Saturday, July 31, 2010

SPN Season 6: CROWLEY!

Somebody posted a link from ComiCon of a vid they took. It's...kinda sideways and you miss some dialogue what with all the screaming and squeeing and HAPPY FANGIRLING, but, CROWLEY AND BOBBY!

2010 ComiCon SPN Panel Opening Vid

Also, I can't decide if I love my fandom more, or if I'm vaguely disturbed by the fact that there's a Bobby/Crowley comm. Either way, I'm off to check out the fics...

Sirach 19

*The Reckless Soul*
1. A working man who is a drunk will not become wealthy,
And he who despises small things will fail little by little.+

2. Wine and women will draw away intelligent men,
And he who joins himself to prostitutes shall become very reckless.

3. Decay and worms will inherit him,
And his reckless soul will be carried away.

*Don't Gossip*
4. He who trusts quickly is unwise in heart,
And he who sins will err against his own soul.

5. He who rejoices in evil shall be condemned,

6. And he who hates talkativeness will sin less.

7. Never repeat a word and you will lose nothing at all;

8. With friend or enemy, do not report it,
And unless it is a sin for you, do not reveal it.+

9. For someone heard you and watched you,
And in time will hate you.

10. Have you heard a word? Let it die with you.
Take courage; it will not burst you.

11. But a fool will suffer birth-pangs because of such a word,
Like a woman in labor with a child.

12. Like an arrow stuck in the flesh of a thigh,
So is a word inside a fool.

13. Question a friend; perhaps he did not do it.
And if he did something, perhaps he will not repeat it.+

14. Question a neighbor; perhaps he did not say it.
And if he did say it, may he not say it twice.

15. Question a friend, for often it is slander,
So do not believe every word.

16. A person slips, but it was not his intention;
For who has not sinned with his tongue?

17. Question your neighbor before you threaten him,
And give place to the law of the Most High.

*The Wise and the Clever*
18. All wisdom is the fear of the Lord,
And in all wisdom there is the doing of the Law.+

19. Wisdom is not the knowledge of evil,
Nor is there discernment in the counsel of sinners.

20. There is a cleverness that is an abomination,
And there is a fool who is lacking in wisdom.

21. Better is a man who is afraid but lacks understanding,
Than a man who abounds in discernment but transgresses the law.

22. There is a precise cleverness which itself is unjust;
And there is one who is offensive that justice may be revealed.

23. There is an evildoer bowed down in mourning,
But inwardly he is full of deceit.

24. He covers his face and pretends to be deaf,
But when no one notices, he will take advantage of you.

25. If he is prevented from sinning because he lacks strength,
When he later finds an opportunity, he will do evil.

26. A man will be known by his appearance,
And a man of intelligence will be known
By his countenance when you meet him.+

