ClubFloyd Transcript:
Hollywood Visionary by Aaron A. Reed
As played on ifMUD on May 15, 2016

The idea behind ClubFloyd is that each week at a pre-arranged time, a group of people meet online to cooperatively play a game of interactive fiction.

Below is a transcript of Hollywood Visionary. It is a a commercial release by Choice Of Games, released in 2015. As of the date of this transcript, the game has been nominated for two Xyzzy Awards (Best Game and Best NPCs). You can learn more about the game, including how to purchase it, by visiting IFDB.

Special Note: For this particular game, rather than using Floyd (the bot we usually use to facilitate game play), text was cut & pasted directly from the game into ifMUD. This necessitated editing by hand that would not normally occur in the transcript; there may be slight ommissions or oddities of formatting as a consequence of this. If you see any such inconsistencies, they are likely the result of this and not the fault of Aaron A. Reed or Choice Of Games.

Interesting Note: For the curious, the transcript below contains 185 choices made and reveals only about 20% of the game's overall available content.

WARNING! Below you will find a transcript of people playing this game, and it goes without saying that the transcript is full of spoilers. So, if you've never played this game, and think you might like to at some point, I do not recommend reading any further. Instead, you might want to return to the interactive fiction page.

ToyShop & Floyditorium
#ClubFloyd Discussion

The elevator opens onto your future.

You step onto the dangerous red carpet of Lloyd Croghan. Yes, the Lloyd Croghan, who started as a shoeshine boy and built a Hollywood empire from timbers up. Ten years you've worked at this studio and you've only met him twice. And now you've got sixty seconds to pitch him your dream project: the movie you've always wanted to make.
The elevator boy tips his cap nervously, slams the gate shut, and beats a quick retreat down to safer floors.
You approach Croghan's imposing mahogany desk with care. The man himself sits behind it, tall as a linebacker but whisper-thin, a face all angles and edges balanced above a charcoal-grey bow tie, immaculately tied. He smokes a Diego cigar with one wiry hand while riffling through the box office reports with the other.
He hasn't looked up. How to get his attention?
CHOICES: - Wait for him to notice me. - Cough politely. - Announce myself.
Roger says, ">JAZZ HANDS"
DavidW says, ">Announce myself"
Jacqueline asks (of Roger), "Does JAZZ HANDS equal 'announce myself'?"
Roger says, "I guess so"
Roger says, "Cough like I've been smoking sweet smooth Laramies since I was 12"

"I'm here about the pitch, Mr. Croghan," you say in a strong, clear voice.
He looks up with a creased brow, annoyed perhaps at this interruption. "Yes, the pitch," he says with distaste, waving vaguely at a little chair facing his desk. "Sit, and let's get through with it."
Since he didn't mention your name, you assume he's forgotten it. Not a great start.
You slip into the chair, trying to stay calm. You've got one chance at this, one chance to impress Croghan enough to give you a greenlight. It all comes down to this.
"All right, what have you got for me?" he asks, looking bored.
Roger says, "DANCING NAZIS"
Stay calm. Start with the genre.

CHOICES: - It's a comedy. - It's an adventure picture. - It's science fiction. - It's a western. - It's a musical. - It's a drama. - It's a horror flick. - It's a romance film. - It's fantasy. - It's a suspense picture.
Jacqueline sits back, waits to see if the three of you can decide on that.
Roger says, "My vote is for musical, but you know, it could be a musical horror."
Jacqueline says, "heh"
DavidW says, "well, I'm partial to science fiction and comedy and fantasy."
Teaspoon says, "I will go with the SF idea."
Jacqueline asks, "So, that's two votes for SciFi?"
Jacqueline says, "Two votes is a majority..."
Teaspoon exclaims, "yay!"
"Well, sir, it's a science fiction picture," you say, "something to light the imagination on fire."

CHOICES: - There's a subgenre, too. - There's a qualifier to the genre. - That's all there is to know about the genre.
Jacqueline says, "This might be your chance for a musical, Roger."
Roger says, "wooo"
Jacqueline asks, "Maybe it can be a SciFi musical?"
Roger says, "Mars needs women, see"
Jacqueline says, "I wonder if that's a subgenre or a qualifier..."
Roger says, "With gams up to there"
Teaspoon asks, "what's the diff between a qualifier and a subgenre?"
Jacqueline says, "Okay, it's a subgenre (I checked). So if you want it to be a sci-fi musical, it can be."
DavidW says (to Teaspoon), "Alien invasion might be a qualifier."
Jacqueline asks (of Teaspoon), "It's possible here to see the choices in both of thoese without committing. Want to see them?"
Roger says, "rock rock rock me Doctor Zaius"
Teaspoon says, "yes please"
- a comedy.
- an adventure picture.
- a western.
- a musical.
- a drama.
- horror.
- romantic.
- fantasy.
- suspenseful.
- None of these.

QUALIFIERS: - An epic. - In 3-D! - Set in the past. - Religious. - Controversial. - An adaptation. - Experimental. - Dark. - Racy.
Jacqueline says, "So I think you can give it one of each."
Teaspoon says, "3D SCI-FI MUSICAL"
DavidW says, "racy sci-fi comedy"
Jacqueline says, "I ... would be very scared to go see that."
Teaspoon asks, "which?"
Jacqueline asks (of DW), "So, basically your spaceport from the ifMUD?"
Jacqueline says (to Tsp), "I'd be scared of a 3D scifi musical."
DavidW says, "My spaceport isn't racy."
Jacqueline says, "Isn't it? Aw."
Teaspoon says, "You beat me to the "aw""
Jacqueline asks, "So Roger wants a musical. Is that right, Roger?"
Jacqueline says, "I did a dark, epic fantasy when I played. It'll be interesting to see how this goes when you choose something different."
Roger says, "Barbarella was I think in 3D"
Roger says, "Sure, musical"
Roger says, "In 3D /and/ in stero"
DavidW says, "Wizard of Oz in space. Somewhere Over The Milky Way, ..."
"But it's a musical, too," you say.
Teaspoon says, "I'm amused by the 3D movie craze."

CHOICES: - But wait, there's more... - That's all there is to know about the genre.
Jacqueline says, "So if you say 'Wait, there's more!' then you get a qualifier."
Jacqueline says, "So yeah, it could be in 3D"
DavidW says, "3D is just a gimmick. Do not like."
Jacqueline says, "Or a controversial scifi musical. I'm not even sure what that would be like."
Roger says, "2D is just a gimmick"
Teaspoon says, "Of course it's a gimmick. But we don't have to *watch* this"
Teaspoon says, "we just have to produce it"
Jacqueline has a thought, but it's spoilery, so she keeps it to herself.
Roger says, "There's definitely more in any case"
Jacqueline asks, "Do you all need the qualifiers again?"
Teaspoon says, "I wonder if this affects our budget"
Roger says, "I don't think so"
Teaspoon says, "no."
Teaspoon says, "could play it safe and make it an adaption of course"
Roger says, "An adaptation of that well-known sci-fi musical stage production"
Jacqueline says, "haha"
Roger says, "West Side of the Moon Story"
Jacqueline says, "This might be your chance to go with David's desire for racy."
DavidW says, "Guardian of the Galaxy Quest"
Teaspoon says, "Little Shop of Horrors, early"
Roger says, "I could go with racy"
Teaspoon says, "All right, a racy SF musical"
Jacqueline says, "That seems to have potential for being very funny."
DavidW says, "woot"

"...and racy. Make the screen sizzle."
The mogul's eyebrows twitch as his rough-hewn face slips into a familiar frown. "A racy musical science fiction picture," he says slowly. He leans back, with a small smile even more dangerous than the frown, and waggles the Diego cigar at you. "Go on, then. Let's get this over with."
Sweat poises delicately at your hairline; you keep it from falling by sheer will. A glance at the clock: forty seconds left. There's got to be an angle that'll grab him. Maybe the setting?
"The story takes place..."
CHOICES: - on a distant planet. - on a future Earth. - on board a spaceship traveling between the stars. - in the exotic streets of Morocco. - at a top-secret underground nuclear lab. - in a world of dreams and magic. - along the shining lights of Broadway. - on board a pirate ship sailing the seven seas.
Jacqueline asks, "How am I doing on speed? I'm pasting the text, reading it at speaking pace, then pasting the choices. How's that working?"
Teaspoon says, "Workable"
DavidW says, "It's working fine for me."
Roger says, "It is acceptable, human"
Jacqueline chuckles.
Jacqueline says, "Okay, I will continue to function within those parameters."
Roger says, "Pirate ship is pretty goofy"
DavidW says, "I'm tempted to go with the pirate ship too."
Roger says, "Arr captain blackholebeard"
Teaspoon says, "this is going to be a slightly unfocused movie, I suspect."
Teaspoon says, "Pirates are fine by me though"
Jacqueline says, "I'm not 100% sure that's two votes."
Jacqueline says, "Timing. Okay, now I think it's two votes."
Jacqueline asks, "Are you all going with Pirate Ship?"
Teaspoon says, "Apparently"
DavidW says, "I'm fine with pirate."
Teaspoon says, "(I have no strong feelings either way)"
DavidW says, "But I worry we're being inconsistent in our pitch."
A racy musical science fiction picture, set on board a pirate ship sailing the seven seas. Croghan's face is impassive.

"Against this backdrop, we meet our cast..."
CHOICES: - A man... - A woman... - A man and a woman... - Two men... - Two women... - An ensemble...
Roger says, "ALL PYGMY CAST"
Teaspoon says, "Let's go for broke. Make it an ensemble picture."
DavidW says, "mmhm. Ensemble."
Jacqueline says, "You may literablly be going for broke, but at least you avoided 3D..."
Jacqueline says, "Okay, that's two for ensemble."
Teaspoon asks, "So there are budget decisions here?"
"A motley group, who must...

CHOICES: - Learn to follow their heart. - Struggle against forces beyond their control. - Find themselves. - Sacrifice everything to protect the ones they love. - Succumb to the scourge of an uncaring universe.
Jacqueline says (to Tsp), "Budget is a thing, but I'm not sure if these initial choices impact that or not."
Jacqueline says, "I say go with your hearts' desires."
DavidW says, "Odd, A Sea of Desire"
Teaspoon says, "I suspect we can't pitch a "uncaring universe" ending in a flash musical. Sounds silly."
Jacqueline says, "Oh, and I said that off the cuff, not having read the choices. I'm just saying don't let budget get in your way."
Roger says, "I don't have strong feelings here"
DavidW says, "Heart or Struggle."
Teaspoon says, "struggle"
Roger says, "Sure"

A racy musical science fiction picture, set on board a pirate ship sailing the seven seas. It's about a motley group, who must struggle against forces beyond their control. Great. Throw in something about the appeal...
"On the screen, a story plays out that's..."
CHOICES: - Like nothing you've ever seen before. - An age-old favorite, tried and true. - Smart, makes you think. - Simple, universal. - Thrilling, intense: it'll have the audience on the edge of their seats. - Fun for the whole family.
Teaspoon says, "Like nothing you've ever seen seems very apt"
Jacqueline says, "hahah - so true"
Teaspoon says, "(we can hardly pitch it as racy and fun for the whole family)"
Jacqueline says, "Good point."
DavidW says, "There's gonna be green screening."
Jacqueline says, "Although sometimes there are racy things in films that just go over the heads of young kids without actually scarring them."
Roger says, "nah we'll harryhausen the heck out of htis"
Teaspoon says, "I like the idea of stop-motion pirates"
Jacqueline says, "I had to look up Harryhausen"
Jacqueline says, "That would be pretty cool, but I don't think that's an option here."
Jacqueline says, "Unfortunately."
Roger says, "I think we can all agree no one's seen anything like this before"
DavidW says, "Since it's sf, we can make at least one of crew have Six Million Dollar Man-like cybernetics."
Jacqueline asks, "So: like nothing you've ever seen before?"
Teaspoon asks, "Isn't this the fifties?"
Jacqueline says (to Tsp), "Yeah"
Roger says, "That's just what I assumed but not really for any good reason"
DavidW says, "Like nothing seen before"
Teaspoon says, "yup"

"For the cast, we'll look for..."
CHOICES: - Big names, some of Hollywood's finest. - Small character actors. A focus on quality. - Friends of mine. We'll save on budget.
DavidW asks, "goodness, we're still pitching our concept?"
Jacqueline says, "I think you're near the end and almost into the story."
Jacqueline says, "I think."
Jacqueline says, "Probably."
Jacqueline says, "This is kind of how all CS games start, it seems."
Jacqueline says, "I think it's kind of neat, myself."
DavidW says, "I think small character actors, on this coice."
Teaspoon says, "agreed"
DavidW says, "choice"

A racy musical science fiction picture, set on board a pirate ship sailing the seven seas. It's about a motley group, who must struggle against forces beyond their control. The story's like nothing you've ever seen before, and the cast will be filled with top-notch actors.
Twenty seconds. You lean forward and catch his steely eye with all the intensity you can muster.
"Mr. Croghan, my years of experience make me the perfect person for this project. I know I've never handled a picture quite like this before, but I promise you I'll bring it in on time and on budget. I've built a reputation at this studio for my natural talent at..."
CHOICES: - Writing. - Directing. - Editing. - Acting. - Producing.
Teaspoon says, "ooohhhh"
Teaspoon exclaims, "vital question!"
Roger says, "Best Boyying"
Jacqueline says (to Roger), "I'm so glad you join us most weeks."
Roger says, "I do what I can"
Teaspoon says, "Producing. If we pick anything else we'll just get into fights with whoever we hire to do all that."
Roger says, "I thought this guy was the producer"
Teaspoon says, "Right, but that doesn't mean that's what we're *known* for"
Roger says, "I mean, the guy we're talking to"
DavidW says, "I think producing might get us out of production scrapes, but what do I know."
Jacqueline says, "I guess the thing to do here is to consider what's critical to a movie's success but would otherwise be really expensive if you had to pay for it."
Teaspoon says, "it'll be expensive to get a producer."
Roger says, "Acting: worked for Clint Eastwood, didn't work for The Room's Tommy Wiseau"
Roger says, "I don't know anything about what anything in Hollywood costs, so, whatevs"
Roger says, "Other than those best boys are making out like bandits"
Roger exclaims, "awww... nuts. I need to leave. Have fun, kids!"
DavidW says, "I've already failed to bring this in time and under budget. The script is a mess."
Jacqueline exclaims, "Darn. Bye, Roger!"
DavidW says, "Bye Roger"
Jacqueline exclaims (at DW), "haha. Kinda, yeah. But it'll be fun!"
DavidW says (to Jacqueline), "I just wanna see the racy pirate costumes."
Jacqueline says (to So,), "um, now how do I decide a choice is a choice, when there are just two of you? I guess you have to agree."
DavidW asks, "I think we agree on producing?"
Jacqueline says, "Hm. I guess you do."
Teaspoon says, "This'll work until we disagree"
"And though it doesn't come as naturally to me, I've also worked hard to become a skilled..."

CHOICES: - Writer. - Director. - Editor. - Actor.
Jacqueline says, "I guess you get a second skill."
DavidW says, "hm. Editor or writer, I think."
Teaspoon says, "Hmm. I like editing."
Jacqueline says, "It's kind of hilarious that this is a 60 second pitch. Even when you're not deciding by committee like we are here."
DavidW says, "ok. Editor, then."
(You decide not to mention your Achilles' heel: you're no good at all as...)

CHOICES: - A writer. - A director. - An actor.
Teaspoon asks, "acting, I think. We want an ensemble cast! Why should we have to act in it?"
Jacqueline says, "I was thinking that exact thing."
Jacqueline says, "Also, seems weird that you'd be an absolutely shit writer but a good editor."
DavidW says, "I suppose that makes sense. Sure."

"With my talent and the resources of this studio behind me, I believe I can produce a tremendous motion picture. What do you say?"
You lean back in your chair. That's it: you've done your best. For better or worse, your fate's in Croghan's hands now.
Teaspoon asks, "Well, film editing is sorta a different skill, isn't it?"
Croghan puffs his cigar reflectively, then steeples his fingers, staring at you through narrowed eyes filled with something unpleasantly like distaste. You suspect he's never liked you, probably because...
Jacqueline says (to Tsp), "Oh right! I guess it meant film editing. Yeah."

CHOICES: - He views my masculine persona as a challenge. [Use "he" pronouns for my character] - He views my feminine persona as a challenge. [Use "she" pronouns for my character] - He views my refusal to play the part of either leading man or leading lady in my public life as a challenge. [Use "they" pronouns for my character]
Teaspoon says, "As much as I like the idea of being a female 50s movie producer, this is also weirdly implausible."
DavidW asks, "Shall we be female, then?"
Jacqueline says, "That'd make it interesting, maybe."
Teaspoon says, "I have no opinion either way. I like that it's there, but it seems inappropriate for the setting, which conflicts with roleplay."
Jacqueline says, "Anything but male would make it interesting."
Jacqueline says, "I *think* I played female, though -- yeah, I did. I don't think it impacted much."
Teaspoon says, "But then it's Choicescript, so I should probably just take this on its own terms."
Jacqueline says, "Yeah."
DavidW says, "well, I vote female, but I'll accept any of the three choices."
Teaspoon says, "Female it is then."

And if there was ever someone who doesn't like to be challenged, it's Lloyd Croghan. He's risen to the top through hard work, sure, but also by keeping people in their place...beneath him.
Croghan unfolds his hands and leans back in his chair. "A charming pitch," he says, "but quite impossible. We've simply got no room in our schedule for a picture like that, I'm afraid, none at all."
Adrenaline courses through you, sweet and sour. You're losing him. You've got to say something...
CHOICES: - "Next year's schedule, then." - "Do you really want us to keep churning out the same old pictures year after year?" - "If I could just tell you a little more about the story..."
Teaspoon says, "Next year, I think."
Teaspoon says, "Of course he wants the same old pictures year after year. That's sort of his job."
DavidW says, "yes, that'll give us more time to write our epic."
Jacqueline asks, "So, delay?"
Jacqueline asks, "Give in?"
Jacqueline asks, "Roll over?"
Jacqueline says, "(Kidding.)"
Jacqueline says, "I hadn't thought about that: that a delay may allow you time to plan."
Teaspoon says, "woof"
Teaspoon says, "Lyrics are hard to write"
Jacqueline says, "I kind of see this as 1) roll over, 2) push back, or 3) change the pitch."
Jacqueline says, "But maybe that's just me."
Teaspoon says, "Oh, hmm"
DavidW says, "I don't know how the author was thinking. But I like next year."
Teaspoon says, "Still, it'd be funny to see if we can lose before starting the game."
Jacqueline says, "Ha. True."
Jacqueline says, "I could always redo it with your same settings."
Jacqueline asks, "Shall we?"
Teaspoon says, "Let's"
DavidW says, "please"

His face sharpens, and he leans forward again.
"I'm afraid you misunderstand. It's not a matter of scheduling. Your idea is sloppy. It's confusing, unpolished, and off the deep end. This is not the kind of picture we make here. This is not a picture that anyone would make. There's no market for it, no guarantee of return on investment.
"My dear, it's the 1950s. Television is leaching away our audience. Politicians think we're harboring Communists. The courts have crippled our monopoly on distribution. If we want to survive, we have to think like businessmen. We must be canny, ruthless. Efficient and predictable."
He smiles thinly. "There's no place in this modern system for your ridiculous space opera drivel. It would be a disaster. Good day."
You were prepared for this, for another rejection. Prepared to nod, smile, go back to work making the same dreck again and again. But instead you find yourself gripped with sudden rage.
All the years of your life you've given to this studio. All the dreams you've sacrificed, the ideas you've diluted, put on hold, disfigured past recognition to make them more commercial, more palatable. Something is snapping. With perfect clarity, you know Croghan's wrong. Your idea is not a disaster. It's a revelation. It deserves to be made. It will be made.
You stand up. He's already looking back at his papers, as if you aren't even there. For once you know exactly what to say.
Teaspoon says, "He is completely right, of course"
"Mr. Croghan..."
Jacqueline says (to Tsp), "Kinda, yeah."
Jacqueline says, "Sad but true."
Teaspoon says, "I wonder what he says if you come with a convincing pitch."
DavidW says, "Please let us grab his cigar out of his mouth."

CHOICES: - "I quit!" - "I QUIT!" - "I quit!"
Teaspoon says, "I like italics."
Jacqueline asks, "DW, do you also like italics?"
DavidW says, "I like capitals. Italics is too shrill."
Jacqueline asks, "How will you two ever run a movie studio together?"
Jacqueline asks, "Tsp, can you live with shouting at him in caps?"
Teaspoon says, "Suppose so"
DavidW says, "Teaspoon will do all the real work, and I'll fetch the coffee and donuts."

You rant about all the brilliant ideas that die in suit-stuffed offices, the talent ground down by endless baseball pictures, endless B-movie filler. You tell him you're through being stepped on, through selling out your vision.
You tell him if his studio won't make this picture, then by God, you'll start your own.
You glower at him triumphantly while you wait for the elevator. He stares back in astonishment, that Diego smoldering forgotten from the side of his mouth. The elevator boy pulls the gate shut after you and lets out a low whistle.
"Jeepers, lady... that must have been some pitch!"
Teaspoon says, "But I don't like coffee."
Jacqueline says, "I'm sure DW can fetch tea."
DavidW says, "In the 50s it isn't real coffee anyway. It's Sanka."
Chapter One

Yes, yes it was.
Only a handful of years ago, the idea of someone like you starting her own movie studio would have been laughable. But everything changed in 1948, when the Supreme Court ruled against the Hollywood monopoly, where studios owned the theater chains and only showed their own pictures. Now anyone's got a shot at national distribution. For every lumbering giant like Paramount and Warner, there are a half-dozen upstart studios flush with talent and hungry energy. It's the rise of the independents.
You've spent twelve months planning, recruiting, financing, glad-handing, cajoling, bargaining, and yes, pitching. Pitching your dream flick to actors, investors, riggers, even janitors. Pitching your vision of a studio willing to be bold, to take risks and put everything on the line to make something magic.
And one by one, you've gathered believers. People who remember your hard work, who've seen your talent. People who want to make something great. Together you've pulled this studio together, brick by brick and light by light.
Teaspoon says, "I would make a pithy comment, but I'm perturbed by our spurt of insanity"
Maybe this dream's a long shot. But damned if you're not going to give it the best shot you can.

Nostalgia recedes as your surroundings come into focus. Today is the official opening of your little studio lot on Poverty Row, and it's swarming with contractors, electricians, inspectors, movers, and runners: your harried staff of big-studio refugees doing their best to keep everything on track.
Chief among these refugees is your old personal assistant, the first to sign up with you the day you gave Croghan the boot. Meticulous and efficient, with an amazing knack for making things happen (sometimes by sheer force of will), your "good right hand" is probably the only reason you got your new studio up and running so quickly.
In fact, you'd be lost without...
CHOICES: - him. - her. - them.
Jacqueline says, "Just roll with it, Teaspoon. Embrace the insanity."
Jacqueline says, "Also, it's kind of funny how Roger kind of got you all into a lot of this and then had to bail."
Teaspoon says, "It's like getting into a hot bath. I'm acclamatising."
DavidW says, "Him. We need a man to be the male face of the company on occasion, I bet."
Teaspoon says, "Good point."
verbalK gets bored and wanders off to the Toyshop.
verbalK arrives, ready to play with the toys.
And there he is now, marching up to you with a stack of clipboards, a loose lick of hair forever falling onto his face, with that look of determination that's been known to cause men twice his size to get out of the way. His mismatched socks and misaligned buttons somehow only add to his intensity.

You can't help but smile a little. He can manage the business affairs of the whole studio, but dressing himself has always remained a bit of a mystery.
Teaspoon says, "On second thought, we do our own interviews."
Jacqueline says (to vK,), "this week we're doing a weird cut & paste thing. Follow #Floyd for the text, but all your commentary should still be on this channel."
DavidW says, "Mismatched socks. That's so Finding Martin."

"There you are," your assistant says, out of breath. "We need you for the final sign-off on B Stage. Yes, I know they're still sawing over there, but look, the foreman's leaving for lunch and the ink's gotta be dry before the notary'll agree to..."
"Okay, okay," you laugh, "I'll be right there. How are you holding up,
Teaspoon says, "I hope we have other choices for romantic interests."

CHOICES: - [Give the assistant a random name.] - [Give the assistant and all future named characters random names.] - [Choose a name for the assistant.]
Teaspoon says, "(I assume there are romances in a CS game)"
Jacqueline says, "There often are, yeah."
DavidW says, "The real world and the movie world will ... probably .... have amusing echoes in each other."
Jacqueline says, "Just asked maga. He says it's a requirement of their house style to have a romance thread in there somewhere."
Teaspoon says, "In the interests of simplicity, I vote for random names."
Jacqueline says (to Teaspoon), "I was thinking that."
DavidW says, "Agreed. Hello Rando M. Assistant."
Jacqueline asks, "So, the second choice? Random this time and in the future?"
DavidW says, "yes"
Teaspoon says, "yes"

"Pretty good, boss," Eugene says, running a harried hand through his scraggly hair, "just a million things to do and only one of me to keep track of them." He thrusts the clipboard at you. "Sign for the camera delivery, will you?"
You scribble your last name on the form:
CHOICES: - Warren. - Chernikov. - Flowers. - Wheeler. - Kerrigan. - Zhu. - Rooke. - Show me other names. - Custom name.
DavidW asks, "oh, can we be Flowers?"
Jacqueline says, "Flowers or Floyd."
Teaspoon says, "I like Floyd, myself."
DavidW asks, "But we're female. A female Floyd?"
Jacqueline says, "Until vK speaks up I am still just rolling with what you two say."
Jacqueline says (to DW), "Oh, true."
DavidW says, "How about just 'Flo'. It's short for both."
Jacqueline asks, "Then again - these are last names, no?"
Teaspoon says, "I thought they were."
Teaspoon says, "the text says so"
DavidW says, "oh. Last names. Missed that."
Jacqueline says, "So it does."
DavidW says, "okay, whatevs."
Jacqueline asks, "So, Floyd?"
DavidW says, "okay"
Teaspoon says, "yes"

Eugene has you sign a half-dozen other forms in quick succession, then jerks his head for you to follow him over to B Stage.
The lot is chaos, held just under the boiling point of panic. Painters are still putting finishing touches on the small row of offices between the two shooting stages. A gardener's pickup laden with saplings is parked atop an unfinished path, and the gardener and bricklayer are using men's words with each other. Frantic boys chase after tumbling paperwork caught in hot gusts of air.
You can't help but smile, though. The whirling mayhem is finally accreting into something recognizably studio, like a slow-motion shot of shattering glass threaded in reverse. Soon movie magic will be made here. You feel it in your bones.
You're so intent on this lovely image that you're almost run over. Eugene gasps and pulls you out of the way as a truck, backing up and laden with lumber and supplies, nearly rolls straight over you. You tumble to the ground just as the overalled driver spots you and slams on the brakes, jumping out guiltily to help you up.
He pulls you to your feet with a calloused, sweaty hand. "Oh, geez...I'm so sorry, chief," he says.
[Choose how you want your employees to address you.]
CHOICES: - Traditionally masculine forms of address. - Traditionally feminine forms of address. - Less gendered forms of address.
Teaspoon asks, "Is this a way to reset our gender, or are we being offered the chance to be gender-bending here?"
DavidW says, "I'm not sure."
Teaspoon says, "Maybe go with feminine just in case"
DavidW says, "I don't mind being called 'chief' or 'boss' instead of Ms Floyd."
Jacqueline says, "Well, in some spaces women in charge are addressed as sir."
Jacqueline says, "It's kind of weird to me, though. And I say that as a woman who is generally in charge."
Jacqueline says, "Though I always find it even weirder when people call me Madame Superintendent (which is a thing that actually happens in real life)."
DavidW asks, "Lt Saavik, she was addressed as 'sir', wasn't she?"
Jacqueline says, "So I guess I kind of like the non-gendered language, myself."
Teaspoon says, "I'd go for that myself"
Jacqueline says (to DW), "I think Janeway was in ST:V"
DavidW says, "let's go non-gendered here, yes"

[Choose how you want your employees to address you.]
CHOICES: - "That's 'Doctor Floyd,' if you please," Gene says. - "That's 'Colonel Floyd,' please," Gene says. - "That's just Floyd to you," Gene says. - "The boss prefers you use her full name," Gene says. - "The boss prefers you call her by her first name," Gene says. - "Why don't you watch where you're going!" Gene says. [Stick with "chief."] - Traditionally feminine forms of address. - Traditionally masculine forms of address.
Teaspoon says, "I like the simplicity of Chief, and it's funny when we're running Perry."
DavidW says, "Chief or Final Boss."

"Sorry, chief," the driver says, face turning even redder.
You know that look well. You've worn it before. It's the look of someone who thinks they're about to get fired. And maybe that's just what you ought to do to someone backing up an overloaded truck on a busy lot without looking where he was going.
CHOICES: - Fire him. We can't afford any screwups on this lot. - Accept his apology, but give him a good chewing-out first. - Take pity on him and shake his hand. Everyone deserves a second chance.
Jacqueline says, "FWIW, this game allows you to see stats at any time, and I can tell you what those are upon request. From time to time the game will actually make you review them, but that hasn't happened yet."
Teaspoon says, "I think we chew him out. We want to save firing people for stuff that *really* matters."
Teaspoon says, "as in, almost killing us is one thing, but messing up a shot will be Serious Business"
Jacqueline says, "heh"
DavidW says, "yeah, I don't want to fire the guy."
Jacqueline asks, "Don't fire him, but do rip him a new one?"
Teaspoon exclaims, "yup!"
DavidW says, "mmhm"

"That was damn sloppy driving," you say, smoothing out your clothes. "You could get someone killed that way. Why don't you get that load to where it's going, but more carefully this time, or there won't be another."
Eugene peers after him with lingering distaste. "Sorry about that, chief," he says, "I don't know where they find some of these clowns."
"Oh, come on, Gene," you say. "We've known each other almost ten years. Can't you call me..."
CHOICES: - Choose from traditionally masculine first names. - Choose from traditionally feminine first names. - Choose from gender-neutral first names. - Custom first name.
Teaspoon says, "Floyd Floyd"
DavidW says, "ugh. Why did I know you'd suggest that."
Jacqueline says, "Snrk"
Jacqueline says, "Well, this time it really IS your first name."
Jacqueline asks, "What about Flowers Floyd?"
Jacqueline grins.
Teaspoon says, "I'm not actually much bothered on this one."
Teaspoon says, "(the Catch 22 gag was irresistable)"
DavidW says, "I want to see F L O W E R S on the big screen."
Teaspoon says, "Fair enough."

Eugene grins. "I suppose, chief," he says, "I'll try to remember. Flowers. Flowers." He shakes his head, then scribbles something on a notepad. "I'll make a note of it."
He takes you over to B Stage to find the foreman.
An aging warehouse with enough room for a couple of mid-sized sets, B Stage already had a storied Hollywood past when you took it over. You were able to reuse most of the existing overhead rigging, the doors were already large enough to get equipment and set pieces in and out, and the place was wired for electricity (though less up to code than you'd originally hoped).
Eugene guides you over to the foreman, himself center of a small storm of assistants and clipboards, and you quickly get the paperwork taken care of. You're just wondering if you can find a shady spot to sit down for a moment when a runner taps you on the shoulder.
"Chief! You've got a visitor over by C Stage. She says it's top priority."
She? You wonder who it could be. Leaving Eugene to argue with some bespectacled insurance agents, you follow the runner back outside.
Teaspoon says, "I wanna know who we bought this from."

You blink in the hot sun as you walk the few paces to C Stage, your secondary shooting space. (The absent A Stage burnt to the ground sometime before the war, or so you were told.)
Standing in the shadow of the soundstage, you see a kid (a kid? Who let some kid onto your lot?) and a woman who's as out of place amid the bustle of workers as a French poodle in a wolf pack: draped in a stylish fur that must be stifling in this heat and wearing a ridiculous swooping hat, she looks like a lost movie star until you get close enough to recognize the face. Well, well: wonders never cease. It's your long-lost sister, Romana.
It's been... God, at least ten years since you spoke: the last time did not end well. Romana's desperate longing for a life of luxury coupled with her tendency to make impulsive, hotheaded decisions was not a happy combination. She'd had three spouses and three divorces by age twenty-two. (You still haven't managed even one of either.) When she betrothed a wealthy aristocrat from a tiny European country, your sensible objections that he seemed to enjoy flirting with other women nearly as much as spoiling her with lavish presents were ignored. She flew off to live in a castle and letters were not forthcoming.
Of course, Romana was never nice to you to begin with. Being civil is going to raise your blood pressure, you can tell: getting in some good digs, on the other hand, might feel awfully nice.
She spots you a moment later from behind fashionably oversized sunglasses and nods cooly. "Little sister... Glad to see you're doing well."
"Countess Romana Habay-la-Neuve," you say,
CHOICES: - "It's good to see you." (Swallowing my pride) - "What an unexpected surprise." (Keeping it neutral) - "I guess even Europe couldn't stand you." (Relieving some stress)
Jacqueline says, "Man, that last one is quite the burn."
DavidW says, "Let's be neutral for the first salvo."
Teaspoon says, "Keep it neutral until we found out why she's here."
Jacqueline says, "10-4"

She sniffs. "It's Romana Frazier, now," she says. "Although it might be Romana Floyd again before long, if I can stand the paperwork."
She looks around the busy lot, not particularly hiding her distaste. "I read about all this in the papers," she said. "Little Flowers, with her own movie studio. How industrious of you."
"The papers?" you say. "Have you moved back to California, then?"
"Yes, we've got a little place up on Mulholland now," she says airily, opening a fan and wafting at the summer air with ineffectual flaps. "I normally wouldn't play tourist like this, but...she insisted. Sweetpea!" She raises her voice, and the kid steps shyly forward. "Flowers, this is your niece."
DavidW says (to Tsp), "Oh, I suspect Romana wants to be the star in our epic."

You turn to the little girl in astonishment. Your niece! With Romana's selfish priorities, you somehow never expected her to produce any offspring. Since she's your only sibling, and you have no children of your own, this sudden clench of familial recognition in a youngster's face is an unfamiliar sensation.
You kneel down to get a better look at your new relation. She looks about ten, hair cut short, with your grandmother's eyes and pointed nose. She's gazing around the studio lot with unbridled fascination, scratching and wriggling uncomfortably in a pink dress she obviously wishes she were out of.
This is overwhelming. You've never been good with kids, and you're not sure you're ready to let one into your life right now...
CHOICES: - Give her a hug (Affectionate). - Shake her hand (Formal). - Say hello with a stern nod (No-nonsense).
Teaspoon says, "We are not putting an adorable child star into our pirate musical. It's complicated enough already."
Teaspoon asks, "Also: formal?"
Jacqueline snickers at Teaspoon.
Jacqueline says, "Also, you forgot that it's a RACY pirate musical."
Teaspoon says, "That too."
DavidW says, "Maybe that's why she wants out of the dress."
Jacqueline says, "I ... I don't even know how you'd work a kid into that without really damning your film."
Jacqueline asks, "So, DW: Formal?"
DavidW says, "yes, formal"
Teaspoon says, "If you make a movie *around* a child star, that's one thing"
- Give her a hug (Affectionate).
- Shake her hand (Formal).
- Say hello with a stern nod (No-nonsense).
Jacqueline says, "Weird. Trying again..."
You formally shake her hand. "Nice to meet you," you say. "I...didn't know you existed until now."

The girl gives you a good hard look. You can tell what she's gearing up to ask about: it's one of your more distinctive affectations.
[Choose a distinctive quality associated with your Hollywood persona.]
CHOICES: - Traditionally masculine affectations. - Traditionally feminine affectations. - Less gendered affectations.
Teaspoon says, "less gendered, please"
Teaspoon says, "(so many gendered things!)"
Jacqueline asks, "In this instance, I can show you all three lists without committing. Want them?"
DavidW says, "I'm not even sure what sort of affectation this will refer to."
Teaspoon says, "oh, yes please"
- Fedora.
- Pencil mustache.
- Cowboy hat.
- Pipe.
- Cravat.
DavidW asks, "Like, are we the sort of person who only wears flowers?"
Teaspoon says, "Something like that."
- Scarves.
- Gloves.
- High heels.
- Lipstick.
- Earrings.
DavidW says, "or only wears florals, is more practical."
- Pince-nez.
- Eagle-topped cane.
- Hair.
- Cigarette holder.
- Bow tie.
Teaspoon asks, "scarves are female?"
Jacqueline asks, "I suppose maybe boys call them cravats?"
DavidW asks, "These are boring affectations for Hollywood, no?"
Jacqueline says (to DW), "A little. Sad that wearing a flower isn't one of them, given your character."
Teaspoon says, "Yes. WE have an affectation that we have an Cool Affectation, when we don't."
Jacqueline says, "Also, high heels is not exactly a crazy affectation unless they're insane high heels."
Teaspoon says, "Anyway, I like scarves regardless."
DavidW says, "We could've had a cape. No to no capes."
Teaspoon says, "we coulda had a small annoying dog"
DavidW says, "sure, scarves are fine."
Teaspoon says, "we could have had a parrot guiding us on our quest"
Jacqueline says, "I had a pince-nez, but in retrospect it would have been awesome to be a pipe-smoking chyk."

She's noticed your trademark array of scarves, the ones you're always wearing. They're hard to miss, you suppose, with the summer sun bringing out...
CHOICES: - Those rich red hues. - Those deep blue hues. - Those autumn hues. - Those springtime hues. - All the sparkles. - The checkered pattern. - All those mismatched colors. - Wait, I'm not wearing scarves after all.
DavidW says, "There's a famous brand of scarves that was popular, but I can't think of it now."
Teaspoon says, "Erm, checkered pattern I suppose."
DavidW says, "Springtime is the closest to 'flowers'."
Teaspoon asks, "Is this stat-affecting, you think?"
DavidW says, "Hermes scarves"
Teaspoon says, "oh yes"
Jacqueline decides to not answer. "Take my not answering any way you'd like."
DavidW says, "I'll accept checkered, but I'd prefer springtime."
Teaspoon says, "Alright, springtime it is."

"Yeah, those," the girl says. "So what's the deal?"
Your distinctive spring-colored scarves does tend to get a lot of attention: you think for a moment about how to respond.
CHOICES: - "I've always worn them." - "I picked them up during my traveling years." - "Between you and me, dear, it's just an affectation."
DavidW | "It's to remind me that mother and father loved me best."
Teaspoon says, "We have the possibility of On the Road backstory? I'll go for this."
Jacqueline says (to DW), "ouch"
Jacqueline asks, "So, traveling year?"
DavidW says (to Teaspoon), "oh, I like that."

She thinks about this. "I like them," she decides. "Very distinctive. Say, so do you really run this whole movie studio?"
"I do," you say warily, expecting imminent requests to get introduced to Cary Grant and star in a musical like Shirley Temple.
"What kind of lights do you use?" she asks excitedly. "MGM and RKO are still using those fussy old 150-amp Molarcs, but I know Warner has a bunch of the new 2K inkies, you know, that are made in Europe? I know 'cause I watched the delivery come in. They're so heavy it took two men to lift each one. They used 'em on Six Days in Paris, and the Technicolor stock really picked up the highlights. Ooh, are you going to shoot pictures in Technicolor? Because I heard about how Eastman has a new stock that's much less expensive, and you probably don't do your own silver nitrate processing here, do you? Not enough room."
You can only blink in astonishment as this ten-year-old in a pink dress reels off industry jargon like a grizzled stagehand. You glance helplessly at Romana, but she's smoking a cigarette and staring with boredom at some distant point in the Hollywood Hills.
Teaspoon says, "RKO still exists. I wonder if we can buy them from Howard Hughes."

The girl is rattling off some statistics about microphone frequency ranges when you put a hand on her shoulder. "Let's slow down there, darling. I don't even know your name yet!"
She blinks, as if this is a completely uninteresting distraction. "Oh," she says. "It's Ada."
Romana puts a distracted hand on Ada's head. "She's endlessly fascinated with this Hollywood nonsense," she says. "Spends half her days at the theater. Keeps her out of my way, I suppose. But she's been begging me to come here ever since she saw that article. Haven't you, sweetpea?" She tousles Ada's hair absently; the girl swats away the gloved hand in annoyance and then gapes fascinated at some nearby workers pushing an Arriflex on a dolly.
Romana draws closer, touches your arm lightly. "You wouldn't mind letting her come visit when she likes, would you, Flowers?" she says smoothly. "She so wants to see firsthand how a picture gets made. She'll be no trouble at all: my chauffeur can whisk her to and fro, and she'll be a good girl and stay out of your way."
"Besides, it would be such a lovely chance to get to know her, don't you think?" Romana adds with a little smile.
You suppose this explains why Romana's here.
This is a tough call. You're inclined to feel sympathy for the girl, and would like a chance to get to know her better, but a movie set's no place for an unsupervised kid to be running around: she'd be a distraction at best and a liability at worst.
DavidW asks, "oh dear. Are we expected to play babysitter while Romana finds a new husband?"

