Back To The Context

Welcome to Back To The Context, a regular feature on Con City Press where we take well known quotes used frequently in popular culture and put them back into the context from which they originate. Ever wondered who said "I'll be back" first and in what context? This is the place to find out.

The above phrase seems to be a favorite among teenagers, drug addicts, and people who put various objects into their various bodily orifices after a couple of drinks. Very few people know that this phrase in fact originates from the 19th century.

Specifically, the above quote is taken from the memoir of Lord Lewis Bartholomew Hawthorne III, written in 1832, and relates to his contribution to the founding of what at the time was just a small settlement in a then empty county, but eventually grew into the massive metropolis known as Con City.

`I funded the majority of the construction of Con City back in 1792,' he states in his memoir. `It seemed like a good idea at the time. Merchants loved it and my investment came back nearly tenfold. We had a good life in Con City. But then my brother got stabbed in an alley after a game of dice, my son drowned when one of the merchant ships sank to the bottom of the river after colliding with a fishing boat, and my daughter married a banker in the city which forced me to disown her. Now I have no family to which I could leave my fortune. I wish I had never spent a penny on building that abomination.'

While the scores of people who fall victim to the extreme levels of violence reigning in Con City every year most certainly agree with Lord Hawthorne's sentiments, there are those who are very happy that he funded the construction. Among these are the one hundred and sixty-eight cats currently living and cared for by a staff of eighty servants in Hawthorne Manor, the residence of Lord Hawthorne located in the English countryside, which he left to his two cats upon his death in 1834.

Popular belief states that April Fools' Day originates as far back as the 1300s. It is often attributed to the Canterbury Tales of Geoffrey Chaucer. In reality, this day, and specifically the phrase `April Fool' come from a very different era. Professor van der Bishop at the University of Con City fortunately has all the facts.

`April Fool originates from 1891,' the Professor states, `when Con City banker Hugo C. Carter was fooled into purchasing one hundred tons of iron pyrite, better known as fools' gold from a miner recently returned from Desert Rock. Everyone in the city knew that there was no actual gold in Desert Rock, so when people found out about the sale, which had happened on the 1st of April, everyone just called Hugo C. Carter the April Fool. That was the real origin of the term April Fool. Now, you may come across references to this phrase from much earlier times. This is due to what Jerry Carter, the great grandson of Hugo C. Carter did during his tenure as my PhD student.'

According to the Professor, Jerry Carter apparently built a time machine which he used to go back to the 1300s and influence the work of Geoffrey Chaucer and work the concept of the April Fool into the Canterbury Tales. This, in fact, is the real reason why April Fools' Day exists.

`His idea was that if he turned the concept of the April Fool into something common, then he could dilute the misfortune of his great grandfather and make the world forget about the Great Fool's Gold Debacle of 1891. As you can most certainly see, he succeeded in rewriting history.'

Some of you might be wondering why Jerry Carter didn't just go back to 1891 and stop his great grandfather from buying the one hundred tons of fools' gold. To this, Professor van der Bishop has a perfectly logical explanation.

`He was afraid that if he stopped his great grandfather from the purchase, his reason for inventing a time machine in the first place would cease to exist, and he would be stuck in 1891 without the means to come back. And he did not want to be stuck in a time with no internet. It's a pity he never considered that it's even worse to be stuck in the 14th century.'

The ultimate be all end all argument closer, `because I said so,' is often used by bad teachers, irresponsible husbands, and anyone under the age of five. The irony is that none of these people have any idea where this phrase originates.

In the year 1902, then Mayor of Con City Howard Jackson, not related to infamous Hollywood film producer Rick Jackson, commissioned the reinforcement of the flood barriers protecting Con City. The construction came upon pressure by local merchants who feared that their warehouses by the river were at risk from flooding, having found the river level a mere three inches below the existing flood barrier just the year before. Mayor Jackson thus ordered the flood barriers to be raised by ten whole inches.

Much of the public felt that the new flood barriers would be inadequate, and argued that no law existed that would prevent the river from rising above that barrier. In response Mayor Jackson brought into force a law that prohibits the river level from rising above the flood barrier. When criticized for his decision, the Mayor famously said that, `the water would not dare to rise above this level, because I said so.'

As recorded extensively in the history books, the Great Flood of 1903 came just the next year and completely destroyed Con City, leading to the eventual reconstruction and redesign of the entire city. Mayor Jackson, instead of resigning from office, fined the river for breaking his controversial law. Over a century removed from the incident, the river is yet to pay its debt to the City, and every few years a desperate lawyer trying to make a name for himself attempts to threaten the river with a complete repossession of all its properties if it continued to refuse to pay the fine. Fortunately for all the tax paying citizens of Con City, none of the judges at the City Hall ever take these cases seriously. Incidentally, in the spirit of legal precedents, these judges always justify their stance on the matter with the words `because I said so.'

Attributed to a famous cinematic icon, the phrase `don't make me destroy you' in fact originates in the times before the invention of cinema. In the year 1790, the mining town of Brickton was founded as the first settlement in what we know today as Con County. In the year 1792 Con City was built on the shores of the county's only river. For decades the two settlements enjoyed peaceful coexistence, Brickton being the source of iron and steel, Con City being the port city responsible for selling it. Then the 1840s saw the construction of the north-south railway through Con City, and everything changed.

It was in the year 1848, just two years after the construction of the aforementioned train line was finished, that the Mayor of Brickton, Lawrence Stern, expressed his displeasure at the fact that his town saw precious little of the profit brought in by the railway, despite that all the steel being shipped on the trains was a product of Brickton, and despite that the entire railway was built with Brickton steel and by Brickton's craftsmen. He called for negotiations with the Mayor of Con City, former outlaw Buford Salter, over the terms of trade between the two settlements. Mayor Salter refused to give in to Mayor Stern's demands for a bigger cut of the profit. Tensions ran high by the end of their argument, leading to Mayor Stern famously saying:

`Don't make me destroy you, Mayor Salter. I could just pull the plug on our trade agreement entirely, and Con City would starve to death within months. What could you possibly do without Brickton's products?'