27. The clothing of a man and the way he laughs and walks
Give indication of who he is.

~~~
Notes:
+19:1 - One who has self-control will not dissipate his wealth in drunkenness, nor will he be careless about small things. "Faithfulness in small things is no small thing" (Aug).

+19:8 - The one exception to not passing on hearsay is when keeping quiet about a sin.

+19:13-17 - These verses urge careful examination. The KJV uses "admonish" for the Greek elegzon, which we have rendered question. Some would consider it "reprove" or "examine." However, true friendship requires that we gently and tactfully ask a friend or a neighbor about a potential false charge or hurtful statement. We always give the benefit of the doubt to our neighbor or friend, remembering that we all slip and sin with our tongue far more often than we realize (v. 16).

+19:18-27 - This passage affirms the nature of true wisdom by contrasting it with false wisdom. All wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord (v. 18).

+19:26, 27 - Outward appearance can be an indicator of wisdom.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Book: Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

'CAVEAT: Bringing about Armageddon can be dangerous. Do not attempt it in your own home.'

I'm...fairly certain that everyone is aware of my DEEP AND ABIDING LOVE for this book by now. But...if you're not, you will be. This might, possibly, be my most favorite book of all time. Ever. Unto infinity. It combines things that I like: intelligent, snarky comedy, angels and demons, and the apocalypse. Honestly, put angels and demons in pretty much anything, and I'm there. Do it well? Give them personalities and not just make them giant, boring forces of nature? And I will bear your children. So, y'know, I'm just saying. These two authors pretty much own me for having produced this book.

Now then. The book starts out, In the Beginning, which I have already recreated for you at the appropriate post. For those who don't want to go back and read that (shame on you and your house! Read it now!), basically, it's the Garden of Eden, shortly after the whole, 'Apple' Incident. Crawly, the demon who convinced Eve that fruit looked mighty yummy, and Aziraphale, the angel set to guard the Eastern Gate, are having a discussion. Each one wondering what they just did there, and Aziraphale, at least, feeling a bit guilty about having given Adam and Eve his flaming sword, for protection.

For further fall out from this, I direct you to this passage from later in the book. We are discussing Aziraphale's precious collection of 'odd' Bibles. This is a footnote:

'The Buggre Alle This Bible was also noteworthy for having twenty-seven verses in the third chapter of Genesis, instead of the more usual twenty-four.

They followed verse 24, which in the King James version reads:

"So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east gate of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life," and read:

25. And the Lord spake unto the Angel that guarded the eastern gate, saying 'Where is the flaming sword which was given unto thee?'

26. And the Angel said, 'I had it here only a moment ago, I must have put it down some where, forget my own head next'

27. And the Lord did not ask him again.

It appears that these verses were inserted during the proof stage. In those days it was common practice for printers to hang proof sheets to the wooden beams outside their shops, for the edification of the populace and some free proofreading, and since the whole print run was subsequently burned anyway, no one bothered to take up this matter with the nice Mr. A. Ziraphale, who ran the bookshop two doors along and was always so helpful with the translations, and whose handwriting was instantly recognizable.'

Anyway. So, Aziraphale and Crawly (who changes his name to the more appropriate Anthony J. Crowley at the soonest opportunity) are left on earth after the whole Garden thing goes south, as their representative sides' agents on earth. They spend a good four, five thousand years kicking the crap out of one another, we presume, until they come to The Arrangement. Meaning, both of them realized that their time and energy could be better spent, that neither of their 'bosses' really cared who did the miracles/tempting (seeing as how Crowley is, actually, an angel who 'did not so much fall as saunter vaguely downwards', he can still do miracles), so long as it got done, and that they had more in common with one another, than with the beings who were on their 'side'. So they became friends.

The story picks up with the, well, the beginning of the end. Crowley is called to a meeting, in a graveyard, with two Dukes of Hell. He arrives, stylishly, in his 1926 Bentley, which he has had, mint perfect, since it came off the line, doesn't need petrol, ever, and somehow manages to turn all cassettes left in it to Queen within a fortnight. To his great dismay, he's handed the infant antichrist, and told to deliver him to his new family so they can get going with this whole apocalypse thing.

Crowley delivers, reluctantly, the infant to the hospital, and flees. After he leaves, the nun he handed the baby to (who happens to be an airhead), manages to give the antichrist, not to the American diplomat's family, but to Mr. and Mrs. Young, of Lower Tadfield, England. So, while all the forces of Hell are watching the diplomat child (who, painfully, gets named Warlock), the antichrist is being raised in the middle of nowhere, Britain.

Crowley, having done his job, turns to Aziraphale for ideas, since they've both gone native, and really would rather the apocalypse didn't happen, thank you very much. This is where the Drunken Conversation of Awesome happens.

The boys decide to try and counter the hellish education meant for little Warlock (who, you will recall, is actually a perfectly normal baby, and not the antichrist at all. Just badly named.), in the hopes that he will turn out normal, and not, y'know, Evil. Which they proceed to do, for eleven years.

At the antichrists eleventh birthday, he's supposed to get a pet Hellhound, which will find him and be the beginning of the end. Then all his powers start to kick in, and, well. Sky turning to blood, seas boiling, etc. All sorts of nastiness. Crowley and Aziraphale attend Warlock's party (Crowley comes as part of the catering staff, and Aziraphale attempts to be a magician. It doesn't go well, especially for the dove Aziraphale stuffed up his sleeve. But don't worry, Crowley miracles it back to life later.), to see if their plan did any good.

Only....no Hellhound. So Crowley 'phones home'.

'He opened the car door, flipped on the radio. "I-should-be-so-lucky-lucky-lucky-lucky-lucky, I-should-be-so-lucky-in- HELLO CROWLEY."

"Hello. Um, who is this?"

"DAGON, LORD OF THE FLIES, MASTER OF MADNESS, UNDERDUKE OF THE SEVENTH TORMENT. WHAT CAN I DO FOR YOU?"

"The hell-hound. I'm just, uh, just checking that it got off okay."

"RELEASED TEN MINUTES AGO. WHY? HASN'T IT ARRIVED? IS SOMETHING WRONG?"

"Oh no. Nothing wrong. Everything's fine. Oops, I can see it now. Good dog. Nice dog. Everything's terrific. You're doing a great job down there, people. Well, lovely talking to you, Dagon. Catch you soon, huh?"'

But, of course, there is no Hellhound. Rather, the Hellhound has found the *actual* Antichrist, and, fitting itself to its masters unconscious desires, turned itself into an adorable, small, yappy mutt. This does, however, make Crowley and Aziraphale aware that they have, somehow, managed to mislay the antichrist. So they head off to the hospital where he was switched, to try and track where the real antichrist went.

A tip: Don't drive with Crowley.

'The car's engine coughed into life and the car leapt forward, forcing Aziraphale back into the seat.

"And then what?" he said.

"And then we find the child."

"And then what?" The angel shut his eyes as the car crabbed around a corner.

"Don't know."

"Good grief."

"I suppose - get off the road you clown - your people wouldn't consider - and the scooter you rode in on! - giving me asylum?"

"I was going to ask you the same thing - Watch out for that pedestrian!"

"It's on the street, it knows the risks it's taking!" said Crowley.'

'At least cars were better than horses. ... The only horses he could be seen riding on business, in the old days, were big black jobs with eyes like flame and hooves that struck sparks. That was de rigeur for a demon. Usually, Crowley fell off. He wasn't much good with animals.'

So they head off, back to the hospital which is in the countryside somewhere. And then...they get there. But things have changed.

'They got out of the car. Thirty seconds later, someone shot both of them. With incredible accuracy.
.
.
.
'Crowley sank down with his back against a statue. Aziraphale had already toppled backward into a rhododendron bush, a dark stain spreading across his coat.

Crowley felt dampness suffusing his own shirt.

This was ridiculous. The last thing he needed now was to be killed. It would require all sorts of explanations. They didn't hand out new bodies just like that; they always wanted to know what you'd done with the old one. It was like trying to get a new pen from a particularly bloody-minded stationary department.

He looked at his hand in disbelief.

Demons have to be able to see in the dark. And he could see that his hand was yellow. He was bleeding yellow.

Gingerly, he tasted a finger.

Then he crawled over to Aziraphale and checked the angel's shirt. If the stain on it was blood, something had gone very wrong with biology.

"Oh, that stung," moaned the fallen angel. "Got me right under the ribs."

"Yes, but do you normally bleed blue?" said Crowley.

Aziraphale's eyes opened. His right hand patted his chest. He sat up. He went through the same crude forensic self-examination as Crowley.

"Paint?" he said.

Crowley nodded.

"What're they playing at?" said Aziraphale.

"I don't know," said Crowley, "but I think it's called silly buggers." His tone suggested that he could play, too. And do it better.'

At which point the boys find themselves in the midst of a team-building exercise for some corporation, and, because he's Crowley, he turns all their paintball guns into *real* guns.

'"That was a pretty low trick," said Aziraphale, as they strolled through the empty corridors.

"What'd I do? What'd I do?" said Crowley, pushing open doors at random.

"There are people out there shooting one another!"

"Well, that's just it, isn't it? They're doing it to themselves. It's what they really want to do. I just assisted them. Think of it as a microcosm of the universe. Free will for everyone. Ineffable, right?"

Aziraphale glared.

"Oh, all right," said Crowley wretchedly. "No one's actually going to get killed. They're all going to have miraculous escapes. It wouldn't be any fun otherwise."

Aziraphale relaxed. "You know, Crowley," he said, beaming, "I've always said that, deep down, you're really quite a-"

"All right, all right," Crowley snapped. "Tell the whole blessed world, why don't you?"'

They find the idiot-nun-turned-entrepreneur, and discover that they have no way to track down the antichrist. They are, emphatically, boned.

'"Doesn't bear thinking about it, does it," said Aziraphale, gloomily.

"All the higher life forms scythed away, just like that."

"Terrible."

"Nothing but dust and fundamentalists."

"That was nasty."

"Sorry. Couldn't resist it."'

Crowley decides that the best course of action is to head home and get some sleep.

'"You don't need sleep. I don't need sleep. Evil never sleeps, and Virtue is ever-vigilant."

"Evil in general, maybe. This specific part of it has got into the habit of getting its head down occasionally."' (Crowley actually slept through the entire 14th century.)

Apocalyptic-y stuff goes on, yadda, (you need to read the book for these parts, people), and then we get back to Crowley, and his flat.

'In fact the only things in the flat Crowley devoted any personal attention to were the houseplants. They were huge and green and glorious, with shiny, healthy, lustrous leaves.

This was because, once a week, Crowley went around the flat with a green plastic plant mister, spraying the leaves, and talking to the plants.

He had heard about talking to plants in the early seventies, on Radio Four, and thought it an excellent idea. Although talking is perhaps the wrong word for what Crowley did.

What he did was put the fear of God into them.

More precisely, the fear of Crowley.

In addition to which, every couple of months Crowley would pick out a plant that was growing too slowly, or succumbing to leaf-wilt or browning, or just didn't look quite as good as the others, and he would carry it around to all the other plants. "Say goodbye to your friend," he'd say to them. "He just couldn't cut it..."

Then he would leave the flat with the offending plant, and return an hour or so later with a large, empty flower pot, which he would leave somewhere conspicuously around the flat.

The plants were the most luxurious, verdant, and beautiful in London. Also the most terrified.'

(Which scene led me to the following macro.)




MOAR APOCALYPSE STUFF! THE FOUR HORSE PERSONS OF THE APOCALYPSE! A HELLHOUND NAMED DOG! ATLANTIS RISING FROM THE SEA! TIBETANS DIGGING TUNNELS! A PROFESSIONAL DESCENDANT AND A WITCHFINDER! ANGEL RIDING A MOPED INSIDE A PAINTED JEZEBEL!

CROWLEY AND AZIRAPHALE BEING AWESOME LIKE NOBODIES' BUSINESS!

READ THIS BOOK!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

I THINK I MIGHT NEED THIS!

Inception: The Shooting Script

'Inception, writer-director Christopher Nolan's seventh feature film, joins the epic scope of The Dark Knight with the narrative sophistication of Memento.

The story of a group of thieves who specialize in invading the mind through one's dreams, Inception explores the writer-director's signature psychological themes of memory, paranoia, and self-doubt as his protagonist, Dom Cobb, is pitted against a hostile subconscious spurred on by personal demons and regrets from the past.

In a conversational preface, Nolan discusses with brother and frequent collaborator, Jonathan, the genesis of the idea for the film and the decade-long process it took to write it. Detailing the results of Nolan's efforts, Inception: The Shooting Script includes key storyboard sequences, full-colour concept art, and an appendix on the workings of the mysterious Pasiv Device that Cobb and his fellow extractors use to initiate the dream-share. An exclusive exploration of a highly original concept, Inception: The Shooting Script is the record of a writer-director at the height of his craft.

Includes: Writer-Director Christopher Nolan's initial handwritten outline of the Inception plot. A preface by brothers and collaborators Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan, in which they delve into the 10-year development process behind Inception. An 8-page colour insert featuring Inception concept art. An in-world appendix with instructions for operating the mysterious Pasiv Device mechanism.'

I can't decide. I dropped it into my Amazon cart to ponder. It's...completely nerdy and unnecessary, and yet I want it like *burning*. But I can't decide if that's just rampant love for the film. I've done this before, and gotten books from films, and been disappointed because clearly my love was only for the film. But- IT HAS INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO USE THE COMPLETELY MADE-UP DEVICE! IT'S GEEK PORN!

Tobit Chapter 10

*Anna's Distress*

1. Tobit his father was counting each day. But when the days needed to complete the journey ended and they had not returned,+ 2. he asked, "Has he perhaps been dishonored? Or has Gabael died and no one gave him the silver?" 3. So he was very distressed. 4. Then his wife told him, "The young man has perished. That is why he is delayed." Then she began to weep for him and said, 5. "Nothing matters to me, my child, the light of my eyes, for I permitted you to go." 6. So Tobit said to her, "Be silent and have no more thoughts about it. He is in good health."

7. She replied to him, "You be quiet. Do not deceive me. My child has perished." Then throughout the day she went outside to the road by which he had departed, and during the day she did not eat bread. At night she did not cease lamenting for her son Tobias until the fourteen days of the wedding feast were over, the days Raguel swore him to celebrate there.

*The Bride and Groom Depart*

8. Then Tobias said to Raguel, "Send me back, for my father and my mother no longer hope they will see me."+ 9. But his father-in-law said to him, "Stay with me, and I will send messengers to your father. They will make clear to him how you are doing." But Tobias said, "No indeed. On the contrary, send me back to my father."

10. Then Raguel arose and gave Sarah his wife to him, and half of his belongings in servants, cattle, and silver. 11. Then he blessed them and sent them on their way, saying, "May the God of heaven prosper you, my children, before the day I die." 12. To his daughter he said, "Honor your husband's mother and father, for they are now your parents. Let me hear a good report of you," and he kissed her. 13. Then Edna said to Tobias, "My beloved brother, may the Lord of heaven bring you back and grant me to see your children from my daughter Sarah, that I may rejoice before the Lord. Behold, I am entrusting my daughter to your care. Do not grieve her."+ 14. With this, Tobias went on his way blessing God that He had prospered his journey. Then he blessed Raguel and Edna his wife.

