The Jenoviad Entry #25

July 31st, 2009 by Wordsman

“W-we jump off?” Cloud stuttered
As his voice timid became
Jumping on was one thing
Jumping off was not the same

“In a bit,” said Barret
“Just before the scanner’s run
Now sit down.  Rest up while you can
This explanation’s done”

“Come here,” said Tifa, nudging Cloud
As Barret took a seat
“As long as we’ve got some free time
I’ll show you something neat”

Cloud’s face fell as monitor
Tifa reached out to touch
Why the hell did all the girls
Love that dumb screen so much?

Luckily young Cloud was saved
From map revisiting
Just then all the train’s alarms
Began to flash and ring

“Odd,” said Tifa, froze with shock
“The ID scan’s not yet
Maybe this is something else”
Said Cloud: “You wanna bet?”

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Movie Two-Liners Entry #25

July 29th, 2009 by Wordsman

Unfortunately, our picture expert is out of town this week, so there will once again be a delay before the picture hint is posted.

This week’s puzzle:

One man is accused of being a poisoner and sends an old man to a dark death, and another man gives poison to a child and defiles a corpse. One man spoils his best friend’s chances for love, and another man gets relationship advice from someone that people almost never listen to.

Last week’s puzzle:

A man is freed from imprisonment only to be immediately recaptured and sentenced to death. He escapes, but he is captured twice more, once because his best friend lacks self-control and once because he is outsmarted by an old man.

And the answer is . . . ▼

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This Day in History Entry #24

July 28th, 2009 by Wordsman

Robespierre had his time on the scene
To save France he killed Louis Sixteen
To his head went the fame
Dictator he became
And got his turn at the guillotine

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Is a Picture Worth a Thousand Words? Entry #25

July 27th, 2009 by Wordsman


“Let go! This is an outrage! You can’t do this to me! The Colosseum is a piece of cultural history that belongs to the entire world! You can’t dictate who stays and who goes just because you have some stinkin’ badge! It’s not right! The ancient Colosseum was free to all!”

“Jack, just shut up,” Matthew muttered.

Jack and Matthew were being led out of the Colosseum by what seemed to them like an excessive number of security guards. They were clearly being made an example of; their unceremonious (and distractingly loud, thanks to Jack) procession went through the outer arc of the building, directly past the long line of tourists waiting to get in. The message was clear: fail to obey the rules inside and we’ll parade you out here like a couple of teenage shoplifters for all the world to see. At least they weren’t handcuffed, though if things kept going the way they were it was likely that one of the guards would need to come up with some sort of gag to deal with Jack.

Their trip to the hypogeum had not lasted long. The large number of tourists inside the Colosseum made it all but impossible for two men to jump and/or fall into the underground area without being noticed. It only took a couple of minutes for the security staff to get down there and forcibly (much more forcibly in one case than in the other) extract the American delinquents. Matthew thought with regret that on what was almost certainly the only chance he would ever get to enter the chambers below the Colosseum, he had spent the entire time arguing with his friend about how exactly they had gotten in there in the first place. No one disputed that Jack had jumped in of his own free will to follow Matthew; it was just the first part of the entry process that merited debate. Of course, because he had been too busy yelling at his friend about all the trouble they were soon to get in, Matthew had had no opportunity to look for the elusive gray-clad figure.

“I am an American citizen!” Jack protested vehemently. “I have rights! You’re going to hear from my embassy about this! I’m going to—”

“Just shut up,” Matthew repeated sullenly, this time loud enough for his friend to actually have a chance of hearing him. “Aren’t we in enough trouble already? You know you’re only going to make it worse.”

“But this is an injustice!” Jack roared. “The Colosseum should be free to all—all parts of the Colosseum should be free, including the high-pojeeum! These people can’t be allowed to drag us out here in this shameful manner just because we were exercising our right as citizens of the world to explore our own history! That’s blatant tyranny! The spirits of the gladiators would—”

“You know what?” Matthew said angrily, unable to wheel to face his friend because of the security guard’s firm grip on his shoulders. “You can take your spirits of the gladiators and . . . and . . . just shut up,” he finished with a sigh. Being marched past everyone was plenty mortifying, but that wasn’t the worst of it in Matthew’s mind. To him, the most embarrassing part of the whole day so far was that he had actually let his friend’s talk about spirits and ghosts of the past get to him. That was the only explanation he could come up with for what he thought he had seen in there. After being around Jack for so many years, Matthew had thought that he had finally gained immunity to his friend’s power of suggestion, but the visions of the person in gray in his memory proved that blatantly wrong.

Amazingly, Jack went quiet, and he stayed that way until the guards finally decided they had paraded them around long enough and pushed them outside. “So,” said Jack, as bright as the sun that was once again beating down on them, “any last thoughts on the Colosseum before we leave?”