Mayor Salter immediately left the negotiation table, and the following day the trade agreement between Brickton and Con City was suspended indefinitely by Mayor Stern. Over the next four weeks Brickton was hit by a lengthy series of raids by a gang of outlaws that remain unidentified to this day. The outlaws looted and pillaged their way across the mining town almost on a daily basis, stealing everything that wasn't nailed down, including all the steel stored in the warehouses that had been locked down upon the suspension of trade with Con City. Mayor Salter, former head of the infamous Salter Gang, denied any involvement in the attacks and stated that `Brickton should be run by a Mayor who understands Brickton's place in the world.'

Five weeks after the start of the looting and pillaging, Lawrence Stern resigned from office as Mayor of Brickton. His replacement, Jeremiah Roarke, who later went on to found the Roarke Steel Mill in 1853, started his first day in office by immediately reinstating the trade agreement between Brickton and Con City. The outlaw attacks inexplicably ceased the next day.

Whenever something out of the ordinary happens, people like to say, `you don't see that every day.' Appropriately enough, this phrase could not have come into being under any more extraordinary circumstances than it did.

Specifically, it was born in the year 1923, in the fishing town of Black Lake. Montgomery Sloan, great-grandfather of Albert and Robert Sloan, lived in Black Lake as a simple fisherman. His friend, Zeb King, was a rich man and the proud owner of the very first motorboat ever set on water in Con County. He offered Montgomery Sloan a thousand dollars cash, if he could water ski on Black Lake behind Zeb King's motorboat for fifteen consecutive minutes.

The phrase `you don't see that every day' was first spoken by a spectator, who watched the stunt from the shores of the lake, and witnessed how a shark emerged from the water and started chasing the motorboat. Montgomery Sloan held on for dear life while his friend drove the motorboat as fast as possible, yet they failed to gain distance on the shark. Five minutes in, the predator took the first of many bites out of Montgomery Sloan.

Spectators continued to repeat the phrase `you don't see that every day' every time the shark tore a chunk out of the brave water skier. A handful of people also yelled the phrase `get out of the water,' but no one paid them any heed. Least of all Montgomery Sloan himself, who held on to the rope even after the shark bit both of his legs off at the knee. Fifteen minutes later Zeb King docked the motorboat, congratulated his friend for his performance, gave him the thousand dollars, and even called a doctor and paid his medical bills.

Montgomery Sloan survived the incident with just enough appendages to enjoy the riches afforded to him by winning his friend's prize. He even managed to sire children and establish a dynasty of entrepreneurs, and while the present day occupants of Black Lake are most certainly pleased by this given how much Albert Sloan has done for the town over the years, the widows and orphans of the deceased residents of Black Falls, who to this day curse the name of Robert Sloan, feel otherwise. This is covered under the entry for `you monster!'

The phrase `curves in all the right places' holds a permanent place upon the pages of romance novels and Hollywood film scripts. While it is exclusively used to quickly evoke an attraction towards the female character to whom the phrase refers, it in fact had a very different use in its original context.

Revolutionary 19th century poet C. Thomas Whitaker (born John Brooks) is known for inventing the world famous One Word Poems. Universally celebrated by literary critics all over the world, the great Greenwell poet is also the man responsible for the creation of the phrase `curves in all the right places.' While the phrase contains five words too many for it to be one of his poems, it was not he himself, but one of his earliest admirers who coined this phrase.

In 1896, Greenwell literary critic Miles Pine had the chance to examine the complete collection of all the original One Word Poems in the house of C. Thomas Whitaker (born John Brooks). He wrote the following words in a review for the Greenwell Daily.

`C. Thomas Whitaker (born John Brooks) is a master of the quill. The words he commits to paper are stunning in both their meaning and their presentation. Every letter he commits to paper curves in all the right places. He is a true master of aesthetic poetry.'

Present day literary critics in Greenwell continue to make efforts to enlighten novelists and film script writers regarding the dire misuse of Miles Pine's famous expression. While many authors are in fact aware of the true origin of this phrase, its prevalence in modern literature and low budget cinema suggests they don't particularly give a damn.

While not one of the most often repeated string of words in most of the world, the phrase `if you die in an elevator, be sure to push the up button' is remarkably common in Con County. Especially in Brickton, where one Samuel Foxworth coined this expression following an industrial accident.

In 1881, a worker suffered a heart attack at the Roarke Steel Mill in Brickton. At the time he was traveling in the cargo elevator, tasked with carrying lamp oil down to the lower levels in the facility. When he suffered a heart attack, he dropped the four barrels he was carrying in his arms, one of which cracked open. This, of course, was not a problem. The problem was that he was smoking a cigarette at the time, which fell out of his mouth when he dropped dead, and fell right into the spilled lamp oil.

The resulting explosion caused a fire that led to the deaths of fifty-six workers and the destruction of a quarter of the steel mill. Two weeks later, when the facility was reopened, Foreman Samuel Foxworth, who had been in the lower levels at the time of the accident and miraculously survived witnessing it, said the following words to the workers before starting the morning shift.

`As you all know, Mister Roarke spent millions of dollars renovating this fine facility. In order to ensure that such expenditure does not happen again I'd kindly remind you of paragraph six hundred and forty-eight in your newly revised work contracts, which reads: if you die in an elevator, be sure to push the up button. Especially if you are carrying lamp oil which is likely to do less damage to the facility in the upper levels. Failure to comply will result in your immediate termination.'

While historians claim that banning smoking in the steel mill would have been more efficient, the fact remains that no accidents have happened in the Roarke Steel Mill ever since.

The above expression is the single most often used string of words uttered by tourists upon encountering life in Con County, just beating `run for your lives' for the top spot by a hair's breadth. Few people know that this phrase in fact originates in Con County.

