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    Otto Schmidt
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    Dear List

     

    I finally after a year got to finish the first installment of my WWII Imagi-Nation, Bandrika. Bandrika is a country I did in “omage” to Alfred Hitchcock’s marvelously wonderful film , “The Lady Vanishes.” It’s a marvelously entertaining spy story with a fair amount of highly realistic action, but has a charm and attraction. I’ve blended some other elements in,  notably from the Karloff-Lugosi film ‘The Black Cat.” But also a lot of broad humor from other movies of the time. If you haven’t seen those two movies, I urge you to do so, the character of  Michael Redgrave as the heroic Musicologist and Margaret Lockwood as the  lead, Iris, a rich American heiress slumming in Europe are marvelous as is Paul Lukas as the villain and Dame May Whitty as Mrs. Froy.  It’s romantic, funny, dreamy, has great models, and a fair amount of comedy as well.  Googie Withers plays Iris’s friend blanche and with a name like that HAS to have an imagi-Nation country made for her.

    Anyway the country in the movie is some small piece of ground in the Balkans and sets the stage for the intrigue. It’s a charming place with obliging chambermaids, sinister doctors and “England on the Brink” and all that.  Compared to that is the land in the movie “the Black Cat” which is never stated but is obviously Austria, focusing around a huge ruined WWI fortress, Fortress Marmarosh, where Karloff plays “Herr Poelzig” “Austria’s Greatest Architect” who has built his home on the ruins of the old fortress. Lugosi actually plays the hero of that film and the good guy who comes to destroy Peolzig, who it turned was an officer in Marmarosh during the war and betrayed it to the Russians. Lugosi plays Dr. Vertigast, a neurosurgeon, who comes back from “Kurgal” a Russian prison camp many years later. If you’re observant you will find many things that I am surprised got past the sensors, and the interplay of the music, the cinematography and the actions is gripping, far better than the modern dreck.

     

    Anyway the schema behind Bandrika is sort of an Austria-Hungary that is truncated after the last war, (The big Oops!) and re-combines in a federated way, so basically it’s primarily a Balkan state WITH a pot to piss in.  It is a one-party state (one party, all day every day, all year long) and besides a modicum of industry and agriculture  it’s largest industry is tourism where rich Americans and Euoropeans can go skiing at Gstad, Bathing in Bad, and Braking the Bank at Biarritz or wherever . There are 327 registered holidays, feast days, Saints day, official balls, parties, and masquerades in the calendar  and so there’s always music and food and street venders and interesting dances and things to see, and there are 423 registered political parties, all of which are constantly involved in plotting coups, revolts, and They can also involve themselves in all sorts of “foreign intrigue” as there are 423 registered political parties, (including the Anarchist-Philatelists and the Radical Numismatists, along with the more mundane C0mmunists  and Fascist-Philanthropists). Foreigners can involve themselves in these coups and bits of intrigue and skull doggery by registering with the Bandrikan Ministry of Revolutiions. The newspapers carry reviews of these coups which they treat pretty much as reviews of Operas and broadway shows.  All of these events, and bits of street theater are of course all staged. Once there actually WAS a real coup in an attempt to overthrow the government but it got such horrible reviews  that it could not stay in power more than two days. PAN THE PUTSCH! the headlines screamed.

     

    “Everybody’s Happy! That’s the way it stands! Just as long as the money changes hands.”

    Needless to say War is not the strong suit of Bandrika, as war is very bad for business, interrupts the coups and the holidays and the floats and wagons of the wandering gypsy fortune letters, pagliacci, and the tables of the cafes and street bistro’s take a beating in war. The army though small is first rate and the various larger political parties are taxed to provide contingents for the Elite Infantry (like our Marines) and these are the  Free Silverists,  Soccer Moms, Galactophagianists,  Anarchist-Numismatists, Radical Philataelists,  Democratic Republicans, Republicanist Democrats,  Radical Environmentalists, Christian Communits, Godless Socialists, Miscegenationists, Progressive Irridentialists,  Radical Calvinists, Ultramontainists,  Strict Constructionists, and Antidisestablishmentarianists.  Others provide contingents in the infantry, such as the NRA, AFL/CIO, IRS, M.A.F.I.A, ASPCA, SCA,HMGS,  GSA, WWWF, (World Wide Wrestling Foundation) YMCA/YMHA, EPA, USPS, BSA, NOW, and AARP.

    There is a formed milita but it’s very unpopular to call it out, it takes too many people away from being ski-instructors, swimming coaches, starving artists, and professional Putschers! and makes the tourists unhappy. Significantly there is little armor in the army, only a light tank or two, most of the army working with anti-tank guns and artillery. The airforce is adequate.

    Because of the various mad scientists necessitated by the putches, and intrigues that keeps tourists coming, the state has a remarkable R&D program, using Zeppelins for heavy bombers, various rockets  and missiles, including the ICBR’s which means Intercontinental ballistic Rocket.  It’s good, so long as you’re aiming at a continent and don’t care particularly where it falls in that continent.  Of course the air forces sports several wings of the ME163 called “The Cherry Bomb.”  There are four experimental automata infantry groups, the Holzsoldaten,  and of course Blitz-Fritz und Freundin, a pack of bionic Dobermans who can  rip the armor off a Sherman with their bare teeth.

    Those models are still on the table, but I got the infantry and heavy weapons and artillery done.

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