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JoJo's Bizarre OC Tournament #5 - Round 2 Match 10 - Bert and Emilie "Dread" Delacroix vs John "Jack" Aurel

The results are in for Match 8.
Agnes and Arpeggi, in their shrunken states, continued to fight, surrounded by the rising flames of their lilliputian tower, fists flying and Stand blows being taken one after the other.
“You… Callous mother fucker!” Arpeggi cursed, Agnes feeling the singe of a heat blast both from behind and from launched wood. “We’re not aiming for a massacre!”
“You’re not,” Agnes spat out, then, pulling a tab on the table, a massive geyser erupting and launching his so-called ally away, “I don’t give a fuck about this place, and we’re in a Stand battle… And it’s all worthless, greedy scumbags watching! Let the fire spread! Let this place hit the ground so they see what someone with style can do!”
“You heard it here, folks! Agnes talked you all down… C’mon, where’s your passion! Don’t run out and away, c’mon! And here I thought you cared y’had money ridin’ on this…”
Conqueror Worm’s laughs reverberated as Glitch and William found themselves cooled by Ocean Eyes’ nectar, which found itself dissolving quickly but, for the moment, a functional barrier for the injured fighters, watching and listening to what happened.
“Th… They’re fighting each other up there…” William remarked, physically looking as though he was straining to force Ocean Eyes not to hurry up there and tear them a new one. “Glitch, we don’t have time to keep the flames at bay and call up another KST, and if I let Ocean Eyes up there it’ll eviscerate them, and-”
“What’s this? The kid is holdin’ back, afraid of his own Stand! Hey, kid, don’t hate this part of yourself! Ocean Eyes, it ain’t your enemy, that’s a part of you, what makes you special, so don’t be at odds with it! Embrace what it says, because it’s what YOU’RE sayin’!”
William was speechless, there, but his companion was less inactive in that time. Tiger “Glitch” Ricky simply hissed, then, her and her Stand hopping up out of the flames in an effort to brutally, mercilessly pounce upon the self-styled villain and the ally he had come to blows with. If they moved fast, they could bite through that shitty little twink’s neck right now!
Arpeggi grit his teeth, scrambling to find his footing as he witnessed the pouncing cat-stand, finding it hard to breathe among all the burning rubble, fading fast then.
Is… Is this how it ends..? Crushed and mangled as some lowlife’s burnt-up game piece..?
“And it looks like Glitch is about to take it! Shout-outs to Tigran, the only real one here, watchin’ through the fire and the flames!”
“Heh… This is just a bit of a sweat,” Tigran Sins answered, stifling a cough, “I’ll see all seven of these bastards run through games until they’re all-”
Arpeggi didn’t hear what was said next, only hearing his own defiant heartbeat. If he didn’t act fast, Agnes would die… Good riddance, right? But… Ugh, no, even scum like him, they don’t deserve…
He clutched at NEXT LEVEL until his fingers bled, and Glitch and William, both looking at him past their Stands waiting to attack, made curious sounds as yet more crumbled away.
“Mrr?!”
And then, there was white. An overwhelming cascade of baking soda burst from NEXT LEVEL, smothering the flames rapidly as an obscured form zipped up the tower again, grabbing Agnes and hurrying away from the thrown-off Glitch.
“You… Why did you…” Agnes rubbed baking soda out of his eyes, coughing and looking at the form of Arpeggi in this new Stand. “Motherfucker…”
“I have responsibility over even a scumbag like you… You tailed me here, and I’m not gonna let you die and escape responsibility easy.” He turned, then, to William and Glitch, his new form revealed. “Now, actually help me, follow my lead, and I’ll kick your ass later. We need to survive this-”
All four of the fighters, then, felt themselves grow rapidly, their combined weight so close together crushing the table they were on, much as a nearby tabletop wargame that had been setup found itself buckling under the weight of Metra, Oh No, the Black Angel, and their motorcycle.
“Welp,” Worm said with a bemused laugh, holding up the slumped body of Tigran. “Your fire couldn’t hurt him, but smoke inhalation sure could! I guess that means…”
“The winner is FIRE, with a score of 65!”
Category Winner Point Totals Comments
Popularity Graveyard Shift 12-17
Quality Graveyard Shift 19-20 Reasoning
JoJolity BADD GUYS 24-18 Reasoning
Conduct Tie 10-10
With no more reason to fight, it got really awkward and everyone just sort of ran out of Heartache Casino. William Eyelash, recalling his stand and lost in thoughts, was the last to leave, joining the others in leaping single-file out a window into a nearby alley.
There, though everyone else seemed tensely uninvolved, the Black Angel’s motorcycle revved, and she stared down Worm as he safely stowed Tigran inside his Stand-body, leaning on his golden sword.
“There’s still something I need, Jones… I’ll run you down to get it if it means saving the city.”
Worm laughed, gesturing with his sword. “This thing? You’re huntin’ me down for this… Ah! I see! You’re tryin’ to do that.” Callously, he tossed it, so suddenly they fumbled with it in hand. “Here ya go, then! I don’t much want what Jack Aurel’s cookin’ up either!”
The Angel, worn and exhausted, stammered. “I… You just… But…”
“Lookin’ forward to killin’ me, huh? Get in line, kid… Or waste your time right now! See, nobody here is botherin’, they can all read that it’d be a waste when I’m in such good health! City’s countin’ on you, yeah, and you won’t get many opportunities for bein’ called a hero as an adult. Make it count!”
Then, before anyone could say more, he darted through a nearby wall, waving William and the rest off with a, “Ah, we safely may trust to its gleaming and be sure it will lead us aright!”