In the year 1801, the town of Desert Rock was established on the western edge of the Con County oak savanna. Settlers went there to look for gold. Of course, there was no gold in the area whatsoever, but no one knew this at the time. In 1806 Brickton's mining company, Rigid Shafts, sent one of its prospectors to Desert Rock who wanted to dig a gold mine there.

Fifteen years later, after failing to produce even an ounce of gold, the mine closed down and the prospector was recalled to Brickton. He ended his report of the failed fifteen year project with the following words.

`This does not make sense. The drifter who told us there was gold in Desert Rock fifteen years ago seemed like an honest bloke. I spoke to him myself, his face was carved out of honesty. I mean, sure, he smelled like he hadn't bathed in a month and you might think a drifter would say anything for a lunch, but not this chap. It wouldn't make sense for someone like that to lie. But that means he was wrong about the gold, and that makes even less sense. Drifters are supposed to be wise people.'

The prospector was fired from Rigid Shafts with immediate effect. Reportedly, he reacted to the termination of his employment with the words `this does not make sense.'

The phrase `you monster!' is often used in reference to heinous acts committed by despicable people, usually spoken by the victim straight to the despicable person's face. Its first recorded use was in 1848. It was the year when, after the controversial events covered under the entry for the phrase `don't make me destroy you' led to the election of Jeremiah Roarke as Mayor of Brickton. While he was initially popular due to his handling of the trade crisis with Con City, it only took him three weeks to see his popularity plummet into the depths of Hell.

Mayor Roarke raised the income tax in Brickton to an unprecedented sixty percent, and reasoned that it was critical for the economy of the town. His decision was not viewed well by the public and the locals took to the streets in what would become a time honored tradition in Brickton, and protested against the Mayor's decisions and demanded his removal from power.

`Resign and fuck off!' the most famous transparency read during the protests. Mayor Roarke reacted by increasing the income tax to seventy percent at a press conference. A member of the press reportedly reacted with a gasp and the words `you monster!'

Jeremiah Roarke eventually got out of politics to every Brickton citizen's relief, but not before forging a lasting legacy by evoking the aforementioned reaction from the press on no less than ninety-six separate occasions. His legacy lives on as the phrase `you monster!' has been applied to many famous people in the history of Con County.

The most recent example is of course Robert Sloan, CEO of Sloan Chemicals, who is being held responsible for the death of the entire population of the town of Black Falls, now known as Ghost Town, due to the accidental release of experimental toxic gas from the facility that killed everyone in the town in a span of two hours. Robert Sloan's body was never found in the chemical plant but he was officially declared dead weeks after the incident, and his brother had an elaborate monument erected for him in the cemetery of Black Lake. An unknown local has since spray painted the words `you monster!' on the monument, and the graffiti has not been removed to this day.

Much like `don't make me destroy you,' the phrase `come with me if you want to live' is an example of popular expressions that Hollywood cinema has adopted from the history of Con County. Long before Greenwell became the most popular touristic hot spot in the county, the self-styled Green City functioned as an agricultural center, known mostly for its massive cattle farms.

In late June of 1837 a wild bull wandered into the Langston cattle farm during the afternoon. John Langston, proprietor of the land, was enjoying a nap at the edge of the farm when he woke to the sound of distressed mooing. When he noticed the bull and realized that it had started mating with one of his prized cattle, a wide smile parted his lips as he considered the value of the offspring he expected would come out of the animals' union. His pleasure quickly turned to panic when the rest of the cattle, who apparently had not enjoyed the prospect of being next on the bull's list, made a run for the wilderness, trampling the wooden barriers in their path into sawdust and leaving their owner behind on the verge of tears.

A mile to the east of the farm, in the direction that the stampede was heading, a young tramp called Eddie Miles took note of the loud dust cloud marching his way and quickly sprinted off in the opposite direction. He came across a group of school pupils and their teacher on the way to the nearby river, who were having a picnic.

`Come with me if you want to live,' he said to the group in passing, and ran towards the bridge without slowing down. It took the school group a bit of time before they understood the reason for the tramp's hurried advice but they did run after him, albeit a little too late. The cattle stampede caught up to them before they could have gotten anywhere near the bridge. Thirty-one pupils perished under the hooves as the cattle moved on towards the river. The surviving eighteen pupils and their terrified teacher carved the now famous words of the stranger into their memories, vowing never to hesitate to take that particular advice in the future.

That is not to say that they would have fared much better if they had gone with Eddie Miles, as the brave tramp ended up having to jump off the bridge and into the water from the oncoming stampede, where he very nearly drowned in the torrents.

The incident with the cattle of the Langston farm is the reason why no cattle farms operate in Greenwell since 1837. It is also the reason why bullfighting is Greenwell's local traditional pastime.

The phrase `did I just say that out loud?' is endlessly popular among drunks and people lacking self control. Yet the first recorded use of this phrase was by a man who never drunk and never acted on impulse.

George Stanton, top candidate for the seat of Mayor of Con City in 1913, managed to win the elections by a landslide, securing more than ninety percent of the votes. What secured him a place in the history books was not his record breaking victory, however, but his victory speech.

`This is a great day for Con City,' he said, `and all the assorted morons that live in it. Ninety percent of you stupid idiots voted for an incompetent jackass who will run the economy of the city into the ground, take all your money through a range of new taxes, and then deposit all that money into an offshore bank account and disappear as soon as his term runs out. Wait. Did I just say that out loud?'

After he finished reading his speech he bowed, thanked the crowd, and walked off the stage. He seemed incredibly confused as to why the people in attendance were booing him.

Later it was revealed that the speech he had read off paper had been the work of his rival John Temple who did not take the defeat in the elections well. Temple replaced Stanton's original speech with the scandalous fake while the freshly elected Mayor had been in the restroom. While John Temple admitted to having orchestrated what he called a prank, it did not save George Stanton from having to resign from office the next day: the people did not want a Mayor who remained so oblivious to the fact he was reading a speech designed to make him look like an idiot that he went on to recite the entire speech and still remained clueless as to what he had just done.

