Mark Hurley

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Infants Drink Formula (scene)

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FIrst attempt at play writing, several years ago. Not perfect by any stretch, but amusing. Published here for posterity.

Infants Drink Formula

By Mark Hurley

Characters:

Molly: A new mother in her mid-twenties.

Jose: Her boyfriend in his mid-thirties.

 

Scene opens on a living room. There is typical living room furniture for a middle class family living in an apartment, except it is all shabby and unkempt. There is also a cradle next to the couch facing the television. MOLLY enters stage left with a crying infant in her arms (this can be simulated with a doll and baby crying sound effect cues). She is clearly frustrated, her unwashed hair is a mess. The television is on, turned to Cartoon Network.

 

MOLLY

Christ on a Stick! Shut UP!

(The baby continues its tantrum)

Well, what the hell do you WANT? Are you hungry? Do you want some drugs? What is it?

(The crying does not stop. She makes to put the infant in the cradle, but the noise only gets worse.)

You are the worst doll ever! Why won’t you just sleep?

(With super-human force known only to apply to mothers, MOLLY grabs the infant by its leg and heaves it at the upstage wall. Because it is only a doll, it will lie lifeless and grotesquely configured on the floor without much coaxing. The action of the actors and the furniture should mask the doll so that no one in the audience is staring at it wondering if it is, in fact, a doll)

Christ, finally!

(MOLLY makes a play of straightening her hair, but it is clear nothing can be done for it. She settles on the couch and picks up her Redbook, and reads until JOSE walks through the door a minute or so later, stage right through the door to the outside)

 

JOSE

Yo.

MOLLY

Jesus, where have you been?

JOSE

Where’s the kid?

MOLLY

On the floor. Christ, I thought that shit box of a car finally killed you.

JOSE

I got you a lottery ticket. Why is it every time I come home there are cartoons on TV? Do you not have the brain capacity for anything more intelligent? And why is my baby on the floor?

MOLLY

We’ve been through this. It probably isn’t yours.

JOSE

Well, I wasn’t looking to patent it, Molly. I mean “my baby” as in “it came in a bundle deal with the pussy it came out of.”

MOLLY

Real sweet, hun. You mentioned a lottery ticket? Did you remember to pick up some milk for the baby?

JOSE

No. And stop feeding it milk. Infants need formula.

MOLLY

Christ. (pause) Well give it to me! (Jose hands her the scratch card) Got a quarter?

JOSE

No. I spent all my cash at the smoke shop on that ticket.

MOLLY

Yeah, and about thirty of your own I’ll bet. (Rolls her eyes and pulls a metal barrett from a seemingly arbitrary place in her nest of hair and begins to scratch furiously with it at the lottery ticket. She continues to berate JOSE while she scratches) You know, if you want to claim the kid as your own, you should take some fucking responsibility and buy some milk before you blow your entire pay check on two dollar scratch cards.

JOSE

(Looks behind couch at the baby) I’m not entirely sure that’s going to matter anymore.

MOLLY

(Ignores him) You better hope this fucking card wins so you can go back to the store and get your daughter some milk.

JOSE

(Still looking behind the couch) Babies that young drink formula, Molly. Do you know what infanticide is?

MOLLY

No. (Studies the thoroughly scratched card) Fuck, it’s a loser.

JOSE

Did you look at the code between the game pieces?

MOLLY

What?

JOSE

Between the numbers you’re supposed to match up on the card are little letters. If they spell something, then you win that amount.

MOLLY

Yeah, I think there are letter here. Does that mean I win?

JOSE

No, retard. They have to spell something. Like, if the letters say T-W-O, it means you win two dollars.

MOLLY

The letters are Y-S-L. what does that spell out.

JOSE

It spells “You Suck at the Lottery”.

MOLLY

Shit. I don’t need your sarcasm now. When that kid comes to, she’s going to want some milk.

JOSE

Stop feeding babies milk, dummy. Besides, I’m pretty sure you’re not going to have to feed her anything anymore.

MOLLY

I’M the dummy? Babies need to eat to get bigger, dummy.

JOSE

Molly, the baby is fucking dead.

MOLLY

Bullshit. I put it to sleep. It’s just sleeping.

