Posts Tagged: Jim McDoniel

From the Desk of Commander Thomas G. Anderson

From the Desk of Commander Thomas G. Anderson

To: Vice President Davenport
Re: Ham Radio Operator

Sir, first of all, let me just say that it is a pleasure to be addressing you once again. I hope you’ve found all our work satisfactory and I look forward to a close working relationship in the future.

Regarding the ham radio operator from here on referred to as “the resource.” From what we can tell he is merely one of a group of youths who feel that communication should be free both in content and cost. Coordinating between the Mostly Uncooperative Resource Data Extraction Registry and our own department of M.U.R.D.E.R. we have come up with a list of names, which I have one of our best, most loyal, agents running down.

It should be noted that at no time, even under the most heinous incentives did the resource admit to perpetrating the fraudulent radio broadcasts. It is his assertion that he only received the supposed distress calls from so-called other cities warning of a mysterious stranger posing as a doctor. This is of course nonsense, as there are no other existing cities other than ours. However, to keep those lesser policies who may be gullible enough to believe such a hoax, I think that all exterior hatches should be checked and locked. If you agree, I will send my very subordinate agent to do this menial task as a reward for being his very subordination.

Again, it was a pleasure to work on this for you. If there’s anything I or my department can do for you in the future, please do not hesitate to ask.

Commander Thomas G Anderson, Supervising Director Department of M.U.R.D.E.R.

Memo read and inspected by Vice Presidential Secretary #17


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Regarding the Attack and Sinking of Ships by Sea Monsters, Specifically Overlarge Cephalopods.

by Professor Wilford Daggereaux PhD.

(recovered by Jim McDoniel)

With the current climate unpleasantness slowly taking away those areas suitable for Homo
sapien habitation, more and more, people are turning away from the planetary anomaly that
is land and focusing their attention on that element that makes up over seventy percent of the
earth’s surface: water. However, this itself brings with it its own set of problems. Some of them
are familiar to ones faced on land, the procurement of food, for example. Some, like dealing
with our current bout of super storms, may be difficult on land, but become epic battles for
survival at sea. Still others are wholly unique to life on the waves, as in the previously unheard
of issue of sea monster attack.

Now, the unexpected increase in violent nautical incursions by creature or creatures unknown
should hardly come as a surprise. The destruction of the oceans food supply along with the
influx of vulnerable, slow-swimming mammals can only result in more encounters with large
predatory animals that would have otherwise remained below the waves. If the only available
meal is on the surface, that is where the fanged and finned denizens of the deep will be, and
should this meat be guarded by wood and metal, then tearing apart that outer shell is what
they will. To them, it no more than hunting a turtle or shucking an oyster.

It must be said though, that this is not the most remarkable reason for attacks at sea,
psychologically speaking. There’s nothing unique about the odd mosasaur or sea serpent with
or without many heads, indulging their primal hunger. Nor is it particularly fascinating for a
newly rediscovered blind Cyclops or sheriff-thwarted great white to seek revenge. The interest,
therefore, lies in those creatures whose motives have remained, thus far, a mystery. I am
speaking of course, of the kraken or giant squid.

“Why does this matter?” you may ask, “They are, after all, only stupid beasts and one boat
looks very much like another.”

Herein lies the answer, for you see, the Kraken is not just a “stupid beast.” Like most
cephalopods of superior size, it has an intelligence equivalent to that of a young child. Not only
does this allow them to recognize boats and people it’s seen, or more likely using their suction
cups, taste, but we know that they actively avoid encounters with those who have harmed
them in the past. This combined with the fact that unlike aquatic reptiles and mammals,
cephalopods don’t have to come up for air, makes the efforts of so-called kraken hunters futile
and is why I have advised against such groups.

So why does a seemingly intelligent creature decide to drown a ship if not for food or defense?
The answer to this question can be found not in the deepest abyss but your child’s bathtub.

As previously stated, giant cephalopods have the intelligence around that of a three year
old child. Now, if you present a child of that age with a boat and access to water, you would
probably expect them to immediately begin floating the boat and playing pirate; that is, after
all, why you, an adult, bought the boat in the first place. The child, however, will not use the
boat as intended. What actually happens is that said child will dunk the boat underwater,
violently and repeatedly. Why? For the same reason a child does anything: because it’s fun.

