Totally Authentic News

Welcome to Totally Authentic News, also known as Parker's Corner.

Jonathan Parker is an award winning freelance journalist, living in Con City. He reports on current events and conducts interviews with prominent people. His articles are published in illustrious journals such as the Con City Times and the Black Lake Gazette. The following are reprints of his most successful articles.

Click here for the full article list or browse his newest work below.

Too Many Words

posted Oct 2, 2017, 3:01 PM by Viktor Zólyomi

The following article by Jonathan Parker was originally published in the Con City Times

A newly discovered manuscript currently attributed to famous Greenwell poet C. Thomas Whitaker (born John Brooks) is stirring up tension in the self-styled Green City. Lawrence Curtis, Curator of Greenwell Museum and local Whitaker (Brooks) expert believes that the manuscript is of revolutionary significance.

`Forensic linguists and graphologists agree that the discovered piece of writing bears the unmistakable characteristics of C. Thomas Whitaker (born John Brooks)'s handwriting,' he states. `And yet, it is unlike anything ever created by the great poet. As you no doubt know, Whitaker (Brooks) is the inventor of the world famous One Word Poems. But this manuscript contains two words. Two! That's one word too many! How?! Why?! We must rethink everything we thought we knew about the father of single word poetry.'

The contents of the manuscript, the words `Buy Milk,' are believed by many to be an experimental piece of poetry by Whitaker (Brooks). In particular, Howard Pretentious, esteemed literary critic, poet, and Editor-in-Chief of the Con City Times, says `there is technically no reason to rule out that C. Thomas Whitaker (born John Brooks) wrote poems comprising more than one word. Consider, also, that the man invented his own words late in his career. How else could he have done that if not by experimentation? I am firmly convinced that ``Buy Milk'' is an authentic poem by C. Thomas Whitaker (born John Brooks).'

The questionable authenticity of the manuscript aside, the discovery has put additional pressure on Greenwell Museum. The original One Word Poem manuscripts of Whitaker (Brooks), previously kept on display at the museum, are still missing after an as yet unidentified culprit stole them from the exhibit with the assistance of a bulldozer. Many fear that as long as the thief remains at large, the new manuscript is at risk of being stolen as well.

`The Curator has asked us to provide 24/7 police protection,' says Detective Malcolm Shepard of Greenwell Police. `We are happy to oblige. Chief Woods is an avid fan of Whitaker (Brooks). He's got the poem ``Now'' framed and hung on the wall in his office.'

In addition to the eight police officers who now patrol the museum grounds all day, every day, Detective Shepard has installed infrared motion sensors throughout the museum and surrounded the display case with electrified barbed wire.

`Yes, I am very happy with the Detective's work,' says Curator Lawrence Curtis. `Unlike that other one, what's her name, Detective Rhodes. She's supposed to be one of the best on the force, so why hasn't she caught the thief yet? I'll tell you why, because she's an illiterate barbarian who doesn't appreciate art. If she were as enthusiastic as the Chief of Police and Detective Shepard are, she'd have found the missing manuscripts long ago.'

Detective Eve Rhodes offers a brief two-sentence comment to the Curator's words: `I'm glad he's happy with Shepard. It lets me focus on real police work.'

While the manuscript appears to be in good hands, fans continue to debate its authenticity on social media. Comments such as `Whitaker (Brooks) would never write an extra word' wage war with opinions such as `a revolutionary poet like Whitaker (Brooks) can write as many words as he wants, possibly even three.' The latter statement in particular has sparked a heated debate spanning over fifty thousand comments and counting, with the heavy use of phrases such as `preposterous suggestion,' `let's stone this heathen,' and `you're full of shit, bro.'

Tensions are in fact running so high that some fear the fans of Whitaker (Brooks) will soon come to blows in the streets of Greenwell, sparking a riot the likes of which could only be seen in Brickton. To get ahead of the violence, Detective Malcolm Shepard offers a simple solution to the heated dilemma.

`Why don't we just use a hyphen and write it as ``Buy-milk?'' ' he says. `Then it's just one word and automatically a One Word Poem.'

Since hearing this suggestion, Curator Lawrence Curtis is actively requesting the Chief of Police to hand the duties of guarding the new manuscript over to Detective Rhodes.

Dating Show Host On The Run

posted Sep 11, 2017, 2:58 PM by Viktor Zólyomi

The following article by Jonathan Parker was originally published in the Con City Times

Controversy has rocked Con City Penitentiary for the second time in recent memory. It has only been a month since the wildly successful prison break which saw twenty inmates escape the prison facility. While all of those fugitives were successfully apprehended by a trio of big game hunters contracted by the Mayor of Con City, the success of the manhunt is now overshadowed by the disappearance of Joseph Dodgson, better known as serial killer Flamer Joe. His cell was found empty and the security camera footage offers no clues as to when and how he escaped.

`It's like he vanished into thin air,' says Warden Quentin Jones about Flamer Joe's escape. `Maybe he's a magician. Well, I hope he comes back. We just had the welcome back party for those poor boys who finally came home. We planned all sorts of fun and games for them, like limbo dancing, but since those three brutes from Greenwell brought my boys back with concussions, broken limbs, and shattered kneecaps, we had to give up on most of that. A magician would have livened up the party a great deal.'

While the Warden appears impressed, others are terrified of the vanishing of one of the most notorious serial killers in the history of Con County. Flamer Joe stands guilty of ninety-six counts of first degree murder, the majority of them committed with a flamethrower. Detective Bill Jacobs of the Con City Police Department fears that the fugitive will continue where he left off before his arrest.

