Perhaps our culture's romanticization of pirates isn't as undeserved as I thought. I went to a museum exhibit about them today and learned that they didn't kill many people, had a democratic and sort of an egalitarian society amongst themselves, and just wanted an alternative life to the hell that awaited them in legitimate maritime occupations. Many black people were pirates, and it was basically their only alternative to slavery. Of course they were still bad guys, but now I have to kind of admire them along with everyone else. (I mean that everyone else admires them, not that I admire everyone else, as I most certainly do not.)
I was surprised, though, to learn that pirates actually did use the Jolly Roger and variations thereof. I thought that was a myth/Hollywood invention, since going around broadcasting the fact that they're pirates doesn't seem like the brightest idea. I think it was just during raids. I don't remember because there was a lot of stuff to take in.
Speaking of surprising historical accuracy, "A Knight's Tale" had much more than I anticipated when I watched it recently. Looking at the box I assumed it was a totally and deliberately anachronistic comedy along the lines of "Shrek" (though presumably with fewer talking animals). However, the only glaring anachronisms were the late-twentieth-century pop songs, and the rest were mainly along the lines of "we didn't bother to research the difference between fourteenth and sixteenth-century fashions". I had hoped that despite its anticipated lack of seriousness the film would provide some inspiration for my own fourteenth-century project, but it was set in 1370s Western Europe while mine is set in 1350s Eastern Europe, so not much luck there. It was still thoroughly enjoyable, though, if a bit confusing, but I shan't get into that because it would be a spoiler.
I will just say this. There is a part where the hero tries to win back his ticked off love interest with a poem, which is actually pieced together from the suggestions of his compatriots. She loves it and ceases to be ticked off, but when they meet in person again she demands to hear more poetry on the spot, and he's all like "Oh crud." As a decent writer, albeit not much of a poet, I just want to say that this would have been a highly unreasonable demand even if he really had written the poem himself. There are surely some people who can spontaneously compose beautiful poetry, but they constitute a very small minority. Writing takes time, thought, rearranging, and editing. The words don't usually just flow out like magic. Granted, for me it is much easier than speaking. The great dating guru Arianna Rees once said not to write things that you can't say in person, but if I followed that advice I would have to dumb down my writing about a thousand percent.
Still, there is room for improvement, as I started using the "Grammarly" tool recently and discovered that my grammar isn't as great as I thought. In most cases, though, I don't care, because as long as one is intelligible, writing with an authentic voice is more important than being a stickler for every little rule. Just imaging how boring Douglas Adams would have been if he followed all the rules instead of being witty.
I learned a new word recently: humblebrag. It means "to make an ostensibly modest or self-deprecating statement with the actual intention of drawing attention to something of which one is proud." For example, my boss told me that the guys across the street said that I'm a whiz kid with social media. How ironic it is for me to be considered good at anything with the word "social" in its name.
I got to help stomp out an Idaho grass fire yesterday before it spread out of control and destroyed who knows how much terrain and property. It was already pretty big and took about three minutes to stomp out with four other guys. So that was exciting. The moral of this story is: Dear cigarette smokers, give yourself cancer if you insist, but please have the decency to not throw your butts out your car window. Not only is it littering, which is despicable in and of itself, but it can lead to a bunch of destruction and then saying you're sorry won't fix anything.
Usually when I talk to people about deep stuff the most I can hope for is to be validated. If I'm lucky I can be understood. If I'm really lucky they not only understand but agree with me and say that things that I was thinking but never said, thus revealing that perhaps a few things about me aren't completely abnormal. It takes a lot of trust to discuss these things; trust which in one case I am now betraying by mentioning it up here. This person said: "Butts are super gross. The problem I have with them is a lot of guys['] and girls['] butts look the same. So why am I attracted to one and repulsed by the other[?] Context. Haha. That is the only difference."
Hormones: saying "screw logic" since about 450 million B.C.
That actually happened. The rest of this I made up. That night, he received an unexpected visit from a representative of the Hormone Mafia, hereafter referred to simply as a goon. "Look, amico," it said, "if you wanna reproduce then I suggest you don't question our judgment, capiche?"
"But -" he began, but the goon cut him off.
"No buts," it said. "And no pun intended. If you know what's good for you, then you're gonna like what we tell you to like, whether you like it or not, capiche?"
"Yeah, I capiche," said my friend, causing the goon to noticeably cringe at this butchering of the Italian language. "I just don't like this cognitive dissonance, that's all."
"Ha!" said the goon. "You really should have thought of that before you evolved critical thinking skills. We were here first. On that note, tell your buddies in the parietal lobe that next time we're taking no prisoners, capiche?"