CHOICES: - "She's welcome to visit as often as she likes. We'll have the crew keep an eye on her." - "She can come by whenever I have time to keep an eye on her." - "I don't think so...I wouldn't want her missing school." - "No, I absolutely forbid it. She'd just be a distraction."
Teaspoon says, "I think we are unless we put our foot down."
DavidW says, "oh dear."
Teaspoon says, "In a GAME, I expect she'd be a valuable industry spy. In a 50s set, I think she's an insurance disaster waiting to happen."
Teaspoon says, "Not sure how to play it."
DavidW says, "On the other hand, it's possible Ada is a Wesley type genius with lighting or sound or something."
Jacqueline says, "If so, I hope she comes with the requisite crazy sweaters."
DavidW says, "yes, we can work with crazy sweaters."
Teaspoon says, "we may also need our sister for something in future, which won't happen if we say no now."
Jacqueline says, "Apropos of crazy Wesley sweaters:"
DavidW says (to Teaspoon), "uh, more likely Romana will take Ada away at a time we need Ada."
Jacqueline says, "I was reminded of this because Ada is wearing pink. Though admittedly that sweater is more of a melon..."
Jacqueline asks, "Anyway, what's y'all's choice?"
Teaspoon says, "looks like a poncho"
Jacqueline says, "It's ... yeah, I don't even know what the hell he's wearing in that scene."
Jacqueline says, "He wears it in multiple early episodes. Not sure what the costume folks were thinking."
Teaspoon says, "Let's say no. If she wants to be in film that badly, she'll figure out a way."
DavidW says, "Transporter accident with a couch."
Jacqueline says (to DW), "hahaha"
Jacqueline asks (of Tsp), "So, like, how firm are you saying no?"
Teaspoon says, "Forbid."
Jacqueline asks (of DW), "?"
DavidW says, "I'm leaning towards the 'don't want her missing school' one, but I worry that Romana will have a way around that."
DavidW asks, "Perhaps forbid and hope Ada disobeys anyway?"
Teaspoon says, "agreed"
DavidW says, "like, considering we almost got run over, we can't let *Ada* be run over."
Clearly Romana's trying to dump this kid on you so she can sleep in all day and hit the jazz clubs all night, or however she spends her time these days. Nothing against the kid, but you're trying to run a studio and make a picture. You don't have time to play babysitter.

Ada's face drops in disappointment. "I'd be good," she says, "I'd just watch. Nobody would even know I was there. "
"Don't be a pest, sweetpea," Romana says, shooting you an annoyed look. "Your aunt just needs a little more time to think about it."
"Sorry," she says, glancing at her mother then up at you with contrition. "Sorry, Aunt Flowers."
[Choose how you want your niece Ada to address you.]
CHOICES: - "How about just Flowers, kid." - "Call me Floyd, kid." - "'Aunt Flowers.' I like the sound of that." - "Actually, I'd rather be your 'Uncle Flowers,' kid."
DavidW says, "oh c'mon. We can't keep second-guessing our gender like this."
Jacqueline says, "I don't think of this as second-guessing."
Teaspoon exclaims, "we can in cs!"
Teaspoon says, "also, vote for floyd"
Jacqueline says, "Anyway, so just ignore that option if it doesn't appeal to you."
DavidW says, "I like Aunt Flowers."
Jacqueline asks, "Aunt Flowers or Floyd?"
Teaspoon asks, "we could have one of us decide this one and the other decide the next one?"
Jacqueline says, "I could be the tie breaker."
Jacqueline says, "Or I could flip coins when you all can't agree."
Teaspoon asks, "What's your pick?"
DavidW asks, "I still like Aunt Flowers?"
Jacqueline says, "Of the two you picked, I'd go with Flowers."
Jacqueline says, "Aunt Flowers, I mean."
Teaspoon says, "tie broken, hurrah"
Jacqueline says, "Hahaha - so, this is being played via Steam, and you all just unlocked the 'GRUMP' achievement."
Jacqueline says, "I am not even joking."
DavidW asks, "What?"
Teaspoon asks, "Er, yay?"
Teaspoon asks, "what's the description?"
DavidW says, "Probably 'Congratulations on not letting kids play in your sandbox."
Jacqueline says, "Steam is a game library thing, and games come with achievements that appear only in Steam, not in the game itself. I guess to show how much of the game you've explored compared to friends. maga and I have played this, so some achievements are already unlocked, and you just found a new one he and I had not: GRUMP"
She nods soberly. "Yes, Aunt Flowers," she says.

The kid doesn't seem to like you much. Well, that's fine. You've never been good with kids anyway, and the last thing you need in your life right now is unnecessary complication. But you've got a busy day ahead of you...
CHOICES: - "And now, I have some business to attend to..." - "Business can wait. I'd like to catch up with you two."
DavidW says, "Business to attend to."
Teaspoon says, "Suits me."

Eugene rushes over. "Chief!" he says, adding, "I mean: Flowers! They're hoisting the sign! There's a reporter for Variety who wants a picture; come quick!"
Brooking no complaint, he grabs your arm and pulls you to the front of the lot, Ada eagerly (and Romana indulgently) following.
At the wide entrance to your lot, two workers are hoisting the heavy iron sign with your studio's name cast in a bold, graceful arch. A small crowd is gathering: if there's anything people love in this town, it's the whiff of a historic moment. You can't help but smile. You've been waiting a long time to see those words, stretching over the gate to your own studio:
DavidW says, "Hope Romana doesn't hook up with the guy we were giving our initial pitch to."

CHOICES: - Floyd Studios. - Floyd Pictures. - Flowers Floyd Productions. - Spring-colored Scarves Entertainment. - American Independent. - Dreamscape Attractions. - Hollywood Visionary. - Custom studio name
Teaspoon says, "I am alarmed to realise that Sparkles Entertainment could have been a brand name."
DavidW says, "I guess, yeah"
Teaspoon asks, "Anyway, Flowers Floyd Productions?"
Jacqueline says, "There is time for that to happen."
DavidW says, "There's a custom studio name option."
Jacqueline says, "Yup."
Jacqueline asks, "So, Flowers Floyd Productions, or Sparkles Entertainment?"
DavidW says, "I'm willing to let this one be whatever you want."
Jacqueline asks, "So, Flowers Floyd Productions, then?"
DavidW says, "even Studio McStudioface"
Jacqueline says, "hahahaha"
Jacqueline says, "Crap, now I hope Tsp accepts that."
Teaspoon says, "Done."
Teaspoon says, "hee hee"
DavidW says, "A champagne moment."
A few flashbulbs snap on your smiling face as the sign is hoisted into its final position. All the struggles to get to this moment were worth it. Studio McStudioface is officially in business.
- Now it's time to make a picture.

Chapter Two
Some months earlier...
"Just look at these faces," Grundy says, waving a French fry to encompass the deli. "Any one of these overworked killjoys could be a clown. Gimme a little grease paint and a banana peel, we'd have the whole lunch crowd keeling over with laughter inside ninety seconds."
Teaspoon says, "good times"
He pops the fry into his mouth and hoists an eyebrow, daring you to disagree, to say most of these suits and interns couldn't sell a joke with a hundred-dollar bill stapled to it. But you don't take the bait. You know Fish would win.

You've known Fish Grundy for years, ever since you helped get him a part in a B-picture that ended up being the most memorable scene in the film. An amazing comedian and true star, Fish grew up on the vaudeville circuit, then had a stint of popularity in the silent era playing a loveable, troublemaking slave, outfoxing wealthy, bumbling plantation owners who ended up face-first in a swamp or a pudding, while he tripped and grinned his way north. He managed to survive the transition to sound, and while he's never quite secured the fame he deserves, he keeps working, year in and year out.
Nowadays he's somewhere in the pantheon of minor Hollywood royalty. Though respected for his years of experience and endless font of golden-age stories, his penchant for practical jokes (and perhaps the color of his skin) sometimes make him persona non grata at fancy parties. He crashes them anyway.
When he'd offered to take you to lunch to help plan out your script, you jumped at the chance: not only for the professional advice, but because he's a damn funny sonofabitch.
DavidW says, "oh, I like this guy."

Canter's Deli is packed with the lunchtime crowd. If this new location was supposed to ease the congestion, it doesn't seem to have worked: the extra room just serves to make the place more popular. The menu hasn't changed, thank god: you're enjoying your favorite lunch...
CHOICES: - Hot pastrami on rye. - A potato knish. - The split pea soup. - A plate of fries. - Actually, I already ate.
olethros arrives, full of fun, but no funk. DavidW says, "Pastrami. Auntie's gotta eat."
olethros asks, "is the output here or on #floyd?"
olethros asks, "or both?" Jacqueline says (to Olethros), "@join #Floyd -- yeah"
olethros says, "ok, neat"
Teaspoon says, "I love pastrami"
Jacqueline says, "No, just on #Floyd. I'm copying and pasting a Choice Script game this week."
DavidW asks, "or maybe the knish. What's a knish?"
DavidW says, "but yeah, i love pastrami too."
Jacqueline says, "A knish appears to be '."
Teaspoon says, "It's sort of like a potato dumpling."
Jacqueline | a dumpling of dough that is stuffed with a filling and baked or fried.
DavidW says, "We just gotta be careful of getting mustard on our scarf."
Jacqueline says, "That sounds amazing and like a heart attack."
Teaspoon says, "Delicious though"
Jacqueline says, "A delicious heart attack, certainly."
Teaspoon says, "But just eating 1 is odd. They're like chips."
DavidW says, "Put that knish on a stick and make knish kabob."
Jacqueline says, "heh"
Jacqueline says, "Well, a plate of fries is not exactly a normal lunch, either."
Jacqueline asks, "Anyway, it's just lunch. What are y'all having?"
DavidW says, "Pastrami, please."
Teaspoon says, "yes"

As you taked another bite of pastrami, you notice with a frown that the deli isn't completely full after all. Someone's eating alone in a back corner, with a wide berth of empty tables around him.
You nudge Fish, figuring he knows just about everybody. "Who's that in the corner?" you ask.
Fish squints theatrically in the direction you indicate, then sighs in exasperation, shaking his head. "Oh, this old town," he says, "what slings and arrows. Do you know, six months ago that poor soul was Paramount's top scribbler? Wrote the script for The Vanishing Ones, almost won an Oscar?" He dunks a fry dramatically in a pool of ketchup. "He's on the blacklist now for refusing to testify about his supposed Communist connections, and suddenly it's his so-called friends who've done the vanishing."
olethros says, "Nom"
olethros says, "oh, interesting"
You look back at the disgraced screenwriter, sadly carving up a Salisbury steak, and notice his threadbare jacket, cheap haircut, and bloodshot eyes. There's still hardly anyone who dares challenge the blacklist. Once you're on it, no one hires you; sometimes no one will even speak to you.

You think:
CHOICES: - Good riddance. There's too many Commies in this town. - It's too bad, but for the sake of my new career, I can't afford to associate with him, either. - He doesn't deserve this. I'll tell the waitress his lunch is on me, and I don't care who overhears. - I'll catch his eye and give him a wave: I recognize him from the meetings.
olethros asks, "oh, so we are associating with Blacks and Communists?"
Jacqueline exclaims, "I am kind of sad we weren't offered the Salisbury steak!"
olethros says, "I say, maximise our otherness by waving"
Teaspoon says, "Definitely at least one black person, but the communism thing is a choice."
DavidW says, "I want to buy his lunch."
Teaspoon says, "Wave seems to be the least commital option."
olethros says (to davidw), "maybe he'll get insulted"
DavidW says, "oh, I don't want to insult him."
Jacqueline says, "So we're back to three players. When two of you agree I will accept that as a majority."
Teaspoon says, "if we buy him lunch, we have to read his script"
DavidW says, "I want him to write our script."
olethros asks, "but the black comedian is writing our script?"
olethros asks, "or is he an actor?"
Teaspoon says, "no, he's the clown who will be the comic relief in the picture."
DavidW asks, "oh, is he?"
DavidW says, "I've lost track."
Teaspoon says, "at least, he is a clown, and I think we can invite him to be the comic relief if we want later on."
olethros says, "our friend said he'd help plan out the script"
DavidW says, "oh, Fish is helping us plan out the script."
Teaspoon says, "Oh. I am confused now."
Jacqueline says, "There is possibly room for more than one person to help with that. Hard to say."
olethros says, "but let's get the help of Commie, who is a scriptwriter"
DavidW says, "hm. Wish there was an option to chat to Fish more first."
olethros says, "Fish is not really experienced"
olethros says, "(in writing)"
Teaspoon asks, "have you played before?"
Jacqueline says, "I think this is more about what others think about you and communism."
Teaspoon says, "Agreed on that."
olethros says, "well, let's have the commie over and make a funny story about the depression"
olethros asks, "wave or lunch?"
Jacqueline says, "So far we have one vote for buying him lunch."
olethros says, "ok, I second that to get it over with"
DavidW asks, "Is that my vote?"
Jacqueline says (to DW), "Yes"
Jacqueline says, "Unless you change it."
DavidW says, "okay."
Teaspoon says, "lunch it is then."
olethros says, "it's like we're playing chess"
DavidW says, "I do love food."
Teaspoon says, "in chess we know the rules. This is something else again."

You can't really afford it, but it's not right the way people have been treated since the blacklist got started. Ever since the first wave of investigations, when the Hollywood Ten were held in contempt of court and sent to jail for refusing to testify about their alleged Communist connections, too many careers have been ended and lives have been ruined. You have a quiet word with your waitress, and give the man a nod when he looks around gratefully a few minutes later.
"The blacklist," you say. "I thought maybe we were moving past all that nonsense."
"You haven't heard?" Fish says, leaning forward. "There's a new witch hunter general in town. The House has appointed a Special Hollywood Investigator to weed out any new un-American influences in our wicked little industry: Congressman Jonathan Creed."
You have heard that name, now that he mentions it. Apparently Creed's been throwing subpoenas around left and right, talking about "updating the blacklist" with the hordes of new spies and infiltrators who've undoubtedly settled in Hollywood since the original investigations. You have a hard time taking such nonsense seriously.
"On a lighter note," Fish says, "I do believe that's Marlon Brando ordering a hamburger at the counter."
Ten minutes later, the pastrami's finished and the two of you are getting down to brass tacks.
DavidW says, "Every ChoiceScript game seems to play out like this where one runs through several gauntlets, hoping for success at the end."

"So your first picture should be ready to shoot by the time your studio opens," Fish is saying. "Can't afford to have a whole production crew sitting on their thumbs while you're whistling Dixie. You still sold on that same idea that made Croghan bust a gasket? Let's see..."
He slips on some reading glasses and studies the stack of folders in front of him. "'A racy musical science fiction picture, set on board a pirate ship sailing the seven seas. It's about a motley group, who must struggle against forces beyond their control. The story's like nothing you've ever seen before, and the cast will be filled with top-notch actors. '" He pulls the glasses off. "That one still where your heart's at, Floyd?"
CHOICES: - That's exactly the picture I want to make. - I have a new idea. - I want to hear some other ideas.
[Floyd] olethros says, "I love it, but let's hear some other ideas" Jacqueline says (to olethros), "Channel"
olethros says, "I love it, but let's hear some other ideas"
Teaspoon exclaims, "but we spent so much time hammering out our racy sf picture!"
Jacqueline says, "True. But it's also on crack, Tsp."
Jacqueline says, "I mean that in the nicest possible way."
DavidW says, "I just hope 'other ideas' doesn't mean restarting the pitch from scratch."
Jacqueline says, "Anyway, you can stick to it or do something new or let him give you some ideas."
Teaspoon says, "That's what worries me."
Jacqueline says, "Well, if it does, I can easily reselect those for you all behind the curtain if you'd like."
DavidW says, "Like, I don't honestly know if 'Fish' is going to suggest something new on his own or if we'll be making Fish's new choices."
Jacqueline says, "So, olethros says 'more ideas' but you two could stick with what you already did."
Teaspoon says, "I'd like to hear more ideas if we don't need to stick with them."
DavidW says, "okay. Let's hear what Fish has to say."

"Thought you might say that," Fish says with a wink, pulling out a battered notebook. "I keep tabs on all the good pitches going around. I'm sure we can find somebody with an idea you like. Let's see here...." He thumbs the pages thoughtfully.
"Here's a good one. It's called Mr. Fletcher's Nights. This is a musical comedy, with the action in a world of dreams and magic. It's about a motley group who must sacrifice everything to protect the ones they love. That one interest you at all?"
CHOICES: That's exactly the picture I want to make. - I have a new idea. - I want to hear some other ideas. - Actually, I'd like to go back to my original idea.
Teaspoon says, "next."
DavidW says, "oh, I see. Randomized pitch."
Jacqueline says, "We have one vote for hearing another random pitch."
olethros says, "ok, let's hear one more random pitch, then say 'a new idea' and then 'original'"
olethros says, "(if they seem to also be random)"
DavidW says, "mm, yeah."
olethros says, "or just stick with the last one if they are all random"
Fish turns the page of his notebook.

"Ah," he says. "I like this one. The Voyage. This one's a religious adventure picture based on a radio show, set in the exotic streets of Morocco. It's about a man alone who must find himself. That strike your fancy?"
CHOICES: - That's exactly the picture I want to make. - I have a new idea. - I want to hear some other ideas. - Actually, I'd like to go back to my original idea.
olethros says, "hm, ok, I have a new idea then"
DavidW asks, "Do you?"
olethros says, "he has"
Jacqueline says, "I'm guessing 'new idea' let's you go back through the step by step."
Teaspoon asks, "Well, do we want to scrap our crazy picture and start fresh?"
DavidW says, "I like our crazy picture."
Jacqueline asks, "Two votes tips it. Tsp?"
Jacqueline asks, "Who do you vote with?"
Jacqueline leans in to make it more dramatic.
Teaspoon says, "um, stick with the pirate picture."
Teaspoon says, "We can unlock the HUGE FLOP achievement"
olethros says, "ARRR"
Jacqueline asks, "Do you go with your friend DW? Or do you abandon David and vote with the newcomer, Olethros?"
olethros says, "let"
olethros says, "let's pirate the shit out of this movie"
Jacqueline asks, "Do you unlock the HUGE FLOP achievement by staying with your current choice, or do you unlock the HUGE FLIP FLOP achievement by starting over?"
Teaspoon exclaims, "original idea all the way!"
Jacqueline says, "OKAY"

"Marvelous," he says, "you've sold me a ticket already. But the real trick will be turning this nugget into a good screenplay."
He clasps his hands together and rests his chin on them, eyeing you pointedly. "What's more important to you...writing a musical science fiction picture that's steeped in familiar elements, or one trying to be risky and original, even if it might not work?" He squints. "No wrong answer, Floyd. Don't tell me what you think I want to hear. What's best for the story?"
You consider. You think the screenplay should...
CHOICES: - be uncompromisingly bold, like nothing anyone's ever seen before, even if that risks alienating audiences. - be daring and original, with only a few concessions to formula. - aim for a balance between risky and safe elements. - be mostly comfortable and familiar, with a few new twists here and there. - be awash in familiar, time-tested ideas, to make audiences feel right at home.
Teaspoon says, "I think we play it mostly cliched. With our setup that's the only sane way to play it."
Jacqueline says, "I call bullshit if you all choose the last one."
Jacqueline asks, "Wait, Tsp, the last one?"
olethros says, "well, if we are going to use a mad picture premise, we can hardly rely on standard tropes"
olethros says (to TSP), "you are mad!"
Teaspoon says, "no, no, the *second-to-last* one."
DavidW asks, "Where would the original Casino Royale fit?"
Jacqueline says, "This plot breaks all the cliches... well, or rather it is a giant huge mashup of cliches, so..."
Teaspoon says, "Good question. It's very fomula but in a randomized fashion."
DavidW says, "I want a balance of risky and safe. There has to be some safety, or the audience will be completely lost. But sf and racy demands risk."
Teaspoon says, "Oh, point."
Teaspoon says, "But it may also look wishy-washy"
DavidW says, "Then add more tits."
olethros says, "I say level #2"
DavidW says, "As long as we don't make Eyes Wide Shut. That was awful."
olethros says, "that's just because it had no aliens or pirates"
Jacqueline says, "I'm interpreting this as olethros says 'daring and original, with only a few concessions to formula' and that you other two are still chatting."
Teaspoon says, "between 2 and 3, I'll take 3, which David preferred."
DavidW says, "yeah, I expressed 3."
Jacqueline exclaims, "Okay. Choice 3!"

He nods. "Got it. intellectual should it be? A smart script will make it a critics' darling and attract the educated crowd. But something more accessible could have wider appeal, make it play in Peoria."
You think about this, and decide the script should...
olethros says, "you compromising dweebs"
Jacqueline says, "HEH"

CHOICES: - be packed with complex allusions and heady language: essentially intellectual. - be smart, aimed at a college-educated crowd. - have some amount of smarts here and there over a base of broadly accessible material. - target a broad audience to maximize its appeal. - shoot for the broadest audience possible, with nothing that might make someone feel dumb or confused.
olethros says, "broadest audience possible"
Teaspoon says, "I'll concur on that one."
olethros asks, "we want to make a hit movie or what?"
DavidW says, "yes. I agree. Broadest audience possible."
"Fine." Fish scribbles in his notebook. "Okay, then, one last question: how fast-paced a picture do you see this being? Do you see the audience on the edge of their seats, white-knuckled and jaws gaping? Or you shooting for something that plays out slow and deliberate, gives people space to breathe, time to take it all in?" He shrugs. "Different folks like different styles, so it just depends on what kind of crowd you wanna attract."
Good question. After reflection, you tell him the screenplay should...

CHOICES: - have nonstop intensity from start to finish. - be fast-paced and taut, only occasionally slowing down. - alternate scenes of some intensity with slower-paced material. - tend toward a contemplative pace, with one or two faster-moving sequences. - maintain a slow, deliberate pacing throughout.
olethros says, "I guess we want #2 for this"
olethros asks, "or is it going to be a sitcom?"
olethros says, "in that case we can go for #4"
Teaspoon says, "movie. so taut."
DavidW says, "Pirate speed."
Jacqueline asks (of DW), "So that'd be... 1?"
Teaspoon says, "there have to be a few slow songs in a musical."
DavidW says, "2, I guess. Or 3."
Jacqueline says, "Restarting the vote, 'cause I'm lost..."
Jacqueline says, "Each of you, state your choice,please."
Teaspoon says, "2 and a half votes for 2, so that won"
DavidW says, "2"

Fish grunts. "So we've got an intense, lowbrow, occasionally risky musical science fiction picture as the first release from Studio McStudioface." He strokes his salt-and-pepper beard. "That sound about right to you?"
CHOICES: - Sounds great. - Let's reconsider the script qualities. - Let's start over with a new idea.
Teaspoon says, "SOUNDS GREAT"
DavidW says, "So fetch."

As you continue kibbitzing with Fish over the script, you notice someone in the booth behind him listening with increasing excitement, a half-eaten pastrami sandwich forgotten on the table.
Finally the listener turns, face glowing with pleasure. From the fancy outfit and well-coiffed hair, you expect some unmemorable business type. But as you lock eyes, you're struck by graceful features and a wide smile: not a suit at all, but really quite an attractive...
CHOICES: - man. - woman.
Teaspoon says, "Ah, so this is the romantic interest."
DavidW says, "and/or lead"
DavidW says, "They like the same sandwich we do. It must be fate."
DavidW says, "I pick man, but I can compromise on this one."
Teaspoon says, "I like woman."
DavidW asks, "olethros?"
Jacqueline says, "Reminder: our character is female, in case you're contemplating orientation of our person rather than your own orientation."
olethros says, "oh, in that case it's obviously going to be a woman"
DavidW says, "ok"
olethros says, "we are going to be a lesbian communist/black sympathiser"
Teaspoon says, "go all the way"
olethros says, "who makes radical films"
Teaspoon says, "this is a pretty radical film"
olethros says, "also, a movie pirate"
"Pardon me," she says, "but I couldn't help but overhear. Are you Flowers Floyd, founder of the new Studio McStudioface? I heard you gave that stick-in-the-mud Croghan a piece of your mind before you left, and I just wanted to personally thank you for standing up to that old goat. It's about time somebody did!"

You know you've seen this woman somewhere before. Beautiful, striking features, a devastating smile. Then you have it. You've seen her in pictures! Tall, graceful, quick-witted in her half-dozen supporting roles, on the verge of becoming a big star. Of course: Livia Lane!
Teaspoon says, "alliterative names. This person's destiny"
DavidW says, "yeah"
Jacqueline says, "hahaha - that first sentence is comedic ClubFloyd gold."

"That's right, I'm Flowers Floyd," you say, adjusting your spring-colored scarves self-consciously. "Livia, isn't it?"
"Livia Lane," she says with a grin, reaching across the table to shake your hand, "a pleasure to meet you. Everyone who's worked with you raves about it." Her eyes widen as she notice your lunch-mate. "Goodness, and you're Fish Grundy! I absolutely adored your films when I was little. Such a privilege!" Fish beams as Livia shakes his hand vigorously.
She turns back to you. "Look, I didn't mean to interrupt, but I've read in the trades about your vision for the new studio, and my ears pricked up when I heard you talking about the film. It all sounds fantastic. I'm a person who believes in doing whatever it takes to put something wonderful up on screen. I just want to let you know I'd love to be involved in any way I can."
You consider. Livia certainly has a reputation for hard work, and you've loved her in the pictures of hers you'd seen. Regardless of whether there'll be a part for her in the new picture, having a rising star around the lot can only help. Besides, she is pretty damn cute.
On the other hand, you've got a pretty full plate already without bringing any more people into your life, professionally or personally. And can you trust this Livia? For all you know, she's a spy for some rival studio.
"Sure, we'd love to see you around the lot." (Smile)
"Sure, we'd love to see you around the lot." (Wink)
"You'd have to speak to my personnel manager, I'm afraid. I can't hire anyone on the spot."
olethros says, "the only choice is smile or wink, I am afraid"
Teaspoon says, "Mmmmm"
DavidW says, "I like smile."
olethros says, "ok, smile"
DavidW says, "At least she's an adult."

"Wonderful," Livia says, beaming.
Fish coughs, one eyebrow lifted. "Beg pardon," he says, "this was meant to be a business lunch, if that's not too terribly inconvenient..."
Livia laughs. "Mea culpa," she says, "please don't let me get in the way. Unless...well, would you mind terribly if I sat in on the rest of your story meeting? I won't be a bother, honestly: I'm just dying to hear more about this project, and I'd be happy to be someone you can bounce ideas off if need be." She smiles hopefully.
CHOICES: - Offer her the seat next to Fish. - Offer her the seat next to me. - Say I'd prefer to keep the script details private for now.
DavidW says, "I hate the idea that she *might* be a spy. ugh."
olethros says, "yeah, let's play it cool"
Teaspoon says, "Private. Hiring her is one thing, but we don't want the actor writing the script."
DavidW says, "regretfully, I agree. We need privacy, at least at this stage."
Jacqueline asks, "Keep the details private?"

"That's perfectly understandable," she says. "I don't blame you for playing things close to the vest. Look, I'll be in touch, all right? Like I said, I think what you're doing is marvelous." She smiles at the two of you, pays her bill and quickly leaves.
"Now," Fish says, "where were we? Right, the characters." He licks a finger and pages through his notebook.
"Okay, so the original pitch called for an ensemble cast. Does that still sound right?"
CHOICES: - Yes. - No.
olethros says, "sure"
Teaspoon says, "I think so."

"Okay. So this group. What do they have in common that brings them together? Are they..."
DavidW says, "yes. We need the large cast for the chorus numbers."

CHOICES: - Soldiers. - Adventurers. - Travelers. - Ordinary people. - Socialites. - Performers. - Outcasts. - Scientists. - Custom group role.
olethros says, "they are PIRATES!!!!1111"
DavidW says, "PIRATES"
olethros says, "there is no PIRATES"
Jacqueline asks, "Pirates? Or COMMUNIST PIRATES?"
Teaspoon says, "Adventuring pirates sounds all right though."
olethros asks, "how about they are SCIENTIST pirates?"
olethros says, "it's a science fiction film after all"
DavidW says, "Adventurers, I guess is closest."
olethros says, "they pirate technology. ARR"
Jacqueline says, "I can do a custom 'adventuring pirates' or choose adventurers."
Jacqueline asks, "Which would you all like?"
olethros says, "TECH PIRATES"
DavidW says, "Or outcasts, maybe. That kinda fits."
Teaspoon says, "outcast pirates? Outpast pirates is fine."
DavidW says, "Outcasts works with the struggle part too."
Jacqueline asks, "So... outcasts?"
olethros says, "ok, yes."
DavidW says, "yes please"
olethros says, "I need to disengage, otherwise I'll never do my laundry and eat"
olethros says, "so, go ahead without me for now"
Jacqueline says, "Okay. Come back later if you'd like."
Teaspoon says, "enjoy"
Jacqueline says, "@Recapping #Floyd if you come back is probably easy enough."
"Okay, they're a group of outcasts. Now tell me about them. What's a word that describes this group?"

CHOICES: - Rascally. - Bashful. - Gruff. - Inquisitive. - Scheming. - Bumbling. - Dangerous. - See more qualities. - Custom quality.
DavidW says, "PIRATES"
DavidW says, "oh wait"
Teaspoon says, "adjectives"
DavidW says, "Rascally? Definitely not bashful for a racy picture."
DavidW asks, "Maybe see more qualities?"
Teaspoon says, "yes, let's"
DavidW says, "seymour!"
- Drunk.
- Eccentric.
- Clever.
- Loveable.
- Good-hearted.
- Love-stricken.
- Grubby.
- See more qualities.
- Custom quality.
Teaspoon says, "drunk outcasts might be a hard sell"
DavidW says, "yeah, I want, y'know, Aladdin visiting Futurama or something."
Teaspoon asks, "eccentric?"
DavidW asks, "so, of this list, I'd pick good-hearted, but maybe we need more qualities?"
DavidW says, "'Cuase good-hearted isn't the best fit for pirates."
Jacqueline says, "It could be. It could be about Robin Hoodesque pirates."
Teaspoon says, "more qualities"
DavidW says (to Jacqueline), "good point"
Jacqueline asks, "More qualities?"
DavidW says, "please"
Teaspoon says, "we're making the Pirates of Penzance/Tempest mash-up of the year"
Jacqueline says, "Oh shit. I knew this would happen eventually. I clicked the wrong choice."
Teaspoon asks, "oh, which choice?"
Jacqueline says, "I can regenerate it somewhat quickly, or you can be stuck with drunk pirates."
Teaspoon says, "FULL SPEED AHEAD"
DavidW says, "oh dear."
Jacqueline exclaims, "Which sounds kind of horrible for the 1950s, but then again, Nick & Nora did pretty well and they were constantly drunk in the 1940s!"
Teaspoon says, "unless you really don't like that David"
DavidW says, "well, I'm already imagining the barf clean-up on Stage B"
Jacqueline says, "snrk"
Jacqueline says, "Okay, let's roll with it in the interest of time. I'll try to be a more-perfect driver."
DavidW says, "but ok, drunk outcasts. That sing."
Teaspoon says, "but the 40s are a different period than the 50s"
maga says (to Jacq), "except that as the Thin Man series became a Beloved Institution, and especially a Myrna Loy became a massive star, the drinking got toned way down and made into just a Nick thing"

"They're a group of drunk outcasts." Fish grins. "That's great. Sounds like we've got the core characters sketched out."
"Now," Fish says, "I think we're ready to talk about a writer. Who's going to pen this crackerjack story of yours?"
DavidW says, "Les Misarrrrables"
Teaspoon says, "Sure, why not."
Jacqueline says (to maga), "Sad and true."

"I'm going to write it myself. It'll be a lot of pressure, but it's worth it to me."
"The script is of prime importance. We'll hire one of the best."
"We don't want to blow our budget. Who can get the job done for cheap?"
maga arrives, full of funk, but no fun. Teaspoon says, "probably cheap if we want our blacklist writer"
DavidW says, "That's what I'm hoping."
DavidW says, "If we can get blacklist guy cheaply."
Jacqueline asks, "So, option 3?"
Teaspoon says, "I expect so, no one else will hire him. Yes, 3."
DavidW says, "yes"
Jacqueline says, "I honestly don't know if you can get that guy."
Jacqueline says, "Okay - 3 it is."

Fish recommends some names of little-known screenwriters who might be able to produce a musical science fiction picture script on the cheap.
Vivian Elko, an up-and-coming playwright who's talented but supposedly rather headstrong.
Willard Flannigan, who's never produced an award-winning script but always delivers them on time and on budget.
Jack Cooper, a real talent but who demands a lot of one-on-one time with the studio to realize the script.
Actually, maybe a low-cost screenwriter isn't what this project needs.
Teaspoon says, "From this list, Willard. We want someone who's not going to fuss too much."
DavidW asks, "of course, blacklist guy is one of the best too, isn't he?"
DavidW says, "I knew an actual Jack Cooper, fwiw."
DavidW says, "He was more of a musician, though."
Teaspoon asks, "so you want to try for expensive screenwriters?"
Jacqueline asks, "Do you want to see who's on the more expensive list?"
Jacqueline says, "I think, as with this list, you can back out before selecting."
DavidW says, "yeah. please."
Teaspoon says, "yes"

"Sure, that's smart," he says. "It'll up your budget a bit, but nothing's more important than a good screenplay."
Fish recommends a couple potential writers. You make a list and hash over their good and bad qualities, and eventually narrow it down to three candidates who've previously written well-regarded scripts with some similar aspects to yours.
Louis Wright, who wrote Seven Stars for Paramount: a brilliant talent, but a reputation for being headstrong.
Ed Lazlo, writer of Seven Breakfasts at RKO: a workhorse who delivers strong scripts closely hewing to the director's vision.
Olga Tomorlin, whose Million for MGM was highly regarded: she demands a high salary but delivers award-winning scripts.
Actually, maybe a big-name screenwriter isn't what this picture needs.
Teaspoon says, "That Choice Made is delightful."
Teaspoon says, "I think we go cheap on this though."
DavidW says (to Teaspoon), "I'm having a hard time deciding."
DavidW says, "If we go cheap, go for Willard or Jack. If we go expensive, I think I want Ed."
Jacqueline says, "You could also write it yourself."
DavidW says, "er, I suppose. But it's not our strength."
Teaspoon says, "agreed on that."
Jacqueline says, "Agreed. Just making sure you're considering your options."
DavidW says, "And I like the idea of someone else trying to twist our premise into actual dialogue."
Jacqueline says, "heh"
Teaspoon says, "It'll be a rough patch for them."
Jacqueline asks, "So, Willard or Jack or Ed?"
Jacqueline says, "(That was for Tsp)"
DavidW says, "I'm leaning towards Jack."
DavidW says, "But I'll let Teaspoon decide ultimately."
DavidW says, "Maybe we need Olga to get our studio off the ground running."
Teaspoon says, "I suppose that one-on-one time can't hurt."
Teaspoon says, "Okay, Jack."
DavidW says, "yay. Hopefully this'll help Jack's career."

"Wonderful. I'll be happy to put in a good word for you," Fish says.
"But we still need one thing." He fixes you with a wry gaze. "A title."
Damn. Now here's an important decision. What should the title of your first production be?
CHOICES: - Fantastical Fires. - Benjamin and Bruno. - Hideous Machine. - Her Nuclear Dimension. - Peter Skyborn. - See more titles. - Custom title.
DavidW says, "I want the word Odyssey in this."
Teaspoon asks, "Odyssey and Oracles?"
Teaspoon says, "Something with O to match our alliteration"
DavidW says, "hm, I don't like the __ and ___ phrasing."
Jacqueline says, "I can do a custom title, sure."
Teaspoon asks, "What kind of phrasing do you like?"
DavidW says, "like, I want something epic and majestic somehow, but that will also put bums in the seats."
DavidW says, "I think if the title is more than three words long, we've lost 'em."
Jacqueline says, "It could just be Odyssey."
DavidW asks, "Plundered Hearts?"
Jacqueline says, "Or Outcast Odyssey"
Jacqueline says, "Or Plundered Hearts. heh"
Jacqueline says, "That's pretty awesome."
Teaspoon says, "I like Outcast Odyssey a lot"
DavidW says, "either works"
Jacqueline says, "Outcast Drunkard Odyssey! (Kidding. Sorry again about that.)"
DavidW says, "Outcast Odyssey"

"'Outcast Odyssey,' a Flowers Floyd picture," Fish says, smiling. "That's settled, then."
He folds his hand and leans forward seriously. "Now...who wants a milkshake?"
Chapter Three
"Here's your coffee," Eugene says, plunking the mug on your overflowing desk and raising an eyebrow. "I should warn you, it's especially hair-raising this morning."
You take a sip and grimace in solidarity. "Gene, take a memo," you say, putting it firmly back on the desk. "Hire an office boy. One who can make coffee."
He rolls his eyes. "We can barely afford a best boy," he says, "let alone an office boy."
Teaspoon says, "Oh, so we needed a niece to make us coffee."
Compared to Croghan's lair, your office is a study in modesty, although to be fair, it's hard to be glamorous in a space the size of a broom closet. Your desk is already piled high with work orders, contracts, set designs, memos, opened and occasionally answered correspondence, and empty coffee cups. And you haven't even started production yet.

Gene tosses a typed report on top of the nearest pile, eyeing you pointedly. Frowning vaguely at the mess, you pick it up and give it a once-over:

Studio McStudioface -------------------------- Project: Outcast Odyssey Producer: Flowers Floyd Status: pre-production Your ledger is in the black: on budget Crew Stress: 49% --------------------------
"Crew stress?" you ask. "What's that?"
"Just some...observations," he says, raising an eyebrow. "Trying to keep tabs on morale. If you work people too hard, push too much responsibility on them, the quality of their work starts to suffer."
DavidW says, "Boys can make coffee too."
Teaspoon says, "but she'd presumably have worked for free."

"Of course, Flowers," he adds, fixing you with a warning gaze, "don't you take too much of that stress on yourself. You'll burn out faster than a Roman candle if you don't manage yourself with as much care."
Something about this strikes you as funny, and you imagine a dossier about your private life, typed up on company stationery just as neatly. It would probably look something like this:
Personal Stress: 51%
Which do you put first in your professional life? The Project: 44% The People: 56%
Personal Relationships: The actress, Livia Lane: 53% Your niece, Ada: 33%
Teaspoon asks, "Jac, is this that stats rundown you mentioned?"
Jacqueline says, "Yeah"

This self-reflection seems like a good little exercise. You file the report away in a mental drawer and make a note to keep it up to date.
(You can review these summaries any time by using the "Show Stats" button.)
"Fine, Gene," you say. "What else you got for me?"
"Oh, nothing major," he says with a mischievous sparkle in his eye. "Someone named Jack Cooper just dropped off a draft of a certain screenplay last night." He plops a heavy script onto your desk.
"Jesus, Gene, why didn't you telephone?" you say, picking it up and hefting it. Skimming through the pages, you see that he's already filled it with penciled notes.
"Wanted an executive summary ready for you this morning," he says with a grin. "Besides, chief, you were about ready to collapse when you left last night. You needed your beauty sleep."
"I pay an assistant's wages, I get a doctor, a headshrinker, and a script reader, too," you say, shaking your head. "So what's the verdict?"
He folds his arms critically. "I'm not sure you're going to be pleased," he says. "Overall, it's a great script. It's got more or less the intensity you wanted, but the novelty is a little off the mark. Worse, instead of playing really broad like you wanted, it's pretty intellectual."
The current script draft looks like this: Original: 40% Familiar: 60% Intellectual: 85% Accessible: 15% Intense: 70% Relaxing: 30% Quality: 60%
"The question is," Eugene says, tapping a pencil against the title page, "what would you like to do about it?"
CHOICES: - We can't afford to spend any more money on the script. Approve it as is. - Pay for a rewrite, focusing on fixing... - Save money by doing the rewrites myself, focusing on fixing...
DavidW asks, "How could *anyone* make our premise intellectual?"
Jacqueline laughs.
Teaspoon says, "Jack was evidentally a mistake."
Jacqueline says, "That is an excellent question."
Teaspoon says, "But I'm rather charmed by this monstrosity."
DavidW says, "I'm tempted to approve as is, to be honest."
Teaspoon asks, "Should we greenlight it and keep going?"
Jacqueline says, "An intellectual but racy film about drunken, outcast pirates. Sure."
Jacqueline says, "You could rewrite just the intellectual bit."
Teaspoon says, "(I want to see this now)"
Jacqueline says, "But yeah, it costs money."
Jacqueline says (to Tsp), "heh"
Teaspoon says, "Okay, so approve the script and carry on to the next issue"
DavidW says, "Probably has lots of allusions to Homer and Virgil."
Jacqueline asks (of DW), "You okay with green lighting?"
DavidW says, "yes."
DavidW says, "and send Achilles to our tent."
"I appreciate the feedback, Eugene, but we've got people sitting on their hands out there. We've got to get this picture into production as soon as possible."

"That's quite all right, chief, I understand," he says. "And speaking of getting into really can't put off the decision on this any longer. Who's going to direct this spaced-out sci-fi spectacle of yours, anyway?"
The moment's finally here. You've been avoiding the decision, but he's right: time is running out. This project's so close to your heart, you've been tempted to direct it yourself. But that would mean you'd be spending all your time in the trenches, responsible for every last detail. Maybe you'd be better able to realize your vision if you focused on being a good producer, which is what you're best at, and got someone else to sit in the big chair.
The director's just a manager, more or less. Let's hire someone competent but cheap.
A famous director brings the picture prestige. Let's go with a big name, even if they might want to meddle.
I'll direct Outcast Odyssey myself.
Teaspoon says, "Competent and cheap. WE WILL MAKE MOVIES IN THE EDITING ROOM"
Teaspoon says, "(I just really want to see if that's possible with this game. Maybe it is!)"
DavidW says, "mm. I'm leading towards cheap again."
Teaspoon says, "anyway, we don't want someone to *meddle* with our precious pirate outcast script. He might want to make it sane."
"Wonderful. Here's some directors who aren't under contract to a big studio already and might have some time on their slate." He hands over a page. "We can make an offer today and have them on set by the end of the week. See anyone promising?"