JOSE

Maybe we should call someone…

MOLLY

(Disinterested, picks up newspaper and begins tearing coupons out of the back) Like who?

JOSE

I dunno, the police… the church?

MOLLY

Or the fire fighters, or your mommy, or the fucking Ghostbusters. Jesus, you’re such a pussy. The little bastard will wake up screaming before you know it, then YOU can explain to it why it has no milk.

JOSE

She has no milk because I’m not irresponsible enough to BUY it for her. Infants drink formula, Molly.

MOLLY

Hey! Scooby Doo is on!

JOSE

Or breast milk. Ever hear of that?

MOLLY

I read somewhere that it was bad for the baby to feed it breast milk.

JOSE

Shut up, you don’t read.

MOLLY

Fine! I saw it on Oprah.

JOSE

OK. Did Oprah mention anything about throwing infants at walls?

MOLLY

Shut up. I love this show and I’m missing it.

JOSE

I fucking hate Scooby Doo.

MOLLY

Well I love it.

JOSE

Tell me this, if Shaggy and Scooby are so goddamned afraid of everything, and the friends they travel around with pretty much LIVE to go to real life haunted houses and solve real life horror mysteries, why don’t they just tell Fred to fuck off?

MOLLY

Shhhhh…

JOSE

No seriously, its not like they can’t buy their own Scooby Snacks. It basically requires a part time job delivering pizza in the weed-mobile.

MOLLY

I don’t think someone who spends his time scratching lottery tickets at the smoke shop should criticize how other people spend their time and money.

JOSE

Yeah, well, if I were Shaggy I’d just lay it down for Fred. I’d say, (puts on his best Shaggy voice) “Zoiks, Fred. Stop fucking patronizing me with your box of treats and your convincing me to put myself in mortal danger. I’m tired of running after ghosts that are NEVER REALLY GHOSTS and never will be. Like, maybe I’m more afraid to be seen in the company of a loser in a neck-kerchief than old man Johnson in a Halloween mask.”

MOLLY

Go get the baby, its time to feed her.

JOSE

There’s nothing to feed her. And she’s dead.

MOLLY

Did you ever notice the cloud of pot smoke that’s always behind Fred and Daphne in the Mystery Machine?

JOSE

I wonder if Casey Casem knew.

MOLLY

Haha, can you imagine him doing his New Year’s countdowns after smoking a bowl or two. (Does a stoned Casey Casem impression) “This next video from Linkin Park is AWFUL. Seriously, who let these guys make music? Christ…”

JOSE

Hahahaha. God, yer funny. I’m sorry I was cross with you. I really love you.

MOLLY

I love you too sweetheart.  (They begin to make out passionately as the lights go down)

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Written by scumbagstyle

May 24, 2011 at 8:34 pm

The Chrysanthemum Phenomenon

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Very first attempt at story telling in High School, with no formal training or experience. Its success was influential in my career choice early on, but it is not indicative of how I write now after 6 years college training and as much professional writing experience.

The Chrysanthemum Phenomenon

M. Hurley

A squirrel approached me the other day in a collected demeanor that made me question my usual sound masculine confidence. Its eyes never left mine, my inquisitive expression mirrored grotesquely in the solid depths of its fixed stare. The squirrel exuded such manly potency that the testosterone saturated my nostrils, singeing the sensitive hairs therein. Barely had my brain processed these new feelings of inequity when the assertive saunter of the squirrel ceased abruptly. Truly, if the rodent moved at all, the minuteness of its stirrings escaped the attention of my mortal eyes. Just as assuredly as the satisfied smirk melted from its furry face, the squirrel’s neck protruded from its shoulders in concentrated alertness, a twitch of its whiskers confirming its quiet contemplation. Without warning, its eyelids fired apart and its features contorted into a retarded version of its former self-confidence. The squirrel tucked its paw close to its chest in a sort of squirrel fist as it keeled over and squealed, “My kingdom for an acorn!” before it plummeted from its perch on the lower branches of a tree overhanging the street. Gravity was the eventual downfall of the starving squirrel.