~~~
+10:1-7 - The extended fourteen days of the wedding feast (v.7) cause friction between Tobit and Anna because Tobias has not returned home. They try to hush each other up (vv.6, 7).

+10:8-10 - Raguel wants the newlyweds to stay even longer, but Tobias prevails. They depart with a blessing.

+10:13 - Edna's request to see your children from my daughter Sarah is echoed by the Orthodox priest at the crowning service, praying that the wedded couple will "see your children's children."

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

SPN Season 6 SQUEEEEEEEEEEE

ComiCon interviews!

Misha is confirmed for Cas for Season 6, and Gabriel will be back! Ben Edlund says so! SOMEHOW, SOMEWAY, GABRIEL! I *NEED* IT TO BE RICHARD SPEIGHT, JR. OKAY? A NEW BODY IS NOT ACCEPTABLE!

ALSO, MEBBE HIS KIDS? LOKI'S KIDS WOULD BE AWESOME AND HORRIFIC AND AWESOME ALL AT THE SAME TIME!

Immaculate Conception

This is a half-formed thought I'm jotting down so I don't forget it.

So, in Catholicism, when you hear the term the Immaculate Conception, they're talking about the Virgin Mary's conception, not Christs. (Though His, too, would be termed Immaculate, but the whole Virgin Birth thing takes precedence, I suppose...)

Anyway. The concept is that, at her conception, Mary was free from all sin, which would have to be Original Sin, since at that point, she was incapable of having committed personal sins. Not a lot of opportunity in the womb, one supposes.

So later on, at the Annunciation, Mary was already perfect and sinless when she said yes to God, through Gabriel. She was at a pre-Fall state of being.

However, it is my understanding, though I could be wrong here, that in Orthodoxy, the 'stain' of Original Sin doesn't....doesn't exist, for lack of a better word, here. There are consequences of Original Sin - death and the propensity for personal sins, but like, an infant who dies isn't going to be stuck in limbo/hell because of the stain of Original Sin, right?

So, because of that, there's no doctrine of the Immaculate Conception in Orthodoxy. Rather, and again, my understanding, it was only at Mary's acceptance, at her 'yes', that she was cleansed, I'm assuming because she'd accepted Christ, even if she maybe didn't understand the details at the moment? I don't know, but she was made immaculate and sinless at that point, and never sinned for the rest of her life.

The point is- the *point* is, mind, that I think the second makes more sense. If Mary was *already* perfect and sinless, then *of course* she was going to say yes. However, if she was just like everybody else, then her yes was a free choice, see? She was at the same state of being as all the rest of us, and in that flawed state, chose God. Which makes the choice more important and meaningful, see?

Ecclesiastes 6:5

Though it has not seen the sun or known anything, it has more rest than that man.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Leverage Random Rambling

One of the many things I love about Leverage is how they give you bits and pieces all throughout the shows to let you learn about the team and their pasts slowly, not all at once.

I mean, Eliot is my favorite. My absolute favorite. And one of his defining characteristics is that he's angry at the world. All the time. Except when he's fighting. When he's fighting, he is absolutely in control, and everything becomes crystal clear. He's taken the anger and the pain and the violence inside of himself and focused it on doing good.

And you can see glimpses of where all that comes from. Like, in Order No. 23 Job, when he saves the kid who's being abused by his father. You can see it in the way Eliot looks. The way he moves, the way he recognizes the symptoms when no one else does. Eliot came from home a violent home, and he knows that it broke him in highly significant ways, but with the Leverage team he has a family. Highly whacked and dysfunctional, but they're better together, and they make each other 'normal'.

Good Omens: The Beginning (why yes, I might be doing this for a bit. you'll live.)

IT WAS A NICE DAY.

All the days had been nice. There had been rather more than seven of them so far, and rain hadn't been invented yet. But clouds massing east of Eden suggested that the first thunderstorm was on its way, and it was going to be a big one.

The angel of the Eastern Gate put his wings over his head to shield himself from the first drops.

"I'm sorry," he said politely. "What was it you were saying?"

"I said, that one went down like a lead balloon," said the serpent.

"Oh. Yes," said the angel, whose name was Aziraphale.

"I think it was a bit of an overreaction, to be honest," said the serpent. "I mean, first offense and everything. I can't see what's so bad about knowing the difference between good and evil, anyway."

"It must be bad," reasoned Aziraphale, in the slightly concerned tones of one who can't see it either, and is worrying about it, "otherwise you wouldn't have been involved."

"They just said, Get up there and make some trouble," said the serpent, whose name was Crawly, although he was thinking of changing it now. Crawly, he'd decided, was not him.

"Yes, but you're a demon. I'm not sure if it's actually possible for you to do good," said Aziraphale. "It's down to your basic, you know, nature. Nothing personal, you understand."

"You've got to admit it's a bit of a pantomime, though," said Crawly. "I mean, pointing out the Tree and saying 'Don't Touch' in big letters. Not very subtle, is it? I mean, why not put it on top of a high mountain or a long way off? Makes you wonder what He's really planning."

"Best not to speculate, really," said Aziraphale. "You can't second-guess ineffability, I always say. There's Right, and there's Wrong. If you do Wrong when you're told to do Right, you deserve to be punished. Er."

They sat in embarrassed silence, watching the raindrops bruise the first flowers.

Eventually Crawly said, "Didn't you have a flaming sword?"

"Er," said the angel. A guilty expression passed across his face, and then came back and camped there.

"You did, didn't you?" said Crawly. "It flamed like anything."

"Er, well—"

"It looked very impressive, I thought."

"Yes, but, well—"

"Lost it, have you?"

"Oh no! No, not exactly lost, more—"

"Well?"

Aziraphale looked wretched. "If you must know," he said, a trifle testily, "I gave it away."

Crawly stared up at him.

"Well, I had to," said the angel, rubbing his hands distractedly. "They looked so cold, poor things, and she's expecting already, and what with the vicious animals out there and the storm coming up I thought, well, where's the harm, so I just said, look, if you come back there's going to be an almighty row, but you might be needing this sword, so here it is, don't bother to thank me, just do everyone a big favor and don't let the sun go down on you here."

He gave Crawly a worried grin.

"That was the best course, wasn't it?"

"I'm not sure it's actually possible for you to do evil," said Crawly sarcastically. Aziraphale didn't notice the tone.

"Oh, I do hope so," he said. "I really do hope so. Its been worrying me all afternoon."

They watched the rain for a while.

"Funny thing is," said Crawly, "I keep wondering whether the apple thing wasn't the right thing to do, as well. A demon can get into real trouble, doing the right thing." He nudged the angel. "Funny if we both got it wrong, eh? Funny if I did the good thing and you did the bad one, eh?"

"Not really," said Aziraphale.

Crawly looked at the rain.

"No," he said, sobering up. "I suppose not."

Slate-black curtains tumbled over Eden. Thunder growled among the hills. The animals, freshly named, cowered from the storm.

Far away, in the dripping woods, something bright and fiery flickered among the trees.

It was going to be a dark and stormy night.

-Neil Gaiman, Good Omens, p. 3-5

Monday, July 26, 2010

I Present, The 'Big Damn Brains' Conversation aka An Angel and A Demon Walk Into a Back Room

from Good Omens, because I'm reading it for the millionth time, and I want to!

AND NOW IT WAS THREE O'CLOCK. The Antichrist had been on Earth for fifteen hours, and one angel and one demon had been drinking solidly for three of them.

They sat opposite one another in the back room of Aziraphale's dingy old bookshop in Soho.

Most bookshops in Soho have back rooms, and most of the back rooms are filled with rare, or at least very expensive, books. But Aziraphale's books didn't have illustrations. They had old brown covers and crackling pages. Occasionally, if he had no alternative, he'd sell one.

And, occasionally, serious men in dark suits would come calling and suggest, very politely, that perhaps he'd like to sell the shop itself so that it could be turned into the kind of retail outlet more suited to the area. Sometimes they'd offer cash, in large rolls of grubby fifty-pound notes. Or, sometimes, while they were talking, other men in dark glasses would wander around the shop shaking their heads and saying how flammable paper was, and what a firetrap he had here.

And Aziraphale would nod and smile and say that he'd think about it. And then they'd go away. And they'd never come back.

Just because you're an angel doesn't mean you have to be a fool.

The table in front of the two of them was covered with bottles.

"The point is," Crowley said, "the point is. The point is." He tried to focus on Aziraphale.

"The point is," he said, and tried to think of a point.

"The point I'm trying to make," he said, brightening, "is the dolphins. That's my point."

"Kind of fish," said Aziraphale.

"Nononono," said Crowley, shaking a finger. "'S mammal. Your actual mammal. Difference is-" Crowley waded through the swamp of his mind and tried to remember the difference. "Difference is, they-"

"Mate out of water?" volunteered Aziraphale.