Since that day, the last sentence of the fake speech has come to a life of its own. In fact, the second ever recorded use of the phrase was just two days after the infamous speech when the newly elected Mayor John Temple, who had secured sixty percent of the votes at the hurriedly held by-election, gave the following short speech to the crowd: `Thank you for electing me. Did I just say that out loud?'

Unfortunately for Mayor Temple, the crowd did not appreciate the humor and pelted him with eggs and tomatoes, booed him out of the building, and forced him to resign the next day.

A borderline nonsensical statement like `gravity is only a theory' is difficult to associate to a city famous for its state-of-the-art high rise buildings and for cutting edge scientific research on the Graviton Surf Board. Nevertheless, the above phrase was born in Con City.

The year 1935 saw the beginning of the construction of Con City's first ever skyscraper. Then Mayor of Con City, Clark Blackwell, commissioned Brickton's very best craftsmen to build the tallest building in the world. He would call it New Babel upon completion. The chief architect in charge of the construction, Terry Bolton, vehemently objected against both the name and the idea to build the building as high as ten thousand feet. He explained to the Mayor that the tower would collapse under its own weight. `Gravity is only a theory,' Mayor Blackwell famously replied, and ordered the architect to proceed with the constructions. Terry Bolton resigned from the job and started to campaign against the project, to no avail.

A couple of months later the building was roughly three thousand feet tall and made for an impressive sight that drew many a wide eyed spectator all day, every day. One morning, without any noticeable warning, the entire structure came crashing down on much of the builders, dozens of baffled spectators, and the Mayor himself who was enjoying his morning coffee at a restaurant opposite the construction, which had to be demolished after the accident. Since then, all citizens of Con City consider gravity a proven theory.

Terry Bolton went on to become the first and only Brickton resident to be elected Mayor of Con City. He oversaw the construction of the first seven proper skyscrapers of Con City, all of them less than a thousand feet tall, most of which stand to this day. He was later assassinated during his re-election campaign by an unknown gunman. Many suspect that the assassin was hired by his biggest rival in the electoral race, but a more widespread belief assumes he was simply murdered by Brickton citizens for betraying their beloved town.

When someone asks the question, `are you sure you can drive this thing?' they typically address a barely competent driver, or someone who has never driven the vehicle in which they are traveling. The answers to this question range from `yes' and `no' to `I'm not sure' and a wide eyed stare. Yet the very first time someone asked this question, the answer came in the form of an oink.

In the year 1911, Con County's very first bus service came into operation. It ran as a tourist service between Greenwell and Desert Rock. On its third journey, during the return leg from Desert Rock to Greenwell, the bus driver suffered a heart attack half way to the destination. Passengers panicked from the thought of having to walk home until a farmer named Buford Stower walked up to the driver's booth with his pig Bertha in tow. He urged the pig to get into the driver's seat and figure out the controls.

The remaining passengers stared at the scene and expressed their doubt in the wisdom of allowing a pig to drive the bus, while Buford Stower argued that Bertha was very intelligent, and that the road to Greenwell lay along flat ground and it was therefore perfectly safe to let the pig drive. Two hours later the pig still sat in the driver's seat yet the bus was not in motion. One of the passengers then walked up to Bertha and asked the now infamous question, `are you sure you can drive this thing?' The pig oinked and inclined its head. Another hour later the bus was still stationary, and the passengers decided to get off the vehicle and proceeded to walk towards Greenwell. Buford Stower insisted that his pig would figure out the controls soon enough, and remained on the bus.

Interested tourists may come across the rusting hulk of the now derelict tourist bus on the side of the road between Desert Rock and Greenwell, and even find the skeletal remains of Buford Stower inside, who died of dehydration three days after the bus broke down. Bertha's remains on the other hand are missing from the bus. According to the memoirs of the widow of Buford Stower, the pig came home one day, skin and bones but very much alive, to their farm in the outskirts of Greenwell, thus proving that Bertha had indeed been a very intelligent animal, at least in comparison to the late Buford Stower.

The phrase `Happy Holidays' is a common expression used in North America associated to the end of year holiday season. Its popularity is often attributed to the desire to cover all bases and/or be politically correct. Few people realize that the birth of this phrase very much pre-dates the age of political correctness.

In the year 1922, police officer Harry Donaldson was called to a pub in the heart of Con City where an intoxicated man refused to pay for his drinks and would not leave the premises. The bartender, a man by the name of Emile Kent, was afraid that the intoxicated man might turn homicidally violent, hence the call to Officer Donaldson. Fortunately for everyone present, the drunken man proved remarkably docile and fully cooperated with the Officer. Prior to his removal from the premises, the intoxicated man had the following conversation with the bartender, as recorded in the memoir of Officer Donaldson.

`I gotta go, Emile. Merry Christmas!'

`It's not Christmas, you drunk fool!'

`Okay... So, Happy New Year!'

`It's not New Year either.'

`Well... Happy Easter!'

`Not even close.'

`Happy Unification Day?'

`Just get out of here, will you?'

`Okay, well... Happy Halloween? No, wait, I've got it. Happy Holidays! That's gotta work, right?'

According to the memoir of Officer Donaldson, the conversation prompted a considerable reaction from several dozen people who were within earshot. Most of them laughed, while one person simply said, `it's August you stupid idiot!'

Since that night, the phrase `Happy Holidays' found its way from the streets of Con City into popular culture, along with the phrase `stupid idiot.' For some reason, the two expressions are almost never used in the same sentence, except for the line `Happy Holidays you stupid idiot' spoken by action hero Brutus Force in every installment of the Bombs, Bullets, And Babes movie franchise.

An often seen situation in works of fiction is the reliance of a lawbreaker on a friend standing at a junction to send the lawman giving chase in the wrong direction. At such times, the friend says to the lawman, `he went that way,' while pointing in the opposite direction as the one the lawbreaker had taken. Few people know that this often used phrase in fiction actually originates in real life.