CHOICES: - Bill Westin, who directed a science fiction picture for RKO last year. - Bosley Hayes, who's worked on a couple racy pictures for smaller studios. - Thomas Avery, who's done a series of B-pictures known for their intelligence. - Warren Finley, who you enjoyed working with at Croghan's studio. - Maybe a low-cost director isn't right for this picture.
Teaspoon says, "so racy, intelligent, or friend."
Teaspoon asks, "If he likes intelligence, he may like the script that we didn't want to rewrite. Maybe just go with that?"
DavidW asks, "yeah. That seems serendipitious, doesn't it?"
Teaspoon exclaims, "Sure does!"
Jacqueline asks, "So, Thomas?"
DavidW says, "And I don't mind if the original vision has to change a bit in the actual production of this thing. You plant a seed, but you don't get guarantees how it'll grow."
Teaspoon says, "Agreed."
DavidW says, "yes, Thomas."
Jacqueline asks, "So, Thomas?"
Jacqueline says, "Timing. Okay"
Teaspoon says, "As long as we can change the marketing. I hope that's an option."
"That's settled, then," Eugene says with a sigh. "I'll draw up all the necessary paperwork."

There's a knock on your door. Gene pokes his head outside, then beckons you out. "They're starting over on C Stage," he says. "Come on, let's go do some screen tests."
There's a palpable sense of excitement in the air. On the one hand, this is just a screen test: a first pass from the costumers, makeup, lighting and camera crews to figure out how to make your stars look their best on screen. But it's also the first time cameras are rolling on your lot, the first time the talent's stepping onto a soundstage. You push past a rack full of racy costumes and some special effects crew doing a test shot with a matte painting, and can't help but feel it's starting to seem like an honest-to-God movie studio around here.
C Stage is smaller, but still spacious enough for a couple sets, a ton of rigging, and the editing bay and storage closets down near the back. The stage is packed to capacity today with people and gear.
A grip taps you on the shoulder. "The talent's here for the screen test, chief," he says. You and the others follow him to a bank of lights and cameras set up against a white background.
Filling the roles in Outcast Odyssey has been a tricky process, but your casting people did their jobs, and lined up an impressive group of candidates. For the leader of your group of drunk outcasts, you decided the role should be written for a...
CHOICES: - - ...woman.
Teaspoon asks, "what, we don't get the option of "intriguingly ambiguous" on this?"
Teaspoon says, "let-down. You pick, David."
DavidW says, "I agree, the lead ought to be androgyneous. hmph."
DavidW says, "Let's have a woman. I can pretend it's Laverne Cox."
Teaspoon says, "It seems weird given...everything else in teh setting."
Teaspoon says, "Woman it is then."

As casting continued, you looked at a lot of possibilities. Finally, you decided the best person for the part was...
CHOICES: - A friend of mine. - A talented unknown. - A B-list star. - An A-list star. - Myself. - That actor from the diner, Livia Lane. - My friend, comedy legend Fish Grundy.
Jacqueline asks, "If you cast Fish Grundy as a woman maybe that's the ambiguous comedy you were hoping for?"
Jacqueline says, "(Kidding.)"
Teaspoon says, "This one's...tricky."
DavidW asks (of Teaspoon), "What are you thinking?"
Jacqueline says, "It's your chance to bring Livia back into the picture if you want."
Teaspoon says, "not a friend, not us, not an A list."
DavidW says, "I think it ought to be either a B-list or Livia, yeah."
Teaspoon says, "Do we want a romantic option? Otherwise it might as well be a B-list."
DavidW says, "Although talented unknown is interesting."
Teaspoon says, "but how do we *know* they're talented."
Teaspoon says, "I wish casting was a skill. It feels odd not to have that tracked."
DavidW says, "well, we might've seen them in a stage play. That's how Vivian Vance was chosen to play Ethel Murtz."
Teaspoon says, "that's true"
Teaspoon says, "actually, talented unknown sounds about right for this flick. We have very little idea whether this is a B-picture or what"
Teaspoon says, "an unknown doesn't tie us down."
DavidW says, "okay. I like talented unknown too."

You put out a call to several local theater, radio, and television agencies, wanting a fresh face, someone who could really make the role their own (and not cost an arm and a leg, either). You'd narrowed it down to a short list of candidates before selecting...
CHOICES: - Barbara Levard, a nightclub performer with natural grace. - Maria Ripley, an intense Method actor with a fiery passion. - Lillian Brooks, a bright-eyed amateur. - Betty Goodwin, a regular performer in radio dramas. - Faye McGraw, a featured player in an amateur theatricals troupe. - Actually, even though the character's female, you'd like to consider a man for this part. - Actually, maybe unknown talent isn't what the role needs.
Teaspoon says, "hmm. I'm tempted by Betty."
Teaspoon says, "but it's not RKO's heyday anymore, is it? Maybe that wouldn't work."
DavidW says, "I think maybe Maria."
Teaspoon says, "Sounds good."

So your masthead talent, in bold letters up on the marquee, will one day be: introducing Maria Ripley as the leader of the drunk outcasts, in Outcast Odyssey, from Studio McStudioface. Not too shabby.
DavidW says, "ha ha"
Teaspoon says, "very shabby"
Jacqueline says, "heh"
A short time later, Maria arrives on set, ready to submit to the screen test.

Maria shakes your hand. "Flowers, it's such a pleasure," she says, her trademarked winning smile spreading across her face. "I absolutely adore the script."
"I'm glad," you say with a smile. "Really looking forward to seeing what you can do on set. From what I've heard, you'll be spectacular."
Before long, the crew's ready for her. She steps in front of the lights with a smile, along with a costar. You decide to have them run a couple of scenes from the latest screenplay draft.
The first time through is a little rusty. Everyone's sweating, and it quickly becomes clear the ventilation system is on the fritz. What timing...
Before long, the crew's ready for her. She steps in front of the lights with a smile, along with a costar. You decide to have them run a couple of scenes from the latest screenplay draft.
The first time through is a little rusty. Everyone's sweating, and it quickly becomes clear the ventilation system is on the fritz. What timing...
CHOICES: - Tell the crew to hurry things up, so the talent can get out of this heat. - Tell the talent to quit grousing and do their jobs. - Call it a day now, even if the crew hasn't gotten what they need yet. - Reschedule the screen test for another day, even though it'll cost us. - Crack a joke to relieve the tension.
Teaspoon says, "I don't think anyone who qualified as GRUMP can manage a joke."
Jacqueline says, "That was but a moment in time."
Jacqueline says, "We all have our GRUMP moments."
Teaspoon exclaims, "Let's see stats!"
Jacqueline says, "Turns out the GRUMP achievement did have a description: Get off on the wrong foot with your niece."
DavidW says, "hm. I don't want to overwork either the crew or the cast."
Personal Statistics
Name: Flowers Floyd
Studio: Studio McStudioface
Natural Talent: Producing
Earned Talent: Editing
Weakness: Acting
Personal Stress: 51%
Which do you put first in your professional life?
The Project: 44% The People: 56%
Personal Relationships:
The actress, Livia Lane: 53%
Your niece, Ada: 33%
Movie Statistics
Your ledger is in the black: on budget
Title: Outcast Odyssey
Genre: scifi
Starring Maria Ripley leading an ensemble cast
Crew Stress: 49%
The script for your project is:
Original: 40% Familiar: 60%
Intellectual: 85% Accessible: 15%
Intense: 70% Relaxing: 30%
Quality: 60%
Your project is not yet in production.
Your project is not yet in post-production.
Teaspoon says, "crew or cast or money. We've gone cheap so far, we can afford a little money I guess."
Jacqueline says, "Sorry, should have put a line break in between personal and movie stats."
DavidW asks, "Should we reschedule the test?"
Teaspoon says, "That seems the best choice."
It's ridiculous to expect people to work in this heat. You'll have to get the ventilation system repaired and try this another day. Everyone seems relieved. Like any good producer, you've got someone at your fingertips to take care of the issue, so the hit to your budget shouldn't be that drastic.
DavidW says, "Let's reschedule, then. We need to keep everyone happy."
Despite the bust, the crew's still able to experiment with some of the lighting designer's ideas. Helping you through this process immensely is the actress Livia Lane, who's joined your staff as an assistant director to help manage the cast and other details around the set. She's already proven her worth on a couple of occasions, and you're glad to have her on board. You offer what help you can, but you're mostly content to sit back and let your people do their jobs.

NEXT PAGE... As the day drags on and your attention wanders, you have time to watch your crew work. As you do, you start noticing a particular grip working with the light riggers: wiry, and on the short side, which is only accentuated by a black turtleneck and close-cropped hair. As you pay closer attention, you're struck by the smooth, capable efficiency behind every move, the way tasks are no sooner assigned than dispatched, sometimes before other crew members are even through fumbling to find the right tool. There's something quite attractive, you think, about this precision and prescience, not to mention...
CHOICES: - the man himself. - the woman herself. - the person behind it.
Teaspoon says, "Ah, so being a producer is good."
DavidW asks, "Is it Janice Miller time?"
Teaspoon asks, "?"
DavidW says, "I'm naming the grip prematurely."
Jacqueline says, "Ah. Sadly, the game is going to name the person for you."
Jacqueline says, "But if by that you mean it's a woman..."
Teaspoon says, "Person behind it."
Jacqueline asks (of DW), "Concur?"
DavidW says, "It's been women all along except for Fish and Eugene. But door number 3 is okay."

At a quieter moment between setups, when they're standing around waiting for another task, you catch their eye and give them a friendly nod. Their eyes widen and they look behind them before nodding hesitantly back. You wave them over. Face reddening, they shuffle towards you.
You stick out a hand, trying not to make them feel uncomfortable. "Flowers Floyd," you say, giving theirs a confident shake. "I just wanted to welcome you to the crew. You're doing a damn fine job out there. Been in the industry long?"
They seem to relax a little, running a hand through their close-cropped hair. "Well, er, 'bout five years or so, chief," they say in a drawling Midwestern accent.
CHOICES: - "Call me Flowers, please." (Wink) - "Call me Flowers, please." (Smile) - "Call me Flowers, please." (Frown)
DavidW asks, "Wink?"
Teaspoon says, "If you want to date a drawling Midwestern...sure, no reason not to."
Jacqueline says, "It's the fifties, so sure. Go all Madmen and imply that they can sleep their way to the top."
Teaspoon says, "at least they won't be Corporate Spy (possibly)"
Jacqueline says, "(Admittedly, Madmen is 60s, but anyway)"
Jacqueline asks, "So, wink?"
Teaspoon says, "sure"

They redden at your wink, but smiles back at you, too. God, they've got a wonderful smile.
"You've really been working as a grip five years?" you say. "I'm surprised you haven't been promoted up the chain, with talent like yours."
They look down at their feet with a frown and you feel a flush of embarrassment for asking such a personal question. You're surprised at how their sublime confidence and poise while working evaporated almost as soon as they started talking to you.
Although you can't help but find it a little endearing, too.
"Yeah," they say, "I, uh, got this bad habit of speaking my mind a lot. Especially if I see people getting stepped on or mistreated. Which happens all the time in this lousy industry. Good thing I love the work so much." They grin a little, turning their head a bit lopsided. "I mean, I could be a damn fine mechanic instead, if I wanted to."
They look up at you cockeyed, with a half-smile. "I hear you're getting a reputation for treating your people well. I...appreciate that. Means a lot to us down here. Me especially."
CHOICES: - I don't want to get a reputation as a softie. Maybe I should be pushing the crew a little harder, making sure they're not slacking off. Art takes effort. - The people are what really matter. At the end of the day, it's a job for them, not a passion.
Teaspoon says, "If it's between running the talent hard and running the crew hard, I'd rather please the crew. Angry talent will just be good marketing."
DavidW says, "I'm not happy about these choices."
Teaspoon exclaims, "Tabloids! Scandal!"
DavidW says (to Teaspoon), "That's true."
Teaspoon says, "So 2, I think."
DavidW says, "agreed"

"I'm glad you appreciate that," you say. "I think everyone's happier if I treat my crew with the respect they deserve."
They smile, then look faintly alarmed. "There I go again," they say. "Putting my damn foot in my mouth. It's just what I think, no disrespect intended, ma'am."
"No, no, it's fine," you say, laughing. "Haven't you heard? This whole shebang started with me mouthing off to my own boss. A little more honesty's exactly what we need around here. Glad to have you on board."
You realize: "I didn't catch your name?"
"Oh," they say, putting a hand to their forehead. "Yeah, I'm not so good at introductions neither. It's Vic. Vic Martinez."
"Great to meet you, Vic," you say. You hesitate, wondering if you should say anything more. You're so busy, the thought of adding another person to your social circle seems exhausting. But maybe that's exactly why you should. And are they even interested?
CHOICES: - Invite them to dinner. - I'd like to invite them to dinner, but I'm not sure it would be appropriate given my position. - It was great to meet them. Hopefully they can become a friend and ally on the set. - It was nice meeting them, but I should really get back to work.
Teaspoon says, "I'm tickled by Dysorder's intro appearing there."
DavidW asks, "Eugene, where can we get a piano we can break?"
Jacqueline says, "For the transcript, since I don't think Dysorder's disconnect will appear otherwise: it happened right before the choices and read 'I'm never sure. I don't like being sure about things. One minute you're sure, the next, everyone tuns into lizards and a piano falls on your head."
Teaspoon says, "So...I like 3, I think."
DavidW says, "I'm thinking either 2 or 3."
DavidW says, "so, let's go with 3, then."

"Good meeting you, Vic," you say, shaking their hand again. "And looking forward to working with you on Outcast Odyssey."
They smile. "Likewise, Flowers," they say. "Hoping for a good shoot." And with that, they turn to join the crew shifting into some new phase of work behind them.
The rest of the day is uneventful. Toward the end of the day, Eugene tells you he got a call from Thomas Avery, who'd be thrilled to direct the picture. All the pieces are finally in place!
You're just about to head back to your office and let the crew wrap things up when you hear a familiar young voice shout: "Watch out!"
DavidW says, "Dinner is too soon anyway. We ought to find out what they like for lunch first."
Jacqueline exclaims, "Watch out! Here's where the piano falls on your head!"

You whirl around just in time to see a fifteen-foot crane crash over onto its side. A gaffer has just managed to dive out of the way and avoid being pinned under the steel boom arm. Standing to the side, hands clutching her dress in terror, is your niece, Ada.
You stride forward angrily as Eugene helps the man to his feet. "I thought I made it clear you weren't to visit the set without my permission," you say sharply.
"I'm sorry, Aunt Flowers," she says in a tiny voice. "I thought if I found a quiet spot to watch...I mean, hide...I could just watch the screen test and not be a bother to anyone. And then I saw they forgot to sandbag the crane, and I wanted to say something, but I thought if I climbed out of the crate no one would believe me or I'd get in trouble, or..."
"Girl probably just saved my life," the mustached gaffer says gruffly, stepping forward. "I'll give her that. But she don't know what she's talking about. We don't sandbag trucking cranes. Too much work."
"That's not true," Ada says, very quietly. "Union regulations say you have to sandbag anything over six hundred pounds." She sniffles.
You look back and forth between them. How should you handle this?
Teaspoon says, "BOM BOM BOM"

CHOICES: - I don't want to show favoritism. Scold my niece. - Family comes first. Scold the gaffer for his mistake. - It's my show. Take responsibility for this myself.
Teaspoon says, "heck, just because we *know* she's telling the truth doesn't mean we know that."
DavidW says, "Choice 4: Scold everyone."
Teaspoon says, "why don't we have a "Scold everyone" option"
DavidW says, "jinx"
Teaspoon says, "heh"
olethros says, "a gaffer!"
Teaspoon says, "Anyway, we're definitely not going to be responsible. This is what we hire people for."
olethros asks, "anyway, did I miss a lot?"
Teaspoon says, "fair bit. We've got a script, director, leading lady now."
DavidW says (to olethros), "And Ada just returned."
Jacqueline asks, "Since they're both in the wrong and it's not an option to yell at everyone, why not take responsbility as the person in charge?"
Teaspoon says, "That makes sense."
DavidW says, "yeah. We gotta swallow this one."

You sigh. "We've been rushing to get ready," you say, "I should have spent more time making sure everyone was properly trained, and getting the right safety procedures in place. I'll draw those up tonight, and make sure every crew member has the time to review them thoroughly before shooting begins."
The gaffer nods, relieved not to be the one to take the blame, and turns back to work, helping some others lift the crane back into position.
You turn to your niece. "Ada, I'm sure the gentleman appreciates what you did," you say. "But that doesn't change the fact you shouldn't have been here. A film set's a dangerous place. It could have been you under that crane." She stares miserably at her feet. "Look, girl, what would your mother think if I let something happen to you?"
"Probably be relieved," she says under her breath.
You feel a twinge of guilt at that. You know your sister: you can imagine what kind of mother she'd be. Maybe it's no wonder Ada's willing to hide in a crate all day to get out of the house.
You kneel down. "Look, Ada," you say. "You can't sulk about my film set unsupervised. It's a safety hazard. But..." She looks up, hopeful. "If you clear it with Eugene, you can come visit every now and then. But he's going to be responsible for you, and I need him, so you'd better find a way to be a help and not a hindrance."
"I'll be so helpful!" she says, eyes lighting up. "I can make coffee or run errands or hold things or..." She bites her lip, then kisses your cheek. "Thanks, Aunt Flowers."
By the end of the day, you're bushed. You stop in at your favorite corner store for a cup of joe and a skim through the afternoon paper. As you flip through the stories, a tiny headline near the back catches your eye:
You put the paper down, shaking your head. That bastard's trying to scoop you.
Looks like the race is on...
Teaspoon says, "so Livia's a spy then"
Jacqueline says, "Well, we did pitch it to Croghan ourselves."
DavidW says, "We don't know that. Croghan got the original premise from our own lips."
Chapter Four

"Watch it, buddy!" a trench-coated pedestrian shouts as Eugene narrowly avoids clipping him with your Bentley. He shakes a fist as your assistant squeals around the corner onto Sunset.
"Maybe you should slow down a little, Gene," you say helpfully, trying to unclench your iron grip on the armrest.
"We're going to be late," he says, narrowing his eyes at a jumpy-looking poodle on the sidewalk as if gauging its suicidal tendencies, but not easing up on the gas. "What a traffic jam back there. Don't worry, chief, I know a shortcut that'll have us there in two shakes of a lamb's tail."
Teaspoon says, "ooh.....yeah, forgot all about that."
It's your first day of shooting, and it looks like you're either going to miss it or end up charged with vehicular manslaughter.

In an attempt to distract your assistant from his cheerful attempt to set a new land speed record, you ask, "So how's the crew holding up? We in a good place for the first day?"
He pulls a folded page from an inside pocket and thrusts it at you, not taking his eyes off the road. You unfold the report:

Studio McStudioface -------------------------- Project: Outcast Odyssey Producer: Flowers Floyd Status: production Your ledger is in the black: on budget Crew Stress: 49% Screenplay: Original: 40% Familiar: 60% Intellectual: 85% Accessible: 15% Intense: 70% Relaxing: 30% Quality: 60% Production: Acting: 56% Directing: 40% Craft: 40%
Now that you're entering production, you'll be tracking not only the caliber of the directing and acting, but also the craft of your behind-the-scenes technicians: the lighting, the sound, the sets and costumes. This depends mostly on your crew's stress and how you handle it. Quality craft, acting, and directing are all important for a well-rounded picture.
Remembering your little mental exercise, you take a minute to reflect on your own status, too: Personal Stress: 63% Which do you put first in your professional life? The Project: 38% The People: 62% Personal Relationships: The actress, Livia Lane: 53% Your niece, Ada: 43% The grip, Vic Martinez: 72%
You've noticed lately that the crew has been getting pretty lazy. Jobs that should take ten minutes are taking two hours. There's a billiards table in C Stage. Maybe you should crack down on them a little harder, before this turns into a monkey house.
Teaspoon says, "Sigh."

Teaspoon says, "Now we need to go be harsh and things."
Fortunately, Gene manages to avoid either colliding with any fragile bodies or attracting the attention of the fuzz, and his shortcut whisks you to the gate of Studio McStudioface precisely on time.

You hop out of the car and hurry to B Stage. The crew's fiddling with last minute details, and the talent's all here, looking fantastic in their costumes. You round up the key players (including your director, Thomas Avery) for a quick pep talk before shooting begins.
"Thank you all for being here," you say, rearranging your spring-colored scarves. "You all know what a struggle it's been to get to this moment. I can't tell you how excited and privileged I feel to be setting out on this journey with you all. Thanks for helping me realize my dream." Maria Ripley touches your shoulder and gives you a beautiful smile.
You take a deep breath, looking around the circle. "Any questions?"
"I've got one, Flowers," Thomas says. "What kind of pace are we shooting for? You okay with giving us time to do lots of retakes, so we have a little room to breathe? Or we trying to get this picture shot quick and cheap?"
CHOICES: - "Let the actors take all the time they need to get the performances right." - "Let the crew take all the time necessary to get the shot technically perfect." - "We'll keep shooting until everyone is happy, even if that means going over budget." - "We've got to stay on budget and on schedule. A minimum of reshoots, please."
Teaspoon says, "minimum of reshoots."
DavidW says, "agreed"

Thomas nods, scribbling a note down.
Maria taps a pencil against a script page. "And Flowers, how do you want us to play this scene? Follow the script straight? Or you want to allow room for improv?"
CHOICES: - "Do what feels right. The script is just a rough guide." - "It's important you follow the script very carefully." - "The important thing is to do whatever the director wants."
olethros says, "#3"
DavidW says, "THREE"
Teaspoon says, "3"
DavidW says, "Director is king in this situation."
You smile. "Let's make a hell of a picture," you say, to grins and nods all around. A bell rings from somewhere. It's time. You're ready for your first shot.

"All right, places, everyone!" the A.D. shouts. The director has a few quick words with some key crew members while the makeup people fuss over the actors waiting patiently under the lights.
Eugene produces the slate with a flourish.
You gaze over the details, remembering some of the technical conversations you and Avery had. You decided the film should be shot in...
CHOICES: - black and white, which is cheaper and still common, especially for B-pictures. - color, which is still more expensive but becoming increasingly expected, especially for A-pictures.
Teaspoon exclaims, "!"
Teaspoon says, "I love that we're just dumping this decision on Avery now. That's hilarious."
Jacqueline says, "Well, this is a flashback decision."
Teaspoon says, "ohhh...right. That makes more sense"
Jacqueline says, "'Remembering some of the technical conversations you had'"
Jacqueline exclaims, "Otherwise, yeah. This would not be the time to change it up!"
DavidW asks, "Can we do black and white until the pirate ship reaches Oz?"
Jacqueline says, "yay"
Teaspoon says, "That doesn't seem to be an option."
Jacqueline asks (of DW), "Are the pirates drinking? Or doing drugs?"
DavidW says, "The pirates drink."
DavidW says, "Delicious rum drinks."
Teaspoon asks, "maybe black and white?"
Jacqueline says, "So a drink laced with drugs. Cool. Got it."
Teaspoon says, "our intellectual niche musiscal about pirates"
Jacqueline says, "You all seem to have been pretty light on the budgets all along, as if you're trying to make a B-flick, it seems."
DavidW says, "You're confusing Oz with Wonderland."
Jacqueline says (to DW), "True."
DavidW says, "I'm tempted to stick with black and white if we're aiming for a B movie."
Teaspoon says, "I'm kinda seeing this as a Flynn homage, in which case it would certainly be black and white"
Teaspoon says, "(even though I can't stand Flynn)"
DavidW says, "ok. Hopefully we have a good stuntperson team."
Jacqueline asks, "So, B&W?"
DavidW says, "yes, I think so."
olethros says, "hm"
olethros says, "maybe we are saving on filmin because we are shooting in color"
Jacqueline says, "A valid point."
Teaspoon says, "I like b&w"
Teaspoon says, "and it's cheap"
Jacqueline asks, "DW - you didn't sound confident. I'm reading this as Tsp = B&W, O = Color. Which is it?"
DavidW says, "I'm just sorry we won't see the costumes in colour, but sf is easier to play in b&w, I think."
Teaspoon says, "I concur on that point."

And with the rise of television, presented in the familiar Academy ratio, a host of wider shooting formats have cropped up lately to try to make going to the movies feel different and more special than what folks can get at home. After discussing things with the director of photography, you decided to shoot the film in...
CHOICES: - the Academy ratio, 1.37 to 1. It's cheapest, and it's how films have always been shot. - widescreen, 1.85 to 1. Only adds a little to the budget, but gives the film a distinct feel. - ultra-widescreen, 2.35 to 1. Requires more expensive anamorphic lenses and custom processes, but makes the film feel sprawling and epic.
DavidW says, "ok, here we ought to take a risk. Go either wide or ultra-wide."
Jacqueline says, "As I understand it, Aaron had a lot of fun researching stuff for this game."
Jacqueline says, "It really does show."
olethros says, "psycho was widescreen"
Teaspoon says, "If we're gonna take a risk, take all the risk. Ultra-wide."
DavidW says, "ok"
olethros says, "I saw W"
olethros says, "err say"
Jacqueline asks, "That leaves me to break a tie?"
Jacqueline asks, "Or do you want to choose, DW?"
DavidW says, "I picked UW"
Jacqueline says, "Oh, I thought you said either W or UW, my bad."
olethros asks, "hm UW color film?"
You take the slate from Eugene, and look it over fondly.
PROD No. 01
"Outcast Odyssey"
DIR. Thomas Avery
Scene 14 Take 1

"Who should do the honors, chief?" heasks.
olethros says, "err BW"

CHOICES: - It's my studio, after all: I deserve to be the one to do it. - Let the director do the honors. - The star, Maria Ripley, should do the honors. - Give the clapper to the actress (and your A.D.), Livia Lane. - Let the grip, Vic Martinez, do the honors. - Let my niece do the honors. - Someone from the crew should do the honors.
Jacqueline says (to Olethros), "It's ultra-wide B&W."
Teaspoon says, "This is the director's job, surely."
Jacqueline says, "Which is pretty cool."
Jacqueline says (to Tsp), "This is a ceremonious thing."
Jacqueline says, "Oh, you mean let the director do it, not 'let the director decide'"
Teaspoon says, "Right."
DavidW asks, "This is a big deal?"
olethros says, "traditionally the grip does it"
Teaspoon says, "I want our director to shout "Lights, camera, action!""
olethros says, "I think"
DavidW says, "I think Vic ought to do it."
Jacqueline asks, "So that's two for Vic?"
Teaspoon says, "so it is."

Vic holds the slate in front of the lens. "Roll sound," the A.D. calls, and then, a moment later: "roll camera."
"Rolling," the camera operator says.
"And...action!" Vic slams the clapper down, making the cracking sound that will sync sound to picture in post, and steps back. Like magic, the first scene begins.
The scene you're starting with today is from early in the script, when Maria's leader of the band of outcasts sings about her ordinary, humdrum life, little knowing how soon everything's going to change. The songs were all recorded over the past couple of weeks, so Maria just has to sing along to a recording of her own voice. The performance, coached carefully by Thomas Avery, leaps straight to the drunk heart of the character, and it's going to be a delight to see the footage when you watch the dailies tomorrow. As the day's shoot wears on, your direction from earlier seems to be paying off: the crew works quickly and efficiently, and the talent delivers good performances from the first take, meaning that before long you've already pulled a little ahead of the shooting schedule.
Teaspoon says, "It was such a good idea being an expert producer."

After a hard morning's work, the A.D. calls "check the gate" one last time, and once the camera crew signs off on the last shot, you break for lunch, with a quick round of applause all around. Catering's put out a modest, appetizing spread, but you're too keyed up for a meal, so you tide yourself over with a blueberry muffin.
You're brushing the crumbs off your fingers when Eugene finds you and touches your arm, wearing an alarmed expression. "Flowers, we've got a couple of unauthorized visitors. I wouldn't have let them in myself, but..."
You follow the nod to see two gentlemen standing in the gloom outside the studio light's glimmer, chatting easily with each other. One you don't recognize, but the other has a profile so distinct it's been parodied around town for years. It's been a year since you've seen that gaunt face above an immaculate bow tie, a year since you've smelled one of those Diego cigars.
Teaspoon says, "hoo boy"
Teaspoon says, "If he's here to pay us off, I vote we take the money and retire to a sunny island."
DavidW says, "Probably here to shut us down."

You stride over, not sure whether to be angry or flattered. He spots you and doffs his hat cordially.
"Flowers Floyd," he says. "Sorry to drop in unannounced. Just wanted to offer congratulations on your new enterprise. Looks like your picture is off to a crackerjack start."
"Mr. Croghan," you say, not taking the hand he offers. "And how's shooting on your own musical science fiction picture going?"
He smiles, exhaling a mouthful of cigar smoke. "You were ahead of the game on that one, Floyd, I'll admit. Six months ago all the polls started telling us the science fiction genre was hot again. Didn't see it coming." He frowns, looking concerned. "I certainly hope you don't think we've stolen your ideas, Flowers. You know I'd never stoop to that. We have an entirely original concept, of course." He spreads his hands widely. "I hope if we're to be rivals, we can at least be friendly ones."
This unexpected cordiality catches you off guard. What's he up to? Does he genuinely want to bury the hatchet, or is this some kind of power play?
CHOICES: - "Thanks for coming by, Lloyd. Have a muffin." (Though it's painful, I really ought to be polite.) - "I appreciate the visit, Croghan, but I'm afraid I'll have to ask you to leave now." (I don't have time for this.) - "Get out." (Ordering the bastard around will feel damn good.)
DavidW says, "Muffins are awesome, yes."
olethros says, "I abstain"
Teaspoon says, "that was an easy choice"
DavidW says, "'Have another creampuff, froggy'"

He smiles. "You're too kind, Flowers, but I'm afraid I have business elsewhere to attend to."
He steps aside, waving to the shorter man who's been waiting patiently behind him. "I've brought an old friend who'd like a quick word. Shouldn't take more than a moment. I know you're a busy woman." The tweed-suited gentleman steps forward with a tight smile. "Flowers Floyd, meet Congressman Jonathan Creed, head of the New Committee for the Investigation of Hollywood Un-Americanism."
Croghan nods to the two of you, and makes his exit.
olethros says, "haa ha peace muffins"
Teaspoon says, "Oh lor'."
Teaspoon says, "this is going to be interesting."

Creed extends a hand politely, though his smile is less polite than predatory. So this is the man who wants to update the blacklist and throw a whole other group of your colleagues out of work for their political beliefs. You give him a grim smile back. It's anyone's guess which of you is trying to grip the other's hand harder. Creed is short, with a well-groomed balding pate, tortoise-shell glasses, and a professionally distant smile. He has the demeanor of a man who's quietly waited all his life to come to power and, now that he's had a taste, finds it sweeter than he ever expected.
"Miss Floyd," he says, which you'll let slide for now, "kudos indeed on your new studio. There are so many of you independents cropping up like mushrooms. I've had to hire two new staffers just this week to keep track of you all."

CHOICES: - "Rooting out the Reds is a dirty job. I'm grateful someone's doing it." - "We're flattered by your attention." - "That sounds like a lot of work. Aren't there easier targets Congress could be investigating? Drug cartels? Gangsters? Murderers, perhaps?"
Teaspoon says, "I like the flattered answer. It's sarcastic without being crude."
olethros says, "yeah, it's neutralish"
Allen asks, "did someone mention MUFFINS???!?!?"
olethros says (to allen), "all gone"
DavidW says, "sure, let's stay neutral while we can"
Allen | [LINK]
He offers a brief withering smile, like someone invited to pet a hated neighbor's dog. "Communism is the greatest threat this country faces, Miss Floyd. The left finds it amusing to belittle this threat. But our enemies are very real, and they understand as well as you the power of this industry to distort truths, to sway opinions. I trust I have your cooperation in rooting out any subversive elements that may try to infiltrate your production."
olethros says, "hee"
Jacqueline says, "Let's try that again..."

CHOICES: - "Absolutely. You can count on me, sir." - "I'll do what I can to help, but I hope it won't interfere with my work." - "I'll do what's legally required by your committee, sir, and that's all." - "You harass my cast or crew, Creed, and I'll see you in court."
Teaspoon says, "ten zorkmids that our grip is a secret communist"
olethros says, "ooh, I like #4"
DavidW asks, "I don't think 4 has much weight to it, does it?"
Teaspoon asks, "Weight?"
olethros says, "it's not a credible threat, no"
Teaspoon says, "Oh, right."
olethros asks, "do we know if we mean what we say?"
Teaspoon asks, "anybody want a CS game about lawyers?"
Jacqueline says, "4 seems like a great way to get in their gunsight."
olethros says, "I'd still go with #4; if he's already made up his mind about this, then we might as well go up in flames. Mor einfamy for us"
DavidW says, "There's no good answer here."
Teaspoon says, "No."
Teaspoon says, "well, that's historical enough."
olethros asks, "remember, we are lesbian communist/black sympathisers?"
Jacqueline asks, "So... 4?"
DavidW says, "We're not communist. We just think rooting them out like this is stupid and/or silly."
Teaspoon says, "3, then."
DavidW says, "3"
olethros says, "this game definitely is worth a replay"
Teaspoon says, "(we wouldn't drive a Bentley if we were communists)"
Jacqueline exclaims, "Darn it! I had this already queued up: CHOICE MADE: I'LL SEE YOU IN HELL! I MEAN... COURT!"
Jacqueline says, "But I'll do 3."
Teaspoon says, "Oh. Well, I can live with that too."

His face darkens. "Perhaps you don't realize, Miss Floyd, that we're at war. It's an easy fact to miss. This is not a war of uniforms and battlefields, like those of the past. This fight is on our own soil, and these enemies are spies and subversives. People who seem like good, ordinary Americans on the outside." He looks you up and down. "People who could be any one of us. Unless you want to wake up tomorrow and start speaking Russian, I'll hope to receive much more than the legally required cooperation from you."
He pulls out a copy of your script. "I've had a chance to review the script for this production," he says, "despite your failure to provide a copy, as I requested of your staff. Fortunately, the copyright office was able to assist in my investigation." He flips through the script with a look of disdain. "I regret to say that this photoplay contains a number of elements the committee finds disappointing, if not downright unacceptable. Its perverted and unwholesome sexual themes. An appalling intensity and gratuitous assault on the senses. The smug, self-congratulatory intellectualism of its dialogue. I'm sure you'll be receptive to the changes I've suggested to make this more the kind of picture that wholesome American audiences would like to see." He smiles as he hands the script over.
You flip through it lightly. It's filled with red pen marks: whole scenes are crossed out with a large red X, while many lines and individual words have been rewritten or altered to ridiculously inoffensive alternatives. These changes would seriously undermine your picture, there's no question about it. But you know he's got the power to cause your studio serious problems if you don't comply with his wishes.
Teaspoon says, "Oh, the raciness has been an issue then."
olethros asks, "can we go back to the court option?"
olethros asks, "I'm sure he'd do the same if we said we'd cooperate, right?"

CHOICES: - "We'll be happy to make these changes." (Truth) - "We'll be happy to make these changes." (Lie) - "We'll consider your revisions, but I can't promise anything." - "This is censorship, but I'll consider some of these changes, if I must." - "I'm not changing a word."
Teaspoon says, "Aaron's rolled up the Hayes Code and the blackist into one villain. Convenient."
olethros says, "yeah, that seems beyond his jurisdiction. Not changing anything!"
Teaspoon says, "I want to know, very badly, what our studio's distribution system is."
olethros says, "youtube"
Jacqueline says, "heh"
Jacqueline exclaims, "Ahead of our time!"
DavidW says, "I don't want to change a word."
Jacqueline exclaims, "Another sign of our communist leanings!"
olethros says, "we'll go down in flaames"
DavidW says, "He's the one with the red pen."
Jacqueline asks, "So, say you'll make the changes but don't, or say flat out that you'll not change a word?"
Teaspoon says, "We're talking about an era in which there was an industry-wide agreement about how long two people could kiss on stage."
DavidW says, "The last option."
Teaspoon says, "4"
olethros says, "we are alredy antagonising him; and we're an independent studio"
olethros says, "we're already fucked"
Teaspoon says, "you have a point, o"
DavidW says, "(Also if Creed has a copy of our script, you can bet our competitor does too.)"
[NOTE: ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED! Word Perfect: Refuse to compromise your creative output.]
Teaspoon says, "sweet."
Creed steps forward. "You ought to take care, Miss Floyd," he says. "There are laws in this country to punish people who seek to poison it. We've got quite a file on you already. There are certain unpleasant words you wouldn't want creeping into that file. Words like contempt. Dupe. Traitor."

He takes off his glasses and polishes them with a vicious little flourish. "Don't make things any more difficult for yourself than you have already, Miss Floyd." He puts on his hat and gives you a thin smile. "Good day," he says, "I'm sure we'll speak again soon." With a nod, he departs.
NEXT PAGE...Eugene is instantly at your side. "Those bastards," he says. "How dare they come in here and threaten you?"
"It's okay, Gene," you reply, taking a deep breath. "They're not going to stop us."
The rest of the first day's shoot goes well, and you manage to shrug off the unpleasant encounter at lunch. Thomas Avery directs with smooth competency, working through the shot list briskly and getting the footage that's needed. It's wonderful to watch Maria Ripley bring Jack Cooper's beautiful words to life. Maria seems to be struggling to slip into the role.
As you start to find a rhythm with the crew, your style as a producer begins to take shape. You've given a lot of thought to this. Some producers treat their crews like a pirate captain under siege, barking orders fast and furious, cutting out weak links with brutal efficiency, and not giving a damn about hurt feelings or personal politics. Though rough on the people, sometimes it's the only way to drive them to greatness.
On the other hand, some producers prefer a quieter approach: choosing politeness over efficiency, sacrificing rigor for good rapport. This too can be effective, if the crew comes together and bonds like a family, and really comes to care about the project. But it can also lead to sloppy work and turn projects into over-budget messes.
olethros says, "btw, I thought that we had decided that the film was *not* going to be intellectual"
Jacqueline says, "We did."
Jacqueline says, "Then we chose a crappy screenwriter."
DavidW says, "It was changed during the writing of the script."
Teaspoon says, "and then we changed our mind, because it was expensive"
Jacqueline says, "And we chose not to pay for him to rewrite that bit."
Teaspoon says, "and also we got an intellectual director"
Jacqueline says, "Oh yeah, that too."
olethros says, "but it says: Intellectual: 85% Accessible: 15%"
olethros says, "ah"
Jacqueline says, "Once it went intellectual we figured we might as well get a director who could pull it off."

CHOICES: - Drive them hard: see what they're capable of achieving. - Treat them well: build a family, warts and all. - Try to find an even balance, even if that constant self-monitoring is yet another thing to worry about.
olethros says, "so we are doing a cheap intellectual film about space pirates in ultrawide b&w, with racy bits."
Teaspoon says, "yup"
DavidW says, "It'll be epic."
Teaspoon asks, "how stressed are we?"
olethros says, "sounds like.... a game of thrones / solaris crossover"
Jacqueline says, "Our personal stress is presently at 65%"
Teaspoon says, "We can probably handle 3, then."
olethros says, "yeah, we dont want a picnic - we want to get things dnoe"
Jacqueline asks, "So is that two votes for 'find an even balance'?"
Teaspoon says, "I was thinking sort of Pirates of Penzance IN SPACE"
DavidW says, "yeah, the crew was starting to slack. We need a balance."

As the day moves on, you and the crew start to develop a rapport. Shot by shot, the footage rolls in. You won't get a look at the first dailies till tomorrow night, but you can't help but feel Outcast Odyssey is off to a great start.
At a quiet moment that afternoon, you're reviewing some footage and something incredible happens. You're taking some notes, momentarily distracted from the screen, when Eugene gasps. "Chief," he says, "look at that."
You look up at the screen, where shots from a different scene have just started running by. You see at once what grabbed Gene's attention. Something about the lighting is simply magical. The light kisses the edges of Maria's face with a radiant glow, bringing the black and white film stock alive with a creamy, textured vividness. You remember this setup: you thought it looked okay at the time, but seeing it on celluloid is simply transporting.
"Turned out okay, did it?" a familiar voice asks. You both turn around to see Vic Martinez, head poking into the dim screening room with a sheepish grin on their face.
Teaspoon says, "nice"

"Vic," you say, "did you have something to do with this?"
"Oh well," they say, matter-of-factly, "when I saw the way we were lighting this, I realized if we opened the shutter a little wider, and compensated with some filters on the backlights and the lens, we could push this a little more, provided we developed the footage just right." They grin a bit, seemingly in spite of themself. "Spoke to the D.P. about it while we were setting up, recommended we swap out to a different film stock that'd pick up the highlights a bit better. Helped the boys in the lab develop it just right, too." They look at the screen again, nodding appraisingly. "Turned out okay."
Your eyes meet Eugene's briefly, reflecting your astonishment. You turn back to Vic. "You think you could keep working with the D.P. like that, Vic?" you ask. "Push a few more shots to get this effect?"
They shrug. "Sure, if you think it's worth the effort."
"I do," you say firmly. "And Vic?" you ask as they turn to go. "That's an awful lot of trouble you went to, just to make this one shot something special. Thank you."
They turn red. "Ah, it weren't nothing," they say. "Besides, Flowers, you've been such a good friend to me, when most people in your position would never even have noticed I existed. I felt like the least I could do is try to give you something special in return." They duck quickly out of the room, and you turn back to Eugene, shaking your head.
"People are full of surprises," you say.
He grins at you, patting your arm and looking at you with a fond sort of respect. "They certainly are, Floyd. They certainly are."
Teaspoon says, "aw"
[ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED: CHIAROSCURO - Kick up your craft with the help of the grip.]
DavidW says, "my my"
Teaspoon says, "Clearly we made the right choice here."

