31 Jul 2015

Unruly - Basketball Night In Canada - Chapter 12

"Tell Verity exactly what we're doing?"
"Laura, we're going to Neutral Grounds tonight."
"Just because it was my idea doesn't mean I need to go."
"Verity's here."

Basketball Night In Canada
Chapter 12 - Scorpions


Caitlin paid no mind to her new roommate.  Instead, she kept her focus on her rival.  "Verity."

"Caitlin."  Verity returned the redhead's gaze with an equal intensity.

The barista stepped forward.  "Is there a problem, ladies?"

30 Jul 2015

Unruly - Basketball Night in Canada Chapter 11 - Commentary

A meeting of bitter rivals and a standoff.  Welcome to the commentary for "Common Ground".  Please read the chapter first before continuing.

The opening scene with Laura and Camille is meant to work out the issue of the class swooning over Mr. Baker.  Not all girls there are interested in him.  Camille isn't, for reasons of her own that she chooses not to reveal.  Probably still not enough, but Laura's limited point of view won't see any of the others just yet.

The making of lunch let me get the girls to try to set Caitlin straight on Laura and show that Caitlin isn't that great with people.  Autumn and Skye act as the redhead's conscience and social skills.  Sometimes, Caitlin needs to be told to be friendly.  Hurricane Caitlin tends to ignore niceties when she's on a mission.

With no solution to finding whoever is behind the fixing of the Simcoe game, the Unrulies are prepping for something similar during their game against Oshawa Western Collegiate, a team that has been district champions over the past few years.  Caitlin is going to have to get specific when she tells Laura to work out a distraction.  Laura's fixated on the gas grenades, and if she can put in her gigglesmoke, the people affected get very distracted and giggly.

The idea to enmesh Verity into the plot came late.  Caitlin would never have thought of it; why give good intelligence to her enemy?  It took her a moment to think the idea through and realize that Verity could be of use.  Autumn makes a very good point, though Caitlin is already thinking about how the Unrilies could turn on Verity's people.

Over at St. Dymphna, Verity and Mackenzie had the very same conversation.  Mackenzie, like Laura, has other plans that were steamrollered.  Verity's assumption of a boyfriend comes from being in a Catholic school.  It's very unlikely any girl there would come out of the closet while there, though secret trysts and the confessional afterwards would happen.  Laura could admit to having a girlfriend over at the Academy; Autumn might have issues, but Camille wouldn't.  Laura would still have to be circumspect about who her girlfriend is, since Mackenzie is at the rival school.  Mackenzie has to keep everything a secret, at least for now; no having a girlfriend over at the Academy made public for her.

When I first worked out the uniforms for both the Academy and St. Dymphna, I forgot about coats.  I did the same in Subject 13 when Nasty started at Fieldson, and she had an overcoat then.  However, with fall comes cooler weather, and out comes the cold weather gear like trenchcoats.  The grey trenchcoat lets Caitlin feel like a spy, an added benefit for her.

I wanted the ending to start building up to what would be the prelude to a gunfight in a Western.  The two gunmen, starting at each other while everyone else in the bar goes silent, waiting for the inevitable gunshot to ring out.  Laura doesn't watch Westerns, allowing me to complete the Rule of Three.

Tomorrow, the new Unruly chapter, Chapter 12, "Scorpions".
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, still on hiatus.
Saturday, over at MuseHackSeventh Sanctum, Lost in.Translation returns with the history of adaptations and the Eighties!
Also Saturday, check out Comics Bulletin for comics-related reposts of Lost in Translation.

24 Jul 2015

Unruly - Basketball Night In Canada - Chapter 11

"Carly's never been this effective."
"As in, the Carly who Verity wanted to cause problems for but we interfered?"
"Time to let us in on the good stuff."
"A computer system filled with life-threatening medical information?  Autumn will enjoy the challenge."

Basketball Night In Canada
Chapter 11 - Common Ground

The morning dragged for Laura.  English class was filled with too many girls swooning over what appeared to be gibberish at a far too early hour for Laura's comfort.  She did make an effort to follow along, but after the first fifteen minutes, she was so thoroughly lost that she just started flipping through her textbook.  Her roommates didn't appear to have any problems.  Caitlin was the model student, listening to Mr. Baker in rapt attention.  Autumn scribbled in her notebook.  Skye paid attention to what the teacher said.  Laura bit back a sigh.  It would not do if she brought the attention of the class to herself and thus to Caitlin.  The redhead would never let her hear the end of it.