Crowley's brow furrowed. "Don't think so. Pretty sure that's not it. Something about their young. Whatever." He pulled himself together. "The point is. The point is. Their brains."

He reached for a bottle.

"What about the brains?" said the angel.

"Big brains. That's my point. Size of. Size of. Size of damn big brains. And then there's the whales. Brain city, take it from me. Whole damn sea full of brains."

"Kraken," said Aziraphale, staring moodily into his glass.

Crowley gave him the long cool look of someone who has just had a girder dropped in front of his train of thought.

"Uh?"

"Great big bugger," said Aziraphale. "Sleepeth beneath the thunders of the upper deep. Under loads of huge and unnumbered polupol- polipo- bloody great seaweeds, you know. Supposed to rise to the surface right at the end, when the sea boils."

"Yeah?"

"Fact."

"There you are, then," said Crowley, sitting back. "Whole sea bubbling, poor old dolphins so much seafood gumbo, no one giving a damn. Same with gorillas. Whoops, they say, sky gone all red, stars crashing to the ground, what they putting in the bananas these days? And then-"

"They make nests, you know, gorillas," said the angel, pouring another drink and managing to hit the glass on the third go.

"Nah."

"God's truth. Saw a film. Nests."

"That's birds," said Crowley.

"Nests," insisted Aziraphale.

Crowley decided not to argue the point.

"There you are then," he said. "All creatures great and smoke. I mean small. Great and small. Lot of them with brains. And then, bazamm."

"But you're part of it," said Aziraphale. "You tempt people. You're good at it."

Crowley thumped his glass on the table. "That's different. They don't have to say yes. That's the ineffable bit, right? Your side made it up. You've got to keep testing people. But not to destruction."

"All right. All right. I don't like it any more than you, but I told you, I can't disod- disoy- not do what I'm told. 'M a'nangel."

"There's no theaters in Heaven," said Crowley. "And very few films."

"Don't you try to tempt me," said Aziraphale wretchedly. "I know you, you old serpent."

"Just you think about it," said Crowley relentlessly, "You know what eternity is? You know what eternity is? I mean, d'you know what eternity is? There's this big mountain, see, a mile high at the end of the universe, and once every thousand years there's this little bird-"

"What little bird?" said Aziraphale suspiciously.

"This little bird I'm talking about. And every thousand years-"

"The same bird every thousand years?"

Crowley hesitated. "Yeah," he said.

"Bloody ancient bird, then."

"Okay. And every thousand years this bird flies-"

"-limps-"

"-flies all the way to this mountain and sharpens its beak-"

"Hold on. You can't do that. Between here and the end of the universe there's loads of-" The angel waved a hand expansively, if a little unsteadily. "Loads of buggerall, dear boy."

"But it gets there anyway," Crowley persevered.

"How?"

"It doesn't matter!"

"It could use a spaceship," said the angel.

Crowley subsided a bit. "Yeah," he said. "If you like. Anyway, this bird-"

"Only it is the end of the universe we're talking about," said Aziraphale. "So it'd have to be one of those spaceships where your descendants are the ones who get out at the other end. You have to tell your descendants, you say, When you get to the Mountain, you've got to-" He hesitated. "What have they got to do?"

"Sharpen its beak on the mountain," said Crowley. "And then it flies back-"

"-in the spaceship-"

"And after a thousand years it goes and does it all again," said Crowley quickly.

There was a moment of drunken silence.

"Seems a lot of effort just to sharpen a beak," mused Aziraphale.

"Listen," said Crowley urgently, "the point is that when the bird has worn the mountain down to nothing, right, then-"

Aziraphale opened his mouth. Crowley just knew he was going to make some point about the relative hardness of birds' beaks and granite mountains, and plunged on quickly.

"-then you still won't have finished watching The Sound of Music."

Aziraphale froze.

"And you'll enjoy it," Crowley said relentlessly. "You really will."

"My dear boy-"

"You won't have a choice."

"Listen-"

"Heaven has no taste."

"Now-"

"And not one single sushi restaurant."

A look of pain crossed the angel's suddenly very serious face.

"I can't cope with this while 'm drunk," he said. "I'm going to sober up."

"Me too."

The both winced as the alcohol left their bloodstreams, and sat up a bit more neatly. Aziraphale straightened his tie.

"I can't interfere with divine plans," he croaked.

Crowley looked speculatively into his glass, then filled it again.

"What about diabolical ones?" he said.

"Pardon?"

"Well, it's got to be a diabolical plan, hasn't it? We're doing it. My side."

"Ah, but it's all part of the overall divine plan," said Aziraphale. "Your side can't do anything without it being part of the ineffable divine plan," he added, with a trace of smugness.

"You wish!"

"No, that's the-" Aziraphale snapped his fingers irritably. "The thing. What d'you call it in your colorful idiom? The line at the bottom."

"The bottom line."

"Yes. It's that."

"Well...if you're sure..." said Crowley.

"No doubt about it."

Crowley looked up slyly.

"Then you can't be certain, correct me if I'm wrong, you can't be certain that thwarting it isn't part of the divine plan too. I mean, you're supposed to thwart the wiles of the Evil One at every turn, aren't you?"

Aziraphale hesitated.

"There is that, yes."

"You see a wile, you thwart it. Am I right?"

"Broadly, broadly. Actually I encourage humans to do the actual thwarting. Because of ineffability, you understand."

"Right. Right. So all you've got to do is thwart. Because if I know anything," said Crowley urgently, "it's that the birth is just the start. It's the upbringing that's important. It's the Influence. Otherwise the child will never learn to use its powers." He hesitated. "At least, not necessarily as intended."

"Certainly our side won't mind me thwarting you," said Aziraphale thoughtfully. "They won't mind that at all."

"Right. It'd be a real feather in your wing." Crowley gave the angel an encouraging smile.

"What will happen to the child if it doesn't get a Satanic upbringing, though?" said Aziraphale.

"Probably nothing. It'll never know."

"But genetics-"

"Don't tell you from genetics. What've they got to do with it?" said Crowley. "Look at Satan. Created as an angel, grows up to be the Great Adversary. Hey, if you're going to go on about genetics, you might as well say the kid will grow up to be an angel. After all, his father was really big in Heaven in the old days. Saying he'll grow up to be a demon just because his dad became one is like saying a mouse with its tail cut off will give birth to tailless mice. No. Upbringing is everything. Take it from me."

"And without unopposed Satanic influences-"

"Well, at worst Hell will have to start all over again. And the Earth gets at least another eleven years. That's got to be worth something, hasn't it?"

Now Aziraphale was looking thoughtful again."

"You're saying the child isn't evil of itself?" he said slowly.

"Potentially evil. Potentially good, too, I suppose. Just this huge powerful potentiality, waiting to be shaped," said Crowley. He shrugged. "Anyway, why're we talking about this good and evil? They're just names for sides. We know that."

"I suppose it's got to be worth a try," said the angel. Crowley nodded encouragingly.

"Agreed?" said the demon, holding out his hand.

The angel shook it, cautiously.

"It'll certainly be more interesting than saints," he said.

"And it'll be for the child's own good, in the long run," said Crowley. "We'll be godfathers, sort of. Overseeing his religious upbringing, you might say."

Aziraphale beamed.

"You know, I'd never have thought of that," he said. "Godfathers. Well, I'll be damned."

"It's not too bad," said Crowley, "when you get used to it."

-Good Omens, p. 47-52, Neil Gaiman

Oh Noes!

My favorite only linen slacks are too big! *wails* It's to the point of too-bigness that even in 3 inch heels they touch the floor. *whinemoan*

My life is full of *such* *drama*!

Fare thee well, linen slacks, you will be joining the other clothes I bid adieu to.

Now, of course, the question is, why did I not realize it was this bad when I put them on this morning? Because I *love* them and they are swishy and *light*! And so I stuck my head in the clothing sand, and put on heels, just for these pants!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Knowledge. I Has It.

So, I finally read Fragile Things, which is a short story collection by Neil Gaiman. I'd had it for a while, just never got round to it.

The last short story?

Is an American Gods short story.

Among other things, I now know Shadows real name.

This pleases me.

Clothing Is An Exhausting Business

Because you know you're all just *riveted* by this stuff. I spent all day trying on clothes from my haul at the gym, and what I already had, and organizing, etc. Here are the fruits of my labors. The first three pics are my closet prior to the great event.


The following pic is of the new clothes, all out of their bags and waiting for me. Like a dragon.


