And yes, evidence does exist that Sinatra really didn't like Elvis' music (he opposed the new wave of Rock'n'Roll that threatened his and many others' position) but eventually had to concede defeat (somewhat graciously). But, as it turned out and was revealed in Death of the King #4, he eventually got his own back, AND he got his money. A perfect ending. (I never really liked Elvis' music either )

    Hope that helped.
    Last edited by Peter Ebbesen; 25-09-2006 at 07:00.
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  19. #779
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    Peter: thanks for some silly reads. If I may say so, your Igor smacks of Terry Pratchett and your Elvis-with-the-Aliens reminds me a lot of Robert Rankin's 'Armageddon' series. Ah well, great minds think alike, it seems.

    I did pick up on Frank Sinatra: I guess that makes me weird.

  20. #780
    I took note of the Sinatra lines but I was stupid and didn't actually make the conclusion that it was Frank.

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