And here rests the answer to the question of the kraken. If these giant squid are as intelligent
as small children, and small children sink ships because it is fun, then it stands to reason that
they, the giant squid, are also sinking ships because it is fun. This explains why so few people
are eaten and why so many are held aloft and rammed into one another or otherwise slammed
against the sides of rocks over and over.

This of course has little bearing on the actual problem of them attacking ships. If they do
it for fun, little more can be done for those afloat to defend themselves than has already
been undertaken. Those who have already taken up the call for ships setting sail to be more
drab and boring demonstrate little understanding for the greater cephalopods or children’s
entertainment. A quick trip to any carnival would, after all, show them that there is little more
amusing than the repetitive dunking of a boring person in water.

However, there was a time when giant squid, while most likely numerous, were mysterious
creatures rarely seen. They did not attack ships and could be found washed up on beaches or
near the ocean floor, never on the surface. So what has changed since those heady days when a
person could sail free of aquatic harassment?

Quite simply, there were whales. To be exact, there were sperm whales and these behemoths
kept the numbers of giant squid in check. As air breathing marine mammals, their very
presence on the surface discouraged the cephalopods from venturing to far from the depths
lest they wish to become a meal. Now, with the number of their only natural predator depleted
to the point of de jure if not de facto extinction, there is no hope of holding back the menace
that the kraken poses.

For this reason, I am inviting the best and brightest oceanographers, marine biologists, and
quantum physicists to join me in founding the Tempus Cetacea or Time Whale Society. Our goal
will be to turn the tide of the sea monster incursion on our oceans’ surfaces by reintroducing
whales, specifically sperm whales, to their original environment using mechanisms designed

to invoke change in the past. Using these “time machines,” we intend to reverse the extinction
brought on by eighteenth and nineteenth century whaling as well as twentieth and twenty-first
century Japanese “research” or, failing that, to transport a breeding population to our time,
where they can do some real good. It may take decades, centuries, millennia even, but I vow
that the Time Whale Society will not only endure, but work tirelessly to achieve our goal to
keep our oceans safe from the tyranny of the kraken’s “fun.” After all, time and the whale are
on our side.

A Happy 4th From HartLife

From the Desk of Vice President Davenport, Director of Human Resources
To: All Policies
Re: HartLife Day

As I am sure you are well aware, today is HartLife Day, the day when we commemorate the funding of this fair city of ours. However, in the past few years, several troubling traditions and misconceptions have sprung up, which according to some arcane statutes it is my responsibility as Director of Human Resources to dispel.

Firstly, it has come to our attention that many of you go around informing people that the city was not actually funded on this day. While this is technically so, we ask that you refrain from correcting your family and friends who are blissfully ignorant. No doubt they already know exactly how much you paid attention in school.

The reason we pay tribute to the funding of HartLife on this day is strictly because it is convenient to do so, as it does come between Director Day, when you honor those in stations above yours and Mole Day, when we celebrate the creation of the molepeople and human independence from menial tasks. There is NO OTHER REASON. Any rumors to the contrary, any tales of the company usurping an existing holiday for it’s own ends are clearly the lies of anarchists and young people As if there is a difference.

Second, regarding proper celebratory etiquette, I am aware that it has become something of a tradition to spend today charring black market “solid foods” before venturing up to the lightning rigs for the riggers annual sky explosive display. Allow me to correct your mistaken belief in this tradition by saying that NEITHER of these practices are company endorse and therefore should be avoided. Anyone caught with either illicit gunpowder devices or contraband foodstuffs will be labeled a provocateur and scheduled for reeducation.

For those of you rightly wondering how best to spend the day, you can best honor the company that gives you everything you need by giving it a good days work at half your usual pay.

Finally, anyone seeking to use this day to celebrate, commemorate, honor, or remember the founding, independence, or establishment of any other group, society, civilization, or system of government should fill out the necessary forms to apply for special holiday permits. Please submit them in person to Agent Chamberlain at the Department of M.U.R.D.E.R.