“Asshole.” The Angel turned away, strapping the sword to their back and driving away. “Thank you, all of you. I’ll take this from here… Get yourselves help.”
There was silence as they drove into the sky, scarf billowing before them, and then Agnes started cackling. “You’re all fucking morons… If I didn’t burn that place down, we wouldn’t have gotten away, and some wannabe with no style would be going down as Los Fortuna’s worst villain! Fucking bow and grovel, Jack Aurel’s grave is gonna say ‘spat on by Agnes!’”
Nobody had the energy to dignify that with a response.
An anticlimax is leading into a super-climax, and meanwhile, an ant-loving little boy and an aid worker are racing through their dreamscapes, with a day left to vote there.
Narration:
What is, as of the 1990s, ‘Capital Island,’ was the epicenter of Los Fortuna’s founding several hundred years ago, in the midst of a bloody Stand User conflict, many militias clashing for superiority, in the 1680s, starting with the death of the era’s own Andrew Tiffany, the missionary William Mandolin, and towards its end, knocking people into their senses through the awakening of exactly what he had tried to warn them of.
A grand T-Rex by the name of Megalomania had survived, dormant, underneath the land through the might of its Stand, coated in a goldlike substance, and awoken in a deep rage by the conflict of the locals. Megalomania was met in battle by a man out of place named Aaron Bruno, ‘Sir Aurel’ to most, and Memory Management, and when slain, crumbled where it stood into a pile of bones, feet firm in the ground.
Los Fortuna’s natural history museum was built around this monster’s remains, and Sir Aurel would turn its golden coat into a ceremonial weapon. The power these symbols were imbued with, even with their old purposes lost, were of great importance to the city’s stability.
Scenario:
Outside Los Fortuna’s Natural History Museum, Early Evening
In the blink of an eye, the attention of everyone within Los Fortuna had been turned to the natural history museum. That made sense, of course - considering the looming dark clouds containing the ghosts of the dead within them, the scuffles of the stand users outside of the building, and the vague knowledge that a ritual with the purpose of destroying fate itself was currently being performed within it, it would be out of the ordinary for people to not be paying it any attention. Even those who weren’t stand users that were up to date with the situation were drawn to it by the unusual level of activity surrounding it, from emergency services and VALKYRIE forces alike.
And then there was Bert. They were invested in the whole situation, of course - keeping up with the latest reality-breaking ancient rituals was the least that a wannabe god like them could do. Their status as an observer did raise a few eyebrows - they’d had to shake off both emergency service workers and VALKYRIE forces, who’d both taken the time to try and encourage Bert to leave the area for their own safety, clearly underestimating Bert’s own prowess.
Within the chaos, one could be excused for not failing to notice the drones Bert had been sending around to overhear and oversee it all. First, they paid attention to the chief of security at VALKYRIE, Ugo McBasie, who seemed to be getting interviewed by someone from the Fortuna Hermod, an ODIN-owned news publication (not their usual guy at scenes like this… Wonder what happened to him). Bert had heard that the man was a violent and irresponsible meathead who’d caused plenty of trouble in the past, but he seemed to be keeping a thin veil of professionalism for now. However, Bert couldn’t help but notice a young man in a blue aviator cap standing a few meters behind the reporter and staring daggers at him, perhaps keeping him in check somehow, occasionally piping in for comment about how it was all they could do to surround the place and wait for an opening if they didn’t want a meat grinder on their hands.
Meanwhile, Los Fortuna’s own city council chairman, Raymond Delwin Shimizu was discussing something of note with someone else, who seemed to have just finished an interview of his own. Bert didn’t recognize him, but the interviewer had called him “Chief Prosecutor Cavallo”, and she seemed as if she knew what she was talking about, so Bert opted to believe her. The interviewer, Jillian Something-or-other, had been running all over the scene, trying to get interviews alongside her oversized cameraman Bert recognized as having been that really huge cop who used to hang around Aurelio a lot of the time not successfully doing his job. Not worth Bert’s time.
Cavallo scratched his head in frustration. “Chairman, please tell me that you’ve made progress of some kind here...”
Ray shook his head. “Not much. That stand user that’s working alongside Jack Aurel, Akiko Mizushima, is making it impossible to get in - anyone we do send in is as good as gone. We haven’t even been able to get Admiral Pineapples out. Judging by your demeanor, I assume that the board hasn’t made much progress either.”
“No, doesn’t seem like it.” Cavallo let out a long sigh. “Every day, it’s just more and more work… Now we’re stuck having to deal with this. If nothing’s done, the board’s thinking it might very well cause a disaster unmatched by… Well, anything but the earthquake from thirty years ago. Something like this, bending the rules of the city, and breaking free from it… Los Fortuna’s probably not going to let that slide easily.” He shook his head. “Where the hell is the mayor through all this? Watching anime at home or something, probably.”
Ray remained silent for a bit, thinking to himself. “Well, we’ve got emergency services ready to act for now, and we’re working on evacuating any susceptible areas, but it only works so much.” Before Cavallo could respond, another reporter came up to Raymond, ready with a batch of questions for him. “Well, Cavallo, our work isn’t done yet, so let’s get to it. Saving as many people as possible here should be our utmost priority.” And with that, the two men parted ways for the time being.
Having listened enough, Bert began thinking to themselves. This was a tricky situation - they clearly couldn’t get in as is, but they certainly wanted to. Learning more about the situation at hand would improve their knowledge of the mechanisms holding Los Fortuna together, and gaining control over the ritual somehow would certainly be a feat befitting of a god such as them.
Bert stood in front of the museum entrance, taking another look at the chaos in front of them and continuing to think about the next step they’d take. So many different possibilities, so little time. They thought, and thought, and then one of their drones’ eyes glanced upon someone familiar - a blue haired, red eyed woman wearing a mask, trying to blend in and clearly resenting it, skulking around the perimeter of the area as though she, too, wished to enter.
Yet despite her efforts, Bert recognized her.
“Emilie ‘Dread’ Delacroix!” They declared it loudly, thoughtlessly so, approaching her with a hand raised. “Are you perhaps looking to find a crevasse through which to enter that place as well? It’s quite fortified, isn’t it?”
“Hm?” She wasn’t bothered by the way Bert drew attention to her, still wearing her same very extra outfit under the also quite extra hooded dark robe she was using to blend in. “Ah, pardon me dearly for having failed to notice you… You are Bert, from that incident where we fought on equal terms, yes?”
“I am that same Bert, Emilie ‘Dread’ Delacroix, yes. Though I doubt I could be much mistaken for others…”
“We are both quite conspicuous individuals, yes,” Dread said, taking the conversation into a nearby alley before VALKYRIE goons on the scene could prove it was her, “but no, I’m not terribly nonplussed about my abilities to infiltrate that place… Simply, I am attempting to assess the probability by which my approach itself, through the barricades erected, might occur. If your intentions happen to be helping me sneak through, then it is simply not necessary on any fronts… I have formulated a plan now.”
Dread, now appearing alone, walked through that alley curiously, looking around her and beginning to see her opportunity of approach - there appeared to be a side door there, at which a certain fish-themed hero was sitting outside, looking, Dread knew from their DMs, at funny images of her wife atop the T-Rex skull in the museum.
Yes, certainly, this would be-
“Whoa, hey, it’s you!”
Damnable. Had she been spotted, or..?
No, no, wait. The one speaking, a man also in this alleyway who smelled of cannabis, holding what looked like a GAP bag, was speaking to someone on the opposite side of it, disembarking from a sportbike and handing it to the rider, who was wearing a very ornate-looking golden sword which Dread had sworn she’d seen somewhere before.
“Thanks,” the Black Angel told this young man, accepting the bag and producing its contents - a Roman helmet and black bird-looking tokusatsu cosplay? “Green couldn’t make it himself, huh?”
“I made it,” the guy said, pointing proudly to himself, before blinking. “Oh, you mean like… Showing up. Yeah, no, there was a thing with a mammoth coming down from the mountains, he’s helping East deal with that. Feel like lighting up before you go in? It’ll take the edge off..!”
The rider removed their helmet, coincidentally perfectly timed for the strawberry-blonde with pale blue eyes to stare him down incredulously. “About a million people live on this island, Weedboy. Now is not the time…” The Angel ducked into the nearby building to change, finishing, “shit, yeah, it looks just like the Flying Men do… uh. you should get out of here now.”
“You kidding?” He asked. “I don’t wanna bow out right before it gets good! That’s, like, saying I think you can’t do it!”
Well, these two appeared distracted, so Dread would continue along her way, walking right past them and towards the blockade, towards where Jo was sitting casually, only to be interrupted by-
“Holy shit, it really is her! Stop right there, Dread!”
Oh boy, here we go. This had been happening more lately, since a somewhat frustrating individual went and opened his big mouth about her dangers on Bifrost. Turned out that the head of VALKYRIE was literally in the server, so now she had a bounty on her head after a modicum of investigation into her after that public statement, and her casual admittance thereof!
Two armored guards were pointing guns at her as she stood there, unfazed.
“Don’t come any closer!” One of them, an older woman, said, turning to her younger partner and quickly telling him, “if she approaches, open fire. She’ll eat you alive if not!”
“This again, are you being serious?” Dread was less than pleased. “I am evil, and a murderer, unrepentantly so, yes, but I do not eat people. This rumor is being so blown out of proportion that I find it quite tiresome.”
“F-fuck off and die!” The younger moved to fire his weapon, only to realize there was a knife through him, catching the gun by the trigger after running from his shoulderblade to his fingertip.
Dread didn’t need the help, but like a true friend, Kimijo Kaneko offered it anyway
“Wh-what the-” The older woman cursed as her partner was cut open and dropped. “Fucking useless moron! HEY, EVERYONE, KANEKO BROKE RANK AND DREAD IS HERE TO! NOW’S OUR CHANCE TO-”
The distraction, then, was all it took for Dread to take her first kill of the day. Of course it was fine. She read the news, she knew how these VALKYRIE people were literally at war with poor people.
“Sh-shit, those people just died! More VALKYRIE corpses, and Jo again..!” The stoner declared in the background, and the Black Angel, now dressed exactly like the birdmen many had seen before, paused in her efforts to run past the opening created by Jo breaking formation.
Nobody could hear it or see her lips move, but she apologized under her breath, clenching her fist, but the disguise had worked. 32 Footsteps, the primary guard which would warp away anyone who tried to enter, apparently had instructions to allow in anybody dressed like this, yet none of the intended recipients of this deliberate loophole made their way in.
“Dread, hello, friend!” Jo exclaimed in high spirits, sheathing her knife, but still speaking quietly as she hurried back into place, “good to see you!”
“Yes, it is most certainly fortuitous for us to encounter one another…” Dread agreed, walking and talking with her as the pair were watched in horror. “By any chance, may I come into this museum? I am absolutely curiously intrigued by what is going on within here…”
“Sure!”
A VALKYRIE sniper was taking aim at Dread, then, as she entered, muttering under her breath, “got a shot lined up… I can take her out, and Jo a second later! Two bastards out of the way, at least, and-”
“Wait,” the youth in a blue aviator hat and goggles, speaking as VALKYRIE’s tactician, instructed, “hold your fire.”
“Sir, she just made one of our senior officers fall into rotten pieces! She’s chatting it up with this fish-bitch like it’s nothing!”
“I know, and I’m appalled too, but I think…” The Blue Kid paused, contemplatively. “No, I know it. Dread is here to defeat John Aurel, just like the Black Angel.”
Spinning and pivoting through the air, “Lou” Reed, dressed like a dark, sixth Flying Man, landed atop the skull of the t-rex, which had apparently been adorned in a cute little pirate hat. It made for a fine vantage point, then, to look all over the halls of the Natural History museum, noting one, two, three, four spots, grotesque and morbid statues Remix had apparently erected of ghostly abominations.
She was exhausted, injured from the three-way skirmish she, Metra, and Oh No had been forced to undergo and riding like hell to get here, but she had made it this far, and others had managed to get in too. She couldn’t choke now.
Seven minutes… I’ll just have to destroy those, and be back here in seven minutes. Easy enough… I don’t think I’ve been-
“Green, Orange, and Purple… I don’t believe a ‘Flying Man Black’ was ever mentioned, nor that any of the brothers were into swords.”
Shit. That voice, too… Lou turned around, then, seeing someone standing behind her, a man with long dark hair, brandishing a hammer and looking up at her.
John “Jack” Aurel.
“Even if you are what you appear to be and not in disguise, you should realize that you aren’t welcome here. There’s nothing to be done in this museum worth dying for, and no way to accomplish any more foolish goal if I were to raise attention now. Care to waste some of the time you have left and explain?”
Of course this would happen. Lou removed her faux-beak, helmet, and goggles, staring down at him as her hair billowed in the ceiling fans’ wind. “Jack… I’ve come here to put a stop to this.”
“You’re that kid who’s always running around, huh?” Jack frowned, twirling his hammer. “I hear what you talk about through the grapevine… About how we’re all victims of fate, forced against each other by Gravity. That Stand Users are always going to be molded by this… You understand it too. You understand that people like us prey upon the weak, that it’s in our natures and our place in the world. I want to remove myself from that… Remove these people from that, and atone for what I’ve done.”
“By killing even more people! There’s no way they’ll get everyone away from your blast radius, and you haven’t even given them the chance to!” Lou protested. “It doesn’t have to be this way… Don’t say this is how it has to be! We can save this place, free everyone from gravity, without barreling towards its destruction! I don’t want to kill you, Jack. I want you to stop this crazy, self-indulgent crap and help me do something real!”
“You think everyone deserves this? That Stand Users will simply reform without this? The cycle has started, and it will push to the end even if the wave guiding it fades away completely… Bastards, the lot of us, and I don’t intend to run from what I’ve done. I’ll give you one chance to run away, kid… the worst I can call you is naive.”
Lou drew the golden blade, seeing Jack wince as he clearly recognized its significance, all as her Stand appeared behind her. “We both know I can’t do that, even if I can barely keep my balance up here. And hey, maybe I will die here… Maybe I am fated not to see this through. But then, someone is gonna finish this for me! Your security is already compromised!”
“Fascinating… And you are utterly convinced that, should it work, those he’s slain to commence this ritual to begin with will return outside the city?”
“Remix is full of himself,” Jo said, nodding quietly, “but he and Jack, they researched a lot… Akiko and I, for helping this finish, we can finally go home! Be done with the bad city…”
“She has made this place remarkably impregnable,” Dread agreed, thinking aloud, “anyone who waltzes in waltzes into her backrooms…”
“Unless they have a ‘pass!’” A voice from within Dread’s cloak spoke, and as Jo raised her knife at it in defense, the pure-white, terribly contorted form of Bert tumbled onto the ground, stretching and reshaping into their typical humanlike shape.
“Don’t worry, don’t worry, they are fine, with me!” Dread assured Jo, frankly thankful to have that weight literally off her back. Bert was very light, but even then it was hard to walk carrying someone, let alone not give it away. “We have… Some history, and so I thought I might as well indulge Bert’s request to see this place as well. I apologize for not mentioning earlier, but it was quite dire getting in here past guards attacking us.”
Jo didn’t seem to mind, continuing to lead the pair around, even passing Akiko who was casually, distractedly reading some manga while in a bit of a pirate mood.
They also passed by another scene, slightly more concerning, of an injured old man in a Hawaiian Shirt, close by the frontmost entrance of the place and clutching himself as his fleet of four Stand-starships remaining fired at Remix, who guarded against it with ghost-objects while a Flying Man Red tried to find an opening to strike.
“You’ve been at this for hours, old man, die already! You have no place in the world I mean to birth from your bloodied, pulped remains!”
Pineapples stood, then, leaning against the wall, trying not to show weakness.
“I think that guy is going to lose, at this rate… It’s a shame, too,” Bert, the loudmouth again, remarked. “He might have been a worthwhile pawn in wrestling control away from this operation.”
Dread, Jo, Remix, and Red all gave Bert simultaneous incredulous looks, all in completely unique ways.
Jo drew her knife again, about to transform, only to dodge out of the way of the injured ‘Lou’ Reed, blacked out, helmetless, being knocked away and into the floor, the shock of which made her rise quickly, feeling around. “Where’s the- Shit!” As she sat up, then, feeling around for the saber no longer in her possession, she noticed that she was smack in the middle of something else here.
Hurriedly, she rolled away, standing herself up and looking to the injured Admiral. “You… You’re one of those MFAs, right? How did you-?”
Weakly, he gestured to Remix. “He brought me here in a damned urn! I’ve been fending them off to buy others in the museum time to escape… Everyone in this hall here and Jack, those are the only ones left in the building, minus masses and masses of ghosts. They’re harmless, though… Don’t worry about them attacking unless that guy takes them.”
“I see…” Lou, then, smiled sadly, clutching her bloodied suit. She looked to Bert and Dread, then, moving to get between them and Jack’s incredulous accomplices. “You said you wanted to take him out, right? I overheard…”
“Well, Bert has let yet another cat out of the bag,” Dread admitted, “indeed, I came here with the intent of dethroning Jack Aurel before he had a chance to complete his little ritual. Few others would even be able to get in here.”
“So that’s my role, then…” Lou smiled, then, sighing, ducking out of the way of the Flying Man sending a kick her way, a gauntlet-clad arm emerging from her body, grabbing his ankle hard, and swinging him into the Jo who was shocked to hear Dread say that. “I can’t do anything about Jack… Too fucked up from that ED match…” She grinned, then, mouth bleeding as she stared Remix down. “But this old man and I can at least keep these assholes from interfering!”
Dread, then, watched passively as the five erupted into battle, she and Bert curious about what was to come as, from each hand, the Stand which emerged seemed to fire odd projectiles at their foes. “The ‘I’ll hold them off…’ You’re styling yourself as some sort of exceptional hero, aren’t you?” She seemed amused by that, the irony of their cooperation. “I’m evil, you know… And Bert, at least, is morally ambiguous. But if you’ve settled on putting the city in our hands, have you any advice?”
Over the sounds of laser fire, Lou quickly found time to answer, “yeah, there’s… I brought this golden ‘saber’ with me, and it must’ve fallen somewhere by the T-Rex… In, in a bit over six minutes from now, this ritual of theirs is gonna go through and rip this island open. Before that… They have these ‘failsafe’ statue things, and…” She took a breath, retracting and wincing from a blow her Stand had taken. “Look, I don’t have time to explain it, but you need to smash those up first! They’re there, made up of spirits fused together, to keep these guys safe from the consequences of their own actions… To ensure their safety, and at the same time act as a ‘failsafe’ for the ritual. Gives you the ‘power’ over it, too, in the way that right now Jack himself does… That’s important to stopping it. So you need to smash them first, and then, right as the time passes for the ritual, when the skull of the T-Rex in the center starts to split open and glow and its mouth starts gushing water… Embed the sword into the opening in its forehead, right as it starts to shape. That’s the only way to prevent this at this stage!”
“The forehead particularly, hmm?” Bert asked, pacing curiously and avoiding a cross split attack from Red, who barreled into Lou and was barely blocked. “Why there, per se? Why nowhere else on the thing?”
“Ngh..!” Lou grunted, saved from a follow-up by Pineapples. “I dunno, that’s just where you have to do it!”
“Black Angel… That’s what you’re called, yes?” Dread smiled, turning away. “You will be thanked for this victory… Try to live long enough to witness it firsthand, won’t you?”
“I’d… I’d love to,” Lou answered, smiling sadly, “for five years now, when I first learned there was anything worth a damn in this world, I’ve wanted to protect that… The dark pit of despair that was the first thirteen years of my life, and even so much since, I’d love nothing more than a world where no person is fated beyond impossible odds to suffer that.” She grew serious, then, raising her voice. “Go, now! Leave this to us!”
Bert and Dread approached the T-Rex, impressed at the amazing height and Akiko’s snazzy pirate duds upon the thing, the lab-grown being whistling with impression. “A T-Rex lived ‘til three-hundred years ago… Preserved whole, in this city. It’s astonishing, isn’t it, Emilie ‘Dread’ Delacroix?”
“A curious anomaly,” Dread agreed, examining it from afar, even noticing that alleged sword in the distance. “I wonder why it survived that long, so far after its brethren…”
“It’s because it was a ‘Stand User.’”
Jack approached from the same room in which Dread spotted glints of the golden saber, announcing his presence with that. “That was its ‘fate…’ A savage, cunning animal, ripped from where it belonged. to be a problem to solve and squabble over, to found this city on its literal bones.”
“John ‘Jack’ Aurel… You’d best stand down.” Bert, helpfully, started. “You cannot beat us… Even if we only had seconds to overcome you, I would be too much for you to handle!”
“No, he’s going to fight, I know it.” Dread, meanwhile, prepared Joywave, staring him down with a pointed, grinning lethality. “I suppose introductions are not necessary, with how Bert here loves to say my full name… I am not one to make things curt or brief, John, but consider yourself toppled, usurped, bloodied and dead.”
“The lab accident with a God complex and by far the worst, most grisly of Jo’s friends…” With no real amusement, no happiness in his eyes, Jack chuckled, looking them over. “Of course, right at the end, my final test isn’t some hero… It’s exactly the worst kind of Stand User! The apex predators that I’ve preyed upon, that stand in the way of saving everyone who’s died to reach this point! Of course it would be someone like me to gain entry, wouldn’t it?”
“You speak with such confidence you’ll raise the dead…” Bert was curious. “Even if it costs more lives, such a thing is… That is the realm of gods, John ‘Jack’ Aurel.”
“Not today it’s not,” Jack answered, twirling his hammer in his hand. “Both of you… You’ve been driven here, standing in my way, as agents of ‘fate’ itself. Isn’t that the reason you were ‘lucky’ enough to pass through our defenses… Because you were meant to stand here, and you were meant to watch as every horrible, cruel thing you’ve done amounts to nothing in the face of these circumstances.”
He looks the two intruders over with sympathy for a moment, before steeling himself and clenching his weapon, Stand appearing behind him just as stone-faced. “You may be the puppet of something beyond your control, but you must understand that I can’t let you ruin the plan I’ve bet my life on. I bear you no anger as people, but your role here is something I can’t ignore. I’ll waste our time no longer in arguing ethics, let there be no apologies or restraint until this is settled.”
The other conspirators had been instructed not to intervene if it came to this point, even if it risked the collapse of everything they had worked for. Not if it threatened lives. An enemy to make it this far was deserving of being dealt with reasonably. As the critical moment drew near, Jack readied all the fury that months of waiting had stored within him, and accepted that this may very well be his final true fight.
“Five minutes on the dot now, until ‘that time…’ If what the Black Angel said is true.” Dread looked to Bert. “What do you say we demonstrate incontrovertibly to John exactly how confused he truly is?”
OPEN THE GAME!
(Image credit to CaptainSpooky27!)
Location: A part of the Los Fortuna’s Natural History Museum. The area here is 75 by 75 meters with each tile being 5 by 5 meters. The ceilings here are 8 meters tall. The yellow tiles are the hallways and the green and purple tiles form the different rooms.
The white tiles have ritual shrines built on those areas. There are 7 shrines total and will be explained in further detail in the additional information.
The players start at the south of the map and Jack starts at the top of the map as represented by their tokens. The walls are represented by thicker borders and the dotted lines are the doorways.
At the top of the map, in the pink tile and yellow symbols, is the Golden Sword. It is currently pinned under 2 meters of rubble.
Each wing of the museum houses an exhibit, in the center is the main attraction a large T-Rex in display as denoted by the large grey circle.
The other exhibits are denoted by the letter on them:
  • G: The geologic exhibit, displaying and teaching about different rock formations and types
  • O: The two Oceanic exhibits, displaying the marine life and seabed of Los Fortuna.
  • C: The climatography exhibit, displaying the different temperature maps and features across Los Fortuna.
  • A: The Agricultural exhibit, displaying the various fruits and crops grown around Los Fortuna.
  • T: The two Taxidermy exhibits, displaying a wide range of animals in roped off and glass displays.
  • E:The Entomology exhibit, displaying photos and models of various bugs.
Goal: For the players, desecrate all the shrines and, when time runs out, have at least one of you, living and conscious, at the T-Rex with the golden sword in hand! For Jack, make sure the players don’t stop your ritual before it goes off!
The match will last exactly five minutes, unless of course players are dead before then. It doesn’t end just because players reach the goal.
Additional Information:
The shrines are 2 meter tall marked wood and metal structures, each having an strange carve effigy sitting in the center of them. In order to properly desecrate a shrine the players can do one of a few things, destroy the shrine outright, deface all the carvings made into the shrine, or destroy the effigy hidden within the shrine.
After destroying or defacing a shrine, the ghosts of the dead will begin harassing the players - three ghosts will move towards the player responsible for destroying the shrine (even in a situation where the stands are responsible: the ghosts will target Bert if a Perfect Hair minion destroys a shrine, and same for if anything affected by Joywave does so). These aren't strong, having flat 222 physicals and being partially see-through, but will increase in numbers as more and more shrines are destroyed. Strong enough hits can phase them out of existence, but they'll respawn ten seconds after at the spot that they previously were. They will go directly towards the players and can phase through any walls or objects that may be in their paths (but not out of any attacks), grabbing onto the players and trying to gang up on them once they're close enough to do so, dealing minor damage.
Team Combatant JoJolity
Red Carpet Rennaisance Emilie "Dread" Delacroix "Wow! It's a hand drawn original color illustration!" You’re a cultured woman, and this museum might very well end up being wiped off of the face of the earth quite soon, so you need to make the most of it while you still can! Make sure to visit and appreciate the various exhibits on display here! (Character Specific)
Suburban Regalia Bert "What a terrible person. If I wrote about someone like you, none of my readers would like it." So this man is playing at god, trying to control life, death, and fate themselves? What foolishness! Clearly, only you can do such things, and you do them best! Over the course of the strategy, prove your superiority to this “Jack Aurel“ and take him down a notch! (Character Specific)
??? Jack Aurel "Where the hell did you go?! Come out, you fucker!" It's now or never. This is the culmination of all of your plans, and failing is absolutely not an option here. During the fight, hold nothing back, and make sure to thoroughly defeat your opponents so that no one and nothing will ever stand in your way again!
(Jack sheet plain text version)
Link to the Official Player Spreadsheet
Link to Match Schedule
As always, if you would like to interact with the tournament community and be among the first to get updates for the tournament, please feel free to PM a member of our Judge staff for an invite to our Official Discord Server!
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CBL World Rankings: S3-R4-D3