Right then. After *all day* three hours or so, since I did go to church, and the gym, and a movie first, because perseverance is my middle name! Anyway. After Much Work, I had three piles of tops. The pile closest is labeled 'now', which means that the clothes in that pile fit right now. The back left pile is '-1', meaning they're one size down, I estimate. They fit, but are too tight. The back right pile is '-2', meaning they don't fit, and I guess at least two sizes down before they fit. Now, for any random men reading this, you know why it takes so long for women to shop? Even women who *hate* shopping, such as me? Because CLOTHING SIZES MAKE NO SENSE! THEY LIEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!! For instance, the pile that fits now? The size labels range from 3X down to Medium, with stops at every size in between. How does that even work? And the other two piles both contain mixes of XL, L, Medium, and Small. *growls* So, instead of being able to just go in and pick out your size, you have to TRY EVERYTHING ON! Even clothes by the same brand have to be tried on, because different styles are cut differently, etc. and FIT DIFFERENTLY! And then everything takes HOURS and you are tired and achy and your feet hurt and then you want to beat things into walls!


And the next three pics are of my closet after everything has been hung up and all the new clothes are in place. *iz ded*



I've also got two bags of clothes that are too big for me, to be donated.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Book: Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

I think this book, in tone, is sort of a half-way point between American Gods, which tended to the serious, and Good Omens, which is hilarious. So, Anansi Boys is funny, but not a comedy.

We start out with Fat Charlie Nancy, who hasn't, actually, been fat since he was fourteen. But his father gave him the name, and when his father names things, they tend to stay named. Fat Charlie is living in England, working a very boring job at the Grahame Coats Agency, as an accountant. He's marrying Rosie, whom he loves, and waging a cold war with Rosie's mother, on account of the Incident of the Wax Fruit.

He's really rather displeased with the state of his life, but he's so stuck in it that he doesn't realize that he's actually displeased with it.

And then, his father ups and dies singing karaoke in a bar in Florida. Just...drops dead in the middle of what was, by all accounts, a rousing rendition of What's New Pussycat? (also, consequently, taking down the tube top of a drunken, blonde tourist on his way down) Which a) solves the problem of convincing Rosie that they should under *no* circumstances invite him to the wedding (the Incident of President's Day, and all the humiliation that Fat Charlie recalls from his youth), and b) sends Fat Charlie back to Florida for the funeral.

Fat Charlie arrives, crashes the wrong funeral, and discovers that he has actually managed to miss his father's funeral, but is just in time to fill in the grave himself, because that's what Mrs. Higgler (an old neighbor), believes that Fat Charlie really, deep down, *wants* to do. After that, she takes him to her house, mistaking the sweat and rain rolling down his face for tears (he assures her he's not upset, but what does he know?)

At her place, over dinner, Fat Charlie discovers two things. One, his father was a god, and two, he has a brother named Spider. Fat Charlie, being sensible, believes that the women are all either nuts or playing a prank. But, it does stick in his head that, should he ever want to meet his brother, all he needs to do is tell a spider and the spider will pass the message on.

Back in London, kind of drunk because Rosie, who refuses to sleep with him, showed up late to take a shower (the water is off in her building), and consequently he'd finished off the bottle of wine and most of the pizza he'd bought for the both of them himself. Rosie finds a spider in the shower, and insists that Fat Charlie relocate him to the outside. Which he does, and in his drunken state, tells the spider to tell Spider that his brother says hi, and that he should stop by some time.

To Fat Charlie's immense surprise, when he wakes up the next morning, his brother Spider has shown up. He apologises for not coming by sooner, but,

'Things came up.

'What kind of things?

'Things. They came up. That's what things do. They come up. I can't be expected to keep track of them all.'

So, Spider shows up, discovers their father is dead, and decides to hang for a bit. He takes Fat Charlie out to mourn their father with wine, women and song. Which leaves Fat Charlie a bit worse for the weather the next morning, and so Spider, being the helpful sort, goes into work for him. Spider, being all godlike (he got all the god stuff from their father), simply tells people that he *is* Fat Charlie, and they believe him.

Spider also, trying to be helpful, meets Rosie, and decides that he can have that. So he does. She, of course, thinks that he's Fat Charlie. And Fat Charlie, well, his brother's a god. So Fat Charlie gets told to go see a movie, which he does, for like, 12 hours, and then he can't, literally *can't*, make it home. When he finally does, he sees Spider canoodling Rosie.

Next day he demands Spider leave. Spider, being Spider, doesn't. So Fat Charlie flies back to Florida to find out from the old ladies how to get rid of Spider.

'Don't you start going all British on me. I know what I'm sayin'. You and him, you both cut from the same cloth. I remember your father sayin' to me, Callyanne, my boys, they stupider than-- you know, it don't matter what he actually said, but the point is, he said it about both of you.'

So Fat Charlie goes to the EndBeginningEnd of the World, and meets some of the gods. He asks them for help, but all of them are too afraid of his father, until he meets the Bird Woman. She bargains to help him. She gives him her word, in exchange for Anansi's bloodline (which, for those who missed it, is Spider and Fat Charlie. The stupid comment makes more sense now, yeah?)

Fat Charlie flies back to England, and discovers that Spider has decided he's in love with Rosie, that Fat Charlie is suspected of embezzling millions (that actually, isn't entirely Spider's fault), and that the girl he met at his father's 'wake' is actually a Detective, who arrests him. Fat Charlie discovers that jail is nothing so exciting as on tv:

'Nothing happened. Nothing continued to happen. More Nothing. The Return of Nothing. Son of Nothing. Nothing Rides Again. Nothing and Abbott and Costello meet the Wolfman...'

Both Spider and Charlie are being stalked by birds, and attacked. Spider breaks into the prison cell where Charlie is being held, and then zaps them out, so they can talk. Charlie tells Spider what he'd done, and why:

'"So you met the Bird Woman, and ... ?"

"She offered to make you go away. And, um. Well, I took her up on it."

"That," said Spider, with a movie-star smile, "was really stupid."

"I didn't tell her to hurt you."

"What did you think she was going to do to get rid of me? Write me a stiff letter?"

"I don't know. I didn't think. I was upset."

"Great. Well, if she has her way, you'll be upset, and I'll be dead. You could have just asked me to leave, you know."

"I did!"

"Er. What did I say?"'

'"No. I mean there's something wrong with the Bird Woman trying to hurt us."

"Yup. It's wrong. It's a very, very bad thing to do. Do you want to tell her, or shall I?"'

Spider is taken by the birds, and Fat Charlie has to track down Mrs. Higgler, who has the feather the Bird Woman gave him, so he can trade it back for Spider. Mrs. Higgler has gone to Saint Andrews island, which is where Fat Charlie shows up. And, through myriad coincidences, that's where everything comes to a head, and Fat Charlie acquires a lime.

'"You're no help," he told the lime. This was unfair. It was only a lime; there was nothing special about it at all. It was doing the best it could.'

Also, you know, the plot gets solved. All that stuff. :)

Dear Hardison,

I never noticed before, but you're holding your fake FBI badge upside down.

Just thought you should know.

Sirach 18

*A Song of God's Mercy*
1. He who lives forever created everything;

2. The Lord alone will be declared righteous,

3. He permitted no one to proclaim His works,
For who can trace out His mighty works?+

4. Who will measure His majestic power with a number,
And who will add to this measure
While describing His mercies?

5. There is no one who can add or subtract,
And there is no one who can search out the wonders of the Lord.

6. When a man completes his search, then he starts over;
And when he stops, he will still be perplexed.

7. What is man and what use is he;
What is his good and what is his evil?

8. The number of a man's days is considered great
If he is one hundred years old.+

9. But like a drop of water from the sea and a grain of sand,
So are a few years within a day of eternity.

10. Therefore the Lord is patient with them
And pours out His mercy upon them.

11. He sees and knows their end, that it is evil;
Therefore He makes full atonement for them.

12. The mercy of a man is upon his neighbor,
But the mercy of the Lord is upon all flesh.
Rebuking, training, and teaching them
Like a shepherd who returns his flock to the fold

13. He has mercy on those who receive His discipline
And who are eager for His judgments.

*Take Care to Be Wise*
14. My son, do not bring disgrace on the good you have done,
Not cause grief by your words when you make a gift.