I hope this clears up any misunderstandings that might have existed, and as I am a very busy man, am sure that they will not continue. Please have a productive and safe, but mostly productive HartLife Day.

Vice President Davenport
Director of Human Resources

From the Desk of Commander Thomas G. Anderson

To: George Chamberlain, Special Investigator
Re: Communication

Since you are unwilling to voluntarily keep me informed regarding your current whereabouts
and activities, newly revised Department of M.U.R.D.E.R. guidelines state that, effective
immediately, all investigators, special and otherwise, must provide electronic updates for the
benefit of their superiors. Your superiors meaning me. There are NO exceptions to this rule. I
expect your first update to be uploaded to my computer no later than 3600 hours.

Commander Thomas G. Anderson, Supervising Director Department of M.U.R.D.E.R.


To: George Chamberlain, Special Investigator
Re: Re: Communication

The interdepartmental mix-up has been resolved. Now it is OUR Department of M.U.R.D.E.R.
that is required to file updates and no the Minor Utility Rotisserie Delicatessen Egg Repository.
Though they continue to anyway for some reason. Who on earth would want to follow
their “adventures” in the battle against salmonella? But I digress. You are expected to begin
charting your progress via the designated website for the review of your senior administrator.
Again, meaning me. In case they were left out, let me stress the words IMMEDIATELY and

Commander Thomas G. Anderson, Supervising Director Department of M.U.R.D.E.R.


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For official Our Fair City tweets including News, Updates, and random facts visit:

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What’s that? I said three Twitter accounts? Did I really? That IS interesting. One might even call
it…”mysterious” or “strange.” Stay tuned.

In The Beginning Part 2: The Patch Job

Jim McDoniel: Writer

Upon adding me to the ranks, Clayton began to fill me in on what they were up to: a post apocalyptic radio play called Our Fair City. The world was frozen, people lived underground, and a handful of characters had already been tossed around from Lucky Strike, the lightning rigger to Neal Henderson the…er… “word I don’t say that means manure” cowboy [EDITOR’S NOTE: Check out Episode 4: S.O.L. for a few more choice euphemisms on the subject]. Then, it came time to go out on the floor. Clayton said he’d fill me in later and I went off to work ushering people into the world of English Boy Wizard.

Essentially, I wanted to put my own stamp on the world. I was fortunate in that, at this point, we really didn’t have anything resembling a plot [EDITOR’S NOTE: This remained true for a alarmingly long period of time]. So unfettered by the limitations brought about by cohesive storytelling, my brain went to work filling in the gaps of world.
My mind quickly took hold of the city’s undergrounded-ness. We had people powering above and people doing jobs within, but we had no one digging. “So how does the city grow?” I asked myself. This being sci-fi, there was only one answer: molepeople.
To be fair, molepeople didn’t just pop out of thin air and appear fully formed in my head while on a train. I am not the author of English Boy Wizard. For years, I had been writing pieces for my own amusement under a mad scientist alter ego and it just so happens I had finished an essay in which I used molepeople to solve a current political conundrum. One could say, I had molepeople on the brain. So when it came to digging the tunnels of Our Fair City, who else could do it, but molepeople.
Well, antpeople.
Molepeople or antpeople. Antpeople or molepeople. I went back and forth on which I liked better. I mean the molepeople were molepeople, but antpeople were antpeople. I decided to put off deciding for a bit. The point was I had my in, because who else could dig the tunnels of Our Fair City except mole(ant)people.
Well, people actually.
You see, as Clayton went more in depth about the world a few hours later, he explained that tunnels were dug by people in great big steam-punky machines. Think the powerloaders from Aliens or a Gundam Wing, if you know what that is. Yeah, things like that. I believe they all had Mohawks and dyed hair to delineate themselves as diggers and their machines were fixed by wrenches, or mechanics, which was what one main character wanted to be.
I was…crushed. This is what happens when I plot too early. I believe my exact thoughts were “Shashum frashum…not as good as my idea…mumble grumble.” Sure, I had a few other ideas, but none were as cool or iconic as molepeople or antpeople. And none inspired me near as much. I couldn’t just abandon it.
I decided to plow ahead with the idea I had started with. To give myself some space, I decided that if it came up, the moles/ants would be dealing with problems too menial for the diggers. Not building tunnels per se, but doing small things: filling potholes and fixing wall holes. Patch jobs, if you will [EDITOR’S NOTE: This clearly wasn’t a problem: you’ll notice that the Molepeople have become a cornerstone of the Our Fair City world].
Having decided only molepeople could be made to do the tedious, little things, I reluctantly said goodbye to the antpeople. I didn’t wanna though. I liked the idea. I liked the image. I really, really wanted them both. “Well, why the hell not?” I asked myself, “This isn’t real life.”
But how to fit them in?
“What if the molepeople don’t believe in the antpeople?” chimed in the part of my brain that deals in irony.
“And what if the two molepeople are in love?” suggested the part of me that’s a great big Gilmore Girl loving softie.
“And what if the antpeople aren’t actually seen, but we have a detective character make a bunch of ant jokes to make it clear they exist?” added the part of me that loves Sherlock Holmes.
“Only if I can partially name him after my dad,” said a part of me that loves naming characters after my dad.
In a few days, I took all of these parts of me, sat down at a computer, played some World of Warcraft until I got bored and then wrote a script [EDITOR’S NOTE: You may be unsuprised to learn that much of Our Fair City has been dreamed up in between games of the Battlestar Gallactica Board game, Arkham Horror, Citadels, Star Trek Online, and various other pastimes.  We also play a particularly mixed game of Ultimate Frisbee].
I showed this script to Clayton. He mumbled something that I think went like this “Shashum frashum…the diggers…mumble grumble…but this is good too I guess.” Thus, “The Patch Job” was born.


