Jason Toon


quality posts: 19 Private Messages Jason Toon

If you bought our Woot 2012 Calendar, you may have noticed that each month sports a different QR code. And if you've scanned that code, you've gotten a message telling you to wait until the first of the given month to read a new installment in The Secret of El Arenque Rojo. And then you probably wondered what we were talking about. Well, here it is: chapter one in an apocalyptic monthly serial by the Woot writers, running throughout 2012.

The chapters might be Woot blog posts... or they might not. The only way to find it for sure every month is to scan the QR code. Fortunately, we still have some Woot 2012 Calendars for sale, so you needn't miss a single syllable of our brilliance. Now, on with the adventure!

The box was so unusual that Roy Odom forgot for a moment that his life was falling apart. He’d been rummaging around in the back room of Diabolical Video for hours when he found it. The afternoon’s ostensible mission was to sort and price old stock for the store’s going-out-of-business sale. But by the time Roy had picked through a few dusty boxes, he knew it was mostly garbage...

Here was a pile of kids’ animal videotapes from the ‘80s, with titles like Radically Wild! and Zoojinks: Turtles and Tortoises. There were nine VHS copies of the 1996 Kelsey Grammer naval comedy Down Periscope, still sealed in plastic that nobody would ever bother to unwrap. Whether Roy paid someone to haul it away or just left it and lost his security deposit, the video detritus in the this room was going to cost him more money than he could possibly make selling the few items weird enough to still have some value.

So Roy’s commercial hopes for the excavation faded. It turned instead into a sentimental archaeological dig through the substrata of faded hopes, a nostalgic forensic inquest into the death of one man’s dream. Roy lingered over a catalog from a distributor that had gone out of business years ago. The embroidered smile on a water-stained panda Beanie Baby, survivor of a misguided attempt to expand his product line, brought a tear to his eye. He peered down the tube of a promotional poster that had never been unrolled: bold grey lines on a black background. It came to him after a moment. Stallone. Cliffhanger. A helicopter, a ravine, crisp stacks of $100 bills in a briefcase. Roy felt a pang for the waste his life had been.

He wondered how to price a faded cardboard stand-up of “Momma” from Throw Momma From The Train. Five bucks sounded about right. Roy would have asked more for it, but when you pushed the button that was supposed to make Momma say one of her catchphrases from the movie, the only sound that came out was a low, feeble, incomprehensible groan, the sound of Beelzebub with esophageal cancer. Maybe four bucks made more sense. As he wrestled Momma out of the way to get at more junk, the box stood revealed.

One of the flaps on top bore a warning in Spanish: CUIDADO - FRÁGIL over a pictogram wine glass with a crack in it. On another side, CONTIENE VIDEOS. That was it. No address labels, no company logos, nothing. The box itself had that vague quality of difference that mundane foreign objects have, like a newspaper that crinkles in an exotic way, or an alien pencil that sits a little too heavy in the hand. Maybe it was made from different cardboard. Maybe the proportions were different. Whatever it was, Roy couldn’t remember ever seeing this box before.

Inside was a jumble of VHS tapes, their black casings gone gray with dust. Roy picked one up off the top of the pile. Between the two windows where the tape reels showed, there was no printed label, just a lowercase scrawl in silver marker: arenque rojo – el pelado tímido.

Now he was really confused. He’d bought, sold, and rented out used videos, sure. But not home-taped ones with no packaging. Nobody did that. And except for a handful of Almodóvars, Roy could count the number of Spanish-language titles he’d ever stocked on one hand. A man can’t remember every single transaction over 24 years of business. But why would he ever have bought this box of obviously worthless videos? Roy hoped he hadn’t paid too much for them as he tossed the box onto the trash pile.

And then picked it up again. Why not see what they were, at least? Roy had long ago blown past “jaded” into full-on apathy. But finding something new, something unexpected, especially on a grim day like today… it was worth a few minutes to find out. He carried the box out to the store’s main room, where he kept a VCR hooked up to four monitors hanging around the store. He’d put that first tape in, probably see that it was just the work of some old abuelita videotaping her telenovelas, and get back to the storeroom.

