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The Heroes Issue

Life as a WWII Spy

Mrs. Kendall Mackenzie is just such a senior citizen.
Κείμενο Megan S. Laughter

Sometimes old people are so infinitely wise that every time they open their mouths to start a story you can be sure you’ll shit yourself in awe. Mrs. Kendall Mackenzie is just such a senior citizen. First off, her dad was Compton Mackenzie, the ultimate Scotsman. He wrote a ten-volume autobiography about his careers as a spy and novelist. And insofar as you have a cool dad, you’re guaranteed to have a cool life. (Look at the daughters of Mick Jagger and Steven Tyler. They aren’t exactly scullery maids.) But can Jade and Liv casually hit you with gems of memory like Kendall? Recalling WWII, she says: “During my second tour as a spy, I went down to Switzerland to talk to some friends from school. I ended up preventing a bombing raid in London.” After that, the stories keep pouring out as if from a rusty old spigot. But the coolest thing is that Kendall’s whole espionage stint started when her brother, William, a famous Royal Air Force pilot, didn’t come back after a mission. Some say he was shot down. Some say he deserted. But Kendall thought that he ended up pulling some insane Mission: Impossible shit over in East Asia, so she set out to find him (with official sanction from the R.A.F. and MI-6). Eventually she gave up and settled down to a life of writing romance novels. “My father wasn’t very happy,” she laughs, “but the readers enjoyed it.” Her first novel, The Ivy Gate, was published in 1942, and it made both housewives and critics academically horny. But you won’t be able to find Kendall’s softcore literary porn in your local library. And you won’t find her name on the internet, either. That’s because Kendall Mackenzie isn’t a real person, stupid. She is actually Adrienne L. Gammons-Amerman, one of the most distinguished female Live Action Role Players (LARPers) in North America. LARPers are the Freemasons of role-playing games: elite, isolated, scary, and fucking serious. While novices sit around their mommy’s dining-room table rolling twelve-sided dice, LARPers are out there in the woods, beating each other with swords made of duct tape and two-by-fours, wearing finely detailed period clothing. These people don’t just pretend to be a dwarf warrior for a night; they create intricate literary backgrounds for their characters, biographies that are more detailed than most people’s actual lives. Medieval-themed LARPs are some of the most common, but they are for the safe LARPers. For Adrienne, it was all wizards and warriors since 1992, when she cofounded a live role-playing group in the Washington, D.C., area. Tiring of that, she came up with Kendall Mackenzie, the character she’ll be playing in the upcoming 1948: Signals campaign (“campaign” is LARP-speak for “fuckin’ raging partay”). 1948: Signals is a highly detailed and frighteningly rules-filled LARP that takes place just after WWII. And don’t think you can just jump into this. Shit, you need to know a huge backlog of info just to say “Hey, what’s new?” to a Signals player. For instance, which film won Best Picture in 1948? Don’t know? Back to the drawing board, buddy. You probably don’t even know who Mountbatten is. Adrienne and her LARPing crew meet six to eight times per year, and each campaign lasts about three years. In this WWII adventure, gameplay takes place in Victorian mansions and convention halls all over the mid-Atlantic, and everything is way more sophisticated than before (they even have fake guns now). There are also apparently sub-campaigns planned to take place outside of the specified event dates. If you manage to make it into one of their games, you are playing with the big boys, so don’t fuck it up. To help out, here are a few simple things you need to know: Create a character. Some of the most desirable traits are “curiosity and inquisitiveness.” Since this is a 1940s game, invent a good and original period name, such as “Humphrey Bogart” or “W.C. MacGillicutty.” Get some skills. Archaeology is cool (Indiana Jones was in the 30s and that’s not long before the 40s). Being a doctor is good, too, as you can help other players who get hit with imaginary bullets. The best part about choosing your vocation is that you don’t have to know shit about it. Bang! You’re an astronaut. Magic-cize. Since this is the gamer universe, you get to be magic. The simplest manifestations of this in the Signals world are the characters known as Mystics and Psychics. But don’t think this will allow you to walk on water. To quote the official rules: “Don’t assume you will be tossing lightning bolts, and for psychics don’t assume you will be mind-blasting everyone. If you are thinking in terms of Gandalf or Psi Corps from Babylon 5, you are on the wrong track. Subtle curses or minor mind-reading are more likely.” Dress to impress. You can’t get away with throwing on some random Casablanca T-shirt for this. You have to go authentic old- school. That means the oldest-looking boots Aldo sells, a sheepskin jacket that, despite being brand-new, could kind of be old, a funny-looking wool beret that’s impossible to date, some 1930s Levi’s 501s, and, to top it off, surrounding yourself with a bunch of old radios and shit. Stay in character. This is LARPing, man, not kindergarten. That means no snack time and no recess. So don’t drop OOC (Out of Character) to answer your cell phone while everyone else is talking about whether or not the Russkies have the bomb. Even if it’s your mom and she’s calling to tell you it’s dinnertime, dropping OOC is an impious move, to say the least. It can get you permanently excommunicated from the LARPing community. REDRUM. It’s pretty tough to die in Signals. The war is over, and there aren’t any ogres, so basically the only way to croak is if you get the flu or you opt for a “heroic death.” That means you get to act like a superhero for a few minutes, but then you irrevocably die. Dying is forever. And the only reason you might want to do that is if you’re trying to get another LARPer to make out with you OOC. If you want to LARP the right way, go to A campaign just started in the greater Baltimore/D.C. area. They are setting up the next game and it may very well become the biggest cocaine/rock and roll/super-orgy since The Stones had their own private jet (just kidding). MEGAN S. LAUGHTER BREAKING UPDATE:
As we went to press, some exciting developments came up in the LARPing world, and we wouldn’t be doing our journalistic duty if we didn’t tell you about it all. First, another LARP meeting was held somewhere in Maryland. That’s one thing. And some guy probably joined up, um … last week. He was, we suspect, very interested in LARPing. Adrienne, the LARPer profiled above, went shopping for groceries. She got a lot of cherry tomatoes, because they were on special, and now she is totally sick of them. She never wants to see another cherry tomato as long as she lives. Aw, who the fuck am I kidding? There is no update. It’s just that, when every picture in a magazine is the same size you often get these weird white spaces at the end where the text runs out too soon. The New Republic can just start the next article where the previous one ends but we’re too picture based for a solution like that. When you start your articles with a bang and that bang is exactly the same size on every page you have to just come up with some random reason to add words at the end. Nobody reads this far down articles anyway. Hmmm, I wonder if how many people care about the process of doing a magazine. The whole idea for this issue was heroes, then female heroes, then we heard that cancer song from Subzero and said, “Shit, he should be a hero, too,” and then we even decided to do some antiheroes, like Winona Ryder (we also heard she was shamelessly hitting on Harmony Korine last week) and that fuckhead Michael Moore. Then there was the Polaroid thing. That looks good. I didn’t like how the “Eat the Rich” and the “Wonder Woman” articles last issue had such huge visuals. It looked inconsistent. We should always try to have the same size pictures from now on. What else? Hmmm. I feel like I’m getting fat. On the one hand I kind of care about it but then on the other hand I think, “Who gives a shit?” Seriously, I’ve never had anyone call me fat or mention it in any way so why do I care? I’m probably not even overweight. I should google it and figure out if I’m even overweight. I’ll do that now. Bye!