`A man like Joe is like the bubonic plague,' the Detective states. `No way he's gonna stop. Ninety-six murders? Why would he stop there when he could go all the way to ninety-six thousand, or hell, even ninety-six million? All he needs is time and a big flamethrower, and given how ingenious he has been, I'm sure he can find or even build a very big flamethrower.'

Despite the warning words of Detective Jacobs, the man who appears to be the most terrified in the wake of Flamer Joe's escape is in fact Marketing Director Jeremy Edwards at Channel 11. Edwards is one of the executives in charge of the controversial dating show `Joe's Gonna Kiss You,' which was launched just last year, and which saw Flamer Joe act as its host via satellite from his cell.

`This is our most popular program by far,' Mister Edwards says. `Everybody wants to see how Joe brings people together. No, I mean, everybody wants to see Joe. Do you honestly think viewers actually care about the contestants? About whether or not the poor sods can find true love? No! The audience watches because Joe asks the kind of mindblowingly inappropriate questions that only a serial killer would think to ask. Without Joe, there is no show. And without the show, me and most of my crew are out of a job! He has to come back! He just has to!'

At the time of writing the whereabouts of Flamer Joe are unknown. While the lack of news of flamethrower related murders is encouraging, the Con City Police Department urges the public to take care, as `it's just a matter of time before Joe strikes.'

As for his escape, Detective Bill Jacobs has a theory as to how the infamous serial killer might have made it out.

`It's all that stupid Warden's fault,' the Detective says. `Just add up the numbers. He hosts this ridiculous welcome home party of his for the fugitives that the hunters dragged back to the prison, and somehow, that very night, Flamer Joe manages to just walk out of there without anyone taking notice? Oh, did I mention that the Warden had the ingenious idea to make it a reunion gathering of sorts, and invited a bunch of former inmates to this stupid party, including several known associates of Flamer Joe? But you know what, maybe I'm reading too much into it. Maybe it's all just a coincidence. Right?'

Warden Quentin Jones refuses to comment the Detective's theory, but he urges the escaped serial killer to give himself up to the authorities, and promises to host `a welcome home party of epic proportions that will make last night's event pale in comparison.'

Inmate Season

posted Aug 14, 2017, 3:59 PM by Viktor Zólyomi

The following article by Jonathan Parker was originally published in the Con City Times

West Side Con City remains under lockdown following the recent escape of twenty inmates from Con City Penitentiary. The ongoing lockdown comes at the request of Quentin Jones, Warden of the prison facility, who is worried about the escaped prisoners.

`Dangerous? No, they're not dangerous, they're in danger,' he says about the missing inmates. `I worry for their safety. Poor fools wandered off the premises and no doubt got lost in the vast urban jungle out there. We must find them before they come to harm.'

The lockdown, which has been in force for five days, involves helicopters circling over the district, a police cordon surrounding literally the entire West Side, and armed police officers patrolling the streets with dogs. Citizens hoping to go in or out of the district must pass through security checks, and anyone not able to display a valid form of identification will be detained. Locals are none too happy about the security measures.

`Traffic is worse than ever,' says Andrew Porter, a pensioner living in the outskirts of the district. `Takes a day to get into the Downtown to see my son. And the non-stop racket from the blasted choppers is even worse. Can't an old man get some sleep around here any more?'

Detective Bill Jacobs, one of the officers in charge of the manhunt, sympathizes with the senior citizen. `I know the feeling,' he says, `it takes me forever just to get lunch in the middle of all this. But we have to find those inmates, and until we do, the lockdown remains. Although, from what I hear, it might be over very soon. Mayor's fed up with the costs of the lockdown, so he's calling in some specialists from Greenwell. Honestly, we could use the help. That Fragcamper Unit they have is pretty good.'

The Mayor of Con City has indeed called in assistance from Greenwell, but not from the police, thanks to ongoing tension between top officials of the Con City Police Department and Chief Woods of Greenwell Police. Instead, the Mayor has called on the help of a trio of experts known as the Lake Brothers.

Bob, Eli, and Joe Lake are triplets, sharing a tight connection which they proudly put on display by dressing alike and having beards of identical length. Born and raised in Greenwell, the three brothers are no strangers to danger. While they have, over the years, managed to earn quite a reputation as trackers and trappers, they did so not in law enforcement, but in a very different trade.

`We're big game hunters, Mister,' says Joe Lake, the trapper expert in the trio. `Ain't no beast big enough for us to handle. Course we ain't never hunted men before, but we've trapped elephants, rhinos, gorillas, pandas, anything you can think of. Ain't nothing we can't catch.'

`Yeah, and ain't nothing we can't shoot dead at a thousand yards,' adds Eli Lake, the marksman of the Lake Brothers. `Them inmates better not resist, 'cause I'll be watching Joe and Bob's back through my scope. One false move, and we take 'em in like roadkill.'

`Won't come to that,' assures Bob Lake, who claims to have wrestled more alligators than he can count. `Any of 'em avoids Joe's bear traps, I'll sneak up on 'em and beat 'em unconscious. Never see me comin'.'

The Lake Brothers are clearly not lacking in confidence. As for whether they worry about any difficulties finding the escaped inmates in the streets of Con City, the three brothers offer a simultaneous shrug.

