After 30 Years, World War II Shows No Sign of Ending

Kalt, Germany — Roughly 30 years after the first shot was fired, it seems nothing — not the billions of lives lost, not the trillions of dollars spent, not even the repeated assassination of the dreaded Mecha-Hitler — will bring about the end of World War II. Citizens the world over have begun to wonder if the brutal, destructive conflict will ever end, and why it hasn’t already.

“Well, It’s an extremely popular war,” says Sergeant Bill Taylor, who has personally participated in thousands of invasions of Normandy. “Simple as that. Soldiers love it. Ask a soldier to choose which war he’d most like to fight and die in, and he’ll choose World War II. Every time.”

Variety, Taylor surmises, is one of the big reasons the war remains so popular with soldiers both young and old. “You like tanks? Planes? Trench warfare? Submarines? You want to shoot guys close-up, or give orders to a squad from a safe distance? You want to fight in Europe or Russia or Africa or the Pacific? World War II has got it all. It’s just a fantastic war.”

Taylor admits recruitment in the decades-long conflict does seem to drop from time to time, but remains confident that every few months the fighting will escalate once more, drawing in new combatants as well as battle-hardened veterans.

“Sometimes soldiers will leave and try out another war. Maybe in another time period, like Ancient Rome or the Napoleonic Era. Sometimes they go fight in space or with a bunch of stupid elves or something, but eventually they come back to good old World War II. ”

Mecha-Hitler's repeated deaths have done little to end the war.

“Sure, there are more modern conflicts,” he adds. “The Middle East is hot right now. But World War II is a classic, and you just can’t beat a classic.”

As well as its popularity among soldiers, some cite the increase in complexity of the seemingly endless war as an important factor in its longevity.

“Early on in the war, the conflict was relatively simple, maybe a single pilot in a Super Ace plane, trying to single-handedly destroy the Japanese fleet,” says Captain B.J. Blazkowicz, who has fought in numerous campaigns against Nazi forces.

“When I started fighting, it was just me, creeping around a Nazi stronghold, bribing guards, unlocking chests, looking for secret Nazi war plans. Later, it got a lot more violent and more complicated. More weapons, more enemies. Now, instead of lone soldiers facing throngs of Axis enemies by themselves, I look around and see the battlefields are full of soldiers. Twenty-four, thirty-two, sometimes even more.”

Whether due to popularity, complexity, or the sheer number of different ways for soldiers to join the fight, it remains certain that World War II is showing no signs of letting up.

“When faced with the choice of fighting in modern conflicts, space wars of the future, or sword-and sorcery battles in medieval or fantasy realms,” Sergeant Taylor concludes, “we’re finding that many soldiers will still choose World War II.”

“Let’s face it. No one will ever get tired of killing Nazis.”


Apocalypse Survivor Irritated By Helpful Companions

Savannah, Georgia — In the filthy, body-strewn streets of Savannah, Georgia, one survivor of the apocalyptic pandemic repeatedly complained that his three companions were helping him too much. “Stop shooting!” a survivor known only as “Coach” yelled at his three baffled companions, who were trying to save his life from hordes of rampaging infected humans. “I need melee kills!”

He chastised his fellow survivors a moment later for shooting down a Spitter, a type of infected who expels streams of burning acid from her gaping maw. “Aw, goddamn it! I needed to kill her before she spat!” He hit one of his companions with the fire axe he was wielding. “Thanks a lot, idiot!”

“Everything out of his mouth is a complaint about how we’re interfering with him,” said one of his companions, a former mechanic named Ellis. “Don’t shoot that clown zombie, I need to honk his nose. Don’t heal me, I’m trying to make it without using health kits. It’s like he wishes we weren’t even here with him.”

“Until he gets ridden by a Jockey or dragged by a Smoker,” added Ellis. “Then we apparently can’t help him quickly enough.”

