The Uncensored, But Still Pretty Vanilla, Story Of Mostly Purple Patty And The Bus Full Of Deadheads

…co-starring the ghost of Jerry Garcia

Here now, our final entry for “The Middle Of Nowhere Week“!

The Doclopedia #106

The Middle Of Nowhere: Next Gas & Food: 100 Miles

 

We’ve all seen the joint before, those of us who sometimes drive on those lonely interstate highways. It’s always by itself, no houses around. Just a cafe and a two pump gas station with that big old sign that reads “Next Food & Gas: 100 Miles”. After dark, the lights are always on and during the day, the place usually looks half abandoned.

It’s almost always at least 50-75 miles out from the last town and anybody with a full tank, an empty bladder and no hunger will just zip past it without a second thought. But for those folks running on fumes and yesterday’s breakfast…those down on their luck or brokenhearted or running away or running towards or just plain running sort of folks, it looks pretty good.

The faces change over time or location, but there’s always that just past her prime but still full of piss & vinegar waitress, the cook in the back who’s been at this so long he probably sweats burger grease and the young high school age kid who helps the cook or washes dishes or some shit. The place is cleaner than you think and the grub is pretty good and pretty cheap.

There’s always a couple of regular type customers sitting at the counter. Could be Ed the farmer or Gary the trucker or Sandy the hippie chick or any of a couple of dozen others. Just who kind of depends upon what might happen later.

The gas station part of the operation is made up of the old fart and the young dope. Old fart almost never leaves the office unless he comes out to ask you about your hot looking car or to give advice on how to get somewhere. Young dope does all the work and he never shuts up talking to you, like he’s hoping you’ll give him a big tip for the conversation.

The special thing about this place is that some folks find stuff here. Those people just passing through don’t find anything but food & gas, but the ones who need a place to stop, think and think some more, they’re the finders.

They might find love, be it temporary or otherwise. They might find an answer…hell, they might find a question. Some have found freedom and some have found justice and some have found peace and some have found fear and some have found redemption and some have found out they weren’t really looking for anything after all. Once in awhile, somebody finds death and somebody else finds a new life. You just never know.

About the only thing you can be sure of is that almost nobody ever stays more than a few hours. They eat, they talk, maybe they get an oil change or a transmission job and then they go. What happens during all that, well, it’s different for everyone.

My story? Hey, I’d love to tell it, but I see that young dope is taking my car down off of the jack and my flat tire is fixed. I’ve got to hit the road, man. You stay a while though, have a cup of coffee and a cruller on me.

The Winkerdog Versus The Bowl Of Green Beans

…Winkerdog: 1 Grean Beans: 0

 

The Doclopedia #104

The Middle Of Nowhere: Lost Souls Island

 

This island is about 10 miles long by 3 miles wide and nobody ever finds it on purpose. When they do find it, they are usually glad to see it and come ashore for food and water. If they only stay a couple of hours, everything goes well. If they stay over night, the shit hits the fan.

This is usually signaled by many of their crew turning up near dead. A few never turn up. Then there is the problem of the screams in the night, the glowing shapes moving through the woods and the attacks by giant tentacles that pop up out of the water. Most ships leave pretty quickly after that.

The truth about the island is pretty simple: There are no ghosts or monsters, just some people who were castaway here over the centuries and decided they liked it here. They do all of the scary stuff (including the tentacles, which are made mostly of rubber) to scare off bad guys or snoops. They also liberate a few crewmen who might be slaves, steal some supplies and free any prisoners (on the promise that they only take over the ship once it has sailed out of sight of the island.

So far, the system has worked well.

Pianist Envy

…yes, I know, I’m evil

The Doclopedia #103

The Middle Of Nowhere: The Abandoned Farm

 

This place exists on nearly every variant of our planet that has farms. It is never found on a main road and it’s always at least 3 miles from the next farm, usually through rough country filled with thickets, bogs and the local version of Fangorn Forest.

The house is always an huge old three story Victorian and there will be a humongous basement. The barn is big enough to hold a Rolling Stones concert in and the sheds, chicken coops, smokehouses and other outbuildings are not much smaller. None of them look like they have been lived in or repaired since about 1880.

You might just find an ordinary but creepy family living here, but don’t count on it. Most likely, they are crazy as outhouse rats…or cannibals…or vampires…or werewolves…or Satan worshipers…or inbred mutants…or aliens…or followers of some Elder God…or all of the above.

Never turn off the main road, kids!

Redrum & Coca Cola

…you know what they say about all work and no play

 

The Doclopedia #102

The Middle Of Nowhere: The Rascally Mage

 

From the minutes of the High Council of Archwizards meeting, May 3rd, Year of the Bright Dragon. Reported by Enchanted Quill Pen #19.

Council Chair Vendomas Harl: “This meeting is being held is to address the intolerable situation of the inn known as The Rascally Mage.”

At this point, most of the assembled council cursed roundly for about 30 seconds.

Council Chair Vendomas Harl: “Indeed, indeed…we all feel the same about it. The question is, what can we do about it? We have, every one of us, had at least one adventuring party robbed nearly naked by it. Many of us have been hit more than once. Why, Sister Oropalidya has been hit four times in the last 7 years.

At this point, the Enchantress Oropalidya cursed in at least 6 languages, two of them Demonic and one completely unknown to the rest of the council. A motion was made that at some later and calmer date, she be asked to give a talk on it. Motion was seconded by Archwizard Bolobo Rongogo.