15. Does not dew give relief from the burning heart?
In the same way, a word is better than a gift.+

16. Indeed, is not a word better than a fitting gift?
And both are found in a gracious man.

17. A fool will insult and disgrace someone,
And the gift of an envious man makes his eyes waste away.

18. Before you speak, learn,
And before you get sick, take care of your health.+

19. Before you make a judgment, examine yourself closely,
And in the hour of visitation you will find atonement.

20. Before you become sick, humble yourself;
And at the time of sinning, prove your conversion.

21. Let nothing hinder you from paying a vow promptly,
And do not wait until death to become righteous.

22. Before you make a vow, prepare yourself;
And do not become like a man who tempts the Lord.+

23. Remember His anger on the day of your death,
At the time of vengeance, when He turns His face away.

24. Remember the time of hunger in the time of plenty,
And poverty and need in the days of wealth.+

25. From morning until evening, time changes;
And all things are soon in the presence of the Lord.

26. A wise man will have the fear of God in everything he does;
And in these days of sin, he will guard against wrongdoing.+

27. Every intelligent man knows wisdom
And praises the one who finds her.

28. The wise in words - they also make others wise,
And they pour forth accurate proverbs.+

*Self-Control*
29. Do not talk after your own desires,
But restrain your appetites.+

30. If you fill your soul with the desire for pleasure,
It will make you the laughingstock of your enemies.

31. Do not rejoice in great luxury,
Lest you become needy by its expense.

32. Do not become a beggar by feasting on borrowed money
When you have nothing in your purse.

~~~
Notes:

+18:3-6 - The works and wonders of the Lord are of such magnitude and majesty, it is impossible to enumerate them all or to plumb their depths. Augustine has a long and moving sentence on the depth and beauty of Scripture in which he says that if one had a long lifetime to study it at leisure, he could never fathom it all. He concludes by quoting a portion of v. 6: When a man completes he search, then he starts over.

+18:8-10 - Man's inability to consistently practice righteousness, the brevity of even the longest life, and human suffering all move God to be compassionate and merciful.

+18:15,16 - A friendly word often brings more comfort than does a gift. However, a gracious person will give both comforting words and fitting gifts.

+18:18-20 - These serious admonitions apply to one's health and daily life, but their ultimate application is to prepare the soul for final judgment.

+18:22 - Making a vow to the Lord can be as simple as promising Him to give a tithe of one's income, or as all-encompassing as monastic vows (see Nm 6:5, Acts 18:18).

+18:24 - God teaches us that we must use our wealth to help those in need.

+18:26 - Times are changing. In these days of sin, when the culture takes an evil turn, the wise man will be even more careful to guard against wrongdoing.

+18:28 - As one labors to be wise, that virtue will spread to others.

+18:29 - Interestingly, the heading Self-Control appears in the Greek text.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Book: American Gods by Neil Gaiman

One of my favorite authors is Neil Gaiman, who started out as a comic books writer and moved on to writing novels. His best work in comics was done in The Sandman series, which is epic and rich and I'm not going into it here, because I'd pretty much never stop talking about it. It's the only comic to ever win the World Fantasy Award (the rules were changed after it won, so no comics could ever be eligible again), and one of the few comics to ever make it to the New York Times best seller list. The Sandman comics also spawned the comic Lucifer, written by Mike Carey, which is another of my favorite comics series.

In American Gods, the main character is named Shadow. He's a big man, but quiet, and he's spent the past three years in prison for a crime he did commit. Two days short of his scheduled release, he learns that his wife has died in a car wreck, and he's released early, to attend her funeral.

On the plane home, he is bumped up to first class, and sat next to a one-eyed man who would like Shadow to work for him.

'You work for me now. You protect me. You transport me from place to place. You run errands. In an emergency, but only in an emergency, you hurt people who need to be hurt. In the unlikely event of my death, you will hold my vigil. And in return I shall make sure that your needs are adequately taken care of'

His name, which gives the clue to who he really is, is Mr. Wednesday. 'Let's see. Well, seeing that today is my day - why don't you call me Wednesday? Mister Wednesday. Although given the weather, it might as well be Thursday, eh?'

Shadow initially turns down his offer, but after he learns that the job he was supposed to have when he got out of jail died with his wife, he takes it, having nothing better to do with his life.

He drives Wednesday to and fro, and in the process gets to peak 'behind the stage', and learns that the gods are real, and they are living in America. They were brought here with the people who believed in them. Odin and Thor, they came with the Vikings. The slaves brought their gods, the Chinese, the Aztecs, everyone who made it to America brought a their god, and planted them here. But here's the problem.

'This is a bad land for gods.'

America kills gods and spits out new ones, and kills them too. The land doesn't want gods, and they struggle to survive here. And the old gods are slowly dying off, without believers. They're being replaced with gods of technology and paranoia, though those gods don't have much of a shelf life either.

So Mr. Wednesday, believing that the new gods are moving to kill off the old ones, finally, to take all the worship and life for themselves, is trying to rally the old gods to him, to take the battle to them, and to save their own lives.

Or at least, that's the story that Mr. Wednesday would like Shadow and every other god to believe. But Wednesday is a grifter, above anything else. And you can't trust him.

One thing to keep in mind, in this book? Wednesday's favorite con is a two man con.

'"I'm alive" said Shadow "I'm not dead. Remember?"

"You're not dead" Laura said "But I'm not sure you're alive, either. Not really"'

It's an excellent story, reminiscent in places of the old heroic epics, and for good reason. It's mean to echo them, to bring them into the modern world. You have the hero, beaten down and tempered by fate, the gods, messing with humanity, the journey to bring back a dead loved one. Good, evil, magic, tricks, innocent blood being spilled, and things never being quite where or what you believe they should be.

And the concept with the gods is interesting. They only exist because people believed in them. They grow weak without that faith, without sacrifices, without rituals. And humanity invented the rules that the gods have to work by, thinking that the gods invented the rules. And then the people, eventually, forgot about the gods, replaced them with new ones, but the old gods don't die, they don't cease to exist. Not yet, anyway.

Mental Self Image and Modesty

I was talking with two other women at the gym last night as we were sorting through a bunch of clothes. One of the women, Nancy, has been seeing the same personal trainer as I have, and she had a bunch of clothes that were too large for her, so Julie Anne, my trainer, suggested that she bring them in for me and Mae, who will be losing weight *into* those sizes, which will save us from having to shop, for a while. So Mae and I split up the clothes, which worked out really, really well for me, since my tastes and Nancy's are apparently more alike, so I got a *ton* of clothes. Mae took what she liked, but she doesn't wear patterns, and she doesn't wear things without sleeves, or short sleeves, etc. So there wasn't as much there that she would ever wear.

So we were talking about our fitness, and weight loss, and the odd places that weight's been disappearing from. Mae says she's gone down in shoe size from the weight loss! I know that I've lost weight in my hands, which I found weird, since I never thought of my hands as being fat... Nancy was talking about how she's had to go shopping, and she still finds herself buying clothes for her *old* body, which means they're too large for her now. And she said, she *knows* how much she weighs, and she *knows* what size she fits into, but in her mind, in her mental image of herself, she's still bigger, and she picks up the wrong clothes.

Which reminded me of, well, me. Only in reverse. For years, I've known my weight. But I didn't see myself as how I really was. I'd watch the very beginning of the Biggest Loser show, where everyone shows up and they weigh them, and they tell their story? And some of the women weighed *less* than me. Some of them more, or about the same. And I'd sit on the couch and think, '*wow*, they're *FAT*!' and 'well, but I *carry* the weight much better. *I* don't look like *that*.' Right, well, here's the thing. I did. But I didn't *see* it.

I'd avoid getting my picture taken, and if I had to, just say, oh, well, I don't photograph well, or it's the light, the outfit, the...'insert excuse here'. Fat on the arms? Long sleeves! Cause *nobody* can *see* that your arms are fat if they're covered by cloth! Not true. They're still fat, and everyone can see that.

For me, I suspect that much of my fascination with 'modesty', with dresses and skirts and loose, loose clothes, covering from the collar bone all the way to the floor, was an effort to hide me from myself, and everyone else. And that's just wrong.

While modesty is, in part, about your clothes, it's more about your attitude and how you present yourself to the world.

I read a post earlier where the author was remembering being in a shop in the ME and *everything* in the shop stopping for the niqabi at the counter. And how she was so modest, and yet her every gesture was feminine and commanded the room. Which, okay, maybe it's just me, but if your goal is modesty, how is it modest if the way that you act/speak/move/whatever basically stops traffic? This just proved to me that it's *more* about you and how you act than what you're wearing. Because you can obviously be covered head to toe, and still draw attention if you want to. And women *know* when we're doing that. We do. It's *deliberate*.

So I'm wearing jeans and a sleeveless top to work. :p

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Is Jim Butcher a Secret Supernatural Fan?

I can't believe I forgot to include this last night!

This section:

'I drew the eighteenth-century German dragoon pistol from the open drawer beside my left hand, aimed, and fired. The ancient flintlock snapped forward, ignited the powder in the pan, and roared, a wash of unnatural blue white fire blazing forth from the antique weapon. I almost fancied that I could see the bullet, spinning and tumbling, blazing with its own tiny rune.'

What's that remind you of?

Why....this! Of course...



Sooo...new, cracky theory? 'Marcone' is Dean Winchester, all grown up. Mmmmm... I need to think about that one some more.

It's not the first time that fandoms have imitated each other. I think that American Gods is closely related to the serial killer convention from The Sandman comics. And Supernatural borrowed the cutest hell hound on earth from Gaiman's Good Omens for Yellow Fever, and the Hammer of the Gods ep was very echo-y of American Gods itself. And let's not forget Crowley! I don't care what you say, he's related to Crowley from Good Omens! You can't prove otherwise!

Oh! Because I *can*, cutest hell hound ever!



And unrelated to above, I finally watched Sunday's Leverage. It's Christian Kane singing! *sigh*

And Nate said, 'I love it when a plan comes together!' Oh, A-Team reference. You come so naturally in this show. I need a fic where the A-Team meets the Leverage team. I'm certain it exists. How could it not?

*ALSO* There is apparently a cap on how many labels one can use on a single post. What's up with that?

Tobit Chapter 9

*Gabael Returns the Silver*
1. Then Tobias called Raphael and said to him,+ 2. "Brother Azarias, take a servant and two camels with you and journey to Rages of Media. Find Gabael and bring the silver back to me and bring him to the wedding feast. 3. For Raguel has sworn an oath for me not to go away. 4. But my father is counting the days, and if I delay much longer he will be very distressed." 5. Then Raphael went and spent the night with Gabael, and gave him the handwritten receipt. So Gabael brought the small sealed bags and gave them to him. 6. They both rose early in the morning and went to the wedding feast. Then Tobias blessed his wife.

