Among its many smaller enigmas, the original BR is a forest of mysterious bottles used as props and set dressing. Foremost among these are the 2019 Johnny Walker Black Label bottle and the Smirnoff de Czar bottles, but there are others. One is the elusive, tall ‘craft bottle,’ the labels of which recently turned up at auction. But this post is about another bottle, buried deep in the background: a Kirin beer bottle.
Continue reading “Blade Runner (1982): Kirin Beer Bottle”
Some of you may be familiar with the famous ‘chess-playing automaton’ known as “The Turk.” In fact, The Turk was an elaborate hoax, concealing a human chess player inside it. Of course, like anything successful and / or famous, there were imitations:
The Turk (debuted in Austria in 1770) changed hands a few times, and was eventually destroyed in a museum fire in Philadelphia 1854. Ajeeb was allegedly destroyed by in a fire at Coney Island in 1926, though at least one apparent copy of Ajeeb toured Canada in the 1930’s. Mephisto debuted in London in 1876, played games in England for several years, and was shown in Paris in 1889. “After 1889 it was dismantled and its subsequent whereabouts are unknown.”
And there is your inspiration: A long-lost ‘automaton’ re-discovered! Was it the product of a mad genius? What powers it? An entrapped demon? Alien technology? The ghost of a murdered operator? What secrets does it contain? And who is willing to kill to get it?
More on Ajeeb here. And here. And even here. See also: Psycho, an air-powered pseudo-automaton (1875).
And a copy of what sounds like an urban legend about Ajeeb:
In one instance, a sore loser shot Ajeeb in the torso and supposedly wounded its operator. However … several others knew that the apprentice had been killed. To cover up for their still-successful ‘automaton,’ they got rid of the apprentice’s body. Due to the transient nature of the apprentice (who was known by no reputable or believable sources) the murder was never discovered. By 1898 … the operator … left, complaining of strange occurrences from inside Ajeeb where the automaton was moving on its own accord… two other operators [b]oth sometime later reported to friends and family brief incidents where Ajeeb seemed to be acting on its own. Allegedly, the last operator refused to play anything but checkers due to strange occurrences within the automaton.
… And the course of the path of the moon is light to the righteous, and darkness to the sinners … – I Enoch 41:8, R. H. Charles’ translation.
For those who have no idea what I’ll be talking about, here’s a primer:
Black Knight Satellite Conspiracy Theory
For “fun,” I’ve been poking at the Google Newspaper Archive and Wikipedia, and trying to dig up some more articles / background info. Inspired by Ken Hite’s “The Dracula Dossier,” I briefly thought I might phony up a whole, physical mock dossier, but that would be a lot of work, so I’m just going to post my copy-pasted bullet points.
The idea is that you can use this ‘raw material’ to flesh out some RPG thing you’re writing background for. Periodic alien visitation, ancient alien satellite left in orbit, prehistoric human space-faring evidence, etc. Maybe change the names / dates / locations if you need to. I’ve got most of the Black Knight Satellite ‘events’ on my list, and I’ve added some more arguably ‘relevant’ material.
If you were more industrious than I, however, you could easily print out the photos, and print the articles on newsprint and put them in a folder. Ideally, you’d have some supporting ‘memos,’ and similar period paperwork. Could be a neat ‘artifact’ for your players to find.
Timeline and articles below the jump:
Continue reading “Building a Backstory for an Alien Satellite”
A mock period travel poster / ad for the ancient and famous city of Carcosa:
Spring Autumn – when a young man’s fancy turns to love costuming.
If you are planning to dress up for Halloween (or any other costuming occasion), but haven’t yet made a decision on the costume itself, here are some guidelines that I use to help narrow the possibilities:
- Public Recognition: Is this going to be easily recognizable to my audience?
- Fun Quotes: Does this character have some well-known / funny dialogue I can memorize & recite?
- Fun Poses / Actions: Does this character have any recognizable poses / gestures / actions that I can imitate? Funny quotes won’t show up in photos, but a pose or expression, or gesture will.
- Cost: Approximately how much will this cost to assemble? Can I amortize that cost over time? Can I defray that by using materials I already have, or by purchasing used components, or making my own?
- Appearance: How closely do I physically resemble this character? How can I increase that resemblance; by dieting, exercise, adding a wig, cutting my hair, dying my hair, applying make-up, wearing contact lenses, adding padding, etc?
- Comfort: How comfortable will this be when and where I plan to wear it? Will it be too warm or too cold? Will it be heavy? Can I easily move / walk? How well can I see and hear? Can I sit and stand? Climb stairs? Go through doors? Use the bathroom?
- Re-use: Can I re-use this costume, in whole or in part, on other occasions or for other purposes? Can I find components that I already have and re-use them to make this costume?
- Easy to Make: How easy will this be to make, or how easy will it be to find the necessary parts? How much time, labor and materials will be required?
- Timeliness: Is this character in the public mind right now? Is it current or trending? Is there a significant anniversary or date that I can take advantage of (movie release, birthday, etc)?
These are just some simple criteria, in no particular order. I hope they’ve helped you decide.
I like the looks of this, and this scene. For those who’d like to replicate that uniform, here are some screencaps:
Above are the ‘raw,’ unretouched screen caps; below I’ve attempted to enhance them a bit. Lightened slightly and approximately color-balanced:
Continue reading “Total Recall (1990): Martian Immigration Uniform”