`Jungle's a jungle, Mister,' Joe Lake states. `Trees or skyscrapers, makes no difference. Just gotta watch the bystanders, is all. We'll just use subtlety and precision, so no land mines or grenade launchers.'

The Lake Brothers are set to commence their hunt for the escaped inmates shortly, and while local residents are no doubt overjoyed by the prospect of hopefully being able to return to their normal lives soon, Warden Quentin Jones in infinitely worried that the Mayor called in the wrong kind of assistance.

`Big game hunters? Really?' he says. `This makes no sense. My poor boys are rabbits, not lions. Well, I hope they'll find their way home soon. I'm preparing a special welcome home party for them. We'll have pies, and stew, and limbo dancing. It'll be fun, you'll see.'

Others at Con City Penitentiary are also skeptical, not just about the Lake Brothers, but the manhunt in general. A prison guard who wishes to remain anonymous paints a vivid picture about the prisoners' escape.

`They had it all figured out,' he states. `Found a way to override the door controls in their corridor, combined all their bed sheets into a makeshift rope and escaped through a window in the middle of the night. We only noticed in the morning. They had at least six hours to get away before the lockdown happened. Did I mention that the prison is on the very edge of the city? They could have walked all the way to Brickton by now.'

Despite the ill boding words of the anonymous prison guard, the Lake Brothers remain confident in their abilities.

`We's no strangers to elusive prey,' says Eli Lake. `That's why we got see at night scopes on our rifles. It'll be like snatching eggs from a condor's nest. Nothin' to it.'

Enlightened Criminal

posted Jul 17, 2017, 2:56 AM by Viktor Zólyomi

The following article by Jonathan Parker was originally published in the Con City Times

Several months passed since the violent yet profoundly unsuccessful robbery at the Bright Rocks jewelery store in Downtown Con City, which left two police officers critically injured during the getaway of the would-be robbers. Of the two culprits, one wore a ski mask while the other wore no mask and was garbed in an easily identifiable checkered suit. The latter criminal, Randall Lee, better known as Randall the Jerk, revealed himself to the public within a week of the robbery in an interview for the Con City Times, in which he gave up a surprising amount of information, including the name and appearance of his masked associate, Jules the Monk. After the interview, Randall Lee disappeared and police forces failed to locate either him or his associate. The Bright Rocks jewelery store chose to invest in extensive security measures in preparation for their upcoming reopening. Meanwhile, just three days ago, a bald man matching the description provided by Randall Lee and claiming to be Jules the Monk unexpectedly gave himself up to the authorities at the Downtown Police Precinct.

Although the Con City Police Department could not confirm his identity, they did determine that the man's build matched that of the masked figure in the security camera footage from the jewelery store. During his initial interrogation the suspect refused to explain himself unless members of the press were allowed to participate. The Captain of the Downtown Police Precinct decided to comply, despite disapproval of several of his Detectives.

`I wish to set the record straight,' Jules the Monk said in his opening statement. `I want the truth out there. I don't want the city to have a false impression of me based on the words of a useless waste of space like Randall the Jerk. I have not come here out of regret or some illusions of morality. I chose to give myself up in the name of enlightenment.'

The suspect went on to explain that his choice of the word `enlightenment' had been deliberate. He did not simply mean that in terms of shedding light on the truth, but also in the sense of spirituality.

`I have chosen to embrace enlightenment. I wish for a life devoid of violence. It is why I have chosen not to chase Randall the Jerk, despite that after he ratted me out in his interview I should blow his brains out on general principle. I expect you'll find him and hand him his due punishment soon enough, anyway.'

Jules the Monk, true to the principles of a career criminal, refused to divulge the location of Randall Lee despite their apparent grudge. He did, however, offer insight into the nature of their working relationship.

`I owed him a favor,' he said in an embarrassed tone. `I shall not provide specifics, but a year ago I and my crew at the time found ourselves in need of a getaway driver, and Randall was the only man available for the job. We took his help, despite the fact that everyone knew he couldn't drive, but it was either that or letting him have a gun, and we knew better than to do that. It had been a poor decision, as only he and I walked away from the wreckage after he crashed us into a concrete wall, but he technically did get us away from the police, and I'm a man of my word, so when he asked me to help him with the jewelery store in return for his help, I did. And you know how that one went.'

During the now infamous robbery, Randall the Jerk shot up the store with a shotgun despite cooperation from the store clerk, and both he and Jules the Monk were forced to vacate the premises without any jewelery. On their way out, Jules gunned down two police officers who wound up in hospital in critical condition, but have since recovered and will be returning to active duty soon. Jules the Monk offered no apology for his actions during the robbery.

`I know where to shoot a man if I want him to die, I know where to shoot him if I want him to live, and I don't miss,' he said instead. `Of course they survived. I don't like it when innocent bystanders or policemen die. Why do you think I shot them in the first place? If I hadn't, Randall would have, with the shotgun, and although there's a very high probability that he'd have missed, I did not want to take the chance that he wouldn't.'

After repeatedly refusing to provide the whereabouts of Randall Lee or any useful information about him, Jules the Monk was told in no uncertain terms that he could expect a very harsh sentence at his impending trial. In response, the suspect shook his head and offered a brief explanation.

`I'm not here to make deals or rat out my peers, not even that scumbag Randall the Jerk,' he said. `I simply came to explain to the world why a professional was forced to work with a complete amateur, and to assure you all that this would never happen again. As a matter of fact, as soon as I get out of here, I will leave the life of crime behind and dedicate my existence to reaching true enlightenment.'