In closing, Planned Parenthood is still in trouble as more behind the scenes videos are released. Some have disputed that any profit was being made on the fetus parts, but even if not, they are clearly still in violation of other laws. Who can expect any less from an organization that has already been caught in so many legal and ethical violations? One wonders if they will ever go too far, or if the government and the nation will continue to turn a blind eye for eternity. It isn't as important as a lion being killed in Zimbabwe, after all.
Some actual good news: "Cosmopolitan" finally being recognized and treated as the filth that it is. So, yay! And in other good news, I fixed my disk usage problems (mostly) so that now it is usually under fifty percent and often in single digits, but Google Chrome is still slow as death. Heavy sigh.
In closing for real this time, there may have been a time when I confined my posts to one or two topics rather than jumping all over the place all the time, but that time is evidently past, at least for the time being. To anyone who doesn't like it, I'm sorry. To anyone who does, you're welcome. See you next time.
Being quiet and semi-invisible has its advantages. For example, although my hacky sack skills are mediocre at best, I'm usually one of the last people standing during two-hit sting or whatever because everyone else has developed friendly rivalries and targets each other instead of me. For another example, I can say moderately witty things and get a very disproportionate reaction just from the element of surprise. One of my proudest moments was in high school algebra when the teacher said "I like math better than history because it isn't full of violence and killing and stuff" and I said "Except for when seven ate nine." There was an awkward silence, and then the class burst into raucous laughter that such a tired old pun really didn't deserve, but I appreciated it anyway.
More recently I was hanging out at a neighbor's house and he was, coincidentally, talking about math, and the context leading up to this remark would take too long to explain but anyway, he said "They gave the test to a lamp and it scored higher than me." The opportunity was too perfect. Out of all the inanimate objects he could have named, he chose a lamp. So I said, "Well, lamps are pretty bright." And that got a good reaction too.
Today is Pioneer Day, when we (meaning Utahans and Mormons) celebrate the arrival of the Mormons in Utah in 1847. Just under two weeks ago, on Free Slurpees at 7-Eleven Day, marked the four year anniversary of my arrival in Utah. It's bittersweet. I hadn't been depressed for nearly a year, but within weeks of moving I was suicidal, and things only went downhill from there for the next ten months or so. But I don't regret it. I'd be bored out of my skull if I had stayed home, and this is my home now. But hopefully not forever. It's more of a transitional phase kind of place.
Here's a story from a few weeks ago that pisses me off just a little bit. A teenager named Gavin Joseph was beaten up by some other teenagers to "teach him a lesson" for having Asperger's syndrome. Instead of pressing charges he decided to make them learn and write papers about his disability. Personally, I think they should be shot, but that's why I'm not in charge of the justice system. I am glad that Gavin is more Christlike and forgiving than me. But I don't think ignorance is the real problem. The problem is that humans think their ignorance is an excuse to be $%#&s. Why should you have to learn about someone's disability before you treat them like a human? Why should you have to know what's wrong with us before you graciously give us permission to be "weird"? Why should we have to broadcast that we have a disability to preempt you from judging us?
Of course, I use "you" in the broad and generic sense, not meaning to imply that the specific people reading this are $%#&s. But I find it funny that while everyone and their dog pays lip service to being tolerant and accepting of everybody else and their cat, and socially accepted forms of weirdness or nerdiness are worn as a badge of honor, in practice it's still politically correct to shun autistic people and talk about them behind their back. The physical attack was just an extreme manifestation of the more muted prejudice that no one bats an eyelash at. Personally, I am able to avoid most of it these days. I've been well trained.
Somebody recently posed the question, "Would you rather have a lot of friends or a lot of money?" Of course, this is a no-brainer. Friends vary in quality, but money is money. And money can buy friends. It can also solve a lot of problems. Just recently I finished helping out a friend with Cushing's disease and Lyme disease and some other crap going on, and I thought, "I wouldn't trade problems with her for - wait, actually I would. Money would solve most of them." Whoever said the best things in life are free obviously wasn't a huge fan of shelter, clothing, or food.
I do have a lot of friends but only a few close ones, and the closeness doesn't tend to be mutual. I recently decided to stop making so much effort to be in people's lives if they don't reciprocate, which they usually don't. At first I was worried because this would reduce my already almost nonexistent social life to even more almost nonexistent, which is allegedly unhealthy, but eating at McDonald's once a week is unhealthy too and that hasn't stopped me either.
A perfect example of what I mentioned last time about not labeling myself:
My laptop is spending most of its time at 99-100% disk usage for no discernible reason, so that the simplest tasks can take ten minutes or more, and I'm almost at the point of throwing it out the window. Google revealed that there are at least a couple dozen possible causes, and so far none of the ones I've looked into were it. I have the most tragically unfair life ever.
I uploaded this to YouTube a couple weeks ago. I didn't make it but I loved it enough to share it with the world. Unfortunately it's blocked in Canada and maybe some other countries.
Loreena McKennitt - The Mummers' Dance (KKAZZ Remix)
As of press time, Planned Parenthood is still in some hot water for illegally selling baby parts.
