FROM THE PAN-FRIED FILES OF THE ALPINE NINE

A couple of weeks ago, my family spent a few days vacating at a cabin in Park City, UT. Part of the plan to keep the nine grandkids entertained was a series of superhero-theme activities. Masochist that I am, I volunteered to script out a simple (that was the plan, anyway) narrative to connect the otherwise disparate challenges. And since it exists in the world now, for better or worse, I guess I might as well throw it up here. Wording intentional. So … here y’are:

 


THE MIGHTY PLIGHT OF THE ALPINE NINE

TEAM ROSTER:

Skywriter – flight
Sailor Swift – flight
Phaze with a Z – change matter from one state to another
Movement Man – telekinesis and matter transportation
Magus Magnificus – mystical powers
RacerBlade – super speed
Sonic Boom – super speed
D.Lux – control light
Salivary Grand – hyperactive drooling

TEAM BACKSTORY:

Most cities are defined by their signature hot dogs, that age-old contest of who’s got the best red hots, split-tops, footlongs, or brats. However, a select few places are known far more grandly—not for the processed meats they make, but for the heroes who call them home and keep them safe. After all, what would Metropolis be without Superman? What would Gotham City be without the Batman, or New York without Spider-Man, or Preston without Napoleon Dynamite?

But just as Coney Island dogs will always sizzle supreme in Detroit, so will one heroic group in one hero-packed city always rise heroically above the rest. That city? That mountainous beacon of hope, bastion of justice, and bedrock of world-class outlet shopping? That city … is Park City. And that group of heroes? Towering even higher than the beloved city that has a hundred times over earned its nickname, “the High-elevation Memphis of the West?”

The Alpine Nine.

That’s you. You nine are the finest superhero team the world has ever seen. A collection of beings of such awesome power that not even Chuck Norris was strong enough to earn a spot among you.

There’s Skywriter and Sailor Swift, the team’s high-flying—literally—co-captains; Phaze with a Z, master manipulator of matter; and Movement Man, conveyor of objects, transporter of things, and undefeated dance-off champion of the universe. There’s RacerBlade and Sonic Boom, the double-timing duo of dash; Magus Magnificus, wise defender of the mystic realms and wielder of the Eyetooth of Avocado; D.Lux, the dazzling lady of light; and Salivary Grand, moist boy wonder extraordinaire.

So as you can see, you’ve got some serious skills. And in this, it’s at-least-tied-for-most desperate hour, Park City has once again called upon you to use those skills to put a temporarily permanent end to the parsimonious plans of Park City’s greatest villains—Grandpa Greed and his Sinister Scions.

Will you, the Alpine Nine, answer your city’s call? Or its text? Or email? ‘Cause Park City has done all three, just to make sure you get the message.

PLAN OF ACTION:

Battle 1 – The Great Un-unthawing
(use squirt guns to free action figures from ice blocks)

All right, Alpine Nine, first order of business: Icebox has straight-up frozen a group of Park Citizens with his chill demeanor and Too-cool-for-school Ray. But luckily for them, Phaze with a Z has never met a solid—or a heart—he couldn’t melt.

Battle 2 – Electric Bagaloo
(use balloons charged with static to float plastic bags across the yard)

Grandpa Greed has stolen all of Park City’s grocery bags in an avaricious attempt to keep other shoppers from getting any s’mores supplies. That’s why Magus Magnificus has taught the rest of you his Levitating Lightning spell. It’s time to show Grandpa Greed that when it comes bad deeds, sometimes less is s’more!

Battle 3 – It’s Too Dark in this Park … City
(put a puzzle together in the dark with the help of a narrow-beamed flashlight)

Circuit Breakdancer has cut the power to the city and cut up all the instruction manuals for the back-up generators. Before all the Park Citizens tragically lose an entire night of bingeing their favorite Netflix shows, D.Lux is going to have to shed a little light on the situation.

Battle 4 – ¡Unholy Guacamole!
(chase Tele Knievel and use crepe paper to tie him up)

Quick, team, Tele Knievel is using his psychic powers and death-defying stuntman skills to steal all of El Chubasco’s delicious salsas! It’s time to let RacerBlade and Sonic Boom show you how to get yo’ chase on before Tele Knievel speeds away with his spicy prize!