Council Chair Vendomas Harl “My apologies for bringing up painful memories, Sister, but it only underscores the need to find this place and shut it down. We all know who is behind it…that chaotic jackanape, Moorl Delvin. He’s been a thorn in our side for nearly two centuries now, but this latest bit of chicanery is the last straw! So again I ask, how can we stop him?”

Enchantress Oropalidya: “I say we put a huge bounty on his head and set Demon Hounds on his trail.”

Archwizard Ugroth: “We could rally the goblins and trolls against him. That would give us nearly a quarter million bodies all searching for him.”

The Whispering One: “We could fashion a Wish Spell tailored precisely for him and his accursed inn.”

Council Chair Vendomas Harl: “Hmm…all good ideas, although the Wish Spell would be the most likely to succeed…if nothing crocked it. However, we must remember that Delvin has accumulated a rather impressive lot of magical artifacts by robbing our hired help. Besides that he is, no matter how much we hate admitting it, an extremely powerful Achwizard. Caution must be taken. Now, let us review what we know about this inn. Famzil, if you would be so kind.

Subwizard Famzil Ambindidias: “Ahem, yes, Archwizard. The inn is, by all accounts, of modest appearance and of a smallish size. It tends to show up along a little used road that the adventurers happen to find on their way back from the intended target location. It always seems to appear shortly before the tired party decides to look for a place to spend the night. Upon entering the inn, they are greeted by a kindly looking old couple and their two daughters. Food and drink are offered and the party is later shown to modest but very comfortable rooms. They sleep deeply and awaken on the ground where the inn stood, dressed only in light clothing and armed with the cheapest of weaponry. They do, however, get to keep any mounts they were riding as well as a two day supply of food & water. Oddly, they also know the fastest and safest way home.”

Council Chair Vendomas Harl “Thank you, Famzil. I suppose we can be thankful that Delvin doesn’t kill or enslave them. I can assure you that most of those same adventurers would love to get him at swordpoint, kindnesses be damned. Ahh, I see that Wenulindo has finally conjured us up some wine! Let us take a minute to enjoy it before we press on.

The Council stopped at this point to drink wine. Approximately 90 seconds later, they were all overcome by a Time Out Spell that extended throughout the entire tower level, freezing all living things in a moment in time. During the 23 minutes they were affected, a tall dark haired Archwizard fitting the description of one Moorl Delvin appeared in the room via Warp Door Spell. He proceeded to strip the entire council naked and take many small valuables from them, including rings, amulets, bracelets and wands. He then, after pausing to write the words “Thank You” in fire above the Council table, used another Warp Door to leave. Two minutes later, the Time Out Spell ended and the Council resumed activity. There was a great deal of cursing and chaotic behavior for the next two hours.

Little B And The Three AM Job

…all he needed to bring was a glass cutter and some old socks.

The Doclopedia #101

The Middle Of Nowhere: System TZ-4431

 

Space has plenty of nowhere and sometimes you find a somewhere there.

If you go way the hell out to the very end of the Carina-Sagittarius Arm of the Milky Way, then go about 13,000 light years farther, you’ll find System TZ-4431, also known as the Five Sisters System. Totally restricted space by Federation edict, but not very hard to get to, if that’s what you want to do.

The star is pretty much your typical G2V type star, just like the Terran sun. The big difference is that the five planets in the system all share the same orbit. That’s right, five planets in an evenly spaced ring around the star. Deemed impossible by every scientist you’re likely to ever meet, but there it is just the same.

Even more interesting is the fact that they all contain Earthlike atmospheres and other conditions that make them able to support very rich Terran style ecosystems. But here’s the kicker: The lifeforms on these planets are not related to each other. Yeah, five planets in the same orbit and the life forms are sufficiently different that there is only one explanation: All or most of these planets were brought here from someplace else. Again, the experts say that’s impossible, but they also can’t come up with a better answer.

The planets all have sentient beings, most of whom have a Bronze age level of civilization. They’re all pretty peaceful, too, which is kind of odd. You’d think at that stage they’d be all about conquest and war and stuff.

So, the reason I’m telling you this is because I’m gathering up a small group to go to one or two of these planets and investigate money making opportunities. Yeah, I thought you’d be interested.

Frisky Skinks & Pouty Polecats

…and Otis the Gnu, too

 

Ooooh! The 100th post! Yay!

 

The Doclopedia #100

The Middle Of Nowhere: Dead End Junction

 

Some will tell you it’s down Arizona way, east of Tombstone. Other’s figure it’s nearer to Death Valley and then there’s people that swear it’s in west Texas or New Mexico. Whatever the case, they all agree it’s somewhere along the Texas & Pacific rail line that runs from Dallas to Los Angeles. After that, all we’ve got is stories.

It’s generally agreed that only every 13th train passing through the town will stop there…except for the folks who say it’s every 9th train. Generally, only one person gets off the train, except when more than one get off. Mostly, the folks who get off never seemed to make much of an impression on their fellow passengers. Almost nobody can tell you exactly what they looked like or anything they might have said. An exception to that would be the time Kansas Jack Ordway jumped clean through an open window before the train even stopped completely. The folks sitting in his car remembered really well that he was screaming “Luke Skinner, I told you I’d kill you!” as he made his exit. Unfortunately, it being dark and all, nobody could see this Luke fellow or much else. That’s another thing…everyone agrees that the trains never stop there during the day and you can barely see the town, kinda like there’s a light fog between you and it.