23 Jul 2015

Unruly - Basketball Night in Canada Chapter 10 - Commentary

A visit to the lair of the Jennifers and Verity returns.  Welcome to the commentary for "Carly Thinks This Chapter's About Her".  Please read the chapter first before continuing.

The chapter title is a reference to the Carly Simon song, "You're So Vain".  I wasn't expecting that sort of confluence to occur when I first named Carly, really, but it worked out here.  Carly first appeared back in The New Girl Chapter 7, during the Diet Coke and Mentos plot.  Her importance in Unruly has increased since then.

When I started the chapter, I had no idea where to begin.  Caitlin's investigation was grinding to a middle, but I had pumped all I could from it without further information she didn't have the means to acquire yet.  Then it dawned on me - Verity.  Verity needed a bit of attention, and I'd been heading towards a St. Dymphna connection anyway.  One of the more interesting bits, at least from my view, is that Verity's roommates don't get along as well as Caitlin's.  There are some underlying currents of mistrust there.  Only when they have a mutual enemy can they work together.  Good thing Caitlin exists.  The discussion let me slip in the information that Carly may have new help, and I know who it is.  At some point, there may even be a reveal.

Caroline's little pony was one I looked up.  I knew the name - Lyra Heartstrings - but I had to confirm her colour and cutie mark.  There is no official plush of Lyra, though finding someone who will take commissions for unique ponies isn't a problem.  Mackenzie's poetry is another callback, this time to The New Girl Chapter 7 and Chapter 4 of this arc.

Caitlin's name-dropping might be confusing.  Joel Powell is related to Bree Powell, the girl the Unrulies first talked to and was spotted at the mall by Skye and Laura.  Richard Sullivan was the first indication of Carly's last name.  Having names come up naturally is an issue at times.  Just dropping a full name can be awkward, especially when the point-of-view character wouldn't know it.  At the same time, it'd be nice to get the name out there.  The plot does require the last name, so Autumn blanking was a good enough way to get the info out.

More callbacks with the Jennifers.  Laura suggesting Caitlin open the door refers back to the trap Autumn set off in The Great Jennifer Round-Up Chapter 3.  Laura's first use of "Parlay?" also appeared in that chapter and comes from Pirates of the Caribbean.  Caitlin's Aero bar bribe first appeared in The New Girl Chapter 5.  Yay, continuity!

For a group of girls that were supposed to be nameless, the Jennifers got fleshed out.  The Great Jennifer Round-Up helped there.  While the rest of the school just refers to the first year girls by the collective name, Laura has made a point of remembering each one.  Jenn was the only planned named Jennifer, the Jennifer of Jennifers, but there's a nice little community building up in the basement.

Tomorrow, the new Unruly episode, Chapter 11, "Common Ground".
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, on hiatus.
Saturday, over at MuseHack, still on hiatus.
Also Saturday, check out Comics Bulletin for comics-related reposts of Lost in Translation.

19 Jul 2015

Test Run - Shadowrun 5th Edition

Ah, Shadowrun.  Picture 80s-style cyberpunk.  Now toss in Tolkein-style fantasy.  Shake and let simmer.  It's not quite urban fantasy, with the supernatural hiding just out of the perception of the mundanes.  Magic is a known factor, and sufficiently advanced to be indistinguishable from technology.  The first edition came out in 1989.  The fifth edition was released two years ago.  I've been sitting on the game since then.  I've read through the rules a few times, taking it in bits and pieces.  There's a lot to the game, but not every character will use every rule.

In the game, shadowrunners are deniable, expendable assets used by corporations, governments, and anyone else who has the money to perform black ops and dirty tricks against another entity.  The default approach to Shadowrun is that the player characters are these redshirts for hire, though there's a large enough setting to go in different directions.  The sheer breadth of character potential has stopped me from testing the system until now; there was just so much choice.  I could have recreated a character from By the Numbers, but I wanted to try something new*.  Do I try a magical character?  A hacker or decker?  Mix the two and create a technomancer?  Or do I go the combat bunny route with a street samurai or just troll street muscle?  Maybe a rigger, a getaway driver who is one with his vehicle, could be interesting.