When the suspect was told that he would not be getting out for a very long time, he simply smiled and bowed, then refused to say another word.

The next day his cell was found empty, its door locked, the key laid on the floor in the center of the cell. The police have since resumed their search for both Jules the Monk and Randall Lee. The Captain of the Downtown Police Precinct gave his personal guarantee to the public that the pair would be found and brought to justice. Meanwhile the Bright Rocks jewelery store is considering hiring private military contractors to provide additional security for their upcoming reopening which is scheduled to take place in just two days.

Overexposed Cat Photography

posted Jun 18, 2017, 3:46 AM by Viktor Zólyomi

The following article by Jonathan Parker was originally published on the front page of the Con City Times

The Con City Art Gallery is hosting a new exhibition called `The Art of Overexposition,' consisting of the deliberately overexposed photos of Brickton photographer Walter T. Glass. Mister Glass burst onto the scene in recent months with overexposed photos of wildlife, and while his work stayed largely out of the mainstream spotlight, his recent photograph of a house cat made him one of the most famous people on the planet. Just a week ago he posted the photo he entitled `Shy Tabby' on social media, shown below in low resolution with permission from the artist.

Walter T. Glass received over fifty million comments to his photo over the course of twenty-four hours. Advertisers flocked to his social media account and just three days removed from the original post he was already in talks with the Con City Art Gallery about an exhibition, which opened two days later.

`It's all about being experimental,' Walter T. Glass stated in an interview on the day of the opening when he was asked to reveal to what he attributed his success. `My first overexposed photo of a tulip was largely an accident. But as soon as I saw how unique the result looked, I realized that I was on my way to create the kind of art that had never been seen before. I decided to further play with the exposition time, until Shy Tabby was born. The rest is history.'

Over the two days passed since the opening of the exhibition, the overexposed paintings made a lot of noise in mainstream media, though not quite the way the Con City Art Gallery might have hoped. Art critics and photographers have called out the Art Gallery over the photographs, calling the exhibition a `scam' and repeatedly referring to Mister Glass as a `hack.' Director Troy Savage, head of the Art Gallery came to the defense of the exhibition and the artist.

`The overexposed photos of Walter T. Glass can only be compared to the likes of Warren Baker's ice paintings,' the Director stated. `Revolutionary art of the highest form, far ahead of its time. No wonder the unsophisticated barbarians of the internet who don't know the first thing about art, or even the clueless idiots who call themselves art critics, fail to understand them. Give it a hundred years, and the world will look back at `Shy Tabby' as the modern day Mona Lisa.'

Critics and internet personalities remained unfazed by the comments of Troy Savage and continued to question the legitimacy of the exhibition, quoting some of the millions of comments earned by `Shy Tabby' on social media. Examples include:

`LMFAO. Is this guy for real?'

`It's a white wall you jackass!'

`Yo, dipshit, where's the cat you promised me?! I need my fix!'

`Worst photomanipulation ever. F for EFF-ort.'

`The cat could make a better photo than that. If there is a cat, that is.'

`This is what happens when you give an idiot a camera. Give it to a drunk instead.'

`That's probably the leftover dope he snorted. Should have used macro mode so we could see the grains.'

`Snow? Clouds? Shaving foam? Either way it's just white pixels, bro!'

Amid the continuing barrage of vocal disapproval, Con City's famed painter Warren Baker himself came to the exhibition's defense as well. `When I first made ice paintings out of snow and my unique gold paint in my front lawn one fateful New Year's Eve, no one believed that my creations would one day make Rembrandt look like an amateur,' he said. `Ignore the haters, Walter. You'll make it, trust me; I know true talent when I see it.'

In addition to the encouraging words of his contemporary, Walter T. Glass has also received the unwavering support of the people of Brickton. Nearly four hundred of his townsfolk have made the trip to Con City on tourist buses in response to the growing internet criticism, and have surrounded the Con City Art Gallery with baskets of rotten eggs and large transparencies displaying words such as `fuck the haters,' `hail Glass,' `Walter's my hero,' and `criticize Brickton art and die.' The protesters have made it abundantly clear that they will not allow anyone other than people who appreciate the overexposed photos to enter the building.

Concerned citizens in Con City have turned to the police, requesting their assistance in peacefully sending back the protesters to Brickton. The Con City Police Department have responded that they cannot spare the manpower to oversee the loud but thus far peaceful gathering around the Art Gallery, as they need to keep a large number of police officers on standby in case the ongoing marketing war between the Deal Mart and the Onn Lee Megastore gets out of hand.

Meanwhile, Walter T. Glass has offered the following words on social media regarding his success one week after the original posting of the photo that made him famous: `I am humbled by the sudden outpouring of love and support. As a sign of my gratitude, I will do my best to post a new overexposed cat photo every week from now on.'

He accompanied his post with another image, shown below in low resolution with permission from the artist. The current number of comments on the image, six hours after the time of posting, is just over sixty-eight million and counting.

Rated B For Bullfighting

posted May 22, 2017, 2:19 PM by Viktor Zólyomi

The following article by Jonathan Parker was originally published in the Con City Times.

The Greenwell Bullfighting Organization continues to refuse to submit in their ongoing, many would say futile legal battle at the Con City Courthouse. It has now been four months since Gerald Embers, Chairman of the GBO, filed a request to the Con County Television Broadcasting Association to have bullfighting programs given a relaxed age certification. `We believe that bullfighting is a noble, inspirational sport that our youth should not be banned from watching,' the Chairman stated in his request. `Hence, we would like the minimum age requirements for watching bullfights to be reduced from the current, most unreasonable seventeen years to twelve.' The CCTBA rejected the request, to which Gerald Embers responded by filing a lawsuit against the agency.