Barophobia. My father had an acute fear of gravity. “Son,” he used to warn me, “gravity… it’s always there.” I had to agree with him: never had I experienced a reprieve from the force that was ever beneath my feet, the force that was my father’s bane. He would warn me of the dangers of gravity like any other father would insist upon the use of condoms, or filters on your camels, on which filters definitely do not belong. Some mornings I would awake to screams emanating from the bathroom due to the sheer vertical distance from my father’s eyes to the toilet, into which he was taking his morning piss. We would find him curled on the floor of the bathroom, fetal in the pool of urine covering the tiles.

            My father perished at an early age when he tripped over a kitchen chair and fell face first into a butter knife he was carrying. We buried him on a Tuesday, in a plot he had bought for himself and my mother a month-and-a-half before. For the wake I picked a single chrysanthemum and strategically placed it over his cheek by his left eye, to which the mortuary could do nothing to make it look presentable. My mother found that appropriate. She said it was because it complimented the beauty of his disposition, but secretly I believed it was because mums were my mother’s favorite flowers and because she inwardly found my father rather plain. When they closed the casket to lower it into the ground, my mother insisted they leave the chrysanthemum there. Before the final burial, she sprinkled petals of the same flower into the hole as opposed to the traditional dirt.

Long sleeves were made for wearing in the summer, if only for the sake of being contrary. As the sun fell warm upon the back of my neck, I approached the disoriented squirrel in the name of half-interested scientific curiosity. I remember thinking how stylish I must seem in my long sleeve shirt, totally contradictory to the suffocating heat of the season. It had a tribal pattern on the right sleeve and the emblem of a fashionable designer on the back. The squirrel, by this time, was regaining its senses and returning to its feet on the pavement, preparing to climb the tree once again. It never made more than a few precarious steps toward the side of the road before its skittering locomotion was interrupted by a Taurus striking its fragile body.

I had a lover once whose mind was so wrought with soap opera drama and teenage anxieties that her emotional fragility was as visible as an open sore in the middle of her forehead. She was beautiful in her timidity, with hunched shoulders, curly, pudding-brown hair, and eyes so shallow her tears leaked from the almost constantly. She always moved very quickly, whether it was performing everyday procedures or forever changing her opinion on everything, her rationale for this being that if she did not keep one up on life it would surely shatter her. She was wearing black the day she finally succumbed to the first subtle throws of insanity. She sat at my kitchen table with a mug of green tea that had Chrysanthemum petal crushed into it. She used to say the petal gave the tea an aromatic consistency that not only alleviated one’s aching senses but also enhanced the taste quality, even though I secretly believed it tasted like shit.

            She sat and she sipped and she worried aloud whether she ought to repaint the walls in her own kitchen while I stood by and made sure she had access to only blunt objects. However, the conversation took a startling turn when she changed her mind, mid-sentence, about her feelings for me. Her face took on a disturbing Alec Guinness (circa Lady Killers) expression and her voice became course with Tourette-like profanity. “You bastard!” she hollered into the silence of my otherwise empty apartment. She then proceeded to defend this bold accusation with such a well thought out presentation that I would not be surprised had she whipped out a macabre flip chart written in the emotional blood I must have spilled in the long months of abuse I’d apparently inflicted. I was blamed for everything but the knots in her hair, but by the sound of things she might have made a good argument for that as well. Her largest issue was my acquisition of her innocence. She likened her virginity to a tomato that she trusted me to love and cherish and instead I palmed it and crushed it like so many bugs caught in one of those electric can openers my grandmother used to have. Her descent was rapid from there, like everything else she did, and I could do nothing to stop the terrible bouts of dementia that were prevalent in the following years. I tell you this in monotone disconnectedness for the sake of accurate storytelling, but I can assure you her condition affected me deeply. “I would love you,” I told her, “but I can’t keep up with you.”

            I approached the now motionless squirrel sprawling awkwardly on the hot pavement. I bent a stick of wintergreen gum in half and slid it into my mouth as I began my examination. Its back was snapped in what looked like two places and its right leg lay two and half feet from the rest of its body. Tire marks were permanently carved into the squirrel’s pliable flesh, and the weight of the car had forcibly pushed half of its brain out through its open mouth. I wondered to my self what interested me so terribly about the squirrel’s malformed carcass.