In the year 1925 the infamous Red Scoundrel, a masked thief who stalked the streets of Con City for the better part of the 1920s and 1930s, robbed a liquor store while a police officer was on patrol in the neighboring street. As he made his escape, the policeman saw him and gave chase. The Red Scoundrel ran extremely fast and managed to gain a considerable distance on the police officer, who lost sight of him after the thief turned the fourth corner. At the fifth corner, a young man was selling newspapers. The police officer stopped and asked him whether he'd seen the Red Scoundrel.

`He went that way,' the young man said, pointing to his left. The police officer took one glance at the `no entry' sign on the street in question, then decided that the witness was lying, and proceeded to give a one minute sermon about the rules of one way streets and the consequences of lying to a police officer. Finally, he offered the newspaper boy one chance to amend his testimony, or face jail time.

The witness timidly pointed to the right and once again said, `he went that way,' to which the police officer nodded and promptly ran down the one way street. The Red Scoundrel, who had of course gone in the opposite direction, avoided capture that day. The newspaper boy later went on to tell his experience to all his friends, and before long all of Con City knew to always point the police in the opposite direction, should the Red Scoundrel run past them. This was just one of the reasons the Red Scoundrel remained at large for many years to come.

`Need to know basis,' or, `that's on a need to know basis and you don't need to know,' is the street expression for the idea that classified information cannot be shared with everyone. As you might guess, the phrase originates from a man in a position of authority, though not quite the way you might expect.

In the year 1903, just a few months after the Great Flood that destroyed Con City, journalists gathered on a field to the north of town where a tree house served as the temporary City Hall. Howard Jackson, the Mayor of Con City, was set to make an announcement regarding the reconstruction of the city which the evacuated residents and business owners had been demanding since the day of the flood. Mayor Jackson himself, however, was not present at the press event. His deputy, Adam Asher, announced that the Mayor was in the process of finalizing the negotiations with an unnamed investor about the funding of the constructions.

The journalists of course bombarded Adam Asher with questions regarding the investor's identity. The investor, Frank Oberdick, who later went on to be Mayor of Con City (among other things), had asked Mayor Jackson to keep his name a secret in order to build anticipation for the upcoming announcement, set to take place a week later, when Oberdick and the Mayor would stand before a crowd side by side and shake hands on the deal. In accordance with the instructions passed to him, Adam Asher deflected just about every question at the press event. When the last question came, he answered it with the words, `that information is on a need to know basis and you don't need to know,' then took his notes and left the podium. The question was, `when will the Mayor and the investor come forward?'

The next day all news outlets in Con County crucified Asher for his refusal to reveal the date of the much anticipated visit of the then unnamed investor. Asher issued a prompt press release in which he insisted that he had misheard the question and revealed the date of the upcoming event, but his words were met with skepticism. Mayor Jackson, who wanted the date of the contract signing with Oberdick to be known and anticipated by everyone, and was forced to push the meeting and thereby the reconstruction of Con City back by another two weeks, fired Asher. When Asher asked for a detailed reason for his dismissal, the Mayor reportedly told him that the reason was `on a need to know basis.'

`Read the manual,' occasionally worded as `read the fine manual,' but most often used in the form `read the fucking manual,' is a favorite expression of software developers and computer system administrators, especially those who don't know how to write a decent manual. Few people know that this phrase pre-dates the invention of computers.

In the 1840s the increasing trade traffic to and from Con City prompted the construction of the north-south train line. Work began in 1843 and was overseen by a local man named George Klein. Three months into the construction he rode a steam engine down the first mile of tracks in order to demonstrate his progress to the Mayor. The train derailed a third of the way and very nearly killed both the overseer and the conductor.

Upon inspecting the tracks, he was baffled to find that the two train rails were in fact not laid evenly. Rather, the distance between them steadily decreased from the starting point of the track by as much as five inches over the one mile length of the track. When he questioned his workers about that, a man named Theo Smith confessed that he had known about the error, except he thought it had not been an error at all.

`I did everything just like it was on the posters, Mister Klein,' he said. `The further along the track you go, the closer the rails are supposed to be to each other. I did think it was a bit strange, but I thought, the poster had to be correct. So I took a hacksaw and shortened the crossties, each slightly more than the previous one, to make sure we close the gap between the rails as we lay them.'

Witness accounts report that George Klein stood in perfect silence in the room for two whole minutes before he grabbed Mister Smith by the collar, dragged him to the riverbank, and tossed him into the water. It was then that he yelled to the drowning man: `Next time, Theo, read the fucking manual!'

Theo Smith was rescued by one of his friends who, along with Smith himself, was fired the next day, while the overseer proceeded with the repairs of the faulty track. The day after, the Mayor learned that Mister Klein had ordered the entire track to be pulled up and laid again, which prompted the Mayor to fire the overseer and his entire workforce. The track, which over the years cemented Con City's status as the center of commerce in Con County and ruined any chance that settlements like Brickton might have had at building a strong economy, was in the end built by craftsmen from Brickton; the very same craftsmen who later popularized the expression `if only I had known.'

When you hear someone talk about the carrot and the stick, your probably think of mules, or rabbits. The phrase is used to weigh the option of harsh disciplinary action versus the choice of providing motivation through some sort of reward. Nowadays in politics within Con County, many politicians use this phrase at staff meetings when they consider whether they should bribe or blackmail an opponent. Despite the obvious allusion, the origin of this expression in fact has nothing at all to do with mules and rabbits. It doesn't even have anything to do with real carrots and sticks; it has everything to do with chickens. Roosters, to be exact.

In 1837 in Greenwell, in the year of the infamous incident with the wild bull and the cattle stampede it caused, farmer John Langston found himself facing serious difficulties adapting to a life in a town where cattle farming had been banned. Believing that not much if any risk came with poultry farming, he decided to convert his cattle farm into a chicken farm. By the spring of 1839 he came to regret his decision, as his hens started to disappear one after the other. One night he caught sight of a fox dragging one of his remaining hens into the forest, but he failed to chase down the animal. Since he was afraid of dogs, he tried to rely on traps to keep the fox at bay, but the fox proved too cunning and observant to fall into any of them, and Mister Langston's hens kept on disappearing as the days went on.