I thought about a Shinto miko, but I still have to work out why she'd be in the shadows doing dirty deeds at a price that isn't dirt cheap.  I set aside two character ideas I had from first edition, a elf decker and a human hermetic mage with healing skills and spells, because I want a character that's current, not a legacy.  I also want to keep with just the main rule book, at least for the first character, so Numbers is also out**.  With all that in mind, time to get started and go *ahem* by the numbers.

17 Jul 2015

Unruly - Basketball Night In Canada - Chapter 10

"I don't want any of Verity's crew warned."
"Everyone here saw Mr. Baker giving you the envelope, Laura."
"It's like we're being set up."
"Skye, she had a friend."

Basketball Night In Canada
Chapter 10 - Carly Thinks This Chapter's About Her

Verity lounged on the couch in the dorm suite she shared with her girls, her black Mary Janes on the floor beside her.  She stretched her stockinged legs, working out the kinks.  The main door burst open as Sarah ran inside.  Verity sat up, brushing one of her pony tails back over her shoulder.  "I trust you have something to report?"

Sarah dropped into an overstuffed chair.  "Caitlin's up to something."

16 Jul 2015

Unruly - Basketball Night in Canada Chapter 9 - Commentary

Laura gets jealous eyes upon her and Caitlin gets her hands dirty.  Welcome to the commentary for "I'll See Your Bluff".  Please read the chapter first before continuing.

I basically gave up on keeping Laura's English problems out of the chapter.  It was a leftover thread from the previous arcs and needed to have a proper ending, even if left dangling.  The attention Laura's getting isn't so much about what's in the envelope but that a popular teacher gave it to her.  The new girl got something that the others have worked hard to achieve - Mr. Baker's personal attention.

Caitlin and her ego have been busy over the past five years getting on the wrong side of people.  Kitty-Cait hasn't quite learned how to play well with others.  Her list comes from Chapter 8's news from Mags that someone she knows is behind the plot.  Verity's at the top of the list, though Laura's suggestions do have merit.

One of the fun parts of Rule 4, "Don't get caught," is that the Unrulies learn just how far they can go before they actually break a law.  The scuffle in Chapter 6 between Skye and Dylan started when Dylan tried to throw a punch.  Skye, in her mind, acted in self-defense, and the video from the food court would show that he tried to hit her.  Likewise, the attempt to open the door to Wheeler's business isn't breaking in, especially during what should be regular business hours.

Tomorrow, the new Unruly episode, Chapter 10, "Carly Thinks This Chapter's About Her".
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, the July news round-up about adaptations and remakes.
Saturday, over at MuseHack, on hiatus, though news about Lost in Translation may appear.
Also Saturday, check out Comics Bulletin for comics-related reposts of Lost in Translation.

10 Jul 2015

Unruly - Basketball Night In Canada - Chapter 9

"Laura, stop looking so nervous."
"I want a weekend in your body."
"You are never passing English."
"Make sure you call the police in five minutes."

Basketball Night In Canada
Chapter 9 - I'll See Your Bluff.

"Someone hand Laura her coffee."  Caitlin opened the refrigerator door to look for milk for her cereal.  She pulled out a half-litre carton of half-and-half.  "Wait."

9 Jul 2015

Unruly - Basketball Night in Canada Chapter 8 - Commentary

Laura meets a ghost while Caitlin's enmity for her opposition grows.  Welcome to the commentary for "Ginger Bred".  Please read the chapter first before continuing.

The big thing that you might have noticed is that the last chapter was the eighth in the arc/episode.  The previous two ended on Chapter 7.  Basketball Night in Canada kept getting involved the longer it went.  There's more going on in the episode, leading to needing more time to let things develop.  Chapter 8 was also the last past written during NaNoWriMo 2014, just as Mags appeared.  Camp NaNo this past April was when the chapter was finished.  In between, I tried to work out what was going on.