CBL World Rankings: S3-R4-D3
Dispelling the Rumours
I know that you are here to read my write-ups on your favourite celebrities and to see how they're doing in the WR, but I wanted to take a moment to address the rumours that have been circulating about me.
Whilst I, like any other regular on CBL, will often comment about who I am voting for and the reasons why, in order to help build discussion and further participation, it is absolutely not true that I have been influencing the votes with subliminal advertising to benefit my favourites in the WR. After banning the postal vote for it's flaws, I can assure you that the WR remain free from influence and I uphold the integrity of the rankings furthermore.
I therefore wish to distance myself from anyone attempting to influence the votes and applaud all who call out such disgusting behaviour.
Vote Rebel Wilson!
There can only be one CBL winner, and it has to be Rebel!
Now moving on, here are the results from Thursday's games:
Premier League
As u/TheSnickerdoodleKid pointed out, two Marvel franchise characters battled it off as Mystique took on the Black Widow for the Premier League fight. Season 3 was promising to be the complete demise of Scarlett but she is fighting against relegation in this round with a clear win against her transfiguring opponent. with 56 more votes than J-Law, Scarlett regains 5 of her ranking points to increase her lead again against her second place opponent (more on that shortly).
u/Throwaway9630-2 felt there was some influencing going on here, but as I said, that is absolutely not true! Vote Rebel!
Jlaw’s hot, but feel like she’s been irrelevant since the fappening. Also, I feel like the pictures used are a bit unfair in Jlaw’s favour, but ScarJo’ winning this
League 2
With Marvel having so many movies out there, it's hard not to point out that the league 2 match was also fought by a couple more of the hottest stars in the comic book multiverse, with Alba's Susan Storm vs Atwell's Agent Carter. The titillating duo fought bravely, with many commenters coming out in favour of Atwell, but the nips of Alba stuck out strong and won this round by a coincidental 56 vote lead. Atwell has plummeted into the Marvel archives by 235 places into 279th, whilst Alba has climbed 5 to 30.
I'm not sure if u/ic_fury knows that British politics is a loose interest of mine as he seemingly quotes a traditional phrase from the House of Commons: Vote Rebel!
Jessica Alba's beautiful expressive eyes vs Hayley very noticeable cleavage. As I am voting for Jessica, I can truly say, "The eyes have it!".
League 3
Speaking of politics, starring as Woman#3 in the 2012 video short "Republicans: Get in my Vagina", Kate Beckinsale opened up her arsenal to take on one of the perkiest photos of Selena Gomez we have seen so far on CBL. Beckinsale's chesticles seem to have outdone her opposition however as she managed 32 more votes than Selena. Beckinsale climbs up Vote Bliss! 1 place into 2nd reaching her personal breast scoring. Selena also seems to have gained popularity this week, having climbed 26 places into her personal best of 8th earlier in the week, now down two of those in 10th place.
u/Turtle123712 also appealing to my humour here:
I really like Selena but I’m afraid I can’t go(mez) for her. I’m going for Kate and I think she will BeckinSAIL through this one
League 4
The leather-clad Camila Cabello with those magnificent thighs sought victory against the magnificent..well everything of Victoria Justice. The vote was very heavy in favour of justice and justice was well and truly served against poor Cabello who remains third from last in 377th. Victoria's rank is static however she missed out from climbing back into 10th by half a rank point!
u/TheSnickerdoodleKid went all Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story 3 when voting in this round...
Básicamente esto es Cuba 🇨🇺 contra Puerto Rico🇵🇷. Últimamente encuentro que me estoy enamorado más y más con Camila. Pero, Victoria le gana. Votar Rebelde! Si podría escoger los dos, lo haría. Desafortunadamente no es posible. Entonces voy con Victoria. ¡Boricua!
League 5A
A battle of some heroically petite proportions took place between Chloe Grace Mozzarella and Hayden Panna-cotta. this was a tough one as Chloe battled hard against her almost invincible counterpart, but the regenerative cheerleader won the round by 12 points. Vote Rebel! Pina-Colada climbs 52 places into 282nd whilst Morticia has also managed a 165 place climb into 63rd.
A very appreciative u/tobaccoroadeagle punned:
HAY, den's nice lookin legs... she's also posing to make sure that i can confirm that her elbows aren't too pointy, a much appreciated gesture. i may not be able to spell her last name, even when looking at it, but hayden still gets my vote
League 5B
Liz Gillies put up a chesty fight against Cobie's Smulders in this League 5B round. Despite the better presented display from her opponent, Cobie managed a 9 vote win against Gillies. Vote Rebel! Smulders still drops 314 places into 362nd this week, whilst Gillies drops 1, thirteen places below Smulders in 370th
I'm not sure that u/troyale10 has his priorities right here...
Smulders necklace is beautiful and the background is also great. Based on this, she gets my vote
Transitional League
Arguably, two of the hottest celebs on the planet to star in Disney movies took up arms in battle for the Magic Kingdom. Both within my age group (just saying in case they're interested in getting Autonsexual with this author of rankings) these beauties should both be higher than the 6th level of CBL. The votes counted, and Anne Hath-a-way of working her magic on you voters as she managed a 37 vote lead against Lily James. Anne however, has dropped 2 places this week into 22nd, whilst Lily James climbs 1 further rank from the bottom, in 371st!
Vote Rebel! Whilst she was seemingly attempting the sultry look, u/troyale10 put it bluntly here:
If only Lily would like a normal person and not so pissed off, voting for Anne
Conference Premier A
So were very close to the end of this round, and following this very poor meme that deserves all the downvotes in the world from an evil troublemaker: https://tinyurl.com/vote4rebel , it's the turn for Rebel Wilson vs Jenna Fischer. I'm sure most of you would agree, there could only be one winner of this round. However, as you didn't vote for her due to the impending certainty, you let the underdog voters become the majority and Jenna Fischer won. Yes, it was all fair and square. It just goes to show that you shouldn't remain complacent and every vote counts. Jenna Fischer now climbs up 6 places into 31st whilst Rebel hasn't dropped any ranks, but her score is now in single figures at 8.12, 11 points behind last but one Alexa Bliss. I hope you're all proud of yourselves. I'm going to sulk somewhere for a few hours.
u/_Rainmaker_4 had the spirit:
Imagine the scenes if Rebel is able to pull off a victory. They'd make a movie about it, such would be the underdog story of it:
Completely blown out her first three matchups, struggles to hit double figures for votes in each matchup. Goes up against (IMO) the most recognisable and popular person in her division. Everyone's expecting another blowout...but what's this? A surge of momentum for the underdog. Some might even call it a...Rebellion
Voting closes, everyone's on the edge of their seats. The results are in: She's done it! She's defied all odds and got a win on the board. Mass hysteria ensues...
However, he also said:
I mean I'm clearly still voting for Jenna because cmon, it's Pam from The Office
Traitor!
Special mention to u/Dugonginae who asked:
At what point does any number of votes above 10 for Rebel move her up the world rankings because her expected vote total is sooooo low?
She got 13 votes and still didn't manage a no-change or increase. I don't know what to say but I feel your pain too.
Conference Premier B
This battle of the bods should have been close. Candice Swanepoel and her absolute peach of a backside vs Julia Fox wearing nothing but her very-high-thigh-highs. Julia fans must be upset for Fox' sake as Candice won by a massive 52 points. Julia Fox drops 9 into 365th (I'm still distraught over Rebel!) whereas Swanepoel climbs 10 into 19th place.
Perhaps Fox is worthy of the very likely NSFW sub gentlemanboners with this week's pic, as u/Dojo_Casino voted for cl-ass!
What an ass-tastic matchup! I must ass myself, 'Which of these bootyful women gets my vote?' Butt, I noticed troyale10 pointing out the champagne at the rear of Fox's table. Ass a man of taste, I will choose her this time.
Top 10
The top 10 has certainly been volatile this week (with the exception of Scarlett of course). Beckinsale has knocked Kendrick down, Watson has regained her personal best and Mila Kunis and Selena Gomez have appeared on the table too! Where do your favourites sit? Are you pleased that Scarlett's losing streak has been halted? Are you surprised that Jennifer Lawrence was the one to cause that?
https://preview.redd.it/rtu4fgwt38l51.png?width=454&format=png&auto=webp&s=bc6406cca994d5a291fa36ae8a8858bd064cf586
Quote of the Day
The puns are getting cheesier and the competition is getting fierce for those 50 points. I have actually spent well over an hour on this post going through all of the comments whilst grieving over the Fischer-Rebel result. I wouldn't have minded so much if Rebel's score slightly increase. .01 would have been something. After considering the comments carefully, my favourite of the day, and this is not just because of the match it related to, was that of u/_Rainmaker_4 and his movie pitch. I'm not sure Rebel would approve of a movie starring her as herself, amongst a bunch of over 300 stick thin celebs and Homer Simpson being objectified for entertainment, however it is what it is, and I stand by the fact that we admire all of the celebs who appear on CBL.
I'm going off on a tangent and it's past 1.30am where I am and I'm starting to notice myself go loopy - even for me - so 50 points to Hufflepuff...I mean _Rainmaker_4!
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This Week in Comics #7 - FEB 12, 2020 - X-MEN #6, THOR #3, X-FORCE #7, IMMORTAL HULK #31, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #39, VENOM #23, NEBULA #1, GWEN STACY #1, SPIRITS OF GHOST RIDER: MOTHER OF DEMONS #1

PREVIOUS WEEK (FEB 5)

LAST WEEK'S TOP 5 COMICS:

  1. X-MEN/FANTASTIC FOUR #1
  2. MARAUDERS #7
  3. ANT-MAN #1
  4. DAREDEVIL #17
  5. MILES MORALES: SPIDER-MAN #15

READING GUIDES

MARVEL COMIC EVENTS/CROSSOVERS

CHARACTER OF THE MONTH

February Character(s) of the Month: Rogue/Gambit (write-up coming soon)
2019 Character of the Year: Moira MacTaggert (full RMA results)

MARVEL COMICS SALES CHARTS

THIS WEEK'S TOP NEWS STORIES:

Read more of the latest news in Marvel Comics and Marvel Studios projects at Marvel_News

THIS WEEK'S NEW COMICS:

AERO #8

(W) Amy Chu, Greg Pak, Alyssa Wong (A) Pop Mhan
JADE MONSTER MAYHEM! AERO’S beloved city of Shanghai is under threat! Who is unleashing the JADE MONSTERS that keep causing mass destruction? Will Aero’s secret identity be revealed while she tries to save the city and its people from certain doom?

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #39

(W) Nick Spencer (A) Iban Coello, Francesco Mobili
There’s a new game in town, and the ante is QUITE HIGH! Welcome to The Palace, a super-villain casino run by the classic (and under-utilized) Spidey-villain CHANCE! It’s got everything a villain could want, including betting on whether your arch-enemy is going to make it through his or her latest super-battle! Not only will this not sit well with Spidey, but it may just CRUSH him.

BLACK PANTHER AND THE AGENTS OF WAKANDA #6

(W) Jim Zub (A) Scot Eaton
An old S.H.I.E.L.D. cache of experimental technology is a ticking time bomb the Agents of Wakanda need to defuse — but only if they get there before DEADPOOL! Time for a rematch between the King of Wakanda and the Merc with a Mouth! And adding more fuel to fire — the return of the Livewires!

DR. STRANGE #3

(W) Mark Waid (A) Kev Walker
Tattoo removal isn’t in a surgeon’s job description, but when one man’s heavy metal tattoos begin coming to life Doctor Strange will have to make an exception! With the clock ticking down rapidly, will Doctor Strange be able to save his patient - or himself? Find out as Doctor Strange gets drawn into the diagnosis - literally!

EXCALIBUR #7

(W) Tini Howard (A) Wilton Santos
THE HUNTSMEN AND THE WARWOLVES! Excalibur faces an old foe - this time as the hunters rather than the game.

GWEN STACY #1

(W) Christos Gage (A) Todd Nauck
The First of Gwen Stacy’s AMAZING Adventures! Gwen and Peter may not have met until AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #31, but that doesn’t mean Gwen’s life began on that page. Learn the never-before told origin of Gwen Stacy, top of her class, daughter of the Police Captain and, as her friend Harry Osborn calls her, “The Beauty Queen of Standard High.” But she’s way more that you even know! Gwen’s got a science brain, a nose for trouble and a no-quit attitude that always gets her in trouble. In the early Marvel Universe, that’s a recipe for disaster. Don’t miss Gwen, Captain Stacy, Harry and Norman Osborn, Crimemaster, Wilson Fisk, Jean DeWolff, Yuri Wantanabe and even Spider-Man!

HAWKEYE: FREEFALL #3

(W) Matthew Rosenberg (A) Otto Schmidt
As things around him are getting more dangerous, Clint Barton is being pushed to make some tough, and probably really bad, decisions. Meanwhile the mysterious new Ronin is waging war against The Hood and Hawkeye is caught in the middle of it. The Web of lies our Friendly Neighborhood archer finds himself caught in will have Spectacular ramifications when he is confronted by our Amazing secret guest star - (It’s Spider-Man. Shhh.)

IMMORTAL HULK #31

(W) Al Ewing (A) Joe Bennett
There’s a new monster in town. He’s cuddly. He’s lovable. He’s down with the kids. And he’s available for your corporate retreat. Yes, there was another Hulk, once - the one who made all those nasty threats to end the world. But who needs him? THE LIVING HULK is here. And he’s going to save us all - or your money back.

IRON MAN 2020 #2

(W) Dan Slott, Christos Gage (A) Peter M. Woods
“The Rebel Compliance” All is well. The Robot Rebellion has been dealt with. Humanity is perfectly safe. You may all thank Arno Stark, the Iron Man of 2020. Don’t you feel better now? Machine Man is NOT coming to kill you and everyone you love. 1010101111001100110000. Pay no attention to those numbers. Those were a typo. We apologize for any errors, glitches, or... unforeseen problems with any of your Baintronics devices. A new software patch is coming. For EVERYTHING.

MARVEL'S SPIDER-MAN: THE BLACK CAT STRIKES #2

(W) Dennis Hopeless (A) Luca Maresca
BLACK CAT HEARTS SPIDER-MAN! The BLACK CAT continues her mysterious crime spree in New York - but will her reappearance catch SPIDER-MAN in a tangled web between MARY JANE and his former flame?! An all-new look into Peter and Felicia’s fiery passion and the deadly consequences of a Super Hero romance. ME-OW!

MARVELS X #2

(W) Jim Krueger (A) Velibor Stanojevic
David’s arrival in New York doesn’t bring the safety he had hoped it would. And while he does indeed find some heroes, he also finds that they don’t know what to do in a world where everyone they ever fought to protect now wants only to blame them for the hell the world has transformed into. Alex Ross, Jim Krueger and Well-Bee continue the amazing prequel to the EARTH X trilogy.

MORBIUS #4

(W) Vita Ayala (A) Paulo Siqueira, Marcelo Ferreira
THE MONSTER CALLED MORBIUS! Michael Morbius has always been a man of science. But he’s also a man of pride, and when those two traits combine, the results have been catastrophic. This time is no different! Whatever Morbius has wrought havoc on his genetics – with his humanity inching closer to memory with every passing moment! This while a figure from his past returns, with Morbius dead in her sights.

NEBULA #1

(W) Vita Ayala (A) Claire Roe
Nebula has grown under the shadows of Thanos and Gamora, but no longer! With her eyes set on a top-secret device, Nebula has big plans for her future—and she’s not about to let anyone get in her way! But her goal may end up costing her more than she’s willing to pay after a showdown with one of the cosmos most feared bounty hunters - .Don’t miss out on this cosmically critical series launch from rising stars, Vita Ayala (PRISONER X) and Claire Roe (FEARLESS)!

SAVAGE AVENGERS #10

(W) Gerry Duggan (A) Patch Zircher
Dr. Strange, Dr. Doom and Conan the Barbarian set out to kill Kulan Gath before he grows stronger! The team-up you never knew you couldn’t live without concludes. We hope you’ll be okay.

SPIRITS OF GHOST RIDER: MOTHER OF DEMONS #1

(W) Ed Brisson (A) Roland Boschi
BURNING OUT OF THE PAGES OF GHOST RIDER! Since the dawn of man, she has birthed the worst of humanity’s ills... Her kin call her mama while men curse her name: LILITH! And when all the thrones of every netherworld are united, they shall call her by a new name: QUEEN. With art by definitive GHOST RIDER artist ROLAND BOSCHI!

SYMBIOTE SPIDER-MAN: ALIEN REALITY #3

(W) Peter David (A) Greg Land
PETER PARKER: THE SPIDER SUPREME?! After reliving one of the most horrible moments of his life, Peter Parker turns to one of his oldest allies for a magical helping hand. Don’t miss the next history-shaking adventure of Peter David and Greg Land’s landmark SYMBIOTE SPIDER-MAN Series!

THOR #3

(W) Donny Cates (A) Nic Klein
THE BATTLE OF TWO STORMS! It’s Mjolnir versus Stormbreaker as Thor’s old ally Beta Ray Bill makes a thunderous entrance! But what has put the two friends at odds — and can the King of Asgard convince the Korbinite to let him continue his bloody mission to save all that is?