Ten hours later, Roy walked out of the darkened store in a daze. He didn’t know exactly how many of the tapes he’d watched. But he knew his life had changed forever…

smittypap


quality posts: 6 Private Messages smittypap

Hmmmm......

Crap

CowboyDann


quality posts: 716 Private Messages CowboyDann

This looks like it's going to be pretty cool

Parkertron


quality posts: 6 Private Messages Parkertron

To think that I would have just thrown a moltav through the door and collected the twenty dollars of insurance. Then where would your arenque rojo be?

javajnkie


quality posts: 16 Private Messages javajnkie

Not gonna lie, I was hoping to be surprised with cra.p, since my connection will probably never be quick enough to get one the proper way. I was entertained instead..which isn't a bad consolation prize.

Happy New Year, woot staff and my fellow wooters!

See you here next month!

tracergod


quality posts: 0 Private Messages tracergod

Why do I keep coming back to this and thinking there's a puzzle here to be solved? I must keep decoding The Secret of El Arenque Rojo!

thedoctor


quality posts: 0 Private Messages thedoctor

Oh man, is thing going to be about them Mayans? I bet it is.

BelyndaG


quality posts: 20 Private Messages BelyndaG

Well, I'M intrigued! Looking forward to receiving my Woot! Calendar and reading future installments.

Moueska


quality posts: 54 Private Messages Moueska

I love woot's writing team.

I'd go for the calendar, but I lack a phone that reads QR codes, so buying the calendar is of no use to me.

bsmith1


quality posts: 107 Private Messages bsmith1
Moueska wrote:I love woot's writing team.

I'd go for the calendar, but I lack a phone that reads QR codes, so buying the calendar is of no use to me.



You may not need a phone with QR scanning capabilities! There are supposedly some online QR decoders. Here's one: http://zxing.org/w/decode.jspx
I haven't tried 'em, but the idea is that you would scan (like with a flat-bed scanner) the calendar (or take a picture of it) then upload that image to an image hosting site so you can link to it or upload it directly to the decoder site and the website will decode the QR code for you! Give 'er a try!

Edit: Even if you can scan the QR codes, the calendar can still be used as a calendar!

knarlknurppel


quality posts: 2 Private Messages knarlknurppel

Obviously, the box was mismarked and contained Star Trek: Enterprise, season 5.

Got it!

robroy1974


quality posts: 3 Private Messages robroy1974

I scanned my code on January 4, 2012 and all it did was took me to the current woot item for sale and not the story. Am I the only one?

I have successfully scanned and even written some stuff in QR codes, so I know the scan program works on my iTouch. hmmmm

Don

___________________________________
THIS SPACE FOR RENT
Inquire Within

kronickidd


quality posts: 1 Private Messages kronickidd

what? no woot coupons? =*( i was hoping for some discounts... or even a heads up when the woot off will take place... some suggestions for next month!

kronickidd


quality posts: 1 Private Messages kronickidd
bsmith1 wrote:You may not need a phone with QR scanning capabilities! There are supposedly some online QR decoders. Here's one: http://zxing.org/w/decode.jspx
I haven't tried 'em, but the idea is that you would scan (like with a flat-bed scanner) the calendar (or take a picture of it) then upload that image to an image hosting site so you can link to it or upload it directly to the decoder site and the website will decode the QR code for you! Give 'er a try!

Edit: Even if you can scan the QR codes, the calendar can still be used as a calendar!



OR USE A WEB CAB!!!

thisniss


quality posts: 3 Private Messages thisniss

I'm so glad I remembered that the qr code was there! And even happier that I forgot about it until the middle of the month, because now I only have to wait two weeks for the next chapter. Yay!

TronGMZ


quality posts: 3 Private Messages TronGMZ

perhaps Spanish infomercials from the '80s?

kirkwoodcc


quality posts: 0 Private Messages kirkwoodcc

neat