By the time the last shot is called, you're bushed. There's a celebratory mood on the set. What would you like to do?
CHOICES: - Take the drunk outcasts out for dinner. Bonding will help cement their on-screen relationships. - Go drinking with the crew. It's important to establish a friendly working relationship. - Get a quiet drink with the director, Thomas Avery, to talk shop about the work to come. - Go for milkshakes with my niece Ada. It'd mean a lot to her. - Ask that actor, Livia Lane, out for dinner. I'd love to get to know her better. - Ask that grip, Vic Martinez, out for dinner. I'd love to get to know them better. - Better make an early night of it: a nice relaxing bath and some time alone.
Teaspoon says, "This is probably important."
olethros says, "mmmmmmm too many choices"
Jacqueline asks, "Want to see stats?"
Teaspoon says, "sure"
Personal Statistics
Name: Flowers Floyd
Studio: Studio McStudioface
Natural Talent: Producing
Earned Talent: Editing
Weakness: Acting
Personal Stress: 70%
Which do you put first in your professional life?
The Project: 47% The People: 53%
Personal Relationships:
The actress, Livia Lane: 53%
Your niece, Ada: 43%
The grip, Vic Martinez: 76%
DavidW says, "Drunk milkshake dinnah's w' evybody [hic]"
Jacqueline says, "I have the movie stats, too, but it seems like it's the personal stats that matter for this choice."
Jacqueline says, "Let me know if you want the others, though."
Teaspoon says, "agree with David"
Jacqueline says (to DW), "It's true: drunken milkshakes are pretty rad."
Jacqueline asks, "But when you say 'with everybody,' do you mean the cast, or that you wish there was an option to go out with both cast & crew (which there's not)?"
Teaspoon says, "the cast"
DavidW says, "oh, it's just that we can't make everyone happy at once here."
Teaspoon says, "oh, I see. Hmm"
Teaspoon says, "Um, let's see the project's stats after all"
Teaspoon says, "we can party with cast or crew, who ever's more put out."
Movie Statistics
Your ledger is in the black: on budget
Title: Outcast Odyssey
Genre: scifi
Starring Maria Ripley leading an ensemble cast
Crew Stress: 49%
The script for your project is:
Original: 40% Familiar: 60%
Intellectual: 85% Accessible: 15%
Intense: 70% Relaxing: 30%
Quality: 60%
Your production statistics:
Acting: 41%
Directing: 55%
Craft: 50%
Your project is not yet in post-production.
DavidW says, "I'm thinking a drink with the director might be best, if only to get a better sense how it's going."
olethros says, "acting is at 41%"
Teaspoon says, "Acting is pretty low, yes. Let's go out with the cast"
DavidW says, "sure, I'll let you two decide."
Jacqueline asks, "So, take the cast out?"
Teaspoon says, "yup"

The lot of you end up at a cozy Italian place a few blocks from the studio: you, Maria, and some costars and bit players. Over cannoli and more glasses of wine than are perhaps strictly advisable, you swap showbiz stories and talk shop about the first day's shoot and the plans for the days to come. Maria's got some great ideas for her character, and some grin-inducing plans hatching for one of the meatier forthcoming scenes. By the time everyone starts in on impressions of famous Hollywood stars, there are enough bottles of empty wine to make every one a gem of hilarity, including your own show-stopping take on a sour-faced Croghan chewing out his staff the day Outcast Odyssey opens to smash box office numbers.
It's what they call a wonderful evening.
Teaspoon says, "Maybe this also destressed us, which would be nice."

NEXT PAGE... THUD! The sound of the morning paper slamming against your door kicks off your morning hangover with a bang. Groaning, you pull on a bathrobe and crack open the front door just enough to retrieve the paper, trying to let as little viciously bright sunlight in as possible. As you're brewing a strong pot of coffee, you spot a headline a couple pages in:
FLOYD MUSICAL SCIENCE FICTION PICTURE STARTS PRODUCTION WITH RIPLEY Tiny newcomer Studio McStudioface's lot was bustling with activity yesterday as director Thomas Avery began shooting Outcast Odyssey, the upstart studio's racy rockets and rayguns picture. Spirits were high on set, bolstered by surprise visitor Lloyd Croghan delivering well wishes to former protégé Floyd. Production seems off to a smash start, although word around set is the picture's already overbudget. After a few weeks of studio work, the struggling independent's next challenge: a tricky location shoot.
Hrmph. But you tap a pencil on that last sentence. Whatever hack reporter dredged this up is right about one thing: the location shoot's going to be your toughest challenge yet.
Time passes... The low level of crew stress improves the directing. The high quality of the direction so far improves the craft. The low level of crew stress slightly improves the film's craft. The film is a little over budget, and this slightly increases the crew's stress.
Chapter Five
At a quiet moment that afternoon, you've stepped out to drive Ada to the library to finish her homework (despite protests of "It's not distracting here, honestly! I was just watching the operator while I was thinking!"). Chatting about the day's work, the two of you walk across the lot to your parking space. But when you see your car, you come to a dead halt, the color draining from your face.
Your tires have been slashed, and spray-painted across your rear window are these words:
"Aunt Flowers?" Ada says, hand grabbing yours, a growing fear showing on her face. "Who...who did that?"
Teaspoon asks, "why, on earth, do we have an expensive location shoot?"

An hour later, your niece whisked safely home by Romana's chauffeur, you're still shaking. You knew with this new wave of anti-Communist sentiment sweeping through your industry that you might take some professional hits for your beliefs. You've made your choices about how to treat Congressman Creed and his supporters, and you stand by them.
But you never thought about your professional decisions touching your personal life like this, and the lives of the people close to you. You've heard people say "Better dead than Red" before. You never stopped to think about who might actually mean it.
Was whoever did this still watching when you walked out of B Stage, absentmindedly chatting with Ada?
Would they hurt her, just for being close to you?
You pour yourself a drink, trying to clear your head. Maybe you'll have to be more careful what you say in the future. If you're starting to become visible as a public figure protesting Creed's committee, maybe you need to start doing something to fight against that perception and step back out of the spotlight.
Or maybe that's exactly what they want.
olethros says, "to the moon!"
There's a knock on the door: you're needed once again. The only thing to do now is shake it off and keep doing the best you can.
Teaspoon says, "That's a fair answer."
The next few weeks of shooting pass by in a blur of celluloid jittering through gates, the fried-metal smell of overheated studio lamps, and endless triangle sandwiches of liverwurst and bologna.

Thomas Avery keeps the production rolling smoothly forward, and you respect him as a skilled manager, even while wishing he showed a touch more capacity for creative thought. Maria Ripley is doing the best she can in her role, but the performance isn't quite as memorable as you were hoping it'd be. The crew are working smoothly and efficiently, and seem to be balancing the project's stress with a casual ease on set, keeping hold of enough stamina to make it through the rest of the shoot. And you're a little over budget, but nothing to worry very much about.
Day by day, though, the picture's getting made. By the time you start packing up for the location shoot, you've got a handful of significant scenes crossed off the schedule. But taking the production outside the familiar bounds of your studio is going to be a whole new challenge. You hope Studio McStudioface is up to the task.
olethros asks, "so I guess we can announce that we *are* in fact shooting at the moon?"
olethros asks, "where we shall establish a communist colony?"
Teaspoon says, "we should spring for pastrami, even if it puts us overbudget"

NEXT PAGE... Location shoot, Day 3. Eugene's latest production report, neatly typed as always (did he pack a typewriter in his luggage?) and slipped under your door this morning, looks like this:

Studio McStudioface -------------------------- Project: Outcast Odyssey Producer: Flowers Floyd Status: production Your ledger is in the black: on budget Crew Stress: 46% Screenplay: Original: 40% Familiar: 60% Intellectual: 85% Accessible: 15% Intense: 70% Relaxing: 30% Quality: 60% Production: Acting: 49% Directing: 61% Craft: 57%

Remembering your little mental exercise, you take a minute to reflect on your own status, too:
Personal Stress: 74% Which do you put first in your professional life? The Project: 47% The People: 53% Personal Relationships: The actress, Livia Lane: 46% Your niece, Ada: 37% The grip, Vic Martinez: 65%
You've been having trouble sleeping lately. Every night you're exhausted when your head hits the pillow, but you just lie there, heart racing, mind cooking. If you don't find a way to lose some of this stress, you're going to wind up in the hospital, or maybe an early grave. These are the cheerful thoughts that run through your head at night.
Teaspoon says, "maybe we should have sprung for a better actress after all"
Teaspoon says, "ah well."

After the frantic run-up to departure and a successful couple of days on location, today you're just killing time while some logistics get sorted out before tomorrow's shoot. Remembering you wanted a postcard to pin on your office wall, you flip through a rack at the post office, finally picking one that really shows off your location:
CHOICES: - desert dunes as far as the eye can see. - an exotic jungle. - a tropical beach. - a remote valley filled with forests and mist. - rugged redrock countryside. - the windswept prairie. - a charming European village. - the bustling streets of a foreign metropolis. - the moon
Teaspoon exclaims, "!"
Teaspoon says, "Moon. No question."
(Just kidding: the moon is not an option, I just pasted that in for fun. Sorry, I couldn't resist.)
olethros says, "ha ha ha ha ha"
Teaspoon says, "awwwwwww"
DavidW says, "ha ha"
olethros says, "and we had rather anticipated that"
DavidW says, "No period after 'moon'"
Jacqueline says, "That's the tip off that it was me typing that and it's not really part of the game, yeah."
Teaspoon says, "It's kinda hard to see how to fit any of this locations into our musical, anyway."
olethros asks, "well, I think we want a rugged redrock countryside?"
Teaspoon asks, "Beach?"
Jacqueline says, "A beach kind of sounds the most pirate-y"
Teaspoon says, "agreed."
DavidW says, "I like valley filled with forests and mist."
olethros says, "who said they are sea pirates"
Jacqueline says, "Um, no one, I guess."
Teaspoon says, "true enough."
DavidW asks, "So you want a beach?"
Jacqueline exclaims, "Except!"
Jacqueline | pi rate
Jacqueline |
Jacqueline | noun
Jacqueline | 1.
Jacqueline | a person who attacks and robs ships at sea.
Jacqueline | synonyms:freebooter, marauder, raider; More
Jacqueline | verb
Jacqueline | 1.
Jacqueline | use or reproduce (another's work) for profit without permission, usually in contravention of patent or copyright.
Jacqueline | "he sold pirated tapes of Hollywood blockbusters"
Jacqueline | synonyms:steal, plagiarize, poach, copy illegally, reproduce illegally, appropriate, bootleg; More
Jacqueline | 2.
Jacqueline | dated
Jacqueline | rob or plunder (a ship).
Jacqueline says, "That kind of implies that pirates are generally on water."
Jacqueline says, "Except for media pirates."
Jacqueline says, "But anyway, we should take it to #pedant"
Teaspoon says, "is that a channel"
Teaspoon says, "(also: beach)"
olethros says, "ok fine"
Jacqueline says (to Tsp), "It is, but I'm kidding about taking the conversation to there."
olethros says, "but I'd like a rugged beach with cliffs!"
Jacqueline asks, "So, one vote for beach so far?"
Jacqueline says, "Oh, that's two votes for a beach, methinks."
olethros says, "yeah"

Yes, this will be a good souvenir for the shoot. You could use some color after the unpleasantness when you arrived. You weren't prepared to deal with the border guards confiscating the recording equipment. Hopefully the rest of the shoot will be smoother.
A few of those little details aside, the trip's been lovely so far. Having the whole ensemble cast on the road has been a logistical nightmare, but now that you're all here, it's wonderful. The scenery is stunning, and it's going to look breathtaking in glorious black and white, sprawling across those wide silver screens: a beautiful crescent beach of clean white sand, under a sky so blue it hurts. There's been delicious food, too: you sampled some kind of amazing grilled fish yesterday, and have been craving more ever since.
DavidW says, "oh well, there can be mist in the next picture."

As you take your postcard to the front of the shop, you bump into Livia Lane, clutching a handful of souvenirs. "Flowers!" she says, smiling broadly, "isn't this place phenomenal? I was thinking of you last night: a few of us were eating dinner at this little bungalow we found. The owner was this tiny little woman, and she cooked us up a delicious meal...absolutely delicious, Flowers, you've no idea... but she just fawned over us the whole time. We wanted an authentic experience, you know, what's the right way to eat this, what sauces go where. But whatever we guessed first, she always said, 'Yes, yes, absolutely right!' She refilled our drinks whenever we took the tiniest sip, laughed at even our most long-in-the-tooth jokes...she so wanted to make us happy, I suppose."
She gives you a mock frown. "Reminded me of you, chief. Just a smidge. Do nothing but bend over backwards to make everyone happy, sometimes you end up doing just the opposite." She winks and rings up her postcard. Smiling, you shake your head and finish paying for your own.
Sounds like everyone's already collecting plenty of stories to tell the folks back home...
CHOICES: - ...although that won't be for a long time, because most of the film will be shot on location. - a while, since a good third of the film is on location. - ...soon, since only a few short scenes are shot on location.
olethros says, "yup, it's over budget, so #3"
Teaspoon says, "3"
Jacqueline says, "FWIW, you're only 5% over budget."
Jacqueline says, "But I guess that's two votes for 3..."
Teaspoon says, "If we'd actually managed to make our film in the studio system I would be glad to make it way over budget"
Teaspoon says, "but an independent studio is different."
DavidW says, "and it's our first film."
Teaspoon says, "Right."
As the sun nears the horizon, shimmering through a haze of heat, you consider how you'd like to spend your evening. There's a nearby bungalow serving drinks, and someone you've been thinking of taking there. But maybe you have other concerns that are more pressing than your social life.

CHOICES: - Take the actress Livia out for drinks. - Take the grip Vic out for drinks. - Spend the evening having meetings with cast and crew. - Spend an evening recovering.
[Floyd] olethros says, "maybe we need to rest" Teaspoon says, "I think we need to recover."
olethros says, "maybe we need to rest"
DavidW says, "Rest McRestface"
You're too worn down to hold up your end of a conversation, let alone give any more pep talks today. You make your excuses, hoping your potential drinking companions aren't too disappointed, and retire early to your bungalow. You're asleep almost as soon as you crawl under the mosquito netting and your head hits the pillow.

Your dreams, thankfully, have nothing to do with Outcast Odyssey.
The next morning, everyone is up at the crack of dawn to roll out to the shooting location in a small convoy of rented trucks laden with gear. But getting the trucks loaded up and everyone ready to leave seems to be taking forever, and there seems to be a lot of standing around and head-scratching.
CHOICES: - Time to crack the whip. Time is money. - Maybe I should lend a hand to speed things up, even though there's plenty to worry about already. - Don't meddle, even if it's tempting. My people will figure it out...eventually.
Jacqueline says, "Your personal stress has dropped to 56%, btw."
Teaspoon says, "Nice."
DavidW asks, "So, have we been playing for 6 hours?"
Teaspoon says, "five and a half"
Teaspoon asks, "I think?"
Jacqueline says, "Yeah, 5.5"
Jacqueline says, "The game has over 150K words of content."
Jacqueline says, "You're a fairly solid chunk of the way through."
Teaspoon asks, "more or less than half?"
Jacqueline says, "More than half."
Jacqueline says, "But if you want to postpone, I would understand."
DavidW says, "well, I would like to lie down again."
Jacqueline says, "maga and I are thinking you're about 2/3s of the way through it."
DavidW says, "like, you could continue without me if you want,"
olethros says, "I'll only play for another 30min or so"
Jacqueline says, "Hm. I guess we'd still have two people playing -- oh, for 30 min."
DavidW says, "ok, I can manage another half hour."
Jacqueline says, "Okay, cool."
Jacqueline asks, "So, choice?"
Teaspoon says, "that works."
DavidW says, "Tempted to crack the whip."
Teaspoon says, "agreed."
olethros says, "ok"

You start barking orders and rallying the troops...there's no time for this dillydallying. Folks start looking a bit more lively, and soon everything gets loaded up and you're on the road. You end up squeezed into a truck with your director, Mr. Avery, heading out over the sand in the predawn light.
Thomas suffers the bumpy road in silent dignity for a while, then turns to you. "Oh, Flowers, I've been meaning to discuss something with you. It's the ending again. Yes, I know, but the more I think about it, the more I just don't think it's true to Maria's character. For the leader of those outcasts to go through everything she does, and then make a decision like that so just rings false, don't you think?"
You've been worried this was going to come up again. Thomas just doesn't seem to like Jack Cooper's ending, despite your assurances to him that you've thought long and hard about it and that it's definitely the best way for the story to end.
On the other hand, a director likes to feel like he's got creative control. Even though he's wrong, maybe letting him get his way just this once will keep him happy for a while.
CHOICES: - Flatly refuse to change the ending. - Agree to discuss it with him for a while, but stick to my guns, even if it'll be a stressful conversation. - Agree to some changes, but he needs my explicit approval for each one, even if that causes delays. - Let him make whatever changes he likes, even if that incurs redesign expenses. [Only available if budget < +20.]
Teaspoon says, "I don't think we can afford a delayed film."
Jacqueline asks, "So, 1 or 2?"
DavidW says, "Stick to guns"
DavidW says, "2"
olethros says, "stress!"
olethros says, "1 or 4"
Teaspoon says, "2"
olethros says, "i dont like these half measures"
You go back and forth with him for a while, conceding points here and there, but respectfully refusing to budge on the ending itself. After a long while, you finally wear him down and he gives in.

"All right, chief, we'll do it your way," he says at last. "Thanks for talking it over, at least."
You smile politely, but rub your temples. Your first headache of the day and it's not even full light yet.
When you arrive at the day's shooting location, you hop out while the crew sets up. The sun's rising in a perfectly clear sky, and you're optimistic you can get as many shots in the can as possible.
By lunch, though, the weather's taken a turn. Overcast skies delay a number of shots the D.P. was hoping would have bright sun.
Eugene shakes his head. "They said it's only cloudy two days out of the year here," he says.
"Yeah," you reply, glancing gloomily up. "Today, and tomorrow." At least the cloud cover cuts down the temperature, but you can feel the heat of the money you're burning just fine.
By early afternoon, some truly ugly clouds are gathering on the horizon. Damn! With one delay after another, you're well behind schedule.
"Maybe we should just call it, Flowers," Eugene says, eyeing the approaching clouds nervously.
CHOICES: - Call it a day, even if adding another day's shoot will be expensive. [Only available if budget < +20.] - There's still time before those clouds get here. Try to keep my cool and get one more shot before packing up. - Just the threat of weather's not enough to stop Flowers Floyd. Keep shooting as long as we can.
Teaspoon says, "It's a matter of trade-offs. Lower the direction, increase our stress, delay the film, increase the budget."
olethros says, "hm I thought we went back to the studio"
Jacqueline says, "If someone is struck by lightning, that will be expensive."
Teaspoon says, "ooh"
Teaspoon says, "One more shot. We'll fix the look in editing."
DavidW says, "yeah, one more shot"

You squint at the clouds, but your eyes are blurry and you can't really guess what the weather holds. It was such a beautiful morning. The storm might not even head this direction. Or it might blow right over...
You're in the middle of a take when a deafening crash of thunder booms around you. Seconds later, it starts to rain. And not just rain...downpour.
"Oh lord, the equipment!" Eugene shouts. A mad scramble ensues. By the time you get the gear squared away, everyone is drenched, some of the gear is ruined, and nobody is very happy.
You thought you had a good definition for the word "terrifying," but driving back to the bungalow through blinding flashes of lightning, howling wind, and enough rain to give the Hoover Dam an overspill changes your mind. Fortunately, the storm blows itself out soon, lingering as only a mild drizzle, but the road's become a muddy disaster in the meantime. Your trucks are sliding around like ducks in a skating rink. And then the one in front of yours gets hopelessly mired, back wheel spinning in a quagmire of black mud.
"All hands on deck!" someone shouts. "Let's push!"
Maria Ripley, riding in the truck that's stuck, climbs gamely out to help, slogging through the mud to join the crowd assembling near the rear.
CHOICES: - Get out and help. - I'd just get in the way.
Teaspoon says, "push."
DavidW says, "yeah, help"

Wearily, you climb out to join the others. There go your new shoes. "And one, and two, and three!" Everyone heaves as the driver gently taps the accelerator. At first it seems like the truck's dug in too deep to escape. Then, with an obscene squelch, the truck lurches forward...and Maria collapses face-first into the mud.
Scores of hands move to help her up, but she's only got eyes for the source of the uproarious laughter coming from somewhere nearby. A few paces away, reasonably dry under a black umbrella, stands Livia Lane, who can't stop giggling.
"Find this amusing, do you?" Maria asks, with a futile attempt to wipe mud off her front, eyes staring daggers at Livia.
"I'm sorry, dear, really I am," she says, still grinning broadly, "just couldn't help myself. Didn't know we were making a comedy."
Shrugging off Vic Martinez, who's rushed over with a towel and umbrella, Maria walks calmly up to Livia, looks her in the eye. And before anyone can stop her, gives her a hard shove.
Livia shrieks and falls straight into a mudbank, crying out in pain. "My arm! Why you stuck-up, grandstanding little girl," she says, clutching one arm while struggling ineffectually to get to her feet. "Let me at her. I'm going to kill her."
olethros says, "this is great"
Jacqueline asks, "I thought we *were* making a comedy. No?"
DavidW says, "oh dear"
Teaspoon says, "uh-oh"

You hoped by next morning the whole thing would blow over, but the mood at breakfast is sour. Livia's sleeves are pointedly rolled up to show a purpling bruise, while Maria sits on the other side of the room talking loudly to her stand-in and ignoring everyone else.
You're brooding over your breakfast, trying to decide what to do, when Vic catches your eye and nods towards the door. The two of you step outside into the already simmering morning sunlight.
"Flowers, you've got to do something," they say, skipping the pleasantries. "This kind of thing can poison a production if left unresolved. Tensions were high last night, and they both acted unprofessionally, but now it's your job to make sure this doesn't balloon into something more serious." They fold their arms. "I know you usually put the project first and trust this kind of thing to sort itself out, but not this time."
Maybe they're right. Squabbling is the last thing you need right now. Maybe a pointed intervention could nip a brooding feud in the bud. On the other hand, it's a distraction from the job at hand: getting this film in the can. And there's always the chance that by sticking your oar in you make things even worse. What should you do?
CHOICES: - Give everyone a day off to cool down, though that will add even more expense. - Try to break the mood with a funny story. - Try to give a pep talk about professionalism. - Ask Vic to spend some time talking with them...even though it's a big favor and will interfere with their work. - Don't get involved, and hope the situation blows over.
olethros says, "either 1 or 4"
Teaspoon asks, "Professionalism. What else are we a producer for?"
olethros says, "hm"
olethros asks, "pep talks?"
DavidW says, "at least try 3."
Jacqueline asks, "So that's 2 for pep talk?"
Teaspoon says, "yes"

They look skeptical. "This one of those motivational speeches makes people want to jump out a window to get them over with?"
"Vic, I spent years at Croghan's studio massaging bruised egos and pulling productions through rough spots," you say with a grin. "Leave this to me."
The mood is sullen at first when you start in on what everyone assumes is a lecture, but this isn't the first temper tantrum you've smoothed over. By the time you're finished, you've not only gotten everyone fired up about the picture again, you think you've even made Maria and Livia a little embarrassed at their overreaction. They're coolly cordial to each other as the day's shoot winds up, but by sundown they're laughing together again, and even clink glasses over dinner. Looks like you've saved the day.
The weather finally does settle down, and the rest of the location shoot passes uneventfully. With some luck, maybe that'll be the last of the major crises.
NEXT PAGE... Time passes... Your tendency to prioritize the project over the people slightly increases your crew's stress.
Jacqueline asks, "Want to call it here, at the chapter break?"
olethros says, "sounds good"
olethros says, "time to practice my bach"
DavidW asks, "can a ChoiceScript game be saved?"
Teaspoon says, "I'd like to see the next chapter, even if we stop"
Jacqueline asks, "You mean the intro text?"
Teaspoon says, "yes"
Jacqueline says (to DW), "I get one save, and yeah, I've asked maga not to touch the game this week so we can resume next week. He's cool."
Chapter Six

Ice clinks as Fish pours you a few generous fingers of brandy. You take the cool glass from him and lean back in your desk chair, closing your eyes for one yearning moment as your friend pours a glass for himself. It's been a long day: your plans for a five o'clock drink got pushed back to a six o'clock drink, and evolved at last into a creeping-up-on-seven-already drink flavored with exhausted apologies. Fish laughed them down, though, waiting patiently for the day's shoot to wind down and for you to have a free moment.
He clinks glasses with you and raises a toast to "soldiering on." You take a grateful swallow that burns like an oak-paneled drawing room. Another day behind you.
"This is good stuff," you say, eyeing the amber-colored liquid appreciatively. "Where'd you find it?"
"My little secret," he says with a smile. "But you're damn right it's the good stuff. Sounded like you needed it, chief. How's your shoot going?"
Teaspoon says, "oh, nice."

Your eye catches Eugene's latest production update atop a stack of mail as you consider how to answer that question:

Studio McStudioface -------------------------- Project: Outcast Odyssey Producer: Flowers Floyd Status: production Your ledger is in the black: on budget Crew Stress: 50% Screenplay: Original: 40% Familiar: 60% Intellectual: 85% Accessible: 15% Intense: 70% Relaxing: 30% Quality: 60% Production: Acting: 56% Directing: 57% Craft: 57%

"Could be worse," you say.
He laughs. "Always a diplomat," he says.
You take another sip of the excellent brandy, more than anything appreciating the sensation of just sitting and enjoying something. It's been hard to remember to take time for yourself, these past few weeks, but you dutifully take a moment to reflect on your personal life, too:
Personal Stress: 62% Which do you put first in your professional life? The Project: 60% The People: 40% Personal Relationships: The actress, Livia Lane: 40% Your niece, Ada: 37% The grip, Vic Martinez: 59%
Shooting's well past the halfway mark now, but there's still a lot of hard work to come. A lot of complex special effects shots still need to be captured, and coordinating everything requires precise communication between your production and postproduction teams, meaning a lot of painstaking, exacting work. Despite all the hard work, you can't imagine anything more energizing than watching the film come together, day by day and shot by shot. It's shaping up to be something grand.
"You think I'm handling things okay, Grundy?" you ask, swirling your glass and staring at the amber liquid musingly. "Any advice for a greenhorn producer?"
Fish scratches his beard reflectively. "If I were you," he says, "and, now, don't take this the wrong way. It's a common rookie mistake. You really ought to do something about this office." He knocks the bare drywall with a sad shake of his head. "Some paint, a few pictures, hell, even an interesting crack or two. Ain't nobody going to take you seriously as a big shot producer with an office like this."
You grin, shaking your head. "And how are you holding up, you rascal? Any new projects in the works?"
"Got some irons in the fire," he grins. "Something'll come up Fish Grundy soon enough. Oh," he adds, "you'll get a kick out of this. Guess who paid me a visit night before last?" He raises his glass in a mock salute, downing the last swallow of brandy. "Your old friend, Congressman Jonathan Creed."
"Creed?" you say with a frown. "I'd almost forgotten. Haven't heard a peep out of him since his little visit on our first day's shoot. Thought maybe he'd forgotten about us."
"Politicians are a bit like mosquitoes, Flowers," Fish says. "You think they've buzzed off, found someone else to hassle, and then zzzzip"—he skips his hand off your desk—"they get right up in your ear and start whining their butts off. No sirree, you can bet Creed's still keeping his fingers in the Studio McStudioface pie."
CHOICES: - "And what was he whining about to you?" - "Now, Fish. The man's doing an important job." (Earnest) - "Now, Fish. The man's doing an important job." (Sarcastic)
Jacqueline says, "There you go. That's the text until the next choice."
Teaspoon says, "That does seem like a good place to stop."
Teaspoon says, "We seem to be doing pretty well."
Jacqueline says, "Yeah. I'd say you are."
DavidW says, "oh good"
Roger says, "Huzzah"
Jacqueline says, "I'll tune up this transcript a bit and ensure it's saved for next week. See you all next Sunday morning."
Teaspoon says, "Good night"
Jacqueline says, "s/morning/afternoon or eveing, depending on your locale."
DavidW says, "good night"

You grin, shaking your head. "And how are you holding up, you rascal? Any new projects in the works?"
"Got some irons in the fire," he grins. "Something'll come up Fish Grundy soon enough. Oh," he adds, "you'll get a kick out of this. Guess who paid me a visit night before last?" He raises his glass in a mock salute, downing the last swallow of brandy. "Your old friend, Congressman Jonathan Creed."
"Creed?" you say with a frown. "I'd almost forgotten. Haven't heard a peep out of him since his little visit on our first day's shoot. Thought maybe he'd forgotten about us."
"Politicians are a bit like mosquitoes, Flowers," Fish says. "You think they've buzzed off, found someone else to hassle, and then zzzzip"—he skips his hand off your desk—"they get right up in your ear and start whining their butts off. No sirree, you can bet Creed's still keeping his fingers in the Studio McStudioface pie."
CHOICES: - "And what was he whining about to you?" - "Now, Fish. The man's doing an important job." (Earnest) - "Now, Fish. The man's doing an important job." (Sarcastic)
Teaspoon says, "whining. We can be honest with Creed."
olethros asks, "are we continuing something from last week?"
Jacqueline says (to olethros), "Yes"
olethros says, "ahyes"
olethros says, "#1"
DavidW says, "sure, 1"
Jacqueline asks (of Tsp), "By 'be honest with Creed,' you mean 'be honest with Grundy'?"
CHOICE MADE: What was he whining about?

"Oh, probably just lonely, poor little fella," Fish says, lifting a corner of his mouth. "Had all kinds of questions for me. Was real concerned about rumors he's heard, that ol' Fish Grundy might be sympathetic to the Communist party. Asked him if having sympathetic feelings is a crime these days in Mr. Eisenhower's America. He got all serious-like, leaned forward, says…'It can be, Mr. Grundy. It can be.'"
You lift a corner of your mouth at Fish's deadpan impression. "I can only imagine what happened next."
"No, no!" he says, lifting his hands, "I was real sweet to the little fella. He said I'd been seen entering and leaving the apartments at 99 Maplewood, where a known member of the Communist party holds regular meetings, save us. I said a lot of people live at 99 Maplewood. He asked if I'd care to share the name of such a person whom I might have been visiting on these occasions, and I politely declined.
"Well," he adds reflectively when you raise an eyebrow, "I believe I told him my private affairs were none of his goddamn business and he could run along off for a warrant if he really wanted to piss away American tax dollars investigating me for entering and leaving an apartment building in broad daylight, and didn't mind becoming a laughingstock down to the police station, where I believe they're pretty big fans of Hollywood legend Fish Grundy and don't cotton to frivolous, crybaby demands on police time." He taps a finger against his cheek with a frown. "S'pose that wasn't too polite after all, come to think of it."
Teaspoon says, "yes, 1"

After seeing Fish out, you head back to your place to freshen up for an evening out. Skimming the Times yesterday, you spotted an ad for a revival of one of your favorite films at Grauman's Egyptian Theatre. With a pang, you realized it's been months since you've gone to the movies purely for the fun of it, and a night out sounded instantly appealing. After some thought, you decided to…
CHOICES: - Invite the actress, Livia Lane, to the screening. - Invite the grip, Vic Martinez, to the screening. - Spend some time with Ada and take her to the screening. - I'd rather go to the movies by myself. - Forget the movie and stay at the studio to take care of some paperwork.
Teaspoon says, "I favour Vic."
olethros says, "vic"
DavidW says, "hm, sure, Vic is okay."
Jacqueline says, "2/3 is a majority at present, right? Just so I know going forward..."
Teaspoon says, "I think it is."
DavidW says, "We seem fine to ignore Livia."
CHOICE MADE: Go to the movies with Vic

When you invited Vic, you were even more excited to learn they had never seen the picture. You can't wait to share it with them, since it's one of your favorites:
CHOICES: - Rear Window. - 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. - Singin' in the Rain. - The Grapes of Wrath. - The Wizard of Oz. - Destination Moon. - Frankenstein.
DavidW says, "I must vote for Oz, of course."
olethros says, "either 20k or moon"
Jacqueline says, "heh"
Jacqueline asks, "Teaspoon, break the indecision?"
Teaspoon says, "I'll go with Moon."
Jacqueline says, "Moon it is."
CHOICE MADE: Destination Moon
DavidW says, "I don't even know what Moon is; never seen it or heard it discussed."
You pick Vic up and get to the theater plenty early to grab the best seats in the house. The bow-tied gentleman in the booth hands you two tickets, and you give a quarter to the counter girl for a bag of popcorn. As the smell of salt and butter mingles with the opulent, oiled-wood ambiance of the grand old theater, you both head upstairs to your favorite balcony seats.

"You're in for a treat," you say, settling into your red plush seat. "Unbelievable special effects: it looks like they actually went to the moon and filmed there! It's not cardboard rocket ships on fishing wire any more."
The lights dim and the theater starts rolling a cartoon, but it's an oldie everyone's seen before, so the general chatter continues. Looks like you'll have a few more minutes to catch up before the feature begins.
DavidW says, "Cheap popcorn."
Teaspoon says, "George Pal! I like George Pal."

"So what's your story, Vic Martinez?" you say with a grin. "Tell me everything."
They shrug, settling into the plush red seat. "Not much to tell," they say simply. "Just a stagehand."
"Oh, come on," you say, picking a spring-colored thread off your sleeve. "Where are you from? Where are you going? What do you like to do in between? Everyone's got a story. I'm sure you don't want to be a grip forever."
"And what's it to you if I do?" they say, flushing. "Yeah sure, everyone's got a story. That don't mean everyone got a right to hear mine. Not everyone in this town wants to be in the spotlight all the time, you know. Some folks just want to be left alone."
olethros says, "ooo touchy"

There's an awkward silence as they sit stewing and you think of how to respond. "I'm sorry," you finally say. "I didn't mean to pry. I'd just like to get to know you better, is all. If you're interested."
Vic lets out a big breath, staring off into space. "I know, I know," they say, looking faintly ill. "I told you I'm not so good at this kind of thing. Maybe I should just go, huh?"
"Don't you dare," you say with a smile.
They unclench just a little, finally letting out a chuckle. "Have it your way," they say. "Anyway, you're the one with the interesting life. Tell me about the great Flowers Floyd. How'd you get to be a big-shot producer, anyway?"
CHOICES: - Tell them the well-rehearsed story: it'll be nice and relaxing. - Tell them the real story: be honest, even if it hurts. - They're not getting off that easy. Press to know more about them.
Teaspoon says, "We might be talking to a tabloid reporter. Possibly."
DavidW says, "real story"
olethros says, "but it's a well-trained grip, no way he'd be a useless reporter"
Teaspoon says, "Hmm. Well, if we're veering for real story I won't say no."
Jacqueline asks, "So, real story?"
Teaspoon says, "That's one and a half votes for real story, so I think that wins."
CHOICE MADE: Tell them the real story.

For the first time in years, you find yourself speaking honestly about your past, your failings alongside your successes. It's been so long since you broke from your standard spiel, the pieces you usually leave out are sharper: jagged bits of yourself you'd rather forget. Having your ideas laughed at, being told a woman could never make it in this business. Petty revenges. Years in a tiny stifling attic room, barely scraping together each month's rent, one gig away from living on the street. No letters home, and none from.
Vic listens, looking up at the theater's grand dome, without judging or praising anything. Just listens. Until you finally peter out, afraid of how much you've said, and why.
"Thanks, Flowers," they say quietly. "That was a better story than I was expecting."
You take a deep breath. "I've been doing too much talking," you say. "Tell me about being a grip. What do you like about it?"
Teaspoon says, "This is a very long cartoon. Maybe there's also a newsreel too."

They stroke their chin reflectively. "Guess I just like a job well done," they say. "You get a problem, you solve it, you get the next one. End of the day, you go home and forget about it." They shrug. "Simple."
"But why work in the movies, then?" you ask, leaning forward. "You could do manual labor anywhere. Or be a mechanic, like you said." They chuckle. "So why Hollywood?"
They raise an eyebrow at you. "Cause you meet the damnedest people in this business, Flowers."
There's more to it than that, of course. As you get Vic talking, you slowly start to build a picture of how they see the world. Though they never quite come out and say it, it's clear they really love Hollywood for making magic happen. The right studio light shining through a set window to perfectly mimic a summer afternoon, even if it's winter midnight outside; a trucking shot so smooth it's like pulling the audience's soul slowly forward toward destiny. Engines that purr. The impossible made effortless. They get an almost impish look when talking about these things, a look of supreme confidence, as if they're pulling one over on the universe and nothing can stop them. It's rather endearing.
You discover that one of their hobbies is building model airplanes. "Used to take them down to the lake," they say, reaching into the bag of popcorn and pulling out a perfectly popped specimen. "Give 'em a bit of sidewalk for a runway, rig a wound-up rubber band to the propeller, watch 'em soar." They shake their head. "Drove Mel up the wall. Couldn't see the point. Always said it was a giant waste of time, let alone money."
"Mel?" you ask.
They stiffen up, then look away abruptly. "We've had a nice time so far tonight," they say. "Let's not talk about that."
CHOICES: - Guess that Mel is an ex, and tell them about an ex of my own. - Guess that Mel is an estranged family member, and talk about my own family problems. - Change the subject to something less risky.
Teaspoon says, "Let us be polite and change the subject."
DavidW says, "yeah, change the subject"
olethros says, "sure"
CHOICE MADE: Change the subject

"So," you say, falling back on your favorite subject, "what kind of movies do you like?"
They smile. "Simple stories, well told. Would have loved to work in the days of the silents, you know? Sunrise. City Lights. The Last Laugh." They glance warily at you. "Tell you a secret? I don't really care for most color pictures. Here they spend all this money to snatch up all them shades in perfect detail, make everything look real as life. But life's got too much color already, you ask me." They sigh. "I want my stories flickering, washed out, painted with light. Perfect. Nothing like down here at all."
CHOICES: - "That's…beautiful." - "Just so long as you don't let your boss hear you saying that." - "There's a little perfection down here, too, if you know where to look." - "Uh... it's not too late to go see something else."
DavidW says, "hm. None of those sound quite right."
Jacqueline says, "Well, 3 is a come on line."
Jacqueline says, "1 is just reaction and appreciation."
Jacqueline says, "2 is, I hope, humor."
DavidW says, "Except we just told them about how flawed we are."
Jacqueline says, "and 4 is oh shit this is a color film, oops."
olethros says, "I like 3 or 4"
Teaspoon says, "We're making a black and white film. Vic oughta like this."
Teaspoon says, "well, ours, I meant."
Jacqueline says (to Tsp), "TRue"
Teaspoon says, "I'm amused by 4."
Jacqueline says, "(I didn't romance the grip when I played, nor did I take anyone to the movies, so this is new content for me. I'm glad you all are on a different track.)"
Jacqueline says, "Okay, 4 it is."
olethros says, "> ROMANCE THE GRIP"
DavidW says, "well, we can try 4."
CHOICE MADE: Go see something else.

They laugh. "I'll let it slide this time 'round."
They take a deep breath. "It's good to talk to someone. Thanks for finding time for me, Flowers," they say, shifting to the side so another moviegoer can squeeze by. "Glad to be getting to know you. Even just a little."
olethros says, "that should be a command in some parser game"
Jacqueline says, "heh"
Teaspoon asks, "What, Romance the X?"
olethros says (to TS), "yes"
Teaspoon says, "It would have to be a rude game..."

The lights drop all the way down and the curtain opens to its full extent. The two of you settle back in your seats.
By the time the music swells up under the main title, the conversation's already fading away, and you can feel a smile creep onto your face. This is just what you needed, maybe what you both needed: a night lost in movie magic, without knowing how any of the tricks are done.
vimes says, ">ROMANCE THE GRIP The throne objects to your wandering eye."
Watching the film again for the first time through Vic's eyes is a joy. They're on the edge of their seat at the rocketship's illicit launch, and stare wide-eyed as the astronauts set foot on the desolate alien moonscape. Motes of dust glow and swirl in the beam of the projector, just above your heads. At a certain moment you get the sudden sensation they're about to rest their arm along the seat back behind you, and wonder how you'd respond if they did...

CHOICES: - Yes, it feels right. - I'd like them to, but surely they can't be interested in me, can they? - No, I'd prefer a non-romantic friendship with them.
DavidW says, "1 or 2"
Teaspoon says, "ditto"
Jacqueline says, "If O is gone I can choose which of those."
Jacqueline counts to 10...
CHOICE MADE: I'm into them, but surely they're not into me, right?

Apparently they are. At a certain moment their arm shifts over gracefully to behind your shoulders. You slide towards them, and they snuggle into you with a sigh.
It's a good night out at the movies.
When the curtain drops, you both meander out into the hot summer night, chattering about the picture: favorite lines, perfect moments. The golden lights of the marquee make your faces glow like movie stars. A moment comes, a lull in the conversation, and their eyes twinkle in the warm bulbs as they look up at you, cheeks still flushed from Destination Moon. You feel the moment gather like a wave above to crest, a baseball at the top of an arc.
CHOICES: - Say they look wonderful tonight. - Kiss them. - Don't.
DavidW says, "kiss"
Teaspoon says, "yeah"
olethros says, "oo!"
CHOICE MADE: Smoochies!