When I was a child I used to daydream that I was a vulture. I would hover above an imaginary desert, flapping my immense wings and looking down on my little sister’s Barbies, which I would place on the rug in such a way that they appeared to be beautiful heroines, close to death. Sometimes I would decapitate the plastic dolls in an effort to make the callous scene more believable, and to justify my consumption of the deceased. Then, when I wasn’t in the mood for imaginative entertainment that involved me as a main character, I would have my own GI Joes enslave the naked, headless Barbies and turn them into synthetic love puppets.

            Afterward, inevitably, my uncle would chide me for playing with my sister’s dolls and invite me to involve myself in some more masculine activities, such as getting him another Molson from the refrigerator. When I returned with his beer, my uncle would teach me to say dirty words and phrases, assuring me that the adults enjoying dessert in the kitchen would find it cute to hear me saying them. Elated beyond comprehension, I would run into the kitchen, my new light up Nikes squeaking on the clean hardwood floor. I would leap with spider-mannish agility from an unoccupied chair to the tabletop, where I would tear the bouquet of chrysanthemums from their glass vase and present them ceremoniously to my grandmother. By this time, the giggles and coos from the assembled women should have cued the expected adorable display. I would clear my throat, put on my best Tom Cruise smile, and declare for the entire kitchen, “This place smells like rotten vagina!” I took the stunned silences to mean that my aunts were speechless, my mother was mute with pride, and my grandmother was quietly assessing dying happily knowing her grandson was so gosh-darned charming. Every time something like that would happen, there would be weeks where I wasn’t allowed to see my uncle.

            The grotesque daVinci lay at my feet unmoving, a broken, bleeding testament to my shattered life. I knew that the corpse of the poor squirrel would remain smeared across the width of my street for a week or more if I were to do nothing about it. I’ve seen road kill stay longer than that. I considered my options and chewed my gum. I glanced at the houses around me where my neighbors lived. I could have removed the body from the middle of the street and saved the neighborhood an eyesore and a bad summertime stench. Then I realized that not only was I too lazy, but that I had no inclination to do anything so uninteresting as providing janitorial service to the nearby residents. I looked at the dead squirrel again, and stood for a good twenty minutes, fingering the acorn in my pocket.        

Written by scumbagstyle

May 24, 2011 at 8:25 pm

POI: The Caves of Ben-linka

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POI: The Caves of Ben-linka

OVERVIEW:

The Caves of Ben-linka is a tourist attraction run by a small group of Goblins. It consists of a series of caves, the centerpiece of which is the Grimmox Stone, a large, gorgeous, crystalline outgrowth from the main cave’s wall. The Stone is vaguely doughnut shaped, the inside of which can easily support the largest of Humans, standing arms and legs splayed DaVinci style. The outside of the circular stone is jagged with crystal edges that produce a beautiful blue glow, reflecting off the water that surrounds the platform it stands on, and off of the cave walls themselves. The inside, where visitors wait on line to stand one at a time, is polished smooth. When one stands inside the crystal doughnut, it glows in a seemingly random sequence of brilliant pinks, purples, blues and yellows, and a powerful, life-affirming energy courses through one’s body, like electric caffeine that can last up to a month at a time. One feels at peace with one’s life and self, and these people generally perform their regular jobs superlatively for a time, whether it be casting spells or baking bread. 

The powers of the Grimmox Stone, a spiritual center for an ancient “pagan” Goblin offshoot clan, bring hundreds of visitors to the Caves of Ben-linka a week. Tours are given hourly for small groups of pilgrims of every race and creed. To get to the main cave that houses the stone, a tour group must swim down a shallow [about 12 feet deep], subterranean fresh-water river that runs through a series of glistening caves. Tourists are encouraged to collect the rare and pretty shells, fish, and underwater plants that inhabit the river, for resources and decoration. When the river meets the main cave, it courses around the Goblin constructed stone platform on its left, in which stairs are built for access to the Stone. When the pilgrims have finished their business, the river continues through similar caves for a time to an exit at the other end [like one of those short snorkeling tours they give in tourist places in Mexico]. Visitors are filtered through a gift-shop that features knick-knacks, clothes, and literature revolving around Goblin mythical figure Ben-linka, before eventually leaving for good.