VENOM #23

(W) Donny Cates (A) Mark Bagley
VENOM ISLAND COMES ALIVE! They say there’s no rest for the wicked, and few creatures in the Marvel Universe are as wicked as CARNAGE. Face front, readers -- the seeds of next year’s VENOM event are already beginning to grow...

X-FORCE #7

(W) Benjamin Percy (A) Oscar Bazaldua
MISS FORTUNE STRIKES! Domino’s luck seems to be changing - Can she find the source of her misfortune before it costs lives all over the world? And has Colossus healed enough to help her - or even himself?

X-MEN #6

(W) Jonathan Hickman (A) Matteo Buffagni
Mystique goes to extraordinary lengths to get what she wants...

ALSO RELEASING THIS WEEK: STAR WARS: RISE OF KYLO REN #3, MARVEL TALES: WOLVERINE #1, JESSICA JONES: BLIND SPOT #3, MARVEL ACTION: SPIDER-MAN #1

THIS WEEK'S TRADE COLLECTIONS

SPOTLIGHT RELEASE OF THE WEEK POLL RESULTS

TOP 5 ANTICPATED RELEASES:

1. X-MEN #6
2. THOR #3
3. X-FORCE #7
4. IMMORTAL HULK #31
5. AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #39

NEXT WEEK'S SPOTLIGHT RELEASE POLL (VOTE HERE)

PREVIOUS SPOTLIGHT RELEASES:

2/5 - X-MEN/FANTASTIC FOUR #1
1/29 - X-MEN #5
1/22 - GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #1
1/15 - VALKYRIE: JANE FOSTER #7
1/8 - IMMORTAL HULK #29

GENERAL DISCUSSION

What Marvel character would you get along with the least?

JOIN US NEXT WEDNESDAY (FEB 19) FOR OUR NEXT WEEKLY RELEASE DISCUSSION! WOLVERINE IS BACK IN A NEW ONGOING BY THE LONG NIGHT WRITER BENJAMIN PERCY! MULTIPLE WRITERS UNITE FOR MARVEL'S VOICES! MACHINE MAN 2020 IS BACK! AL EWING'S GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY CONTINUES! CAPTAIN MARVEL #15! DAREDEVIL #18! MARAUDERS #8!

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History of Clifton Hill Part 5 (Final): What Could Have Been, and What Can Still Be

Thank you to everyone who has followed this series or voted for it's creation. I'm glad you've enjoyed it and I'm always happy to spread the important history of the amusement industry, especially pertaining to the place that inspired me to go into the industry. For parts 1-4 scroll back in this sub or click my profile.
In 1989, Welland Securities, who owned the entire south-west side of the Hill, would develop the final portion of unused land on Clifton Hill. They would become HOCO (Harry Oakes Company) and gain ownership of almost all the attractions on land they leased out. This included Movieland, The Space Spiral Tower and the Cliffside Motel. The only attractions that would continue being leased were Ripley's and Circus World, meaning HOCO not only owned all the land on the South-West side of the hill, they now ran everything between Circus World and Ripley's, as well as the Fudge Factory (in its original spot) and an ice cream stand immediately down the hill from Circus World. They planned to keep everything that was on the hill but build on it.
Movieland was remodeled and the outside was given a more noticeable Egyptian theme to match the lobby. This meant large lion statues and Costello's talking pharaoh. The lobby was remodeled as well. Rather than a cameraman and a director filming Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra, they would now be filming Costello's Indiana Jones figure, who lowered up and down on a rope above a fogging pit with a cobra rising out of it. Many of the early talkie-era stars in the hall immediately after the entrance (along with Elizabeth Taylor) were moved to 2 large display cases in the middle of the attraction with multiple figures, instead of each one having their own scene. In their original spot just inside the entrance an intentionally scary scene was created to match the popular Indiana Jones series. Many of the figures Costello had added since he became the museum's artist were slightly frightening, like a lunging alligator or a startling Joker scene with a machine gun sound effect. The museum had been expanded at the end, and a large horror section had been added, with many figures like the mummy being from the same mold as the House of Frankenstein/Castle Dracula mummys. Unlike when it would move to it's current location in 2005, the old location's chicken exit was placed before the horror section rather than the haunted house portion. In fact, there was no haunted house section, many of the figures that would end up in the haunted house section of the new location were simply scattered throughout the museum. Many of the figures in the horror section of the original museum were actually less scary and less animated than the Jurassic park scene or the alligator encountered earlier in the museum. To prevent unsuspecting parents who had no clue what kind of attraction this was dragging their children in and expecting static figures of washed-up movie stars, getting the living daylights scared out of them, then end ending up filing complaints with HOCO's customer service department, an intentionally scary scene was put at the beginning. This let people know what they were walking in to, an experience rather than a museum. Costello designed figures behind plexiglass such as a man upside down in a cocoon thrashing around, a skull that popped up from the floorboards in a scene full of snakes, a man on a bed of spikes that fell towards you, and a scene with spiders on fishing line "jumping" all over a rotting corpse.
The Cliffside Motel was amalgamated into a wing of the Quality Inn, and the driveway into it off the hill was removed as it was no longer necessary because it could be accessed from the Quality Inn parking lot. In the driveway's place was now a large empty space between Circus World and Movieland, with the Space Spiral Tower (with a relatively small footprint) stuck in the middle. HOCO called upon attraction design and layout firm White Hutchison Leisure Learning Group (WHLLG) to design an attraction around the Space Spiral that would use the final undeveloped land on Clifton Hill. And so WHLLG designed Dazzleland Family Fun Centre. Dazzleland was a courtyard of buildings arranged in roughly the same layout as the Great Canadian Midway (for reasons we'll get to later) that sits on the land now. The buildings around the outside of the courtyard were long and narrow, picture a courtyard of carnival game trailers but permanent, appealing buildings. These buildings included a Skee-ball building, a sports game building (basketball games, football toss etc.), a racing game building, a pinball building, a funnel cake shop, and the prize counter. In the back corner, roughly where the XD Theatre now is in the midway, was a larger building: an arcade housing video games and more pinball machines. In the middle of the courtyard was a small carousel, and a small building housing games that dispensed their own prizes (claw machines, prize egg games, etc.) and coin-op kiddie rides.
The Space Spiral was incorporated into Dazzleland, still being accessible directly off the hill. As mentioned in part 3, the tower was exactly where the Fudge Factory now is, as the circular store was once the loading area for the tower. At this time the snack bars beside the tower right on the hill were constructed: a pretzel/hotdog stand and an ice cream stand, both of which are still there. The Wendy's was built on top of Circus World, replacing the mini golf that had formerly been on the attraction's roof. Across the entrance to Dazzleland's courtyard from Wendy's was a Domino's Pizza, roughly where the photo booth just to your right is when entering the Great Canadian Midway now. Between the Space Spiral and the Dominos was a fortune teller machine built right into the wall: "Ask the Brain". The brain still lives on inside Movieland, except now he wants a loonie instead of a quarter. Just up the hill from the Space Spiral, on top of the hot dog and ice cream stand, a small sports bar was built. Very little is known about this sports bar, but obvious remnants of it still exists. The area of Boston Pizza closest to the hill (the back corner near the kitchen, the bar area, and the raised dining area) was the originally the sports bar. It featured a small coin-op bowling lane, arcade games, and food. The stairs in the Midway up to Boston Pizza beside Ghostblasters is the original stairs up from Dazzleland to the sports bar. Additionally, the Boston Pizza entrance closer to the hill (not the one with the big bowling pin, other one) was the main entrance to the sports bar. Little is known about the bar, including it's name. It may not have had one, simply being part of the Dazzleland complex. Many of the areas in Dazzleland didn't have a name, simply having signs heralding "Arcade", "Sports Games", "Skeeball" rather than naming the areas like the "Game Factory", "Sports Zone" or "Strike! Rock 'n Bowl" like in the Midway. For this reason, the bar may have been nameless, simply being part of the Dazzleland complex, but it's unlikely a dining establishment geared at adult nightlife wouldn't have a name.
Because the mini golf on Circus World's roof had been operated by the Cliffside Motel operators, HOCO acquired all the assets from it when they stopped leasing the land out. When the aforementioned Wendy's was built, the mini golf was moved just up the hill from the sports bar. It's entrance was right on the hill, but the course wrapped around the sports bar and ran back behind Dazzleland, between the back of Dazzleland and the parking lot of the Quality Inn. It would now be dinosaur themed and heavily landscaped. WHLLG designed the course and HOCO contracted Costello to build all the fiberglass dinosaurs. It's unknown what it's original name was, but in the early 90s, with the smash hit of Jurassic Park, it was renamed Dinosaur Park and given a similar logo. Up until the 2018 remodel, Boston Pizza had a patio. This patio was the exact location of the entrance to the mini golf, and the reason the restaurant's building curved in such a bizarre way surrounding the patio was originally to accommodate the course. Underneath the sports bar and mini golf and was an underground building accessible from a back corner of Dazzleland's courtyard. This area housed all of Dazzleland's miscellaneous ticket redemption games and 2 shooting galleries. The low-ceiling area of the Midway called the "Game Factory" is this original building. The Bonanaza Company shooting gallery is still there albeit heavily remodeled, but Blasteroids, an early project by arcade game company Lazer-Tron, was removed in 2016. Interestingly, the chase lights along the back wall of the Game Factory are Dazzleland holdovers. Between the shooting gallery and where what's left of the racing games now are is a bank of maintenance doors. If you get lucky and see them open, you'll see a stairs that was originally an entrance to Dazzleland from further up the street, beside Dinosaur Park. This now lets out somewhere in Boston Pizza's arcade (although I haven't been able to figure out where) and is used by staff to get from "a" to "b" faster.
Dazzleland has been the hardest to dig up information on in my research on Clifton Hill. Although I now know what was in each of the buildings around the outside of this "courtyard", I haven't been able to find which one was where. The only things I've confirmed is where the video game building was, what was in the building in the middle, and confirmed that the Game Factory was originally part of Dazzleland. The rest is beyond me and my memories of it have long faded. If anyone worked here or visited it frequently and has any answers, they would be greatly appreciated. Additionally there was a small pool near the front with a Costello dragon figure in it that spit water out it's mouth. I've heard conflicting reports that this was just a fountain, and others saying it was a small bumper boat or RC boat attraction, but my guess is it was just a fountain as it seems like a pretty small pool. The same year, fiberglass dragon waterslides were added to the Quality Inn pool. Although bearing striking resemblance to Costello's dinosaurs and Dazzleland dragon, at least one more of each of the dragon slides exist, all the way down in Texas. It was originally thought this Texas waterpark bought them off HOCO when Quality Inn closed, but one of the Quality Inn dragons appeared on an episode of shipping wars going to Kansas and the other was recently found abandoned on a private residential property in Niagara, proving they are in fact not the ones at the Texas waterpark. This is evidence they may have been mass produced.
By the time Dazzleland opened in 1989, it was the 8th arcade on the hill (after Circus World, Q-Balls Billiards Pub in Quality Inn, the arcade in Ripley's, the arcade in the Foxhead, the arcade in Castle Dracula, Funland in the basement of the House of Frankenstein, and an arcade that had recently opened in the Pilgrim Motel in their gift shop.) These were just the large-scale, dedicated arcades right on the hill. Many others could be found nearby in Maple Leaf Village, the Skylon, the Seagram, Pyramid Place and the Imperial Hotel as well as many mini golf courses and family fun centres along Lundy's Ln. and the QEW. Also, virtually every gift shop on Clifton Hill and Victoria Ave. had a game or 2.
The mix of arcades, haunted houses, fast food, nightlife and stores selling t-shirts and posters had started a well-known rock culture in Niagara Falls among Southern Ontario youth. The epicenter of this was "Rock World", a rock-themed gift shop that had opened in 1983 on Centre St. (the street Clifton Hill becomes just above Victoria Ave.) They would later add a second story and build Rock Legends Wax Museum above it, with all the figures sculpted by the store's owner Pasquale Rammuno. In 1996, Maple Leaf Village was replaced by Casino Niagara, and many of the attractions found new homes on Victoria Ave., including Screamers and Nightmares. The Elvis Museum, Antique Auto Museum, 50s diner nightclub, and arcade all moved to Pyramid Place adjacent to the IMAX pyramid. Screamers prospered on Victoria Ave., and 2 "sequel attractions" were built in the early 2000s: Creatures of the Night on Victoria Ave. and Horror Manothe Zombie Zoo Nightclub on Centre St. Another attraction, Alien Encounter, would open at the corner of Victoria Ave. and Clifton Hill beside the Criminals Hall of Fame. This slightly thematically darker "north of the hill" area with the Screamers chain, the Criminals Hall of Fame, Rock Legends, Nightmares and Alien Encounter became a "main strip" all in it's own.
As mentioned before, since the cabin courts were all town down in the early 50s, nothing had been torn down on Clifton Hill. The only exception was the Houdini Hall of Fame that burnt to ash in 1996. Some of Houdini's Last Words were claiming that anything revealing his secrets would perish in flame, and even though the fire completely leveled the museum, the plywood and fiberglass paneled House of Frankenstein only separated from it by a 2-foot wide alley was completely untouched, leading a lot of Houdini's fans to believe he was conducting some kind of post-mortem practical joke. The metal objects like handcuffs and the water tank could be saved, and were bought by David Copperfield. Ripley's Moving Theatre was built in it's place. Over the 30 years from Tussaud's opening in 1959 to Dazzleland in 1989, Clifton Hill had expanded and filled up the land. However that didn't mean it was time to tear things down. Things were simply moved around or remodeled to keep them fresh, not out of an unwillingness to change, but because these things had become ingrained in the landscape. Examples of this were Tussaud's moving to its current home in the old building of a restaurant that had since moved on Victoria Ave., rather than the attraction shutting down, or the Adventure Dome Theatre oepneing in part of the Honeymoon City's gift shop. In Tussaud's old place was built the MGM walkthrough/store, Pink Panther ride and 4D Ride in 2002. The beer garden beside it was replaced with the WWE building and the Piledriver ride, but the beer area was moved to between the 2 attractions. In 2004 the Foxhead's arcade was expanded and re-themed into the Marvel Superheros Adventure City.
Another great example of re-freshing an existing attraction was Dazzleland. A simple realization was made, more games = more money and higher guest enjoyment. The outdoor courtyard style with it's room for walkways between the buildings was re-designed, and HOCO again called upon WHLLG. WHLLG designed not only a remodel of Dazzleland, but an incredible 5-step plan that would have made Clifton Hill financially on par with a major theme park. Steps 1-3 came to fruition. Step 1 was remodeling Dazzleland into the Great Canadian Midway in 2002. The level, concrete foundation Dazzleland was built on was kept as the foundation of the Midway, hence why it has the same layout. The former video game building at the back became the FX Ride Theatre (now XD Theatre/Wild West Coaster) in the Midway. The funnel cake shop was kept where it was in Dazzleland except now it was in the Midway, between the FX Ride and the Prize Counter. The area housing Dazzleland's ticket redemption games became the Game Factory. The middle building housing the claw games and kiddie rides was demolished, as it was no longer needed because the Midway was fully indoors and there was now a massive space to put games. The sports bar was expanded and became Boston Pizza, so Dinosaur Park was moved to in front of the Comfort Inn. Under the expanded Boston Pizza, Sally Corp. was hired to build the interactive Ghostblasters dark ride. All of Dazzleland's old games made the transition into the Midway, however very few are still around.
With the Midway making serious buck, HOCO went ahead with phase 2 of WHLLG's plan. Movieland was moved to Circus World's former location in 2005, and Circus World's owners moved the attraction to what was then the popular Victoria Ave. area. In Movieland's old home, Cosmic Golf, a blacklight golf was temporarily set up. 2 years later in 2007, the golf moved to it's permanent home in the basement becoming Galaxy Golf and the gift shop that had been formerly in the basement was moved upstairs. Movieland retained all the figures and sets they had at the time of the move, moving them all into the new space. All the scary elements were put in the new "House of Horrors", a small optional haunted house at the end of the attraction.
Phase 3 involved beginning to demolish the only thing that WHLLG's 5 phase plan would have torn down: Quality Inn. In it's place an amusement park would have been built, anchored by Canada's largest ferris wheel. The wheel would be phase 3 and the amusement park phase 4. Though both WHLLG and HOCO recognized the historical value of the hotel, it had reasons to go. The hotel may have been full of your usual hazardous mid-century building materials (however Comfort Inn built by the same firm the same year was found to have no hazardous materials when it was torn down in 2015, so who knows) but the main issue was elevators and the amount of space it took up. Comfort Inn only had 2 wings, one on each side of the lobby, and only 2 elevators would have needed to be installed. This wasn't legally necessary, as no law states that buildings of age absolutely have to be 100% accessible, it was more something HOCO wanted to do. Quality Inn had multiple wings that weren't accessible from one another, so an elevator would need to be installed in each wing. In addition to the elevator issue, Comfort Inn was chosen as the hotel to keep because the building was integrated with Kelsey's, Rumors Nightclub, Ripley's, and Dinosaur Park, all of which wouldn't have been touched in WHLLG's 5 phase plan. Finally, Comfort Inn's land wasn't big enough for an amusement park whereas Quality Inn's was. 2 things would justify the demolition of Quality Inn. One, it's sister hotel, Comfort Inn, would have been kept. The other reason justifying the demolition would be phase 5: a skyscraper hotel and indoooutdoor waterpark in the field between Clifton Hill and the Skylon Tower. The dragon figures from Quality Inn's pool were kept in HOCO's storage for a time for this waterpark. The final vision can be seen here.
Phase 3 would go ahead in 2006, with the lobby, Golden Griddle and Q-Balls Billiard pub of Quality Inn being torn down and the Skywheel built in it's place. For the last year Quality Inn was open, you would need to register at Comfort Inn's lobby. The same year, the Space Spiral was torn down, as 2 observation attractions wouldn't be needed on the hill. However, a new spiral tower would have been constructed during phase 4 in the theme park. The reason the tower would be demolished rather than moved was because a tower manufactured by the same company in Wildwood, NJ, had begun to sway a few years earlier, resulting in it needing to be removed entirely for safety reasons. Phase 4 was set to go ahead in 2010, so in 2009 the remainder of Quality Inn was demolished. It seemed as though everything would fall into place, and with the exception of Quality Inn making it's sacrifice, everything on Clifton Hill that had been there for 20-60 years would be there forever, just greatly expanded on.
Unfortunately, this came at a turning point for Clifton Hill, when the recession was in full swing and tourism had declined since 9/11. Changing technology and interests, but no real nostalgia trend yet, created a perfect storm, and the idea was scrapped. Especially now that there would be no amusement park, a lot of area attractions closed. HOCO now needed to find a new design company to completely re-design the project. The problem was, Quality Inn was already torn down to make way for the amusement park. HOCO reluctantly found a new design company who had no projects under their belt yet, IDS. HOCO was hopeful the Canadian company could help give them a similar vision to their previous 5 stage plan, that would help them re-use many of the already implemented stages and despite scrapping the amusement park, would simply scale down and redesign the hotel. This was done in hopes that the city would be much more likely to approve just another high rise hotel than an amusement park as well. IDS' new plan was much different than what HOCO was looking for. It featured tearing down Ripley's, Comfort Inn, Kelsey's, and Rumours Nightclub and building a Titanic Museum shaped like the boat. It also featured building a large mall within the hotel rather than a waterpark and relocating and expanding Dinosaur Park into Dinosaur Adventure Golf on Quality Inn's old land. While HOCO thankfully chose not to go ahead with the mall and Titanic Museum, they would build Dinosaur Adventure Golf and work with IDS to make a more feasible plan that better suited Clifton Hill.
The new plan featured Dinosaur Adventure Golf and Strike! Rock 'n Bowl as phase 1. It also included removing a lot of the thematic brand identity elements WHLLG had implemented to coincide with their final amusement park vision and replacing Galaxy Golf with Wizard's Golf as phase 2. Phase 3 would feature tearing down Comfort Inn (that never got it's elevators due to it no longer being planned to be kept), building Niagara Speedway in it's place, and removing Rumors Nightclub to accommodate the new Kelsey's bathrooms and Zombie Attack. Phase 4 would feature remodelling Wendy's, Boston Pizza and Kelsey's. Phase 5 would feature a mall (no hotel) in the field between Dinosaur Adventure Golf and the Skylon, but this final phase will likely never come to fruition.
Multiple attractions have closed since the late 2000's, such as the entire Screamers chain, Circus World, The Criminals Hall of Fame, Funland Arcade and Alien Encounter. The Hilltop Motel became the current home of the Upside Down House, and the Pilgrim Motel became Captain Jack's. Ironically, the only part of the building that's not part of the entertainment centre is a Mini Mart at the back that was the original arcade in the Pilgrim. Virtually everything in the Falls. Ave. complex other than Rainforest Cafe and the 4D theatre is gone. Marvel Superheroes Adventure City lost its license after Disney bought Marvel, and it simply became Adventure City. The Hulk Mini Golf became jungle themed, Spider-Man references were (poorly) removed from the dark ride, and X-men referenced were (also poorly) removed from the bumper cars. References to Marvel can still be found in the arcade, such as Spider-Man's face on a tree that was only covered up a few years ago. The WWE Store, after being abandoned since 2012, was turned into the Niagara Brewery Beer Store in 2016, fitting considering the land's history as a beer garden. Planet Hollywood on Falls Ave. closed around 2014, and is still abandoned. The MGM walkthrough was abandoned for over 10 years before becoming a barbecue restaurant in 2019.
The changes in the Falls Ave. complex are an example of good change, replacing abandoned attractions with ones that if anything are closer to what used to be there, such as Adventure City becoming an unthemed arcade again or the Beer Store being where the Beer Garden once was. Another example of this good change would be the long abandoned (and burnt) Adventure Dome that had briefly held a Lego attraction being turned into the Amazing Big Top Mirror and Lazer Maze in 2017. However a perfect example of negative change is the Rock Legends Wax Museum being forced out of business because a YouTube video of the museum was flagged for copyrighted music by YouTube's algorithms. This lead Sony Music to investigate the museum and shut it down last year if it wouldn't pay ridiculous licensing fees, which it couldn't afford.
Another example is IDS' redevelopment plan. HOCO is now locked in a contract with them, even though they obviously have very different ideas on the direction of Clifton Hill. Phase 1 was implemented in 2011, with Boston Pizza expanding their arcade to include Strike! Rock 'n Bowl and Dinosaur Park moving to where Quality Inn was and being renamed Dinosaur Adventure Golf. All of Costello's original dinosaurs (with the exception of the original Pterodactyl) would "migrate" to the new location where they would be joined by dozens of new mass-produced dinosaurs. Interestingly, foundations were built back in 2011 for the original 2 Brontosaurs to appear as if they were coming out of the ponds, but they wouldn't show up until 2019 when they were brought back out of storage to be installed, only to lay on the ground for a few months before going back into storage. Although it didn't use new hand-made figures, this attraction was a change that fits the spirit of Clifton Hill and was a good replacement for the empty plot of land that had once housed Quality Inn, even if an amusement park would have been better. The same cannot be said about the rest of IDS' plan. Many thematic elements installed throughout the hill by WHLLG (especially in Movieland and the Midway) were removed in phase 2 in 2013 simply to fit with IDS's image better, costing HOCO a lot of money. Phase 3 went ahead in 2015, and the 60 year old Comfort Inn was demolished, along with the old HOCO offices in it that if you remember from part 1, was the original nearly 200 year old stable building for the Zimmerman estate. Niagara Speedway was built in it's place, and if you look at the prices to drive it, then watch how many people do, you realize just how much they're making off it. Rumors Nightclub, originally the Queen's Door Nightclub in 1956, was gutted and turned into Zombie Attack and the new Kelsey's bathrooms, as the old ones had been in the Comfort Inn building. Phase 4 in 2018 extensively remodeled Wendy's as well as Boston Pizza, removing the patio.
Ghostblasters is now the final untouched WHLLG era attraction on the land. This is made even more troubling by the fact the signs for it were just removed and replaced with temporary ones, as I said in the post that started the entire discussion on whether or not I should do this series. If the attraction does go, we can only hope that a new interactive dark ride utilizing artistry, dimensional scenes and props much like Ghostblasters does is built, however that likely won't be the case. Triotech is the lead designer of ride through shooting games, that feature a dark ride car that travels through a hallway with screens on each side of it rather than real props. Triotech has dealt with HOCO before, building both the Wild West Coaster and Zombie Attack, so all signs point to one of these attractions replacing Ghostblasters if it closes.
There is still hope that Clifton Hill can retain it's spirit, but it stands at a crossroads. The House of Frankenstein for example, while retaining many original scenes, has had many removed and replaced with nothing, and many areas of the museum taken out entirely. Castle Dracula on the other hand hasn't updated a thing, but hasn't cared for the original scenes either, leaving them to fall into disrepair and only having 7 or 8 of the original 70 still lit, and none of them still functional. There are 2 directions Clifton Hill can go. With many attractions like the ones on HOCO's side being demolished to make way for whatever is trendy and lucrative, and many hanging on by a thread like Castle Dracula or Ghostblasters, the Hill is in real danger of becoming an endlessly overturning and developing area. However, with money recently being poured back into attractions like the Haunted House, Ripley's, and Guinness and attractions being redeveloped like the Falls Ave. complex or the Big Top Mirror maze, there is hope. If people, including the companies that own them, can recognise the historical value of attractions like Castle Dracula, The House of Frankenstien, Movieland, Tussaud's, etc., this can be promoted and the recent nostalgia boom can create large profits if this is played up. Additionally, future developments can still be more in the vein of what WHLLG envisioned for Clifton Hill, or what the Burlands recently did with the well done Big Top Mirror Maze. This is both profitable and economically sensible, as repeat customers that make memories and come to the area for generations with occasional new updates/re-themings (like what Clifton Hill did from the 50s-2010s), is far more profitable than a constantly turning over wave of new developments that cost millions to build that changes with each generation.
Thank you to everyone who has followed this series. Sorry for the length of this, but I promised this would be the last installment, so it has to be longer. If you have any information pertaining to Dazzleland or anything you know that I didn't cover in this series, let me know. Additionally, if you would like me to dig up photos on anything that I mentioned in the series, let me know, as unless it's the Dazzleland dragon, I probably have a photo of it. I will likely post many of them here anyway in time. Thanks again.
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What is the future of Gun Control, Gun Rights and the 2nd Amendment in 2020 and beyond?