It would appear that this new location for my website has finally reached the "critical mass" or whatever where it starts to get visitors who aren't directly solicited by me posting links to it. One of them was from Salt Lake City (shocker!) and one was from Le Seyne, France (a bit less predictable). I'm going to have my testimony posted in French someday for the benefit of such international visitors, but I don't actually know much French, so Marie is doing it, and she's busy going on dates and stuff, so it will take a while.
It's no secret that the internet is full of men who send sleazy pickup lines and innuendos to women they've never met in person, and then become mean and threatening when rejected or ignored. It's all very bizarre to me, that they think the lines will work or that they think their subsequent reaction will change a woman's mind. But the only reason I bring it up is because I read an article recently by a woman who decided to do an experiment by reversing the roles and doing the same thing to men she had never met. The experiment did not meet actual scientific standards, but it was intriguing nonetheless. All of the men were very flattered and pleased by the attention even when she kept escalating it in deliberate attempts to freak them out. A lot of them thought she was joking but they didn't really care if they thought she wasn't.
So, I guess part of the reason men think women will like that behavior is because they like it. But the only reason I bring that up is because I'm part of the problem. True, if I had been part of this experiment I would have ruined the results by freaking out. I would have assumed that the woman was mentally unstable and on drugs. But in ninth grade, a couple of twelfth grade girls thought it was funny to sexually harass me by calling me sexy, making a show of checking me out, asking me to do the bend and snap from "Legally Blonde", etcetera. I encouraged this behavior because I liked it. Even though it was obviously a joke, it felt really good.
I think the difference is that if I had been a girl and they had been boys, I would have had to worry that they might actually sexually assault me or something. With the positions reversed, the need to worry about that was virtually nonexistent, so I could just relax and enjoy it. Of course that wasn't nearly as extreme as many of the things said online, but I think that's why men like that sort of thing and women don't. I have mixed feelings about that because, while that stuff is disrespectful and it's not exactly a tragedy that women don't like it, fear shouldn't be the reason, because they shouldn't have to be afraid. But they do because the world is a horrible place. Sigh.
Planned Parenthood is facing some heat from Congress for selling aborted baby, I mean fetus parts. If you're wondering how a "lump of tissue" can have parts, then you're not the only one. If you're wondering how a wonderful organization like Planned Parenthood could be involved in something so shady, then no offense, but you're pretty clueless. But sure, it's all good because we still need them to teach our children about sex, because that's the only way our children could ever possibly learn about sex.
Also, apparently one night while I was sleeping I somehow entered an alternate universe where same-sex couples have a constitutional right to have their wedding cake provided by one specific business, and are entitled to throw a tantrum and drive it into bankruptcy if it declines on moral grounds, regardless of how many times it has previously sold them pastries. Honestly. I have witnessed hatred and bigotry toward the LGBT community, to be sure, but I have witnessed far more from it, and this only the most infamous of several similar situations playing out right now. And of course, by redefining "religious freedom" to only apply within church buildings, idiots can still claim with a straight face that it isn't being infringed upon when people are forced to violate their consciences or lose their livelihoods.
Maybe someday I'll get married (okay, suspend your disbelief for a minute) and go to get a cake, and the bakers will decline because they don't believe that Mormon weddings are morally acceptable. And on that day I will shrug, say "Suit yourself" and go somewhere else. Of course, it will help that I'll already be rich from book sales, so the temptation to lie about suffering a bunch of health problems as a result and sue for a ton of money won't be so overwhelming.
I guess it's obvious now, but when an internet survey aligned me 81% with Marco Rubio and 78% with Rand Paul, I realized that I still am mostly conservative after all. As related before, I wasn't sure how to self-identify after my views became more nuanced and variable. But I still don't really want to stick that label on myself because then people will make assumptions about my views on every issue. I must think creationism should be taught in schools, I must think all illegal aliens should be deported immediately, I must think there are no acceptable circumstances for an abortion, etcetera. Even worse, people might assume that I think the Repugnantcan Party is any less corrupt than the Dumbocrap one.
Saw this gem on Facebook and had to share:
At the start of a recent multi-religion gathering, a secretary rushed in shouting, "The building is on fire!"
- The Baptists cried, "Where is the water?"
- The Methodists gathered in a corner and prayed.
- The Quakers quietly praised God for the blessings that fire brings.
- The Lutherans posted a notice on the door declaring the fire was evil.
- The Catholics passed the plate to cover the damage.
- The Jews posted symbols on the doors hoping the fire would pass.
- The Congregationalists shouted, "Every man for himself!"
- The Fundamentalists proclaimed, "It's the vengence of God!"
- The Episcopalians formed a procession and marched out.
- The Christian Scientists concluded that there was no fire.
- The Presbyterians appointed a chairperson, who was to appoint a committee to look into the matter and submit a written report.