“It’s like he has a series of tasks he’s trying to achieve, and nothing else matters,” another survivor named Rochelle noted. “For some reason, he desperately needs to decapitate thirteen more infected, and heaven help you if you shoot the one he’s got his eye on. He even yelled at me for picking up a vial of Boomer puke off an infected [Civil Emergency and Defense Agency] guy he’d killed, like that was something else on his imaginary list he needed to do.”

“I thought Coach was supposed to be this sort of sage, big-hearted guy, a voice of reason, a natural leader who would band our small group of misfits together,” she added. “But he’s kind of an immature jerk.”

“One time he left me there, incapacitated, after I got hit by a Charger,” said the fourth member of the group, a wry con-man named Nick. “He ran around looking for a shot of adrenaline to inject himself with before helping me up. I don’t know why he feels such a need to accomplish these weird, arbitrary tasks. Most of them have nothing to do with surviving this nightmare, and they don’t contribute to our mutual goal of being rescued.”

“Yesterday, he even insisted on carry a fucking garden gnome with him at all times for some reason,” he said bitterly. “I just know he’s going to get us all killed. And when he does, he’ll probably claim it was our fault.”


Minigames Will Never Be Art, Rapture’s Theatre Critic Declares

Fort Frolic, Rapture, North Atlantic Ocean — Sander Cohen, resident playwright, sculptor, poet, and theatre critic in the undersea city of Rapture, has definitively determined that minigames are not art, nor will they ever be.

Minigames — generally defined as relatively simple diversionary challenges or activities a lone hero, shadowy mercenary, space commander, or other adventurer might come across in his travels — cannot be compared to artistic works of poetry, dance, or sculptures made of corpses, Cohen recently announced, despite no one asking for his opinion on the matter. These games can sometimes be used to open locks, hack computers, or simply pass a little time for adventurers between their primary goals.

“Minigames have rules,” said Cohen to no one in particular. “Adventurers are given a test of reflexes, or of memory, and are challenged to win the game. That can never be art, as opposed to theatre, wherein actors must commit lines to memory, and speak them in a precise order, and are challenged to succeed in their performance.”

“Minigames have carefully visual elements, created by artists,” he continued. “Theatres have carefully designed sets, created by artists. They are clearly two completely different things.”

Cohen has also decided ketchup is not a condiment and Shi-Tzus are not dogs

Some wonder if Cohen, a critic who himself has done little or no adventuring, is qualified to determine if minigames are art or not. “I once pried open a vending machine in Olympus Heights,” Cohen said, “and peered at the minigame-controlled mechanism within. I did not see anything that made me want to fiddle with the controls of that machine, nor have I since. That, I feel, makes me qualified to unequivocally judge the artistic nature of these games.”

Cohen, who in addition to having written several plays, has also served as a theatre critic for over thirty years, during which time he felt such a powerful duty to uphold the importance and majesty of the art of theatre that he devised the most basic rating system he could think of. He came up with his trademark phrases of “Hats off!” or “Hats on!”, where the former meant he loved the play, and the latter meant he hated it. For example, a Cohen blurb on a poster for the 1945 play “Home of the Brave” by Arthur Laruents might read “Hats off! Hats way off!”

“That is what anyone who respects art, and defines it for everyone else, must do,” he was quoted as saying. “Define all art as either good or bad, with nothing in between. It’s the mark of a true appreciation for the intricacies of art.”

Many adventurers disagree with Cohen’s broad assessment. Link, an Ocarina-owning adventurer in Hyrule, speaks fondly of a fishing pond he spent a great deal of time at between world-saving quests. “I love that pond,” Link says. “The ambiance, the beauty of the water and trees, watching the night turn to day… it might as well have been a painting. I’ve spent hours there, absorbed by the simple act, or game, of fishing. I can’t imagine why that lovely little pond couldn’t be considered art.”

Some adventurers also object to Cohen claiming that minigames, which continue to evolve, will never be art. What gives Cohen such a certain glimpse of things to come?

“There are things I know about the future,” Cohen said. “I simply just know. For instance, the city of Rapture will always remain a wonderful, beautiful place. Its Art Deco design is a visual feast for the eyes. Its mood, its lighting, its ambiance… why, the city itself a work of art.”