Now as for people getting on the train, well, everybody who’s seen it happen can remember it clearly. Most well known case was when a young lady and a young fellow got on one night back in 1905. Gave their names as Ellen Andrews and Henry Tallent. Said they were heading for Dallas to get married and start a new life. Kept talking about being given a second chance at life. Folks said they were a real friendly young couple about 20 years old or so. Got off at Dallas and were never seen again, though a check at the Hall of Records does show they got married the next day.

Funny thing is, a search through various newspapers showed that an Ellen Andrews went missing from Amarillo back in 1860 after apparently stabbing her abusive husband to death and a young cowhand named Henry Tallent went on the lam after gunning down another cowpoke back in 1858. Both of those people were 25 years old when last seen. Kind of funny, eh?

Oh, and about the train stopping at that station that maybe only exists sometimes? Seems that no matter what the engineer or anyone else does, that train stops. But then, three minutes later, it starts right back up and heads on down the line. Happens enough that the railroad just tells the crew to relax and not ever get off the train. Not too surprisingly, the crews all follow that rule really well.

Spangbiddlyboombangpow!

…bompdeebompdeebang

Hey, kids! Today, we kick off The Middle Of Nowhere Week with entry #99 in our little series!

 

The Doclopedia #99

The Middle Of Nowhere: The Phone Booth On The Edge Of Forever

 

Right off, allow me to say that you can only find this phone booth (for those of you who are too young and cell phone oriented to remember phone booths, google it) when you are way out in the middle of nowhere and pretty much hitting rock bottom.

Once you find it, you’ll see that it looks pretty ordinary except for the small neon sign that says “Call anyone, anywhere, anywhen for only a dime!”. There is always at least one dime on the shelf under the phone, which looks and operates just like any phone, except that the dial only had an O and no other numbers or letters.

Once you drop your dime (oh, yes, you must close the door to operate the phone, but that’s ok, because the booth will then reach a nice comfy temperature relative to the outside temperature) an operator will come on and ask you who and when you want to call. Naturally, you must choose a time after the invention of the telephone, but other than that, you can call anyone you care to. Oddly, many people call themselves at an earlier stage of life.

You can make as many calls as you have dimes, but after an hour, the booth will kick you out and disappear. You probably won’t care though, because if you made the right calls, life has gotten a whole lot better.

My Life Among The Teenage Aliens

…who spent most of their time whining and moping about

The Doclopedia #98

Alt. Rocks: Brainstones

Brainstones are a very rare type of mineral tumor found in the brains of various types of giants, most notably the cyclops type. The tumors grow very slowly, but always end up killing the afflicted giant.

Once the brain has decomposed, the tumor is left behind inside the skull. It may occupy as much as 30% of the skulls volume. These brainstones are highly prized by wizards, since they can be used to create bowls and cups that are a necessary part of certain magic rituals. The average brainstone goes for about $200.00 per pound on the open market.

One Pill Makes You Larger And One Pill Makes You Small, But That One Helps You Pee

…or not pee, depending upon the pill

Hey There, Readers!

Even though I have tons of Doclopedia themes, I can always use a few more. If you have any ideas for subjects…THAT YOU CAN DESCRIBE IN 7 WORDS OR LESS…let me know in the easy to use comment section.

Thank you!

Baked Squeebs In Butter Sauce

…because boiled squeebs are just plain nasty

The Doclopedia #97

Alt. Rocks: The Sand Woman

 

She’s not actually made of sand, you know. I reckon she’s made of ectoplasm or somesuch, but she takes up the sand to have a solid form. Under the moonlight, even up close, she looks pretty normal. And beautiful and sad.

Researching the legend (is it still a legend if you know it’s real and true?) was pretty easy. Newspaper office in town has issues on file for every week of the last 133 years. The issue for October 4th, 1885 had her obituary and a full page written about her by her sister. Pretty moving stuff, actually.

Anyway, her name was Josefina Delgado and she was the daughter of the town’s baker and his wife. Middle child of nine and by all accounts a quiet young lass not given to doing anything that might get her in trouble. Leastwise, not until she got up around 17. That’s when she was told by her parents to choose a husband from among several suitors. Problem was, she didn’t want to get married to anybody. She told her folks that she wanted to go to the big city (Los Angeles) and study to be an artist, which she had great talent towards. Her folks shot that down on the grounds that it was unseemly for a young girl to go to school all alone like that, plus they couldn’t afford it so she had better damned well choose a husband.

Well, she shut herself up in the attic of the house for a few days and painted a bunch of pictures, all of them showing her walking on the beach in the moonlight. Wouldn’t eat anything and, according to her sister, kinda went crazy….talking to herself and praying and such.

Finally, after 4 days, she came on down and ate a bit and apologized to everyone and hugged them and such. She told everyone that she would let them know her decision that night, after a walk alone on the beach. They were all pretty glad she had come to her senses, but her younger sister was still concerned about her. She thought something was up, so that evening after dinner, when Josefina went on her walk, Serafina (the younger sister) snuck up to the attic to look around.