- The Unity Students proclaimed the fire had no power over them.
- The secretary grabbed the fire extinguisher and put the fire out.
- The Mormons arrived ten minutes late to the meeting, and so missed the fire completely.
Speaking of Facebook, you know what's really annoying? Getting seventeen notifications from one friend posting the same thing in seventeen different groups. Unfollowing them doesn't make it stop.
And also, I just noticed that in the prologue to my next book, which I posted last week, I wrote "gulfed" instead of "gulped". Why didn't anyone tell me? I'm so embarrassed right now.
I apologize that my last post kind of sucked (insert your own quip about all my posts sucking here). My computer is already back after only eight days, with both charging socket and headphone socket repaired to my satisfaction. As a bonus, the repair guys also changed my default home page to a ten hour long Nyan Cat video. I'm surprised they dared to do that because if I didn't have a sense of humor I think technically I could sue them. I only authorized them to make a couple of hardware repairs, not mess with the internet. Fortunately for them it's moot since I do have a sense of humor (insert your own quip about begging to differ here).
Now, as promised, here is the rough draft of the prologue of my next book. I've wanted to do a fantasy book for several years, and made several attempts at starting it, but only recently did I get the inspiration to make it more original and worthwhile than the usual "intrepid band of heroes on a noble quest to overthrow an evil magic warlord" thing. The setting has also now fully shifted from a purely fantasy land, to a fictional continent located in the real 14th century world, to an entirely real location which I was delighted to discover fit my purposes perfectly, as if God created it just so that someday I could write this story. I read about it while researching in "The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague of All Time" by John Kelly, which is a fascinating but sobering read. (Some Mormons who mistakenly think that intimacy is a synonym for sex may be confused by the title.)
Feedback, positive or negative, is welcome. I already know some stuff like the names and details about Catholicism and whatever will probably need to be changed for accuracy, but I was too impatient to finish researching before starting the book. I apologize that the copy-pasting process has made the formatting inconsistent.
Tauric Peninsula, AD 1335
Nicolai hadn’t slept well even once since laying his beloved Isabel to rest in the earth a couple months ago, after the birth of his third child, but he had been particularly on edge since the big red star had appeared in the night sky last night. This morning, on awakening, he had discovered one of his cows dead, desiccated, with only a pair of puncture wounds in its neck to indicate what had happened. He didn’t know if there was a correlation, but whatever was going on, he needed to stand guard and put a stop to it.
He stood a few meters from his hut, gripping his sword, eyes and ears trained on the nearby stable for the slightest indication of distress. He didn’t want to venture too far from the hut until he needed to, because his young son and infant daughter were sleeping inside. His was a modest but sufficient farm with several others nearby. His neighbors were equally on edge, though only a few of them had also had their livestock killed.
To the east lay the thriving port city of Caffa and the Black Sea; to the west, the small town of Solkhat preceded seemingly endless steppes; and to the southwest the steppes gradually gave way to a mountain range. None of it had ever held much interest for him. His livelihood was here and he only traveled when he had to, which was not very often.
Nicolai nearly swung around decapitated his eight year old son. “Zach!” he said. “Don’t startle me like that!” His tone softened as he relaxed. “You’re supposed to be in bed, my boy.”
“I couldn’t sleep,” said Zach. “I feel… scared.”
Nicolai hadn’t told him about the cow, but the tension was palpable. “You feel it too, eh? Well, I don’t know if anything will happen tonight, but we mustn’t take any chances. It isn’t safe for you out here.”
“What’s that new star for?” Zach asked, pointing to it as he noticed it for the first time.
“I don’t know,” said Nicolai. “But nothing good. In times past a new star heralded the birth of the Son of God – perhaps this one has to do with Satan.”
“You think it’s dangerous?”
Nicolai sighed; clearly Zach wasn’t going to bed until his curiosity was satisfied. “I don’t know,” he repeated. “But something demonic killed one of the cows last night.”
Zach gulfed, and shivered from more than the night air. “Werewolf?”
“I don’t think so. A werewolf, like a normal wolf, would have torn her apart. She was intact, but something had sucked the blood out of her. I’ve never heard of vampires going after livestock before, but maybe…” He shrugged. “Anyway. You really need to get inside before –”
The urgency in his son’s voice caused him to look before his mind registered the words; then it took him a moment longer to comprehend what he was seeing. A sort of disc shape was rapidly descending from the sky, glowing in the dark, ringed around the edge with multicolored circles that flashed and emanated light, but did not flicker or move like fire. As it grew closer, a low-pitched wub-wub-wub-wub-wub sound became audible.
Nicolai turned pale. “Into the house, now!” he cried, giving Zach a shove. “Go!” He glanced back at the strange object and crossed himself.
“But dad, it’s so cool! What is it?”
