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.

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.

Cat Flap Security

posted Jan 16, 2017, 2:26 AM by Viktor Zólyomi

The following article was penned by Jonathan Parker and was originally published in the Desert Rock Guardian.

A new locally developed cat security system is now available for purchase in the town of Desert Rock. Aimed at cat owners whose house is equipped with a cat flap on the front or back door, the Antistray 3000 home security system is designed to protect the homes, and their occupants, from the threat of being invaded by stray cats. The development comes in response to months of distress that cat owners have had to endure in Desert Rock.

`These opportunistic little rascals have been stealing Mister Fluffy's food for six months,' says Maggie Travers, a local pensioner and owner of a Persian cat. `Every time I leave the house the stray cats know. They go inside and cause all sorts of mischief. At first I blamed Mister Fluffy, but one time I found the fridge door wide open and all the yogurt cups empty. Mister Fluffy doesn't like yogurt so I knew something was wrong. That's when I asked my grandson to install a camera in the kitchen.'

The video camera in the house of Mrs. Travers successfully recorded how a gang of no less than six stray housecats (a gray and an orange tabby, two black and whites, a calico, and a black cat) invaded the house through the cat flap on the back door, chased off her own cat, forced the cupboard open, and ate all the dry cat food they could get their paws on. They stayed in the house until Mrs. Travers returned home, and then vacated the premises so fast she did not see them until she watched the video camera footage.

Since then, dozens of households have recorded similar incidents, all perpetrated by the same group of stray cats, whom the locals have taken to referring to as the Naughty Kitty Gang.

While cat owners feel too affectionate towards cats in general to take any drastic measures against the strays, a local electronics firm known as the Hades Corporation has taken it upon itself to develop a home security system that can solve the problem.

`Our system consists of a set of smart cameras, locks, and multimedia devices,' says Malcolm Dallas, lead engineer of the Antistray 3000. `We have a camera outside the door, which monitors the cats that approach the cat flap. The system uses state-of-the-art facial recognition to match the cats to the ones registered as living on the premises. If there is a match, the system unlocks the cat flap, allowing the cat to enter.'

At first glance, the above security system sounds sufficient, but the Hades corporation went the extra mile to ensure that their system is foolproof.

`We have additional cameras on the inside,' Mr. Dallas elaborates. `In case some strays manage to enter the house through let's say the window, or the chimney. If intruders are detected, Antistray 3000 activates the alarm, which is a recording of the barking of a pack of angry pitbulls. The volume gradually intensifies to give off the illusion that the pack is getting closer. After the strays leave the house, the audio is rerouted to the external speakers in order to chase the strays even further. The system is therefore flawless, so much so that we offer a one year money back guarantee. This guarantee of course does not extend to invasion by hearing impaired stray cats.'

The Mayor of Desert Rock, himself a victim of stray cat invasion, applauds the Hades Corporation for their effort to innovate, but believes that Antistray 3000 will prove to be a hard sell.

`Most cat owners, myself included, would not want to install an alarm system that sounds like a pack of rabid dogs ready to murder them and their pets. While it may chase off the strays, it will also scare the living daylights out of the cats who live in the house. I think the trade-off is not worth it. Better to just nail the cat flap shut, or buy another five cats so they can fight off the Naughty Kitty Gang. That's what I did.'

While it is early to judge whether the Mayor's expectation will prove correct, in the three days passed since the official release of Antistray 3000 the Hades Corporation has not sold a single unit. Malcolm Dallas remains confident that the product will eventually become a success, and that he will not be fired at the end of the month.

The Safest Town In The World

posted Dec 4, 2016, 9:56 AM by Viktor Zólyomi

The following article by Jonathan Parker was published in the Black Lake Gazette after careful consideration.

The town of Black Lake in Con County is in contention for the Peaceful Excellence Award. Given each year to the safest settlement with less than fifteen thousand inhabitants, the Peaceful Excellence Award is tailor made for a town like Black Lake. While Black Lake has long earned itself a reputation of being the safest settlement in Con County, many are still puzzled by the nomination for such a prestigious award. Chief among them is Deputy Carl, one half of the police force in Black Lake.

