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This is my entry this week in the mini-season of therealljidol, Exhibit B. Please read the many fine entries. This was an intersection week, and my partner is roina_arwen. She wrote on the topic "No Capes." I suggest you read hers first and then return to read mine, on the topic "Beneath the Surface."

When the first video went viral, I didn't think much of it: A would-be robber stopped in his tracks by a child-sized, hood-wearing do-gooder, who emerges from the shadows, while the thug looks dumbly on, and dispatches him with some quick moves. The grateful victim shouts her thanks, but the mysterious figure has already disappeared.

I was inclined to dismiss it as a fake -- or maybe a publicity stunt -- when more videos began to surface. They were so similar they could have been the same scene shot from different angles. It could all be a viral marketing campaign for an upcoming superhero flick, I mused. As an entertainment reporter, I felt obligated to investigate. It was a slow week anyway: the dog days of summer, when most first-string reporters are on vacation.

First, I called my film industry contacts, but I didn't hope for much. If this was a stealth campaign, those in the know wouldn't reveal anything until allowed or risk being fired.

After the predicted denials, I turned to the videos themselves, all uploaded from different YouTube accounts. While a stealth PR campaign would depend on sock puppets, these all appeared to be genuine users, with accounts that went back years, including personal Vblogs and videos that would have been ridiculously time-consuming to create and back-date, just to fool viewers. I noticed another oddity: the videos had been posted from all over the country, in big cities like Chicago and Los Angeles but also in podunk towns like Greensburg, Pennsylvania.

Noticing that one of the posters resided in New York City, I started there, sending a personal message identifying myself as Sid Mursko, entertainment reporter with WPIX, and asking her to contact me about the video.

I was on a smoke break when the witness called. She readily agreed to an on-camera interview at the site of the video, so I grabbed my favorite camera guy, Bob, and headed out. At the very least, it could make for an interesting package to run in the D Block of the evening newscast.

Right away, I could see my interview subject was no PR hack: she was barely into her 20s and had a face full of metal. She looked exactly like the sort of Goth chick who hung out in this part of the East Village.

"I was standing over here," she said, leading Bob to a lit area in front of a club. She pointed across the street to the now-familiar site of the showdown. "When I heard someone scream, I took out my phone and started shooting." She detailed the now-familiar action, but added an intriguing detail: "My phone didn't pick it up, but right before the robber stopped in his tracks, I heard a sort of low, unearthly singing. I thought at first that it was my friend Faith, but she was chatting with someone. Then I noticed the little figure stepping out of the shadows, and her mouth was moving."

"Her mouth?" I asked. "You're saying it was a little girl?"

Goth Chick shook her head vigorously. "Not a little girl. A woman. A small woman."

Despite her insistence, I was skeptical: Before their voices change, young boys sound a lot like women. Plus, they're more likely to engage in risky behavior than a petite woman might be.

After the piece aired, my report got traction on YouTube, as well. Nowhere near the hits of the original videos, but respectable enough that my assignment editor readily accepted when I proposed a follow-up. Finding someone to interview was easy: The witnesses who had shot the other videos came to me, eager to tell their stories and extend their 15 minutes of fame. More surprisingly, though, each and every one of them was female. In this age where everybody has a camera phone, why were none of the photographers men? When I asked one of the witnesses about it, she said that she thought her boyfriend was videotaping it, too, but after the do-gooder -- now being called The Hoodie by the media -- took off, she turned to look at her BF, and he was standing there dumbfounded, seemingly disoriented. Both of them had also heard some mysteriously lovely low singing, but the boyfriend was useless about providing any other details, while his girlfriend recalled everything precisely.

Finally, I hit pay dirt. One of my interns dug up an actual police report on one of the attempted robberies. I called the victim to find out if she'd go on the record. She would, she said, but only if we'd protect her identity. Sheepishly, she admitted she'd been two-timing her husband, taking in a concert with her paramour.

Far be it from me to blow up a marriage, even one that's probably doomed. I agreed to her terms. We shot her in silhouette and promised to run her voice through an equalizer before airing the package. Her close-up perspective confirmed what the far-off YouTube shooters had suspected: Her rescuer was indeed a woman. And though The Hoodie's face was partially obscured by the hood, her mouth and neck seemed distinctly feminine, the Two-Timer told me. She added: "And there was something so familiar about that voice. I could swear I heard it somewhere before. Like, really recently."

"What concert were you attending?" Bob spoke up from behind the camera. I gave him the "don't upstage me" look, but we both knew I'd edit his question out later.

"Cari Bein," the Two-Timer told us. "Don't tell my husband. He loves her; he'd hate to know I went without him."

Among other things.

As he was packing up his gear, I punched Bob in the arm. "Why'd you do that? It's not cool."

"Well, I've been thinking. That first place we interviewed that Goth chick, in the East Village. Didn't it look familiar?"

I shook my head.

"You must not be part of the Bein Machine," Bob said, referring to the extremely loyal pack of mostly male fans that hung on Cari Bein's every word. "Cari's band mate, Serena, tweeted a picture from that neighborhood earlier the day of the attack. They ate lunch there after a girls-only shopping spree."

I rolled my eyes. "Stalker much?"

He continued, unfazed. "And once I figured that out, a lot of the other sites looked familiar, too. Here's the deal: They were all within a few blocks of someplace where Serena tweeted a picture of Cari on the days of the attacks. And this last woman? She was nearly robbed in the alleyway behind a Cari Bein concert."