“Minigames, however, will never be anything more than crude distractions.”

Work Stuff

The Office Mate — A Play In Two Acts

The Office Mate is a play in two acts. It was written by Christopher Livingston.




PETER: Do you know where the drawings are for that Railyards project?

CHRISTOPHER: Um, no. I think Matt downloaded them a few days ago.

PETER: Do you know where he put them?

CHRISTOPHER: No, no idea.

PETER: Did he put them on the X-Drive?

CHRISTOPHER: I don’t know, maybe.

PETER: I don’t see them on the X-Drive.


PETER: Do you think he put them on the X-Drive?

CHRISTOPHER: I don’t know. Maybe.

PETER: Where would he put them on the X-Drive?

CHRISTOPHER: I don’t know. Did you ask him?

PETER: No. Do you think he saved them on his computer?

CHRISTOPHER: I don’t know. Maybe. You should ask him.


PETER: Did he save them somewhere else? On another drive, maybe?

CHRISTOPHER: I really don’t know. Matt would know. Matt could tell you.

PETER: Where did he download them from?

CHRISTOPHER: I really have no idea. You should check with Matt.


PETER: Do you think he put them on a CD?

CHRISTOPHER: I, I really, I have no idea. You should check with Matt.

PETER: Yeah, I’ll ask him.


PETER: Did he print them out?


CHRISTOPHER (eventually): Sorry, what?

PETER: Did Matt print them out?

CHRISTOPHER: I don’t know. You know who would know? Matt. Matt would know. Ask Matt. He’s sitting thirty feet from here. Ask him. Ask Matt, for the love of all that is holy, just get up and go ask him.



PETER: Did he save them as a PDF?






PETER: Did he save them to a flash drive?



Life Stuff

The Project Engineer Is Present

An artist named Marina Abramovic is performing in the Museum of Modern Art, in an installation called The Artist is Present, where she sits in a chair all day, from the museum’s opening to closing. Apparently, that’s all she does, sit in a chair, staring straight ahead, which is apparently art.

Well, shit. I’ve been sitting in a chair at my job, staring blankly, from opening to closing, every weekday for years. I wouldn’t call it art, but I think it could be considered an art form since I haven’t been fired yet.

Some photos of the artist and museum visitors, who are allowed to take turns sitting across from her. Interestingly, a number of them sitting there watching her sit there start crying.

If you came and sat at my job and stared at me sitting and staring at my job, I don’t know if you’d start crying. I might, but you probably wouldn’t.


Red Sox Pitcher Drills Eight Consecutive Batters In Season-Opener

Boston, Massachusetts —In a stunning turn of events that left Red Sox fans scratching their heads, starting pitcher Josh Beckett, pitching to the Yankees in the 2010 season opener at Fenway Park, plunked eight consecutive batters in the third inning of the Red Sox’s crushing 19-2 loss.

Beckett got off a shaky start, giving up six hits and four runs in the top of the first, and throwing several wild pitches. He seemed to settle in the second inning, fanning two and giving up only one hit. Returning in the third inning, however, he gave up a double to Yankees catcher Jorge Posada, and then hit the next batter, Curtis Granderson, with a high inside fastball.

Then Beckett, who in 2009 carried a .386 ERA and plunked only seven batters over 212 innings, proceeded to hit the next seven consecutive batters, all with his first pitches of each at-bat. Eleven runs were eventually scored in the inning.

“I wanted to see what would happen,” Beckett told The Observer after the crushing home loss. “We were losing anyway, and we couldn’t seem to get any runs over. So, I started beaning batters. I wanted to see if anyone would charge the mound.”

“Nobody did, though,” he continued. “There were no warnings from the ump, and no bench clearing brawls, even after drilling eight straight batters in the head with fastballs. That’s really disappointing. I was really hoping there would be fights this year.”

Beckett wasn’t the only one off his game. In the fourth inning, Sox first-baseman Kevin Youkilis reached first base on a seeing-eye single to center. David Ortiz, batting behind him, hit a weak pop-up to the infield. Even after the ball was easily caught by Yankees second-baseman Robinson Cano, Youkilis continued to run toward second base. Cano fired to first, easily making the out to end the inning.