~~~
Notes:
+9:1-6 - Tobias entrusts Raphael to find Gabael and bring him and the silver to the wedding feast. Likewise, at the end of the ages, the hosts of heaven will call the faithful to "the marriage supper of the Lamb" (Rev 19:9).

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Dresden Files Short Story: Even Hand aka MARCONE!!!!!!

*cough*

'Gentleman' Johnny Marcone is my *favorite* not-Harry character from the Dresden Files. Followed closely by Kincaid at the moment. So, when we were told that we were getting a short story from Marcone's point of view? I think I broke some glass. And now, it is *mine*, and I have read it. Twice. Well, one and a half times. I started reading it at lunch, and then someone stopped at my table to discuss Inception, and there went *that* lunch hour.

Now, for the analysis!

We've actually known the first line for a while. That does not make it less awesome:

'A successful murder is like a successful restaurant: ninety percent of it is about location, location, location.'

We start out in a warehouse. The same warehouse where the Wardens executed that warlock punk kid back in Proven Guilty, and *of course* Marcone knows all about that. And he shares Harry's love for the White Council. 'They knelt over a large, faded stain on the concrete floor, left behind by the hypocritically named White Council of Wizards during their last execution.'

Marcone kills two out of his three captives, leaving the third alive to carry a message of 'back the hell out of my territory or I'll flatten you' to his boss back in Boston. The two that he killed were running drugs to kids and then pimping them out. Which breaks Marcone's rule. No kids. He's a bad guy, make no mistake, but he has his own rules, and there are no gods to help you if you break them and he catches you. And he *will* catch you. Marcone *is* Chicago.

Interesting: Hendricks doesn't approve of much of the violence that Marcone commits or has committed in his name. So why does Hendricks work for Marcone? He's killed people for him, helped him hide other bodies. He's trusted, I think, as far as Marcone trusts anyone. So what's up with that?

Other new and interesting fact: John Marcone is not Marcone's real name. 'My name is something I rarely trouble to remember, but for most of my adult life, I have been called John Marcone.'

Marcone's head is cold, but sarcastic. I like it there!

'Mag entered in the manner so many of these self-absorbed supernatural cretins seem to adore. He blasted the door into a cloud of flying splinters with what I presumed was magic.

'For God's sake.


'At least the vampires would call for an appointment.

'The blast amounted to little debris. After a few visits from Dresden and his ilk, I had invested in cheap, light doors at dramatic (as opposed to tactical) entry points.'

Hee.

Hmmm...so Justine shows up, and you just know she's there to cause trouble, because that's what Justine is, whether she's working for Lara or Thomas and the Venatori Umborium. She brings a kid, which saves her from Marcone asking for a price for his help, or just throwing her out to the curb. Mag, bad fishy magic guy, shows up, busts in door, and Hendricks shoots him in the back a lot. Gard smashes him with her 'I'm an awesome Valkyrie' axe, and only doesn't kill him because Marcone stops her. Since he's a Freeholding Lord of the Accords, and so are Mag's people, he gives him the chance to go away without causing an incident. Mag's goes away, but they all know he's coming back to get Justine and the girl, both of whom he considers his personal property.

Now, I saw someone theorise that Mag's reaction to Hendricks and the broad sword he had in the first fight meant that Hendricks has Thorned Namshiel's coin. I don't see where they get that. First, I don't see Hendricks picking up a Blackened Denarius on his own, especially given the personality we're seeing in this story. Second, I can't see Marcone asking him to do it. Marcone would know that he'd never be able to trust Hendricks again, and, really, he has the hate on for the Denarians after what they did to him and Ivy. I think Hendricks has been training with Gard, and there's something special about that sword, but it's not Denarian.

Also, Hendricks is working on his thesis. ON WHAT???? This is IMPORTANT information!

Hee. Marcone scares the lady who works for/spies on vampires!

Mmmm...Marcone has been a busy, busy boy. Nightscopes made to survive Harry's antitech effect. And the shiny, shiny destructive shotguns!



This. AA-12 automatic shotgun. Marcone has two. In *every* building. And he owns most of Chicago.

Possible proof of the theory that Marcone used to be military?

'The new military AA-12 automatic shotguns are not the hunting weapons I first handled in my patriotically delusional youth.'

The timing though. If we figure that Marcone was only a bit older than Harry in the first book, then he was, say, late 20s, early 30s. And he'd been on the wrong side of the law long enough at that point to have killed everyone who was in his way and have a good grip on the empire. Still, it might help explain the comfort with military grade hardware, and the not his real name thing Marcone's apparently got going on.

The *entire* fight and flee set up, luring Mag down to the panic room, and the weapon that was SOLELY DESIGNED TO KILL HARRY! The *entire* set up was meant to wear the scarily powerful Harry Dresden down so Marcone could kill him! And Mag just (unwittingly) helped him test it! Luckily the magic bullets are hard to come by and make, so there's not going to be a million of them, and after Changes, I'm not even sure that all this could kill Harry. He's....yeah, still going to have to go with scarily powerful and maybe mostly immortal. A little. Unless Mab gets sick of him...

Marcone and Harry, when they soul gazed back in Storm Front? I think they each saw similar things. Things that scared the piss out of them. They work together, sort of, now, when they have to, but neither one of them is ever going to forget that vision, and they're always going to be keeping track of the others powers.

Also, I think this is set between Turn Coat and Changes. Which doesn't help or hurt the case for Marcone being responsible for shooting Harry there at the end. Though I don't think it's him. There're plenty of other people/things who want Harry dead before Marcone does.

Okay. Last quote and then to bed!

'I broke my arm tumbling backward down the stairs.

'More laughter followed me down, but at least the fomor wasn't spouting some kind of ridiculous monologue.


'"I did my best," came Mag's voice. "I gave you a chance to return what was mine. But no. You couldn't keep yourself from interfering in my affairs, from stealing my property. And so now you will reap the consequences of your foolishness, little mortal..."

'There was more, but there is hardly a need to go into details. Given a choice between egocentric drivel and a broken arm, I prefer the latter. It's considerably less excruciating.'

'That's right, B*tches, I've Got a Crossbow!'



My Losers bluray came today! *flail* Sadly I have to work til five, then go to the gym, then do various and sundry household-y things, so I won't be able to watch it until like...9. Not that I'm counting down or anything...

Also, the Marcone short story came in! Today is a good day!

Proverbs '6:5'

Again, my rules, I decided to post the entire chapter.

*A Careless Tongue*
1. My son, if you assume the debt of your friend,
You will deliver your hand to an enemy.

2. For a man's own lips become a strong snare to him,
And he is conquered by the utterances of his own mouth.

3. My son, do what I command you, and you will save yourself;
For you came into the hands of evil things through your friend;

4. Do not be faint,
But provoke even your friend, for whom you assumed a debt;

5. Do not give sleep to your eyes
Nor slumber to your eyelids

6. That you may be saved, as a gazelle from the snares,
And as a bird from a trap.

*Laziness: A Dead-End Road*
7. Compare yourself with the ant, O sluggard,
And be zealous when you see his ways,
And become wiser than he.

8. For although he has no tilled land,
Neither anyone to compel him,
Nor any master to rule hum,

9. Yet he prepares all his food in the summer
And makes his provisions abundant in the winter.

10. Or go to the honeybee,
And learn how she is a worker
And how solemnly she does her work,

11. Whose labor kings and common people use for health;
And she is desirable to all and glorious;

12. And although she is weak in bodily strength,
She leads the way in honoring wisdom.

13. How long, O sluggard, will you be idle,
And when will you arise from sleep?

14. You sleep a little; you sit down a little; you doze a short while;
And you fold your hands on your chest a little;

15. Then poverty comes to you as an evil traveler
And neediness as a swift runner.

16. But if you are diligent, your harvest shall come to you as a fountain,
And neediness as an evil runner shall desert you.

*A Lawless Spirit*
17. A man who is without discernment and is lawless does not walk in good ways.
But he winks with an eye; he makes a sign with his foot,
And teaches with the wave of his hand.