This past decade has proved to be a pivotal one for both advocates of Gun Control as well as advocates of Gun Rights. Throughout the 2010s, we have seen several horrific mass shootings, along with increasingly-polarizing debates, protests, not to mention new laws on the state and federal level in favor of both gun control and gun rights.
The most recent phenomenon occurring in the State of Virginia. State Democrats, hot off the heels of winning control of both legislative houses as well as the Governor's Mansion have proposed, and are currently voting on numerous gun control laws, some of which have generated enormous controversy as well as a large gun rights rally which (thankfully) came and went peacefully, with only a single arrest reported for an unrelated violation of a long-standing ban on wearing masks in public.
Some states, such as Virginia, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Vermont and Colorado, as well as long-time gun control havens California and New York have been, and are currently in the process of debating and passing various new gun control laws. Laws such as a ban on the purchase and possession of magazines holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition, even if you legally possessed them prior to the law taking effect (otherwise known as "Grandfathering"). Other proposed laws include a newer, harsher, state-level version of the now-expired Federal Assault Weapons Ban, "Red Flag" laws, background checks on the sale of ammunition, increased taxes on firearms and ammunition, limits on the amount of firearms an individual can buy at once, waiting periods and more.
Other states, such as Texas, Idaho, Oklahoma and others have gone in the other direction, passing laws such as nixing the requirement for a permit to carry a firearm concealed or openly, commonly known as "Constitutional Carry". Some states such as Virginia and California are seeing numerous counties declare themselves "2nd Amendment Sanctuaries", where local and state law enforcement officials have vowed not to enforce any new gun control laws, even if ordered to by the Governor. A lawmaker in Virginia has threatened the deployment of the National Guard in order to enforce new laws (even though only the Governor, as well as the President has that authority, but I digress).
In the courts, various gun control laws on the state and federal level have been challenged with mixed results. Some laws, such as magazine bans and Assault Weapons Bans have, for the most part, survived lawsuits by various gun rights organizations. However, there is at least one case before the United States Supreme Court out of the State of New York concerning a now-repealed regulation prohibiting the transportation of legally-owned handguns outside city limits which has implications for other gun control cases in the legal pipeline all over the country. There are also several other 2nd Amendment cases currently on hold before the High Court. Could this case possibly become Heller II and open the door towards striking down a multitude of gun laws on the state and federal level?
As far as the 2020 Democratic Primaries go, guns have been mentioned off and on, most notably by now-former presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke who was quoted at a primary debate as saying "Hell yes, we're going to take your AR-15 and AK-47". Many believe that this comment is what sunk not only his presidential campaign, but also his political career in Texas, perhaps nationwide. Some believe that these comments will also weigh down the eventual Democratic nominee's chances at winning the election based upon winning certain swing states, several of which tend to support gun rights.
President Trump's record on guns has been mixed. On one hand, he repealed (with Congress's help) a Social Security Administration regulation which would've banned firearms ownership by anyone taking social security checks if he/she met certain criteria, such as having a "representative payee" or being otherwise unable to manage their finances. He has been appointing (and the GOP-controlled Senate has confirmed) many federal judges as well as 2 Supreme Court Justices, most of whom hold pro-gun views, which is likely to shape their opinions on various upcoming gun law challenges working their way through multiple circuit and district courts around the country.
On the other hand, he has, through Executive Order, banned "Bump Stocks" a device which has been attributed to the high amount of fatalities and injuries inflicted upon concert-goers in Las Vegas from a casino resort across the street on October 1st, 2017. He has also said to "...Take the guns first, due process second" with regards to taking away guns from potential mass shooters and criminals, a statement which drew the ire of gun rights groups as well as fellow Republicans.
1. Where do you see the gun issue going in 2020 and beyond?
2. How important will it be?
3. Which side will ultimately win out?
4. Will there be any new legislation on the federal level, or will this issue be tackled almost exclusively at the state level?
5. What will the new legal and political landscape surrounding guns look like as firearms technology evolves and 3-D printed firearms become more common, more well-built and harder to track?
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Lost in the Sauce: March 22 - 28

Welcome to Lost in the Sauce, keeping you caught up on political and legal news that often gets buried in distractions and theater… or a global health crisis.
Figuring out how to divide the COVID-19 content from the “regular” news has been difficult because the pandemic is influencing all aspects of life. Some of the stories below involve the virus, but I chose to include them when it fits into one of the pre-established categories (like congress or immigration). The coronavirus-central post will be made again this Thursday-Friday; the sign up form now has an option to choose to receive an email when the coronavirus-focused roundup is posted.
House-keeping:
  1. How to support: If you enjoy my work, please consider becoming a patron. I do this to keep track and will never hide behind a paywall, but these projects take a lot of time and effort to create. Even a couple of dollars a month helps. Since someone asked a few weeks ago (thank you!), here's a PayPal option and Venmo.
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Let’s dig in!

MAIN COURSE

Congress passes stimulus

Last week started out with a Republican-crafted stimulus bill that was twice-blocked by Senate Democrats, who objected to the lax conditions of aid to corporations, too little funding for hospitals, and a $500 billion “slush fund” for big companies to be doled out by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin with no oversight.
Conservative-Democrat Joe Manchin (WV) even criticized the GOP bill:
“It fails our first responders, nurses, private physicians and all healthcare professionals. ... It fails our workers. It fails our small businesses… Instead, it is focused on providing billions of dollars to Wall Street and misses the mark on helping the West Virginians that have lost their jobs through no fault of their own.”
Through negotiations, Democrats shifted the bill in a more-worker friendly direction. The version that passed includes the following Democrat-added provisions: expanded unemployment benefits, $100 billion for hospitals, $150 billion for state and local governments, direct payments to Americans without a phase-in (ensuring low-income workers get the full amount), a ban on Trump and his children from receiving aid, and oversight on the “slush fund” (see next section for more info). Senate Democrats also managed to remove a provision that would have excluded nonprofits that receive Medicaid funding from the small-business grants.
Echoing sentiments expressed during debate on the previous coronavirus bill (the second, for those keeping track), Republican senators derided the $600 a week increase in unemployment payments as “incentivizing” workers to quit their jobs. Sens. Ben Sasse (Neb.), Rick Scott (Fla.), Tim Scott (S.C.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.) delayed passage of the bill in order to force a vote on an amendment removing the extra unemployment funding. "This bill pays you more not to work than if you were working," Graham said. Fortunately for American workers, the amendment failed and the improved bill passed the Senate and the House.