The object stopped and hovered in the air some distance above his field, continuing to make the sound, and then his wheat began to flatten itself – not all of it, but in some sort of circular pattern that he couldn’t quite make out from this vantage point. Then, seemingly in the blink of an eye, it zipped away faster than it had come.
“Dad, what is it?” Zach repeated.
“I have no idea,” said Nicolai. “I’ll investigate this. Get to the house and watch Jamille.”
Zach ran off and did as he was told. Nicolai stepped forward, cautiously, toward his field, sword at the ready. It was his father’s sword, and had seen plenty of action in the Crusades, though he himself had never killed anything with it. Still, he had practiced enough to be confident against most opponents – but not this thing, whatever it was.
As he got closer, though, his ears picked up another sound, a skritching from the direction of the stable, almost forgotten in the excitement. It was followed by the lowing of a cow, sounding confused at first and rising in high-pitched alarm at the end. Nicolai ran toward it and flung open the door.
What he saw took his breath away. Another cow lay dead, and crouched over it was an apparition he had never seen even in his nightmares. It looked vaguely like a wolf, but appeared to be bipedal, and had smooth hairless blue skin. As it looked up from its kill, he saw that it had two prominent fangs like a vampire, and two bright red multifaceted orbs for eyes. They glistened with some undiscernible emotion at the sight of him.
Then it propelled itself off its hind legs and lunged at him, like a frog, letting out a bloodcurdling cross between a gargle and a howl.
Nicolai sidestepped the beast and swung his sword. The creature’s head flew one way as its body staggered on and slumped to the ground. There was less blood than he had expected – in fact, he wasn’t even sure if the sticky light blue sheen on his sword blade could be considered blood. But there was no time to worry about that now, or investigate his kill, because at that moment he heard Zach yelling from the house, “Dad!”
As he ran, he heard the gargle-howl sound again, and then Jamille was crying, and then he was in the house and another one of the creatures was staggering back from the basket where she lay, with three crossbow quarrels sticking out of its chest. Zach stood across from it, the weapon in his hands. As it shook its head and seemed to regain his composure, Nicolai hurled his sword like a javelin, impaling it and pinning it to the far wall. It thrashed and howled for a moment and then was still.
Zach’s eyes were wide with terror. “What is it?” he whispered, breathing hard. “A demon?”
“I wouldn’t expect demons to be killed so easily,” said Nicolai as he lifted Jamille from her basket and attempted to soothe her, “but I can’t imagine what else it could be. There was another one in the stable. Shhh,” he said to Jamille, “it’s okay, daddy’s got you.” As she began to stop crying, he set her back down and moved to block her view of the dead creature while he removed his sword from its chest and let it slump to the ground.
“Then you were right,” said Zach. “The star has something to do with Satan. Now I really can’t sleep.”
“Tell me about it.” Now that he had time to think, Nicolai examined the sticky blue substance on his sword. He dared to rub at it and feel its viscosity. It stuck to his finger like tree sap, though it wasn’t nearly so thick. He dared to sniff it; it was odorless. He didn’t dare to stick it in his mouth.
As his adrenaline faded away, the fear began to really set in. How many were out there? They were easy enough to dispatch one at a time, but he couldn’t hold off an entire crowd, especially if they surrounded the house or the stables. He couldn’t protect all the livestock and both his children. If only Zach were a little older – if only Isabel were still alive – and then his heart froze as he heard the sound outside again.
Zach heard it, too, and his eyes grew even wider.
“Give me that. Take this.” Nicolai hastily exchanged his sword for the crossbow. “I’m going to take care of it. Stay here.”
The sword was heavy; Zach could barely lift it, though he had practiced with it a couple times when his father wasn’t looking. As Nicolai went out the door, he followed behind, disregarding the order.
The disc was hovering over the field again. This time Nicolai didn’t hesitate, and began firing at it right away. The quarrels seemed to have no effect for a moment; then it tilted, angling its underside toward him. In its center an opening appeared and began to glow like the lights around its edge. Holding his breath, Nicolai took quick but careful aim and fired at this opening, hoping it was a weak spot.
His hope was validated when the disc exploded, showering thousands of pieces of burning metal on the ground below; but he hardly noticed, because the opening had already released a ray of bright pink light that washed over him and burned his skin from his bones in an instant. Behind him, Zach’s cry of panic was cut short.
Father Mason was devout and unshakable in his faith, but somewhat unorthodox in his practice, preferring to follow his own judgment and the whisperings of the Holy Spirit without regard to protocol or tradition. He had even nearly gotten himself excommunicated once or twice, but his service to the Church was indispensable. He was in charge of the monastery in the mountains, and it was there that he was returning on this night after conducting some business in Caffa with his headstrong young protégé, Gregory.