Over the past four months, the GBO pulled no punches in their efforts to convince the court to force the CCTBA into compliance. Gerald Embers reminded everyone present at the first court hearing that `bullfighting is Greenwell's national pastime, commemorating the tragic death of thirty-one school children in 1837. Our sport is a tradition that serves to remind everyone of how a raging bull chased an entire herd of cattle towards the unsuspecting participants of that school picnic. This tradition should be taught from a very young age, and who better to teach it to our children than the GBO?'

The District Attorney disagreed with the GBO Chairman, stating his belief that `a bullfighting promotion that allows the bull to be the champion and makes its money on the blood thirst of its barbaric audience has no business talking about commemorating the death of the stampede victims.'

The DA's words prompted a tirade of insults from Gerald Embers which earned him a hefty fine. From that moment forward the Chairman sat the rest of the court hearings out and allowed his lawyer, Nigel Finch, to do all the talking. Mister Finch proceeded to attack the credibility of the DA and pointed out that `the District Attorney was not born and has never lived in Greenwell and therefore cannot judge how to adequately commemorate the tragic happenings of 1837, nor is he qualified to judge the character of Greenwell's people.' He also pointed out that `the undeniable realism of the GBO bullfights presents them as the most authentic form of reenactment of the stampede that is possible within the confines of the law, and should therefore be respected.'

Nigel Finch finished his argument with the written statement of Gerald Embers in which the GBO Chairman argued that `surely, it is in the best interest of our children to learn the history of Greenwell by watching the only authentic depiction of that fateful June afternoon.'

Three and a half months and many carefully worded statements later the court reached its decision and ruled in favor of the Con County Television Broadcasting Association. `No matter the importance of this tradition to the people of Greenwell, we should not be showing blood sports to twelve-year-olds,' presiding Judge Hershey stated as justification for the ruling.

Gerald Embers immediately appealed the ruling and sent his lawyer back to the court room with a new strategy. Believing that he could meet the CCTBA half way, he instructed Mister Finch to offer the introduction of some changes into GBO programs that would make them more family friendly.

`My client is willing to drop the cheerleaders from the show, or at least have them wear some clothes over their bikinis,' Nigel Finch stated at the Courthouse when the latest hearing began earlier today. `He is also willing to ban all profanity from the show by introducing a ten second delay to the live broadcast which would provide ample time to bleep out any sensitive words from anything spoken by veteran color commentator Tom Stone. While Mister Stone is very popular with our audience, which is the reason why he hasn't been fired, my client is willing to put the reins on the man in order to make bullfighting available to a younger audience.'

The Con County Television Broadcasting Association flat out refused the offer with the words, `this is not Hollywood.' Judge Hershey recommended Mister Finch to advise his client to give up on the idea of a relaxed age certification for bullfights. Gerald Embers and his lawyer are yet to respond but sources close to the GBO Chairman believe that `he will fight tooth and nail until the bitter end, and win or lose, he will make a documentary about the court war and sell it for top dollar on pay-per-view.'

Carry On Again Banning!

posted Apr 24, 2017, 3:22 PM by Viktor Zólyomi   [ updated Apr 24, 2017, 3:33 PM ]

The following article by Jonathan Parker was originally published in the Con City Times.

A month prior airline travelers in Con County faced shock when Con City Airlines introduced its new cabin baggage policy, which forced all passengers to place all their belongings in the hold, including any clothes they had on their person at check-in. Travel discussion forums are abuzz once more due to the Con County Travel Bureau having announced a new set of guidelines to be imposed on all air travel firms operating in the county. (Editor's note: the list of such airlines currently comprises Con City Airlines alone).

`We need to do something about the chaos,' said Laura Turner, a senior executive at the Travel Bureau. `In the month passed since Con City Airlines implemented its controversial cabin baggage ban, sixty-two incidents occurred on the airline's flights that can be directly linked to the new rules. A lot of people have been injured, offended, or forced to watch their fellow passengers engage in indecent activities. We cannot allow this to go on.'

The list of incidents Miss Turner mentioned include fourteen brawls that broke out between passengers who were left irritable by being forced to board the plane without their cell phones, nineteen cases of hypothermia caused by the failure of the air conditioning system, one medical emergency related to insulin withdrawal, and twenty-eight instances of what flight attendants recorded in their reports as `orgies.'

`All these incidents are minor issues, and we have had less than a hundred of them in total,' said Dick Butler, spokesman of Con City Airlines. `I think the Travel Bureau is failing to see the bigger picture. Did people suffer a few bruises? Maybe. Were they forced to cover their eyes due to a few unruly couples on board? Sure. But the fact is, that all thanks to our new rules, no one overdosed on insulin, no one cut their hand on broken glass, no one choked on swallowed contact lenses or paper tissues, no one was strangled by a scarf or any other piece of clothing, and no one got beaten to death with a laptop. I think our cabin baggage ban is doing great!'

The aforementioned incidents are only part of the reason why the Con City Travel Bureau decided to step in. Since the new cabin baggage ban, the Bureau received over five thousand complaints from distressed passengers.