`This is a nice quiet little town by Con County standards,' he states, `but let's face it, that's not saying much. Just because we don't have shootouts, explosions, stabbings, bank robberies, and mass murder on a daily basis, does not mean we don't have our fair share of problems.'

The Deputy cites the most recent crime statistics of Black Lake as to why he believes the town is not quite ready for the Peaceful Excellence Award.

`The past month we have had fourteen counts of jaywalking, seventeen counts of littering, and eight counts of dogs defecating in the streets. The latter is especially dangerous as the elderly may easily slip on canine droppings and could suffer severe injuries. Jaywalking is also a horrific offense that endangers the lives of vehicle drivers across the town. I do my best to fight this terrible crime wave, but the Sheriff insists that our efforts are better directed elsewhere.'

Sheriff Paxton, the other half of the Black Lake police force, is more optimistic about his town and its chances at winning the Peaceful Excellence Award.

`Carl exaggerates,' the Sheriff says. `Black Lake more then deserves the award. First of all, no one breaks the speed limit in Black Lake, so jaywalkers do not endanger anyone. Second, if people didn't litter, street sweepers would be out of a job, and then they'd turn to crime to put bread on their table, so I think having people litter is a great way to reduce crime. And as for dog shit on the pavement... Let's just say the day dogs stop shitting anywhere in the world is going to mark the end for us all.'

Sheriff Paxton believes that the crime statistics confirm his view. No violent crimes have been reported in Black Lake in over a year, and the last recorded incident before that left only one person injured by a firearm and one person dead by food poisoning. Deputy Carl, however, insists that as long as there is any crime in town, no matter how minor, his job is not finished.

`Every crime must be punished,' he says. `I hope that we will come last in the rankings for the award because, frankly, we do not deserve it, and if we come in last, perhaps the Sheriff will finally allow the use of tear gas grenades on jaywalkers and cattle prods on careless dog owners.'

Sheriff Paxton remains confident that Black Lake will win the Peaceful Excellence Award, and refuses to allow his Deputy to take drastic measures against people who neglect to clean up after their pets.

`I'm pretty sure the dogs don't just shit on the pavement but also on the carpets in the dog owners' homes, and that should be punishment enough,' he says. `As for the award... We'll win. How could we not? Do you see any gun toting madmen around here? Any psychopaths? All we have is a weirdo who wears sunglasses at night and frequents the Shark's Fin Diner, but he's harmless and we haven't seen him in six months or so. Seriously, there is no way the award could slip from our grasp.'

Note from the Editor of the Black Lake Gazette: This article was submitted to our journal two days before the now infamous events of chaos, bloodshed, and violence which immediately catapulted Black Lake to the number one spot on the global list of most violent towns under a population of fifteen thousand. Nevertheless we chose to publish this article after the one week review process was completed, in the name of journalistic integrity.

Counterproductive Criminal

posted Nov 6, 2016, 1:51 PM by Viktor Zólyomi

The following article by Jonathan Parker was originally published in the Con City Times, on page 9.

The Bright Rocks jewelery store in Downtown Con City remains closed after last week's brutal robbery which left the premises unfit for business. As previously reported, two armed men, one wearing a trench coat and a ski mask, the other dressed in a checkered suit with a white T-shirt and a tie, wearing no mask, entered the store in broad daylight and demanded that the store clerk hand over the entire stock. Despite cooperation from the store clerk, the robber in the checkered suit shot up the store with a shotgun before police arrived at the scene. The two made a bloody getaway after the man in the trench coat gunned down the two arriving police officers, who miraculously survived the shootout but were left in critical condition.

Police have issued a request to citizens to provide information on the two suspects. In the week passed since the robbery, only one man came forward: one of the robbers himself, the man in the checkered suit. He turned up at the office building of the Con City Times demanding to be interviewed at a private, secret location. Convinced by the man's eloquence and loaded shotgun, the staff of the Con City Times called on their most regular freelance journalist to honor the request.