Matthew reflected that it would be impossible for him to have any last thoughts on the subject, because he was sure to remember that trip for the rest of his life. “Like what?” he asked glumly.

“Anything notable,” Jack said. “I know we kind of rushed on the way in, so now as we’re going back out I thought we should move more slowly to take it all in. Is there anything on the outside that we should particularly look at or appreciate?”

Matthew looked up. They had not yet moved from the spot where the guards had roughly deposited them, meaning that they were too close to get a good view of the mighty building. “You can’t really see much from here,” he pointed out, “other than the fornication.”

“The what?” his friend asked, looking around rapidly.

“It’s not what you think.” Even in his extremely sour mood, Matthew could not help but grin. “The word fornix means ‘archway’ in Latin. In Ancient Rome, prostitutes would hang out under archways to proposition people. So under the fornication you got a lot of, well, fornication. That’s where the word comes from.”

Jack laughed. The sound was strangely comforting to Matthew; it always had been. “I guess we shouldn’t feel so bad about getting kicked out after all,” Jack said, his eyes sparkling. “What do you say we ditch this oversized brothel and move on?”

As the two of them headed west, a figure dressed all in gray watched them from the very top of what remained of the third level of the Colosseum. The person attempted to drop stealthily down to the second tier, landed awkwardly, and almost pitched down to the ground below. Upon regaining balance, the figure retreated backward into the fornication so as not to be seen and lifted its wrist up to its face. “Targets leaving,” it said softly. “Probable destination: Foro Romano.”

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The Jenoviad Entry #24

July 24th, 2009 by Wordsman

“Calm down,” said Tifa, stepping in
“Don’t bother this poor man
How about we share with Cloud
The basics of our plan?”

“Sure,” the man said, “ignore me
Not like I’m important here
If you’ll excuse me, I’ll go back
To cowering in fear”

“Guess we should,” said Barret
As the man went off running
“If we don’t he’ll probably
Blow up the wrong damn thing

“So listen up!” the big man said
“I’ll tell you ‘bout the plan
You see, to check up on the trains
They’ve got this ID scan”

“Ah.”  Cloud nodded.  “Got it now
We blow the scanner, right?”
“That little thing?” scoffed Barret
“That’s not worth my dynamite

“The target’s a reactor core
I’d thought that that was plain
All the scanner thing means is
We jump off of the train”

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Movie Two-Liners Entry #24

July 22nd, 2009 by Wordsman

This week’s puzzle:

A man is freed from imprisonment only to be immediately recaptured and sentenced to death. He escapes, but he is captured twice more, once because his best friend lacks self-control and once because he is outsmarted by an old man.

New! See an image clue. ▼

Last week’s puzzle:

A couple’s struggle to resolve their relationship difficulties leads one of them to reminisce about a teacher and the other to talk to a sibling he hasn’t seen in a long time. In the end, the woman’s touch goes straight to the man’s heart.

And the answer is . . . ▼

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This Day in History Entry #23

July 21st, 2009 by Wordsman

Watchers came; they thought it would be fun
After all, the whole thing’d soon be done
But the South disagreed
And took the early lead
When they whupped the Union at Bull Run

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Is a Picture Worth a Thousand Words? Entry #24

July 20th, 2009 by Wordsman


“And,” Jack continued, ignoring both Matthew’s sudden pause and the statement that surrounded it, “what better place to look for the restless spirits of the past than in the dark depths of the ancient crypt?”  He pointed down below.  “That horrible pit of death, the final resting place of all the mighty warriors who fell victim to the Romans’ legendary bloodlust, where they now spend their days pacing, regretting, wishing for revenge on the spectators who had them put to death with a simple flip of the thumb.  For centuries it was hidden beneath the floor of the arena, but now that barrier is no more, and the ghosts of the gladiators are free to come up into the world of the living and walk among us once again!  Doesn’t the thought chill you to the very bone?”

“It’s not a crypt,” Matthew informed him, finally pulling his eyes away from the spot where he very much hoped he had not just seen someone pretending to be a ghost.

Jack was stunned.  “But . . . it’s underground,” he protested.  “Directly under the sandy floor where millions of men lost their lives.  Surely it must be—”

“It’s called the hypogeum,” Matthew explained, shaking his head.  “It means ‘underground,’” he added, though he was pretty sure that even Jack would be able to use context clues and figure out that this did not refer to a “high podium.”  “And of course they didn’t use it for burying the dead.  Would you want to go to a stadium that had the corpses of all the deceased former players under it?”

“So what did they use it for?” Jack asked, looking disappointed.

“I believe it was primarily used for storing the gladiators and animals prior to their appearance in the main arena.  They kept cages down there for that purpose.”  He saw the eager light rekindle in his friend’s eyes for some reason, so he quickly tried to make the hypogeum sound as boring as possible.  “There was also a lot of machinery down there that was used for lifting things, and . . .”