`About half of the complaints relate to the aforementioned incidents,' explained Miss Turner, `but the other half touch upon other issues. For example, a lot of people complain that they are not allowed to take their firearms on board, and in light of the violent brawls they now fear for their lives on the plane. This is of course nonsense, as no one but the sky marshal should be armed, but it does raise the question: where does the sky marshal keep his gun? The airline has not given us a satisfactory answer regarding this question.'

Other complaints include the problems caused by infants not being allowed to wear diapers on Con City Airlines flights. Thus far no parents have opted to take their infant children aboard the flights since the new rules came into force, due to the unenviable task of having to clean up after their children on board without any diapers, towels, or tissues on hand. Many of them also fear that the airline would simply classify the infants as cabin baggage and hence force them to be transported in the hold.

`And there's more,' Miss Turner said. `After the first week we started getting complaints from passengers that the cabin exuded a terrible odor, and later also that some of the seats were covered in sticky white stains. When we tried to carry out a health inspection the airline told us the inspection team would have to comply with the same rules as the passengers themselves, which is nonsense. We decided to intervene so that reason may prevail. We are, as of next week, forcing Con City Airlines to comply with our new guidelines or cease operation within the county.'

In an unprecedented and some would say unexpected move, the Travel Bureau has decided to ban passengers from being on board Con City Airlines flights. As of next Monday it will be illegal for anyone other than flight staff to be on board the planes within Con County. Travelers stand baffled before the decision, as they fail to see how this will solve anything.

`This is like trying to put out a forest fire with gasoline,' said Judy Shaw, speaking for the Con County Tourist Club. `Am I supposed to travel in the hold now? I guess that means I don't have to undress anymore, but come on! Travel in the hold?! Are they crazy?!'

`Miss Shaw misunderstands,' Laura Turner of the Con County Travel Bureau said regarding the new rules. `We are not simply banning people from entering the cabin, we are banning them from being anywhere inside the plane. This is the only way to make the flights safe again. It's not the banned objects that cause the problem, it's the people. The troublemakers, that is. But since we have no way of telling apart the troublemakers from the proper passengers, the best solution is to ban all of them from boarding the plane.'

Con City Airlines has yet to respond to the new legislation, which leaves travelers in a state of uncertainty as to the status of their upcoming flights. The airline has, however, started to explore its options.

`We talked to some lawyers about having the passengers ride on the wings,' Dick Butler said. `The Bureau banned people from being inside the plane, but not from traveling on top of it, or indeed on the wings. The lawyers think this is a gray area, so it might work, albeit there will be some... practical challenges. We are also looking into establishing a new landing strip a couple of miles east of Con County. The legislation no longer applies outside the county, so we could just hire a travel agency to transport our passengers to the new air strip with buses, and then proceed as before.'

The airline has already reached out to Reaper Travels, who often book charter flights from Con City Airlines to bring enthusiastic tourists to the county. Their veteran driver Larry offered his own two cents in the matter.

`Sure, we could do the job,' he said, `but it'd be slow. We don't have enough buses and drivers to take everyone in one go, and even if we did, it's a long drive. I'd say, if you want to travel, just drive. Or take the train up north and board a plane someplace else. That's what I always do. Who in their right mind wants to fly with Con City Airlines, anyway? Have you seen their safety records?'

In light of the uncertainty surrounding the fate of Con City Airlines flights, passengers are advised not to keep their expectations too high.

Carry On Banning!

posted Mar 27, 2017, 2:56 PM by Viktor Zólyomi

The following article by Jonathan Parker was originally published in the Con City Times.

Tourist discussion groups all over the internet are on fire in wake of the recent announcement by Con City Airlines about their comprehensive ban on taking carry on items on board their planes. The controversial restriction, announced yesterday, comes into force this coming weekend.

`We realize that the new rules are being implemented on a short notice,' said Con City Airlines spokesman Dick Butler, `but we believe it is in the best interest of our passengers not to wait any longer. We have been preparing this move for a very long time.'

The words of Mister Butler bring no solace to distressed travelers who had purchased tickets for Con City Airlines flights in advance without having any clue how these restrictions would affect their upcoming journey. Given the policy of Con City Airlines to charge their passengers extra for checked baggage, a great many of their travelers choose to take only cabin baggage with them. These passengers are now forced to either leave all their belongings at home, or purchase checked baggage allowance.

`We will of course offer all affected passengers a discount of twenty percent on hold baggage costs,' Mister Butler said. `It is the least we can do for our customers. We hope they understand that the new rules are for their own benefit.'

As for why the airline chose to implement the harsh restrictions on carry on items, the spokesman offered a quite detailed explanation.

`At first we just wanted to ban laptops,' he stated. `Those things are heavy and made of metal. A drunk passenger in a fit of rage could rip one out of any of their fellow passengers' hands and use them to inflict serious injury, broken bones, concussions, that sort of thing. We cannot subject our customers to such dangers, so we chose to ban all laptops from being brought on board as carry on luggage. But then we realized, that laptops are not the only dangerous items people usually take on board.'

Mister Butler proceeded to explain that tablets are being banned because of their glass surfaces which, the airline fears, may break if passengers were to drop such devices, and upon picking them up the broken glass may cut their hands. Cellphones join the list of banned items due to the adverse effects of stress caused by the batteries being depleted over the duration of the flights.