At some point, I will need to show why Laura's in witness protection.  She's a little nervous in public.  I do have plans to get her to her father's trial, just to get that plotline going.  However, seeing that she started to take over even this episode, Laura gets to sit the next one out.  For now, yes, Laura has a reason to overreact.

Autumn's comment about the phone companies is based on the realities of the Canadian ISP market.  In most of Canada, the lines used for data transmission were laid down by either a phone company or a cable company.  Bell had a regulated monopoly, though now Telus and Primus have moved in.  On the cable side, there's Rogers, who bought up a number of local cable companies throughout Canada, Shaw and Vidéotron.  Most of the cell phone providers in the country are subsidiaries of Bell, Rogers, or Telus.  The three don't place nice with each other and are against Net Neutrality  There's a reason why a potential Verizon expansion was eagerly wanted in Canada despite that company's poor rep in the US.

Fawna gets her big debut.  Her sister, Flora, appeared in The New Girl.  Fawna, though, just never had the opportunity to shine.  Good thing Caitlin needed her help, even though she can't be bothered to remember the twin's name.  The labs on the fourth floor are for the more supernaturally inclined students, like Fawna and like Kristie.

Mags was fun to write, once I figured her out.  A Toronto native, she was a student at the Academy long before anyone thought to keep students from blowing themselves up.  Her vocabulary is a little older; she's meant to be from the 20s.  Mags also has a Cockney accent, which didn't come out as well as I'd hoped.  The ghost is from an era where penmanship was precise; Caitlin's handwriting, good for today, doesn't measure up.  And I couldn't help but get one last dig on the Maple Leafs; they were out of contention for the 2015 playoffs by the time Camp NaNo started.  The weekend with Mags will be another arc, either as the main plot or a subplot.  Mags is too much fun to leave alone.

Having Mags or other ghosts and spirits provide information is a potential abuse in storytelling.  I need to make sure that Mags can't just say, "Oh, it's Ms Stone doing all this.  She's really tired of playing three-dimensional chess and figures this would be the best way to keep her pension but get rid of all of you."*  I need the information to be useful without giving everything away.  At least, now, Caitlin has a direction to go in.  The next chapter will show that Mags didn't narrow things down that much.  But, I do know who is behind the plot.

The last bit in the scene with Mags was inspired by the short-lived Gammauraders comic from DC Comics.  The scene had the main characters, Jok and Natasha, discussing her father, including the same bit of wisdom from Hamlet.  Jok's line: "He called you Horatio?"  In the Gammauraders case, there had been an apocalypse** where massive amounts of history and culture were lost.  Laura's just failing English.

The appearance of the girl in the rival uniform ties in the previous arc, The Great Jennifer Round-Up.  The girl had a great plan - catch Caitlin and her roommates breaking into Wheeler's workplace and have them arrested.  She just didn't expect Caitlin to be several steps ahead.  The result, police get called and there's no crime.  Wheeler is on the hook for the misuse of the 911 system and the girl has to figure out where her plan fell apart.  Caitlin deliberately waited those five minutes.

The last scene let me get a few details out that haven't yet but really should.  Could someone else where a uniform from either the Academy or St. Dymphna?  Sure, if they like being a target and feared.  The uniform stands out and girls wearing one will be watched like a hawk.  It's possible for an Academy girl to wear a St. Dymphna uniform, but that breaks Rule One, "Always wear your uniform."  It's safe to assume that most of the girls at the Academy have the one place they'd prefer to never go to, like Autumn and North Korea or Vamsi and Pakistan.  Could a St. Dymphna girl wear an Academy uniform?  Probably, but she'd have to deal with nuns.

The last little bit is more insight on the poor parenting Laura had.  Once again, naming locations came up, my own minor nemesis.  I needed something to show the level of class, or lack thereof, for the gentlemen's club Laura had visited.  I did check on the types of names used in Toronto, then went for something else.  The name, "The Carpet and Drapes", is the result.  I almost went with "The Collar and Cuffs" after hearing the phrase in Diamonds Are Forever, but that would be an entirely different type of club altogether.  The full phrases mean the same thing, just a matter of local preference.

Tomorrow, the new Unruly episode, Chapter 9, "I'll See Your Bluff".
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, the history of adaptations continues with the Seventies.
Saturday, over at MuseHack, the July news round-up about adaptations and remakes.
Also Saturday, check out Comics Bulletin for comics-related reposts of Lost in Translation.