“I forgot how to run back to first base,” Youkilis explained after the game, about his poor base-running. “I don’t even think anyone told me how to stop running toward second, turn around, and run back to first. Someone really should have explained that to me before the game.”

A few other odd plays rounded out the perplexing game. Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia twice threw the ball to third base instead of first when fielding routine grounders. In the sixth inning, Sox outfielders J.D. Drew and Mike Cameron ran in small, awkward circles trying to catch a Nick Swisher pop-fly, both eventually missing the ball altogether as it landed between them. And, in the bottom of the eighth, with the bases loaded, Sox skipper Terry Francona made the baffling choice to call in relief pitcher Scott Schoeneweis to bat for slugger David Ortiz.

“That was just a straight-up mistake,” Francona admitted. “I was just looking through the list of my bench players and I accidentally pulled Ortiz out of the game and had Scott bat for him. Just a stupid error. I haven’t figured out how this all works yet.”

“Of course,” we were down 17 runs at that point, so it didn’t really matter. We just need some practice. We’re all learning how to play the game. I’m sure we’ll get ’em next time.”


Suspect in 1,137 Cop Slayings Released

Algonquin, Liberty City — The sole suspect in over a thousand violent cop killings was reluctantly released today with no formal charges being filed, police say. Despite overwhelming evidence, the lack of a legal system in Liberty City prevented police detaining and trying the suspect for his alleged crimes.

Niko Bellic, an immigrant from Eastern Europe, is the sole suspect in the slayings of 1,137 police officers and other law enforcement agents, as well as allegedly responsible for the violent deaths of a number of citizens, tourists, and underworld figures. “We know he’s the guy,” one surviving police officer said, speaking to reporters. “We’ve caught him in the act of murder, arson, destruction of property, bank robbery, and thousand of weapons violations. We even have evidence of him breaking Liberty City’s ban on driving while talking on a cell phone. But, the lack of any sort of functioning legal system really has our hands tied.”

“If he should be found guilty of anything,” whined Carmen Ortiz, a Liberty City woman romantically linked to Bellic, “it should be wearing boots and a track suit on our date. Killing cops is one thing, but picking me up for a date in a busted up old Moonbeam covered in blood… that should get him the freakin’ death penalty.”

Evidence against Bellic includes numerous statements from eyewitnesses as well as hours of incriminating videotape from traffic cameras, news helicopters, police car dashboard cameras, and amateur filmmakers. Even with thousands of videos of Bellic’s crimes having been uploaded to YouTube, getting the charges to stick has been troublesome.

“I saw him just yesterday,” one officer said. “He was speeding down the wrong way of a one way street, weaving all of the road, smashing through lampposts and fire hydrants, running over pedestrians, firing out of his windows and dropping grenades. We gave chase with a number of squad cars and a police helicopter. The suspect leapt from his burning car, destroyed the helicopter with a rocket launcher, then opened fire on responding officers with a machine gun.”

“He also threw a can of Sprunk at an old woman,” the officer added. “That’s just mean.”

By the time Bellic was brought down, twenty-two officers and eleven bystanders were dead, many more were wounded, and several vehicles had been destroyed. Bellic, felled by police gunfire, was rushed to Cerveza Heights Medical Center in Dukes, where he was later discharged.

Just hours later, Bellic allegedly led police on another chase that ended when the suspect reached an apartment owned by his cousin, Roman Bellic. “He was driving a stolen ice cream truck, and we were right on his tail,” an officer said, “but he ran into the apartment and went to sleep. There was nothing we could do at that point but give up the chase and leave him alone.”

Police feel helpless but determined. “Even with no way to prosecute him for his crimes, we’ll keep after him,” an officer promised. “He can run, but he can’t hide. Well, he can hide but he can’t… we’ll get him eventually. Let’s leave it at that.”