`Of course, we couldn't stop there,' Mister Butler continued. `We realized that lots of people come on board wearing glasses. If they knock their heads into the seat in front of them when the plane encounters turbulence, the lenses might break and severely injure their eyes, might even blind them. Clearly, if we ban tablets, we have to ban glasses, too. We thought we could allow contact lenses, but then we realized that people might accidentally swallow them and choke on them. That is a severe health hazard, so we are banning both glasses and contacts. And then we thought about belts and shoelaces.'

Following reasoning borrowed from prison facilities, Con City Airlines has decided to ban belts and shoelaces from being taken on board their planes for fear that mentally unstable passengers may harm themselves with them due to the distress caused by frequent delays of the airline's flights. It is perhaps not altogether surprising that this decision led to a further set of items being added to the banned list, including stilettos which the airline fears may injure people's eyes should they trip and fall on the heels of such shoes the wrong way, and scarves which they believe to be a severe choking hazard.

`We also decided to ban all forms of medication, so as to prevent people from accidentally overdosing on things like insulin; and we're banning paper tissues which, like many other items, are a serious choking hazard. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. The more we thought about what puts the lives of our passengers in danger, the more items we had to add to the list. And when the list of banned items grew to ten pages, we realized that it made more sense to just simply ban everything.'

The upcoming ban on carry on items thus extends to literally everything, which means that passengers will no longer be allowed to take any items with them into the cabin. No hand luggage of any size, no purses, no shoes, and, most alarmingly, no clothes, either in hand or on their person. It is for this reason that many believe the airline is taking their new cabin baggage rule a little too far.

`Am I really supposed to sit on the plane naked?' asked Judy Shaw, a member of the Con County Tourist Club. `This is complete nonsense! What if I get hypothermia in the cold?'

The health concerns of Miss Shaw are shared by Doctor Donna Williams, senior surgeon at Con City General Hospital. `Temperatures aboard airplanes can fluctuate considerably, especially when the air conditioner is not working properly, which is a constant problem on these flights,' she stated. `Also, the risk of infection is quite high when multiple people with exposed buttocks use the same seat.'

`We will of course use disinfectants to wipe the seats clean after each flight,' Dick Butler assured. `We will also make sure that all our air conditioners are in top notch condition, and that the temperature is set to a convenient level. In the unlikely event of a malfunction, we will distribute complementary hot beverages to keep the passengers warm.'

When asked whether the airline will put measures in place to ensure the privacy and dignity of their passengers during boarding and on board the flights, Dick Butler offered a guarantee that there will be no cameras recording the passengers at any time and that everyone will be given a towel which they can wear wrapped around themselves while they go from the check-in desk to the door of the aircraft, where blindfolded staff will collect the towels and allow passengers to board the aircraft single file.

`We assure you that no incidents such as harassment or public sexual intercourse will occur on our flights,' the spokesman added. `At Con City Airlines, the safety and comfort of our passengers always comes first.'

The Jumping House

posted Mar 6, 2017, 3:08 PM by Viktor Zólyomi   [ updated Mar 6, 2017, 3:11 PM ]

The following article by Jonathan Parker was originally published in the Greenwell Inquirer.

A man in Greenwell is facing charges of producing an unsafe work environment and endangering the lives of his neighbors. The charges come after Hank Brennan, a resident in the southern suburbs of town, hired a construction company to dig a ten foot deep trench around his house for the purpose of eventually digging under the building to enable the contractors to lift the entire house with a crane.

`It's a nonsensical idea, but we do what the client pays us to do,' says Ron Smith, owner of Smith's Bricks, the local building contractor hired to do the work. `I told him we'd need to disconnect the electricity supply and the water supply, which would leave the house unfit to live in, but he still wanted us to do the job. So we did it. But then we got to phase two.'

Phase two of the building project was to place a set of high power spring loaded launchers underneath the foundations of Mister Brennan's house, then lower the house onto the launchers. The idea being, according to Ron Smith, to allow the house to jump.

`So this nutjob says to us, he wants his house to be able to jump,' Mister Smith explains. `Says he wants at least eight feet of elevation. Thinks he can achieve that with these spring powered launchers. So I tell him, there's no spring strong enough to do the job. Then he says, just use a lot of them. I tell him, even if we manage it, there's no way to control the precise motion of the house. That thing could fall on my workers during testing, or crash into a neighboring house. So he says, it'll be fine as long as I buy some expensive springs, and proceeds to write me a check. Honestly, can you blame me for calling the police?'

The investigation of the Greenwell Police Department has shown that the construction project was doomed to begin with, and that phase two would have put the lives of workers and neighbors into serious jeopardy.

`We've ordered the constructions to cease,' says Detective Malcolm Shepard, `and arrested Mister Brennan. Greenwell will clearly be safer with him off the streets.'

Hank Brennan awaits trial at the jail in Greenwell, and insists that his personal rights have been violated. Moreover, he believes that there was nothing wrong with his construction project.

`It's just an innocent home improvement project,' he says. `I mean, come on. Do you even know why I'm doing it? It's a matter of family pride, you see. My cousin lives in Australia, and the last time he came for a visit he told me a joke. Can a kangaroo jump higher than a house? Of course, he says, because houses can't jump. Get it? Because houses can't jump! Well, I'll show him and the rest of those Down Under comedians!'

Mister Brennan believes that he will be found innocent in the charges levied against him and is adamant to give his house the ability to jump. He has already found a new building company for the job, Con City based Young Constructions.