The interview took place in the sewers underneath the Downtown, where the man in the checkered suit introduced himself as Randall Lee.

`My peers know me as Randall the Jerk,' he added, `and I wear the title proudly. Jealous fools labeled me as such, on account of fearing the inevitable, which is my impending rise to kingpin of the criminal underworld.'

Randall the Jerk proceeded to elaborate his grand plan to become the most feared criminal in Con City.

`That jewelery store was just the beginning,' he said. `Me and Jules went in there for the diamonds, but as soon as I was inside I knew we needed to do more than clear out the place. That's why I used up half my shotgun shells to redecorate the store. To send a message to the entire city that Randall the Jerk is the most dangerous man around here. And Jules did a fine job teaching the cops a lesson on our way out, so he deserves some credit, too.'

When asked about his accomplice, Mister Lee provided an incredible amount of detail.

`He's Jules the Monk,' he said about the man in the trench coat. `They call him that because he's bald and has all these weird tattoos on his scalp. That's why he wore a mask, so no one could identify him. He's a damn good shot, too. It was great that I could convince him to help me out. He lives in Oldtown, you see, and normally stays clear of the Downtown. But Randall the Persuader explained to him how lucrative this opportunity was, and he decided that he could not pass it up. It was truly the best decision of his life.'

Throughout the interview, the self proclaimed future kingpin of Con City remained adamant that the robbery had been a complete success, despite the fact that he and his accomplice left all the jewelery behind. The fact that his face wound up on posters and televised public service announcements did not trouble him, either. Rather, he considered this his biggest accomplishment.

`Now everyone knows who Randall the Jerk is,' he said. `Do you see? The robbery was a perfect marketing opportunity. And so is this interview, for both me and your newspaper. You put my interview on the front page, all those people who saw me on TV will subscribe to the Con City Times. You tell your Editor that I'm more than happy to make myself available for further interviews in the future. Just remember: front page.'

The interview came to an abrupt halt at this point when numerous men in hard hats and high visibility vests approached from one of the sewer tunnels, and Randall the Jerk decided to make a hasty retreat from what he believed was a police squad but was in fact a sewer maintenance crew.

Randall Lee remains at large at the time of this writing. The whereabouts of his accomplice are likewise unknown, albeit the Con City Police Department, who were given the opportunity to read a transcript of the interview prior to publication and just about managed to do so without breaking out in laughter, are convinced that it's only a matter of time before they apprehend both would-be jewelery thieves.

Fragcamper Police

posted Sep 25, 2016, 5:41 AM by Viktor Zólyomi

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

Greenwell's specialist police task force, known as the Fragcamper Unit, is making headlines all over the county after their successful operation to apprehend Con County's public enemy number two. The elusive criminal known as the Greenwell Bank Buster, finally identified as local accountant Brandon Murphy, was cornered in the town center of Greenwell and gunned down with the utmost precision. He is currently awaiting trial in a coma at the Greenwell General Hospital, while the Fragcamper Unit is awaiting the medals the Mayor is expected to award them in the coming days.

`This seems like a great accomplishment, but it's just another day on the job for those four police officers,' says Detective Eve Rhodes, designated spokesperson for the Fragcamper Unit. `Granted, it was a high profile criminal, and they certainly deserve medals for it, but honestly, catching dangerous criminals is what they do on a daily basis. It's why the unit was formed in the first place.'

The Fragcamper Unit was established a few years ago after the Chief of Police and the Mayor of Greenwell agreed that the police needed a specialist task force to tackle the most dangerous criminal elements in town in order to prevent Greenwell from overtaking Brickton and Con City in the crime statistics. The person chosen to assemble the group was Detective Rhodes.