However, every once in a while, a visitor does not make it to the gift-shop. Some witnesses state the missing people were seen at the site of the Grimmox, while others have no recollection of the people at all. What they don’t know is that, aside from its powers to endow focus and energy into those that touch the stone, the Gimmox is also a filtering device that can detect a certain kind of spiritual energy in a person that is used in a ceremonial magic potion the Goblin devotees of Ben-linka sell at exorbitant price in the gift-shop, and in traveling medicine shows all around Palladia. Those who are found to possess the desired essence are dragged by retrieval Goblins underwater on the journey out of the attraction, who are able to breathe underwater with special gill-giving magic. Those people are never seen again, seemingly, but those who buy the Ben-linka potion, which is said to hold powers of anywhere from romantic attraction to lycanthropy cure, are actually holding their liquefied remains. The stone also has powers that make one hazy on the details of the experience, or forget them altogether, so that no one suspects the kidnappings.

REGION:

Rural Everquake Mountains, remote from Human settlements and Tremorstone.

GEOLOGY:

Caves, river

RESOURCES:

Fish, shells, shellfish, aquatic plants, Ben-linka potion and souvenirs

FOLIAGE:

Magically potent, brilliantly colored aquatic plants and weeds for those who can swim well.

INDIGENOUS BEASTS:

Fish, Goblins

PURPOSE:

Questing, PvE, resource collecting, temporary ability enhancement

DAILY ACTIVITIES:

Guided tours, market

Trade Goods:  Y                   Housing:   N                    Quests:  Y

Training Quests:  N               Type:  N/A

HISTORY:

The history of the Grimmox Stone has been lost to the centuries, and generations of the retelling have distilled it into vague spirituality. The powers of the Stone were discovered centuries before by the Goblins, and attributed to a new deity of power and consciousness known as Ben-linka. When the stone was lost for a time, the stories remained, and when the cult rediscovered the relic, it was clear that great profits could be made in exploiting its religious implications.

Layout:

A system of caves, consisting mostly of comfortable waterways accommodating swimmers, the Ben-linka Caves are not accommodating to travel on foot or pack animal. The middle of the system of caves houses the Grimmox, and is brilliantly illuminated by the crystalline stone and reflected beautifully by the water onto the surrounding walls.

Structures and Locales:

  1. Entrance: The entrance is where pilgrims queue up for admission. It has an open air pool where the group that is next to enter awaits their turn, and the mouth of the cave system, with added crystals for the sake of breeding anticipation.
  2. First Caves: All standard caves, the floors of which are entirely occupied by the fresh water river. There are some very pretty crystals lining the wall, but they pale in comparison to the Grimmox itself, and this is by design. Under the water, one can find the exotic aquatic life indigenous to the underground waterway.
  3. Main Cave: Like the others, only larger. There is a Goblin made rock platform on the left that the river courses around, with stairs leading up to the main event of the tour: the Grimmox. The Grimmox, as described above, is the centerpiece of the cave, larger than life and eye catching.
  4. Second Caves: These are the same as the first, except one crucial one: where the Goblins wait underwater to grab the ankles of those chosen to be liquefied into the Ben-linka potion. There is nothing to distinguish this one, so as not to raise suspicion.
  5. Gift-Shop: Before exiting the caves, visitors are shuffled through the gift shop where they are encouraged to browse and buy souvenirs. This is a cave that feels more homey, with atmospheric wooden rafters and muted, comfortable colored tapestries that grease the wallets of the pilgrims.

NPCs

  • Gorous and Boarous – Twin Goblins that run the tours. Bumbling and constantly juiced up on Grimmox power, they are pleasant, if off-putting in their jumpiness. They constantly finish each others’ sentences, often incorrectly, a situation that invariably leads to aimless arguments over semantics. They sometimes even confuse one with the other.
  • Flouride – The teenaged female Goblin that works the till in the gift shop. She is meek and often has a very guilty look on her face. If ever one were to attempt to get information on the disappearances in the Caves, Flouride would be the one to break most easily.
  • The Adherents – Those Goblins that happily volunteered to do the work of Ben-linka. They can be found either under water, or in the remote, secret caves where the potions are made (separate POI). All wear leather masks that cover the head like a light helm, with the Mark of Ben-linka squarely on the forehead. All carry leather satchels large enough to hold the live victims collected in the Cave, and carry them to the Processing Caves.