18. And with a perverse heart, he constantly schemes evil things;
Such a man causes trouble in a city.

19. Therefore his destruction comes suddenly,
A deep and incurable wound.

20. For he rejoices in everything the Lord hates,
And he shall be broken because of his soul's uncleanness:

21. A haughty eye, an unrighteous tongue,
Hands that shed righteous blood,

22. A heart that devises evil thoughts,
And feet that hasten to do evil;

23. As a false witness he kindles injustice
And causes quarrels between brethren.

24. My son, guard the laws of your father,
And do not depart from the rules of your mother.

25. But fasten them to your soul continually
And wear them as a collar upon your neck.

*Playing with Fire*
26. When you walk about, bring along this commandment
And let it be with you.

27. And as you sleep, let it guard you,
That when you arise, it may speak to you.

28. For a commandment of law is a lamp and a light,
And the way of life is reproof and instruction,

29. That you may keep yourself from a married woman
And from the slanderous tongue of a strange woman.

30. Do not let the desire of beauty conquer you;
Neither be caught by her eyes,
Nor captivated by her eyelids;

31. For the value of a prostitute is only one loaf,
And such a woman hunts for the precious souls of men.

32. Shall anyone bind fire to his bosom
And his garments not burn?

33. Or will anyone walk about on coals of fire
And not burn his feet?

34. Likewise is the one who goes in to a married woman;
He shall not be guiltless, nor any who touch her.

35. It is not surprising if anyone who steals is caught,
For he steals that he may fill his hungry soul;

36. But if he is caught, he will repay sevenfold,
And by giving all his goods, he shall deliver himself.

37. But the adulterer through his lack of discernment
Obtains the destruction of his soul;

38. He bears both pain and dishonour,
And his disgrace will not be wiped away forever.

39. For the anger of her husband is full of jealousy;
He will not spare in the day of judgment;

40. He will not take any ransom in exchange for his hatred,
Nor will he be reconciled by many gifts.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Movie: Inception & the Fangirling Blog

I've started a blog for just the fannish squeeing, so people who don't care about that sort of thing don't have to be bothered with it over here. There will still be some crossover, if I think that a book or a movie needs to be shared as much as possible. But, for those who are interested or who don't mind incoherent joy and rambling things that have no bearing on the 'real' world, the fangirly blog is here. This is one of those crossover posts. I actually posted it there, first, as two separate posts, but I spread the love.

I *love* this movie. The plot is not insanely complicated, really, in the broad outlines.

Technology exists that allows people to share dreams. I'm assuming that it had some theraputic applications which it was originally invented for. Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his team use it for slightly illegal purposes. They go into other peoples minds and steal their secrets. Of course, they're hired to do this, it's not something they do for shits and grins.

So a man, Mr. Saito (Ken Watanabe), hires this team. Not to steal ideas, but to implant one. He wants to destroy a rival company by having the son, played by Cillian Murphy, break up the empire after he inherits it from his dying father. Of course, planting an idea is infinitely more difficult that stealing one, because the persons brain can always track down the thought to it's origins, and subconsiously, if nothing else, recognize that it originated from somewhere else.

They create the world, drop Robert Fischer (the son) into it without his knowledge, and take him down through three levels of dreams, slipping into his brain in insane ways, until he thinks that it's his idea. That his father really wanted him to destroy his life's work, so that Robert can be his own man.

It's not a complicated plot (though of course there's much, much more to it, and I'm leaving lots out despite my not spoiler safe policy, because you really need to *see* this movie), but it is so insanely well written and acted it's not even funny. It's mind bending at it's finest, and you leave the movie having to almost pick an ending. Is Cobb out of the dream? Has everything worked out for the best? Is his happiness real? Or is the top still spinning?

ALSO: Joseph Gordon-Levitt. My dear boy, I forgive you for G.I. Joe. If I acted, I totally would be in a campy movie of crapitude if I got the chance to play a kick ass villain too. Other than that, you're doing *awesome*.

No, the section below is fairly spoilery. You've been warned.

So, Cobb basically plays god here, with the implantation of an idea in Fischer's mind. The other people in his crew, they at first insist that inception can't be done. You can't introduce a foreign thought into someones mind and have them come out believing that it was their idea. It's too complicated, too messy. The mind eventually tracks it back and realizes that it popped in there, fully formed from elsewhere, and rejects it, because it cannot find a natural evolution for it.

The idea that Saito wants introduced is that Fischer wants to break up his fathers empire. It's complicated, because of all the political, personal, and financial ties. So they have to come up with an *extremely* simple concept to slide in there that will net them the same result - the destruction of the Fischer energy empire.

Eames, who is a forger, explains that emotions are the way to go. They're the most basic, and if an idea can be thought to be based on the persons emotions, they'll take it in as their own. In theory, of course, because no one *does* this, because everyone knows it can't be done.

So they slide into Fischer's brain, take him down into three dreams. A dream within a dream, within a dream. And on each level they work their way deeper into his subconscious. The first level they make him believe that he's awake, and he and his godfather (who is the only male role model he has a good relationship with) have been kidnapped for the combination to a safe in his father's office. The father is already dead at this point, by the way. Eames is 'playing' the godfather, so that he can explain what is in this imaginary safe, which is a second will allowing Fischer to dissolve his father's empire, saying that Fischer Sr. wanted Fischer Jr. to be his own man, and to build something bigger and better. Then, from that, they slide him into a second dream, where they lay the suspicion that his godfather is actually in on the kidnapping, and is manipulating him. So, in order to find out what his godfather is up to, Fischer (thinking that Cobb and co. are parts of *his* subconscious trying to defend him from the invasion of his godfather's goons), goes into the third dream, thinking that he's breaking into his godfather's mind to get at the truth there, when, in fact, he is breaking into his own deepest subconscious, and taking Cobb and co. with him, so they can see if their plan to reconcile him with his father and make him believe that the breaking up of the empire is what the father really wanted for his son is working.

Now, here's the playing god *recklessly* part. The other people, they believe that inception can be done because Cobb tells them that he's done it before. The important factor that he leaves out is that he did it to his wife, to rescue them from a dream state that they couldn't escape. He planted the thought that her world was not real, so that she would 'kill' herself with him in the dream, thus kicking them back into consciousness. And it worked. However, what he didn't realize was that thoughts are like viruses. They take over, and reshape the person. Become their entire being. They were back in the real world, but Molly (Cobb's wife), was consumed with the thought, with the belief, that her world was not real. And, trying to save herself from this 'dream', she killed herself.

The first time was an accident. Cobb had no way of knowing the ripple effect that would occur. But, when he agreed to do it to Fischer, he knew perfectly well that there is no predicting, and no controlling, what happens once the thought has been accepted. Certainly, it *seems* harmless enough for one really, really rich guy to destroy his fathers life work. But, it's not just that. At the last dream, Fischer's father tells him that he wants him to build his own 'empire', to surpass the father. How do you know that Fischer, Jr. doesn't surpass his father in really horrible and destructive ways? Sure, Fischer seemed like a sensitive, kind enough sort, but (to follow Godwin's Law) Hitler was an artist before he rose to power.

Cobb is the only one who could have had any idea that this might run out of control, and that there's nothing they could do to stop it or control it, but he didn't care. It was all about getting home and being with his children again. It absolutely did not matter to Cobb that he could be unleashing a monster on the world, so long as he got what he wanted.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Burned Hand Teaches Best

Luke 22:31-32: And the Lord said, "Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail: and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren."

So, this has been percolating in my brain. The above passage, as you may recall, is sometimes used as a defense of claims of papal infallibility, universal jurisdiction, what have you. Pope = most important guy stuff. However, let me just say what my thoughts were when I read the passage. We know that Jesus was foretelling Peter's denial of Him. But, Jesus had prayed for him, so that he would return to Christ. Which did also happen.

Righty-o. So, Satan sifts Peter, but Peter does repent of his sin in denying Christ and returns to Him. Whereupon the next part comes into play: Jesus' prayer that Peter's faith will not fail. It can't have been for *before* Peter denied Him, because if it was, then Peter would never have denied Him. *After* Peter's denial, his repentance, and his forgiveness, it was Christ's prayer that Peter's faith should never fail. And, so far as I am aware, it never did. He made errors, he was human, and also a Saint, but his faith in Christ never wavered. (It occurs to me that one might think St. Peter's faith wavered when he was leaving Rome and met Christ entering Rome, but there's no evidence that he was fleeing from a lack of faith. And, when Christ responded that He was going to Rome to be crucified again, St. Peter turned right around and went back to Rome and his own martyrdom. So...I don't believe that that would count. Of course, if someone does know of an instance where we have evidence that St. Peter's faith wavered, I'm certain they will kindly point me to it.)

Christ prayed that after Peter's return to Him, not only would his faith remain strong, but that he would strengthen his brethren. Why should that mean anything other than what it says? The line, 'The burned hand teaches best.' comes to mind. St. Peter's been there. He's *walked* with Christ. With *God*. Spoken to Him, called Him friend, called Him Master and Lord. And even then, he's fallen down and hidden in fear. And he's realized his mistake, and turned back to God. Of all people, St. Peter would understand fear and doubt and temptation, and the reward of surpassing them, and the pain of falling victim to them. Who better to help shore up his brothers' faiths than someone who can honestly say that they've been there, that they understand.
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