His friend, however, was clearly no longer listening.  “Cages, huh?  So what you’re saying is this place was basically an ancient underground prison?”

“No, that’s not what I’m saying at all—”

“Just as much an abode of the damned as a crypt would be!  A pit where doomed men lay with nothing to do but ponder their inevitable death, without even the sight of the world above ground to relieve them.  Like an ancient death row, except that these gladiators did not even get the certainty of knowing when they would die.  They might survive the next day’s battle, or they might fall; all they knew for certain was that death would come for them eventually.  It’s like the ancient saying goes: ‘Death is certain, its time uncertain.’  And, of course, the end that was awaiting them had very little in common with a relatively painless lethal injection or gassing.”

Matthew could not think of anything to say to that.  “We need to get a closer look at this,” Jack decided, moving swiftly down the stairs.

“Careful,” Matthew said as he followed his friend, though he had little hope of stopping him if he determined to do something foolish.  “I don’t think we’re supposed to get too close.”

Jack’s legs stopped before the railing, but his torso carried a few inches beyond.  “Oh, you wouldn’t want to get too close,” he agreed, grinning at his friend.  “Those who fail to respect the boundary this railing represents could end up plunging into the depths of the . . . high-pojeeum.  And once they’re in, they’re at the mercy of the dead gladiators.  Those who go in never come back.”

Probably true, Matthew thought, but most likely because those that failed to respect the railing received lifetime bans from the officials that curated the Colosseum.  “You know there aren’t really any dead gladiators, right?” he asked, only mildly concerned for the moment.

“What are you talking about?” Jack asked back, perplexed.  “You think that the millions of gladiators who entered this arena through the centuries all came out alive?  You expect me to believe that these desperate warriors participated in nothing more dangerous than a series of slap fights, where the loser was let off with a mild reprimand?”

“No, I mean . . . you know there aren’t really any dead gladiators here, right?”

“Where else could they be but here?” Jack said grandly, spreading his arms wide.  “In this place they fought and died.  Sure, they may have been forced into it, but this was still the place that gave their lives meaning.  Here in the Colosseum they expended the full extent of their life force.  Why shouldn’t their spirits follow suit?”

“Yes, that makes sense, I guess,” Matthew said.  “I’m just checking to make sure that you don’t actually believe in ghosts.”

“Don’t be ridiculous, Matthew,” he said with a patronizing grin.  “What sane person could seriously believe in ghosts in this modern age?  I’m just saying that if they did, this high-pojeeum would be the perfect place for them.”

“Right,” Matthew said, looking down into the hypogeum and trying to imagine how the ancient mechanisms worked.

“I would like to go down there to get a better look at it, though,” Jack noted wistfully.

“Oh no,” Matthew said fervently.  “Can you imagine the trouble we’d get into for doing that?”

“Sometimes a little trouble is a good thing,” Jack said with a roguish grin.

“No thank you.”

Later on, Matthew would insist that Jack had pushed him over the railing, a point the two of them disputed for many years to come.  He could not imagine that he jumped in himself, whatever his friend might say.  The only thing Matthew remembered for sure was that just before he entered the underground area he saw a mysterious figure dressed all in gray lurking down there.

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The Jenoviad Entry #23

July 17th, 2009 by Wordsman

Except for one who stayed behind
A Shinra manager
The kind of man that most people
Sarcastically call “Sir”

The poor man muttered, “Sure, my train
Gets boarded by this thug”
Barret rose.  “Do you mean me
You worthless little bug?”

“You’re talking to me?” the man asked
He choked and shook with fear
“‘Course to you,” Barret replied
“There ain’t no one else here”

“Are you surprised?” the man shot back
“Haven’t all of you heard?
Those terrorists will bomb again
On the street that’s the word

“That is why we’re all on edge
From pres’dent down to clerk
Almost everyone I know
Decided to skip work

“So pardon me if I am rude
I’m not feeling quite well”
Said Barret: “Far as I’m concerned
You can go straight to hell

“You’re right.  We . . . I mean, AVALANCHE
Will bomb again today
For killing off the Planet
All you Shinra folks will pay”

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Movie Two-Liners Entry #23

July 15th, 2009 by Wordsman

This week’s puzzle:

A couple’s struggle to resolve their relationship difficulties leads one of them to reminisce about a teacher and the other to talk to a sibling he hasn’t seen in a long time. In the end, the woman’s touch goes straight to the man’s heart.

New! See an image clue. ▼

Last week’s puzzle:

An unpopular Harvard graduate tries to get his colleagues to go along with his radical ideas. While reluctant at first, they are swayed by his ability to compromise, a famous quotation, cowardice, and the shooting of some birds.

And the answer is . . . ▼

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