Though he was, of course, concerned about the strange red star, he became far more concerned about the flames and smoke that came into view as they left the city. Upon reaching it, they found that the unfortunate farmer’s neighbors had already put out the fire before it entirely destroyed the stable or reached the house, and were milling about talking amongst themselves in fear and confusion.
“You see, Gregory,” he whispered, “this is why the Holy Spirit told us to return home immediately, rather than stay the night.” More loudly, he called to the farmers, “Hello there! What’s all this about?”
They all began to chatter at once, but eventually he got the gist of what had happened. Already on the alert because of the red star and dead livestock, they had come running in response to strange noises, and a few of them had been in time to see the disc explode as the field burst into flame.
Gesturing for Gregory to follow suit, he crossed himself, dismounted and commenced his investigation. The first thing he noticed was that the smaller of the charred corpses clutched a sword, buckled and twisted from heat but still recognizable. This he took and handed to Gregory for safekeeping, feeling that it could still be useful. There were several shards of burnt metal scattered around as well, and he pocketed one to examine later.
Then he headed for the stable. The wall adjoining the field was mostly gone, and the roof partially so, but the rest of the structure was intact. As Father Mason headed for the door, one of the farmers put an arresting hand on his shoulder. “Don’t go in there,” the man warned, his face ghostly white. “There’s something terrible in there… some kind of dead demon…”
“If it’s dead, there’s nothing to worry about, is there?” said Father Mason with a smile, gently brushing him off and stepping inside. Behind him, Gregory crossed himself again and looked around nervously.
Inside, the cattle were shifting around and chewing in an agitated yet silent manner, as if in shock. Father Mason knelt by the decapitated creature on the floor, took out his notebook, and made a quick but detailed sketch. He had never seen anything like it before, and was intrigued.
“It’s hideous,” Gregory whispered.
Father Mason smiled. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”
“Well, this beholder says it’s hideous.”
“And this one concurs.” Father Mason closed his notebook and stood up. “But the question is whether that’s just a fundamental trait or just our aesthetic preference. In other words, is this a demon, or just a previously undiscovered beast, perhaps driven out of hiding by the clearing of the forests?”
“Then what about the flying disc?”
“Beats me.” There was a sticky substance oozing from the creature’s neck; he rubbed at it, sniffed it, and then cautiously put some in his mouth. It tasted like very strong vinegar and he spat it out hard. “Let’s check out the house now.”
“If you insist, Father,” said Gregory, casting a wary glance back at the dead beast and crossing himself again.
As with the stable, the farmers had stayed outside the house, and for the same reason. Inside, Father Mason took note of the second dead creature and was about to sketch it when he took note of something else – an infant in a basket, sleeping peacefully, as if oblivious to what had occurred just a few meters away from her. He crept over to her and gently lifted the basket up. “Ah,” he said. “This one will be needing a new home now.”
“Poor thing,” said Gregory.
Asking around outside, they found that her name was Jamille, but that no one had the resources to take her in at the moment. Gregory was getting agitated and discouraged, but Father Mason just smiled. He’d suspected as much, because the idea was already formulating in his mind as to what he should do.
“Saddle up,” he told Gregory. “I’ll sketch the second one from memory when we get back, and get the coroner’s report on my next visit.”
“We can’t take her back with us,” said Gregory.
Father Mason smiled to himself. “We’re not going to.”
Gregory’s eyes bugged. “You don’t mean –”
“Of course,” said Father Mason. “Where else?”
Gregory just shook his head, stupefied.
Their journey took them into the mountains, the moon overhead casting long eerie shadows which seemed to carry a sense of foreboding that they never had before. Single file, they traversed a path that was treacherous enough in the daytime, but they could have navigated it in their sleep, as they had taken the route back and forth from the monastery many times.
This time, however, they took a detour they had traveled far less often, and which most of the brethren would prefer them to never travel at all. Just before dawn, this path terminated at the entrance of a large cave which descended deep underground – how deep, they had no idea, because neither of them had ever set foot in it.
Father Mason dismounted with Jamille’s basket in hand; she had slept soundly through the entire trip. He walked up to the entrance, taking care to stay just on the outside of it. He crossed himself, cleared his throat and called out, “Hello! Milo, are you home?”
There was a long, pregnant silence. Then a low growl reverberated off the cavern walls and seeped out to them, carrying with it the stench of death and making the earth vibrate beneath his feet.
“Right then,” said Father Mason. “We have someone that we’d like you to meet.” He set the basket down on the ground and nudged it just beyond the cave entrance.
A pair of glowing, reptilian eyes became visible in the darkness, and the growl morphed into a voice. “You brought me a snack,” it said. “How thoughtful.”
Gregory blanched, but Father Mason smiled, perfectly calm. “Don’t be silly,” he said. “You’d swallow her in one gulp and still be hungry. Where’s the point in that? Actually, I was hoping that you would be willing to raise her to adulthood.”
There was a disbelieving scoff. “You’re giving me the hassle of reproduction, with none of the benefits?”