In his desperation, he turned to the owner of another chicken farm for help. Daniel Kruger operated a very successful chicken farm since years before the cattle farm ban, and one of the reasons behind his success was his flock of fighting roosters. His two best combatants were named Carrot and Stick. For many years, the two have been the undisputed champions of cockfighting, a sport of considerable popularity in Greenwell at the time. When John Langston asked Daniel Kruger to lend him some of his fighting roosters to help chase off the fox, Mister Kruger lent him Carrot and Stick, and all he asked for in return was that Mister Langston lie in wait and watch the roosters fight the fox. Mister Kruger wanted to know which of the two roosters, Carrot or Stick, would fare better against the sneaky carnivore. Mister Langston agreed.

That night, the fox did not show up until 2 AM. John Langston found himself barely able to keep his eyes open, but when he heard the sounds of fighting his sleepiness instantly evaporated and he rushed to the barn. He found Carrot and Stick beating the unholy hell out of the fox. The two roosters had the fox cornered and they took turns plucking huge chunks of red and white fur from the forest predator. The fight went on for ten minutes until the roosters simply allowed the fox to scamper away, bleeding from dozens of wounds and limping. John Langston never saw the animal again, nor did any of his hens go missing ever again.

As for the great debate of whether Carrot or Stick was the better fighter, it was never decided. As far as John Langston could tell, the two roosters did equally well against the fox, which put a large smile on Daniel Kruger's face. The owner of the fighting roosters had offered the people of Greenwell to place bets on who would dominate the fight. `Who will kick more ass, Carrot or Stick?' he asked. He even put up a few posters around town asking the infamous question. Very few people bet on the contest ending in a draw, hence Mister Kruger earned himself a fortune through the bets.

Since then, the phrase `carrot or stick' took on a life of its own and evolved in its meaning, no doubt due to Mister Kruger's odd choice of naming one of his fighting roosters after a vegetable. His cockfighting business prospered for many years, until bullfighting took it over as the most popular sport in Greenwell, but even then his farm made a good profit on the fights between Carrot an Stick, which, for some reason, always ended in a draw, yet people kept paying good money to watch them. It is perhaps no surprise that Gerald Embers, Chairman of the Greenwell Bullfighting Organization, cites Daniel Kruger and his roosters as a huge inspiration for his own business practices.

`If you come at the king you best not miss,' one might hear when someone tries to usurp whoever sits at the top. A phrase often used in the government, organized crime, and office politics. Yet its origins have very little to do with positions of power.

In the year 1865 a man named Kirk Johns, better known as Kirk Six Shot, was the best sharpshooter in the town of Black Lake in Con County. The town in those days was extremely small, hence being the best shot was hardly an accomplishment, and sure enough Kirk Six Shot often found himself called out for his less than stellar shooting skills. One day he decided he'd had enough of the constant berating of the townsfolk and made the bold claim that he could hit a pea from a hundred yards with his pistol. Loud laughter echoed across the pub at which he had chosen to make his announcement, while the bartender told him, `next you'll say you could use a rock to hit a tin can hanging from a tree branch ten whole yards away.'

Feeling infuriated at the utter disrespect of the town, Kirk Six Shot immediately accepted the challenge, and when someone suggested he should perform it by the beehives at the Howell farm, he agreed to that, too. And so it came to pass that he stood alongside a dozen or so of his fellow townspeople at the farm of Buck Howell, ten yards away from a tree where one of Buck Howell's beehives hung. The old man himself was busy tying a tin can to the branch using a piece of string. Taking care not to let it touch the beehive, he positioned it five inches from the hive and then returned to Kirk Six Shot.

`Best not miss, sonny,' Buck Howell said to the young man, then he and rest of the townsfolk retreated to a safe distance.

Kirk Six Shot hurled his rock at the can but to his misfortune struck the beehive instead. When the bees swarmed out of the hive and took off in his direction, he tried to run, but he only made it a couple of yards away before the bees closed the distance and descended on him with all their wrath.

Witnesses later said they had never seen anything so gruesome all their lives. The cruel fate of Kirk Six Shot, from that day called Kirk The Faceless, burned Buck Howell's words of warning into their minds, and over the years the phrase spread across the globe and eventually took on its modern form.

Whether any aspiring party leaders or ambitious gangster lieutenants have any clue as to who they have to thank for this expression is anyone's guess. The people of Black Lake doubt it very much, and believe that if the world truly knew what had transpired that day at the Howell farm, the exact form of the modern phrase would read, `best not miss, lest the bees eat your face.'

The words `keep your friends close and your enemies closer' are synonymous with the idea of keeping a very close eye on your enemies in order to prevent them from doing you any harm. This is a meaning that the above phrase acquired over the decades, but when it came into being it stood for something quite different.

In the 1870s and 1880s the annual Con City Fair was a popular summer attraction in the community of Con County. Visitors would flock to the growing market town to purchase locally produced art and prize winning melons grown in the fields east of town, and also to participate in games. The most popular of these was the farting contest.

The competitors would prepare for the contest by eating elaborate meals comprising beans, onions, and various spices, cooked specifically for the event. After the meal they would stand in the middle of a crowd of thirty people within a circle marked with chalk on the ground. The contestants would then have one minute to drive as many people out of the circle as possible by farting.

By 1881 the contest was synonymous with the words `keep your friends close and your enemies closer.' The philosophy behind the strategy, as recorded in news articles of the era, was to use the contest to make one's enemies suffer as much as possible, if only for one minute. Yet it was essential to keep one's friends nearby as well, in case the contestant turned out to be so successful that their enemies decided not to abandon the circle but to converge upon them with intent of bodily harm.