Your lips meet before either of you can stop them, shattering the question of whether you should. The moment holds its breath with you, as if together you can defy gravity, stop time, fly to the moon in a silvery rocket ship.
When you pull back, the look on their face mirrors your inner thoughts: mischievous and giddy, like a bandit with a roller coaster for a getaway car, careening towards something grand.
"Thanks for a wonderful night at the movies, Martinez," you say.
"My pleasure, Floyd," they say back. You hail a cab, thinking happy thoughts.
As you hold the door open for them, they pause, attention snared by something off in the distance. "Looks like a fire over there," they say.
You follow their glance to see a plume of smoke turned pale orange by city light, spilling into the sky. "Yeah," you say almost languidly, as if caught in slow motion, "and isn't that awfully close to…?"
They nod, biting a lip, confirming your fearful geography. The spell breaks and something clenches in your stomach: now everything moves much too quickly. "Driver!" you shout, hustling Vic into the cab and following right on their heels, "follow that smoke, fast!"
Teaspoon exclaims, "!"
DavidW says, "uh-oh"

The closer the cab gets to the column of smoke, the further your heart sinks. It's not a trick of the night or perspective. It's more and more clear that the fire is coming from the Studio McStudioface lot.
As the cabbie screeches around the final corner, your breath trips somewhere in your throat. Vic lets out a little gasp of despair. B Stage is burning. Smoke erupts from cracks in the walls and great licks of flame dance behind the upper windows. A small crowd, including members of your crew, has gathered under the cast-iron sign, silhouetted black against the fire's glow.
You jump out of the cab and rush forward. "Is anyone inside?" you shout at a kid you recognize as a set runner.
"Dunno, chief," he says. "Some people been working late this week, but no clue if anyone was in there tonight. Sure ain't seen anyone come out, though."
Teaspoon says, "Do we have insurance/"
DavidW says, "geez, I hope no one's in there. But I'm guessing Ada is."
Jacqueline says, "I rather love how the name of our studio makes that first paragraph go from serious to 'oh right Studio McStudioface hahahaha'"
olethros says, "scheisse"
Teaspoon says, "tee hee"

You have only seconds to decide what to do. If the fire spreads to C Stage, most of your props and costumes could be destroyed, not to mention the negatives of all the footage you've shot. You can't imagine a worse disaster for your production. But if anyone's trapped in B Stage, by the time the fire department gets here it might be too late to help them.
Maybe you could galvanize the crowd into action, but with the stress you've been under lately, you're hardly at your best as a leader just now. And on the other hand, you can already hear the sirens getting closer: maybe you should leave this to the professionals. You'd never forgive yourself if anything happened to your team, or to Vic, because you were trying to play the hero.
CHOICES: - Turn to B Stage, to look for survivors. - Turn to C Stage, to save the negatives. - Try to marshal the gathering crowd to do both. - Wait for the firefighters to get here.
Jacqueline asks, "Want your stats?"
Teaspoon says, "sure"
DavidW says, "yikes, what a choice."
DavidW says, "1 or 3, I think"
Jacqueline says, "I guess what your really want is your personal stress, which is presently at 65%. If you wanted other stats, let me know."
DavidW says, "People are more important than a movie."
Jacqueline says, "I like 3, but I'm just the bot."
DavidW says, "I bet if we choose 1, Vic will help out somehow without being asked to."
Teaspoon says, "I think we can pull off 3 with that stress level."
Teaspoon says, "We're good at handling people."
Jacqueline asks, "Olethros?"
olethros says, "3"
DavidW says, "I'm leaning towards 1, but will accept a 3 if that's what the rest of you want."
olethros says, "we're better at directing than doing it ourselves"
CHOICE MADE: Marshal the crowd into action

You start barking orders, and people begin to respond. You've been a leader before, after all. People are slow to get moving at first, but soon you've rallied a handful of troops, people eager to do what they can.
"Okay, people," you say, tucking a scarf back into position, "we need one team to look for anyone still in B Stage, and another to ferry the negatives out from C." You check yourself, suddenly remembering something. "Actually, scratch that. We moved the negatives to B last week. So the second team'll form a bucket brigade, try to keep it from catching fire."
Thank God you've kept cool enough to remember that…if you'd been more stressed out, that's the kind of crucial detail that might have slipped your mind.
"Let's move out!" you shout. "Be quick, and be careful!"
Your people are off at a run. You stay outside on point, relaying info and barking orders.
Before long, the B team reports no signs of life in the burning soundstage, thank God. It's a good thing you haven't been pushing your crew harder, or who knows what might have happened. Without a rescue effort to distract them, the team has managed to save a few vital props and set pieces from the blaze.
The other team moves swiftly and efficiently to set up a bucket brigade, dousing C Stage's walls and roof with water.
By the time the fire department's left, hours later, clouds have moved in and the night is black and grim. You stand looking desolately at the smoking remains of B Stage. Most of it still stands, but it's totally gutted. It'll take a lot of money to rebuild…money you don't have.
Vic takes your hand. "What's going to happen to Studio McStudioface now, Floyd?" they ask. "What'll happen to Outcast Odyssey?"
You shake your head. "I don't know, darling. I really don't know."
Teaspoon says, "I think we got away with it."
olethros says, "it can't have been Pantsy McPantsFace that did it, right? he'd just want us in jail, not ruined"
olethros says, "but I guess it could have been our old Boss"
DavidW says, "The main suspects are our old boss and Creed."
Jacqueline says, "Well, Vic certainly has an alibi."
Jacqueline says, "(Not that I'd suspect Vic.)"
DavidW says, "Unless someone on our team did it, maybe even by accident."
Teaspoon says, "Livia."
olethros says, "livia? that's strange"
Chapter Seven

The gate swings opens with a mechanical whir, and you nudge your car through, fingers clammy on the steering wheel. The winding curves of Mulholland and its lovely view usually clear your head, but today the drive just made you dizzy, more aware than ever of sheer drop-offs: one wrong turn from disaster. This might be your last chance to save your studio.
In the wake of the fire, all hell's broken loose. Production has come to a dead halt while you drown in investigations and red tape: the police haven't ruled out arson, and the insurance investigators haven't ruled out fraud.
What's become clear is this: getting Outcast Odyssey back into production and completed will take a lot of money, and fast: more than Studio McStudioface's got by a long shot. You talked to the bank, but they won't help you. Your personal savings were already bled dry. What you need is a new private investor.
Hell. What you need is a Hail Mary.
olethros says, "AFK for a bit"
Teaspoon says, "Oh dearie."

Here's where things stood when production halted:
Studio McStudioface -------------------------- Project: Outcast Odyssey Producer: Flowers Floyd Status: On Hiatus Your ledger is in the red: nearly bankrupt Crew Stress: 43% Screenplay: Original: 40% Familiar: 60% Intellectual: 85% Accessible: 15% Intense: 70% Relaxing: 30% Quality: 60% Production: Acting: 56% Directing: 57% Craft: 57%

And your own personal life feels about like this: Personal Stress: 65% Which do you put first in your professional life? The Project: 60% The People: 40% Personal Relationships: The actress, Livia Lane: 34% Your niece, Ada: 32% The grip, Vic Martinez: 73%
Teaspoon asks, "So, ah, we're not stressed then?"

A couple days ago, you and Gene holed up in your apartment with a pot of coffee, a telephone, and a huge list of names: anyone who might be able to help. The list of candidates dried up faster than the coffee rings on your table.
By sundown, you were left with only three names of potential backers. You hashed over the pros and cons of each before deciding who to contact.
CHOICES: - My wealthy sister, Romana. - The mercurial Arabian prince and sometime Hollywood investor, Faisal Raqim. - Retired star Greta Garbo, who owes me a favor from my studio days. - I've made up my mind.
Teaspoon says, "I doubt Romana will do us any favours."
DavidW says, "The choices are getting more and more difficult."
Teaspoon says, "Yes."
Teaspoon asks, "How about Garbo?"
DavidW says, "'I vant my money to be lefft alone.'"
Jacqueline says, "I went to my sister, but then again, I'd been really nice to my niece and you lot have been absentee aunties at best."
DavidW says, "I think we ought to try the Arabian prince, but that might come at the cost of our relationship with Vic."
Jacqueline asks, "Hm. Why so?"
Jacqueline asks, "Oh, you're going to use your feminine wiles?"
DavidW asks, "Well, if the prince helps us with money, what are we offering in return?"
Jacqueline asks, "A REALLY NICE FILM?"
DavidW says, "I imagine Garbo will have a price, but possibly her price will be either to star in the film or get creative control."
DavidW says, "This is all guesswork, though."
Jacqueline says (to DW), "Hm, yeah"
DavidW says, "Hopefully the prince must just want a percentage of the profits. (If any.)"
DavidW says, "might just want"
Teaspoon says, "But Garbo wouldn't want to star in our film."
Teaspoon says, "That's...not what she was about."
Jacqueline asks, "Because she's retired?"
Jacqueline says, "Also, she ows us."
DavidW says (to Teaspoon), "I don't know that. Our film might be why she went into seclusion later."
Teaspoon says, "She was very reclusive at this point"
Jacqueline says, "er, she owes YOU, I should say (as the bot not playing this game at all just facilitating kthxbai)"
Teaspoon says, "It's not our film - she's been retired for a decade at this point."
Jacqueline says, "The word 'mercurial' gives me pause when it comes to the prince."
Teaspoon says, "Of course, there's the risk that this game's Garbo is actually Norma Desmond."
DavidW asks (of Teaspoon), "So, maybe Garbo will write us a cheque just to get rid of us?"
Jacqueline asks, "What does #4 mean?"
Teaspoon says, "I also wish I knew what 4 meant."
DavidW says, "I don't know what 4 means."
Jacqueline asks, "Anyway, seems like Olethros has stepped away. Where are you two leaning?"
DavidW says, "I think collectively we're leaning towards Garbo."
DavidW says, "Like, the worst she could say is 'no', I hope."
Jacqueline says, "Oh, ah - it gives you more info."
You did a kindness once for Greta early in your career she said she'd never forget. When she retired abruptly from the silver screen, it was a blow not just for the movies but for everyone who knew her personally, who missed her kindness and keen, gentle mind. Although you haven't spoken in years, you're sure she'd remember you.

On the other hand, Garbo's withdrawn from public life after a few would-be comeback attempts fell through. Nobody's heard much from her in years: even the society tabloids have lost interest. Maybe she wants nothing more to do with Hollywood.
CHOICES: - Pin my hopes on Greta. - I'd like to consider other options.
DavidW says, "Oh, so we can explore these options first then? Explore other options."
Jacqueline says, "Seems that way, yeah. Okay, I'll show you what it says for our sister and the prince."
Teaspoon says, "Sounds good, yes."
CHOICE MADE: More info on Romana, please...

On paper, Romana's a strong candidate. You know when she divorced that European popinjay she ended up with an unreasonably large portion of his estate. She clearly has the means to bankroll your studio.
On the other hand, you've never been on the best of terms with your sister. The last time you saw her was no exception. And you haven't spent as much time with her daughter, Ada, as you (and presumably she) had hoped. Not to mention, she doesn't have any track record as a Hollywood investor and doesn't know anything about the business, which makes her a wild card.
Teaspoon says, "In real life the decision should be "GET MONEY FROM EVERYBODY""
CHOICE MADE: More info on that prince...

Prince Faisal is well known around town, and you've met him a few times before. He's from one of the wealthier Arabian countries, heir to an enormous fortune in oil but much more interested in Hollywood glamour than black gold. He's personally bankrolled several film productions and is active in the socialite scene: in fact he even flirted with you at a party once (though you were far from the only attendee to receive such attention). But perhaps you could use that connection to your advantage?
DavidW says, "At the very least, the prince is gonna want a spring-coloured scarf lady as arm candy."
Teaspoon says, "That seems sensible."
Teaspoon says, "well, a sensible reading of the situation, I should say."
DavidW says, "The prince is probably the best bet for the money, but I think we ought to ask Garbo instead."
Teaspoon says, "If we go down, let's go down with style. And if nothing else, it'll make Vic's day."
DavidW says, "It's possible even that Garbo will say 'no, but I will recommend you to fourth-person-with-money instead'."
olethros asks, "are we trying to get money to cover the burnt down stuff?"
Teaspoon says, "yes."
Jacqueline asks, "So, Garbo?"
Teaspoon says, "yes"
CHOICE MADE: Garbo, for reals this time.
DavidW says, "Vic would like Garbo's autograph, I suspect."
After Greta agrees to meet with you, in a surge of optimism you contact Prince Faisal and your sister anyway. But the prince has recently left the country to deal with the death of his father, and Romana just laughs when you float the idea.

Now this meeting is tinged with dread. If Greta Garbo won't help you, there's nobody left. She's your last chance.
You've cleared your schedule on the day of your afternoon meeting, to prepare. What would be the best use of your time?
It's 10 a.m. Your appointment is at three o'clock. You're feeling somewhat jittery. You've learned Greta values treating people well over burning the midnight oil.
What would you like to do?
CHOICES: - Put together a binder with some of the best scenes from the script. - Put together a sizzle reel from some of the footage lying around. - Pore over old gossip rags and society newsletters to look for anything about Greta that might be useful. - Ask the actress Livia Lane if she knows anything about Greta that might be useful. - Ask the grip Vic Martinez if they know anything about Greta that might be useful. - Take a walk to calm down. I'll need to be at my best. - I'm ready.
olethros says, "I'm ready, beeatches"
olethros says, "hm, maybe the binder is not a bad idea"
olethros says, "the sizzle real sounds like too much effort"
DavidW says, "I like the binder idea, yes."
Teaspoon says, "If Garbo's big deal is "are you nice to people" then Vic seems to be the person to talk to about that."
olethros says, "but this seems to be 'ask vic about greta'"
Teaspoon says, "especially since our relationship with Vic is at least partly a proxy for "how are you to your crew""
Jacqueline says, "Spoiler alert: you'll have the opportunity to do a few of these, so just pick a few and do them in priority order to make sure the most important ones happen before you run out of time."
Teaspoon says, "Oh, cool."
DavidW asks, "So maybe talk to Vic first?"
olethros says, "it doesn't sound so important"
olethros says, "but sure"
Teaspoon says, "Let's do both and then see if we have any more time."
Jacqueline says, "You all seemed keen on the binder."
Jacqueline asks, "So that one first?"
DavidW asks, "Well, what if Greta hates binders?"
olethros says, "then we don't show her the binder"
DavidW says, "What if Vic's info is that Greta hates binders and we waste time on the binders."
olethros says, "ok, DW, have it your way"
Jacqueline sits back and eats her pancakes while you all... "Oh, okay. Talk to Vic?"
Teaspoon says, "I concur with David"
Teaspoon says, "(naturally, since I was saying it)"
CHOICE MADE: Talk to Smoochieboochkins.
olethros asks, "Smoochieboochkins?"
Teaspoon says, "These choices are getting sillier names as we go"
Jacqueline asks (of Olethros), "You missed what happened at the movies??"
olethros says (to olethros), "no"
DavidW says, "Like, possibly Vic has no info, but it's hard to guess what will help and what won't."
You track down Vic, who's collecting unemployment at City Hall. They nod seriously when you ask for their help. "I'll ring up some other tech folks," they say. "Someone's bound to know someone who's heard something."

An hour later, the phone rings with interesting news. "Heard from a friend of a friend who worked on a shoot with Greta once, years ago," they say. "Apparently,
she really values people who are honest and sincere. That the kind of thing you were looking for?"
"That's great, Vic," you say. "Thanks for the help."
Jacqueline says, "Huh. That line break is messed up. Think that's the only typo I've seen in this game."
Teaspoon says, "That probably will help in our conversation, anyway. We'll get a choice like "SING OUR PRAISES/BE HONEST" and know whawt to do."
olethros asks, "OK, binder?"
DavidW says, "ok, now make up the binder, I guess."
Teaspoon says, "Sure."
It's now eleven o'clock. Your appointment is at three o'clock. You're feeling somewhat jittery. You've learned Greta values treating people well over burning the midnight oil and appreciates honesty and sincerity.

What would you like to do?
CHOICES - Put together a binder with some of the best scenes from the script. - Put together a sizzle reel from some of the footage lying around. - Pore over old gossip rags and society newsletters to look for anything about Greta that might be useful. - Ask the actress Livia Lane if she knows anything about Greta that might be useful. - Take a walk to calm down. I'll need to be at my best. - I'm ready.
CHOICE MADE: Put together a binder.
Maybe flipping through some of the script highlights will give Greta a sense of the story, show off the caliber of the writing. You staple together a few of your favorite script pages and cross your fingers they'll pique Greta's interest.
It's noon already. Your appointment is at three o'clock. You're feeling somewhat jittery. You've pulled together some pages from the screenplay. You've learned Greta values treating people well over burning the midnight oil and appreciates honesty and sincerity.
What would you like to do?
CHOICES: - Put together a sizzle reel from some of the footage lying around. - Pore over old gossip rags and society newsletters to look for anything about Greta that might be useful. - Ask the actress Livia Lane if she knows anything about Greta that might be useful. - Take a walk to calm down. I'll need to be at my best. - I'm ready.
Teaspoon says, "We should have time to get a sizzle reel and go for a walk."
Jacqueline says, "I would think so, yeah."
DavidW says, "We definitely need a walk, but I hope that can wait until last."
Teaspoon says, "So, reel? It might be silly going to get film funding without a film reel."
olethros says, "if it's possible"
CHOICE MADE: Put together a sizzle reel
DavidW asks, "How will we play the reel?"
Slipping into the editing booth, you roll up your sleeves and splice together some of the best bits of footage from the dailies reels. It's the quickest of hack jobs, but your skill at editing gives you an edge, and you end up assembling something that shows off your film's craft and the caliber of its acting and directing.

It's one o'clock, your last chance to act before heading up to Mulholland. Your appointment is at three o'clock. You're feeling somewhat jittery. You've put together a demo reel and some pages from the screenplay. You've learned Greta values treating people well over burning the midnight oil and appreciates honesty and sincerity.
What would you like to do?
Teaspoon says, "If Garbo is a Desmond stand-in, she'll have her own projector."
DavidW says, "oh, editing skill helped there. That's good."
- Pore over old gossip rags and society newsletters to look for anything about Greta that might be useful.
- Ask the actress Livia Lane if she knows anything about Greta that might be useful.
- Take a walk to calm down. I'll need to be at my best.
- I'm ready.
Teaspoon says, "Okay, walk now."
olethros says, "ok"
DavidW says, "walk to calm down"
CHOICE MADE: Go for a walk.

Some time spent easing your nervous tension pays off. After an hour you feel calmer, more on top of your game, less likely to let your stress get the better of you at this crucial meeting.
And that was it. You were out of time.
"Now remember," Eugene had said, hovering nervously outside the car while you angled the rearview mirror to take one last look at yourself, "don't talk about the money right away. Put your best foot forward, get her interested. Reel her in. Be firm about how much we need, but try not to come off as rude or presumptuous. And don't seem too desperate! These big-money types can smell despair on you, actually smell it."
"You're a groundswell of encouragement, Gene," you replied grimly, starting the engine.
He sighed, and reached through the open window to pat your shoulder. "You'll do fine, Floyd. Just…bring home the bacon, all right?"
And now you've arrived at your moment of truth. The gate swings shut behind you with an ominous clang. Everyone's counting on you not to screw this up.
Teaspoon says, "BOM BOM BOM"
You ease the car carefully down a white gravel drive, past tastefully moss-covered statuary and trees manicured to within an inch of their lives. The grounds, though fussily well-maintained, nevertheless have a strange air of neglect, like a toy that's never been unwrapped. Rounding a bend, you see the house itself, smaller than you expected but richly appointed: you're almost surprised there's not a line of footmen in livery waiting to greet you.

You park in the gravel circle and walk up the steps with all the confidence you can muster. Within moments of your sharp rap on the door, it's opened by a well-dressed butler.
"Floyd," he says with a small bow, escorting you into the marble-floored entrance hall. "Mrs. Garbo is just finishing an important telephone call and will be with you shortly. She wished me to express how much she is looking forward to this meeting." He gestures with a white-gloved hand toward a pair of elegant French doors. "You're welcome to wait in the library, if you please."
You do please, and moments later find yourself in a well-appointed room lined with well-appointed bookshelves.
Teaspoon exclaims, "Books!"

Running your finger across the spines, you remember Greta's love for reading, a purer form of storytelling than the endless compromises and imperfections of moving pictures. Looking around the walls, you don't see a single shred of her Hollywood past: no posters, no framed photos. You hope you haven't made a mistake in dredging up a part of her life she'd rather forget.
Glancing round the rest of the room, you notice an abandoned newspaper with a familiar face on the cover. Picking it up from an overstuffed chair, you smooth it out and stare in growing dismay at the headline:
Fish Grundy, golden-age stage and screen star, was held in contempt of court today for pleading the Fifth at a special congressional hearing. Mr. Grundy was subpoenaed by Congressman Jonathan Creed to testify about Communist activity in Hollywood. The actor is alleged to have attended a number of Party meetings at a well-known Red address, 99 Maplewood Street in Los Angeles, and to have met there a number of Party members with connections to Soviet spy networks and propaganda machines. Charges have not been filed against Mr. Grundy, but his name is expected to be added to the Hollywood blacklist.
DavidW says, "Wonder who Garbo is talking to."
Teaspoon says, "Oh crumbs."

You can't believe it. How could they go after Fish? He's one of the sweetest people you know. You hadn't even heard he'd been served a subpoena, let alone testified before Congress. And surely these allegations are false. But if they are, why didn't he just say so?
The double doors creak open behind you before you have time to think things through. You try to put the matter from your mind and turn around with a smile as Greta Garbo steps into the room.
"Flowers," she says, kissing your cheeks in the European style and smiling at you fondly. "It's been such a long time. How good to see you again."
CHOICES: - "It's good to see you too." - "You're looking wonderful." - "You're looking wonderful." (Suggestively)
DavidW says, "It's good to see you too"
Teaspoon says, "Yes."
Jacqueline says, "I'm amused that we would have a suggestive option."
CHOICE MADE: Good to see you, too.

"I wonder if you'd care for some hors d'oeuvres?" she asks, beckoning towards the door. The butler steps smoothly in, balancing a silver platter. He places it on an oak sideboard and pulls off the lid, revealing some gooey piles of round balls topped with a pasty green sauce.
"Roe of gejang topped with lobster tomalley," she says, gesturing to the platter but not moving to sample it herself. "The roe are, of course, the eggs of a rather unpleasant-looking little fish. The tomalley is the liquified insides of a lobster, specifically the bits that filter out impurities, apparently. It's the latest delicacy at all the society parties. Won't you try a bite?"
DavidW says, "wow"

You take a hesitant step towards the sideboard and the pungent odor coming from the platter. Not wanting to be rude, you pick up one of the goo-smeared crackers and, before you can second-guess yourself, pop it into your mouth.
You've never acquired much of a taste for gourmet food. In fact, you tend to stick with pastrami whenever you can get it. So you're not prepared for the explosion of rancid flavors, the mealy texture of the bitter, oozy sauce, the tiny squelch of each rank fish egg bursting in your mouth. This is possibly the most vile thing you've ever tasted.
Greta watches you expectantly as you carefully chew and swallow, keeping your expression neutral. "Well?" she asks, when you've finished. "How do you like it?"
DavidW says, "ha ha ha ha"
- "It's delicious."
- "It's…okay, I suppose."
- "It's terrible."
DavidW says, "It's terrible"
Doug says, "This is possibly the most vile thing I've ever tasted. (Suggestively)"
Jacqueline says, "Haha"
DavidW says (to Doug), "hee"
Jacqueline says, "So, Vic said she values honesty."
DavidW says, "Yes, be honest."
DavidW says, "I'm sure she knows it's awful."
Teaspoon says, "It's terrible."
Jacqueline says (to DW), "Yeah, I can hear Admiral Ackbar's voice in my head."
CHOICE MADE: Be honest about the disgusting food.

Greta laughs. "You always were a woman of taste," she says, waving at the platter, which the butler whisks away. "Good, good. They're horrid, aren't they? But since they've become all the rage, everyone pretends to like them. Glad to see you're willing to speak your mind, even about a little thing like that."
Teaspoon asks, "You think she keeps these for testing people?"
DavidW says, "Oh yes"
Jacqueline says, "Yeah"
olethros says, "ha ha"
Jacqueline says, "Anyway, I think you all passed the test."
Jacqueline says, "That test, anyway."
DavidW says, "This one, anyway."

Minutes later, Greta is mixing herself a drink, while you're discreetly swirling the first half of yours around in your mouth, rinsing out the last of that awful taste.
"Let's get down to business," she says, turning around. "I've heard about the trouble your studio's had. You need funds to rebuild from that dreadful fire and complete your first picture, is that right?"
You nod, quickly laying out the situation for her: how close Outcast Odyssey is to being completed, how much you'll need to make it happen. She listens sympathetically.
"I've never forgotten what you did for me on that soundstage," Greta says, gazing at the ice in her drink. "And I told you then I'd repay your kindness some day, and I hold to that." She looks up at you, searching. "But I don't know the first thing about your project, whether it has a chance. This has got to be an investment, not a favor. So sell me on it, Flowers. Convince me."
Teaspoon says, "And the game has come round to its start"
DavidW says, "uh-huh"
DavidW says, "I noticed the symmetry."
Greta waits patiently while you consider what angle to try first. It's hard to judge her expression, but she looks only barely interested.

CHOICES: - Run the highlight reel. - Give my best producer sales pitch. - Show her the script. - Go over the numbers on the picture's box office appeal. - Talk about my commitment to the project. - Talk about my commitment to the people. - Try to seduce her. - I've made my best case.
Teaspoon says, "(If I had known we had to sell Greta Garbo on this, I would have been less keen on the pirate-musical-zaniness)"
olethros says, "it has to be business, so, box office? (is it good?)"
Jacqueline says, "Haha - hindsight is 20/20, for sure."
DavidW says, "In racy costumes, too."
Teaspoon says, "But, okay, she's intereted in people, and we're really super good at producing. So I think that's "I care about people, and here's my sales pitch""
DavidW says, "I think start with our commitment to the project."
olethros says, "sales pitch first"
Teaspoon says, "Okay"
Jacqueline asks, "So...sales pitch?"
DavidW says, "I think that's a mistake, but I'll bow to the majority."
olethros says, "PULL OUT ALL THE STOPS"
olethros says, "wait a ibt"
Teaspoon says, "what"
DavidW says, "I think we shouldn't gun the engine in the driveway."
olethros asks, "what is the difference between sales pitch and box office appeal?"
DavidW says, "The numbers is the facts and figures."
DavidW says, "What you'd tell the accountant."
DavidW says, "Starting with *that* would be death."
Teaspoon says, "The sales pitch, to game the game a bit, relies on a skill we're good at - producing. The box office appeal is how much people will like our film, which they won't really, because we got an intellectual script from our cheap-o-matic screenwriter"
olethros says, "yeah, so sales pitch seems good to start with"
olethros says, "the commitment stuff is about how *we* are good for the project, now how good teh project is"
Teaspoon asks, "But we have this hot tip from Vic saying that she likes people being good to people! Which we are very good at! So should we lead with that, or end with that?"
olethros says, "sales pitch, reel, people stuff, ...."
olethros says, "I assume we can do at least three"
Jacqueline says, "It didn't say she values people. It said she 'values people who are honest and sincere'"
DavidW says, "I hope we can do at least three, yes."
Jacqueline asks, "So... pitch?"
Teaspoon says, "No, we learned both. "You've learned Greta values treating people well over burning the midnight oil and appreciates honesty and sincerity."
Teaspoon says, "But pitch seems a good starting point."
Jacqueline says (to Tsp), "Oh, cool. I'd missed that bit on the following page."
DavidW says, "fine, start with the pitch."
CHOICE MADE: Give my best producer sales pitch.
DavidW says, "(there are probaby good reasons why I don't do this sort of job.)"
[ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED: PRO PRODUCER: Use your producing chops to save your film with a sales talk]

This is what you were born to do.
You talk up the good points of the project, make its weaknesses seem hardly worth mentioning. You paint a picture of a movie that will leave its audience breathless, a vision so close to being realized, you can almost taste it. Why, it's practically done already. It just needs a little help to get over the finish line.
Greta seems caught up in your sales pitch despite herself. By the end, she's nodding along and smiling.
Teaspoon says, "Oh. Well, that was easy."
Greta waits patiently while you consider what angle to try next. She looks moderately interested.
Teaspoon says, "Yay us."
- Run the highlight reel.
- Show her the script.
- Go over the numbers on the picture's box office appeal.
- Talk about my commitment to the project.
- Talk about my commitment to the people.
- Try to seduce her.
- I've made my best case.
Teaspoon asks, "Shall we talk about our people now?"
olethros says, "sure, and then we can cap it all with the reel"
DavidW says, "hm. Sounds like a plan."
CHOICE MADE: Talk about my commitment to the people.

You tell Greta how well you treat your cast and crew, how you think of them like family. You discuss your commitment to safety, and share a few stories of camaraderie on set.
She raises an eyebrow at you. "A nice story, Flowers, but that's not what I've heard. All the news from your set is that you're a bit of a stern taskmaster, always pushing people to work extra hours and give you more of their lives." She frowns. "That's disappointing, and I wish you wouldn't try to hide it. I'd appreciate your being plain about where your priorities lie."
Teaspoon says, "What, really? After we spent all that time being nice to people? Sheesh."
Jacqueline says, "huh"
olethros says, "huh, I didn't have this impression"
Jacqueline says, "Nor I"
Greta waits patiently while you consider what angle to try next. She looks only barely interested.
olethros asks, "can we see our stats?"
Jacqueline says, "Sure"
DavidW says, "oh gee, that hurt us."
olethros says, "unless she gets information from somewhere else"
Teaspoon says, "Well, I suppose it's the highlight reel then."

Personal Statistics Name: Flowers Floyd Studio: Studio McStudioface Natural Talent: Producing Earned Talent: Editing Weakness: Acting Personal Stress: 65% Which do you put first in your professional life? The Project: 60% The People: 40% Personal Relationships: The actress, Livia Lane: 34% Your niece, Ada: 32% The grip, Vic Martinez: 73%

Movie Statistics Your ledger is in the red: nearly bankrupt Title: Outcast Odyssey Genre: scifi Starring Maria Ripley leading an ensemble cast Crew Stress: 43% The script for your project is: Original: 40% Familiar: 60% Intellectual: 85% Accessible: 15% Intense: 70% Relaxing: 30% Quality: 60% Your production statistics: Acting: 56% Directing: 57% Craft: 57% Your project is not yet in post-production.
DavidW says, "so we should've talked about commitment to the project."
Jacqueline says, "I guess it does say 'project 60%, people 40%'"
olethros says, "hm, crew stress: 43%, project, 60%"
Jacqueline says, "Yeah."
olethros says, "still, I'd consider that a bug. Nevertheless."
olethros says, "let's solder on"
Teaspoon says, "It's not very well clued, so to speak."

Greta waits patiently while you consider what angle to try next. She looks only barely interested.
CHOICES: - Run the highlight reel. - Show her the script. - Go over the numbers on the picture's box office appeal. - Try to seduce her. - I've made my best case.
DavidW says, "oops. The project option is gone too now."
olethros says, "yeah, seems like we had to choose one"
olethros says, "maybe undo"
Jacqueline says, "And we chose... poorly."
DavidW says, "dammit. I said project from the beginning."
Jacqueline says, "We cannot undo, olethros."
olethros says, "reel then"
olethros says, "or maybe, fuck it, seduce her"
Jacqueline says, "ha"
Teaspoon says, "We will fail at seduction."
Jacqueline says, "I think that would go sooooo badly."
olethros says, "me too"
Teaspoon says, "Highlight reel it is, I guess."
Jacqueline says (to Olethros), "I wouldn't write things off just yet."
Jacqueline asks, "Highlight reel, DW & O?"
olethros says, "noddle"
DavidW says, "sure"
DavidW says, "I have no idea if she'll even like this or not, but we haven't much choice."
Jacqueline says, "I mean, you still have the reel and the script."
CHOICE MADE: Show the highlight reel.

Greta's butler sets up a small projector and screen. You thread up the reel and run the footage, crossing your fingers.
There's only a handful of scenes, and the editing is rough: just good takes spliced together in more or less the right order. Watching the footage, you can't help but feel self-conscious. Nothing's really jumping out: neither the acting, nor the directing, not even the technical details. You're worried the whole thing just comes off as bland mediocrity.
As you pull the curtains to let daylight flood back into the room, Greta seems nonplussed. "Hard to get much of a sense of it from that…so unfinished…" You decide to move on to something else, before she can talk herself into disliking it.
Greta waits patiently while you consider what angle to try next. She looks only barely interested.
Teaspoon says, "Oh, come on, we're good at editing."
- Show her the script.
- Go over the numbers on the picture's box office appeal.
- Try to seduce her.
- I've made my best case.
olethros says, "i told you, just seduce her"
Teaspoon asks, "Dump the script on her, then?"
olethros says, "yeah, script is the only thing"
DavidW says, "script, yeah."
CHOICE MADE: Show her the script.

You hand Greta the binder of script pages you put together. "Take a look through this," you say. "I think the writing really speaks for itself."
After scanning through the binder, she flips back to one of the earlier pages to read it again, grinning in delight. "This is wonderful, Flowers," she says. "Who did you get to write this?"
"Jack Cooper," you say.
"Oh really?" she says. "I've heard good things, but I'd no idea. This is marvelous, really it is." She hands it back to you. "What else have you got for me?"
DavidW says, "Perhaps the reel would've made more sense after the script."
Greta waits patiently while you consider what angle to try next. She looks moderately interested.
olethros asks, "does the game track state so closely?"
- Go over the numbers on the picture's box office appeal.
- Try to seduce her.
- I've made my best case.
Teaspoon says, "We should have started with the script and then done our producing speech."
Teaspoon says, "The box office appeal numbers are terrible."
olethros says, "well, I guess we stop unless you want to smooch"
Teaspoon says, "they're the opposite of the intellectual script."
DavidW says, "unfortunately, I agree. I think we have to end the attempt here."
Teaspoon says, "Suppose so, yes."
DavidW says, "Which means we won't get the money."
Teaspoon says, "I'm not very satisfied by how this was clued."
CHOICE MADE: I've made my best case.
olethros says, "well, it's only an imaginary movcie"
You've done all you can. You'll just have to hope it's good enough. You pour another drink while Greta stares out a window, thinking.

Finally, she turns around. "I'll be straight with you, Flowers. I'm somewhat interested in your project, but there will be certain…concessions you'll have to make to secure my funding. Here's what I'm prepared to offer.
"I can make a minor investment in your film, covering the full expenses of the fire but no more, but I'll want to be a creative consultant, offering advice from time to time on what I think's best for the picture.
"Alternatively, I'd be willing to make a larger investment, putting you somewhat ahead of where you were before the fire, but I'll want full creative control over the film. All the major decisions run through me.
"Finally, I'd be most generous, allowing you to fully rebuild and to complete the picture with a modest budget, but I've heard you've become involved with a grip named Vic Martinez. I want this relationship to end, effective immediately. I have no trouble with them working on set; I just want the personal relationship to cease."
"Those are your options, Flowers. It's up to you."
CHOICES: - Take the low funding and make Greta a creative consultant. - Take the moderate funding, giving up creative control. - Take the high funding, agreeing to stop seeing Vic. - Ask what Vic has to do with this.
Teaspoon says, "Let's ask what Vic has to do with it."
olethros says, "sure"
DavidW says, "yes, ask about Vic"
CHOICE MADE: Ask what Vic has to do with this.

She shakes her head. "I have my reasons. I don't have to explain them to you. Those are the terms. You can take them or leave them."
CHOICES: - Take the low funding and make Greta a creative consultant. - Take the moderate funding, giving up creative control. - Take the high funding, agreeing to stop seeing Vic.
DavidW says, "my."
olethros asks, "take nothing and walk away?"
Teaspoon says, "Maybe we should have seduced her after all."
olethros says, "then vic'd have been angry"
olethros says, "only 1 and 3 are reasonable"
olethros says, "1 seems the best"
Jacqueline asks, "I like either of the options that don't involve ending the relationship with Vic. Also, isn't it slightly hypocritical that she's all into how well you treat people, but then goes and asks us to end a relationship in exchange for money?"
Teaspoon says, "If we take low funding, then we have to go through this hoo-hah with someone else as well."
DavidW says, "I was leaning towards 2. Gee. Not an easy choice."
Teaspoon says, "Which may or may not work."
Jacqueline says, "2 seems the best."
olethros says, "we have enough to cover the project after the fire"
olethros asks, "no?"
Jacqueline says, "She can't eviscerate our project too much without it costing her even more money."
Teaspoon says, "With 2, we would."
DavidW says, "Greta might even help us vs Creed."
olethros says, "giving up creative control is a non-starter"
Teaspoon says, "It's not exactly like we have a creative dream, after all."
olethros asks, "or isn't it?"
olethros asks, "what is our goal heee?"
Teaspoon asks, "We want to produce. What we produce isn't such a big deal, is it?"
Jacqueline says (to olethros), "We're not bargaining from anything close to resembling a position of advantage."
olethros says, "ok, let's give the project to greta then"
DavidW says, "It's more important that a profitable film is made than it be our special baby."
Teaspoon says, "The good thing is that we don't *need* to pick 3, because we were on budget before the fire."
Teaspoon says, "If we'd been in the red before we'd have had no choice but to pick three."
DavidW says, "I'm still leaning towards 2."
Teaspoon says, "I think 2 it is."
olethros says, "just a moment though"
olethros says, "we were in the black, so 1 would still be sufficient for funding the film"
DavidW says, "I wonder if 3 is another hors d'oeuvre test."
Jacqueline says (to DW), "I was thinking that."
olethros says, "I stick with 1, peeps"
Teaspoon says, "Oh, you're right, O. Yeah. 1 it is then."
DavidW says, "I vote 2."
Teaspoon asks, "Hmm, why 2?"
DavidW says, "I've already said."
olethros says, "profits vs creative control"
olethros says, "but that assumes Greta is good at producing"
olethros asks, "is she?"
DavidW says, "I have no way to know. There's a lot of unknowns in these choices."
olethros says, "2 sounds almost like game over to me, I stick to 1"
Teaspoon says, "That makes me decision maker then. Oh dear."
Teaspoon says, "Too many variables."
Jacqueline says, "Pick a side, Tsp"
olethros says, "(I wonder if we couldn't have gone to a bank)"
Jacqueline says, "We tried."
olethros says, "a minute ago you said '1'"
Teaspoon says, "Yes. I think I'll stick with 1."
Teaspoon says, "We can afford it, and I don't like her tone."
CHOICE MADE: Take the low funding and make Greta a creative consultant.
olethros says, "also, slap her ass when going out"
"It's settled, then," she says. "I'll have my lawyer draw up the paperwork right away. You should have the funds and be back to work by the end of the week."

You shake her hand. Looks like Outcast Odyssey is back on track!
Teaspoon says, "don't slap the investors"

-------------------------------- Time passes… The low level of crew stress improves the directing. The high quality of the direction so far improves the acting. Your tendency to prioritize the project over the people slightly increases your crew's stress. The film is a little over budget, and this slightly increases the crew's stress. Garbo's consulting slightly improves the quality of the acting. --------------------------------
Chapter Eight
And before you know it, you're back in business.
The rest of the shoot goes relatively smoothly, but Greta's funding only goes so far. You have to beg favors from old friends and be extremely stingy with the checkbook to get back on your feet again. But the film gets finished, shot by shot.
True to her word, Greta checks in on you from time to time, asking for status reports and offering the occasional piece of advice. You do have to bite your tongue now and then, and make the occasional decision you feel is wrong for the film, in order to keep her happy. This seems to annoy your director, Thomas Avery, but there's nothing to be done about it. You made the deal you made. Fortunately, her intrusions overall are rare.
Finally, the last day of your shoot arrives, and then, at the end of a long, grueling day, the final shot. The crew grows respectfully hushed as Thomas calls for take after take of a short but crucial monologue from the end of the second act. After a whispered consultation with the camera operator, he gives the thumbs up.
"That's a wrap!" Gene calls, and the studio bursts into cheers. Ada runs up to Maria Ripley and throws her arms around her. "You were great, Maria!" she says.
olethros asks, "ok, more people focus now?"
"Nice work, everyone," Livia shouts, beaming. "See you at the wrap party!"
Teaspoon says, "Well, that could have been worse."
olethros says, "oh, it's a wrap, no need to focus on people, unless it is through beer goggles!"

An hour later, you're buttoning up some final business and closing the soundstage for the night. Eugene hands you one last production report, tapping proudly on the updated status line:
Studio McStudioface -------------------------- Project: Outcast Odyssey Producer: Flowers Floyd Status: Postproduction (!) Your ledger is in the black: on budget Crew Stress: 51% Screenplay: Original: 40% Familiar: 60% Intellectual: 85% Accessible: 15% Intense: 70% Relaxing: 30% Quality: 60% Production: Acting: 65% Directing: 54% Craft: 57%

"We made it, Gene," you say, musing over your internal mental report: Personal Stress: 65% Which do you put first in your professional life? The Project: 60% The People: 40% Personal Relationships: The actress, Livia Lane: 34% Your niece, Ada: 32% The grip, Vic Martinez: 73%
DavidW says, "There's still post-production."