Broken Anvil – Chaotic Dwarf City POI

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Broken Anvil

Capitol: Broken Anvil

Population (racial breakdown): Varies, but averages 70% Dwarves, 30% Goblin

Languages: Common, Dwarf

Exports & Trade Goods: precious gems, iron, obsidian, Goblin hides, mushrooms, water

Imports: other foods,

Major Cities: Broken Anvil, Little Boulder, The ‘Combs, The Ruins of Old Boulder

Ruler: Constantly in contention

Type of Government: Anarchy

Overview:

The territory of Broken Anvil was meant to be a major province in what is now The Kingdom of Tremorstone, but fate and war changed its destiny. Located in the west of Palladia, in the mountains near the wastelands, the Dwarves of Broken Anvil are now completely cut off from their eastern kin. These Dwarves live in makeshift shelters in caves, tunnels, and caverns that were once fashioned to look like the tidy, functional ones of Tremorstone, but have since fallen into disrepair. Families and slipshod survival groups live behind barricades of discarded and broken furniture and weapons, protecting their meager possessions and often terrified for their very lives.

The anarchic government has no leader that anyone can agree upon. Therefore, safety and public works projects are non-existent. There is no standing army, outside of a rag-tag collection of poorly armed militias that have the ability to join together for a common cause, but rarely do. The only thing keeping oblivion, and the constant assaults by Goblins, at bay is the rabid, natural need for a group of people to survive in the worst of circumstances.

Broken Anvil lies in the south-eastern section of the Godwar Mountains, and therefore borders the Deluge Sea. A cave mouth large enough to accommodate two large ships abreast connects what used to be a burgeoning market dock town right outside of Broken Anvil proper to the sea. This exit is hampered by constant attacks by the bird-men Fargu, who live on the Aquilan Cliffs above the mouth. Surrounded on all sides by Goblins, Orcs, Plains Elves, and Fargu, complete evacuation is impossible. Still, it is possible for small groups to enter and leave by way of holes in the treacherous reaches of the Godwars.

The Dwarves of the Broken Anvil territory are constantly plagued by attacks from better equipped, better organized Goblins. Broken Anvil was once a major part of Goblin territory, but in ancient times the Dwarves started settling the area in an effort to expand the empire of Obenchain, completely ignoring the traditional claim the Goblins had on the area. The majority of Palladia’s Goblins live in neighboring Apoxus, but many are so devoted to driving the Dwarves out of their traditional homeland that they have taken to moving in and creating strongholds deep into Broken Anvil territory. As the Goblins are aligned with the Orcs, and worship Apox as a god, their claim to these territories is backed by Orcish society, and the Orcs frequently “gift” these lands to the Goblins, though the lands are technically in Western Dwarf territory.

Written by scumbagstyle

May 24, 2011 at 7:39 pm

Bastion’s 7th Ward

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Bastion was Raan’s Human Capital City, and consisted of various wards added over the centuries. 

7th Ward – Erudite Bastion – The Scholars’ Ward

Ruling Family:  Bedwig

Ward Identity: The Intelligence of Bastion

Major Trades: Professor, student, house-servant

 Manufactured Goods:   The future great minds of Hannania and beyond

Unique Structures: The Handolyn Club, Bedwig Hall

Prosperity Level: Middle class, but with an attitude suggesting nobility for all that

Overview:

The 7th Ward is basically Hannan University, a world renowned center of learning that has grown to encompass an entire ward. The exteriors and interiors of the Scholars’ Ward are shoddy, like one large professor’s office, but not unclean. The Ward is thick with buildings, crowded rather than aesthetically pleasing, and claustrophobic with academia. Stalls line the streets, selling used text books, interesting looking science equipment, and the clothing common to the ward (eccentrically scholarly, puffy purple hats, robes with stripes denoting discipline, silly looking banner pins).