In this business, I've learned there's rarely such a thing as a coincidence. It all began to fall into place, and it was the story of the year: A pop music vigilante, roaming the streets for justice. But why? And how could a tiny pop powerhouse discombobulate a thug with just her voice?

Back in the office, I reran every interview we'd done: paying attention to each word. I Googled the lyrics of Cari's No. 1 album, "Between a Rock and My Heart," and read between the lines. Almost every song swum with metaphor, if you knew what to look for. I dug through our video archives for an interview conducted backstage at the Grammys, when she was up for Best New Artist. Back then, when she'd claimed to be from a tiny island in Greece that "no one but the poets had ever heard of," I thought she was just being dramatic. Everybody these days wants to be the next Lady Gaga. But, it turns out, some people are much, much more special.

If my guess was right, this could be Emmy material, but I needed to confirm it. I called Cari's agent. "Tell her I'd like to interview her about the Hoodie. Or should I say..." I paused for effect. "The Siren?"

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( 29 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 30th, 2013 01:50 am (UTC)
These were great! I had an inkling from the first and it was nice that it was confirmed in yours. lol Loved it.
Jul. 30th, 2013 02:24 am (UTC)
Glad you enjoyed it! We wanted to do something fun.
Jul. 30th, 2013 01:56 am (UTC)
It was fun working the storyline out with you, and I love the way yours turned out! *Hugs*
Jul. 30th, 2013 02:25 am (UTC)
Thanks! Yours, too. It was great playing "yes, and" with you.
Jul. 30th, 2013 03:40 pm (UTC)
This was a great follow up to the other piece. You two did an awesome intersection. :P
Aug. 1st, 2013 03:34 pm (UTC)
Thank you! We work well together, building off each other's ideas.
Jul. 31st, 2013 01:49 am (UTC)
These two pieces flowed awesomely. This picked up where the first piece left off and went in a nice direction.
Aug. 1st, 2013 03:33 pm (UTC)
Thank you! That's what we were trying for. I'm glad it worked for you.
Jul. 31st, 2013 06:28 pm (UTC)
I was wondering if you guys were going for a reference to the Sirens and how they lured men to their deaths. ;) Or in this case, to get them to stop robbing other people.
Aug. 1st, 2013 02:15 pm (UTC)
I love the idea of the Sirens voices being hypnotic rather than necessarily deadly. =D
Aug. 1st, 2013 03:33 pm (UTC)
That's how I've always seen them. Their voices themselves weren't deadly, but it was what the hypnotic effect that caused men to stop caring for their own safety, leading to their doom.
Aug. 1st, 2013 03:41 pm (UTC)
Exactly! So have you read the stories to KFP? I'm interested in knowing what he thought. :)
Aug. 1st, 2013 05:51 am (UTC)
Uh-oh, busted. :)
Aug. 1st, 2013 03:31 pm (UTC)
Well, until she sings to him. ;)
Aug. 1st, 2013 05:58 am (UTC)
Loved this part too! :D
Aug. 1st, 2013 03:31 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad to hear it.
Aug. 1st, 2013 06:07 am (UTC)
Aha! Now the other story makes sense. I was expecting someone from another world, but with the detail of only men being hypnotized by her voice and the Island being near Greece, it all falls into place. Terrific, strong POV on this one.

I'll admit, the title hurt me. It should be _lie_ low, and this is almost on the level of "drug" for "dragged" to me. But everything else? Fantastic!
Aug. 1st, 2013 09:39 am (UTC)
You are absolutely right, and that's usually one of my pet peeves. Oddly, though, I didn't even notice the grammatical error, since I found the expression while doing a Google search. At the time, I thought I was just minutes away from being too late to post, since I was operating under the belief that the deadline was on Monday, so I perhaps didn't take as much care as I normally would.

Glad you liked this one. I wasn't sure if people would like this character as much as Cari, since he is a little prickly, and deliberately so.
Aug. 1st, 2013 04:10 pm (UTC)
Oh, I liked how 'real' he felt. The prickliness really suited his profession, and I thought it made him funnier and more authentic. :D
Aug. 1st, 2013 06:42 am (UTC)
oooh, nice pull from mythology. Fun read!
Aug. 1st, 2013 03:29 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I'm a big mythology geek, so when we started to toss this idea around, I got excited about the possibilities.
Aug. 1st, 2013 01:30 pm (UTC)
I really like the detail in this - and as everyone else has said - the two pieces work so well together!
Aug. 1st, 2013 03:30 pm (UTC)
Thanks! That was what we were hoping. We also wanted each of them to theoretically be capable of standing on its own, even though they're stronger together.
Aug. 1st, 2013 09:06 pm (UTC)
I really dug both parts of this collab but I particularly like hearing it from the perspective of a super-jaded guy in media / new media. This was particularly convincing in capturing that sort of character and his thoughts. Really nice.
Aug. 1st, 2013 10:09 pm (UTC)
"Far be it from me to blow up a marriage, even one that's probably doomed." LOL. :) This intersection works really well!
Aug. 2nd, 2013 04:14 am (UTC)
These worked so well together, and I love Cari!
Aug. 2nd, 2013 07:57 am (UTC)
Great work on this!
Aug. 2nd, 2013 12:00 pm (UTC)
This was a great collaboration, and glad your investigation reported more about the Siren ... although I hope you won't give her away now! It does have a little reversed Superman effect, with the reporter chasing ^^
Aug. 2nd, 2013 02:28 pm (UTC)
The question is: will he remember that she is The Siren after talking with her? LOL.
( 29 comments — Leave a comment )

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