What she found was a bunch of paintings, 15 of them, all arranged in a circle. The first was small, only 6” square, and showed Josefina at the top of the trail that lead down to the beach. Each painting in turn got a bit bigger and showed her going farther along the the beach, until the last one, that showed just a section of beach and the moonlight on the water.

As Serafina looked at it, she saw Josefina walk into the painting and then lie down on the sand. As she watched, the painted girl took a small bottle out of her skirt pocket and drank it. Then she just smiled and closed her eyes.

At that point, Serafina knew what was going on and ran screaming down to her parents. It took them a few minutes to calm her down enough to get the full story, but once they had it, everyone headed for the beach. Sure enough, the found Josefina there, dead from poison.

Later on, somebody brought those pictures down from the attic and it was noticed that Josefina was not in any of them. A few days later, all of the paintings just up and disappeared from the room they had been put into. Nobody looked very hard trying to find them.

One year to the day after her death, a young fisherman who had grown up with her saw Josefina walking down the beach. Scared though he was, he spoke to her as she passed, but all she did was smile at him. Since then, hundreds of folks have seen her. She usually makes a couple of trips up and down the two mile stretch of beach every couple of weeks or so. She never speaks and it you try to touch her, she just dissolves into sand. And once every few years, somebody finds a painting down there on the beach. Subject matter is always different, but it’s never a picture of a beach. Some years ago, an art critic came to town and saw them. He said they were the work of a very talented artist.

I reckon Josefina was glad to hear that.

Sherlock Holmes And The Adventure Of The Bathing Basset Hound

…a very damp case

The Doclopedia #96

Alt. Rocks: The Growing Stones

 

It’s quite simple, really. If you get ’em wet, they start to grow, and brother, they grow fast! A rock the size of a brick will get 6 feet tall and double its diameter if you dump half a gallon of water on it. Then it falls over and breaks up and each piece will grow when it gets wet. Scary, eh?

No, you can’t touch it! Not when it’s wet anyway. It’ll suck the minerals out of you and then you’ll die. Terrible way to go. Now, once it’s dry…see how it looks grey when dry, but greenish when wet…it’s safe to touch.

Only place you’ll find it is here in this crater. See, I figure a meteor crashed here a few thousand years ago and this stuff is unlike anything on earth. Yeah, right, good thing it’s way out here in the outback. Still, it does get a bit of rain every couple of years. I figure this crater used to be twice as deep, but the stones are slowly filling it up. Another century or two and they’ll start spilling out into the surrounding area. Things could get bad then, what with Kangaroo Creek only a couple of miles away.

Sure, sure, take a sample or two. Maybe you can figure out how to stop it. Me, I’m just gonna stay out here with my mine over yonder. Now let’s have us a cup of joe…well away from these damned stones.

Mashed Potatoes Of Love

…with Danger Gravy

The Doclopedia #95

Alt. Rocks: Stoney Flint, Elemental Detective

 

On the Elemental Plane of existence, no fictional detective was more popular than Stoney Flint, Elemental Detective. First published in 1932 by Hydro & Pyro Press, the series lasted in the pulp magazine format until 1956. In 1969, the first paperback reprints began appearing in the popular double story format. In 1974, the first all new stories began and the series continued monthly for the next 15 years. Most of the original stories were written by prolific pulp author Herman Sulphur, with the remainder by Frank Stream (a Water Elemental later known for creating the comic book hero Blue Mist), but all appeared under the house name of Lance Coal. Paperback originals have been written by a number of authors, but all are published under the Coal byline.

The series was notable for sometimes crossing into other genres than that of straight up detective stories. At various times, Stoney dealt with spies, the supernatural, masked vigilantes and even aliens. During World War Two, Stoney regularly went up against foreign agents or traitorous businessmen.

Stoney Flint was, as described by his secretary, Polly Zephyr, “a half a ton of real man” with “a strong chin, a chipped nose and eyes that could look right through ya”. Stoney had his office on the third floor of the Hydrogen Building (a real place) in Venice, California. His three room bungalow was variously described as either four or two blocks away, but always across from Quartz’s Pool Hall. His car varied over the years, but was always 5 or 6 years old and “almost paid off”. He carried many weapons over the years, but most often favored a revolver.

Many supporting characters appear in the stories. Notable among them are his best friend, Captain Smokey La Flame of the LAPD Homicide Division, Rocco Quartz (owner of Quartz’s Pool Hall, Mac Liquido (his Water mechanic and sometimes backup) and his ex-wife, Augusta “Gussie” Flint (assistant to the Mayor of Los Angeles). The only supporting character to appear in every story was Polly Zephyr, who also narrated the 15 stories not told by Stoney himself. Polly was different from the classic P.I. Secretary in that she did not carry a torch for her boss and was happily married. She was also far from helpless and on more that one occasion pulled Stoney’s fat from the fryer.

The stories also featured several recurring villains, most prominently Vic Magma, the half Fire/half Earth crime boss who ruled the Mob in L.A. Stoney crossed paths with him 44 times before Magma met his death in the 1986 story “The Lonely Photographer Case”.

Other recurring criminals included Colonel Kurt Storm (Nazi spy master), Mr. Tsunami (Japanese scientist and spy), Lydia Snow (master thief and old flame), Zangar Deathdealer (a supernatural being called a “human”, who was a serial killer) and Nick & Nora Charcoal (a husband and wife team of grifters).