`So I had this idea to hold a first person shooter deathmatch tournament,' she explains. `Every police officer in Greenwell was eligible. They would create gamer tags so as to protect everyone's identity, and the top four players would get to form the Fragcamper Unit. I am not a member myself, but I am personally quite proud that half of them are women. Goes to show you that girls can be both outstanding gamers and excellent police officers.'

The four members of the team are known as Sn!p3rB!tch, Sh0tgunFr3ak, Gunn3rKill3r, and Gr3nad3at3r.

`Sn!p3rB!tch is the brains of the group,' Detective Rhodes elaborates. `She's also the most accurate shooter of the unit, hence she typically operates as a sniper. Sh0tgunFr3ak likes to get up close and personal in the heaviest body armor we can afford. Gunn3rKill3r specializes on medium range combat with high rate of fire assault rifles. And Gr3nad3at3r is the explosives expert, good with grenades, rocket launchers, and even plastic. Not that the Chief likes it when the group uses anything beyond smoke grenades, but trust me, Gr3nad3at3r's skills see plenty of use against the assorted assholes the unit has to face.'

Over the years the unit has demonstrated that the unorthodox selection method of Detecive Rhodes had been spot on. The members of the Fragcamper Unit boast the highest success rate and highest kill count among all the police officers in Greenwell, and they have the honor of being the only police unit to ever take down multiple top ten wanted criminals in Con County.

`The Greenwell Bank Buster was in fact the fifth top ten criminal the group brought to justice,' Detective Rhodes states. `And I guarantee you, there will be many more, until all the top ten criminals in Con County are either behind bars, six feet under, or operate exclusively outside the town limits of Greenwell.'

During the sting operation on the Greenwell Bank Buster, the Fragcamper Unit pulled out all the stops and left nothing in the tank. They traced the suspect to an apartment just two blocks from one of Greenwell's banks which had been robbed just the day before. Once the group confirmed that the suspect was inside, Gr3nad3at3r used plastic explosives to break down the door, then Sh0tgunFr3ak and Gunn3rKill3r stormed into the apartment to apprehend the suspect while Sn!p3rB!tch waited on the rooftop of the building across the street with her sights on the window. The Greenwell Bank Buster went down in a hail of assault rifle bullets, shotgun shells, and sniper rifle rounds, without ever managing to fire back. Official reports state that not a single one of the bullets missed the target, and doctors at Greenwell General believe it is a miracle that the suspect did not die on the spot.

`Precision is what the unit is known for,' Detective Rhodes explains. `They pumped him full of lead and still managed to bring him in alive. I'd like to see that gun toting madman in Downtown Con City pull this off.'

The "gun toting madman" the Detective refers to is Sergeant Jack Westwood of the Con City Police Department, whose kill count exceeds the total combined kill count of the entire Fragcamper Unit. As the Sergeant is currently suspended for excessive expenditure of ammunition, he is unavailable to address the comments of Detective Rhodes, but the Captain at the Downtown Precinct believes that `that barbarian Westwood does not even know what a Fragcamper Unit is, and quite frankly, neither do I, and nor do I care. We have enough problems in this city without having to worry about the petty criminals of a pissant village like Greenwell.'

The Chief of Police in Greenwell finds the Downtown Captain's words amusing. `I am proud that the crime rate in our fair town is now so low that Con City Police believes it's not even worth mentioning,' he states. `All the more reason to keep the Fragcamper Unit running and reward their members with due recognition of their hard work.'

The unit is expected to receive the Greenwell Medal of Valor from the Mayor in just three days' time at a closed door ceremony from which the public is banned in order to preserve the anonymity of the four heroic police officers. As for how they spend their time leading up to the ceremony? Detective Rhodes has the answer.

`To date the members of the Fragcamper Unit actively participate in online first person shooter tournaments,' she says. `They are regulars in the upper half of the list of top one hundred players around the world, and by tomorrow night they will be in the top ten. All this while fighting crime and keeping Greenwell's streets safe. Let that be a lesson to parents the world over: nothing turns children into heroic role models more than playing ultraviolent first person shooters eight hours a day.'

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