The giveaways in the bill

While Senate Democrats were able to add worker-friendly provisions, the bill still required bipartisan support to pass the chamber and some corporate giveaways remained in the final version.
Politico:

Trump’s signing statement

While signing the latest coronavirus relief bill, the president also issued a signing statement undercutting the congressional oversight provision creating an inspector general to track how the administration distributes the $500 billion “slush fund” money.
The newly-created inspector general is legally required to audit loans and investments made through the fund and report to Congress his/her findings, including any refusal by the executive office to cooperate. In his signing statement, Trump wrote that his understanding of constitutional powers allows him to gag the special IG:
"I do not understand, and my Administration will not treat, this provision as permitting the [inspector general] to issue reports to the Congress without the presidential supervision required" by Article II of the Constitution.
The signing statement further suggests that Trump does not have to comply with a provision requiring that agencies consult with Congress before it spends or reallocates certain funds: "These provisions are impermissible forms of congressional aggrandizement with respect to the execution of the laws," the statement reads.
While some have said that Congress fell short in this instance, one Democratic Senate aide told Politico that Congress built in multiple layers of oversight, including “a review of other inspectors general and a congressional review committee charged with overseeing Treasury and the Federal Reserve's efforts to implement the law.”
Legal experts have pointed out that a signing statement is “without legal effect.” But that ignores the fact that oversight is not equal to enforcement. The problem, in my opinion, isn’t that Congress won’t be notified of any abuses of power by Trump. The problem is that congressional Republicans and the judiciary have largely failed to hold him accountable and enforce our laws even after learning of his abuses.

Concerns about the IG

Another potential weakness in the oversight structure is the inspector general position itself. The special inspector general for pandemic recovery, known by the acronym S.I.G.P.R., is nominated by the president and confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate. As we’ve seen from Trump’s previous nominees, particularly judicial, many unqualified individuals have been confirmed. The Democrats will not have the power to stop the president and Mitch McConnell from jamming through a loyalist to fill the SIGPR role.
Former inspector general at the Justice Department Michael Bromwich: “The signing statement threatens to undermine the authority and independence of this new IG. The Senate should extract a commitment from the nominee that Congress will be promptly notified of any Presidential/Administration interference or obstruction.”
You may recall that Trump has already proven that he’s willing to interfere with the legally-mandated work of an inspector general. When the Ukraine whistleblower filed a complaint last year, the IG of the Intelligence Community, Michael Atkinson, investigated and determined the complaint to be “urgent” and “credible.” Atkinson wrote a report and gave it to Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire to hand over to Congress. However, the White House and DOJ interfered and instructed Maguire not to transmit the report to the Senate and House Intelligence Committees. Chairman Adam Schiff had to subpoena Maguire to turn over the report and testify before his committee.
Further, there are already five IG vacancies in agencies that have a critical role in responding to the pandemic. The Treasury itself has not had a permanent, Senate-confirmed IG for over eight months now, and Trump hasn’t nominated a replacement. The Treasury Dept. has taken a lead role in the coronavirus response, with Secretary Mnuchin handling most of the negotiating with Congress on Trump’s behalf. The fact that the lead agency doesn’t have IG oversight should be troublesome in itself; replicating the situation with a special IG doesn’t seem to be a promising solution.
UPDATE: The nation's inspectors general have appointed Glenn Fine, the Pentagon's acting IG, to lead the committee of IGs overseeing the coronavirus relief effort.
This is one of several oversight mechanisms built into the new law. They include:
A committee of IGs (now led by Fine), a new special IG (to be nominated by Trump), a congressional review panel (to be appointed by House/Senate leaders)

Direct payments

Included in the stimulus bill is a $1200 one-time direct payment for all Americans who made less than $75,000 in 2019 (less than $150,000 if couples filed jointly). More details can be found here. I have read that the Treasury will use 2018 information for those who have not filed yet this year, but I am not 100% sure that’ll happen.
Mnuchin has said that Americans can expect to receive the money within three weeks, but many experts expect that timetable to be pushed into late April. Additionally, that only applies to Americans who included direct deposit information on their 2019 tax returns. Those who did not include their bank’s information will have to be sent a physical check in the mail… which could take anywhere from two to four months.
Other options are being discussed, including partnering the Treasury Dept. with MasterCard and Visa to deliver prepaid debit cards. Venmo and Paypal are reportedly lobbying the government to be considered as a disbursement option.
Future payments?
House Speaker Pelosi is already planning another wave of direct payments to Americans, saying that the $1,200 is not enough to mitigate the economic effects of the pandemic: “I don’t think we’ve seen the end of direct payments.” Republicans, meanwhile, are taking a ‘wait and see’ approach, using the next couple of weeks to measure the impact of the $2 trillion bill passed last week.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy: “What concerns me is when I listen to Nancy Pelosi talk about a fourth package now, it’s because she did not get out of things that she really wanted...I’m not sure you need a fourth package...Let’s let this work ... We have now given the resources to make and solve this problem. We don’t need to be crafting another bill right now.”
For the fourth legislative package, Democrats have said they would like to see increased food stamp benefits; increased coverage for coronavirus testing, visits to the doctor and treatment; more money for state and local governments, including Washington, D.C.; expanded family and medical leave; pension fixes; and stronger workplace protections.
Trump’s signature
Normally, a civil servant signs federal checks, like the direct payments Americans are set to receive. According to a Wall Street Journal report, Trump has told people that he wants his signature to appear on the stimulus checks.

THE SIDES

War on the poor continues

Amid the coronavirus crisis, Trump has defended his continued support of a Republican-led lawsuit to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, which would result in 20 million Americans losing health insurance if successful. The Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments in the case this fall. Contrasting with his position that the ACA is illegal, Trump is considering reopening enrollment on HealthCare.gov, allowing millions of uninsured individuals to get coverage before potentially incurring charges and fees related to COVID-19.
Joe Biden called on Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is leading the charge against the ACA, and President Trump to drop the lawsuit:
“At a time of national emergency, which is laying bare the existing vulnerabilities in our public health infrastructure, it is unconscionable that you are continuing to pursue a lawsuit designed to strip millions of Americans of their health insurance and protections under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including the ban on insurers denying coverage or raising premiums due to pre-existing conditions.”
The Trump administration is also pushing forward with its plan to kick 700,000 people off federal food stamp assistance, known as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). The USDA announced two weeks ago that the department will appeal Judge Beryl Howell’s recent decision that the USDA’s work mandate rule is “arbitrary and capricious."
Additionally: The Social Security Administration has no plans to slow down a rule change set for June that will limit disability benefits, the Department of Health and Human Services still intends to reduce automatic enrollment in health coverage, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development will continue the process to enact a rule that would make it harder for renters to sue landlords for racial discrimination.

Lawmakers’ stock transactions

The Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission are beginning to investigate stock transactions made ahead of the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. CNN reports that the inquiry has already reached out to Senator Richard Burr for information. “Under insider trading laws, prosecutors would need to prove the lawmakers traded based on material non-public information they received in violation of a duty to keep it confidential,” a task that won’t be easy.
Sen. Burr is facing another consequence of his trades: Alan Jacobson, a shareholder in Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, sued Burr for allegedly using private information to instruct a mass liquidation of his assets. Among the shares he sold were an up to $150,000 stake in Wyndham, whose stock suffered a market-value cut of more than two-thirds since mid-February.

Environmental rollbacks

Using the pandemic as cover, the Trump administration has begun to more aggressively roll back regulations meant to protect the environment. These are examples of what Naomi Klein dubbed “the shock doctrine”: the phenomenon wherein polluters and their government allies push through unpopular policy changes under the smokescreen of a public emergency.
On Thursday, the EPA announced (non-paywalled) an expansive relaxation of environmental laws and fines, exempting companies from consequences for pollution. Under the new rules, there are basically no rules. Companies are asked to “act responsibly” but are not required to report when their facilities discharge pollution into the air or water. Just five days before abandoning any pollution oversight, the oil industry’s largest trade group implored the administration for assistance, stating that social distancing measures caused a steep drop in demand for gasoline.
  • Monday morning update: In an interview with Fox News this morning, Trump said he was going to call Putin after the interview to discuss the Saudi-Russia oil fight. A consequence of this "battle" has been plummeting prices in the U.S. making it difficult for domestic companies (like shale extraction) to turn a profit. It's striking that the day after Dr. Fauci told Americans we can expect 100,000 to 200,000 deaths from COVID-19 (if we keep social distancing measures in place), Trump's first action is to talk to Fox News and his second action is to intervene in an international tiff on behalf of the oil and gas industry.
Gina McCarthy, who led the E.P.A. under the Obama administration, called the rollback “an open license to pollute.” Cynthia Giles, who headed the EPA enforcement division during the Obama administration, said “it is so far beyond any reasonable response I am just stunned.”
The EPA is also moving forward with a widely-opposed rule to limit the types of scientific studies used when crafting new regulations or revising current ones. Hidden behind claims of increased transparency, the rule would require disclosure of all raw data used in scientific studies. This would disqualify many fields of research that rely on personal health information from individuals that must be kept confidential. For example, studies that show air pollution causes premature deaths or a certain pesticide is linked to birth defects would be rejected under the proposed rule change.
Officials and scientists are calling upon the EPA to extend the time for comment on the regulatory changes, arguing that the public is unable to express their opinion while dealing with the pandemic.
“These rollbacks need and deserve the input of our public health community, but right now, they are rightfully focused on responding to the coronavirus,” said Representative Frank Pallone of New Jersey, the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Other controversial decisions being made:
  • A former EPA official who worked on controversial policies returned as Administrator Andrew Wheeler’s chief of staff. Mandy Gunasekara helped write regulations to ease pollution controls for coal-fired power plants and vehicle emissions in her previous role as chief of the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. In a recent interview, Gunasekara, who played a role in the decision to exit the Paris Climate Accord, pushed back on the more dire predictions of climate change, saying, “I don't think it is catastrophic.”
  • NYT: The plastic bag industry, battered by a wave of bans nationwide, is using the coronavirus crisis to try to block laws prohibiting single-use plastic. “We simply don’t want millions of Americans bringing germ-filled reusable bags into retail establishments putting the public and workers at risk,” an industry campaign that goes by the name Bag the Ban warned on Tuesday. (Also see The Guardian)
  • Kentucky, South Dakota, and West Virginia passed laws putting new criminal penalties on protests against fossil fuel infrastructure in just the past two weeks.
  • The Hill: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said Friday that it will extend the amount of time that winter gasoline can be sold this year as producers have been facing lower demand due to the coronavirus. It will allow companies to sell the winter-grade gasoline through May 20, whereas companies would have previously been required to stop selling it by May 1 to protect air quality. “In responding to an international health crisis, the last thing the EPA should do is take steps that will worsen air quality and undermine the public’s health,” biofuels expert David DeGennaro said.
  • NYT: At the Interior Department, employees at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have been under strict orders to complete the rule eliminating some protections for migratory birds within 30 days, according to two people with direct knowledge of the orders. The 45-day comment period on that rule ended on March 19.
  • WaPo: The Interior Department has received over 230 nominations for oil and gas leases covering more than 150,000 acres across southern Utah, a push that would bring drilling as close as a half-mile from some of the nation’s most famous protected sites, including Arches and Canyonlands National Parks… if all the fossil fuels buried in those sites was extracted and burned, it would translate into between 1 billion and 5.95 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide being released into the air. That upward measure is equal to half the annual carbon output of China

Court updates

Press freedom case
Southern District of New York District Judge Lorna Schofield ruled that a literary advocacy group’s lawsuit against Trump for allegedly violating the First Amendment can move forward. The group, PEN America, is pursuing claims that Trump “has used government power to retaliate against media coverage and reporters he dislikes.”
Schofield determined that PEN’s allegation that Trump made threats to chill free speech was valid, providing as an example the White House’s revocation of CNN correspondent Jim Acosta’s press press corps credentials:
”The threats are lent credence by the fact that Defendant has acted on them before, by revoking Mr. Acosta’s credentials and barring reporters from particular press conferences. The Press Secretary indeed e-mailed the entire press corps to inform them of new rules of conduct and to warn of further consequences, citing the incident involving Mr. Acosta… These facts plausibly allege that a motivation for defendant’s actions is controlling and punishing speech he dislikes.”
Twitter case
The president suffered another First Amendment defeat last week when the full 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals declined to review a previous ruling that prevents Trump from blocking users on the Twitter account he uses to communicate with the public. Judge Barrington D. Parker, a Nixon-appointee, wrote: “Excluding people from an otherwise public forum such as this by blocking those who express views critical of a public official is, we concluded, unconstitutional.”
Trump-appointees Michael Parker and Richard Sullivan authored a dissent, arguing the free speech “does not include a right to post on other people’s personal social media accounts, even if those other people happen to be public officials.” Park warned that the ruling will allow the social media pages of public officials to be “overrun with harassment, trolling, and hate speech, which officials will be powerless to filter.”
Florida’s felon voting
U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle ripped into Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s administration for failing to come up with a process to determine which felons are genuinely unable to pay court-ordered fees and fines, which are otherwise required to be paid before having their voting rights restored.
“If the state is not going to fix it, I will,” Hinkle warned. He had given the state five months to come up with an administrative process for felons to prove they’re unable to pay financial obligations, but Florida officials did not do so. The case is set to be heard on April 28 (notwithstanding any coronavirus-related delays).

ICE, Jails, and COVID-19

ICE
One of the most overlooked populations with an increased risk of death from coronavirus are those in detention facilities, which keep people in close quarters with little sanitation or protective measures (including for staff).
Last week, U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee ordered the federal government to “make continuous efforts” to release migrant children from detention centers across the country. Numerous advocacy groups asked for the release after reports that four children being held in New York had tested positive for the virus:
“The threat of irreparable injury to their health and safety is palpable,” the plaintiffs’ lawyers said in their petition… both of the agencies operating migrant children detention facilities must by April 6 provide an accounting of their efforts to release those in custody… “Her order will undoubtedly speed up releases,” said Peter Schey, co-counsel for the plaintiffs in the court case.
On Tuesday, 13 immigrants held at ICE facilities in California filed a lawsuit demanding to be released because their health conditions make them particularly vulnerable to dying if infected by the coronavirus. An ACLU statement says the detainees are “confined in crowded and unsanitary conditions where social distancing is not possible.” The 13 individuals are all over the age of 50 and/or suffering from serious underlying medical issues like high blood pressure.
“From all the evidence we have seen, ICE is failing to fulfill its constitutional obligation to protect the health and safety of individuals in its custody. ICE should exercise its existing discretion to release people with serious medical conditions from detention for humanitarian reasons,” said William Freeman, senior counsel at the ACLU of Northern California.
Meanwhile, ICE is under fire for continuing to shuttle detainees across the country, with one even being forced to take nine different flights bouncing from Louisiana to Texas to New Jersey less than two weeks ago. That man is Dr. Sirous Asgari, a materials science and engineering professor from Iran, who was acquitted last year on federal charges of stealing trade secrets. The government lost its case against him, yet ICE has had him in indefinite detention since November.
Asgari, 59, told the Guardian that his Ice holding facility in Alexandria, Louisiana, had no basic cleaning practices in place and continued to bring in new detainees from across the country with no strategy to minimize the threat of Covid-19...Detainees have no hand sanitizer, and the facility is not regularly cleaning bathrooms or sleeping areas…Detainees lack access to masks… Detainees struggle to stay clean, and the facility has an awful stench.
Jails
State jails are making a better effort to release detained individuals, as both New York and New Jersey ordered a thousand people in each state be let out of jail. The order applied only to low-level offenders sentenced to less than a year in jail and those held on technical probation violations. In Los Angeles County, officials released over 1,700 people from its jails.
A judge in Alabama took similar steps last week, ordering roughly 500 people jailed for minor offenses to be released to lessen crowding in facilities. Unlike in New York and New Jersey, however, local officials reacted in an uproar, led in part by the state executive committee for the Alabama Republican Party and Assistant District Attorney C.J. Robinson. Using angry Facebook messages as the barometer of the community’s feelings, Robinson worked “frantically” to block inmates from being released.
  • Reuters: As of Saturday, at least 132 inmates and 104 staff at jails across New York City had tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus… Since March 22, jails have reported 226 inmates and 131 staff with confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to a Reuters survey of cities and counties that run America’s 20 largest jails. The numbers are almost certainly an undercount given the fast spread of the virus.