In 1935, the NBC Blue channel began airing The Adventures of Stoney Flint over the radio. The series was an instant hit and went from an initial set of 16 half hour episodes straight into one hour episodes that ran until 1953. Until 1948, Stoney was voiced by famed character actor Bob Iron. After Iron retired, the role was taken over by Paul Diamond until the series ended.

On television, Stoney Flint ran from 1957 until 1971, but was later revived as a series of television movies on HBO between 1986 and 2003. In the original series, Stoney was portrayed by Dan Copper. In the HBO movies, he was played by James Sand.

Many Stoney Flint feature films were made between 1937 and 1952 by ROK Studios. Various actors played the part of Stoney. All of these films are now available on DVD.

Devil Gerbils From Hell

…as opposed to other gerbils from hell

The Doclopedia #94

Alt. Rocks: Floaty Gravel

 

Ahem! If you will open your textbooks to page 112, we shall discuss that most important discovery of this century, Gravity Negating Granite, or as I’m quite sure all of you call it, “Floaty Gravel”.

This wondrous mineral was first discovered in the American state of Nevada in 1872 by the miners Archibald Banks and his partner Vulcan Moore. The discovery came about when they saw that after a lightning strike, an entire dry lake bed full of gravel rose 5 feet into the air and floated there for a full 4 minutes. Mr. Banks estimated that it had to be about 20 tons or more of generally pea sized gravel. When Mr. Moore examined it more closely (without touching it) he noticed this form of granite was slightly different from any other he had ever seen. In addition, it seemed to be glowing faintly.

When the effect of the lightning subsided, the whole mass of gravel dropped straight down with a loud noise and, as Mr. Banks put it, “a hell of a cloud of dust”. Knowing that they had discovered something amazing, the two miners gathered up a few pounds of it and headed off to Carson City. From there, they traveled on to San Francisco, where they went to see the famous scientist Professor Benjamin Grove.

After several days of experimentation, Grove had discovered that the gravel would float only if it was exposed to an electrical current. The higher the voltage used, the more gravel could be made to float. However, if a set amount of gravel was given an increasing amount of voltage, it would float higher and would actually lift objects placed upon it, assuming one enclosed the gravel so as not to allow it to spread out and float away. At one point, a pound of gravel in a wooden box was given enough voltage to life gravel, box and Professor Groves cat, Hermes, nine feet into the air.

Within a month, Banks, Moore and Grove were back in Nevada and proud owners of not one, but four adjoining dry lake beds, all of which had been purchased at a ridiculously cheap price. These lake beds, students, are the only source of Gravity Negating Gravel and the most heavily guarded mining facility in the world. It is from here that the gravel used in all the great skyships comes.

Once they had made their discovery known to the world, scientists flocked to Nevada and Banks & Moore put them to work experimenting. Inside of a year, the first skyship was built. Two years after that, Banks & Moore were the wealthiest men on the planet. The nations of the world were beating a path to their door and bringing plenty of money with them.

And now, twenty years later, we are told that an expedition to the moon is to be mounted using a specially built type of skyship and some of the latest electrical generators. My, what marvelous times we live in!

Invasion Of The Sausage Men

…old movie titles misheard #1

The Doclopedias #93

Alt. Rocks: George The Stone Golem

 

In Fantasy Universe 4, the Godmages were constantly trying to kill one another with everything from exotic poisons (the Liquor of Internal Dissolving) to armies of magical creatures (Cyclopazons) to bizarre weather (the Godmage Elvoon was killed in his nightly bath by a miniature storm of freezing swamp mud). Everybody is looking for the Next Big Deadly Thing.

Enter George, a Stone Golem of amazing proportions and skills. He stood 24 feet tall and seemed to be made of rare Blue Marble. Unlike many stone golems, he was finely detailed and noble looking. Additionally, he was nearly indestructible and able to store up the raw power of most forms of attack, releasing them as a shockwave that can knock a house down.

It was quite unfortunate for George’s creator (the Godmage known as Ilbraan the Superior) that every time he absorbed raw power, it made the golem just a but smarter. After a couple of years, George was smart enough to kill his creator and then escape into the wider world. The common folk were afraid of him at first, but after he did several good deeds, they began to like him.

His status among the common folk really rose when he decided to start killing off the Godmages. Every time he would kill one of the terrible wizards, he would find himself not only smarter, but more resistant to the effects of magic. By the time he crushed the vampire snake hordes of Godmage Yityot, he was pretty much unstoppable. Within two more years, George had killed the last of the Godmages and the common folk loved him for it.

Nowadays, George continues to roam the land and offer help where it is needed. From time to time, he will sit down and think. During these times, which can last several weeks, he does not move at all. Nobody knows what he is thinking about and he has never told anyone.

Mexican Jenny And Bad Candy Bust Up A Beer Bash

…they rode in on the hood of a Camaro

The Doclopedia #92

Alt. Rocks: Powerstones

 

It is generally accepted that Magadalius Flinster was the wizard who created powerstones nearly 1,700 years ago. It would seem that he wanted to stop an incoming meteor from demolishing his newly finished castle, so he tapped into the raw mana of the Universe and sent a bolt of energy out into the aether, hoping to destroy the space rock. Sadly, 7 hours later the meteor slammed into the ground, leaving a 2,500 foot wide, 900 foot deep crater where Castle Flinster (and Magadalius) had previously stood.