The most successful contestant in the history of the fair was a man from Brickton named Kyle Willis. He won the farting contest in five consecutive years between 1879 and 1883. In 1884 he lost to a Con City born man called Alec Strong, who managed to drive everyone out of the circle in a record breaking seventeen seconds. `I guess my bowels are just that foul,' he said after claiming the trophy. When later he was seen celebrating in the company of the very people whom he ejected from the circle in the contest, many began to question whether he had adhered to the principle of keeping your enemies closer to you than your friends. Kyle Willis petitioned the organizers to disqualify Strong, but no one could prove any wrongdoing.

In 1884 the farting contest was won by Kyle Willis in a record breaking five seconds. While no one could prove that he had broken the unwritten rules of the game, the organizers saw it fit to put an end to the contest and from 1885 the Con City Fair went on without the infamous farting competition. The concept of keeping one's friends close and one's enemies closer survived the demise of the contest and lives on to this day, as does the memory of the violent beating Kyle Willis and Alec Strong both suffered at the hands of the disappointed attendees of the Con City Fair in 1885.

The words `nice guys finish last' are associated with villainy, or at the very least unsportsmanlike behavior, and used as justification for one's unsavory actions. Hardly anyone would expect that this phrase originates in an act of selflessness.

The town of Greenwell is famous for sports since the second half of the 19th century, and while most think of baseball or bullfighting when it comes to the self styled Green City, other sports are also popular to this day, such as the annual Greenwell Marathon. The run snakes around town spanning many popular areas and draws a considerable live audience.

The very first Greenwell Marathon was held in 1871. The favorite to win the race was a runner named Michael Banks, a veteran who had won numerous races in Con City in the years prior. Half way through the race he enjoyed a nearly two-minute lead on the runner-up. While he earned a good deal of applause for his performance, several members of the live audience in fact booed him. They called him names such as `showoff' and `bully,' and yelled disparaging comments at him such as `boring!' and `you're not giving anyone a fair chance, you prick!'

It was when he heard someone yell `you're not a nice person!' that he reportedly started to slow down, and before too long the runner-up took him over. Then he proceeded to slow even more and fell back to third place, then to fourth, and so on. Some worried that the exertion of the marathon was taking a toll on him and he would faint at any moment, but he finished the race in last place, exactly one second after the runner in front of him.

`I simply realized I had an unfair advantage over these enthusiastic amateur runners,' he stated when he was interviewed after the race. `I have experienced the taste of victory many times, so I know exactly how good it tastes. I wanted to be nice, you know. Nice to my fellow contestants. Let them enjoy success. So I fell back to be the nice guy.'

The phrase `nice guys finish last' was the headline of the news article which chronicled the outcome of the marathon the next day. The phrase eventually became a part of popular culture, while Michael Banks went down in history as the first ever runner in Con County to hold both first and last places on his professional record. He was also the sole focus of Greenwell news outlets for several weeks following the now infamous marathon, in part due to the unprecedented nature of his act of generosity, and in part due to the public outrage among the fans. Numerous members of the audience had placed bets on him winning the match, and they felt cheated by Banks literally handing over the first place to another contestant. They accused him of being in cahoots with betting agencies who, as it turned out, had made a considerable profit on Banks' more than unexpected loss.

Michael Banks denied having any connection to betting rings and the police found no evidence of foul play on his part, so the case was dropped very quickly. The enraged fans turned their ire on the people who had `heckled' their runner throughout the race, convinced that Michael Banks would never have given up the victory if he hadn't been goaded into it by the vocal minority. Two months and about two dozen bar fights later tensions died down and the incident was largely forgotten; or so it seemed.

A year later Michael Banks once again participated in the Greenwell Marathon, and once again found himself the target of a very vocal audience. Only this time, the loudest members of the audience were threatening to subject him to various forms of bodily harm, were he to surrender the race once again. Despite the verbal abuse, he hung back for much of the race, occasionally pointing with his thumbs to the words on the back of his shirt which said, `I'm a nice guy.' That was until several members of the crowd started to chase him with pitchforks.

He was the first across the finish line, a small army of angry fans barely ten seconds behind him. Even then he kept on running, for good reason, since the judges disqualified him for relying on outside help to win the race. The decision did nothing but reinforce the idea that, one way or the other, nice guys finish last.

The phrase `make like a tree,' most often followed by the words `and leaf,' or alternatively, `and get out of here,' is a popular way of telling someone to go away. Yet the words `make like a tree' were first used in exactly the opposite meaning.

In 1839 in Greenwell, farmer Daniel Kruger became rich and famous thanks to his unbeatable fighting roosters, Carrot and Stick. By 1842 his cockfighting business had become so successful, numerous attempts had been made to steal his prized roosters from his farm. Since Mister Kruger was not afraid of dogs, the thefts were repeatedly and spectacularly thwarted by his pitbulls, Tomato and Cage. Despite the highly effective deterrent, desperate and envious people kept on trying to acquire Carrot and Stick.

In early 1843, the fighting roosters caught the attention of Con County's famous outlaws, the Salter Gang. The infamous Buford Salter led his entire gang into the farm under the cover of night with a brilliant plan. As soon as the dogs spotted the group and came running, he said to his gang, `quick, make like a tree.' His words were meant as an instruction to stand perfectly still, in an effort to confuse the pitbulls.

George Hill, one of the oldest members of the gang, feared that the pitbulls would relieve themselves on him if he were to pretend being a tree, and so he made off at a sprint. The dogs chased after him while the rest of the Salter gang stood rooted in place. Buford Salter remained unfazed by Mister Hill's inability to stick to the plan, and, taking advantage of the fact that the dogs were out of the way, he waved his gang to proceed further into the farm. Soon they had the famous fighting roosters in their possession and they quietly made it to safety while the painful screams of George Hill echoed across the countryside during the getaway.

Eventually, the pitbulls grew tired of mangling Mister Hill which allowed him to crawl back to the Salter Gang's hideout, albeit drenched in his own blood and missing several huge chunks of his own flesh, as well as an eyeball. Despite his horrific injuries, he was greeted by laughter and ridicule. `Hey Georgie, why don't ya make like a tree and leaf?' his fellow gang members would say to him, and would do so for many years to come. They even taunted him in public, especially in bars, which is the reason why the phrase `make like a tree' became a part of popular culture, and why George Hill eventually left the Salter gang entirely.