Battle 5 – [FRISBEEP-BORP-BOOP]
(throw Frisbee shields across the yard while the villains try to knock them down)

ThrowBot 9000 has been programmed to do one thing—make you look weak in front of as many Park Citizens as possible by putting your shield-slinging game to shame! But when it comes to soaring through the air, no one is better prepared than Skywriter and Sailor Swift. So go show this ro-bro you know how to pro throw!

Battle 6 – Green Thumb, Black Heart
(use magnetic sticks to carry Magnetix shapes from one place to another while the villains use their own magnetic sticks to try to steal them)

Bad Seed is trying to plant poison ivy all over the city. It’s not exactly Kryptonite, but it’ll still give anyone who touches it one wicked bad rash—even superheroes. So follow Movement Man’s psychokinetic lead and ditch that itch weed fast!

Battle 7 – The Salivary Grand Finale
(water fight royale)

This is it, heroes. You’ve finally reached the evil—but surprisingly pleasant-smelling—lair of Grandpa Greed and the Sinister Scions. Don’t let that appetizing aroma dull your other senses, though, because it looks like GG is trying to use the wafting scent of cookies to mask the nefarious fact that the air in here is so dry, even your superhuman lips are bound to chap. Guess it’s a good thing you’ve saved your moistest and most mouthwatering weapon for last. So someone grab Salivary Grand’s hand and let’s finish this—Alpine Nine style!!

Now to Convince Kevin Conroy to Narrate Our Home Movies.

I think it’s time I resurrected this blog. Not for the betterment of the humankind or anything like that. For myself. Without its presence, it’s become difficult for my mom to tell people convincingly that her baby boy is a writer. And that was pretty much her only talking point for me. Lately when anyone’s asked about me there’s just been an awkward pause while she looks at the ground, shakes her head a few times, and then slowly backs away. So while it may be the literary equivalent of Swinging with the Finkels (except that it’ll be PG-13-ish and have an even less cohesive plot) at least it’ll be, and it’ll be consistent.

Now, given what’s in my brain today, I have to disclaim. This isn’t turning into a photoblog. That being said, prints of all of the artwork you see here are available for sale or rent. But they’re pricey.

Anyway, my wife and I recently bought an entry-level DSLR, which really just means that we’ve been taking far too many intentionally out-of-focus pictures. Also unintentional was our adoption of an apartment/adventure mascot and all-around great photographic subject. His name is Bruce, and he’s the muse our apartment needs, but not the one it deserves right now. He’s also a pretty good stand-in for the child we’re not responsible enough to have right now.

Bruce Heroic

I love Bruce with a powerful-deep kind o’ love. And in the few weeks since we lured him out of his shadowy, lonely, rainy existence, I’ve learned a few things from him.

1) Nerdiness is highly contagious if properly delivered.

My wife is not a nerd. Well, I’m of the opinion that everyone is nerdy about something, but she’s not nerdy in the traditional sense. She kindly declines my offers to turn her into a competitive player of Magic: The Gathering, and she doesn’t lose sleep thinking about the paradoxical portrayals of time travel in movies, although she does mercifully discuss the subject with me instead of damning me to an evening of soliloquizing. Still, nerd though she’s not, she loves Bruce as much as I do. Here’s one of her shots of him from our recent trip to San Francisco.

Bruce in SF 2

I’ve just noticed that it’s weird how often he’s surrounded by plastic bags. Consumerism, right? Or maybe it’s a Wes Bentley kind of thing. You decide.

2) Taking ridiculous pictures of things is such a friggin’ entertaining way to spend an evening.

Even if only for us. The amount of laughter between us as we view the shots we’ve just taken more than justifies the expense of our camera. Bruce’s antics are just too much fun to chronicle.

Bruce Sees Errthang

Master of Stealth

The Photobomber

Reluctant Hero

The Outsider

Bruce take the Wheel

Bruce in SF

Who Am Bruce?

3) It’s okay to take some time away from the normal grind to find new hobbies and new things to love. But never disconnect completely or lose sight of the things you already care about.

Take your cues from Bruce. Make sure to keep the vigilant in vigilante. Otherwise, this could happen to you.

Beast Bested

p.s.

4) If you let them, Pop! Heroes et al. will ravage your wallet and monopolize your shelf space.