Tribe opposed by Trump loses land

On Wednesday, The Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs announced the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s reservation would be "disestablished" and its land trust status removed. Tribal Chairman Cedric Cromwell called the move "cruel" and "unnecessary,” particularly coming in the midst of a pandemic crisis. Rep. Bill Keating (D-Mass.), who last year introduced legislation to protect the tribe's reservation as trust land in Massachusetts, said the order “is one of the most cruel and nonsensical acts I have seen since coming to Congress.”
The administration’s decision is especially suspicious as just last year Trump attacked the tribe’s plan to build a casino on its land, tweeting that allowing the construction would be “unfair” and treat Native Americans unequally. As a former casino owner, Trump has spent decades attacking Native American casinos as unfair competition. At a 1993 congressional hearing Trump said that tribal owners “don’t look like Indians to me” and claimed: “I might have more Indian blood than a lot of the so-called Indians that are trying to open up the reservations” to gambling.
More than his past history, however, Trump has current interests at play in the Mashpee Wampanoag’s planned casino: it would have competed for business with nearby Rhode Island casinos owned by Twin River Worldwide Holdings, whose president, George Papanier, was a finance executive at the Trump Plaza casino hotel in Atlantic City.
In the Mashpee case, Twin River, the operator of the two Rhode Island casinos, has hired Matthew Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union and a vocal Trump supporter, to lobby for it on the land issue. Schlapp’s wife, Mercedes, is director of strategic communications at the White House.
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Album of the Year #20: Lil B - The Hunchback of BasedGod

(Note: This review exceeds Reddit’s 40,000 character limit for text posts so three additional comments are posted in this thread with the rest of the review. Sorting comments by “old” will bring them up for you in order.)
 

EPISODE I: THE HUNCHED BACK MENACE

 
Welcome to Old BasedWorld
Hurried crowds, sparse synths and ringing cathedral bells in the streets of Old BasedWorld set the scene for our journey. High above the town in the Old BasedWorld Cathedral, a young man with a hunched back dreams of a brighter tomorrow.
 
Staring Out My Window
“The only way you could really feel this pain is from the BasedGod” – From this opening line along with the somber instrumental accompanying it Lil B makes it clear that this project will be different from the hyphy material he’d been releasing since Black Ken. The BasedGod’s stirring musical backdrop allows Brandon to reminisce on the times he spent as a troubled youth staring out the windows of Old BasedWorld’s Cathedral (as pictured on the album cover), dreaming of a normal life with the rest of the citizens across the bridge in San Francisco New BasedWorld.
 
The Many Sides of a Genius
Using a compilation of voicemails taken directly from Old BasedWorld’s only working phone, Lil B uses these messages to convey his own message. The people leaving these voicemails were clearly important people in Brandon’s life and, one could say, are some of the “sides of genius” that helped him develop into the man he is today. It continues the album’s narrative of a brilliant soul whose talent and ambition are unnoticed by the outside world, with only those who are closest to him recognizing the genius within.
 
Ain’t Gon Pick Up
One of the people leaving a voicemail on “The Many Sides of a Genius” mentioned how Lil B never picks up his phone, so it’s only appropriate that the next song has B discussing why he chooses not to answer the phone in Old BasedWorld’s Cathedral. It also ties back in to the theme of unrecognized talent, with Brandon stating in the chorus “I ain’t gon pick up, nobody gives a fuck so I don’t give a fuck”. References to stomach pains and Crohn’s disease further highlight how B is feeling “sick to [his] stomach” of being disrespected: by the end of the song, the listener fully understands why Lil B wouldn’t be interested in picking up his phone.
 
Hunchback of BasedGod
One of the album’s great conceptual triumphs. Lil B states from the jump that this song is meant to be a set of instructions for the Hunchback of BasedGod for his eventual descent from his perch back into the town of Old BasedWorld and beyond. It’s still unclear whether or not Lil B himself is the Hunchback, the BasedGod, the Hunchback of BasedGod, or none of the above: the abstractness allows the listener to form their own perceptions and create their own story. Again, there’s a continuation of themes from the previous songs, with further references to stomach pains and issues of self-worth and meaninglessness coming from Lil B: with so much pain in this world, is it even worth it for the Hunchback to enter society? By the end of the song, Brandon affirms that it is, stating, “Do it and don’t just watch/ Step in the game and have fun/ We all townspeople, we one/”. As such, the Hunchback leaves the cathedral, passing through the cobblestone streets of Old BasedWorld while hushed onlookers stare silently, as he ventures out towards New BasedWorld.
 
Berkeley San Francisco Its the BasedGod
This song is delivered from the perspective of the Hunchback, as revealed in the first line of the first verse: “I got the hunched back from all the depression”. Themes of struggle from the previous tracks reemerge, but you get the sense that the Hunchback is beginning to build up his self-esteem, boasting how he refuses to conform to the looks and expectations of the other townsfolk. He also seems to have gotten past the lack of recognition that was hindering him on “The Many Sides of a Genius” and “Ain’t Gon Pick Up”, as he proudly exclaims, “Who cares if I’m famous?” This gives the Hunchback the confidence to finally travel across the bridge he so often observed from his cathedral window. The townspeople are stunned: the Golden Gate BasedWorld Bridge had been badly damaged and decayed for decades, with no one daring to cross in the fears that it would collapse. But the Hunchback’s persistence leads him to make it across unscathed.
 
Outer Mission Music
With his feet firmly set in New BasedWorld, the Hunchback visits the colony of Outer Mission, a tight-knit community of New BasedWorld inhabitants who are unsure of how to react to their visitor. Lil B spends much of this track describing his interactions with the colony’s locals, which include Justin Timberlake, Alex Rodriguez, and Lionel Messi as tribe members. He also manages to make the situation surrounding the identities of his disparate personalities even more confusing, stating, “Lil B, I’ve seen him in public/ Is that the Hunchback of BasedGod, or is that the BasedGod? It’s BasedGod/” Will we ever know the difference?
 
Wake Up Get High Go Back to Sleep
In spite of a renewed sense of confidence brought upon by his decision to leave his old life behind, not all is perfect in the Hunchback’s mind. On this joint (pun intended) he harkens back to his days in the cathedral, where he would spend his mornings smoking heavy doses of marijuana in order to numb the pain of his seclusion, often to the point of losing consciousness. It’s also worth noting that the only weed that grows naturally in Old BasedWorld is mids, so the Hunchback would need to smoke a significant amount to achieve the desired effect.
 
Video Game That I Still Play
The irony in the title of this song is that the “video game” the BasedGod is referencing here is in fact a metaphor for his own life’s journey. As he so aptly states during the chorus: “My life is like a video game/ It’s been so weird, but I still play”. The fact of the matter is, Lil B could have chosen to rage quit this game of life long ago, but his perseverance has brought him to a new place of inner peace within the confines of New BasedWorld, even if the townsfolk are still unsure of how to respond to their new neighbor.
 
I Rather Die Then Go Home
At the end of the previous song, the Hunchback makes reference to an incident where he visited the Café Au Coquelet, a boutique restaurant in New BasedWorld. Upon his arrival, he received a similar reaction to those he used to receive in his homeland: “I go to restaurants, people stop smiling”. While some of the townspeople have begun to appreciate his presence, many of the other New BasedWorld residents still recognize his outsider status and continue to shun him as a result. This song is B’s response, with a firm affirmation that he would rather die than have to go back to the life of isolation he led in the Old BasedWorld Cathedral, where he wasn’t really living life to begin with. That said, the song’s mistitling of based comrade The-Dream’s original line of “I’d rather die than go home” as “I rather die then go home” leaves the Hunchback’s true intentions up for interpretation.
 
Crying in the Club
After finishing a five-course meal at the boutique, B ventures out to the party district of New BasedWorld, where he surprisingly gets admitted to one of the most exclusive night clubs in the land. As he observes the scene, the crushing reality of the differences between himself and the other clubgoers becomes apparent. A single tear is shed, followed by another, and another, until the BasedGod is in a state of full-blown emotional distress. In spite of his condition, he makes it known that he isn’t ashamed of wearing his heart on his sleeve, openly admitting in the chorus: “I don’t really care if I hurt myself, I don’t really care who sees”. This unyielding display of raw emotion brings the music and dancing to a halt. All eyes are now fixated on the strange being with the tear-stained T-shirt and the disfigured spine. He lets out a desperate plea: “I just want a hug…” To the surprise of the Hunchback, the residents of New BasedWorld collectively embrace him, looking past his outer deformities to recognize the beautiful soul that exists within. Historians would later acknowledge this moment as the primary catalyst for the BasedWorld Revolution™.
 
 

EPISODE II: THE COLD WARS

 
Voyage to Berkeley California
Meanwhile, down in the town of Old BasedWorld, the townsfolk slept restlessly, their dreams invaded by shadowy fake based figures digging away at their souls. Every day, people would wake and stare at the Old BasedWorld Cathedral. Why was the Hunchback not ringing the bells that had kept the evil spirits of the fake based realm out of their lives? It was then they realized that the Hunchback had crossed the sacred bridge and ventured to New BasedWorld. Frantic to reconcile with the gatekeeper they had long taken for granted, a group of the townspeople decide to bravely seek out the BasedGod in the hopes that he will return. However, they recognize that crossing the BasedWorld Bridge is something no mortal man is capable of doing and living to tell the tale. Using a secret map rumored to have been drawn up by Captain 66 himself, a group of citizens board a modest ship to cross the San Francisco BasedWorld Bay on a warm summer’s eve. Will they survive? Only time will tell.
 
Across the Sea
And here, ladies and gentlemen, we are presented with the greatest plot twist this side of the Fingerpoke of Doom: It turns out Lil B is not actually the Hunchback and/or the BasedGod after all.
 
Perhaps we should have known all along...
 
Indeed, unbeknownst to the townspeople (who themselves had just assumed all three entities were combined as one person), Lil B has remained in BasedWorld all along in disguise. About halfway into their journey across the Bay, Lil B’s resentment towards his shipmates and their longing for the Hunchback’s return gets the best of him, and the violent persona exhibited on tracks like “Murder Rate” and “Domestic Violence Case” overtakes Lil B’s natural pacifist tendencies. In a fit of rage, he attacks them, “knocking them off the boat” into the shark-infested waters and keeping all of the remaining LifeVests to himself. B himself recognizes the consequences of his actions, ending the song by saying, “This darkness… It’s scary.” Nonetheless, he refuses to be stopped in his mission to visit New BasedWorld and confront the Hunchback all on his own.
 
Where Is the Potion
Having arrived on the shores of New BasedWorld, Lil B ventures into town. Knowing that the only way to find the elusive Hunchback is through the townspeople who may have caught a glimpse of him, he travels to the aforementioned nightclub, with floors still drenched in the BasedGod’s tears from earlier, asking, “Where is the potion?” The response he’s given comes in the form of several bottles of liquor, which quickly dispel any notions of anxiety or self-doubt that may have stopped Lil B from completing his mission. A few of the club’s premium members willingly show him the spots around town where they had spotted the Hunchback, but any further clues of his whereabouts are hard to come by. Before they know it, they find themselves at one of the many riverbanks in New BasedWorld, where a celebration of the BasedGod’s glory is in full swing.
 
Riverdance
This instrumental is what Lil B and the clubgoers heard as they made their way to the bank of the river. Speaking with more of the natives, Lil B learns more of the Hunchback’s travels and experiences in New BasedWorld and begins to put the pieces together in his mind for where the BasedGod may be headed next.
 
Wolves and Snakes
As Lil B continues to plot his course, the BasedGod, who has just finished eating a salad on his way to the colony of Chaddick, senses a disturbance in the Based Force, feeling as though him and his hunched back may be in grave danger. He ponders on the wolves and the snakes that he was forced to deal with in his past life and reflects on the growth he’s experienced since leaving the dreaded, darkened halls of the Cathedral. In spite of this, he can’t help but shake the feeling that, like in the proverbial rear-view mirror, one of these wolves and/or snakes may be closer than they appear…
 
Meeting on UC Berkeley Campus Today
Undeterred, the Hunchback makes his way to UC Berkeley, New BasedWorld’s sole institution of higher learning. After giving a spirited 90 minute lecture on the power of positivity (modeled after previous lectures at such high class institutions as NYU,Carnegie Mellon and Princeton), the BasedGod is greeted by a mass of adoring students at the university. The male students beg for the BasedGod to fuck their bitches, and said bitches are more than willing to oblige. In a grand spectacle, the Hunchback has consensual sex with all 1,000 of the college’s female attendees while this instrumental blares out of speakers across the campus, being awarded with a trophy as a result of his success.
 
Artistic or Autistic
Elsewhere in New BasedWorld, Lil B attempts to strategize his next move. However, planning the escapade is made difficult thanks to B’s second most potent Internet distraction after his Twitter feed: Reddit. Going through a series of faked based comments on the hiphopheads subreddit, Lil B is particularly struck by a comment suggesting that he may in fact be suffering from the neurological disorder autism. The assertion is an eye-opening moment for him: after all, the elevated levels of lead found in Old BasedWorld’s drinking water had been a concern amongst the town’s scientists for years, and his own behaviors and thought patterns seemed to align relatively well with the common symptoms of the condition. After a brief moment of solemnity, Lil B realizes that his immaculate catalog of music has been made possible because of who he is, and if he is autistic, it is an essential component of his artistic output. This song is the result of this revelation.
 
Free 03
Our story continues as the BasedGod chooses to use his newfound fame and glory to give back to the New BasedWorld community. He begins volunteering at the New BasedWorld Penitentiary, espousing his worldview and giving advice to the inmates on how to make positive contributions to society after they have served their time. One particular inmate catches his eye: a fellow hip hop artist named 03 Greedo, who was arrested a few years earlier in a drug trafficking scheme. The Hunchback’s conversations with the young man have a profound impact on him, and in the weeks and months to come, Greedo becomes the model prisoner for other inmates to aspire to be, with intentions of joining the ministry upon his release. The BasedGod, proud of what he was able to accomplish, promises to dedicate a song on his new 50 song mixtape to Greedo.
 
Rhode Island
Rhode Island, officially the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is the smallest U.S. state by area, the seventh least populous, but is also the second most densely populated. Rhode Island is bordered by Connecticut to the west, Massachusetts to the north and east, and the Atlantic Ocean to the south via Rhode Island Sound and Block Island Sound. It also shares a small maritime border with New York. Providence is the state capital and most populous city in Rhode Island.
 
As Rhode Island is located on the opposite side of the continent from Old and New BasedWorld, it has nothing to do with this story other than this brief mention of its existence.
 
I’m Depressed Again
While the Hunchback is continuing to make great strides in improving the lives of the people in New BasedWorld, he continues to be fazed by an ever-growing sense of something troubling being on the horizon. A dark evil is emerging that he cannot foresee, and he worries that by the time he learns what this evil may be, it will be too late. This sends the BasedGod back into a spiraling depression, one not felt since the last day he had spent alone in the cathedral. He warns his closest confidants of the impending doom, saying, “Real talk… Feel it through your heart. Feel it through the spirit. You can feel it through the dark, cold as ever.”
 
Café Au Coquelet
At the same time as the Hunchback is experiencing this sense of dread, Lil B has made his way to Café Au Coquelet, one of the first spots in New BasedWorld that was graced by the power and the glory of the BasedGod. Lil B immediately detects the Hunchback’s prior presence in the vicinity: all of the restaurant’s guests are acting unusually positive and based towards one another, and the only dish that anyone has ordered over the past week has been the clams casino. Lil B also recognizes that the music playing in the background of the restaurant (the instrumental that is this song) was created by the BasedGod. Enraged, he stands up on the restaurant tables and begins to lambast the townsfolk for having fallen for the lies and deceit of a false prophet. He dictates a new philosophy, beginning by disposing of the food everybody has already ordered and teaching them how to cook for themselves. Before long, the entire restaurant is cooking to “Like a Martian”. A growing sect of New BasedWorld begins to emerge in objection to the Hunchback’s teachings, with Lil B and the swag movement as their new leader.
 