An old friend has agreed to host the wrap party at her luxurious home in the Hollywood Hills, and word's gone out to the socialite scene: some big names might drop in tonight. You consider the classic L.A. question: what to wear?
CHOICES: - Something formal: an outfit that befits the seriousness of the occasion. - Something fancy: it's the perfect chance to celebrate. - Something casual: it's been a long shoot. - The same thing I always wear, of course.
Teaspoon says, "Why would we give up on our spring scarves now? There is no point having an affectation if you don't stick to it."
Jacqueline says, "I don't think being fancy means giving up our scarves."
DavidW says, "We keep the scarf, wear a more sparkly dress with it."
Jacqueline says, "Right"
Teaspoon says, "Oh."
Teaspoon says, "Eh. I'm still voting same as usual."
DavidW says, "I vote fancy."
Jacqueline asks, "Olethros for the tie breaker?"
DavidW says, "Hope the horrid hors d'oeuvres are at the party."
Jacqueline asks, "Or me for the tie breaker...?"
Jacqueline asks, "You two want me to break the tie or wait for him to come back?"
Teaspoon says, "You break the tie, I think."
DavidW says, "I guess I better agree with Tsp."
DavidW says, "Otherwise we're still tied."
Jacqueline says, "I was going to break the tie"
Jacqueline says, "In your favor, I might add, DW."
DavidW says, "yes, I'm agreeing with Tsp about breaking the tie."
Jacqueline exclaims, "OH!"
CHOICE MADE: Something fancy

Decked out in a stunning ensemble, you arrive fashionably late to the party to find it in full swing. Everybody's here: Thomas holds court over by the fireplace, and Greta Garbo is telling some story to a circle of onlookers that keeps erupting them into giddy laughter. The crowd's peppered with a few famous faces, including Fish Grundy (dressed as a clown) whom half the party pointedly ignores.
CHOICES: - Talk to Fish. - Talk to Greta. - Find the grip, Vic Martinez. - Find the actress, Livia Lane. - Find my assistant, Gene.
Teaspoon says, "This is probably our last chance to romance Vic."
DavidW says, "I think we should talk to Fish first."
Teaspoon says, "good point."
Jacqueline asks, "So, talk to Fish?"
Teaspoon says, "sure"
CHOICE MADE: Talk to Fish.

You brush past a pair of suits storming away from Fish with ugly expressions, one wiping his face with a napkin. Grundy's standing by the fireplace looking pleased with himself and adjusting a flower on his lapel.
"You do birthday parties, too, or just the high-end crowd?" you ask, stepping up beside him.
"I'll do anything," he says, patting the flower and reclaiming his drink from the mantel, "that pays the bills. You enjoying the party, Flowers?"
"Haven't had a chance yet," you say, glancing over the crowd. "But say, what's all this about you and the blacklist?"
"It's the biggest joke in the business," Fish says, waving at his costume, "hence the getup. Black humor,"—he taps the side of his red clown nose—"though not the kind I'm usually known for. A shame so many folks seem to think it's a drama. We could do with a lot more laughter 'bout the whole sorry thing."
You clap him on the shoulder, but feel the sudden queasy truth that for some people, even talking to your old friend might be taken as a political statement. Promising to join him for a drink later on, you continue your mingling.
CHOICES: - Talk to Greta. - Find the grip, Vic Martinez. - Find the actress, Livia Lane. - Find my assistant, Gene.
Teaspoon says, "Let's ignore Greta."
DavidW says, "I'd like to leave Greta for last."
Jacqueline says, "Well, you do already have her money."
DavidW says, "We might say hi to Livia this once."
olethros says, "yes"
olethros says, "let's liviat a little"
CHOICE MADE: Find the actress, Livia Lane.

You track down Livia, who's holding a tray of canapés and beaming broadly.
"We did it, Flowers," she says. "Congratulations."
"We're not out of the woods yet," you say. "There's still so much to do. Editing, music, sound mixing, marketing…" Your ability to continue speaking is interrupted by the pastry Livia has deftly maneuvered into your mouth.
She giggles. "Enjoy the night for once, chief," she says. "And try not to get into any trouble."
"There you are," Greta says. You see her holding court near the back hall, drink in one hand and a tiny dog in the other, accompanied by a large man with an instantly familiar face. "Flowers, do you know Orson?"
You've never met Mr. Welles in person, but of course you know his films. He's put on some weight in the last decade, but it's just made him even more imposing. "A pleasure, sir," you say, extending a hand.
Orson, who's been admiring a large stuffed penguin in the hall, turns back to you with a mildly inebriated smile. "Beautiful bird," he says (and that voice is just as hypnotic in person), "an adult emperor, if I'm correct. But yes, congratulations are certainly in order, my dear, on your successes so far. Here's to many more." He finishes his glass in a large swallow with a flourish, then frowns in the direction of the bar.
olethros asks, "admiring a penguin?"
Teaspoon says, "Oh dear. We...may not actually want to produce Orson."

"And this is Mr. Rickles," Greta says, shaking the dog at you. "Say hello to Flowers, Mr. Rickles!" You reach out hesitantly to pet the creature, but his eyes widen in alarm. Wriggling free from Greta's arms with a snarl, he manages to give your hand a vicious bite as he races off into the crowd.
Clutching your bleeding hand, you say a word you wish in hindsight you hadn't invoked in front of Mr. Welles. Greta finishes sopping up her spilled drink with a napkin, which she hands to you with an apologetic cluck.
"I'm so sorry," she says. "Mr. Rickles is never like this. Probably frightened of all these people, poor thing."
"He needs his blue bone," Orson mutters, frowning and still staring in the general direction of the bar, apparently unperturbed by the drama. You begin to wonder if he isn't further gone than he's letting on when Greta touches his arm.
"Mr. Rickles used to be Orson's," she says. "I adopted him when his daddy had to go to Europe for a while. What did you used to call him, Orson darling? Before he came to live with me?"
Teaspoon says, "He could easily take down a small studio by accident."
"Cain," Orson says distinctly, "last of his litter. If you'll pardon me…" He tips his hat and shoves off towards the bar.

You're wending your way past the front hallway when Eugene bursts through the front door and almost plows straight into you, disheveled as ever and, inexplicably, with one shoe missing. He's clutching a blue cardboard tube in his free hand.
"Chief!" he says. "I came straight from the office of the arson investigator. They said any potential evidence was almost certainly destroyed in the fire, but they found something you might want to see. They say there's no prints or anything they can work with, so they turned it over to—"
"Slow down," you say, grabbing both flailing wrists and bringing them gently to his side. "It can wait a minute. Take your jacket off, get a drink, then we'll take a look-see."
You eventually convince him to hang up his coat and find a drink, leaving you standing in the foyer holding the blue cardboard tube.
Teaspoon says, "Uh oh"
Teaspoon asks, "Vic set the fire, didn't he?"
Teaspoon says, "Or she, if relevant."

You shift it back and forth in your hands. Something small and lightweight is definitely tumbling around inside. You're just starting to worry the packing tape away from the end of the cylinder when the whole thing is ripped from your hands. Astonished, you look down.
Mr. Rickles, gripping the tube in his teeth and gnashing at it furiously, snarls up at you.
"Give that here, you mutt!" you shout, reaching down. But the tiny dog leaps back, growls, turns and sprints back into the thick of the party, gripping the cardboard tube tight in his slobbery little jowls.
Where could the damn thing have gone? You scan the party carefully, considering your options of where to look first:
CHOICES: - The bar. - The fireplace. - The sofa. - The back hall.
Teaspoon says, "bar"
DavidW says, "uh, Perhaps we shoulda dressed more casual, like."
Teaspoon says, "because we will need a drink after this"
DavidW says, "I didn't know this part was gonna be slapstick."
Jacqueline asks, "Bar?"
Teaspoon says, "Our best friend is a clown."
DavidW asks, "so fireplace?"
olethros says, "oh come on"
DavidW asks (of olethros), "what? I don't know where the dog's gone?"
olethros says, "just do them one by one"
olethros says, "but sofa seems most likely"
DavidW says, "But the bar is almost certainly trouble because of how Welles reacted. I don't want the two wave fronts colliding."
Teaspoon says, "That's why we should go get the dog off him."
DavidW says, "I don't know if it works that way."
Jacqueline asks, "So... bar?"
Jacqueline asks, "...or sofa?"
Jacqueline asks, "...or fireplace?"
Teaspoon says, "Go ahead and pick, Jac."
Teaspoon says, "I expect it's randomised anyway."
CHOICE MADE: The sofa.

Over by the sofa, a small cluster of society types chatter, including a famous hostess du jour swathed in a minor fortune's worth of red chiffon: a Goldwyn daughter or wife or aunt or something along those lines. The circle looks up pleasantly as you wander over.
CHOICES: - "Everyone having a lovely time?" - "Has anyone seen a small dog come by here?" - "Has anyone seen Mrs. Garbo?" - Check under the sofa. - Look somewhere else.
olethros says, "check under sofa, and who gives a fuck"
Teaspoon says, "Yes"
DavidW says, "Ask if anyone's seen a dog"
CHOICE MADE: Check under the sofa.

"Pardon me," you say, getting on hands and knees to peer under the sofa's trim, ignoring the chorus of vaguely scandalized twittering from above. But there's no sign of the dog.
CHOICES: - "Everyone having a lovely time?" - "Has anyone seen a small dog come by here?" - "Has anyone seen Mrs. Garbo?" - Look somewhere else.
olethros says, "ok, NOW we ask about the dog, in the rules of slapstic"
DavidW says, "That was classy of you."
Teaspoon says, "but funnier"
DavidW says, "Bending over in front of the guests."
CHOICE MADE: Ask if anyone's seen the stupid little dog.
olethros says, "at least we didn't fart"
A chorus of shaking heads and faces with unconvincing sketches of concern. "Not here; no, sorry; terribly sorry." Based on how engrossed they were in their conversation when you walked up, however, and the number of empty glasses strewn nearby, you don't have much confidence in their observational acumen.

CHOICES: - "Everyone having a lovely time?" - "Has anyone seen Mrs. Garbo?" - Look somewhere else.
Teaspoon says, "Look somewhere else"
DavidW says, "We have to be on an airplane for the fart joke."
DavidW says, "elsewhere now"
CHOICE MADE: Look elsewhere.

CHOICES: - The bar. - The fireplace. - The back hall.
DavidW says, "Fireplace."
olethros says, "sure"
olethros says, "I gope it's not at the last place we look"
CHOICE MADE: The fireplace.
Over by the fireplace, Fish Grundy's still standing alone, holding a flute of champagne and staring contemplatively into the fire.

CHOICES: - "Have you seen Greta Garbo?" - "Have you seen a little dog come by here?" - Check behind the overstuffed chairs. - Look somewhere else.
Jacqueline says (to olethros), "My guess is that it will be, no matter what."
Teaspoon asks, "Have you seen a little dog?"
DavidW says, "ask about a dog"
olethros says, "nod"
CHOICE MADE: Ask about the dog.

"You mean other than that sour-mouthed accountant from Warners?" Fish asks innocently. "Sorry, sorry. Matter of fact, I did see a white streak of something or other go racing by, heading in the general direction of the bar." He adjusts his oversized clown pants. "Fact I noticed quite a few other folks moving in the opposite direction at the same time. Your mutt must have a reputation."
DavidW says, "yikes. Bar it is, then."
- "Have you seen Greta Garbo?"
- Check behind the overstuffed chairs.
- Look somewhere else.
Jacqueline asks, "Check somewhere else, that being the bar?"
olethros says, "ok! go to the bar!"
DavidW says, "Go to the bar"
CHOICE MADE: Go to the bar.
Teaspoon says, "As I said, we'll need a drink."
You make your way through the party toward the bar.

The bar's less crowded now that everyone's settled in with a drink, but perched on a stool is Orson, nursing a vodka martini and, you're guessing from his expression, a bitter grudge against the world.
Curled up in his lap is Mr. Rickles, the blue tube still gripped in his mouth!
Orson shifts his gaze ponderously in your direction, like a wrecking ball at the end of a crane. "Ah, the belle of the ball," he says magnanimously, booming voice made even more melodious by his somewhat slurred speech. "What can I do for you, dear woman?"
CHOICES: - "Mr. Welles, your dog has something of mine." - "Mr. Welles, I'd love to pet your dog." - "Mrs. Garbo told me to bring her dog back to her." - Distract him with a discussion about the editing in Citizen Kane. - Order a drink.
Teaspoon says, "1"
DavidW says, "1"
olethros says, "yup"
CHOICE MADE: "Mr. Welles, your dog has something of mine."

Orson's eyes widen in astonishment. "This? His little blue bone?" He blinks down at the dog with eyes that no longer seem to be focusing so well. "Nonsense. I gave that to him myself. It's his favorite toy. Why," he asks, squinting back up at you, "would you want to take a toy from a dog?"
CHOICES: - "It's not his blue bone. It's police evidence." - "It's not his blue bone. It's, uh…my shoe?" [Acting] - "He's a pretty miserable dog." - "You know what, never mind."
Teaspoon says, "We can't act."
Teaspoon says, "Therefore, 1"
olethros says, "sure 1"
DavidW says, "1"
olethros asks, "btw, why do *we* have the police evidence?"
DavidW says, "Gene gave it to us."
Teaspoon says, "Because they decided it wasn't evidence and gave it back to us."
Jacqueline says, "It had no prints and wasn't of use to them, so they released it to Gene."
Teaspoon says, "So it's useless for a court case, but will let us know who we need to fire."
CHOICE MADE: Tell him it's evidence.

"Police evidence," Orson says slowly. Then he breaks into a hearty guffaw, nearly spilling his drink. "That's good, Flowers, that's very good. Is that in the film? In, ah…" he frowns. "The film?"
CHOICES: - "It's called Outcast Odyssey." - "Yes." - "No. It's in real life."
Teaspoon says, "I am strongly tempted by 1."
DavidW says, "I'm starting to think we need Garbo to reclaim the dog."
DavidW says, "Otherwise why the asking about Garbo in the previous menus."
olethros says, "maybe"
Teaspoon says, "I'm not clear why this sequence exists."
olethros says, "but now..."
olethros says, "let's go to #3"
olethros says, "or #1, I dont know"
DavidW says, "do 1, if only to get our film's name mentioned."
CHOICE MADE: It's called Outcast Odyssey.

"Of course, of course," he says. "Delightful title. Really quite wonderful. Wish I'd thought of it myself. A title is such an important thing." He shakes his head, staring off into the distance with a bitter scowl. "The Magnificent Ambersons. Should have sold a million tickets just on the title alone. Who wouldn't want to see a picture called…oh, never mind. What were we talking about?"
olethros says, "and it's more slapstick"
DavidW says, "wow. He forgot already. He's stewed."
- "Mr. Welles, your dog has something of mine."
- "Mr. Welles, I'd love to pet your dog."
- "Mrs. Garbo told me to bring her dog back to her."
- Distract him with a discussion about the editing in Citizen Kane.
- Order a drink.
olethros says, "yeah, garbo"
olethros says, "(or drink)"
DavidW says, "The dog will bite us."
olethros says, "but to do so, it'd haev to release the tube"
Jacqueline says, "Hm. Good point."
DavidW says, "And we'd release the dog and it'll grab the tube again."
olethros says, "the circle of life"
Jacqueline says, "Because slapstick."
Teaspoon asks, "Can we buttonhole him about Citizen Kane?"
Teaspoon says, "Just because."
olethros says, "anyway, gotta go to a party"
DavidW says, "yes, distract."
olethros says, "feel free to explore"
Jacqueline says, "Like, IRL, or... okay."
olethros says, "but i want to see this resolved first"
Jacqueline says, "Hope there are no small angry dogs at your party, olethros."
olethros says (to Jacqueline), "it's not my party, and I don't know."
olethros says, "(it's the econ-cs end-of-year party)"
Jacqueline asks, "So, Garbo?"
Teaspoon says, "enjoy, O"
olethros says, "I thought Kane"
DavidW says, "no, Kane"
Jacqueline says (to olethros), "So, probably no clows or slapstick, then."
Jacqueline says, "Okay, Kane."
olethros shrugs.
CHOICE MADE: Distract with a discussion of Citizen Kane.

[ACHIEMENT UNLOCKED: ROSEBUD - Used your editing chops to distract Orson Welles.]
"By the way, Mr. Welles," you say, "I want to tell you I'm a huge fan of the editing in your pictures, especially Citizen Kane. The pacing and match cuts in the opera house scene are especially marvelous."
"You think so?" Orson says, brightening. "I thought everyone had forgotten about that picture by now. Of course, Bob Wise has to take much of the credit, although we did plan everything out together in rather excruciating detail."
You pepper Orson with technical questions, and he seems to relish the chance to discuss nitty-gritty with an expert. At one point, needing his hands to illustrate a complex camera setup, he absentmindedly shifts the dog off his lap and sets him loose. Nodding and smiling, you desperately keep one eye on the mutt as it trots away into the party. By the time you're able to wrap up the conversation and make your excuses, you've completely lost track of him, though at least you've pried him from Orson's overprotective fingers.
CHOICES: - Look over by the fireplace. - Look over by the sofa. - Look in the back hall.
Teaspoon exclaims, "Achievement!"
Teaspoon says, "Let's check the hall."
DavidW says, "back hall this time"
DavidW says, "That's probably where Garbo is."
CHOICE MADE: Look in the back hall.

Besides housing the impressive stuffed penguin, the back hall has little to offer the party but the all-important line for the gents'. A couple folks are chatting in this quieter nook while waiting their turn.
CHOICES: - "Any of you fellows seen a small dog come by here?" - "Anyone know what the story is with this penguin?" - "Anyone seen Greta Garbo?" - Check behind the penguin. - Look somewhere else.
Teaspoon says, "check behind penguin"
DavidW says, "sure"
CHOICE MADE: Check behind the penguin.

The impressive stuffed bird is resting on a marble plinth. You peer expectantly behind it, thinking the space between the stone base and the wall would be a perfect hiding spot, but no dog.
CHOICES: - "Any of you fellows seen a small dog come by here?" - "Anyone know what the story is with this penguin?" - "Anyone seen Greta Garbo?" - Look somewhere else.
Teaspoon asks, "Anyone seen dog?"
DavidW says, "yes"
CHOICE MADE: Anyone seen a small dog?

"That mutt of Garbo's?" somebody says with an alarmed look. "Hell, I hope that thing's not back here. Little bastard almost bit my hand off earlier."
CHOICES: - "Anyone know what the story is with this penguin?" - "Anyone seen Greta Garbo?" - Look somewhere else.
DavidW says, "ask about Greta."
Teaspoon says, "Let's ask about both"
DavidW says, "She might be in a 5th location we didn't know of."
CHOICE MADE: Ask about Garbo.

"She was back here looking for that dog, too," someone recalls. "Worried sick about it. Said she hoped nothing's happened to it."
"Oh, nothing has," you say cheerfully, adding under your breath: "yet."
CHOICES: - "Anyone know what the story is with this penguin?" - Look somewhere else.
DavidW says, "ha ha"
DavidW says, "i guess ask about the penguin, sure."
Jacqueline asks, "So, ask about the penguin before we go?"
Teaspoon says, "yes"
DavidW says, "It's not like the tube is a bomb."
CHOICE MADE: Ask about the penguin.
DavidW says, "yet"
An assistant gaffer from the shoot stubs his cigarette in an ashtray, looking the thing up and down. "Heard our hostess paid some ridiculous amount of dough for it at a charity auction. Came all the way from the South Pole, ten thousand miles, to Beverly Hills." He pokes it with a chuckle. "Not too bad for a flightless bird, eh boss?"

CHOICE MADE: Look elsewhere.
CHOICES: - The fireplace. - The sofa.
DavidW says, "sofa"
Teaspoon says, "sofa"

Over by the sofa, a small cluster of society types chatter, including a famous hostess du jour swathed in a minor fortune's worth of red chiffon: a Goldwyn daughter or wife or aunt or something along those lines. The circle looks up pleasantly as you wander over.
DavidW says, "so fa so good"
- "Everyone having a lovely time?"
- "Still no sign of that dog, huh?"
- "Has anyone seen Mrs. Garbo?"
- Check under the sofa.
- Look somewhere else.
DavidW says, "ask about garbo"
Jacqueline says (to DW), "har"
Teaspoon says, "ok"
CHOICE MADE: Ask about Garbo.

"Oh! She was here a minute ago," the Goldwyn says. "Looking for something or other, wasn't she?"
A murmur of general confusion resolves into a suspiciously vague consensus: "Oh yes, that's right; of course; yes, that's what she said."
CHOICES: - "Everyone having a lovely time?" - "Still no sign of that dog, huh?" - Check under the sofa. - Look somewhere else.
DavidW says, "ask about dog"
Teaspoon says, "ask about everything, yes"
CHOICE MADE: Ask about the dog.
DavidW says, "They're drunk too, I think."
Another smattering of denials, this time mildly annoyed. "Afraid not; definitely not; barking up the wrong tree." (Titter, titter.) Suggestions for where else to look are abundant and universally unhelpful.

CHOICES: - "Everyone having a lovely time?" - Check under the sofa. - Look somewhere else.
DavidW says, "somewhere else"
Jacqueline says, "I'd look under the sofa, long as we're here."
DavidW says, "I just want to drop a whale on the sofa and be done with it."
Teaspoon says, "yes, check under sofa"
DavidW says, "fine fine"
CHOICE MADE: Look under the sofa
DavidW says, "give everyone another butt show."
"Pardon me," you say, getting on hands and knees to peer under the sofa's trim, ignoring the chorus of vaguely scandalized twittering from above. But there's no sign of the dog.
Teaspoon says, "Okay, fireplace now"
- "Everyone having a lovely time?"
- Look somewhere else.
DavidW says, "fireplace"
Jacqueline says, "Look elsewhere, the fireplace. Got it."
CHOICE MADE: Look elsewhere, i.e. the fireplace.

Over by the fireplace, Fish Grundy's still standing alone, holding a flute of champagne and staring contemplatively into the fire.
Mr. Rickles kneels on the carpet before the fire, worrying at the blue tube with yellowed teeth!
"Grundy, grab that dog!" you shout.
Fish blinks in surprise. "Uh, sure thing, Flowers," he says, setting his champagne on the mantel and kneeling down. "Here, boy," he says, holding out a hand and inching forward. "Come to papa…"
But the dog's having none of it: he leaps to his feet, snarling around the tube, and darts through Fish's legs back toward the throng. Though Fish reaches down with the reflexes of a catfish noodler to snatch him, he misses by a hair's breadth and his momentum carries him into a full forward roll, leaving him lying on his back, blinking and confused.
"Slippery varmint," he mutters as you help him up.
You sigh. "Old friend, I think I need your help."
He laughs when you tell him the score, clown tassels tinkling as he shakes his head. "Looks like we got ourselves a regular screwball comedy in the works. Just need a long-lost twin brother and a stack of pies, we'll be ready to shoot. Come on, let's go find that mutt."
CHOICES: - Look over by the sofa. - Check out the back hall.
Teaspoon says, "A lot of the good will I've had is slowly diminishing."
Teaspoon says, "back hall"
DavidW says, "oh gawd. A pie fight would be awesome."
Jacqueline says, "Bonus points for mentioning catfish noodling, Mr. Reed."
DavidW says, "ok, hall"
CHOICE MADE: Check out the back hall.
DavidW says, "Maybe we can hide behind the penguin."
Besides housing the impressive stuffed penguin, the back hall has little to offer the party but the all-important line for the gents'. A couple folks are chatting in this quieter nook while waiting their turn.

"What the hell is that?" Fish asks, eyeing the oversized penguin suspiciously.
Wearily, you explain about your hostess and her charity auction.
"Hrmph," Fish says, shaking his head. "Seems like giving money straight to that charity might've made more sense than dragging this poor thing all the way up from Antarctica. But what do I know? I'm just an entertainer."
CHOICES: - "Still no sign of the dog, huh?" - Look somewhere else.
DavidW says, "still no sign"
Teaspoon says, "yup"
CHOICE MADE: Still no sign of the dog, huh?

Folks shake their heads. "Sorry, Flowers."
CHOICE: - Look somewhere else. - The only place you haven't checked lately is the sofa, so you head in that direction. - Over by the sofa, a small cluster of society types chatter, including a famous hostess du jour swathed in a minor fortune's worth of red chiffon: a Goldwyn daughter or wife or aunt or something along those lines. The circle looks up pleasantly as you wander over, though some faces turn sour when they notice Fish Grundy.
DavidW says, "Hope the dog doesn't bury the thing in a back yard."
- "Everyone having a lovely time?"
- "Still no sign of that dog, huh?"
- Check under the sofa.
- Look somewhere else.
Teaspoon says, "check sofa"
Jacqueline says, "This is dragging on longer for you lot than it did for me."
Teaspoon says, "I wonder why."
DavidW asks, "third time lucky?"
CHOICE MADE: Look under the sofa.

"Pardon me," you say, getting on hands and knees to peer under the sofa's trim, ignoring the chorus of vaguely scandalized twittering from above.
There! Mr. Rickles, crouched under the middle of the sofa, still gnawing at the blue tube. He grumbles vaguely when he notices you, but makes no sign to move: he can see as well as you that there's no way to reach him from this angle.
DavidW says, "We're just guessing wrong all the time."
- "Everyone having a lovely time?"
- "Can everyone move off the sofa? I need to lift it up."
DavidW says, "oh joy"
Teaspoon says, "we're going to single-handedly lift a sofa"
Jacqueline says, "In our fancy dress. Yep."
Teaspoon says, "Evidently we have a sturdier build then I'd been imagining, somehow"
DavidW says, ">empty sofa"
Teaspoon says, "yup"
CHOICE MADE: Ask people to get up.

The Goldwyn purses her lips, as if you'd just asked to use the washroom for the third time this homeroom. "Hardly the time to rearrange the furniture," she complains. "Really, Floyd, whatever you've lost, I'm sure it can wait until later." Clearly considering the matter settled, she turns back to the group and launches into a story about a misadventure on a yacht, which seems to revolve around the awful truth that one might get a little wet on such a contraption if one isn't terribly careful.
CHOICES: - "Everyone having a lovely time?" - "Can everyone move off the sofa? I need to lift it up." - "Fish, any ideas for how we can get these people to move?"
Teaspoon says, "3"
DavidW says, "yeah, knew they wouldn't leave."
Teaspoon says, "will he suggest pie"
DavidW says, "Ask Fish to fart in their faces."
Teaspoon says, "I would enjoy throwing pies"
CHOICE MADE: Ask Fish for ideas.

A grin breaks out across Fish's face like the sunrise glinting off an especially devious pond. "Flowers, I'm glad you asked." He taps a finger to his nose, and whispers: "Watch this."
Rummaging around in his baggy clown pants, he produces a can of mixed nuts from some deep pocket with a flourish, politely offering it to the Goldwyn. "Care for a light snack, madam?" he asks.
"Why thank you," she says, accepting it and fumbling with the lid. "It's such a bother to make one's way all the way over to the AAAIIEEEEEEEE!!!"
This bloodcurdling outburst follows the explosion of a four-foot-long mottled snake from the can, and accompanies the Goldwyn (and the contents of her drink) flying through the air in a colorful, frenetic blur. A dozen people leap to her aid and, supporting her on a bed of concerned muttering, escort her off to a quieter part of the house to recover, with many a dirty glance shot Fish Grundy's way.
"I'm afraid your reputation may never recover," you say, handing Fish the rubber snake.
He shoves it back into the can and grins. "If they can't take a joke…"
You lift up a corner of the couch as Fish waits nearby, crouched like a catcher at a ballgame. In a streak of mottled fur, the dog zips straight toward him. "Gotcha!" Fish shouts, but the dog bounds off his outstretched hands, sails through his clown wig with a muffled whoomp, and races off into the back hall.
"You know," Grundy says, patting his wig with a frown, "I'm really starting to dislike that dog."
"There's no way out of that hall," you say. "Let's get this over with."
You race into the now abandoned hall with Grundy. Mr. Rickles, still gripping the tube in his tireless jaws, growls at you and backs up, but is starting to realize he's cornered. You've got him now.
"Fish, cover me!" you hiss, advancing carefully. Something like fear flashes through the dog's black eyes, but only for a moment, replaced by the grim stoicism of a soldier leaping from a trench. As you move closer, he backs into the farthest corner of the room, wriggling his hindquarters and readying for a Hail Mary leap.
"Gotcha," you say, pouncing. The dog springs forward in a desperate bound, just escaping your grasping fingers, flies straight into the marble plinth supporting the stuffed penguin, and keels over, knocked clear out.
You wrest the tube from the dog's jaws, clenched tight even in sleep. "All in a good day's work," Fish says, stepping forward to help you. Then he halts, eyes widening as you both hear a familiar booming voice approaching from the direction of the party. You look at each other, then down at the rather dead-looking dog and your hand on the tube.
Orson's lumbering shadow spills into the hallway. You've got only seconds till he catches you kneeling over his comatose former pooch. You've got to hide the dog…
CHOICES: - …down Fish's oversized clown pants. - …behind my back. - …inside the stuffed penguin. - No. Hold the dog and convince Orson it's just asleep.
Teaspoon says, "...this game's lost me."
DavidW says, "oh my"
DavidW says, "Inside the penguin"
Teaspoon says, "It'll wake up annoyingly if we hide it."
Teaspoon says, "Let's just hold it"
DavidW says, "The dog would turn Fish into a eunuch."
Teaspoon says, "(we can't afford to replace this penguin)"
Teaspoon says, "Greta would never finance another project again"
DavidW says, "Look, Welles will accept a animated penguin."
DavidW says, "The penguin isn't Greta's."
DavidW says, "This isn't Greta's home. The host is someone else."
Teaspoon says, "I'm thinking more of what happens when the dog bites his way out - oh, right! Sacrifice the penguin"
Jacqueline asks, "So, the penguin, then?"
DavidW says, ">put dog inside penquin"
CHOICE MADE: Put the dog inside the penguin, because of course that's what you'd do in this totally realistic circumstance

Seconds later, Orson steps into the hallway to see you and Fish standing side by side, all smiles, Fish's hand casually patting some loose stuffing back into the bird.
"Gentleman, madam," Orson says, tipping his hat unsteadily. "Just looking for the little boy's room." His eyes shift to Fish and widen. He shakes your friend's hand vigorously. "And Mr. Grundy," he says. "Wonderful to see you again. Heard about this dreadful blacklist nonsense. An absolute disgrace." Welles shakes his head. "You know you'd be welcome at my new production house on the Continent. We'd give you such roles to play!"
"Thank you, Mr. Welles," Grundy says with a broad smile, a single bead of sweat rolling down his forehead. "But my home's here in Hollywood. Can't see myself ever getting too far from it."
"Neither could I," Orson says moodily, "once."
"The restroom's right this way, sir," Fish says, starting to take his hand off the penguin to point and then quickly replacing it when the thing shifts unsteadily.
Orson nods, about to lumber by, then turns with a thoughtful look on his face and regards you seriously.
"Flowers, a word of advice," he says. "You're a promising talent, really very promising, and I…" He pauses, sighing heavily and staring into the distance. "I would hate to see you make the same mistakes I did."
"Oh yes, sir?" you say. Once you dreamed of getting career advice from Orson Welles. Now that the moment's come, you find yourself rather distracted. A faint rustling comes from somewhere inside the penguin, but Orson doesn't seem to notice.
Teaspoon says, "Love Orson, but I doubt he'd know what good advice would be."
DavidW says, "Good thing we didn't choose Fish's pants."

Orson nods, fixing you with a paternal gaze filled with heartfelt camaraderie perhaps not quite merited by your acquaintance so far. "It's a terrible machine, Hollywood," he says. "Lifts people up and spits them out after strangling their souls, trying to package them into tiny identical pieces. Turning art to meat, marketing it to executives, housewives, middle school principals. Real voices, real stories terrify them. You've seen that. You know the score. But."
The penguin rustles more loudly and a muffled, groggy whimper comes from somewhere inside it. Orson frowns and glances at the bird for a moment, then shakes his head and turns back to you.
"Don't let them commodify you, Flowers," Orson says in a voice like he's auditioning for the role of God: even though currently flavored with vodka, it's hard to ignore. "But worse, don't commodify yourself. Stay true to your dreams. No matter what it costs you."
"I will, Mr. Welles," you say, with all the seriousness you can muster given your current circumstances.
A yelp comes from inside the stuffed penguin, which starts rocking gently. Fish, who still has his hand near it, smiles weakly.
Orson frowns at him. "And Mr. Grundy…that bird is a priceless heirloom, not a toy. Good evening." He grunts and proceeds into the washroom.
Teaspoon says, "I'm not sure that's what we learned from this game, but it's what Welles would say."
DavidW says, "ha ha"

Two minutes later, with a vestige of normalcy returned and the dog limping woozily back towards the party, you've shaken hands with Fish and at last get a moment alone with the evidence tube. Though marred with tooth marks and rather wetter than before, it's still intact. You rip off the seal and upend the contents into your hand.
All that's inside is a small brown nub no bigger than your thumb. Frowning, you pick it up and hold it to the light, and that's when you see what it is: the stub of a cigar.
You sniff, and the odor is unmistakable.
Teaspoon asks, "?"
DavidW says, "aha"
Chapter Nine

The day of the assembly edit screening is among the most emotional of your life, though not for the reasons you expected.
It's rough, the sound hasn't been mixed yet, it's only got temp music, and the titles are missing. But for the first time, all the best footage has been pulled together and screened in order. For the first time, you've watched Outcast Odyssey, unsteady as a newborn calf, but standing nonetheless.
The lights come up in your tiny screening room, and after a round of applause, everyone turns to the picture's editor:
Teaspoon asks, "who smokes these?"
DavidW says, "Our ex-boss."
- Me, of course.
- One of the best (if most expensive) in the business.
- An affordable talent.
- Maybe not the most talented, but willing to work for a rock-bottom price.
Teaspoon says, "Oh."
DavidW says, "From the beginning of the game."
Teaspoon says, "Right then."
Teaspoon asks, "So, we're good at editing, as I recall. Shall we edit?"
DavidW says, "I need a bathroom break."
Teaspoon says, "Don't get any dogs stuck up your pants."
Jacqueline says, "A quick bio-break would be nice, yeah."
Jacqueline says, "And yes. Our natural talent is producing and our earned talent is editing."
Jacqueline says, "BRB"
DavidW says, "back"
Jacqueline says, "Back, with kombucha."
Teaspoon says, "I have heard good things about that."
DavidW asks, "Is kombucha a food or drink?"
Teaspoon says, "Drink"
Jacqueline says, "It is a drink."
DavidW asks, "A coffee, juice, or alcoholic drink?"
Jacqueline says, "It's a cultured tea. Fizzy, low in calories, very (very) slightly alcoholic."
Teaspoon says, "Microbiotic tea"
DavidW asks, "fizzy tea, eh?"
DavidW says, "that's different."
Jacqueline says, "It's a cold, fizzy, fermented tea, yeah."
Teaspoon exclaims, "So, let's edit our film!"
Jacqueline says, "Tasty like a juice, but low in sugar and 8oz contains 35 calories."
DavidW says, "I'm tempted to edit our own film."
Jacqueline asks, "Okay, so we're the editor?"
Teaspoon says, "Yes"
DavidW says, "Especially with the chat we had with Orson."
CHOICE MADE: Me, of course.

"Well," you say, brushing off a spring-colored scarf, "this is a promising start. The decent pacing is a result of the great performances from the cast. And the average level of polish is thanks to being under budget, but dragged down by some of the tension among cast and crew affecting the final quality. We'll keep working on these in the editing room, and we can also try to reduce or draw more attention to other aspects of the film. Thoughts?"
"Seems on the right track to me," Gene says.
Greta looks thoughtful. "Maybe," she says. "Let's see what more time in the editing booth brings, shall we?"
You spend the rest of the day hammering out plans for the editing…

In the Editing Booth Story: Original: 40% Familiar: 60% Intellectual: 85% Accessible: 15% Intense: 70% Relaxing: 30% Quality: 60% Production: Acting: 65% Directing: 54% Craft: 57% Post-Production: Pacing: 49% Polish: 47% Your ledger is in the black: 11% under budget . Your personal stress level is at 65%. Because of your level of skill, each edit will add a small amount of stress, and you're able to make three more changes to the edit this session.
CHOICES: - Improve pacing. - Improve polish. - Reedit to focus on a strong attribute or draw attention away from a weak one. - Consider a reshoot, for more drastic changes. - Trim, a more drastic way to improve pacing. - Done.
Teaspoon asks, "Erm, polish and trim?"
DavidW says, "ok."

Your stress rises from 65 to 67.
You alter the polish, from 47 to 50.
Teaspoon says, "sweet"
DavidW says, "I'd like reedit as our 3rd choice of the day"
Original: 40% Familiar: 60%
Intellectual: 85% Accessible: 15%
Intense: 70% Relaxing: 30%
Quality: 60%
Acting: 65%
Directing: 54%
Craft: 57%
Pacing: 49%
Polish: 50%

You can try to cut major portions of the film to improve the pacing, at the cost of reducing either acting or craft at random.
Teaspoon says, "oh. erm"
- Proceed.
- Go back.
DavidW says, "oh. hm. Reducing acting and craft seems a bad idea."
Jacqueline asks, "Go back?"
Teaspoon asks, "Shall we go back and just improve pacing instead?"
Teaspoon says, "that sounds better"
CHOICE MADE: Go back, improve pacing instead.
DavidW asks, "can we try reedit?"
Your stress rises from 67 to 69.

You alter the pacing, from 49 to 54.
Teaspoon says, "We can do that now, I think."
Original: 40% Familiar: 60%
Intellectual: 85% Accessible: 15%
Intense: 70% Relaxing: 30%
Quality: 60%
Acting: 65%
Directing: 54%
Craft: 57%
Pacing: 54%
Polish: 50%

Your ledger is in the black: 11% under budget . Your personal stress level is at 69%. Because of your level of skill, each edit will add a small amount of stress, and you can make one change to the edit this session.
CHOICES: - Improve pacing. - Improve polish. - Reedit to focus on a strong attribute or draw attention away from a weak one. - Consider a reshoot, for more drastic changes. - Trim, a more drastic way to improve pacing. - Done.
Teaspoon asks, "What do we want to reedit?"
DavidW says, "It's not like I've seen the dailies."
DavidW says, "Act 3 Scene 5"
Teaspoon says, "Hah"
Jacqueline says, "Reedit seems to let the game pick what's weak and what's strong."
Teaspoon says, "All right, let's try reedit"
Jacqueline asks, "DW?"
DavidW says, "yes please"
CHOICE MADE: Reedit to focus on a strong attribute or draw attention away from a weak one.
Jacqueline says, "Hm, turns out I was wrong. But not to a fault..."
Original: 40% Familiar: 60%
Intellectual: 85% Accessible: 15%
Intense: 70% Relaxing: 30%
Quality: 60%
Acting: 65%
Directing: 54%
Craft: 57%
Pacing: 54%
Polish: 50%

You can try to reedit the film to draw attention toward or away from something.
CHOICES: - Improve perception of acting. - Improve perception of craft. - Make more intense. - Make less intense. - Make less smart. - Make more novel. - Make less novel. - Go back.
DavidW asks, "hm. Less smart?"
Teaspoon says, "That had occurred to me."
Teaspoon says, "It'll make the director mad."
Teaspoon says, "but it makes sense."
Jacqueline says, "I was thinking that, but no sure you can make it unsmart enough in one session to make a difference."
Teaspoon says, "oh, fair enough"
Jacqueline says, "er, NOT sure"
DavidW says, "yeah, these changes are pretty small."
Jacqueline says, "Like, it's really, really smart."
Teaspoon says, "So let's make it less smart then (alas!)"
DavidW asks, "well, would you prefer better acting?"
DavidW says, "It's be nice to get one of our numbers high."
Teaspoon says, "Better acting would be good, yes."
Teaspoon says, "It makes me sad to make the movie dumber, is what"
CHOICE MADE: Better acting
Teaspoon says, "even if it's the smart thing to do"
Jacqueline asks, "Even if it's the smart thing to do to make the movie less smart?"
Teaspoon says, "I've confused myself now"
DavidW says, "I'm sure Garbo will be happy to advise us."
Jacqueline says (to Tsp), "heh"
Your stress rises from 69 to 71.

You alter the acting, from 65 to 67.
That's it—you're out of time for today, but there'll be more chances to improve the edit later.
The rest of the week you alternate between the editing room, managing operations, and talking with distributors. It's an uphill battle to convince theater chains (and sometimes, even individual theaters) to show a film from an upstart studio without a track record.
You've also got to keep your production staff occupied, now that shooting on Outcast Odyssey's wrapped up. What should you do?
CHOICES: - Put another Studio McStudioface film into production. This will cost money and stress, but create good buzz for the picture. - Rent the studio space out to another production company, to generate some income at the cost of extra hassle. - Keep the staff on salary, but give them some time off. Expensive, but less stress for everyone.
Teaspoon says, "We start another picture, of course. We didn't get into this business for just one flick."
Teaspoon says, "And we can afford it."
DavidW says, "yeah, I wanna 2nd picture."
DavidW says, "No one can afford this business. It's like running on top of falling dominoes."
CHOICE MADE: Over-extend ourselves with a second picture!