He was not the only one to leave the gang. Buford Salter managed to secure a hefty ransom for the fighting roosters from Daniel Kruger, which allowed him to transition out of a life of crime and into politics. With extensive funds at his disposal, he eventually became the Mayor of Con City, despite the scores of Con City residents insisting that he should `make like a tree and leaf.'

`Get off my lawn' as one might expect, is a phrase prevalent in similar context as `make like a tree,' and not just because of their direct relation to plant life. The main difference between them is that `make like a tree and leaf' is universally applicable wherever one might be, while `get off my lawn' is almost always used in gardens. One might think that the go to expression for telling a trespasser to leave your yard has been around since gardens were invented, but in reality the phrase was born in the 19th century.

A man named Buck Howell operated a farm in the town of Black Lake. He cultivated a variety of vegetables, and took great pride in his work. One day in the year 1868, he found his neighbor, Benjamin Henderson, knee deep in dirt in the middle of his cabbage patch. When he asked Mister Henderson for an explanation, his neighbor said that his wedding ring had slipped off his finger when he was working in his own garden, and it flew over the fence.

Buck Howell quietly swept his gaze over his carrot patch and his flower bed which spanned the ten or so yards between the cabbage patch and the fence. He counted the trampled flowers and dislodged carrots, then shook his head, and said to his neighbor, `get off my lawn.'

Mister Henderson insisted that he absolutely had to find the ring, otherwise, his wife would divorce him. In response, Buck Howell simply folded his arms and repeated his request. When his neighbor refused to budge and continued to rummage around in the cabbage patch, he turned away and walked into the house.

According to the memoirs of Benjamin Henderson, the distressed neighbor was at first afraid that Buck Howell would come back with a shotgun. Instead, he came out of the house wearing thick gloves and a beekeeper helmet. Relieved that Mister Howell would simply get on with his chores and leave him be after all, he went back to looking for his ring. That was until Buck Howell came back carrying one of his beehives.

`I told you to get off my lawn, neighbor,' Mister Howell said, and then simply dropped the hive into the cabbage patch.

The memoirs of Mister Henderson write in excruciating detail about how difficult and humiliating it was for him to have to eat through a straw after that day, and how grateful he was for his good fortune in that the bees did not destroy his eyes.

Despite the lack of witnesses and the utter difficulty Benjamin Henderson faced in trying to speak, news of the incident spread like wildfire and it wasn't long before everyone in Black Lake knew not to mess with Buck Howell's bees, the true deterring power behind the words `get off my lawn.' And while most of the world is unaware of the true and horrible origins of this expression, the people of Black Lake keep the legend alive by always using the expression in its extended form: `get off my lawn, lest the bees eat your face.'

The concept of a `trial by combat' is often used in fantasy literature and is believed by many to originate in the dark middle ages. In truth, the first recorded use of this phrase was in the year 1849 in Con City. That year saw the longest trial in the little over half century that passed since Con City was built, over a seemingly petty debate between two businessmen in Brickton.

Owing to the extremely high income tax of seventy percent in Brickton, in effect since the year before, businesses often resorted to shady practices in order to survive, and one particular business was the Morton Steel Mill. Its owner, Jack Morton, reportedly forced his workers to do fifteen hour shifts every day. He publicly admitted that he was making his workforce spend more time in the steel mill than was reasonable, but placed all blame on the Rothenberg Mines and their owner Carl Rothenberg, who he believed charged him `outrageous sums of money for every crate of coal and iron.' Carl Rothenberg, who claimed his prices were fair given the seventy percent income tax, and who himself had his miners work sixteen hours a day, sued Jack Morton for slander over these remarks.

The argument led to a trial that went on for two months and gradually degenerated into shouting contests at the Brickton Courthouse. A local newspaper published an article on the heated debate and argued that while the two industrialists poked fingers at each other, their workers continued to suffer under terrible working conditions, and even speculated that both businesses were on a path to bankruptcy, and that this may have been the goal of Brickton's Mayor Jeremiah Roarke when he raised the income tax to seventy percent the year before.

The day after the paper was published, the public started to speculate over Mayor Roarke's intention to use his position of leadership to engineer himself a means of taking over the steel industry at the end of his term. For some inexplicable reason, the newspaper in question was hit with a new tax that forced it to cut its circulation by eighty percent, while the trial between Jack Morton and Carl Rothenberg abruptly ended when the judge ruled Morton innocent. Not to be denied, Carl Rothenberg turned to the highest court of law in the county and took his case against Jack Morton to Con City.

Week after week passed by with Morton and Rothenberg shouting each other's face off at the Con City Courthouse, much to the pleasure of the local tabloid papers of the era, and much to the displeasure of the presiding judge. Six months into the proceedings the trial took a most unexpected turn when Con City's infamous Mayor, former outlaw Buford Salter unexpectedly turned up at the courthouse and made an announcement. He put into effect a new law, which ruled, that any trial that lasted more than two weeks, may optionally be resolved with a fistfight. Dubbed `Lex Trial By Combat,' the new law allowed either side of the legal battle to initiate the transition from the courtroom to the back alley, where the presiding judge would officiate a fistfight between the two parties until one beat the other into unconsciousness. The law also stated that the agreement of one party was sufficient to invoke the law, that is, no one may refuse participation in the trial by combat, and to do so would automatically be punished by twenty years in prison.

Jack Morton, who was reportedly twice the size of Carl Rothenberg, immediately requested for the trial by combat. Rothenberg, to his credit, did not even try to back out of the fistfight, and fought tooth and nail against the much larger Morton during the simplified trial. Jack Morton took his time beating Rothenberg into a pulp and knocking out half of the man's teeth. He returned to Brickton declared innocent of slander to manage his struggling steel mill until 1853 when he was finally forced to go out of business. Morton's facilities were auctioned later that year and purchased by Jeremiah Roarke the day before his term as Mayor of Brickton came to an end.