`Of course we'd be willing to do the job,' says Jim Lemmon, Senior Overseer and acting CEO of Young Constructions. `We don't have a lot of clients these days, not since the fiasco with our former CEO and his attempt to sacrifice virgins in a fake volcano. Until we earn back the trust of the community, we can't be picky with the jobs we get. Guy wants his house to jump, we can do that, sure. As long as he pays us in advance and signs the paperwork that he takes full responsibility for any property damage, injuries, or fatalities incurred due to the construction. Of course he has to make bail first.'

Bail for the release of Hank Brennan has been set to one hundred million dollars. There is no date set for his trial at the time of writing.

Marketing War

posted Feb 5, 2017, 9:50 AM by Viktor Zólyomi

The following article by Jonathan Parker was originally published in the Con City Times.

Over the past three weeks leading up to the imminent reopening of the Onn Lee Megastore in Downtown Con City, all out war has broken out between the superstore and the city's premiere discount supermarket, the Deal Mart. Since the closure of the Onn Lee Megastore due to flooding a few months ago, customers flocked to the Deal Mart to do all their grocery shopping. Oscar Lee, owner of the Onn Lee Megastore expressed his worries that the months his former customers spent at the Deal Mart have made them accustomed to the discount prices and this may keep them from returning to the superstore next week.

`That is why we launched our new marketing campaign,' he explained three weeks earlier. `I admit that the slogan may be a little bit controversial, but this is business. I'm sure the management of the Deal Mart will understand.'

The initial marketing campaign ran with the slogan, `don't buy shit, come to the Megastore,' which drew the ire of Albert Flanders, owner of the Deal Mart.

`I don't know why that rude scoundrel is so worried about the loss of customers,' he said in response to the advert. `The Deal Mart is a supermarket, specialized in groceries and related products. The Onn Lee Megastore is a shopping center. They sell everything including the kitchen sink. So what if their grocery store operates at a loss? They'll make up for it in the profits made in the rest of the Megastore. But you know what? If Oscar Lee wants a fight, I'll give him one.'

Days after the launch of the `don't buy shit, come to the Megastore' ad campaign, the Deal Mart began a television campaign on Channel 11. The ad consisted of archived news footage showing the flooded Onn Lee Megastore, with the narration, `do you really want to go back there?' and closed with a slide show of smiling customers at the Deal Mart. Oscar Lee found the advert distasteful.

`No decent human being would mock the misery of another man,' he stated. `Part of me is glad that Albert Flanders showed us who he really is, because now I will have no problem taking off the gloves!'

The second marketing campaign of the Onn Lee Megastore followed the formula of the Deal Mart's advert. The television ad displayed numerous homeless people sleeping right next to the entrance of the Deal Mart in the early hours of the morning. The narration at the end of the advert said, `don't shop in the shitty neighborhood, come to the Megastore.'

`Tasteless and elitist,' Albert Flanders summarized his opinion of the ad, days before launching a new television advert for his supermarket, in which a man standing in water up to his neck tried in vain to reach a box of cereals on the top shelf inside a small room meant to symbolize the Onn Lee Megastore's grocery department. Oscar Lee refused to issue a statement regarding the advert. Days after the first airing, however, a new ad campaign of the Onn Lee Megastore ran on Channel 11.

The thirty second advert, like its predecessor, started with an exterior shot of the Deal Mart in the early morning hours. Instead of homeless people, numerous unsavory characters stood near the entrance, forming two groups. They eyed each other for ten seconds before they drew various firearms. Then the ad cut to black for fifteen seconds during which time loud gunfire, sounds of explosions, and painful screams filled the air. `Don't put your life on the line for your groceries, come to the Megastore,' the narration said at the end.

Albert Flanders was furious over the advert, and called it `a declaration of war.' While one would assume he had meant those words in the marketing sense, it turned out he had been quite literal. He reached out to his returning customers, much of them residents of the Oldtown district, and within days a convoy of no less than fifty cars surrounded the Onn Lee Megastore. Men and women looking many times more unsavory than the actors in the offending advert sat in the cars, eying the superstore from dawn till dusk, only to be replaced by another convoy of fifty cars that would stay from dusk till dawn. A van bearing the logo of the Deal Mart came by at noon and midnight, and supplied free food for the people in the cars.

The building contractors working on the refurbishment refused to go anywhere near the superstore as they did not dare to walk past the Oldtown vehicles, causing severe delay to the repairs being undertaken.

`I called the police,' said a distressed Oscar Lee, `but they said they couldn't do jack shit. Not until one of those hooligans draws a gun. Bullshit! Whatever happened to prevention? Well, that's okay. Albert Flanders isn't the only one who has friends.'

Two days after the non-stop blockade of the Onn Lee Megastore began, three black helicopters landed on the roof of the superstore, delivering a platoon of private military contractors armed with assault rifles to the scene. They took positions around the building, standing guard and waiting for the Oldtown residents to engage them or drive away.

At the time of writing the standoff between the presumably armed associates of Albert Flanders and the most definitely heavily armed private military contractors has been ongoing for four days and shows no signs of ending. Meanwhile Oscar Lee relies on the helicopters to transport the building contractors to and from the superstore, and remains confident that the building will be ready for the scheduled reopening. Whether the customers will be willing to enter the Onn Lee Megastore in the middle of the standoff remains to be seen, albeit Oscar Lee seems to be prepared for the worst.

`If all else fails, I'll just use the helicopters to get the customers through the door,' he states. When asked how much the private military contractors and the use of the helicopters cost him and whether these expenses may be far greater than any profit he could hope to gain by luring back the customers of the Deal Mart, he refused to comment.

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