Not every picture's going to be a Outcast Odyssey. To stay in business, you'll have to get a regular pipeline going. You hire a producer to get a new project moving and keep the lot bustling.
Midweek, you're scribbling your signature on some checks when Fish Grundy knocks on your office door.
"What can I do for you, Fish?" you say, setting down your pen and massaging your cramping hand as he drops into the seat across from you.
He takes off his hat, putting it in his lap and fiddling with the brim. "Be real brief," he says. "Got an idea for a new project maybe you and I could work on together. It's bonafide cinema gold, Flowers. Perfect for Studio McStudioface. Like to hear the pitch?"
Before you can respond, he leans forward, gripping his hat tightly. "Look, I know you're not supposed to have nothing to do with me, on account of Creed's miserable blacklist. Flowers, this thing is squeezing me dry. I can't get work. People I knew thirty years, they won't take my calls. I'll stand outside their office, they won't even open the door." He shakes his head. "Working with me now's a risk. They could shut you down, put you in jail even. I know that. You bet I do. But…I got to ask. To at least just ask."
He leans back, looking tired, as you consider how to respond.
CHOICES: - "Of course. I'd love to work with you again, even if my studio comes under fire." - "Maybe we could work together, unofficially. If we kept it under the table, we might not get caught." - "I'll never stop being your friend, but you know I can't work with you until this blows over. Maybe I could help out some other way?" - "I'd love to, but the studio just can't afford another project right now. You know how it is." - "I'm sorry, but I can't help you. It's too dangerous for me and my crew." - "Maybe it's best if we're not seen together any more."
Teaspoon says, "Oh crumbs."
DavidW says, "I'm not throwing him under the bus."
Teaspoon asks, "But what variant of helping him out do we go for?"
DavidW says, "But I also remember how the drunken sofa guests reacted to him. This is a real risk."
Teaspoon says, "I feel that he'll consider 2 wishy-washy"
DavidW says, "I know."
DavidW says, "I don't like the Don't Ask Don't Tell option, but it might work, temporarily."
Teaspoon asks, "What of 3?"
DavidW says, "yeah, perhaps 3 is safest."
DavidW says, "I hate that this sort of choice has to be made, though. It really sucks."
Teaspoon says, "game's doing a good job giving us choices that seem meaningful"
Jacqueline asks, "So 3?"
Teaspoon says, "I think so."
CHOICE MADE: Can we help another way?

He takes a deep breath, runs his hands over the top of his crisply pleated pants. Finally, he nods. "You got to play the same game by the same rules as everyone else. Just wish the deck hadn't been stacked against me."
"What can I do?" you ask.
He stands, face set. "You keep your ears open for any projects don't mind paying under the table. I can write, do jokes, do revisions, train people to move, do makeup, sew costumes…" He flashes a pained grin. "I got many talents. You keep your ears open."
"I will," you promise. "And if you need money…"
DavidW says, "If it was just risking me, I'd choose 1, but there's a whole studio of people to worry about,"
He slowly puts on his hat, considering. "No, Flowers," he finally says, "thank you, but that ain't necessary. We'll get by, same as always." He pauses in the doorway, hand lingering on the worn frame. "Funny," he adds. "Wouldn't think after all I been through in this business, I'd have any pride left at all."
Teaspoon says, "Agreed. If it goes sour now, there won't be any studio to employ Fish at all later on."
Later that afternoon, you can't get the conversation out of your head. There must be something you can do.

CHOICES: - Arrange to have groceries sent to his place once a week, anonymously. - Call around to some old friends and see if anyone can find work for him. - Fish can take care of himself.
Teaspoon says, "2"
DavidW says, "2"
CHOICE MADE: Make some calls for Fish.

You have to stay late to make the time, but it's the least you can do. No one's heard anything, but you keep making the calls. He's Fish Grundy, for God's sake. Someone must want to work with him.
By Friday, the gauntlet of editing has mostly pushed Fish Grundy's problems from your mind. You're living and breathing reels of footage, now, dreaming in alternate takes and manufactured moments: the weight that twenty extra frames adds to a single look, the intimacy of playing a scene in close-ups instead of medium shots. You've become a machine for constructing the perfect version of Outcast Odyssey, the Moviola's metal bulk your body, its reels and runners your appendages, its glowing screen your mind.

In the Editing Booth Story: Original: 40% Familiar: 60% Intellectual: 85% Accessible: 15% Intense: 70% Relaxing: 30% Quality: 60% Production: Acting: 67% Directing: 54% Craft: 57% Post-Production: Pacing: 54% Polish: 50%
Your ledger is in the black: on budget . Your personal stress level is at 77%. Because of your level of skill, each edit will add a small amount of stress, and you're able to make three more changes to the edit this session.
CHOICES: - Improve pacing. - Improve polish. - Reedit to focus on a strong attribute or draw attention away from a weak one. - Consider a reshoot, for more drastic changes. - Trim, a more drastic way to improve pacing. - Done.
Teaspoon says, "Well, we're holding up pretty well."
DavidW says, "Our stress is kinda high, though."
Jacqueline asks, "Want your personal stats?"
Teaspoon says, "But we'll survive this editing session all right. The real question is what happens after that."
Teaspoon says, "sure, more stats are good"
DavidW says, "we'll need some sort of downtime after this editing session, yes."
Jacqueline says, "Oh, I guess it does mention your stress. Nevermind."
Jacqueline says, "Oh, or I can give them to you."

Personal Statistics Name: Flowers Floyd Studio: Studio McStudioface Natural Talent: Producing Earned Talent: Editing Weakness: Acting Personal Stress: 77% Which do you put first in your professional life? The Project: 60% The People: 40% Personal Relationships: The actress, Livia Lane: 39% Your niece, Ada: 32% The grip, Vic Martinez: 73%
Teaspoon says, "I favour another round of improving the acting"
DavidW says, "okay"
DavidW asks, "via reedit, right?"
Teaspoon says, "Right."
Jacqueline says, "okay"
CHOICE MADE: Reedit, improve the acting.

Your stress rises from 77 to 78.
You alter the acting, from 67 to 69.
Story: Original: 40% Familiar: 60% Intellectual: 85% Accessible: 15% Intense: 70% Relaxing: 30% Quality: 60% Production: Acting: 69% Directing: 54% Craft: 57% Post-Production: Pacing: 54% Polish: 50%
Your ledger is in the black: on budget . Your personal stress level is at 78%. Because of your level of skill, each edit will add a small amount of stress, and you're able to make two changes to the edit this session.
CHOICES: - Floyd | Your stress rises from 77 to 78. - Improve pacing. - Improve polish. - Reedit to focus on a strong attribute or draw attention away from a weak one. - Consider a reshoot, for more drastic changes. - Trim, a more drastic way to improve pacing. - Done.
Teaspoon asks, "So, do we make it dumber or no?"
DavidW says, "yeah, let's make it more accessible."
Jacqueline says, "Now I'm feeling kind of bad. If we'd just focused on dumbing it down at every opportunity, we probably could have lowered the number quite a bit."
Teaspoon says, "But we don't want it to be too dumb"
Jacqueline says, "Ah, okay."
Jacqueline asks, "Anyway, dumb it? Or something else?"
Teaspoon says, "yup"
Teaspoon says, "dumb it"
DavidW says, "mmhm"
CHOICE MADE: Make it stupider.

Your stress rises from 78 to 79.
You alter the smarts, from 85 to 80.
Teaspoon says, "And again, I think."
Original: 40% Familiar: 60%
Intellectual: 80% Accessible: 20%
Intense: 70% Relaxing: 30%
Quality: 60%
Acting: 69%
Directing: 54%
Craft: 57%
Pacing: 54%
Polish: 50%

Your ledger is in the black: on budget . Your personal stress level is at 79%. Because of your level of skill, each edit will add a small amount of stress, and you can make one change to the edit this session.
CHOICES: - Improve pacing. - Improve polish. - Reedit to focus on a strong attribute or draw attention away from a weak one. - Consider a reshoot, for more drastic changes. - Trim, a more drastic way to improve pacing. - Done.
Jacqueline asks, "Again?"
DavidW says, "sure, another dumbing down."
Jacqueline says, "75% is a nice round number."
Teaspoon says, "yes"
DavidW says, "it is."
DavidW says, "in base 25"
CHOICE MADE: Make it more stupider.

Your stress rises from 79 to 80.
You alter the smarts, from 80 to 76.
Jacqueline says, "Ooh - harsh."
Teaspoon says, "more stupider. Ouch."
Jacqueline says, "76%, not 75%"
Jacqueline says, "I guess we are getting kinda stressed."

A knock on the editing suite's door pulls you back to a world that's not an illusion of light and celluloid. A familiar voice calls through: "Hey, you got time for a lunch break? I've got sandwiches from the deli."
Damn. You've been meaning to find time for a chat, but aren't you too busy?
CHOICES: - "Vic! Aren't we keeping you busy enough any more?" - "Livia! What's a big-shot star like you doing in this joint?" - "I'm sorry…I need to focus on finishing this edit." - I'm exhausted…maybe I shouldn't talk to anyone, and take the afternoon off instead.
DavidW says, "hope our house doesn't burn down today."
Teaspoon says, "So, we can talk to Vic, or get in more editing."
Teaspoon says, "both good"
DavidW says, "Vic, please"
Teaspoon says, "Vic it is then"
CHOICE MADE: Have sammiches with Vic.
DavidW says, "We didn't even find them at the wrap party."
Vic comes in with a basket of sandwiches: you fish one out and unwrap it, chewing thoughtfully.

"Been meaning to ask you something," Vic says, leaning up against the huge metal bulk of the Moviola.
"Oh?" you ask, raising an eyebrow. "And what's that?"
"All this business with Creed," they say. "Updating the blacklist, looking for Commies everywhere, all that. You seem to be kinda scofflaw about the whole thing." They raise an eyebrow. "That can be pretty dangerous these days."
CHOICES: - "It's appalling, and nothing but a witch hunt. I won't take any part in it." - "Is that really how I'm coming off? I'd better be more careful." - "Why do you ask?"
Teaspoon says, "3"
Jacqueline asks, "DW?"
DavidW says, "hmm. okay."
CHOICE MADE: Why do you ask?

They swat you playfully. "Good, that's good," they say. "Answer a question with a question. You and Creed drinking buddies or something?"
"I thought this was meant to be a lunch," you say, "not an inquest."
They roll their eyes, spinning a loose pickup reel playfully. "I thought we were supposed to be getting to know each other better," they say, "and I like to cut to the chase."
They think for a moment, looking down at their salvaged filmstrip. "What did you do during the war?" they ask softly.
You sigh. "Not big into small talk, are you?" you say, pondering your response to the Question. Apparently, the one everyone in your generation's doomed to forever ask and answer.
CHOICES: - "I would have fought, if they'd let me." - "I worked in a munitions factory. Just like Rosie." - "I was taking care of family. Only one left who could."
Teaspoon says, "3 seems unlikely, given our family relationships."
Teaspoon says, "I'm guessing 2."
DavidW says, "yeah, 2"
CHOICE MADE: We were a Rosie.

"What about you?" you ask.
They sigh, picking up a piece of trimmed film and holding it up to the light thoughtfully. "Now there's a long story."
"We've still got some time," you say, gesturing around. "Let's see how far you can get."
So Vic starts the telling, haltingly at first, then picking up speed. It's no less hard to hear for having some notes in common with plenty of others you've heard. Like a lot of them, it starts with a high school sweetheart, some disapproving parents, and a plan born of desperation and painful love.
"We ended up dropping out, getting married," they say. "Skipping town. We were sixteen. Only just, in my case."
She wanted to be a nightclub singer. Had the voice for it. Vic followed her from city to city, always looking for gigs. "I would have followed her straight into hell," they say flatly. "Nearly did."
But she didn't know when to stop. She became obsessed, started forgetting the life she was actually living for the one she craved so much. Neglect bred quarrels, then screams. Finally, she left.
"Left me broke, alone, in a bad place," Vic says, slamming a fist against the side of the Moviola. "Halfway across the country, no diploma, no prospects. And then the war." They shrug. "So I did what I had to. That's all. And maybe you understand a smidge better now why treating people right matters so much to me. A movie don't cry itself to sleep if you neglect it a while."
"Is this why you're afraid of moving up in the ranks?" you say, softly. "Without a diploma—"
"Never going to have much more of a career than moving stuff one place to another," they say with finality. "Hard to accept that some days, but it's the hand I got dealt."
CHOICES: - "Have you been in love again since?" - "So you're probably not much interested in getting involved with another project-obsessed madwoman, then." - "So whatever happened to your old flame?"
Teaspoon says, "uh"
Teaspoon asks, "2 and 3 seem leading questions. 1?"
DavidW says, "1 is also a leading question."
Teaspoon says, "Messy, this."
DavidW says, "3 seems safest, since Vic can opt not to say."
Teaspoon says, "ok"
CHOICE MADE: What happened to your old flame?

Vic's face drains of color, and they shake their head. "Heard a few years later she passed away," they say flatly. "Rushing after some music mucky-muck, didn't look where she was going, got hit by a trolley car. Died instantly, I heard. Snap of a twig." They bite their lip. "I didn't even realize how in love I still was, even then. I never did make my peace."
They sigh, chucking the film scrap into the trash. "Sometimes I think I ought to go back home. Visit her grave. Forgive her, maybe, forgive myself. Maybe even get that diploma. I expect my teachers are all still there, waiting. Most of 'em were too ornery to die."
CHOICES: - "Maybe you should." - "Let the past be."
Teaspoon says, "2"
DavidW says, "1"
Teaspoon asks, "Jac?"
Jacqueline says, "hm"
Jacqueline says, "1"
CHOICE MADE: Maybe you should.

After lunch, you both return to your duties. For the rest of the day, Vic seems…preoccupied. You don't think much of it at the time, with a million other concerns distracting you, but in hindsight it should have been obvious that a major decision was working its way through their mind…
Saturday. For once, you're staying home, snagging a much-deserved weekend off before you forget what they're like.
You're working your way through the paper, a rare squall of rain pattering against the window, when someone knocks on your front door. You pull it open to find Vic Martinez standing on your doorstep in a rain slicker, damp but determined. Holding a suitcase.
"What's all this?" you say, too surprised to remember to say hello.
"Seems my pa died," they say simply, but shrugs off your shocked reaction. "Weren't that close, but it's the last straw. Too many headstones back home that ain't been visited. Too much unfinished business." They take a deep breath. "Been thinking about what you said. And it's time to get that diploma, put some things to bed. Ran away from so many things, back then. I'll always be running unless I get this sorted out."
"I thought you seemed preoccupied, last couple of days," you say. "But sweetheart, surely you can't be leaving so quickly."
They nod. "Got to catch the two o'clock train. I can't stay."
You feel your heart sinking, something deep in your bones beginning to ache. "But when are you coming back?"
They sigh, staring into your eyes. "I can't say, Flowers. Could be a week, could be a lot, lot longer. I just don't know."
"But I need you," you stammer, flushed by your sudden selfish honesty. "I can't get through this thing without you. Vic, I thought…I thought we were becoming something together. Something worth hanging on to."
Suddenly they're in your arms, hugging you tighter than they've ever done before, and your hand is against their hair, and the rain is dripping into your eyes.
They pull back. "Maybe," they say. "But I have to figure my own self out first, and the only place I can do that is back home."
DavidW says, "Kiss them, so they know there's a place for them if they want to return."
Teaspoon says, "that's assuming we get a choice"
Teaspoon says, "maybe we don't, this time"

They smile a little at your expression, touching a finger to your nose. "Maybe you've got some things to figure out, too. Maybe you wouldn't be happy with someone like me. Maybe the studio's your one true love."
They bend leans up to give you a peck on the cheek, then heft the heavy suitcase. "Good luck, chief. Good luck with Outcast Odyssey. Hell, good luck with everything."
They walk off into the drizzling rain, and it's so much like a movie, you can't shake the feeling you'll never see them again.
DavidW says, "oh wow"

Chapter Ten
"Friends, good taste isn't a matter of geography. A fine beverage is appreciated just as much in Los Angeles as it is in New York. And that's why people across the country drink Andy's Best Cider…"
You glance at the clock. Just five more minutes till the broadcast is over. Keep it together, Floyd.
Don Mason finishes up his commercial, speaking through the chrome microphone to his nationwide radio audience with practiced assurances: "Just remember your A-B-C's, and choose Andy's Best, with the red and gold label." He nods to you, smiling. "And friends, if you're just joining us, we're coming to you live from Studio McStudioface in Hollywood, California, where this studio's bold new visionary, Flowers Floyd, is answering questions from our listeners around the country about her first picture, Outcast Odyssey. Our listeners have already been hearing buzz about this picture, including the involvement of reclusive Hollywood legend Greta Garbo in this project." (He's kind enough not to mention, or doesn't know about, some of your publicity missteps, like the fact that nearly all of the film is shot on the studio lot, your growing reputation, fair or not, as a red and its aging black-and-white sensibilities.)
He squints through a pair of reading glasses at some notes. "A Mrs. Davidson from Chicago, Illinois wrote in to ask this question. 'With so many coming attractions for new pictures these days,' she writes, 'I hardly know where to begin. What's one word that describes your new picture?'" Don grins at you. "What do you say, Flowers?"
You clear your throat, thinking fast. "Well, Mrs. Davidson," you say, "the word that comes to mind is:"
CHOICES: - "Thrilling." - "Intelligent." - "Bold." - "Hilarious." - "Uncompromising." - "Steamy." - "Disturbing." - "Oscar."
Teaspoon says, "I hadn't thought about NOT providing a choice as a technique before..."
Teaspoon says, "Oh. Ah. Hmm."
DavidW says, "Tone shift."
Jacqueline says, "New chapter, yeah"
Teaspoon asks, "Intelligent?"
DavidW says, "I want to say thrilling. The film is intense."
Teaspoon says, "Oh, good point."
Teaspoon says, "thrilling then"
CHOICE MADE: "Thrilling."

"Another question, Flowers. A listener in Akron, Ohio loves taking his daughter to musicals. Will yours have any bang-up numbers that people will be humming for weeks afterwards?"
"Absolutely," you say. "In fact, one of my personal favorite songs in the film is a number called…"
Teaspoon says, "heh"
- "Captain Nebula's Dreams."
- "The Chrome Bridge."
- "The Computer Follies."
- "The Paradox Voice."
- "Four Houses."
- "Actually, the title's not important. But it's a real showstopper."
Teaspoon says, "Captain Nebula's Dreams"
DavidW says, "yeah"
CHOICE MADE: "Captain Nebula's Dreams."

At last, the interview's over. You shake Don's hand and slip outside for a quiet moment alone while Gene helps the show's crew pack up.
The last weeks have been rough. While your film is moving through postproduction as smoothly as you could hope, there's been no word from Vic. You wonder if they made it back home. You wonder if they're coming back.
And the tough decisions don't stop coming. Back inside, Eugene grabs you for a screening of some of the latest special effects work. As a musical science fiction picture, Outcast Odyssey requires some movie magic to make its story come to life, and a special crew's been working hard to make these shots amazing.
But the footage is disappointing. Rather than transporting you to another world, the seams and wires seem all too grounded in this one. What you're watching seems more likely to inspire giggles than flights of fancy. Of course, maybe you're too close to the project to see the shots objectively…will the matinee crowd even notice?
CHOICES: - I don't care what it costs. The special effects have to be perfect. - Maybe the team just needs a little inspiration. I'll stay late a few nights, help them improve their game. - We'll fix it in the editing room: cut scenes so they need fewer effects shots, even if it messes up the pacing a little. - This will have to do.
Teaspoon exclaims, "; Editing! Editing! Editing!"
Teaspoon says, "We picked the best specialities"
DavidW says, "I don't think you can hide wires in editing so easily."
Teaspoon says, "Well, we can probably afford to spend a little more cash."
DavidW says, "I vote throw cash at it."
Jacqueline says, "You're on budget - for the right film you'll be able to make up a cost over-run, I would think."
Teaspoon says, "All right. This is probably the last time we'll need to spend money, anyway."
CHOICE MADE: I don't care what it costs. The special effects have to be perfect.

On your way to the editing booth, Gene grabs your arm. "Chief, I got you an all-day exclusive with a reporter from Photoplay," he says. "Clear your calendar for Saturday; you'll be singing for your supper all day long."
Saturday? Damn… you'd been hoping for a chance to get to know Livia Lane a little better, so you invited her for a drive up the coast to check out some art festival she wanted to see.
Your hesitation must show, because Gene frowns. "Flowers, this is an important interview. The press has really latched on to some of your more, uh…free-thinking actions lately. They're calling you a pinko, if not downright Red. Look, your beliefs are none of my business, but they're bad press right now. You'd better do what you can to make the story about the movie, not you."
CHOICES: - Agree to do the Saturday interview. - Try to reschedule it.
Teaspoon says, "Livia's not that interesting. Skip her."
Jacqueline says, "Your relationship with her is 34% right now."
Jacqueline says (to Tsp), "I kind of agree."
DavidW says, "yeah, 1"
Jacqueline says, "Also, feels too much like 'Vic is gone, let's fill the void,' which seems just wrong."
Teaspoon says, "Hmm, yes."
CHOICE MADE: Agree to the interview.

"Great," he says, "I'll tell him we're on."
You slip back into the editing booth. Time's running out to get things right, and this might be your last chance to have some hands-on time with the film.
In the Editing Booth Story: Original: 40% Familiar: 60% Intellectual: 76% Accessible: 24% Intense: 70% Relaxing: 30% Quality: 60% Production: Acting: 69% Directing: 54% Craft: 67% Post-Production: Pacing: 54% Polish: 50%
Your ledger is in the red: 11% over budget . Your personal stress level is at 80%. Because of your level of skill, each edit will add a small amount of stress, and you're able to make three more changes to the edit this session.
CHOICES: - Improve pacing. - Improve polish. - Reedit to focus on a strong attribute or draw attention away from a weak one. - Consider a reshoot, for more drastic changes. - Trim, a more drastic way to improve pacing. - Done.
DavidW says, "'Greta, you haven't fully introduced us to your butler. How are his sandwiches?'"
Teaspoon says, "I wonder if we can romance Gene."
Teaspoon says, "BE interesting."
DavidW says, "ack. We didn't get any downtown."
Teaspoon asks, "Anyway, shall we make the film dumber twice more?"
Teaspoon says, "and then...dunno. Improve the acting."
DavidW says, "I suppose a reshoot is also a costly option."
Teaspoon asks, "But why would we want to do that?"
DavidW says, "I dunno. It's hard to understand this as numbers instead of actual footage."
Teaspoon asks, "Can we consider one without actually doing one?"
Jacqueline says, "Heh. I think it would have been asking a bit much for there to be footage, given all the possibilities this game affords."
Jacqueline asks (of Tsp), "Possibly. Want me to try?"
DavidW says, "Probably, since the considering will have to give us options on what to reshoot and why."
Teaspoon says, "sure"
CHOICE MADE: Consider a reshoot

Story: Original: 40% Familiar: 60% Intellectual: 76% Accessible: 24% Intense: 70% Relaxing: 30% Quality: 60% Production: Acting: 69% Directing: 54% Craft: 67% Post-Production: Pacing: 54% Polish: 50%
You can try to do some reshoots to improve some aspect of the film. This is expensive, but produces a larger change than can be achieved just through editing existing footage.
CHOICES: - Improve acting. - Improve directing. - Improve craft. - Increase intensity. - Reduce intensity. - Increase smarts. - Reduce smarts. - Increase novelty. - Reduce novelty.
Teaspoon says, "Ooh. That's powerful."
DavidW says, "we don't have extra money, though, do we? We spent it on effects."
Teaspoon says, "We could go even more over budget, but I'd rather not"
Teaspoon says, "not with another film in the works"
DavidW says, "yeah, let's try to play it relatively safe. (sigh)"
Teaspoon says, "I think we see if we can boost acting and craft into the 70s."
Jacqueline says, "You are presently 11% over budget."
DavidW says, "yes, boost acting and craft."
Jacqueline says, "I wish we had the option of chilling out to lower our stress a touch."
CHOICE MADE: None of the above.

CHOICE MADE: Reedit to boost acting.
DavidW says, "well, if we say 'done' in an edit session, does that mean we take a break or enidt editing"
Your stress rises from 80 to 81.

You alter the acting, from 69 to 72.
DavidW says, "well, if we say 'done' in an edit session, does that mean we take a break or end editing altogether"
Teaspoon says, "I think that means we end editing, which we don't want to do."
CHOICE MADE: Reedit to boost craft.
Teaspoon says, "unless you think we're too stressed to continue, which I guess could happen."
Your stress rises from 81 to 82.

You alter the craft, from 67 to 69.
Teaspoon asks, "One more for craft?"
DavidW says, "But we ought to be able to say whoa stop a bit to de-stress."
DavidW says, "yes"
Jacqueline asks, "So, one more reedit for craft?"
DavidW says, "yes please"
CHOICE MADE: Reedit to boost craft.

Your stress rises from 82 to 83.
You alter the craft, from 69 to 72.
You're just shutting down the Moviola when Livia knocks briskly on the door.
"Heard the Saturday thing's a wash," she says brightly. "Just wanted to tell you it's no trouble. It was just an idea, anyway. Good luck with the interview!" She turns to go.
DavidW asks (of Jacqueline), "Do you know how the game interprets the 'done' option?"
- "I was going to let you know…"
- "I'm sorry, Livia. Maybe another time?"
- "I'm sorry, Livia, but the film's got to take priority."
- Whew, that's one less obligation to worry about.
Teaspoon says, "4."
Jacqueline says (to DW), "I don't recall, sorry."
Teaspoon says, "This is a "stay-home-and-have-a-bubble-bath" night"
DavidW says, "Sorry Livia, maybe another time"
Teaspoon says, "All right, I guess that's more polite."
CHOICE MADE: "I'm sorry, Livia. Maybe another time?"

"It's really no trouble!" she says with a smile that seems strained.
Well, you think, as she walks off down the hall, it's too late to do anything about it now. Something about that thought makes you unaccountably depressed.
Maybe you should give up trying to get any more work done today. On the other hand (and you're realizing more and more there's always an other hand), if you give up now, aren't you throwing away everything you've been fighting for?
CHOICES: - Take the rest of the afternoon off. - Spend some time with my niece. - Keep working on the edit. There's still time to make a few more changes.
Teaspoon exclaims, "Oh, we could get in another editing session!"
Teaspoon says, "I'm very tempted."
Jacqueline says, "Or chill the hell out."
Jacqueline says, "But yeah."
Teaspoon says, "Also good."
Teaspoon says, "Hmm."
DavidW asks, "Shall we have Ada spit on us next?"
Teaspoon says, "No."
Jacqueline says, "haha"
Teaspoon says, "We have other fish to fry"
Ada exclaims (at DW&Tsp), "PTOOEY!"
DavidW says, "Other hamburgers to flip."
Teaspoon says, "Mmm, fried fish."
DavidW asks, "breaded or battered or in oil?"
Teaspoon says, "I like mine battered"
Teaspoon says, "with chips"
DavidW says, "well, it's all good."
DavidW says, "I like paprika, garlic, and salt on my chips."
Teaspoon says, "That's a combination I'll have to try."
Jacqueline asks, "I am all about fried fish, of course, but what choice would you like to make?"
DavidW says, "I think 1, take the rest of the afternoon off."
Teaspoon says, "All right."
DavidW says, "We need to be well rested before we're arrested."
CHOICE MADE: Take the rest of the afternoon off.

Take the rest of the afternoon off.
You button things up quick as you can and take a long drive east, through the orange groves and little towns of the Inland Empire, driving up and down evenly squared-off roads, letting the wind blow through your hair. It takes hours, but your whirling mind does start to slow down in the end.
By the time you get back to the city, the sun's long set, and though you feel calmer, you're nowhere near ready for bed. You decide to take a long walk to help clear your head. It might not be the safest idea, but your feet steer you clear of streetlights and guide you, roach-like, toward the dark. You find yourself wandering the paths of Griffith Park, setting an aggressive pace but no destination, hoping to force the blood from your worrying head into complaining muscles, let their problems dominate, for once.
After hours, a quaver in your calves brings you back to the present. You feel how far you've pushed yourself and are tired at last.
Spotting a park bench under a nearby streetlight, you shift course, thinking to take a breather before heading toward home. But a few paces away, a pile of what you thought was trash and old newspapers shifts, and a grubby face emerges along with a whiff of alcohol and unwashed skin. Stopping mid-stride, you're about to turn away when you recognize the face under the scraggly beard.
It's that screenwriter from Paramount who wrote The Vanishing Ones. One of the first to be put on the new blacklist. The one you and Fish saw eating alone at Canter's Deli, what feels like a lifetime ago.
"Spare a dime, lady?" he asks, and then with a squint, he recognizes you, too. "Flowers Floyd?" he says, sitting up straighter and rubbing his eyes. He looks down at himself, makes a hopeless attempt to brush himself free of newspapers with a trembling hand.
"What happened to you?" you say despite yourself, unable to think of better words.
He shrugs, unoffended. "Couldn't get work. Lost my friends, lost my apartment, got sick and couldn't even lift crates. Now…" he trails off, surveying his tiny kingdom of newspapers, blankets and empty bottles. "Got nothing left," he finishes.
His eyes lift back up to yours. "You helped me out once," he says, grabbing your arm with an unsteady hand. "Please, Flowers, you got to help me again. Please."
CHOICES: - "You can stay with me till you get back on your feet." - "Look, here's some money. It's all I can do." - "You have the number of a friend I could telephone for you?" - "I can't help you. But I'll stay and talk." - "I'm sorry. I can't help you." - "Let go of me!"
Teaspoon says, "Okay, I'm sympathetic in a general way, but this is also a guy who's manhandling us while we're alone in a lonely park, and I don't like that."
DavidW says, "He wasn't stalking us."
DavidW says, "1"
Teaspoon says, "2"
DavidW says, "The booze part bothers me a lot, I admit."
Jacqueline says, "Hm. Having a known (albeit supposed) red staying with us might make the game interesting."
DavidW says, "But this could be Fish in a few months."
Jacqueline says, "Yup"
Teaspoon says, "But we know Fish. We don't, actually, know anything about this man."
DavidW says, "We know some stuff about him."
DavidW says, "We were hoping he'd write our script for us, way back when."
Teaspoon says, "I suppose we can *know* that he's safe because this is a game and he's evidently the wronged party, but this is not the kind of thing that strikes me as very safe in real life."
DavidW says, "No option is completely safe."
DavidW says, "If he assaults us or smashes up our home, we evict him. But give him a chance."
Teaspoon says, "Oh well. It's easier to be virtuous in a game."
Teaspoon says, "1"
DavidW says, "1"
CHOICE MADE: "You can stay with me till you get back on your feet."

You end up sitting on the bench for a long time, talking under stars twinkling feebly through the urban glow. About how this happened. About what's happening to America, to Hollywood. About futures, and the losing and finding of them.
When exhaustion threatens to topple you, a glow creeping up the eastern sky, you again offer the sofa in your apartment, and he gratefully accepts. Rising blearily to your feet, you lead him toward home.
As you stagger out of the park onto the street, the first rays of sun are just peeking over the hills. The city rumbles with presumptuous morning bustle, not understanding that all you want, at last, is your bed and sleep.
You stop at a newsstand to buy a paper, along with some odds and ends for your new houseguest. The white-haired gent behind the counter looks askance as you hand him some change. You can't look that awful after one night without sleep, can you? It's not till half a block later that you glance down at the front page and see your picture on it: your stock head shot, smiling, utterly oblivious to the headline stamped above:
Creed Calls Floyd To Testify Before Congress About Studio McStudioface, Hollywood Subversives
Future Of Troubled Studio In Doubt
Hearing Begins Next Week
Teaspoon says, "Our film is so doomed."

Chapter Eleven
"Hello, operator?" you say, jamming the switch hook up and down. "Are you there?"
"Washington 239," a smooth voice says. "Who are you trying to reach, ma'am?"
"Damn it, I was just talking to Los Angeles. Hollywood 1673. This is the third time we've been cut off."
"Just a moment," the voice says, again. After an interminable series of buzzes, clicks, and hums, you're relieved to hear Eugene's anxious voice again: "Hello? Flowers?"
"Finally," you say. "Look, we can't seem to get a good connection, and I'm running out of dimes. Let's keep it short. What were you saying about the ad campaign?"
"Right," Eugene says, and you hear the faint, scratchy sound of him shuffling through notes, three thousand miles away. "We're heading into the final stretch for promotion on Outcast Odyssey. We have a decent amount of budget left for marketing. Where should we focus promotion efforts?"
CHOICES: - Show a trailer on television, to reach the youth market. - Sell the story on the radio, to reach more traditional folks. - Take out full-page newspaper ads, to reach the smart set. - Put up billboards in all the big cities, to get broad awareness.
Teaspoon says, "Newspaper ads? That's still what our film's good for."
DavidW says, "1 or 3, I guess."
DavidW says, "Our film's still intellectual; might as well ride that train."
Teaspoon says, "3 it is then"
Jacqueline says, "One sec."
Jacqueline says, "Back"
CHOICE MADE: Take out full-page newspaper ads, to reach the smart set.

"Got it, chief. We'll get those ads running right away. Look, before we get cut off again... how are you feeling?"
You sigh. "I've had to abandon my film in its final weeks to fly to the other end of the country to testify before a congressional committee that hates my guts. I lost Vic Martinez, Livia Lane won't speak to me, it's eleven o'clock the night before my Capitol Hill dog and pony show and all I want to do is get to my hotel room and sleep. How do you think I'm feeling?"
There's a long enough pause that your hand moves toward the telephone, assuming you've been cut off again, but Gene blurts out: "I'm sorry, Flowers. Everyone back home's rooting for you. I hope you know that."
"I do," you say wearily. "Now, Eugene, if that's all…"
He hesitates. "There's one more thing."
"At the bottom of your luggage," he continues, speaking quietly, "there's a manila envelope. It contains a certain photograph that, er, came into my possession a few days ago. Thought it might come in handy. Good luck."
"Photograph? What photograph?" But the line's hissing and buzzing now. Whether your assistant hung up or the connection's been cut yet again is a mystery only the ladies at Washington 239 could solve.
Curious, you put down the receiver and take the rickety elevator up to your room. Your luggage lies untouched on the bed. Riffling through changes of clothes and scripts to read, sure enough, you find an unfamiliar envelope. You tear it open and upend it. A single black and white photo tumbles out, and once you realize what it's showing, you sit down heavily on the hotel bed.
The figure on the right is Pavel Rucinski, disgraced leader of the Hollywood Propaganda League. He's easy to recognize, since his picture's been in the paper even more than yours lately. An immigrant to Hollywood who worked on several films sympathetic to Communism before the blacklist kicked in, Creed's committee say he's now gone underground, colluding in secret with studios to insert propaganda into their pictures.
Unlike the mug shots in the paper, this photo shows him smiling, hand on the shoulder of his companion. It's the identity of this second person that makes your knees go wobbly. You don't know where Eugene got this picture, but it's a hell of a trump card to bring into your testimony tomorrow. A hell of a trump card.
You push your way up the Capitol steps the next morning, a rabble of sweaty photographers and reporters crowding around you and your police escort. These past few months Congress has been more filled with movie stars than Canter's Deli, and while you're not as famous as most, apparently the tinge of scandal means you'll still sell papers.
For this inauspicious occasion, you decided to wear:
Iria arrives, full of funk, but no fun.
- My usual getup.
- Something more formal.
- Something unconventional.
- A protest button.
- An American flag pin.
Teaspoon says, "Formal."
vimes says, "given how the choices are listed, it seems to me like the button/pin options are "and nothing else". which probably isn't the intention."
Jacqueline says, "Hee"
Teaspoon says, "*you stroll into the hearing, clad in your birthday suit and a flag pin in your hair*"
Jacqueline says, "I guess we'd have to get our nipple pierced."
Jacqueline says, "Oh, or our hair. That's definitely less painful."
DavidW says, "1 usual getup"
Jacqueline asks, "I'm breaking the tie?"
Teaspoon says, "sure"
DavidW asks (of Teaspoon), "What did you vote for?"
CHOICE MADE: Something more formal.

You keep a thin smile on your face, hoping you'll at least look respectful in the pictures. Brushing off the reporters' questions, you head inside.
You're escorted to the jam-packed hearing room, where a panel of six white-haired congressmen sit behind an imposing elevated table with Creed at its center. They're all staring down at the small, lonely spot where, you realize, you're meant to sit and testify.
"Thank you for being here today, Miss Floyd," Creed says as you take your seat, and the general murmur dies down. "The other committee members and myself appreciate your cooperation with this investigation. I will now swear in the witness."
You place your hand on the official Bible. "Do you solemnly swear the testimony you shall give this committee will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?"
Though it's a question, it's not a choice. Those who refuse to swear in are held in contempt of court and charged with impeding a congressional investigation, sometimes even treason. Once you're sworn in you can plead the Fifth if you like, but for now, you can only say:
"I'll remind the witness," Creed says pleasantly, "that the penalty for perjury is a minimum of one year in prison, with the potential for further charges if this committee is able to demonstrate your involvement in any un-American activities. I'm sure she'll bear this in mind during the course of her testimony today."
You nod, mind whirling. What you say today will affect not only your own fate, but also that of your film, your studio, your staff, and your friends. You try to keep your heartbeat under control, stop the sweat from beading on your forehead. A few flashbulbs snap; chairs squeak. It's going to be one hell of a show.
You try to gauge the mood of the committee, who've no doubt pored over your file thoroughly, studied your past through a microscope. Interesting, you note with detachment. The members of the committee look down at you with angry suspicion. You mop nervous sweat from your brow with shaking hands.
Creed clears his throat, looks down at his notes for a moment, then looks up with a polite smile, hands folded before him. "Miss Floyd, you are the founder and principal creative force behind the motion picture studio Studio McStudioface, are you not?"
CHOICES: - "Pardon me, sir, but I prefer to be addressed as 'chief.'" - "Don't you already know the answer to that?" (Snarky) - "Yes, I am." (Straightforward)
Teaspoon says, "I wanted formality."
Teaspoon says, "I like the the game remembers we like being Chief."
Teaspoon says, "3. We want to stay cool until we drop the picture on everyone."
DavidW says, "3"
CHOICE MADE: "Yes, I am." (Straightforward)

The members of the committee look down at you with angry suspicion. You mop nervous sweat from your brow with shaking hands.
"Thank you," he says. "And would you say Studio McStudioface represents a typical independent movie studio?"
CHOICES: - "Absolutely, sir." - "I suppose so, yes." - "In some aspects, perhaps, but not in others." - "Not at all, sir. We're not like anybody else."
Teaspoon says, "uh, no, don't think any typical studio would consider musical-sf-picture a good start"
Teaspoon asks, "3?"
DavidW says, "'typical independent' is kinda an oxymoron."
DavidW says, "I guess 2"
Jacqueline says, "Hm. I'm the tie breaker again."
Teaspoon says, "I'll go with 2"
Jacqueline says, "State your cases for your choices."
Jacqueline says, "Oh, or we can just go with 2, but I am curious as to the reasoning of each."
Jacqueline says, "I mean, obviously he's trying to set up a trap."
Jacqueline asks, "Which response is better at keeping us out of said trap?"
Teaspoon says, "I was thinking that if we said 3, and they said "how are you different" we could talk a bit about the movie. Which is good advertising."
Jacqueline says, "YAY"
Jacqueline says, "hahaha That is awesome. If we're going to go down, might as well get as much press as possible."
DavidW says, "Well, as I said, the question is almost meaningless. All independents are atypical by definition. But in the context he means, it more or less is typical, so shrugging agreement"
Jacqueline asks, "So, are you all still committed to 2?"
Teaspoon says, "assuming that this is in fact a meaningful choice at all. It may not be."
DavidW says, "I do agree that choosing 3 would lead to a how are we different question."
DavidW says, "And I don't know the answer to how are we different, to be honest."
Jacqueline says (to DW), "Well, for starters, we're FABULOUS"
Teaspoon says, "we're an INTELLECTUAL studio, making clever fillms"
Jacqueline says, "We make campy sci-fi pirate musicals for a high-brow market, which is to say niche."
DavidW says, "We're the only studio called Studio McStudioface probably isn't of real significance to this body of inquisitors."
Jacqueline says, "Gods, when I put it like that it sounds like we're about to go bankrupt."
Jacqueline asks, "So... 2?"
Teaspoon says, "I think we've come round to 2"
DavidW says, "I've quite forgotten the options."
CHOICE MADE: "I suppose so, yes."
Jacqueline says, "Oh, sorry, I went with it based on the fact that you'd always been saying the second one, DW."
Creed addresses the rest of the committee, but he's clearly speaking to the audience, both those here and those tuned in to the radio and television broadcasts carrying his words around the nation. "This investigation has shown time and time again that these so-called independent studios are a rich breeding ground for subversives and Communist agents. The self-styled free thinkers and armchair radicals in these studios enjoy feeling as if they're bucking the system, thumbing their nose at the establishment. This unfortunate attitude makes them susceptible to the highly trained agents hoping to turn the Hollywood dream machine into a factory for Red propaganda. Whether willing collaborators or unwitting dupes, the result is the same: the corruption of wholesome American entertainment into a tool of the enemy. Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to take a few moments to establish the kind of behavior that occurs at a 'typical' indie studio."

The next hour is exhausting. Creed marches through a laundry list of improprieties, real and imagined, questioning your personal life, your professional accomplishments, and everything in between. Did you work your way up in the industry honestly, or by taking advantage of your male colleagues? Did you willfully ignore suggestions to cull subversive elements from your film? Have you frequently and repeatedly endangered the life of a young girl by allowing her to wander a dangerous film set filled with fire hazards? Isn't the science fiction genre often use to hide perverse ideologies in a seemingly innocuous wrapper, ideal for brainwashing its youthful audience? Isn't your film filled with titillating, overtly sexual images designed to appeal to susceptible youth and expose them to your screenplay's dangerous ideas? Did you harass a small dog at a private citizen's home? The questions veer from the merely ridiculous to the downright insulting.
Teaspoon says, "most of those are actually true though"
Jacqueline says, "I love the inclusion of the bit about harassing a small dog at a private citizen's home."
Teaspoon says, "Those Goldwyns"
- Answer all the questions truthfully. There's nothing to hide.
- Refuse to answer any personal questions. It's none of their business.
- Try to stonewall the proceedings by pretending to cooperate while revealing as little as possible. This is nothing but a circus.
- Refuse to answer any questions at all, pleading my Fifth Amendment rights.
DavidW says, "well, Creed's under oath too, I suppose."
Jacqueline says (to DW), "I doubt it."
Teaspoon says, "If we plead the movie's sunk."
Jacqueline says, "He's the one leading this. The judge/jury/executioner doesn't get sworn in."
DavidW says, "I opt for truth."
Teaspoon says, "All right."
DavidW says, "We really haven't done anything wrong."
CHOICE MADE: Answer all the questions truthfully.