Infused as it was with raw mana that had been altered somewhat by cosmic forces outside the atmosphere, the meteor released a mighty shockwave of magical energy that circled the planet and turned all meteorites of a similar basic makeup (carbonaceous chondrites) into a new type of mineral: powerstones.

All powerstones hold large supplies of mana, but the size of the stone is not an indicator of the amount of power it holds. The most powerful stone ever documented was owned by Borwan the Horrible (who was, despite his overly theatrical nickname, quite a nice chap) and, despite being the size of a duck egg, held 900 mana units of power. (Note: one mana unite is the amount of magical power needed to cast the basic Detect Magic spell)

The vast majority of powerstones are in the ping pong ball size range and hold about 75-90 power units. All powerstones are very dark green in color with much lighter thin green streaks. The average powerstone sells for about 200 gold pieces.

Powerstones are much sought after because A: Most wizards can themselves only store about 12 power units of mana B: Channeling raw mana ripped from the universe will quickly fuck your shit up C: They can be recharged. It’s not cheap and it takes about a month for every 20 points, but there are wizards who make good money doing it.

There has long been a legend telling of a powerstone the size of a barrel that has at least 3,000 units worth of mana. The legend goes on to say that this powerstone is located in the castle of the Demon King of Demarra, which would explain why it has never been stolen and brought to the surface world.

Handsome Joe And The Mystery In The Garden

…a children’s book title

Finally, we come to the end of two weeks of Average Joes and retro 365 posts. Starting tomorrow: All new stuff with Alt. Rocks Week.

365 People, Places & Things #91

Our last Joe is just keepin’ it clean.

Average Joes: Joe Bosley, Street Sweeper

Like I was saying, this is a hell of a town for garbage in the streets. Last week, it was the Brotherhood of Airshippers parade and them boys was partying hard up in those zeppelins. Lemme tell ya, when a full beer can hits the street after a 3,000 foot fall, it blows up real good. There’s parts of town that are gonna smell of beer for a month.

Then, a couple of weeks before that, it was the National Mad Scientists convention. Damn, them scientists sure can party…when they aren’t trying to kill each other. The city will be patching up from that for months. I’m not sure what the hell they’ll do about them walkin’ trees in Central Park.

Of course, even that big blowout was nothing compared to the Martian Werewolf Invasion of 1996. Man, we racked up the overtime cleaning up after that. Heck, I even found enough Martian bits & pieces to sell on eBay for big bucks. Can you imagine somebody payin’ 500 large for one of them Martian helmets?

A week from this comin’ Thursday is the big GeekCon sci-fi convention. First time it’ll be held in the Big Apple since 1975. From what I’ve heard on the Street Sweeper websites, it’s gonna make the Brotherhood of Evil Bastards convention look like a quilting bee.

Our Friend, The Squid

…number 12 in a series

The Doclopedia #89

Average Joes: Joe Standing Elk, Fishing Guide

Oh yes, my family has been fishing the Thames and it’s tributaries since about 1320…not long after we conquered Britain. Of course, some of my grandfathers (the Cherokees on my mother’s side) went on to fight the war in Austria, where they eventually settled. In fact, I have an Austrian cousin who works on a reservation near Rome. He tries his best to keep the white people healthy and sober, but it’s an uphill battle.

Speaking of Rome, or Italy, there’s some great fishing up in the north country. Of course, with all that coastline, you’d better believe the saltwater angling is incredible. I know some guys who run boats out of Venice, in case you’re interested.

The Homeland? Well sir, that’s where you’ll find the best fishing anywhere. Northern or southern continent, it doesn’t matter, they’re both full of great rivers, streams and lakes that are just packed with fish. I go over a couple of times a year. I’ll show you a few photos of some of the whoppers I caught once we’re done here.

Now let me show you this sweet new rod & reel we just got in. It’ll be great for fishing up in the Lochs.

 

The Doclopedia #90

Average Joes: Joe Kolchak, Cab Driver

I’m tellin’ ya, Eddie, ya see some friggin’ strange shit on the late shift. The other night, I get commandeered by this FBI agent who tells me to follow some guy who’s on foot…and the guy outruns us! No, I ain’t been smokin’ crack, ya wiseass. I’m tellin’ ya, this mook was hittin’ 60-70 miles an hour and jumpin’ over oncoming cars!

And then there was last Thursday, when I pick up this chick who got into my hack with blond hair, a really big rack and blue eyes…but when she gets out, she has gray eyes, short black punky hair and hardly any tits! Yeah, I know, most dames would have gone from flat & punk to blond and glamorous, but in the space of 20 minutes in the backseat of a cab?

Just last night, I’m heading up 57th street towards the Carlton Hotel and this guy hails me. I pull over and he gets in and tells me to get him to the Zoo and step on it. Says he’ll tip me big. Anyway, I hit the gas and we’re on our way. Yeah yeah, I know the Zoo is closed at night, but I’m thinkin’ this guy might be livin’ nearby in one of them fancy townhouses. Anyhow, this guy is in the back, moanin’ kinda quiet like and every so often he has like a spasm or some shit. By the time we reach the Zoo, he jumps outta the cab and tosses me a handful of twenties. By the time I look up to thank him, all I see is a big shape leapin’ over that 8 foot high fence they got around the place.

I swear, some nights I wonder if I ain’t drivin’ in the Twilight Zone.