The streets are cobbled loosely but comfortably, and along the tight boulevards, one can expect to see dusty banners decorating the sides of buildings, denoting intellectual fraternities, secret organization symbolism, and school heraldry. Outside of the classrooms and lecture halls one can enter, one will also encounter cafes, numerous taverns, and fraternity houses.

The Ward has several colleges and schools, all inclusive in the the prestigious Hannan University, but its true centerpiece is the Handolyn Club. Where the rest of the Ward offers the rigors and mechanics of academia, the club offers the elegance and charm associated with it. The second major building is Bedwig Hall, a sort of student union with an open court where students and professionals can meet for discussion and trade.

Philosophy is the most important aspect of this ward; on wooden boxes often stand combatants in philosophical duels, much like the duels of other courts, but less lethal and holding no legal sway. People performing simple science experiments fill the streets, and sometimes errant explosions emanate from labs in the buildings. Street lectures are not uncommon, ancient Greek philosopher style, from students and professors, sober and drunk alike.

At times, one might notice that some of the walls are marked with arcane symbols one can only read if one has enough philosophy and history, sometimes even scientific skills. Some symbols are visible, and others are keys to find invisible symbols, that might be part of a secret trail that leads to the treasures of a secret society.

The dormitories and frat houses serve to house students, professors, and the people paid to maintain an environment conducive to learning, all together. Intellectual debate mingles with mild debauchery here, and a community atmosphere prevails throughout.

Current Politics:

The members of the 7th Ward are quiet scholars by nature, but as so often happens with people who are allowed too much book learning, they are imbued with righteous rage at something or other happening in other wards. Sometimes they are justified, usually not. The Bedwigs are quietly apologetic for the actions of the Scholars when they need to be, but usually the students and teachers’ protests are passed over as harmless by the offended.

An incident involving the disappearance of an enterprising your student named Connoryl has caused the eyes of the Scholars’ Ward to look with suspicion at the 12th Ward, but the furor from this has mostly died down.

The scholars and professors of the Scholars’ Ward do not often visit Aquia Bastion for vacation, preferring their own relatively quiet Handolyn Club over the loud, touristy atmosphere of the 3rd Ward. This is not out of dislike, but preference. Still, it has not failed to rouse animosity among the elite of Aquia, who are losing money as a result.

Daily Life:

There is a jovial atmosphere, for the most part, around Erudite Bastion every day. The learned are happy among the learned, and the many public houses add wonderfully to the sense of well-being. There is much hard work being done, but none are unhappy to do it.

The only ill-feelings emanate from those few scholars that use selective parts of their vast knowledge to express (usually) unfounded political anger. They debate in the Handolyn, and deliver impassioned lectures in the schools, but the only people really interested in what they have to say are the unlearned of other wards

Ward Features:

The Handolyn Club: Located next to the Ward Court, the many-storied Handolyn is awash in muted class, sophistication, and of course old-style academia. Exhaustive libraries and chandeliered lecture halls compliment spacious, high ceilinged banquet spaces and special event halls. Members of the club enjoy regular lectures by famous scholars around the continent, not to mention the physical fitness facilities that members can use to buff their abilities. Often, conferences here are arranged in concert with members of the Ambassador Ward, and feature exotic academics. For this reason, there are luxurious accommodations on some of the floors for them to stay temporarily, though some people have more permanent arrangements.

Personalities of Note:
Patriarch Herwin Bedwig (head of family) alcoholic but kind

Sulwin Bedwig (his wife) young professor of philosophy, charming but lacking in social confidence, and her unassuming nature happens to be what attracted Herwin to her.

Tiawin Bedwig (Herwin’s nephew) brilliant theorist, currently working on a project of great social and political significance that only he will ever understand or care about. Tiawin feels wholly unappreciated as many philosopher/scientists often do.

Girl looking for her brother

Education Letter

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For the purposes of this letter, “Editor” refers to the editors of all major news publications in Nevada.

To the Editor:

In my capacity as president of The Nevada State Board of Education, I have invited representatives of both Brian Sandoval and Rory Reid’s campaign to speak at our upcoming October 7th and 8th meetings. The idea is to allow the candidates to supplement their generalized comments from their August education debate, in order that they might articulate more comprehensive plans for the future, should they be elected. The state’s education budget faces alarming and potentially damaging cuts in the coming months, and it has become more imperative than ever that Nevadans understand who will safeguard the future of their children in the proceeding term.