Beatles Fans Shocked, Disappointed By Poor Beatles Performance

Liverpool, England — Fans crowding into the Cavern Club hoping to witness a stellar, memorable Beatles performance came away shocked and disappointed by the poor showing of the famed rock quartet. According to all accounts, the band played terribly, missing notes and forgetting lyrics, much to the dismay of the gathering of dedicated fans.

“They didn’t seem to know their own songs,” one fan said. “Wait, not even songs. Song, singular. They kept trying to play the one same song, but never even got all the way through it. Not once.”

“John sounded like a nineteen year-old girl,” another fan said. “He kept giggling and getting the words wrong, and was way, way off-pitch. It was horrible.”

Lennon wasn’t the only Beatle who disappointed fans. “They all seemed to be struggling,” one attendee said. “It sounded like it was the first time they had ever held their instruments.”

“That looked like George Harrison,” another dismayed fan agreed angrily. “But that was no George Harrison.”

“At least Ringo sounded about right,” he added glumly.

“It wasn’t what I was expecting,” said another Cavern Club patron, who initially cheered the band but found himself less and less excited as the show progressed. “I was expecting The Beatles, but this sounded more like a disorganized, possibly drunk bunch of amateurs, trying to play the same one song over and over, stopping in the middle, and then starting over again. What a letdown.”

“John Lennon would be rolling over in his grave,” he added, “if he wasn’t currently on stage.”

After five awkward, fumbling attempts to make it through their 1963 classic hit “Twist and Shout”, The Beatles gave up and ended the show.

“The Beatles suck,” said one long-time fan. “I’m crushed by this. I just hope the Green Day concert I’m going to is better, but I don’t have much hope.”

The Beatles are due to appear on The Ed Sullivan show next Wednesday night, though Paul McCartney has stated he might not be able to make it due to having a Calculus midterm early Thursday morning.


Police Investigate Latest Disappearance of M.I.T. Graduate

Allenhurst, New Jersey — Police today questioned a mysterious, possibly malevolent agent known only as G-Man as part of their investigation into the latest disappearance of M.I.T. graduate, professor of theoretical physics, and former Black Mesa Research Facility employee Gordon Freeman. Last seen in October of 2007, Freeman has a history of disappearances that have twice before been linked to G-Man, though the pale, gaunt humanoid has stated for the record that he has nothing to do with Freeman’s most recent disappearance.

“I… didn’t do it,” he told police investigators outside his Allenhurst apartment, his odd, halting speech pattern hinting at a possible alien origin. “This tiiiiime, it wasn’t… me.”

“Yessssss, I ad-mit in the past I was re-spons-ible for spir-iting away Mr. Free-man into a limbo of my own de-vising, but I have no innnn-formation as to hisssss… current where-abouts.”

Authorities were quick to suspect G-Man’s involvement, based on the history between he and the surprisingly durable and combat-savvy scientist. Freeman’s first disappearance occurred in late 1998, when G-Man claims Freeman voluntarily entered limbo after accepting a job offer. Freeman resurfaced some years later in City 17, where he led a rebel assault against the Combine and the traitorous Dr. Wallace Breen before once again slipping into the darkness of G-Man’s stasis portal. G-Man has stated that this second abduction was perpetrated in an effort to save Freeman from an massive explosion atop the Citadel.

Freeman, left, and age-progression software showing how he might look today.

Freeman’s most recent disappearance was reported by his friend and colleague, Dr. Isaac Kleiner, who stated that the famed scientist-turned-savior was last seen shortly after helping launch a rocket from a secret White Forest base in Eastern Europe, in an attempt to close the Combine super-portal that threatened to allow a deluge of alien forces to enter our dimension.

“After we closed the portal, Gordon and Alyx Vance were preparing to fly a helicopter to the mysterious Borealis research vessel located in the Arctic,” Kleiner said. “Then, well… some terribly unfortunate events occurred. Since then, I haven’t seen Gordon at all. The helicopter is still sitting there. But Gordon is missing. It’s like he just vanished.”