“She needs a guardian,” said Father Mason, not wavering. “You need companionship. Don’t think we’re unaware of how lonely you are.”
“Papa John wouldn’t approve.”
“His Holiness has bigger things to be concerned about. Besides, he trusts my judgment implicitly.”
The baby stirred slightly, stretching her arms and wrinkling her nose, but did not wake up.
“Eh, whatever,” said Milo. A massive claw nearly as large as the basket itself reached out of the darkness and pulled it in. Then the eyes disappeared and the stench dissipated as Milo turned around and headed back into the recesses of his cave.
“Have fun, and God be with you,” Father Mason called after him.
Gregory could contain himself no longer. “Are you out of your mind?” he said. “Why not save the trouble and just throw her to a pack of wolves?”
“You know that Milo isn’t just any dragon,” said Father Mason, smiling as he mounted his horse. “He’s our dear friend.”
“Um, I think not. A friend is someone who cares about you.”
“Relax,” said Father Mason. “We can trust him. I wouldn’t have done this if I hadn’t been led to by the Holy Spirit.”
Gregory restrained himself from rolling his eyes, but continued to press the issue as he got on his own horse. “The Holy Spirit? Are you sure about that? If you thought the Holy Spirit had told you to jump off one of these cliffs here, would you do it?”
“Of course,” said Father Mason. “I learned long ago to trust that no matter what the Holy Spirit tells me, it has a good reason.”
“And what might that reason be here?” said Gregory, gesturing back at the cave.
“I don’t claim to know for certain,” said Father Mason. He looked back at the cave himself with an almost wistful look. “But I do feel that very soon, and for quite a while, this will become the safest place that she can possibly be.”
He looked forward again and galloped off, hoping to reach the monastery before sunrise.
I'm writing this on a library computer because the charging socket on my laptop is broken, which renders me unable to use it for the two to four weeks that it will take to ship to the other side of the country, get fixed, and return. At least this provides the opportunity to also fix the headphone jack that got broken in December. That was horrible, since it has kept me from listening to my music in public, but I didn't want to lose my computer for two to four weeks just for that, especially two months after I just had. So now I'm looking at this as a blessing in disguise.
But there are drawbacks to it. I was almost finished with the prologue to my next book, and I had intended to finish it real quick and share it here and solicit feedback. Now that will have to wait. I'm sorry. I'm going to start working on the rest of it, but that will be more difficult for the next little while. Heavy sigh.
I had a friend who brought me great happiness, greater than I had felt in a long time, or perhaps ever. Then she brought me great sorrow, almost more than I could bear. My headphone jack broke around the time that I met her; I should have taken that as an omen. Eventually I unfriended her because I felt that I could only recover when she was totally gone from my life. But I still talked to her a couple times because of our professional obligations. And then she friended me back, and I decided that it was time to forget the past and start fresh. My life is so full of drama.
Canada Day was yesterday. I didn't know about it, and missed it, because it isn't nearly as important as Independence Day, which in case you just got here from another planet, is coming up soon. If Canada wants attention they should move their birthday farther away from ours. Jussayin.
Now I mentioned a while ago that I was considering going to see "Jurassic World" on my birthday, but not only did I end up being too busy, my frugality won out over my impatience. Instead, I have been watching the other movies and rereading both the original novels in preparation to go see it in the cheap theater. Some friends recommended that I see it in the cheap theater anyway because it wasn't that great. The general consensus seems to be that it's decent but could have been better. At least it has to be better than the third one.
Let us not forget how it all began. Now I don't think I can actually embed this video because Vevo is lame, but you should go watch it anyway because Weird Al isn't.
"Weird Al" Yankovic - Jurassic Park
But that's not all! There's also this one, which really deserves more views than it has.
Goldentusk - Jurassic Park Theme Song with Lyrics
I hadn't read the original "Jurassic Park" by Michael Crichton for several years, since eighth grade I think, and it brought back a lot of memories. It actually doesn't seem particularly well-written to me now, but it's still very intelligent and exciting. The movie rights were purchased and pre-production started before the book was even published, because they already knew it would be a bestseller. But it's actually quite different from the movie. Though clearly recognizable as the same basic story and many of the same characters, I think it may be more different than alike. Some major differences from the book follow, put in italics so you can easily skip them if they would spoil it for you:
*Of course, there's a lot more detail and a lot more about chaos theory and several scenes that aren't in the movie, but almost all of the scenes they have in common still differ between the formats. Going through all these differences would take forever and just be tedious so I won't.