Mr. Reid’s campaign has committed to sending an appropriate ambassador to these meetings, however Brian Sandoval’s campaign has replied in the disappointingly negative. In their response, it was indicated that there was no individual in the campaign equipped to represent Mr. Sandoval in talks on education. I fail to see the wisdom in this refusal to address the Board; it is not encouraging for the state of our schools under a Sandoval administration, nor is it prudent for the candidate’s campaign.

The Board has offered a perfect opportunity to address the officials elected by the people that live in the state Mr. Sandoval aims to govern. It escapes me why such an opportunity would be passed up, especially since the Board of Education is responsible for all K-12 education in the state, and whose actions directly affect the children of Nevada. It strikes me as odd that, as time before the election grows short, Mr. Sandoval would not wish to take advantage of one more chance to address the people he intends to govern.

Perhaps Mr. Sandoval believes that a 13 point lead over Mr. Reid in the polls is an excuse to play his politics safe, and ride out the election season on top. I would beg to differ. When leading in the fourth quarter of an important game, a coach ought not to finish the game half-hearted, with a skeleton squad of second stringers on the field.  Brian Sandoval should play the full fifteen, or else he should not be surprised if Rory Reid, in his willingness to play ball, runs away with it in the end.

It may very well prove that Nevada’s education budget will have to face detrimental cutbacks. However, until I hear otherwise, I must assume that Mr. Sandoval’s campaign has not devoted the appropriate manpower to considering the fate of our students with due diligence.

Written by scumbagstyle

October 5, 2010 at 1:08 am

Letter to Nevada Governor Candidates #1

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The open letter sent by the president of the Nevada Board of Education to the current governor and those vying for his seat in November 2010 received a write-up in the Reno Gazette-Journal and was generally well-accepted.

Dear [Candidate],

We, the Nevada State Board of Education, are writing to express our extreme dissatisfaction with the proposed further cuts to the state’s education budget. Already, we have been forced to approve a ten percent cut by the State Budget Office to the already anorexic funding our schools receive. Now we have been told by Governor Gibbons to prepare for a further thirty to forty percent drop.

In attending the education debate held between yourself and your opponent in the upcoming election on August 29, 2010, I admit to leaving with a sense of disappointment with both of your proffered positions. Your initial stances on the importance of education to the future of our state were commendable, however neither candidate felt it necessary to expound on the specifics of your plans to act on that importance. We cordially invite you to delineate your future policies as concerns primary education in Nevada.

It is generally agreed amongst government officials in Nevada that education will be paramount in long term plans to solve our enduring economic crisis. From the Board itself, purportedly up to yourself and your opponent for Governorship, the pervading thinking is that well educated students will be instrumental in alleviating our financial woes. How then can these draconian amputations be taken as anything but a strike at the livelihood of the people that would see you elected?

Beyond the economic considerations the current Governor’s proposals raise, what of our children? It is incumbent upon us – indeed, it is our ultimate responsibility – to ensure that the generation that will assume the governance and economic stability of our state be adequately prepared to assume that role. First among our concerns must be our children. Nevada has the lowest per-pupil spending in the nation, while her citizenry is the lowest taxed. If we, the citizens and government leaders of this great state, are truly serious about the importance of education to all of our futures, then we cannot be afraid to pay for it.

Further cuts to statewide education at this junction would prove nothing less than deplorable, and we ask you to reject each proposal outright. While mindful of our participation in the larger economic crisis this nation faces, we see no logic in lowering the education budget. It is true that, in the opening days of your administration, you must struggle beyond belief to maintain a balance in the state’s budget across the board, and not simply in the school system. However, to see this happen at the expense of the smallest among us, knots the collective stomach of Nevadans.

We genuinely hope you will spend more time on the solution to the problem we all share, if not for the sake of the government officials that address you now, than for the children we are all sworn to encourage and protect.

Thank you,

Chris Wallace

President, State Board of Education

Written by scumbagstyle

October 5, 2010 at 12:58 am