You answer each question as best you can, even some of the uglier ones, clarifying whenever you're allowed to speak long enough to do so. But you're so stressed that some of your answers seem contradictory or evasive, despite your best efforts, and you don't make as many friends on the committee as you might have if you'd been more calm and collected.
The members of the committee look down at you with angry suspicion. You mop nervous sweat from your brow with shaking hands.
Finally, the questioning pauses while Creed consults with the other committee members. You take a sip of water to wet your parched throat, and wipe the sweat off your brow. The heat is stifling, which you imagine is no accident.
Creed turns forward again. "Just a few more questions, Miss Floyd. Would the bailiff please show the photo marked Exhibit 7 to the witness?"
The officer hands you a black and white photo, and your heart skips a beat. It's a different picture, but the same face in the photo from your luggage, the one that's right now burning a hole in your pocket.
"This is Pavel Rucinski, a Soviet agent, professional agitator, and welcome guest of the Red Chinese while American soldiers were giving their lives in the Korean war. Have you ever seen this gentleman before or had any interactions with him?"
You certainly have never seen him in person, so you have no trouble answering: "No, sir, I have not."
Creed leans forward in his seat. "Miss Floyd. Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Communist Party?"
You've thought long and hard about this question: whether to lie or tell the truth, whether to volunteer information or give one-word answers, whether to answer at all. You say:
CHOICES: - "Absolutely not." - "No, sir, I am not." - "I attended some meetings in college, but no, I've never been a Party member." - "I used to be a Party member, but am not at present." - "Yes, I am a Party member." - "My political leanings are not any business of this committee." - "No, sir. As a Hollywood big shot, I have it on good authority that the Commies throw lousy parties."
Teaspoon asks, "um, what IS the truth?"
DavidW says, "No, sir, I am not."
Teaspoon says, "I like the last one, but will accept 2"
Jacqueline says, "I think the truth is whatever we want it to be."
Jacqueline says, "Kind of like how we got to choose who was holding sammiches outside the editing room door after already knowing there was someone there."
DavidW says, "Just like our munitions work in the war."
Teaspoon says, "ah"
CHOICE MADE: "No, sir, I am not."

"And during the time you have been in Hollywood," he continues, "have you had any dealings, professionally or personally, with Communists?"
"I work with people of all political persuasions," you say truthfully.
"I see," Creed continues. "And have you been encouraged by any of these friends of yours to use your position as a studio head to disseminate Red propaganda? Are you in fact actively involved in this corruption as we speak?"
"Of course not," you say.
"I believe you are, Miss Floyd," Creed says, razor-sharp eyes locked with yours. "I believe you're part of a vast network within Hollywood, encompassing both the studio system and the independents, that is trying to destroy this country by filling our motion pictures with Red propaganda." His eyes flick up to the audience of the packed hearing room behind you. "But it's the independents, friends, who are the real danger."
He folds his hands, a self-satisfied smirk on his face. "Think for a moment. Who are these people, these 'independents?' Those too talentless or antisocial to make it with real picture studios. They are losers, gentlemen, by definition. They are immigrants, perverts, radicals. They style themselves trendsetters, makers of public opinion. These would-be Hollywood visionaries think they can tell Americans what movies are. But their product can hardly be called motion pictures at all." He leans forward, turning his relentless gaze back on you. "Your cardboard sets, your washed-up actors, your shoddy storylines can't stand up to A-pictures from legitimate studios. And while you independents have impeded our investigation at every turn, the real studios have cooperated with us, doing their duty and upholding the blacklist."
He leans back. "Americans don't want your politics or your agenda in their movies. But more importantly, the government does not want your anti-American messages disseminated. These films are a cancer on this country. They must and will be stopped."
CHOICES: - I'm not going to sit here and take this. Speak up for myself. - Politely raise an objection to this characterization. - Stay quiet. They'll just shout me down, whatever I say.
Teaspoon says, "We're not good actors. He's a good actor. 2 or 3"
DavidW says, "2"
CHOICE MADE: Politely raise an objection to this characterization.

Creed gives you about a sentence and a half before banging his gavel impatiently. "Thank you, Miss Floyd. When we're interested in further testimony from you, you can be sure we'll ask for it."
"The committee would now like to demonstrate that Miss Floyd's sworn testimony under oath here today is nothing but a plain and rotten lie. We would like to call Mr. Fish Grundy to the stand."
Your heart skips a beat as you turn in your chair, along with every witness in the gallery.
Walking slowly up the aisle in a faded brown suit is Fish. He stares straight ahead, not meeting anyone's eyes, yours least of all, though you're desperate to catch his glance—if only to see if you still recognize what's behind it.
Fish sits at a podium between you and the committee, facing the audience, meaning he has to do an awkward twist to see his questioners. The bailiff swears him in and he stays there immobile, sweltering in the heat.
"Mr. Grundy," Creed opens pleasantly, "good of you to join us once again. When you last were summoned before this committee you were uncooperative and refused to answer our questions. I believe you have indicated a willingness to be more forthcoming on this occasion, is that correct?"
Fish turns over his shoulder, mumbling something, but Creed gives him an exaggerated smile, like an anglerfish might give to a lost, lonely minnow. "Mr. Grundy, if you'd just speak into that microphone, please, perhaps we'd be able to make you out a little better."
Fish turns back toward the crowd, clears his throat, and leans forward. "Yes, sir, I'll answer your questions," he says, the microphone making his voice too loud and weirdly wrong. You hadn't realized how much joy was woven into that voice until it had all been leached out.
Teaspoon says, "sigh"
"This committee appreciates your cooperation," Creed says, shuffling some papers. "How long have you known the woman before you, Miss Floyd?"

Fish carefully avoids looking in your direction. "Quite some time, sir," he says. "'Bout ten years, give or take."
"And are you a member of the Communist Party, Mr. Grundy?"
Fish looks straight ahead. "Until recently sir, yes, I was."
A slight muttering echoes around the hearing room. While Fish never revealed any political leanings to you, you can't say you're all that surprised. You don't build a career around playing a slave without giving some thought to the oppression of workers.
"And Mr. Grundy, as you know, this committee has learned that you were recently approached by Pavel Rucinski on a covert mission to insert Communist propaganda into mainstream Hollywood films. You had several meetings with him about this mission. Is that correct?"
Fish looks over his shoulder, an almost desperate look in his eyes: Creed merely indicates the microphone, impatiently. Fish turns back around, lips pressed together, then bends into the microphone, and says, "Yes, sir. That is correct."
Now the room erupts in shocked mutters. You sit back in your chair, face ashen. Why's Grundy doing this? Did they threaten him with something?
Unless…could he be telling the truth?
And does it matter, if he is?
Teaspoon says, "I expect he is."
- Of course it matters.
- I'm not sure.
- Not to me.
DavidW says, "1"
Teaspoon asks, "why 1?"
DavidW asks, "Well, I know this is a witch hunt, but, y'know, if he actually *is* a witch... well, doesn't that change things a bit?"
Teaspoon says, "Well, the game's given us enough information to make it obvious beforehand that he was a communist, but we kept being friends with him."
Teaspoon says, "It's not like this should be a surprise."
DavidW says, "It wasn't obvious to me."
Teaspoon says, "oh."
DavidW says, "For all I knew, he was Jewish."
DavidW says, "Or Romani. Or some other minority."
Jacqueline asks (of Tsp), "So are you leaning more toward 3?"
Jacqueline says, "It's not like this is a thing you're saying out loud."
Teaspoon says, "I like 3, because it's consistent with how we've treated him."
Jacqueline says, "Well, if I'm the one breaking the tie, I like the reasoning behind 3."
DavidW says, "Like, I don't know what Fish's story is here. I don't want to judge him without enough info. There may be extenuating circumstances or Creed's twisting the truth into really ugly shapes."
Jacqueline asks, "Well, that jives with the third choice, doesn't it?"
DavidW says, "No. It jives with 1."
DavidW says, "Because if he's been sabotaging things, that's important to know."
Jacqueline says, "It jives with 1 if, faced with more info, you are willing to judge."
Teaspoon says, "Well, what he's being accused of is putting propaganda into movies. Which, to be fair, he has not done to the horrifying monstrosity film that we ended up with."
Jacqueline says, "heh"
Jacqueline says, "And he tried to pitch us a film, and we declined."
DavidW says, "As far as I know, he didn't succeed in altering our film. I don't even know if he tried."
Jacqueline says, "Right"
Jacqueline says, "And he's been our friend a really long time."
Jacqueline says, "And he's not exactly hidden how he feels about all of this."
DavidW says, "Yes. Which is another reason to hear more from him."
Jacqueline says, "And we never wrote him off."
Jacqueline says (to DW), "My point is that it doesn't matter if he's a communist or not, because he's our friend."
Jacqueline says, "Saying #1 to me implies that we'd toss our friendship out the window if we learned that he's a red."
DavidW says, "It doesn't matter if he's _communist_ but it does matter if he's a sabateur."
Teaspoon says, "Right."
Jacqueline asks (of Tsp), "Right which?"
DavidW says, "I don't see 1 as ending our friendship at all."
Teaspoon says, "It's the least affirmitive one on the list."
Jacqueline says, "Hm. I know you all aren't really leaning toward this choice, but given that you're divided and I feel like either way I go I'm making a serious error, perhaps we should admit that we're not sure (i.e. choice 2)."
DavidW says, "Look, I'm not changing my mind. I vote 1."
Jacqueline asks, "Tsp?"
Teaspoon says, "2."
DavidW says, "Collectively, we're not sure."
Jacqueline says, "Yeah."
Jacqueline says, "That's my reasoning for 2."
Teaspoon says, "That's my logic for agreeing with 2."
Jacqueline says, "It's the response that doesn't actively screw either of your desires."
DavidW says, "fine, do 2 for now"
CHOICE MADE: We don't know.

Creed bangs the gavel repeatedly, annoyed. As the muttering dies down, he says, "I believe Mr. Grundy has a statement he would like to read at this time."
Fish fumbles with a creased paper pulled from his suit jacket, fingers trembling. "Yes, sir," he says, clearing his throat. "'At the time of my meeting with Mr. Rucinski, I had been taken in by the Communist propaganda machine." He looks up, eyes scanning the room nervously. "I…I used to think there wasn't no harm in putting a message into pictures, if it was a good one. Thought maybe it was a way to make things better for certain folks. But I've come to realize that I…" He frowns and looks down at the paper again. "I…was misled. My ideals were used against me, to make me a…a dupe, who unwittingly advanced the agenda of the Communist appa…apparatus."
Fish continues to read, in a dull, expressionless tone. When he finishes, he slips off his reading glasses and lets the page fall to the table, staring down at it listlessly. The hearing room is silent.
Iria asks, "What are you discussing?"

"Thank you, Mr. Grundy," Creed says. "We have just a few more questions for you. To your knowledge, is Miss Floyd a member of the Communist party?"
Fish looks up quickly. "No, sir, not to my knowledge, no."
"And, to your knowledge, has Miss Floyd upheld the blacklist?"
"To my knowledge, sir, yes, she has."
"I would like at this time to offer into the record a photograph marked Exhibit 9," Creed says smoothly, "taken in Griffith Park a few nights ago. The quality is not up to Hollywood standards, I'm afraid, but I think it's clear the figure on the right is Miss Floyd. The spring-colored scarves," he smiles, "are quite distinctive. Mr. Grundy, would you identify the figure on the left for us, please?"
"It's…pretty blurry," Fish says, hands shaking. "I'm not sure if I…"
Creed leans forward. "Mr. Grundy," he says, "you might recall our discussion earlier, where I mentioned this committee would be open to reconsidering your position on the blacklist in light of any useful information you could provide to our investigation. So far today, Mr. Grundy, you have not been particularly useful. Please look again, and do try your best to identify this individual for us, won't you?"
Fish's glance at last strays to yours, as if he can no longer help himself. The look behind his eyes is one of utter helplessness.
Teaspoon says, "our friend's a communist in 50s Hollywood. We had to decide our reaction."
DavidW says, "That was written for him."
Teaspoon says, "quite"

He looks back at the photo.

"I believe," he says slowly, "that is, I'm pretty certain it's, uh…Don Ferrel."
"Mr. Donald Ferrel," Creed says, "a former screenwriter and Communist agent trained to specialize in youth recruitment activities, now blacklisted. Please make it part of the record that this photograph records Mr. Ferrel and Miss Floyd having a secret late-night meeting in Griffith Park. Mr. Grundy, to your knowledge, are Miss Floyd and Mr. Ferrel associates of any kind?"
"Well," Fish says, "I mean, they had lunch at the same diner once, but that hardly—"
"In fact, the two are much more than lunching companions, Mr. Grundy," Creed says. "According to our information, Mr. Ferrel is actually currently residing with Miss Floyd at her home in Hollywood.
"Thank you, Mr. Grundy, that will be all," Creed says. Voices rise to a mutter, but this time he lets them run their course with a smug smile, poorly disguised as a look of concern. "Your cooperation here today will be noted when we review your case. You may step away from the stand."
Fish collects his hat and pauses for a moment, looking down at it, then walks slowly down the aisle and out of the room.
"Gentlemen," Creed says, "let's take a short recess. When we return, I think we'll be able to conclude this hearing in very short order." He bangs the gavel briskly.
DavidW says (to Iria), "We're playing a game. I don't remember the title."
Teaspoon says, "Hollywood Visionary"
Doug says, "by Aaron Reed"
Jacqueline says (to Iria), "The text is being copied and pasted on #Floyd"
Jacqueline says, "I'm the one doing the C&P, which is why we're not using FLoyd."

The bank of phones in the hall is packed with reporters phoning in stories to radio stations and news offices around the country. "Hollywood Has-Been Spills on Commie Conspiracy," you hear one of them dictate. You push angrily through the cluster of journalists jostling for your attention and slip through a back entrance, hoping for a moment alone.
Teaspoon says, "Appreciate the effort, by the way."
But standing there on the back step is Fish. You both stare at each other for a startled moment that curdles into something unfamiliar and unsettling.
Doug says, "Jacqueline, Robot Queen"

"I didn't figure you'd be the one to stab me in the back, Grundy."
"Is it true? You've been working for the Communists?"
"I don't have anything to say to you."
"I guess we both got hung out to dry."
Don't say anything.
Jacqueline says (to Doug), "RAR"
Doug says, "no that's a Ryan Veeder game"
Teaspoon says, "So, now we've played out the scene..."
Jacqueline says, "Here's your chance for more info, DW."
DavidW says, "as 'is it true?'"
DavidW says, "er ask"
Teaspoon says, "Sure, let's ask"
CHOICE MADE: "Is it true? You've been working for the Communists?"

He fumbles suddenly in his pocket for something, as if not hearing you, then finds a wallet-sized photo, edges smeared, and thrusts it into your hands.
"My wife, Albertine," he says, touching a finger to a gray-haired woman with braided hair, smiling, head laid on a bed of pillows. "You don't know her. Most folks don't. She's not a very social animal." He takes a breath. "Fact, she can't take care of herself at all without me.
"Flowers, I don't expect you to understand. But they told me they'd take me off the blacklist if I…if I just told the truth. That was all they wanted me to do. Tell the truth. And that's what I did."
He lifts the photo gently out of your hands, tucks it back in his pocket. "Not everyone gets to make choices. You ought to have learned that by now. Most of us can only walk the path that's given us. Walk it straight to the horizon."
He turns and walks away, hands in his pockets, looking for the first time like an old man.
Someday you'll know what you should have said, what you should have called out before he turned the corner:
CHOICES: - "Safe travels, old friend." [Forgive him.] - "You were better than this once, Grundy. Guess those days are over." [Don't.]
Teaspoon says, "That was a nice piece of prose."
DavidW says, "1"
Teaspoon says, "1"
CHOICE MADE: Forgive him.

Ten minutes later, you're in your solitary chair again, and Creed is banging the gavel impatiently.
"We have one more witness, gentlemen, and then I think we can wrap this hearing up. The committee would like to call Mr. Lloyd Croghan to the stand."
You'd think your reaction would be despair, but instead all you feel is a surge of hot anger. You stay facing forward, making an effort to unclench your fists, as Croghan walks up the aisle to sit in the elevated chair.
There he is. The man who burned down your studio. He should be the one being interrogated, being threatened with prison. And instead he's sitting there, suit as immaculate as ever, smirking. About to cast judgment on you, once again.
Teaspoon says, "Oh boy"

Creed greets him pleasantly. "Thanks for being here, Lloyd," he says. "I know you're an extremely busy man." Croghan concedes this with the thinnest of smiles. Creed reshuffles a few papers and considers them before speaking.
"Miss Floyd was an employee of yours for nearly ten years, is that correct?"
"Yes, Jon, that's accurate."
"During her employ, did you ever see her associating with Communists or participating in Communist Party events?"
"I did not." A small smile. "Although I'm not aware of the daily activities of the vast majority of my employees; more's the pity."
Hilarious, Lloyd.
DavidW says, "yeah, I was wondering when Croghan would show up. We inexplicably ignored him after the fire."
Teaspoon says, "we had no proof on someone with much more money and lawyers"

Creed chuckles. "No, I suppose not. Let me ask this, however. During the time of her employ, although she produced a number of pictures for your studio, it's true that she was never able to get a project of her own off the ground, despite many attempts to do so, is that right?"
"That's correct," Creed says.
"Mr. Croghan, I find it odd that an employee of such obviously limited talent, one with no track record of success, was able shortly after leaving the watchful eye of your studio to suddenly raise enough funding to start her own production company." Creed shakes his head in mock confusion. "There must be some explanation for this unlikely investment. Perhaps it came from a group that wanted nothing more than to find someone impressionable like Miss Floyd, someone they could control and manipulate." Creed leans forward. "You're one of the most senior and respected figures in your industry, Mr. Croghan, and you worked with Miss Floyd for years, so I put the question to you: wouldn't you say that collusion with a group like Mr. Rucinski's is the only possible explanation for Miss Floyd's meteoric rise to an undeserved fame?"
Croghan leans forward into the microphone and clears his throat. "No, Mr. Creed. I would not."
DavidW says, "We. Did. Nothing."
Teaspoon asks, "What could we do?"
DavidW says, "We were given no options at all regarding him."
Teaspoon says, "Right. Because I don't think there would have been any."

Whispers rise from the gallery and Creed, taken aback, opens his mouth to respond, but Croghan continues talking. "When Flowers was a member of my staff, I found her hotheaded, poor at taking direction from others, and difficult to work with. We did not see eye to eye. But she was not incompetent, nor was she 'impressionable.'" He smiles just a little. "In fact, I daresay she might be one of the most talented people I've ever employed."
Nervous laughter erupts through the room. Creed, flustered, gives the gavel a brisk bang. "Thank you, Mr. Croghan, that will be all."
Lloyd nods, unfolds his hands, and takes his leave of the stand, giving you a nod as he passes by that you're utterly unsure what to do with.
Why didn't he take this chance to destroy you once and for all? Isn't that what he wants? What he's always wanted?
DavidW says, "I think there were."
- The photo in my pocket...?
- No. I don't want to think about that yet.
Jacqueline says, "Ther's no more text, DW."
Jacqueline says, "I'm pasting at the same pace I have all along, fwiw."
DavidW says, "ok, I've caught up."
Jacqueline says, "I'm out to paste this at an acceptable pace. ALl you have to do is ask. Shouting isn't required."
Teaspoon says, "So. I have a pretty good idea who's in that photo."
DavidW says, "Shame the game decided to be coy about who the 2nd person in the photo is."
Jacqueline says, "I'm guessing that it's Creed."
Teaspoon says, "I'd agree."
DavidW says, "I'm guessing it hasn't been decided on yet."
Jacqueline says (to DW), "Yeah, that's also a possibility, given what we've seen."
Iria asks (of Jacqueline), "This is a new one on me?"
DavidW says, "and I'm probably just getting too angry to continue today. We should stop soon or let me go."
Jacqueline asks (of DW), "Need a breather?"
DavidW says, "Something. I dunno. I hate having to justify my decisions all the time."
DavidW says, "I don't have to deal with that in parser games."
Jacqueline says, "Well, just wanted to know what you were thinking to figure out the best way to break a tie, that's all."
Jacqueline says, "It wasn't my intent to make you feel like you were on the spot."
DavidW says, "I don't even know what part of the narrative you're now referring to."
Jacqueline says, "I was talking about that (to my mind, very interesting) conversation about whether or not it matters if our friend's a communist and whether or not he's been trying to work propaganda into films."
Jacqueline says, "At any rate, we're at a choice that is just about whether or not to reveal the photograph we have."
Teaspoon says, "I think we reveal it and save our studio."
DavidW asks, "So, you're that sure that'll work?"
Teaspoon says, "It's the shape of the narrative."
Jacqueline says, "I think we're kind of clse to the end of the game, fwiw."
DavidW asks, "No chance someone tried to frame Croghan?"
Teaspoon says, "Entirely possible, but again, it'll save our studio."
Teaspoon says, "I'm seeing the choices as "use the McGuffin" or "dither", and don't see that dithering will do us any godo."
Jacqueline says (to DW), "Hm, that's a good point, DW, but I would hope the game would tell us that's who's in the photo if it's Croghan, given that he just backed us up. Regardless of whether or not he tried to burn down the studio, he had a chance to truly ruin us just now and did not."
DavidW asks, "I don't even know what the narrative is if Croghan's in the photo. Are we trying to suggest to Creed that Croghan was a communist dupe and he burned down our studio because we were a *threat* to communist aims?"
Teaspoon says, "No idea."
DavidW asks, "And is it wise to throw meat to Creed this way, whether or not Croghan is guilty?"
Teaspoon says, "Well, we can pick option 2 and hear a little more."
DavidW says, "I think if we pick option 2, the photo won't be about Creed anymore, but maybe Livia. Or our sister."
DavidW says, "er s/Creed/Croghan/"
Teaspoon says, "Nobody would care about a photo of our sister with a communist though"
Teaspoon says, "She's a private citizen with no connection to movies"
DavidW says, "I really don't know at this point."
Jacqueline asks, "So, pulse check: where are you two leaning?"
Teaspoon says, "I still favour 1"
DavidW says, "I don't like it much. We could be destroying a lot of careers just to 'save' ourselves."
DavidW says, "But sure. It's just a game."
Jacqueline says, "It sounds as if 2 just delays, with the option to reveal later."
Teaspoon says, "I'll go with 2 if you prefer"
Jacqueline says, "So if I'm breaking the tie, let's go with -- okay."
DavidW says, "I don't like either option, to be honest."
CHOICE MADE: No. I don't want to think about that yet.

Creed gavels the room back into silence, face red. "Ladies and gentlemen, I think we've sufficiently established the character of Miss Floyd and her independent studio. Hardworking, perhaps even talented, but that just makes her all the more dangerous as a vehicle for the dissemination of propaganda."
He turns toward you, anger clear in his face. "Miss Floyd, we're here for a simple purpose: to uncover the truth about corruption in the film industry. You may continue to perjure yourself and defy this investigation by remaining uncooperative, in which case we will be forced to turn the evidence we've collected over to the Justice Department for a full criminal investigation.
"However, the committee would be willing to overlook these matters in exchange for your cooperation. What we want, Miss Floyd, is the names of any individuals in your studio or your industry whom you know to be members of the Communist Party. Are you willing to provide us with such a list of names?"
Of course you know people who are Communists. Until a few years ago, it was hardly rare, especially in the film industry. You can think of half a dozen names right now you could give him.
And there's also the photograph, resting heavy in your pocket…
CHOICES: - Think about the photograph. - "Yes, I'll testify." - "No, sir, I can provide you with no such list."
DavidW says, "The photo is a wild card. A gun pointed at everyone."
Jacqueline says, "Well, I like this new option."
Teaspoon says, "we can A. use the photo B. ruin a lot of people C. ruin a lot of people when our studio is shut down."
Teaspoon says, "anyhow the choice is "think about the photo" so we can at least see how it is, I think."
DavidW says, "yeah."
Jacqueline says, "Well, 'think about the photo' implies we might learn who's in it."
Teaspoon says, "1 it is, I think."
DavidW says, "1 will at least give us a list of suspects, I suppose."
DavidW says, "(which might be half the people in the game)"
CHOICE MADE: Think about the photo
Jacqueline says, "(BAM)"
All of a sudden, the photo in your pocket makes sense. You know why Croghan didn't testify against you. He's afraid. Maybe he knows exactly who's part of the Communist conspiracy. That's why someone could snap a photo of him and Pavel Rucinski, notorious propagandist, smiling and laughing together.

Maybe he's afraid of who else knows. Especially someone he's already made an enemy of.
CHOICES: - "Yes, I'll testify." - "No, sir, I can provide you with no such list."
Teaspoon says, "Oh."
Teaspoon asks, "So it's come to this - torpedo our movie, or don't torpedo our movie?"
Jacqueline says, "Oddly enough, I have zero recollection of who was in the photo when I played the first time."
Jacqueline says (to Tsp), "Well, it's kind of 'torpedo our movie' or 'torpedo our reputation'"
Teaspoon says, "perhaps you bypassed it? They made it surprisingly skippable."
Jacqueline says, "Or possibly both."
DavidW says, "It's really horrible that we aren't allowed to explain ourselves."
Jacqueline says, "One rarely is in situations like this."
Teaspoon says, "But that's how this kind of thing would work."
Teaspoon says, "Nobody wants truth here. They want white hats or black hats."
Teaspoon asks, "So it comes to this - what sort of hat do we put on for the grinning audience?"
DavidW says, "Well, we're under oath, so we testify, I think."
Jacqueline says, "Ha! That's a really excellent point. That I shockingly had not considered."
Jacqueline says, "That sucks."
Jacqueline says, "But yeah, we're under oath."
Teaspoon asks, "We're entitled to not say anything, aren't we?"
DavidW says, "We can start with the photo and hope that jams the system."
Jacqueline says, "And the game has told us that we know communists."
Jacqueline says, "Well, the way it's phrased, 2 is a lie."
Teaspoon says, "that's true."
Jacqueline says, "The photo isn't an option right now."
DavidW says, "Hopefully the way we tell the truth matters."
Jacqueline says, "It's yes I'll testify or no I won't."
Jacqueline asks, "So will we or won't we?"
Jacqueline says, "I'm assuming we will, much as I hate to say that."
DavidW says, "I say we testify and if given a choice how, start with the photo."
Jacqueline says, "Then again, if there were ever a time to perjure ourselves on principle, this is that moment."
Teaspoon asks, "Sod it. Shall we refuse and run away from the industry to join Vic in that itsy small town?"
DavidW says, "If we refuse, we might be jailed."
Jacqueline says (to DW), "True. But it's a protest against a broken system."
Jacqueline says, "The system itself is corrupt. Do we owe it the truth given what we know will happen with it>"
Jacqueline asks, "?"
Teaspoon says, "I'm not sure that anyone was actually really jailed. Just unable to be in the industry."
Teaspoon says, "(may be totally wrong about that)"
Jacqueline says, "Per wikipedia: Many people suffered loss of employment and/or destruction of their careers; some even suffered imprisonment."
Teaspoon says, "Oh. Right then."
Jacqueline says, "Further: Most of these punishments came about through trial verdicts later overturned,[3] laws that were later declared unconstitutional,[4] dismissals for reasons later declared illegal[5] or actionable,[6] or extra-legal procedures that would come into general disrepute."
Teaspoon says, "And we have a smart little musical out there that will be a cult classic in years to come. We can go out in a blaze of glory."
Jacqueline says, "So people were imprisoned but these charges were generally later dismissed for various reasons, it would seem."
Jacqueline says, "Well, I like how Aaron is drawing people in using a game premise that just seems fun and creative, then he drops this heavy philosophical piece of horrible history in your lap to consider."
Teaspoon says, "yes, I'm rather impressed."
Teaspoon says, "It's a nicely put together game."
Teaspoon says, "(in a parser we could save and then UNDO, but I suppose that's not possible here?)"
Jacqueline says, "Nope. Not possible."
Jacqueline asks, "So are we giving him a list or not?"
Teaspoon says, "*takes deep breath*"
Teaspoon says, "Let's save our studio and testify."
Roger says, "This reminds me fondly of Hail, Caesar! which is a pretty excellent movie."
Jacqueline says (to Roger), "Yeah, I definitely had that moment, too."
Jacqueline says, "Though I suspect Aaron began work on this before that was released. It'd be interesting to know."
Jacqueline says, "It was a very good film in most respects."
DavidW says, "unlike Outcast Odyssey."
Jacqueline says (to DW), "heh"
Teaspoon says, "hah"
Jacqueline asks (of DW), "So, Tsp says save the studio and testify. What say you?"
DavidW says, "I can't help but think our film is gonna bomb."
DavidW says, "I've already said to testify."
Jacqueline says, "Okay. Just making sure."
Jacqueline says, "This choice is kind of a huge deal."
Teaspoon says, "quite"
Jacqueline says, "It's not like that time where I accidentally said the pirates would be drunkards."
Teaspoon says, "ha"
DavidW says, "Shame we couldn't change that."
Jacqueline says, "Yeah. Sorry about that."
Jacqueline says, "If the film actually does get released and bombs, y'all can pin it all on that."
CHOICE MADE: "Yes, I'll testify."
DavidW says, "Not your fault the system doesn't know UNDO."
Jacqueline says, "I don't think that's a bug, DW. I think it's super intentional."
- Give them some names. It's the only way to make this nightmare end.
- Show them the photograph of Croghan and Rucinski. It's only fitting, considering what he did to my studio.
- Plead the Fifth. Even if they blacklist me and everyone I know.
- Make a speech denouncing Creed and his witch hunt. Even if they send me to jail.
DavidW says, "Photograph."
Teaspoon says, "photo"
Jacqueline says, "Whoa. It's been awhile since we had quick consensus. Photo it is."
CHOICE MADE: Show them the photograph of Croghan and Rucinski.

You rise slowly to your feet. The room's gone deadly quiet. Every eye is on you.
You clear your throat. You open your mouth to speak.
Chapter Twelve
Your big premiere at Grauman's Egyptian Theatre turns out to be a bittersweet night.
Though you managed to avoid being blacklisted by Creed's committee, you've been surprised at how many people have turned against you in the weeks since your testimony. Old friends, people you've done business with for decades, have called you a fink, a traitor, a Nazi, and worse in the opinion pages, in the trades, behind your back, and sometimes even to your face.
There's enough buzz around your production that you had no trouble filling seats for the premiere. You step onto the red carpet, ready or not, to introduce Outcast Odyssey to the world. You smile as cheerfully as you can, looking around to see who else has arrived. There's Maria Ripley, grinning for photographers and shaking hands with fans beyond the velvet rope. Some of the other drunk outcasts are working the red carpet, laughing despite all they've been through. There's Romana and Ada getting out of a limousine in matching dresses, your niece looking positively miserable in hers but smiling bravely for the cameras anyway. You catch a glimpse of Greta Garbo, talking easily with—is that Errol Flynn? The press are eating it up.
Somehow, the roll call makes the people who aren't here feel even more visible. And as you look around, reflecting back on all you've been through, you find your heart aching for…
CHOICES: - Livia. - Vic. - Livia and Vic. - Eugene.
Teaspoon says, "Vic, of course."
DavidW says, "yes. Vic."
DavidW says, "I wonder if there was threesome option, then with both Livia and Vic if you made just the right choices."
Teaspoon says, "Probably, but we spent time on the movie."
Teaspoon says, "I could see another playthrough in which we don't care about the movie at all and just chat with everyone being amusing."
DavidW says, "yeah, there wasn't oodles of time for romance, really."

You turn, your smile more forced now, hoping to get inside and away from the flashbulbs, but find yourself ambushed by some studio producers, who want to slather you in sycophantic congratulations and pick your brain about emerging trends in audience preferences: in short, the last thing you want to talk about right now.
You try to make your excuses and escape as quick as you can, but one of them stops you with a hand on your arm.
"Took some guts, exposing Croghan like that," he says with a grin. "Never liked that old skeleton, myself. Not surprised the bastard's a Red. Probably a perv, too. That little bow tie." He makes plucking motions near his lapel to general chuckles from his companions, but this is the last conversation you want to be part of right now. You turn to walk away.
As you go, you hear the producer rattle on: "Hear things are pretty grim over at the old man's studio. Deals drying up, talent getting out like rats leaving a sinking ship. Hell, I hear the old bastard's even taken up cigars again."
As the lobby door swings shut on the knowing chuckles, you try to work out why this statement bothers you. Then you realize.
How long has it been since Croghan stopped smoking?
Was it before the fire at your studio?
Teaspoon says, "ooo"
Jacqueline says, "There were no prints or DNA on that cigar."
Teaspoon asks, "Was Gene our snake-in-the-grass the entire time?"
Jacqueline says, "Clever boy, that Mr. Reed."
Teaspoon says, "Gene gave us the tube, and the photo..."
Teaspoon says, "Oh crumbs."
You fret from the back row as the audience takes their seats, as the lights dim, as the curtain rises. Within a few minutes of the film's opening credits, you can't take it any more and retreat to the lobby. Every cough, every chair squeak, every muttered whisper could mean so many things, most of them bad. The pressure is too much to bear. Looking for a quiet spot for a few minutes alone, you flee down a hallway, open a side door, and step into a storage area behind the screen, filled with crates, extra seats, and an ancient, mothballed projector.

The glow from your film paints the room in shifting patterns of light and shadow, and the shifting image looms up before you: mirrored, huge, and distorted. A shield, now, between you and your unseen audience. Reassured, you sit on a crate and take deep breaths, letting your heartbeat slow and mind wander.
This isn't how you envisioned this night would be all those years ago, when Studio McStudioface was just a glimmer in your eye. Not at all.
But the squeaking door interrupts your solitude. Annoyed, you turn to see who's bothering you now, mouth open to tell them off…but you pull up short. Stepping into the room is Vic Martinez.
"Vic," you say, stepping forward and grasping their hand. "I didn't expect to see you here."
"Didn't you?" they say. "You didn't think I'd miss the big premiere, did you?"
"No, I suppose not," you say. "Is everything…"
"Everything's fine. It's a good thing I went when I did. I'll tell you all about it later, but first…" They look at you searchingly. "I heard about what happened in Washington."
You take a deep breath. "I told them what they wanted to hear. To save the studio. Would you have done any different?"
"Yes," they say. "I would have. And that's the difference between us, Flowers. I'm not saying either of us is right. All I'm saying is that's the difference."
Teaspoon says, "Well, why bother coming for the premier then, I wonder."
DavidW says, "I suppose he'll tell us."
Jacqueline says, "Well, they did work on the film."

"And what about us?" you ask, gripping their forearms. On the screen above you, Maria Ripley's face looms enormous, pointing in panic toward some futuristic danger just offscreen. "Once upon a time I thought we had something special."
"I never was much for fairy tales," they say with a shrug.
They look you straight in the eyes. "We've had our ups and downs, Flowers. But we now we have to decide. Do you want to try to make this work? Or should we go our separate ways, let our story end?"
DavidW says, "I did raise the possibility that the cigar was planted."
Teaspoon asks, "Oh, quite, but that wasn't why we used the photo, right?"
Jacqueline says, "And there's the second typo I've seen."
Teaspoon says, "At least I hadn't thought it was."
Jacqueline says, "I mean, overall the editing on this is excellent - that's what makes the mistakes seem jarring."
DavidW says, "I thought we used the photo because of revenge against our studio burning down."
Teaspoon says, "Oh. I thought it was a cost-benefit how-do-we-not-get-shut-down decision."
DavidW says, "Oh."
Teaspoon says, "So from that point of view I hadn't been too concerned about whether the cigar was planted."
DavidW says, "Feeding Creed's fire with fuel didn't appeal to me much, but if I had to, I felt I ought to use the wood I most wanted to burn."
Teaspoon says, "Also, I'm for trying to make it work with Vic. If it doesn't, well, it's Hollywood, we can have a flashy tabloid breakup."
DavidW says, "I think Vic's gonna leave us."
Teaspoon says, "likely"
DavidW says, "They're just been nice enough to tell us in person."
DavidW says, "er being"
Teaspoon says, "But we're being offered a chance."
Zigtalk asks, "what are we playing, fam?"
Jacqueline asks, "And do you intend to take it?"
Jacqueline says (to Zigtalk), "Hollywood Visionary, text is on #Floyd"
DavidW says, "I haven't seen the current choices yet."
says, "Hollywood Visionary, a choice-based game kindly being cut and pasted into Floyd by Jac"
Jacqueline says, "Oh, I thought they were pasted, but I guess they didn't. Sorry 'bout that."
- "I want to be with you, Vic."
- "I think it's time to say goodbye."
Teaspoon says, "1"
DavidW says, "1"
Zigtalk says, "awesome. if you guys are still playing in 20 mins, I'll join"
CHOICE MADE: "I want to be with you, Vic."
Teaspoon says, "we may be done by then."
Zigtalk nods.
Jacqueline says, "They're nearly at the end and have been playing for two weeks."
Zigtalk says, "intense."
Jacqueline says, "So, yeah. Might be best to hold off until next week."
You kiss them in the luminous glow, the grainy ghosts of the film of your dreams casting you into joined silhouette.

You end up sitting together, necks craned up to the luminous screen, watching from the worst seat in the house—or maybe the best—you're not entirely sure. As the comfortable beats of the story play out, rhythms familiar as your heart, you smile on cue at the funny bits and can't help but tear up when the sad ones come. Every moment's predestined, burned into a spool of unraveling celluloid, but even so, you thrill at the reversals, strain against the inevitable conclusion.
You made this thing together. There's always that.

Outcast Odyssey, reviewed by Robert Langdon for Photoplay
The long-awaited debut from Studio McStudioface, Outcast Odyssey, is nothing short of a revelation. This clever picture deftly weaves together genres to make something bold and original. Directed effortlessly by Thomas Avery, this black-and-white tale of the leader of a group of drunk outcasts (newcomer Maria Ripley) on a journey to find herself is a coup for the new studio, which survived a near-catastrophic fire and harassment by Congress on the road to getting this stunning picture made. The film's good points are almost too many to mention, but at the least include its smart storyline, its above-average screenplay, its top-notch performances and its deft technical craft. Ripley, in particular, delivers a standout performance almost certain to be noticed by the Academy come awards season. The technical quality of the film is stunning, setting a new bar for production standards even from the big-name studios. There are a few points for a critic to nitpick, such as its reliance on genre formula. And mainstream audiences might be put off by its relatively unknown cast and its egghead script. However, if viewers take a chance on this picture, I think they will find it to be well worth the investment.
Teaspoon says, "That's a very good writeup."

"And now, to present the next award, please welcome Oscar winner Spencer Tracy."
Vic pokes your shoulder. "This is you," they whisper.
"Oh, knock it off," you mutter back with a grin, adding "both of you" when you see Eugene give a hopeful thumbs up from the seat behind you. "There's no way. Can't you just enjoy the party? And smile for the camera." You point towards the television cameras in the aisles: for the first time ever, the Academy Awards are being televised.
Vic sticks their tongue out at the lens, which you can only hope is presently focused on Mr. Tracy instead.
DavidW says, "wow, yeah. I wasn't expecting such a good review."
Teaspoon says, "Editing and directing were definitely the skills to go with for this game."
The list of nominees is read out. Despite what you said, your hands are clammy. Tracy fumbles with the envelope. Vic grips your arm.

"And the Academy Award for Best Picture goes to..." He squints, then smiles. "Outcast Odyssey!"
You leap to your feet, grinning widely, as the applause begins. But as you walk up the aisle, you can't help but notice how many people aren't applauding. How many are turning their heads away as you walk by.
You won't let their sour grapes over your testimony ruin this day. You did what you had to.
You feel the solid heft of the gold statue and shake Spencer Tracy's hand, trying to put the thoughts out of your mind. This is what you always wanted. Isn't it?
Teaspoon says, "uh what"
DavidW says, "goodness."
Jacqueline says, "YUP"
Jacqueline says, "Sometimes, the winners make no sense."
Jacqueline says, "heh"
Teaspoon says, "hah ha"
DavidW says, "Oscar voters must like the intellectual stuff."
We hope you've enjoyed playing Hollywood Visionary.
Teaspoon says, "Well, that's our studio set."
DavidW says, "Let's hope the next picture can be made without fires and inquistions."
Teaspoon says, "we never did learn who set the fire"
DavidW says, "I guess we didn't."
Jacqueline asks, "Did you all like the game?"
Teaspoon asks, "I think so?"
Teaspoon says, "Once I got used to it."
DavidW says, "I still feel a bit flummoxed by the choice format. I'm a lot less certain what my choices will actually do."
Teaspoon says, "It was very thoughtful, and I felt like the choices were always meaningful. Except for the doggy section, which...probably appealed to someone else."
DavidW says, "I think the doggy section was necessary comic relief."
Teaspoon says, "Fair 'nuff."
DavidW says, "Except the way we played it, it dragged on a bit."
Teaspoon says, "I'm glad it exists, certainly."
DavidW says, "I'm really surprised our film won an award, though. That was bizarre."
Teaspoon says, "I certainly found that playing in a group caused a lot more thinking about choices than I would have spent playing this solo."
Teaspoon says, "(we had such a well edited film though)"
Roger says, "I liked it from afar"
Teaspoon says, "Thanks for making it playable, Jac"
Jacqueline says, "Oh - you're welcome."
Jacqueline says, "My thanks to Aaron Reed and Dan Fabulich for letting us post the transcript."

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