“I think the world at large is impatient to know his whereabouts, and when he might return,” Kleiner continued. “We all just want some closure. We have a number of questions. And we certainly did not expect to have to wait quite this long for the answers.”

G-Man is insistent, however, that he has nothing to do with this latest disappearance and has no information on Freeman’s current location.

“Look,” he told police, adjusting his tie. “I’m co-oper-ating, here. I’m co-oper-ating. Do… you want to search my a-partment? Do you want to… ssssearch my limbo?”

G-Man showed police around his small, one-bedroom apartment on Euclid Avenue, then opened a door in the very fabric of space-time, allowing police to peer inside the black netherworld of limbo.

“Looks clean,” one investigator said, examining the inky gloom of the temporal stasis field with the beam of his flashlight. “He’s not in here.”

Police then attempted to question G-Man about the disappearance of U.S. Marine Corporal Adrian Shepard, who has been missing since November of 1999. “I’m not say-ing annnn-other thing with-out my lawyer… pres-ent,” G-Man said, then walked around the side of his apartment, out of sight of investigators.

Following him, police were not terribly surprised to see he had vanished.


Panau President Claims Sudden Climate Change Not Man-Made

Panau, South-East Asia — A sudden rise in temperature on the island of Panau, possibly brought on by massive explosions and the resulting fires, has some climatologists concerned about man-made climate change, but Panau President Pandak “Baby” Panay claims it is just part of the island’s natural cycle.

“Temperatures are always fluctuating, not just in Panau, but world-wide,” President Panay said in a press release. “It is not of concern. It is completely natural, these explosions of fuel stations, oil tanks, passenger jets, radar dishes, military vehicles, and surface-to-air missile sites. It is all part of the mother nature’s normal, natural cycle and should not lower morale. All glory to Panau.”

Climate scientists from other nations aren’t so sure. The sudden spike in temperature, which began on March 23 of this year, may be man-made, and possibly the result of a highly skilled CIA agent who has infiltrated the island and is attacking military installations and fuel stations in an attempt to cause chaos, thus undermining Panay’s oppressive stranglehold over the island nation.

“You might get a natural fire or two from lightning or dry brush,” one Australian scientist said. “And maybe a few from industrial accidents or faulty equipment. But the entire island is erupting in explosions and fires, which leads me to believe an elite commando is causing mayhem with automatic weapons, rocket launchers, grenades, and maybe some kind of magic grappling hook.”

“The data doesn’t lie,” said one member of the United States Global Change Research Program, echoing the sentiments of roughly ninety-percent of the world’s climate scientists. “This rise in temperature on Panau is most likely the result of a lone agent on a top-secret, U.S. funded mission of regime-change through massive property destruction.”

Panau scientists agree with their President, however, that the rise in temperature is simply a natural occurrence. Dr. Kayu Venka, of The State-Funded Climate Research Facility For The Glory of Panau and Its Esteemed President Panay, denies any link between the sudden increase in temperature and any elusive, wise-cracking secret agent of chaos.

Science wonders: natural or grenade-based causes?

“This appears to be perfectly normal,” Dr. Venka read off a piece of paper, while shooting nervous glances at a ninja standing silently nearby pointing a sub-machine gun at his head. “Nothing man-made. Just natural warming. That’s what the data says. Everything is fine. Probably nothing to worry about.”

Definitely nothing to worry about,” he quickly added as the ninja pressed the gun against his temple.

Citizens of Panau seem divided on the issue. Several members of “The Roaches”, a Panau drug cartel, chanted “Scorpio! Scorpio! Scorpio!” while standing around the burning remains of a series of fuel tanks, indicating they believe a shadowy agent of destruction is responsible for the warmer climate.

Others disagree. One truck driver said loudly “I agree with our glorious, shining leader on any and all issues.” Another citizen, standing in front of his burning car, said “I am pleased my car is upside-down in a ditch and on fire with the deadly, scalding flames of completely natural climate changing events.”

One member of the Panau military, dangling from a bridge by a cable that had punctured his lower abdomen, said simply “All glory to Panau!” before passing out.