Confessions Of A Sedum Collector

…gardening humor

The Doclopedia #88

This time, we’ve got a Steampunk Joe.

Average Joes: Joe Babbage, Steambus Driver

Yep, sonny, I’ve been running this old girl from the Bay Bridge to Daly City for the better part of 17 years now and you’ll not find a more reliable Steambus in all of the Bay Area! Why, even when they were installing the new zeppelin port, I kept this bus on time! Clockwork cabbies? Ha! I’ve seen them and I wasn’t impressed. No, the bus is still your best bet.

The TransBay Tunnel? Yep, I’ve been through it. Didn’t care for it much…too dark for my taste. Still, I’ve got to admit that it is fast and a wonder of modern technology and such. Wouldn’t want to run that route though, because I like the fresh air and sunshine too much.

Oh, hey, look there! That would be that new steam giant they’ve been talking about. Boy, he must stand 75 feet tall if he’s an inch. They say old Professor Goffmann built it to go exploring in remote mountainous areas around the world. Imagine that.

Here we are, folks, Daly City Terminal. Connections here to the zeppelin port, the train station and the new freeway to Los Angeles. Have a nice day and thank you for taking the Steambus.

The Adventures Of Rabbit-Man

…Rabbit-Man, Rabbit-Man, does whatever a rabbit can!

Hey, y’all, it’s FRIDAY and to celebrate, here are TWO Average Joes! Man, I really spoil you kids.

The Doclopedia #86

Long ago, in a galaxy far far away, there was…Joe.

Average Joes: Joe Lucas, Droid Repairman

Man, that is one banged up K5 unit you’ve got there. What happened to him? Did a Wookie play kickball with him? Yeah, sure, I’ll fix him up. You want the new 6.2 software upgrade while I’m at it? It’ll make the unit much less prone to freezing up during moments of stress.

That? Why, lady, that there is a genuine Corellian P9X “Watchdroid”. See, the Corellian pirates use those little guys to keep an eye out for Imperial types of folks. One of the Emperor’s flunkies comes within visual contact range and the droid sends a message with image to his master, who then either clears out or…arranges a welcome. Don’t see many of the P9X models anymore though. They’ve mostly been replaced by the new P12Z models.

Protocol droids? Oh, man, I hate working on them. They never shut up! Worse, if you shut off their speech function, you get false readings on most of your tests, so you have to let them keep yapping. I’d rather work on Sewer Droids.

The Doclopedia #87

Look, up in the sky, it’s…ooh, look…foot long hot dogs for only a buck! Err, umm…with great power comes great…hunger…is that bratwurst I smell?

Average Joes: Joe Nathan, Hot Dog Cart Operator

The Food Network? Yer kiddin’, right? Yer not? Oh wow, wait’ll Muriel hears about this! Is Alton Brown around here? Boy, I’d sure like to meet him!

My regulars? Oh, I get lots of the heroes, ya know. They stop by for a quick bite. Of course, I get some of the villains, too, but I don’t discriminate. Even bad guys need to eat, right?

What do they like? Well, Spidey, he likes a brat with mustard and relish. How the hell he can eat while hanging upside down, I’ll never know. Batman? He’s a chili dog kinda guy…likes cheese and jalapeños on ’em…usually stops by early in the morning in that hotrod of his…great tipper, too.

For Wolverine, I stock these habanero dogs. Man, he can put away 5 or 6 of them. Me, I’d have heartburn for a month. Now, Sue Storm, she’s just a plain old mustard dog kind of gal, but Reed, he likes his Chicago style.

The Joker? Well, he likes the foot longs with lotsa kraut and maple syrup. Yeah, I know, but hey, if he can choke it down…

All Kids Know About The Toe Eating Monster

…who lives under beds

The Doclopedia #85

Yeah, Joe was average…the kind of average that a smart guy could use…the kind of average that could give a private dick an edge when it came to dealing with tough mugs and hot dames

Average Joes: Joe Hinkley, Barber

Me? Hey, I’m just the guy who gives shaves and haircuts. Yeah, I might hear sometin’ interesting now and then…sometimes some interesting mugs come in. Sell information? Me? Now whatever gave you that idea?

What’s this? A picture of President Jackson? Hey, he’s one of my favorites! I’ll just put him in a place of honor here in my wallet.

So, you say some guy got a hot lead escort to the next life, eh? Up at Griffith Park? Hmmm…seems to me I might have heard a couple of fellas talking about having been up there on the night in question. One of them may have been a large gentleman of Italian ancestry who has a scar on one cheek and walks with a limp. The other guy might have been a weaselly looking little bastard who needs to learn how to tip properly.

Tony the Gimp and Eddie the Mouse? Never heard of ’em? But if I had, I might guess that they tend to spend most nights down at the Bluebird Club on Sepulveda. I hear that it’s a fine establishment that a smart guy might enter through the back door if he wanted to avoid being spotted.

There now, all trimmed up and you look like a million bucks. Another picture of Mr. Jackson? Why, thank you, sir!

Doc Tempest vs The Rain Of Madness

…from the May, 1951 issue

The Doclopedia #84

Arrr, this Joe be a right popular feller among the pirates!

Average Joes: Joe Brown, Tavernkeeper

Here ya go, matey, fresh off the boat from Jamaica today. That there rum’ll put a wind in yer sails fer sure! Just got inta port, eh? Well, ye came at a good time, I reckon.