In The Beginning, Part 1: Being Chosen

By Jim McDoniel

(In which Season One Writer Jim McDoniel discusses the origins of Our Fair City and how he became involved in the project)

In the beginning, there was “The Word.” Billions, nay, thousands of years later, Our Fair City was created. Coincidence or intelligent design?

This whole thing started with Clayton. Clayton and his roommate, whose name I’d say escapes me, except that I never could remember it in the first place, came up with the premise for Our Fair City in college. That’s all I know. I wasn’t there. Though from all the winking and nudging and nose-tapping that goes on when he tells that story, I think it safe to assume there was also a discussion of which chip flavor the universe most smells like.

Anyway, like I said, my perspective comes in later when we were all employed at a museum that I will not name for an exhibit that I will not name. Let’s just say we were quite “industrious” though not very “scientific” while we all worked on the “English Boy Wizard” Exhibition.

I was in the break room, reading a book as usual when in walks Clayton with an entourage that included Frank, another guy whose name I think is Mark, and possibly Ansel. They were talking about a project they were working on. I had been eavesdropping for days now and the only two things I had determined was that it was properly nerdy and involved writing. And that I wanted to join. So, three things, then.
Being me, I had devised an ingenious plan for getting involved: sitting quietly and waiting to be asked. It is a strategy that, in the past has served me well in not being a part of various sketch shows and improv troupes. And now, I employed it fully expecting the same result.

Anyway, Clayton and the gang were talking proper nerdy when a question came up. I forget what it was. I forget most things, or don’t pay attention to them in the first place. Conversations, directions, safety instructions, it all goes away nearly instantaneously. Unless you tell me that you think we’re better friends than boyfriend and girlfriend. For some reason, those conversations stay with me FOREVER. The point is the gang was puzzling over a sci-fi question, one that I knew the answer to.

For clarity’s sake, let’s say the conversation went like this:
Me: Are you wondering what movie had a crazy doctor played by Bruce Campbell doing weird plastic surgery on people?
Them: Yeah.
Me: Escape From L.A.
Them: Oh yeah.

I was about to go back to reading but Clayton was staring at me in a puzzled way. It was a moment before he said the only part of this story I can clearly recall. He said, “Jim, why haven’t we gotten you in on this?” I shrugged, Clayton waved me over, and just like that, I was in.

A few minutes later I was clued in to the basic premise. A few hours later I had my first good idea. And a few days later, I handed Clayton my first script for Our Fair City: “The Patch Job.”