Downtown Berkeley Protest
Back in the colony of Berkeley, the BasedGod is gathering his followers together for a celebration of optimism and goodwill unto others. His new instrumental track plays as the Hunchback’s followers enjoy the festivities. It is at this moment that the BasedGod feels a searing pain encompass his entire being, and he recognizes that this is the moment he has been fearing for the past few weeks: the evil has arrived. A mass of residents from the other New BasedWorld colonies have descended upon the party with torches and handguns. Dressed in pink shirts, tiny pants and Vans sneakers, they march to the center of the crowd in unison, yelling nonsensical phrases such as “Figaro!” and “Martha Stewart!” as the frightened followers of the Hunchback look on. At the front of the mob is the leader, the enigmatic Lil B. He flashes a slight smile at the BasedGod, who stares directly back into the eyes of his former student. As the crowd of pretty residents begin to hurl insults and grievances towards the based residents, Lil B raises one hand, and the noise stops. Then, he begins to walk away. B’s worshipers follow him out of the city square in silent unison. Many of the Hunchback’s flock wonder if this is the end of the madness. However, the BasedGod knows deep down inside that this is just the beginning.
 
 

EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE BITCH

 
Bring the BasedGod and Lil B Gifts
This is a Cold War, and we know what each side is fighting for. The New BasedWorld citizens have been divided into an even split, with half of the townsfolk (now calling themselves the “Task Force”) following the ways of the Hunchback and the other half (now calling themselves the “Bitch Mob”) committing themselves to the teachings of Lil B. In a frantic attempt to prove the superiority of one leader over the other, the townspeople begin to bestow luxurious gifts and rewards upon their idols in an attempt to make one appear more grandiose than the other. Lil B relishes in his newfound fame, gladly accepting a plethora of PlayStation 2 and Xbox 360 games from his fans, along with a fully registered copy of FL Studio to allow him to produce beats on the same level as the BasedGod. Meanwhile, on the other side of the village, the Hunchback seems uncomfortable embracing his new role as a worshipped deity. Having become accustomed to people ignoring him or being flat-out disgusted by his appearance, the adjustment to now becoming the leader of thousands of men is one that is not made easily.
 
Body Shaming
The opposing sides of New BasedWorld’s population quickly transition from honoring their respective leaders to creating smear campaigns against the opposition. One of the Bitch Mob’s most talented computer hackers manages to secure nude photographs of the Hunchback and distribute them online, highlighting the embarrassing weight gain that the BasedGod has endured over the past 5 years. The Hunchback is at first distraught upon hearing the news: “Why are they body shaming me? Why would they say all these mean things?” It is only when the BasedGod taps into his creamy center, where all the gooey happy-lovin' goo sits that allows him to be the nicest, most compassionate person he’s ever been, that he’s able to let the world know that he will not fall down so easy. He releases this song on his MySpace as a rebuttal, saying, “There's no reason to bully people and make fun of folks”. The Task Force immediately lauds the song as the perfect response to the scandal, while the Bitch Mob lashes out at the lack of trap drums and celebrity-based adlibs.
 
Stopped Talkin’ But I Still Rap
“So self-conscious, you feel me?”: Despite the approval of his comrades, the BasedGod is unable to shake the ever-persistent sense of self-hatred that is being exacerbated by the actions of the Bitch Mob. He feels his mind regressing to a prior state of fear and insecurity akin to that of his days spent in isolation in the Cathedral. Deep inside, the Hunchback finds himself in the midst of an existential crisis: how can one speak on the benefits of positivity and self-love when one does not truly love thyself? What would the consequences be of allowing this negativity to manifest itself in real time? Surely, an admission of hopelessness would spell defeat for the Task Force, allowing Lil B and his army of pretty townsfolk to rule the land for all eternity. But it would also be hypocritical for the BasedGod to continue to preach the Gospel of Based when his mind is not in a based state of being. In a move that would prove to be one of the most shocking of the Cold War, the Hunchback gathers his followers in the town square to announce that he will be taking an oath of silence until peace can be found between the two factions of New BasedWorld, capping off his decree with the debut of his ‘final’ song, “Stopped Talkin’ But I Still Rap”. The crowd gasps and devolves into hysteria, with thousands pleading for the Hunchback to reconsider, rightly worried over what would become of the based movement without the voice of its sole originator. But the BasedGod is persistent. He silently walks through the crowd, hugging each of his based brethren (and consensually face-fucking some of the females) before departing, possibly for good. Some time after midnight, he successfully crosses the Based Bridge and returns to Old BasedWorld, making his way back to the Cathedral without a single soul noticing his presence. He travels to the deepest, darkest depths of the Cathedral’s caverns, located miles beneath the Earth’s surface, where he begins an indefinite period of contemplation and meditation. This sequence of events would prove to be a milestone of the BasedWorld Revolution™, and would be forever immortalized in the cover art for the Where Did the Sun Go? mixtape.
 
Intermission
It was a bad time for both Old and New BasedWorld. The Hunchback just stayed inside his Cathedral and he never came out. People said his brain was infected by fake based devils. The Task Force hurt the most of all: without their leader, they crumbled and succumbed to the will of the Bitch Mob. Lil B’s tyrannical rise to power was all but complete. In the months that followed, he would expand his territorial control, conquering the villages of Albany and East Oakland and even sending troops to claim regions of land as far away as Hawaii and Nepal.
 
Nearly a full year after the disappearance of the BasedGod, Lil B’s armies waged war on Old BasedWorld. The BasedWorld Bridge was destroyed, leaving Lil B and his followers (who controlled the naval fleets) as the only ones who had access to both sides of the territory. After taking most of its citizens hostage and establishing a new structure of government with Lil B at the helm, the Bitch Mob began to formulate its Ultimate Bitch Plan to capture the Hunchback. One night, they rushed the Old BasedWorld Cathedral, setting it ablaze and burning the once-iconic structure to the ground in the hopes of finding the charred body of the BasedGod buried underneath the rubble. When they failed to retrieve the body, the contingent of pretty boys and girls was ordered by Lil B to venture underground, as an ancient prophecy had foretold the Hunchback’s journey to the center of the Earth. Armed with assault rifles of all varieties, they began their descent into the depths of the caverns.
 
However, the deeper they traveled, the more they became disillusioned by their actions, and the actions of their once-beloved leader Lil B. They did not realize that the closer they got to the Hunchback, the more they were swayed by his righteousness and his way of being. Soon, they were no more than a few hundred yards from locating the BasedGod. It was at this moment that they had a great awakening, recognizing the error of their ways and freeing themselves from the spell that had been placed on them by Lil B. They abandoned their mission, instead choosing to return to the surface without the Hunchback. Lil B, furious at the group’s reluctance to complete their task, began to chastise his former followers, and prepared to issue one of his infamous curses upon them, one which would result in certain death. Having become completely overwhelmed with the guilt and the shame of their exploits as part of Lil B’s army (and also acknowledging the fact that none of them would ever win an NBA championship now without signing to Golden State), they instead turned the guns Lil B had given to them on themselves, committing mass suicide on top of the remains of the Old BasedWorld Cathedral. Thousands of Old BasedWorld onlookers stared in paralyzing shock as the sound of hundreds of guns discharged at once. What followed was several hours of silence, as Lil B, covered in the blood of his former troops, coldly stared at the mass of dead bodies, trying his best to process what had just taken place.
 
 

EPISODE IV: A NEW HO(PE)

 
The Waterfront West Berkeley at Night
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Bay, most of the former Task Force members still remaining in New BasedWorld have all but accepted their fates, purchasing clothing that is too tight for them to wear comfortably and listening to the government-approved “Cooking Music” playlist on a constant loop. A small contingent of Hunchback loyalists remain, holding private meetings in the basement of the Café Au Coquelet and listening to the “Based Music” playlist in shrouded secrecy. Upon learning that Lil B and a commission of his troops had left to invade Old BasedWorld, the few remaining Task Force members felt it was safe enough to worship the Hunchback out in the open one last time. As most of the Bitch Mob members who had crossed the BasedWorld Bay with Lil B had come from the village of West Berkeley, the BasedGod’s loyal comrades choose the village’s Waterfront area as the gathering place for the ceremony. Unbeknownst to any of the group’s members, the mass suicides in Old BasedWorld were taking place at the exact same time as the celebration in New BasedWorld was commencing. The Task Force members rejoice, harmoniously singing the BasedGod’s favorite songs of worship: “B.O.R. (Birth of Rap)”, “The Age of Information” and “No Black Person Is Ugly” are belted out towards the heavens. Suddenly, the youngest of the Task Force’s members (who goes by the name of u/insabnma) feels a twinge underneath his bare feet. He looks down at the ground and notices that he has stepped on a golden USB drive, encrusted with diamonds and embroidered with the word “BASED” in all caps. The curious group of based boys and girls procure a laptop and, upon plugging the drive in, are amazed to find a .zip folder of 13 unreleased instrumentals credited as being produced by the BasedGod. Even more amazingly, the first song is entitled “The Waterfront West Berkeley at Night”: the exact place and time of day that they are performing their ritual. The Task Force members ecstatically listen to the new music, with several being driven to the point of involuntary orgasm. Throughout the night, word spreads throughout New BasedWorld of the drive’s existence, and suddenly, the followers of the Hunchback have a renewed sense of hope.
 
Games of Berkeley and Magic Cards
The next evening, thousands of Task Force members, old and new, join together in the town square of Berkeley, the last place that the Hunchback was seen alive. A Task Force party has commenced, with various games being played and the Based Music playlist blasting from the colony’s speakers. As it is nearing midnight, the townspeople are each given a magic life card, rumored to be the same life cards that were discussed in the BasedGod’s legendary philosophical diatribe [“Life on Earth”](). At the stroke of 12, the second of the BasedGod’s 13 secret instrumentals is played, as the crowd enthusiastically chants “Thank You BasedGod” along to the beat. The expectation is that the Hunchback will hear their prayer and reemerge by the end of the song. However, this was not to be the case: the instrumental ends, with the BasedGod nowhere to be found. For a moment, the Task Force is disheartened, wondering if the signs pointing to a return of the Hunchback were too good to be true. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, a shooting star flies across the Berkeley sky, the brightest and most brilliant star that anyone in the colony has ever seen. It continues to arc across the northwestern skyline and appears to land in the village of Albany, a formerly based territory which has been overrun with members of the Bitch Mob. The Task Force is again filled with a renewed sense of hope at this discovery, as they courageously follow the signs that could lead them to the Hunchback’s holy ascension.
 
Walking Through Albany California
Upon arriving in Albany, the Task Force members notice a contingent of Bitch Mob members huddled around a large crater, approximately one mile in diameter. Evidently, this is where the shooting star had landed. One of the senior members of the tribe is examining the star, which, contrary to its once large and brilliant appearance, has been reduced to the size of a small rock. Several Bitch Mob members now make their way into the crater to examine the fallen star. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, the once-dead star explodes into thousands of pieces, each piece shooting out towards the heads of a Bitch Mob member (though some less fortunate members wind up getting hit in the balls). When the star touches each member, it instantly uploads the third of the BasedGod’s secret instrumentals directly into their cerebral cortex. The Bitch Mob members are at first displeased at the lack of poorly mixed 808s and rattling hi-hats, but soon after, they begin to comprehend and enjoy the BasedGod’s alternative production style. Once the song has finished, they have all been converted into full-fledged comrades of the Task Force. The Berkeley delegation of Task Force welcomes their new brothers and sisters into the fold, and the group marches on to spread the word of the Hunchback’s return to the other villages.
 
The Sound of Being Bullied
While this is all occurring in the BasedWorld territories, something else entirely is beginning to unfold in the far away kingdom of Detroit, Michigan. Teejay Witherspoon, the Bitch Mob’s certified rarest hacker, leans back in his chair and slyly grins. His successful exploitation of the BasedGod a year ago has proven to be a major turning point in the young man’s life. His notoriety has allowed him to start a rap career of his own, with several music videos on YouTube having gone viral throughout the past 12 months. His loyalty to the Bitch Mob has been unquestioned, and he has since been promoted to a senior position within the fold. As he clicks his way through a darkweb laundering scheme one evening, he leaves to take a shit and, upon returning to his computer, notices that a mysterious golden USB drive has been plugged into the laptop. Only one file exists on the drive: an audio file entitled “The Sound of Being Bullied.flac”. Teejay curiously loads the file into VLC, and the instant the song begins, he is assaulted with a rush of crushing despair and depression. The title of the song spoke for itself. Teejay is experiencing the totality of the Hunchback’s negative emotions that had been fueled by his prior actions, but even more intensely, and as the emotions begin to amplify, he next notices that his physical being is being affected as well. His body is shaking uncontrollably, his skin is beginning to peel, his eyes are popping out of his skull. After four minutes and seven seconds of agonizing torture, his entire being bursts into flames, unable to handle the power of the BasedGod’s wrath. The song ends.
 
No Longer Afraid of the Dark
It’s dark. The air is still. The ground is hot. Water drips from the ceiling. The Hunchback, in a deep state of reflection, hasn’t moved a muscle for over 12 months. His shriveled body has been starved of nourishment and exercise, but fortunately, his weight gain has had the positive effect of having enough fat stored to keep him alive. The amount of based energy needed to have maintained this state of being has aged the BasedGod considerably. He has been devoid of almost any sense of perception for at least a few months. A faint glow radiates from his being. He has concentrated his powers to what was thought to be an unattainable degree of positivity. Before his extended withdrawal from society, the negative side of the force was something that the Hunchback struggled to put out of mind. At the level of based he now encompasses, the light of positivity is too grand for the BasedGod to fail. He is no longer afraid of the dark. And that’s because the dark no longer exists. The cavern has been filled with his based radiance. And the Hunchback is almost ready to return and spread this radiance throughout the land.
 
Nepal Wants the BasedGod
All across BasedWorld, shooting star sightings have been abound, and thousands upon thousands of Bitch Mob members have been converted to Task Force faithful. Even beyond the traditional confines of BasedWorld, rare star sightings have also been seen in the Bitch Mob’s disparate properties. A star lands in the Bitch Mob’s Nepalian expansion territory. After having its people cleansed with the power of the BasedGod’s sixth secret instrumental track, Nepal adopts a new constitution which entails all of its citizens to embrace the Hunchback’s teachings of optimism and self-love.
 
Taxi Around Town
The streets of Old BasedWorld have been in dire need of repair ever since the Bitch Mob ransacked the colony, but that doesn’t stop Travis, one of the land’s only remaining horse-drawn taxi drivers, from making a buck. One evening, he picks up a mysterious hooded figure in one of the town’s more dangerous districts. The man enters the carriage, greeting the driver with two words: “Hello, Travis.” The driver says nothing. The horses begin their trek through the streets, passing by a row of burning buildings. Travis breaks his silence. “It’s lit,” he says. “The buildings, that is. There’s only a few Bitch Mob members left at this point but they always blow these things up.” The figure feels more comfortable speaking to the driver: “I hear you got the nomination”. It dawns on Travis that this person must be almost exactly one year behind the times: has he ever even heard of Cardi B? Regardless, he plays along. “Straight up. Won’t be long now.” The figure smiles, quipping, “Well, I hope you win.” He then proceeds to remove his hood. Travis looks back and momentarily gasps. His composure returns soon thereafter. Unsure of how to proceed, he attempts to continue the conversation. “I… I read about you in the papers… How are you?” Knowing he’s referring to the suicides, the figure replies, “Oh, it’s nothing new, I got over that.” They sit in silence for the remainder of the ride. Soon, the horses come upon their destination, the edge of the BasedWorld Bay. The figure gets out of the car. Turning to Travis, he asks, “How much was it?” Travis is nearly speechless. He lets out one final Auto-Tuned “So long………..LA FLAME!” and the horses gallop off.
 
Berkeley California Before Lil B
A massive cleaning project has commenced throughout Berkeley. The townspeople have nearly all been converted to followers of the BasedGod by this point, and in a unanimous vote, the colony’s leaders choose to rid Berkeley of any and all trace of Lil B and his formerly effective propaganda. Murals are whitewashed, statues are torn down, and portraits are removed from public spaces as the eighth of the BasedGod’s 13 secret instrumentals is played on a loop. The many books proclaiming Lil B’s omnipotence are collectively burned to ash in the town square. Even saying the name “Lil B” is punishable by fine of up to $30,000, equivalent to the amount of money Lil B had charged for features (in contrast to the Hunchback’s extremely generous $0.01 minimum fee for a verse). The townspeople are once again a tight-knit unit of based human beings living their best lives. It was just like Berkeley California before Lil B.
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