Oh yeah, it be a tad quiet in here now, but I expect that ’round noon the ships’ll drop anchor and the Council O’ Captains will start their monthly meetin’ over on the Red Lady. That be Captain Irina’s ship, an’ right now she’s the High Captain. They’ll talk on all sortsa matters, includin’ what to do about th’ upcoming alliance between the Spanish and the French.

Ye’ve not heard o’ that? Well, them two countries has gone and decided ta send a small armada out here ta teach us honest pirates a lesson or two. Now normally, that would be a very bad stretch of weather, but I’m hearin’ that the Council has a little surprise fer them French & Spanish dogs. Not sure exactly what it is, but they’ve been sendin’ shiploads of supplies over ta Angelfish Island where that perfesser fella and his mates done set up shop a few years ago. Could have somethin’ to do with them strange tales people been spreadin’ about seein’ lights in th’ sky at night. Whatever ’tis, I’m bettin’ it catches that little armada by surprise.

Anyway, once the Council meetin’ ends, things around here’ll get hoppin’ or I’ll kiss a barnacle!

The Rare And Beautiful And Huggable Giant Yellow Bunnies Of Potawango Island

…I’m gonna hug ’em and squeeze ’em, George.

HAPPY 14th ANNIVERSARY TO MY SWEET ANGEL, GRACE! I love you, baby!

And now…

The Doclopedia #83

Yippie Ky Ay, Joe’s in the Wild West!

Average Joes: Joe Chang, Bathhouse Proprietor

Yes, yes…you’ve come to the right place for a bath, sir. For only 50 cents, we’ll fix you up a nice hot bath and give you a bar of fancy French milled soap. Very nice! For slightly more, we can give you the extra soft towels, too. A beautiful young lady to share the bath? I’m sorry, sir, but that is beyond our meager offerings. Still, I would suggest that after your bath you visit Miss Becky’s Sporting House, just 3 door down from us.

Yes, sir, I’ve been here quite a number of years. My lack of accent? Well, that comes from being raised right here in Virginia City, by a missionary couple. My parents came here with them as servants after their mission in China was cut short. Unfortunately, my parents died of a fever when I was but a year old. Reverend Harris and his wife raised me as their son.

A drink? Oh, by all means, sir! Here we go, a fine bourbon that a former customer had shipped in from Kentucky. Join you? Why, thank you, sir. Aah, very nice.

That tub on the wall? That’s the tub that the Sunset Kid was in when he was gunned down by Frisco Jim Delaney. Oh, yes sir, it was an exciting night here in Virginia City. It all started when the Kid was over at the Silver Dollar Saloon…

Atomic Pants

…really!

 

The Doclopedia #82

Average Joes: Joe Konk, Security Guard

 

Uhh, yeah, I’m the only security guard here at the ACME factory. It’s rough work, but what else am I gonna do? I’m not good lookin’ like Mickey Mouse or smart like Bugs Bunny.

Besides, I recover pretty quickly from all of the assaults by thieving toons. Why, I’ve been konked with baseball bats, hit in the face with frying pans, had pianos dropped on my head, run through a pasta machine, shot by 27 kinds of gun, blown up, made to watch daytime television, eaten by a tiger, covered with cement, squished into a number 303 can, pounded into the ground by a huge mallet, chomped by a crocodile, inflated like a balloon, steamrollered flat, stomped on by elephants and painted pink. And that was just this week!

The 35 Things That You Should Know How To Do To Avoid Crazy Women

…#1: Never associate with crazy women

 

The Doclopedia #81

Average Joes: Joe Wyznowski, Cemetery Custodian

 

Yeah, I know, it’s a creepy job taking care of a cemetery. Some of my friends thought I was nuts, but hell, the pay is good and I get this nice little cottage to live in. It’s a quiet neighborhood…ha ha ha…and door to door salesmen never come around. I got nice gardening all around me that the ladies from the Historical Society take care of and there’s lots of songbirds and squirrels and such. Yeah, I like it here just fine.

Oh sure, we get some vandals every now and then…and there have been a few exhumations by the cops, you know, to help solve crimes. Last one of those was just a few weeks ago, when they dug up old Jasper Hood in order to find out if his wife had poisoned him. Turned out she did, with some poison mushrooms in his pasta sauce. Kinda put me off Italian for a couple of weeks, I tell ya.

Every now and then you get a wacko coming on the grounds, like that creepy goth guy who insisted that his dead girlfriend was not really dead. He got hauled off by the cops because he had all this vampire slaying stuff in his bag. They sent him up to Pinewood Sanitarium, but I heard that he slit his own throat a few days later and bled out. Anyway, they cremated him and that was that.

Ghosts? No, I haven’t seen…ok, look, I’ll tell ya this but it’s just between you and me…I’ve seen a couple of folks walking around the grounds who had a see through complexion. Nothing threatening, just one is some guy from around 1890 who strolls around with a big phantom boxer dog and the other is this young chick from about 1968, a hippie type, who dances on some of the headstones near her grave. But like I said, nothing sinister. Actually, they guy tips his hat when he sees me and the girl flashes me the peace sign.

Zombies? Hey, you’ve been reading too much pop fiction. But even if they did show up, I ‘ve got a 12 gage pump action that would take off a head slick as a whistle.

So anyway, it might be a creepy job for some folks, but all in all, it beats pumping gas.