* This may or may not be true.
** An apocalypse that led to secret societies and giant mutant animals being used for battle.  It might make sense in context.  Maybe.

3 Jul 2015

Unruly - Basketball Night In Canada - Chapter 8

"You're an Unruly, just like me."
"Caitlin Kane-O'Shaughnessy, student at the Ulrich F. Gephardt Academy for Unruly Girls, started there in Grade Seven.  Prior to that, led a student revolt at the James Boyle Unlacke Public School in Halifax, guaranteeing acceptance as an Unruly."
"Wheeler wasn't playing chess.  He's playing poker."
"He called me Ginger!"

Basketball Night in Canada
Chapter 8 - Ginger Bred

Laura looked at her watch.  Ten minutes until ten, ten minutes before the coffee shop closed.  Autumn sat, hunched over Caitlin's laptop, violating terms of the Asian girl's parole along with several laws against hacking into secure systems.  Skye was the epitome of calm as she sat in the corner, looking over the dwindling crowd in the coffee shop.  The baristas were in the middle of store closing cleaning, though one reminded the four Academy students of the imminent closure of the shop.  For her part, Laura downed the dregs of her cappuccino.  The caffeine wasn't helping with her nerves.  The new girl expected the police to arrive any moment.

Caitlin glanced over Autumn's shoulder.  "A little faster?"

2 Jul 2015

Unruly - Basketball Night in Canada Chapter 7 - Commentary

Laura continues to fave down her nemesis while Caitlin deals with a new one.  Welcome to the commentary for "Bishop to Queen's Level Two".  Please read the chapter first before continuing.

The chapter's title is a chess reference, a move of a bishop to a space in front of the queen.  It shouldn't be a surprise that Caitlin knows how to play chess.  The game requires being able to think a few moves ahead while still leaving room to react to the opponent's own stratagem.  Caitlin may not be in the top ranks of the Chess Federation of Canada, but she can hold her own against players older than her.

Laura has her own subplot dealing with her problems with poetry.  While she should have contacted Megan herself, Mr. Baker doesn't want to inflict an unwilling student on the tutor.  At least Laura admitted she has a problem understanding poetry.  It's a first step.  Laura's tutoring, though, conflicts with Caitlin's current scheme.  There may come a time when a conflict between classes and Caitlin causes problems for both girls, but it's not just yet.

Phil Wheeler presents a new challenge to Caitlin.  Most of the time, Caitlin can get away with being the one who knows the most about a foe.  Wheeler did his homework, throwing Caitlin off-stride.  Not having Laura with her wasn't something Wheeler was expecting.  However, he did have the upper hand and was expecting Caitlin.

Megan provides a confidant for Laura, someone outside the school that can still understand her confusion at the Academy.  An alumna of the Academy, Megan is still bound by Rules 3 and 4, "Always support your sisters," and, "Don't get caught."  Trent University is real and has campuses in Oshawa and Peterborough.  Having been there once for a small anime convention, I can say that the Oshawa campus is nice enough and not too far out of the way.  The question Megan leaves Laura with is a tough one.  Laura's answer, "Because it's chemistry," is both wrong and right.  It's not enough, not for Megan, as an answer, but it is accurate.  If Laura understood why there is a difference, not only would she be able to tell Megan that, she wouldn't have as many problems in English.

The final scene is dueling breakdowns.  Laura's had it with her roommates and Caitlin's dealing with being dismissed out of hand.  Neither girl is taking her problems well.  Skye and Autumn have learned to let Caitlin stew when she gets into this mood.  Laura doesn't have the patience or the experience to go along with it.  Fortunately, Laura can see that her roommate is unusually upset.  It helps the Caitlin has been calm and cool since Laura arrived.  Laura also had a small glimpse of insight, though Caitlin's mood pendulum swung further than anyone could expect.

Tomorrow, the new Unruly episode, Chapter 8, "Ginger Bred".
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, superhero films as the new Western.
Saturday, over at MuseHack, the history of adaptations project continues with the Seventies.
Also Saturday, check out Comics Bulletin for comics-related reposts of Lost in Translation.