*The opening scene of the movie "The Lost World", where the little girl is attacked by compys, was adapted from near the beginning of this novel. In the novel, she has an allergic reaction and has to go to intensive care, but soon recovers, and draws a picture of a compy to show the doctors what attacked her. They think it must be a basilisk lizard and that she just got some of the details wrong, but she is super observant and doesn't get details wrong. One of the doctors goes looking and finds the remains of one of the compys being chewed on by a howler monkey; he sends it for testing along with Tina's picture; the lab finds traces of genetic engineering markers but don't report it because they think it must be a contaminant; one of the employees recognizes Tina's picture as a dinosaur and sends an X-ray of the remains to Dr. Grant, and you probably don't find this summary all that fascinating so I don't know why I put that much effort into it.
*Many of the characters are described differently than in the movie. Alan Grant has a beard and likes children; Tim is older than Lex and is the one who knows computers; Muldoon is an alcoholic; Gennaro is pretty buff; John Hammond is an unscrupulous money-grubbing villain, etcetera.
*Muldoon and Gennaro both survive. John Hammond and Ian Malcolm do not. A PR rep named Ed Regis, who isn't in the movie, gets eaten by the Tyrannosaurus around the same point that Gennaro does in the movie, though under different circumstances. Henry Wu, who barely appears in the movie (but now has a larger role in "Jurassic World"), has a much larger role in the book (he explains everything that's left up to the Mr. DNA cartoon in the movie, and in greater detail) and also dies.
*There are two Tyrannosauruses; an adult and a juvenile which is still pretty dang big. The adult chases Grant and the kids for quite a while longer, following them as they raft down a river and attempting to get them as they hide behind a waterfall (used in "The Lost World", except that in this one Tim actually gets wrapped up in its tongue and nearly pulled into its mouth). There are eight Velociraptors, not three. There are compsognathuses and pterosaurs on the island as well. At one point Grant and the kids find themselves in the pterosaur aviary, in a scene that loosely inspired the one in "Jurassic Park 3". But it's played far more realistically here; instead of trying to eat them, the pterosaurs are simply very territorial, and just try to body slam them to death.
*Some differences don't really make sense. In the movie, a Triceratops is sick and no one knows why; this is never explained. In the movie, they discover that the dinosaurs are breeding; but this is almost thrown in as an afterthought and hardly elaborated on (and it's not because they were saving it for the sequel, because Michael Crichton hadn't written one at that point). In the book, both of these things are explained and elaborated on. There's also a subplot about needing to contact the supply boat before it reaches the mainland because it has juvenile Velociraptors on board, but of course they can't contact it because all the power's out and stuff. Basically there's a concern about the dinosaurs all escaping and destroying the world.
*Several of the Velociraptors are actually killed. Muldoon blows up one and cripples another with his rocket launcher, and Grant tricks several of them into eating eggs that he has injected with a lethal toxin from the genetics lab. Only one of them follows Lex and Tim into the kitchen, and Tim simply lures it into the freezer with a trail of steaks. This is one scene that was definitely improved upon in the movie. The kitchen scene in the movie is simply one of the greatest movie scenes ever.
*Overall the book is darker. I was a little shocked on re-reading it because I had forgotten that near the beginning, compys escape to the mainland and kill babies in rural Costa Rican hospitals. Dennis Nedry's death also stands out as being far gorier in the book. While the movie just cuts away to his jeep rocking back and forth as he's attacked, the book goes into detail about his agonizing pain as the Dilophosaurus first blinds him with venom, then rips his intestines out, then clamps his head between its jaws. As if that weren't enough, Muldoon and Gennaro later find his corpse as it's being scavenged by compys, and that's described as well. Muldoon comments something along the lines of, "What an awful way to go. Maybe there's justice in the world after all."
*After the whole Velociraptor thing and what constitutes the movie's climax (though of course it plays out differently and has no deus rex maquina in the book), Grant, Sattler, Muldoon, and Gennaro go searching for the Velociraptor nests to find out just how many of them are breeding. They go down this long tunnel and find this huge underground cave with several nests. Then the Velociraptors start acting weird, and suddenly they all rush out to the surface, and Grant realizes they're trying to migrate and wonders where they're trying to go, and then suddenly some Costa Rican helicopters come and take everybody away and the island is bombed into oblivion.
Now, the differences between "The Lost World" novel and movie are far too extensive in breadth and depth to even summarize here. It would be more accurate to say that the movie was inspired by, rather than based on, the book.
I had a rough weekend. By "rough" I mean that it was a crapstorm from hell. I debated what to say about it because it's not considered socially correct to publicly show weakness or admit that everything isn't fine. Now I won't even bother saying much about it because I feel better, but I just wanted to mention it as a proverbial middle finger to social correctness. (But I would never ever use a real middle finger, because that would not be appropriate.)
And I just noticed that Grooveshark got taken down a couple months ago. Lame.
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- Amelia Whitlock
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C. Randall Nicholson
This is where I occasionally rant about life, the universe, and/or everything. I'm a white cisgender male and a Latter-day Saint, so you can hate me without guilt, but I'm also autistic, so you can't. Unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual.