A violet sphere of energy burst overhead, and most of the nearby lights went out. Two sniper shots, muffled, but audible to a practised ear, came in rapid succession. A short burst of less-muffled machine gun fire - and then a small armoured ship appeared from overhead, dropping hard and fast to low hover. The large hatch on the side blew open; from inside, a masked figure shouted in a machine-like tone, "GET OVER HERE."
Lena ran. Ran, and dove, reacting, not thinking, onto the platform, and it raised, carrying her with it. As she tumbled to the deck, the masked figure said, "Trafalgar Square?! Points for style, but are you insane?" now with a distinctly Hispanic accent.
"It was either that or blow up Fleet House, mate. I thought this would be better."
"I'm not so sure."
"I could still change my mind."
"Get in the crash chair, we're moving quickly."
Widowmaker appeared at the opposite hatch shouting, "GO, GO, GO," slammed its close button, and dove into a second crash chair as the ship shot forward, horizontally, low, and vanished from sight over a partially darkened Old London.
The ship shot west, tilting upwards, pulling four Gs for 12 straight seconds, as it just cleared buildings.
"That... was fast..." said Lena from her crash chair as the retrieval ship broke towards the Channel.
"We've been keeping an eye on you," said Sombra, with some effort, from the pilot's seat.
"Several," said Widowmaker, somehow effortlessly. "No one escapes from my sight. But... Trafalgar? Êtes-vous une folle? Why?"
"I... I'm not even sure. I think I wanted to give 'em the two-finger salute. I wanted them to know."
"Well," Amélie admitted with a mix of amusement and irritation, "they certainly know now."
"Four minutes thirty seconds to international airspace," said Sombra, from the pilot's seat. "33 seconds to cloak recharge."
"I didn't expect you to bring in a bloody troop carrier. How are we not shot down?"
Sombra mocked, "World's greatest intelligence agency! Spycraft is in our blood! And they still rely on CCTV. Pathetic - they won't even be sure you're gone until we're too far away to care." As gravity returned to normal, she turned and tossed the semi-prone Lena a seemingly-random collection of electronics. "Much better. Here, a present for you."
"What are they?"
"CCTV relays, a couple of encoders - it's all stuff they were using to track you tonight. Junk, really." A chime from the console. "Cloak reactivated. 15 seconds, changing course."
"So you knew," said Lena, looking towards, but a little past, Amélie.
"We watched them watching you," said the spider, looking back, "and I anticipated, and made contingency plans. I did not know, until they took you in. I'd hoped, if you came back out, that you'd go out of town to summon us - not go as far into town as possible." She checked the tactical board visible on the wall from her crash chair, and to Sombra, said, "No one is painting us. I don't think we need to use the backup boosters." From the pilot seat, Sombra agreed. "Boosters on hot standby."
Lena's focus moved further out again. "They one-thirty-foured me. And they took my license. Amélie," she said, distantly, as the adrenaline surge faded. "They took my wings."
Amélie reached across the lengthening gap, and took Lena's hand. "That, I did not know. So that is why... all this." She scowled. "I know what it meant to you. I am displeased, but much more than that, I am sorry."
"I told you they were bastards," Sombra chimed in. "10 seconds to full cloak charge..."
"Tactical board still clear. At recloak, bring us down to noise level and evade; we should be able to demicloak the rest of our way out."
"Cloaked... dropping... we're in the muck. Stealthed."
"Thank you," said Widowmaker. But she stayed in her crash chair, counting seconds. Three minutes to international airspace. "Once we hit the channel, deploy the decoy east and drop below Mach 1 - let's take the long way home."
"I understand," said the spider, carefully. But it is unnecessary, she thought.
Tracer - no, not Tracer, she'd need a new name - paced around the small cabin, as the ship flew quiet and low over the north equatorial Atlantic, moving slowly towards normal traffic lanes, just another surplus straggler finding its way back to its place.
"I want to kill him," the pilot repeated. "With my own hands. I want it to be close, I want it to be personal, I want him to know why."
"I am hearing you," the assassin said again, soothingly. "I am listening; tell me. Tell me all of it."
The former Flight Officer raged, "They knew I was back. They knew who I was the whole time, toying with me, trolling me even, I see it now. They were watching me since I showed up at the consulate and they cut me off and they moved my friends and threatened the one they didn't and they bled me 'till I almost gave up and died and then they took me and they put me in a box and told me to go do nothing and be nowhere and they took my wings and they took my life and they treated it like some kind of favour and now I want to take them and show them what kind of favour it was."
"I believe you, and I hear you. Keep going."
"Why?!" the flyer shouted, "What else is there? The box, the glass room, it was a bomb chamber, I get it now, I didn't get it at time, they were ready for me to explode, or they were ready to blow me up, I don't even know which, they'd planned it since I reappeared, I am so angry and feel so sick..." Pain and anger radiated from her body, so clearly the assassin could almost see it, as she slammed her fists down onto the flattened crash chair, now a bench, and then sat, face in her hands. "Why?! Why would they do that?"
If she did not want to kill them, I would..., thought the spider, struggling to keep her own emotions controlled. No, she realised, I do want to kill them. Not for history. For her. "I will tear through them until not one is left standing, if that is what you truly need," she said, voice quick with her own unexpected cold fury.
Lena looked up, face wet, and the blue woman thought, She has had no one, for weeks. "I have missed you," she couldn't not continue, aloud, reaching out her hand, "more than I could have possibly imagined. May I sit with you?"
Lena grabbed Amélie and pulled the taller woman down beside her, sobbing as the dam broke, digging into Amélie's shoulder and gasping for air, just holding her, so tightly, "i've missed you so much, it's hurt so much "
"I stayed away," Amélie said thickly, through her own new tears. "I didn't want to, but I did, until you called. It's what you said you wanted." She pulled the smaller woman closer against her, holding on tight in return. "Please say it's what you wanted. Please, please, or I will burst, I..."
"It was..." Lena managed slowly, though shuddering breaths that she fought to control, "...I thought I needed..." another heaving breath, "oh god, Amélie, I was so wrong..."
"Everyone," said the blue woman, finding herself suddenly, confusingly happy, "is wrong. Sometimes. But you are not, for me. Not ever."
"Don't let go. Never let me go again."
Not unless you want me to, the spider thought. Only then. But that is not what you need right now. And the most rational part of her mind raced, I need you with a whole heart, but I need that heart to be whole, and it is tearing...
And then, with the clarity of stars in a deep black sky, she knew.
"Pilot," she said softly, "would you fly us home?"
Lena gasped, eyes instantly wide open. "..."
"Sombra needs a break, she has not slept, and we are not too far away now. Are you cleared on this kind of craft? Could you take us home?"
A final heaving sob out of Pilot Oxton, and then she sniffed and laughed amidst the crying, and for the first time in what felt like years a smile peeked through the tears falling like rain. "uh," she sniffed, and swallowed, "B, uh, B-10M class, right?" She looked around. "Yeah. I can fly her. If... if Sombra doesn't mind..."
"Sombra needs a nap," came a voice from the flight deck. The hacker, being no fool, had already put the ship on autopilot, and stood by the empty flight chair, smirking and motioning towards the empty seat. Lena stepped up to that chair, and looked back to Amélie. "Stay with me? It's been a while."
Lena sat down, put on the flight headset, and grasped the pilot's yoke. "Yeah," she said. "Let's go home."
I knew it'd be a weekday, I was told they usually are on Wednesdays, so figured I could arrange for whatever friends wanted to celebrate to go to the pub that evening, but it's Eve of Poll so I imagine even then a lot of you will be busy!
Me and the Brighouses are already talking about going to watch village cricket that weekend, to celebrate surviving the election/commiserate about whatever kind of Brexity government we've ended up with. With the picnic hamper and wine and I can make a cake. It would be nice to have something like that to look forward to.
I am finding the whole citizenship thing a bit anticlimactic, to be honest. Maybe just due to my brainweasels, maybe the job interview didn't help, or maybe it's just taken so long and been so expensive and draining that I can't summon the energy to care any more.
I hoped to be more happy about this, but I expected to at least be relieved.
Maybe I'll feel better after the ceremony, but at the moment I'm just trying not to dread it too much. I don't want to make it a self-fulfilling prophecy kind of thing where I think I'll hate it and so I hate it, but damn, I've never liked this idea. And now it's not an idea, it's this letter with all the information printed so tiny I got Andrew to read it. It suggests practicing the Oath or Affirmation before you get there but "this isn't a memory test!" so cards with the text on will be provided. So I'm gonna have to print it off at about 20-pt font because I won't be able to read their damn cards. I'm torn between really not wanting Andrew (or anybody) there and wanting him there for accessibility reasons, like so I don't get lost finding the place.
I'm glad it will be over soon, anyway.
What I wanted was to take a week off. What I'm getting instead are two half-weeks off, Mon-Wed of this coming week and of the following week. BookExpo and BookCon are intervening, as is a big work project with deadlines that can't be moved. Such is life. It's still a vacation.
Things on my to-do list/wishlist with deadlines:
* Go to arm doctor May 30
* Prepare BookCon handout by June 1
* Read ILL book due back June 1
* Return book by June 1
* See visiting friend before he leaves on June 2
* Do BookCon panel and booth duty on June 3 (if you'll be there, come say hi!)
* Meet first work deadline by June 5 (ideally much earlier)
* Meet second work deadline by June 7 (see above)
* Write guest blog post by June 7
* Read ILL books due back June 8
* Return books by June 8
Things without deadlines (fun):
* Hang out with X, who also has this coming week off
* Watch the StevenBombs
* Watch Voltron: Legendary Defender (I'm five episodes in; it makes great knitting TV)
* Stroll in the Botanic Gardens on a day with nice weather
* Ditto Prospect Park
* Maybe steal the baby from daycare early one day and get extra baby time
* Read a book for fun? I hear people do this? ???
Things without deadlines (productive):
* Tidy room enough for vacuuming
* Vacuum (or ask J to if my arms are sad)
* Change sheets (or ask J to if my arms are sad)
* Move clothes from valet to closet
* Catch up on laundry
* Promote Story Hospital
* Clean out inbox
* Watch Baby Signing Time and practice signing on my own and with the family
( Meme list )
1: A song you like with a colour in the title:
This one took me a while to think of. I toyed with saying 'anything off Chris T-T's 9 Green Songs album', but none of the songs on the album have a colour in the title themselves, so this was clearly cheating.
In the end, I went for Fade to Grey, by Visage. Yes, grey's a colour.
This is just distilled essence of early Eighties, right down to the lyrics being jointly in English and French because why wouldn't you do that. I'm a lot more familiar with the song than with the video, which is a shame because I've just watched it now and the video turns out to be a thing of beauty by Godley & Cream right at the start of their video directing career.
As with any chart song pre-1983, I missed this completely at the time, but when I first heard it in the late eighties, it settled into my brain like dew from a morning mist, and has never really left.
Fleet Week involves air shows. Air shows sometimes end up sending fighter planes over my house. Fighter planes over my house panic me and bring me back to my third period class on 9/11, when they were right over my school. This is not good.
And I feel so stupid about it. Nobody I knew got hurt. Nobody I knew* was even there - the closest was Jenn, on the boat. She just walked off back into the terminal and went home. Likewise, my mother and I were both on Staten Island. (And trapped here for a week!) It's not like I had to flee Lower Manhattan with body parts raining down on me.
So even though "a lingering dislike of low-flying planes, especially fighter planes" is a very, very minor side effect of 9/11, I don't like having any at all, like it's somehow disrespectful to people who actually suffered and actually have PTSD. (And you don't need to tell me that this is a ridiculous position. Knowing that doesn't make it better, and I feel like the vicious cycle this can lead to is a bit self-evident.)
On the plus side, and there is a plus side, at least I'm aware it's Fleet Week. It's only really bad when I don't pay attention to the calendar and am completely taken by surprise. One year the airshow was a week late or something, and I ended up in the basement with the girls. They thought I was completely overreacting. And I was, but if I hadn't been, I might've just saved their lives, so whatever.
Edit: Actually, I had the bright idea after typing all this up to look at the schedule. Looks like all airshows have already happened. Boy, is that a relief. Worked myself up over nothing!
(Still don't like Fleet Week.)
* This is not strictly true. My mother's coworkers were all there, and I knew many of them. But you know what I mean, I hope. Anyway, they all survived with no physical injuries.
Both Oxygen and Knock! Knock! tell neatly self-contained stories. These are well-produced and acted with scripts that are thoughtful while fitting recognisably within the mould of a Doctor Who story. Fond as I am of the Sylvester McCoy era, it would have struggled to produce two stories of this high quality in close succession. In fact if these had appeared during a Sylvester McCoy season, I suspect I would have rated them as highly as stories like Ghost Light and Curse of Fenric.
This isn't a Sylvester McCoy season though, my expectations are different, and somehow neither managed to really grab me.
I don't really want to nit-pick at Oxygen, but among other things I'm dubious about the economics on display. I've mentioned a couple of times when discussing this season, about how you identify that point in a fantastical show, where it's breaking its own unstated rules of consistency. The problem Oxygen had for me specifically as someone who has hung around space scientists a bit, is that its very emphasis on the realities of surviving in a vacuum made me expect more realism from the rest of the Space Science. The reality of space is it is really, really expensive to put people up there (in weight terms, even if you're not factoring in the expense of training someone and are, apparently, discounting any value in human life) so you probably don't want them randomly suffocating even if they are not being as productive as you might like. This then, of course, made me think of the practices of Victorian factory owners and making your workers indebted to you for their use of oxygen (and thereby imposing a form of slavery) and that somehow seemed more plausible though not, obviously as likely to produce space zombies. Like the "how does agriculture work on Christmas?" problem I had with Matt Smith's final story, this distracted me far more than it should have done.
I'm not really qualified to comment on the depiction of disability. hollymath has written eloquently about how hurtful she found it though I've seen other commentary that was cautiously optimistic or at least "jury still out" on the subject.
I was disappointed that the blue alien had no function in the story beyond making a simplistic point about racism and then dying.
Did I like anything about the story? Yes, actually. I really liked the interactions between Bill, Nardole and the Doctor. This is the first time we've seen them operating as a team and I liked the way the dynamic of two companions (who aren't romantically linked in any way) worked, particularly the way that the two of them can jointly put different perspectives to the Doctor. In fact I really like this softer version of the twelfth Doctor and both his new companions.
I did think the story was well-paced, well-acted and I liked that it was allowed to be about something and that its resolution tied back to its themes and the set up of the problem. I'm far from convinced it is really Oxygen's fault that I got distracted by picking holes.
Part time vegetarians & vegans who love them
Also, thank you and hugs to anyone I may have forgotten to thank for lovely birthday wishes! It would have gone better if poor Emily hadn't sat on a piece of broken glass right when we got to the lounge last night and had to ask them for a bandaid and it left a hole in her pants. But hopefully we'll negate that bummer with a trip tomorrow to NYC to stroll around the Met Museum and go in search of the illusive ice cream rolls.
I'd have more to post but it's been one crazy CRAZY busy week at work and I'm pooped. It's so weird that I actually now have various "meetings" that I'm a key person to attend now. It used to be that my calendar was pretty blank except for personal stuff.
Oh! And I have my new glasses. I'll keep the computer glasses at work and I'm slowly adjusting to the progressive bifocals.
"I think it's time," said the Brigadier. "She seems ready."
"I agree," said the Group Captain, "she should be pliable enough, now. Let's bring her in tomorrow."
MI5, Fleet House, London.
Two surprisingly fit but otherwise almost aggressively ordinary-looking people escorted Lena Oxton towards an almost aggressively ordinary-looking private office with venetian-blinded glass walls in a room surrounded on three sides by other surprisingly fit but otherwise aggressively ordinary-looking people at aggressively ordinary-looking desks.
If Pure Gym had a security division, she thought, as she was not quite shoved, but quite briskly moved through the short glass hallway to her destination, this would be it. Crikey, those are thick walls - I'm in real trouble now.
"I'm a British subject, you can't do this. I've got rights." she said to the man at the desk, after the agents dropped her into a chair and exited the room. The man actuated a control, and the blinds closed, leaving them alone. He tapped at the nameplate on his desk - Group Captain Aubrey Henderson - and said, "Salute your superior, flying officer, or I'll have you for insubordination."
Flying Officer Oxton's heart leapt and she snapped to attention and saluted. "Sir! My apologies, sir."
"Much better," said the G/C. "At ease."
"Thank you, sir!" She burst out, too rapidly, "I've been trying to get someone to listen to me for weeks, and I've had a lot of nothing back for it. You're the first person who's even acknowledged who I am! I, I, I, didn't realise I'd been reactivated!" She beamed. At last, she thought, I've got through! "Sir!" She almost saluted again.
The older man glared, and she toned it down immediately. "I know," he grumbled. "We've been following you since you contacted the consulate in Pretoria. Sit." He motioned Oxton back to her seat, and sat down behind his desk. "Quite frankly, some of us have been hoping you'd just give up and go away, back to... wherever you came from."
"...sir?" said the Flying Officer, uncertainty replacing happiness on her face, as Imogen's words spooled through her memory. "I've been missing for..."
"I know the story," he interrupted. "You've told it about half a dozen times at this point, in full, I think?"
"...yes, sir. Before people stopped letting me in. Sir."
"It hasn't improved."
Not knowing what to say, Lena said nothing.
"Look at it from our standpoint," said the Omnic War veteran. "You die in a fighter test flight, killed over Greece. We retire you, with honours. We investigate, we find out your whole organisation was a horror, ridded with... funds abuse, embezzlement, questionable human experimentation, out-and-out war crimes, and even worse. And so, we put it away." He tapped the top of his cold, metal desk. "I put it away."
Oh no, thought Tracer. "Yes, sir."
"And now, two years after we finally had it all sorted, and the press have moved on and the public have started to forget and forgive, one of the few people not implicated shows back up, out of nowhere, outside our consulate building in South Africa, with a story not even a schoolboy would believe - the prodigal daughter returns, and starts poking her nose where it isn't wanted and no longer belongs."
"What do you expect us to think? What do you expect us to do with you?"
"Sorry, sir," she said, with just a hint too much insubordination, "I thought the military might want to know one of their missing officers was alive."
Cute, he thought. "It was that ape, wasn't it. Somehow, he brought you back. From the moon." He shook his head - it still sounded foolish aloud. "I can't blame him for that - you were friends. But I can blame him for whatever he's built into you."
Lena froze. I haven't been near a military examination room, how did they know? What else do they know? She swallowed. "...sir?"
"You're a not a terrible liar, pilot, but you're not a good one either. Bioluminescent tattoos isn't the worst line..."
"Regulation-compliant within Overwatch, sir, nothing visible in uniform," she interjected, before he sternly continued "...but it's still a line. You're six kinds of wired up, and we know it."
Shite, she thought, scrambling for some way to salvage the story, "Sir, Winston had nothing to do..." That's not better, think before you talk, Oxton!
"I'll pretend you didn't say that," he said, "because the alternatives are far worse. For you."
"...sir." she said, outright afraid now. He's called me F/O, I must have some standing, I can use that, I have rights. "Has my commission been reopened, sir?"
"Not formally," the G/C replied, "which is why you're not in the brig for desertion, first, and more severe charges, later." He sighed, and leaned back off the top of his desk. "I don't think you're a villain, flight officer. The problem is - none of us really know what you are. I've brought you in to offer you a way out. I'm offering you a deal - and I promise you, it was the very best one I could make."
"A deal, sir?" she said, quietly, stalling for time and thinking quickly, I can live without the service, she thought. I can live with that. I can still do good work. There are plenty of other opportunities for a good pilot. Médecins Sans Frontières, maybe, they can always use...
He picked a padd off his desk, and tossed it towards her to catch. "Approve this. We reopen your commission and close it, this time as a medical discharge. We give you five years' back salary - more than enough to get you on your feet. You go away, again, get a job, and and live a quiet life somewhere. You don't talk to the press; you don't write a book; you don't do video; you're Lena Oxton, ex-RAF, not Lena "Tracer" Oxton of Overwatch." He gestured towards the PADD. "Section IV invokes the Official Secrets Act - whether you agree or not."
Tracer shuddered at that, and it took a forceful act of will not to teleport out of the building. "You're one-thirty-fouring my life, sir?"
"No, not your life. Just Overwatch, and Tracer."
"Sir!" the pilot spat out, "This is unfair. This is wrong. You can't do this. Sir."
"Move out of London - preferably, somewhere unimportant - within a week. After that, never get within five kilometres of a military or intelligence base, unless specifically recalled, ever again."
That's a big no-fly zone, she thought. "That'll limit my opportunities as a working pilot, sir."
"Your license terminated with your death, Flying Officer, and you're not getting it back. You've been on every no-fly list in the world since you landed at Heathrow; you are grounded. Most likely, for good."
Horror flashed across Lena Oxton's face, and she bolted up from the chair. "Sir! No, sir! You can't do that to me, sir!"
He barked the words, every syllable a body blow, staccato against her frame, "I can and I have, and if you have any sense at all, your next action will be to sit back down, and your next words will be 'Yes sir, I accept, sir.'"
Lena stopped herself - barely - from screaming at the Group Captain, composed herself as best she could, sat, and managed, shakily, "...but flying... being a pilot... it's all I ever wanted. Sir."
Group Captain Henderson let his expression, and his voice, soften a bit. He remembered that feeling - love of the air, the altitude, the endless sky, the pure speed. "I know."
Flying Officer Oxton straightened a bit, and stood her ground. "I've done nothing wrong. Sir. Except die in an experimental vehicle that exploded around me. It wasn't my fault, I'm pretty sure the record shows that, and I don't see why I should lose my license over it. Sir."
"Your record does show that," he agreed, almost kindly, "and, if you agree, it will continue to do so." Then, with a harder edge, "But if you didn't think we'd find out about that device you have embedded inside you, you underestimated us badly."
Keep it together, Tracer, keep that trim tight, she thought. "I, I..." The jig's up now, but... "I need it. It keeps me from sliding back out of time. Sir."
Thank god, thought the Group Captain, exhaling slowly, she said it. "Good. You admit you know. I'd hoped you finally would." It means if you behave, we might actually honour this agreement,, he did not add aloud. "But we don't know what else it does, and the only way to know, for sure, would be to take you apart, all the way down, and study what was left. The only reason we haven't done that already is that you tried so very hard to get our attention."
"Sir." This can't be happening, she thought.
"Would you rather we changed our minds about that, Ms. Oxton?"
"...no," she said, bitterly, "Sir."
The Group Captain nodded. "Then accept the agreement, and you walk out of here a civilian, and intact. We'll be keeping an eye on you, of course, but stay quiet, let people continue to forget all of this, don't do anything stupid, and we'll leave you alone." The older man - older than Ana, probably older even than Reinhardt - leaned forward, with as much compassion as he could push into his blunt, once-chiseled face, and said, "Just walk away, Oxton. This really was the best I could get you. Walk away, and go live your life."
Lena Oxton sat in the chair, suddenly feeling strangely calm, separate, isolated. This is the second time since the explosion I haven't really had a choice, she thought, as she reached out her hand and pressed her thumb against the acceptance screen. I like it this time much less.
Former Flying Officer Lena "[Redacted]" Oxton left the MI5 building for the first and last time. Money instantly appeared in a bank account, a fair and reasonable sum. Ms. Oxton checked that account, took a little bit out in cash at an access point, and treated herself to a lavish dinner, which tasted like nothing, then box seats at a show at the Palace Theatre, which left her utterly unmoved.
Then she walked, and walked, and walked, and walked, around Old London, past Piccadilly and past St. James and past Westminster and along the Thames and across and past the Tate and past the ruins of the London Bridge and back across the river and past St. Paul's and then she didn't even notice anymore, until hours later, at 3am, when she found herself in the middle of a deserted Trafalgar Square, carrying a worn satchel popular in South Africa some ten years before, with the remnants of her flight suit, her burnt Overwatch identity card, a fake of her old passport, and a change of clothes, old, but serviceable, from a Lutzberg charity shop.
There, standing between the fountains, from a small, round, metal box, she extracted a smaller, round device. Clicking its power cell into place, she held the beacon tightly against her chest, depressed the second button, the one on the top, until it beeped, twice...
Friday is still a little jet-lagged…
- Rescue cat sleeps every night tucked into her tiny bed.
- Humorous social media posts from Australia’s New South Wales police force.
- Corgi mixed-breeds have achieved all the cuteness.
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.
So if I missed anything important, I'm sorry xx
The first is
A song you like with a colour in the title, so I went for White winter hymnal by Fleet Foxes. I don't always love the kind of very blurry musical style that Fleet Foxes go for, but I got really fond of this song a few years back and it's one that always raises a smile when it comes on shuffle.
People are generally linking to YouTube, and I'd never actually seen the accompanying video for this one before. It's kind of a cool claymation thing, so I'm glad I searched it up.
( Embedded video )
I've been forgetting about it, or I've been at best excited that I have my passports back. I really underestimated how much I would hate being without them (plural because the expired one has my proof of Indefinite Leave to Remain in it, which is my proof I can work here and hopefully what keeps the border guards at Manchester Airport from being completely awful to me whenever I come back, so the expired passport is still an integral part of the deal).
Working on my book (I owe Kickstarter an update too). I am so stressed about it at this point, but Andrew's looking at what I have today and assures me it's not as bad as I feared and it's not as far from being done as I feared either.
And po8crg and haggis are taking me out for dinner tonight to celebrate my UK citizenship, so that should help make it seem a bit more real!
Workers start dismantling jail tent complex in Phoenix
Racist Star Trek Fans Decry Discovery's Diversity, Revealing They Know Nothing About Star Trek
Survey finds US honeybee losses improve from horrible to bad
‘Not Welcome Here’: Thousands March Against Trump in Belgium
A Proposed New Tax, Mainly On Latinos, To Pay For Trump's Border Wall
Trump pushes around NATO; lecture seen as unsettling alliance
U.S. warship drill meant to defy China's claim over artificial island -officials
Housing Secretary Ben Carson calls poverty a 'state of mind' (Fuck you, Ben fucking Carson.)
US admits DEA lied about Honduras 'massacre' that killed four villagers
Manila deploys commandoes, helicopters to retake city from Islamists
Anyway, almost as soon as I got home from the interview, it was time to leave again. Part of me wanted to sleep for a week but I'd arranged to go to the theatre with James and Jennie and Other Holly back when I couldn't have known what a tiring week this was going to be, and the rest of me knew that I'd feel better once I got myself there.
And I did. We saw "The Play That Goes Wrong," which pretty much tells you everything you need to know about it. miss_s_b's review is here (very slight spoilers) which is lucky as I think I'm getting a migraine so should get off the computer before I could write one myself.
To hers I only need add that she was awesome for giving me a little impromptu audio description, which especially at the beginning of the play where the gags were all visual was very welcome because we were sitting way at the back and so I was doomed to hearing people laughing a lot and having absolutely no idea why, which wasn't exactly the mood-lifter I needed. I was worried someone would tell us off for Talking During the Performance but luckily no one did and it totally made the experience for me. There were lots more dialogue-based jokes later on and some of the phsyciality was stuff I could just about discern, but I still would have felt like I'd missed out on a lot if it weren't for my kind friends.
We were a pretty noisy audience eventually anyway, so maybe I needn't have worried. Some asshole to the left of us started shouting "funny" things (as opposed to actually funny things) almost right away, and continued to throughout the first half. And eventually, the po-faced actor/director-playing-the-inspector's tantrum included "Despite appearances tonight, this isn't a pantomime!" and I feel I earned all my British-citizen cred by being the first person (from what we could hear, anyway) to shout "Oh yes it is!"
Part of my appall is how there seem to be a vast profusion of definitions, many mutually exclusive, loose out there. Like, I'm pretty sure two of my grad school classes promulgated precisely opposite empathy vs sympathy distinctions.
So, for kicks and giggles, what's your personal definition of empathy? Assuming, of course, you have one. (If you don't, you can say that too.)
All comments will be screened, and I may or may not be unscreening some or all of them at my personal discretion. If you don't want your definition of empathy being tied to you, comment anonymously.
We’ve been trying to work out what to do with this odd space since we moved in. It’s a fair way from the house and not visible from the back door. Jacuzzi? Too much maintenance, plus it’s too far to trek on a horrible winter night. Bike shed? Functional but boring, and also bike sheds are ugly. This is a pretty space, ringed by climbing roses and vines.
A few weeks ago we went to the garden centre and found a display of cute playhouses with trimmed roofs and windows, and an interior upper floor reached by a child-sized ladder. The 6’x6’ models were on sale. As we had to carry the children away from them, literally, we thought, perhaps this is the optimal use for that round patch.
Thus far, we have been proved entirely correct, and the expense has been justified. Since it’s been installed, both children come home from nursery, dash through the house and out the back door into the playhouse to draw, play on the tablet or just run up and down the steps and in and out the doors. (There’s an adorable toddler-sized door out the side in addition to the larger front door.) The only things that brings them back to the house in 15-20 minutes are the requests for drinks and fruity snacks, which are then carried back up to the playhouse.
tl;dr version We got the kids a playhouse for the garden. Photos below!
[Keiki on a wooden chair outside the playhouse. “Oi* shut da door on moi sister!”]
( +3 )
* The Black Country is strong with this one.
** There is a whole separate post brewing about how I simply do not understand Danger Mouse.
5:30am. Lena Oxton awoke just before sunrise. Day 60, she thought to herself. Or maybe day ten.
Quietly, so not to wake her hostel bunkmates, she went to her locker, pulled out her bag, and slipped silently to the common washroom, where she brushed her teeth and hair and prepped for her morning run. Nightshirt, brushes, back into the bag, and back to the locker; beacon with her, as always, in the special strap she'd built just for it.
6:00am. Lena Oxton ran. It wasn't a jog, it was a run, an all-out two-minute-mile run, jinks coming in bursts between buildings where she wouldn't be seen, not even by CCTV. She'd memorised the route that guaranteed least surveillance, and took it without fail, twice, every morning.
Then, a more typical endurance run. An hour at a more recognisable speed, one the best-trained fully-human runners might manage - certainly nothing anyone would find too impossible, out of context. But she nonetheless slowed whenever police happened near by.
7:00am. Back to the hostel, for the allotted four minute shower. Re-up her bunk on the way in. She tried to think of it as boot camp, or aircraft carrier duty. It felt more like prison.
7:15am. Into her best outfit. If you're going to war with records, best to look like you've got some standing - even if you've been had so many doors slammed in your face that you've developed a ranking system.
7:30am. Breakfast. A century-old cafe tucked into a still-older building on the border between Westminster and Pimlico, high density, high fat, but low cost and they don't skimp on the bangers. She loved it the first three weeks, liked it the next three. This was week nine.
8am. The library. The librarians knew her well at this point, and were kind, assuming without saying that she was some sort of homeless, and probably undocumented, passport or no passport. Electronic refiling of the same sets of requests and documentation that somehow just kept going missing. (Sorry, miss, there's just no sign of it. Why don't you submit it again? ) Research, trying to find something, any case like hers, that might get her a day in court - anything that might get her heard.
Noon. Lunch. A second workout - it's Wednesday, so the corporate-sponsored free weights session; next one would be Friday. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, it's Parks Fitness. Mondays and Saturdays, anything she could find online. Sundays, parkour out on the east end, no one she could really talk to, but the closest she'd found to friends so far.
13:30. Another attempt at her should-be MP's office; barred at the door, as usual. Another attempt at Council - more forgiving, but nothing they can do - "not if it's a military matter, sorry luv." She knew better at this point to show up at a Forces station. One office visit followed another followed another, all about the same, one too-familiar blur after another.
16:45. Immigrant rights groups, free legal aid meeting, round six. Sincere, but - she's not an immigrant. And their legal assistance team are as confused as she was until ten days ago, when she ran into Imogen again, Imogen, who picked her up by the collar and slammed her against the wall and said in a low but deadly voice, "are you following me? are you following me? i don't know what you think you want but the word has gone out, you are a poison and i will not lose my career being seen with you. i don't know you. i never did. never get near me again" before storming away, diving into the nearest cab that would take her, gone almost before even Tracer could think, ...what just happened?
17:30. Dinner. Week nine. Not out of money yet, but no dessert. She missed dessert.
18:30. A long walk around town, playing her favourite new game, "spot the new CCTVs."
Now it's 19:45, as Tracer climbs up onto the hostel's rooftop to try and get a signal to Winston if the surveillance isn't too obvious, but, of course, it is. She heads back down to the common room; it's Wednesday, quiet, and there's been another incident, emergency response in Tunisia, the reporters are wondering if it's Talon and Lena wants to laugh and cry at the same time, as if her beloved spider would ever be so indiscriminate, so inelegant, so wretchedly, terribly sloppy with death.
But sloppily or not, people are still dying, and as she studies the action on screen, she thinks, We could've done something about this. Her hands tighten into angry fists. Overwatch could've, if they hadn't shut us down. I feel so useless. If... She follows the footage, overhead views, and realises she's tracking critical actors. There, she thinks, coolly. That one. Take that one person down, the whole plan falls apart. One shot...
She shakes her head, and closes her eyes. She can still see the target, clear and sharp in her mind's eye, as though through a scope, as though through her scope, as though... Hindsight, she tells herself, is always so clear. Opening her eyes, she realises no one else is even paying attention, and so she reaches up, and changes the channel.
Early to bed. Tomorrow's another day. It'll be different, right? Surely. It has to be.
Maybe I'll just sleep in.
On my first day at Les Imaginales, a pair of librarians came up and invited me to visit the Epinal Library. What I didn’t realize — they may have mentioned it and I just missed it — was that they were giving us a private tour of the rare books room.
It was amazing. One of the true highlights of my trip to France. My interpreter Lionel, an author himself, was as awestruck as I was. Especially when they brought out the first book. If I’m remembering right, this was from the 8th century.
The next one wasn’t quite as old…being from the 9th century. This Gospel of Saint Mark was a youthful 1200 years old.
The cover is metal and ivory. I’m not sure what kind of jewels those are. The circular areas on the corners were for holding relics. Here’s a glimpse of the interior:
You can see the full set of photos on Flickr. (Or you may have already seen them on Facebook.) It was such a wonderful experience. My thanks to everyone at Bibliothèque Municipale d’Epinal for their time and generosity.
I’ll end with a map of Michigan from one of the books that was “only” a few centuries old. Michigan sure looked different in the old days…
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.
I think my favourite character was the corpse (no, really), but it was a close run thing between him and the stage-hand-who-ends-up-getting-roped-
The recalcitrant set, of course, is a character in it's own right. Whoever designed it is a genius. Bits alternately fall off or unexpectedly don't fall off; doors swing open or fail to open, depending on what they are not supposed to do, etc. The timing of all these things is vital, and it was absolutely spot on every time, right down to the ( small spoiler ) at the end.
The po-faced actor/director-playing-the-inspector's ( small spoiler ) He reminded me of nothing so much as my English teacher at school, who used to sweat blood pushing recalcitrant children into the school play, and inevitably things went wrong as they do in these situations.
The one note of caution I would sound is that it doesn't pass Bechdel. There are two female characters, but they don't talk to each other at all (although at one point they talk over each other and ( small spoiler )). There's no real reason why the Butler, or the Sound Engineer, or even the Inspector couldn't be women, they just... aren't. This is a bit of a contrast from the Agatha Christie plays which this is clearly riffing off, which are always scrupulously gender balanced...
That was the only thing that really bothered me, though. Otherwise I had an excellent time, the performances were good, the stage set was excellent, and the comic timing was first rate. If you get the chance, go see this, particularly if you've already seen and are familiar with The Mousetrap, to which there are many many refernces. Also, you need to get in there ten minutes or so early. No spoilers, but it's worth it.
Korean-made documentary about a child Rinpoche in Northern India. he's believed to be the incarnation of a Tibetan lama. Of course those monks can't come find him, and he can't go to them. the real story is about his beautiful relationship with the man who discovered him. peronal, raw, and full of stunning landscapes punctuated with their red monk robes. i take back bitchy things ive said about drone cameras. They were used well and appropriately here. the kid's bio mom was a knitter. the village is incongrously full of people wearing really nice hand knits. North American premiere, good Q&A with the director.
Science Fiction Vol 1: The Osiris Child
Throwback Australian SF that was pretty fucking good. Like, original Mad Max good. Creative world-building, well executed, with solid acting. the evil corporation is running their terraforming projects with prison labor...and doing experiments. Divorced dad's awesome little girl is visiting the colony planet. Mayhem ensues. Yes, it is mostly a string of tropes, including the washed-up pilot, the good guy prisoner, and an armored bus, but that's fine. It ended at a good stopping spot, and I would be very happy to see volume 2.
Fandom: Legend of Korra
Characters and Pairing: Lin/Tenzin
Summary: A few months ago, Lin was a promising young police officer. Now she has to find a new path.
Notes: Set in the same AU as "Avalanche". It's called the President Beifong AU on AO3, even though I haven't really gotten to any of the presidential stuff yet. This fic comes with thanks to multivitamins and praticamente-innocua, which between them gave me the strength to start recovering from The Cold I've Had Since March.
( While the welcoming party's attention was on the Avatar, Lin climbed gingerly down from Appa and all but collapsed in Tenzin's arms. )
Edit: Also, he's making a weird noise in his sleep. He's burping or hiccupping, I don't know, but it sounds like the sort of bubbles you'd hear popping in an old video game. It is super adorable.
Learning to read as an adult might change the way your brain works
Evolution Runs Faster on Short Timescales
Reinventing high school
Male Fish Borrows Egg to Clone Itself
Taiwan is closer to being 1st Asian place to allow same-sex marriage
Scientists Have Observed Epigenetic Memories Being Passed Down For 14 Generations
'A Kingdom On Wheels': The Hidden World That Made The Circus Happen
Last show for Ringling: Why it’s not really the end of the circus
Scientists Hunt Hard Evidence On How Cop Cameras Affect Behavior
Hundreds protest over minimum wage at McDonald's stockholder meeting
Why Colleges Already Face Race-Related Challenges In Serving Future Students
How a Professional Climate Change Denier Discovered the Lies and Decided to Fight for Science
8 in 10 people now see climate change as a “catastrophic risk” – survey
Africa is not poor, we are stealing its wealth
Doctors Once Thought Bananas Cured Celiac Disease. They Saved Kids' Lives – At A Cost
There Aren't Enough Slaughterhouses to Support the Farm-to-Table Economy
The struggles of war babies fathered by black GIs
Why Black Lung Disease Is Deadlier Than Ever Before
Border Walls and Biodiversity: New barriers, new horizons
Trump Wants Families On Food Stamps To Get Jobs. The Majority Already Work
How the Right Is Perverting Religious Liberty
Trump's budget means deep cuts for health care safety net
In Trump's America, Infrastructure Is Not for the People
I read Trump's budget with an expert. His take: it's cruel and based on phony assumptions.
SMBC: Marine Biology (This is not a funny comic.)
New police taskforce to target Indonesian gays
Army trucks roll deeper into Philippine city that is under siege while thousands flee
If you've missed them, the long arc of the Queen's Thief series features the three warring alt!Grecian kingdoms of Sounis, Eddis and Attolia getting their act together to avoid being absorbed by an alt!Babylonian empire. The books are heavy on well-researched worldbuilding, political complexity, and third-act twists; they are light on divine influence, though the gods do have a plan and they would rather like the protagonists to stop whining about it. Books include:
The Thief: A magus, his two apprentices, a soldier and a thief go on a life-changing field trip to steal a divine king-making relic, and Megan Whalen Turner shows off her unreliable first-person narration.
The Queen of Attolia: All three kingdoms start a slapfight with each other while the series protagonist sulks in his room, except when he's stealing important political figures from other kingdoms. Megan Whalen Turner would like you to know she can dance deftly around significant information just as easily in omniscient third as she can in first.
The King of Attolia: A sweet, honest guardsman punches his king in the face, and proceeds to regret every single one of his life choices. Megan Whalen Turner's like "look, this time I'm using limited third and telling you EXACTLY what my protagonist thinks and believes at any given time, it's not MY fault he only knows like 20% of what's actually going on."
A Conspiracy of Kings: The heir to the kingdom of Sounis is like "I COULD sort out this civil war by becoming king OR I could do hard labor for the rest of my life and honestly the latter sounds more appealing?" Megan Whalen Turner returns to first person but is too busy examining questions of ethics around violence in the political sphere to put all that much effort into setting up twists.
( This is the part that's spoilery for the first four books )
Anyway, yesterday I finally got to the point where I could read the just-published new book, Thick as Thieves. ( So this is the part that's spoilery for Thick as Thieves. )
List the first five (or so) lines of your last 20 stories (or however many you have altogether. WIPs count). See if there are any patterns.
( Read more... )
Well, where there's a style to pastiche, I do my damnedest to pastiche it. And I seem to be very keen on jumping into the middle of the action, where the stakes of that action are not very high, and then backtracking a little to show where we are and what's going on, and then plunging into the real meat of the story.
Share the final line of five of your fics — your favorites, or the most recent ones.
And the son of Mercédès Herrera thought of all the years that his mother had waited, and suffered, and hoped, and he thought that perhaps it was true, after all.
Only The Good Which We Can Do (The Count of Monte Cristo)
He reached out to take Yuuri's hand, and a sudden shock of sunlight broke through the clouds and turned the sea to gold, too bright to look at.
What Love Is (Yuri!!! on Ice)
And they never found her, you know, alive or dead, and I have often thought that even Faithful Janetta could not keep Maria constant for long, at that.
The Blood of the Hentzaus (Zenda novels)
He rested his elbows on his knees and watched until all traces had vanished, then got to his feet and turned, reluctantly, for home.
Rosemary (Romeo and Juliet)
And off she goes to her lecture, a woman with all the future to enjoy.
Evening Classes (Doctor Who)
So I have a thing for beginning my final sentences with conjunctions, apparently.
If you were to remix one of my stories, 1.) what would it be and 2.) what would you do.
ETA I'm not the biggest Andy Burnham fan out there, but I sympathise with him here where the acting US Ambassador seems to be giving him assurances that either can't or won't be kept.
chapters 20 and 21 are ... i'm pretty sure ready to go.
I'm glad 20 is short, because it is a hard chapter. I don't mean as in difficult to write, though it wans't the easiest, I mean, as in... blunt object. And 21 is, if anything, harder, also as in blunt object. But in a different way.
Hopefully that will make sense to other people by the end of the week.
and this is only the fourth movement. i think it may look like the end of an origin story, which I can see, but that's wrong. there is critically more to come.
Much has been written about the design of the Daleks and its contribution to their success. It's difficult not to be impressed. Even today most Doctor Who monsters definitely adhere to the "man in a suit" model, so seeing something from so early in the show that really doesn't look remotely like a man in a suit. The fact that the fundamental design of the Daleks has altered so little since then is probably a testament to its longevity. Even the sink plunger which ought to tip them over into the ridiculous seems to work, and to continue to work. While the design of the Daleks has been much praised, the design of their City is also pretty impressive, both in terms of the exterior shots of the whole city and the internal corridors. There isn't anything in this story that looks risible and a great deal of it looks very good indeed.
Some of the dialogue is also surprisingly nuanced for Doctor Who and a reminder that, at this point in time, its writers viewed it as an ensemble show. I'm particularly thinking of the discussion in the forest over the morality of pressurising the Thals to help them, though I'm not quite sure (even in 1963) why the dynamic of this is the Doctor and Barbara attempting to persuade Ian to persuade the Thals, as if the Doctor and Barbara can't have a go at a bit of persuading themselves. In fact, I'm not at all sure what this story's attitude is to the concept of Ian as the leader. It seems to be implicit in quite a lot that happens, but then the script also undermines him - particularly in the sequence when it becomes clear that only Susan can venture back to the Tardis to fetch the anti-radiation drugs where Ian is basically a bit of a tit about the whole situation.
On the down side, the Thals are rather bland, more so than I remembered from the novelisation - though they do avoid the 1970s mistake of looking like a bunch of actors who have never done a day's physical labour in their lives. They are almost uniformly kind, thoughtful and a little bewildered looking - the only excepion really being Antodus who's cowardly and bewildered looking. My memory from the novelisation is that they were better differentiated than this, but the novelisation is a slightly different beast. I was aware that there was supposed to be a potential romance between Ganatus and Barbara and so spotted the various hints of this, but Tame Layman was a bit taken aback at the end when it was made more explicit in their farewell. Susan is also fairly ill-served by the story although I'm beginning to feel that Susan is often ill-served. While the Randomiser re-watches have improved my opinion of many of the 60s era "screamer" companions, I think my opinion of Susan has dropped. Sadly, the most interesting thing about her is her background. Otherwise, an awful lot of the time, her role in any story just to scream hysterically and panic. Here she is given a moment to shine, when she fetches the anti-radiation drugs, but the script undermines her even then by focusing mostly on her fear and not on her bravery.
I don't know why I formed such a low opinion of this story the first time I came across it. It is mostly intelligently written, well-designed and pretty pacey to watch. As the story that first introduced the Daleks its significance in the history of Doctor Who is clear and it is a story which I think a moderately tolerant modern viewer could easily enjoy.