Jumanji: The Next Level (a review)

We went to see the latest Dwayne Johnson expanded jungleverse movie last night, and it was as fun and silly as we could have expected. Here is my very, very brief review.

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The classic characters, and some new faces and performances that will surprise you.

As a sequel-of-a-reboot, of course, this movie was facing a challenge in terms of … well, in terms of not being crap. And while it may have fallen slightly short of the “original” (ie. the reboot), it was a very decent classic sequel. And it was not crap.

It was no Deadpool 2, Terminator 2, or Hellboy 2, but it was a solid … I don’t know, Gremlins 2? Back to the Future 2? Last Jedi?

What’s that? These comparisons depend on how much you like all those movies I just listed and so the whole thing is useless as a basis for comparison?

ARE WE GETTING THE POINT OF FILM REVIEWS YET?

Okay, so anyway, this was a fun movie. It delivered what it promised, it threw some good opportunities for acting and some good character work into the mix, it was well written, and it played a bit with the concept of the game coming to life (and being more than a little busted). There were some fun tropes in there, and oh boy, did they nail the Old Coots Coming To Terms With Video Games thing. Absolutely crucified it.

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Johnson wasn’t quite as flawless at this role than he has been at others (to be fair he was shown up more than a little by Awkwafina in this one), but he was still solid gold.

If you’ve seen the trailers you may have been somewhat spoiled on one of the main plot changes from the first movie, but also misled somewhat as to the nature of the story you’re about to see. There are some unexpected twists and turns that did not disappoint. They kept it fresh without adding too much infuriating bullplop.

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Jack Black is consistently underrated. Not on this blog, sir.

An enjoyable evening out, not exactly a masterpiece of the cínémá but then it doesn’t at any point pretend to be. If you can see it with a giggling, karate-chopping, line-repeating, chair-bouncing nine-year-old, I recommend that as a solid augmentation.

I give Jumanji: The Next Level a JUUMAANJIII out of a possible JUUUMAAANNJIIIIII.

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VVitchy Movie Night (some reviews)

On Saturday the Bros (minus The Pas) sat down to watch a trilogy of sorts. Okay, they were all different movies by different creators and telling different stories, but when Mr. Fahrenheit picks a movie theme, he has a habit of finding movies that can be tied together into merged continuities quite easily. I mean, I haven’t quite figured out where it fits into The Core‘s expanded universe yet, but I guess this cursed ground in New England is one of the fall-back sites referenced in The Cabin in the Woods. Or something. Work in progress.

We started the night with The Witch (or The VVitch: A New-England Folk Tale), an acclaimed and well-received little psychological thriller. It had an excellent cast and some great performances, even if what they were performing was a bit overblown and difficult to process. This was one that got more intriguing and impressive the more you thought about it. Was any of it real? Hallucination? Religious hysteria? You can really believe what you want, which is in itself an interesting statement about faith.

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Lysa Arryn and Dagmer Cleftjaw run away from it all and start a new family, only to find that the Drowned God and weird breast-feeding habits have a way of catching up with you.

Very creepy, with some truly hair-curling moments of disgust (and I’m not even talking about the gore, which is very much present but well executed). I don’t quite have the same enthusiasm for it as some, but I don’t have anything specifically bad to say about it – just not really my kind of movie. Definitely interesting and fun to watch, though. I’ll give it a Sleepy Hollow out of a possible Sauna.

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Bonus points for chopping wood in a horror movie. Bonus points removed for how suspiciously evenly-sawed all those logs were. Made me very suspicious and I think it was in fact witchcraft.

The next movie we watched was The Autopsy of Jane Doe. This started out interesting with a scattering of random plot-points and jump-scares, and ended up as a mass of jump-scares woven together with a very rough attempt at some kind of plot that I have to admit didn’t make a whole lot of sense.

Another couple of good performances, from the legendary Brian Cox and from Emile Hirsch who was playing his son. The corpse also did a good job, I don’t think she blinked.

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Not even when they stuck her with the witch-finding pin.

I’m not certain what was really going on in this one, and how (or even if) the murders in the first act linked up to the finale, or what the witch’s regeneration and in fact what her whole deal was all about. I just, nope. But she was probably maybe kinda from the same time period and New England locale as the first movie’s setting, so there’s our link-up.

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“There’s no outward sign of this movie being bad, but once you start to take it apart it’s a real fucking mess, son. Maybe that’s the message here.”

I’ll give The Autopsy of Jane Doe four and a half Strykers out of a possible Agamemnon. Moving on.

Our third movie, apparently completing the downward slide from High Cínémá to Hollywood popular trash, was The Babysitter. However, this was a surprisingly entertaining and enjoyable movie, admittedly in the light-and-popcorny sort of way I’m more used to.

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Why was American Psycho guy shirtless? I mean, aside from the in-movie reason provided, which was perfectly acceptable.

I was expecting something along the lines of The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, but ended up with a mixture of The Craft and Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse. It was a very pleasant surprise, and it was further enhanced by the excellent comedy in it, the enjoyably rounded-out villain roles, and the fact that I was several sheets to the wind by this stage of the evening.

And I’m not even making a snide allusion to the movie babes with that “rounded-out” lime. The bad guys were actually (okay, most of them) given decent lines and characters – if not quite so solid as the cliché-busting college student victims in The Cabin in the Woods, then at least better than plenty of movies in this genre. It just goes to show that it’s not fucking difficult, Hollywood.

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In this analogy, the viewer is represented by the man on the right while the movie and its character tropes are represented by the man in the middle. The movie producers are shown on the left in the background.
Apologies for the spoiler, but this whole scene was pretty funny.

There’s not a lot to discuss with this one. dreameling and I were rooting for Bee to not be the baddie we knew she was going to turn out to be, but I won’t spoil it beyond the fact that of course she was always going to be … just maybe not quite in a way anyone could predict. It was nicely done. And the friendship between Bee and Cee was all the more gut-wrenching when … I mean look at me, I’m talking about the character interplay in a splatter comedy.

The Devil’s Book alluded to in The Witch was back in this movie, showing how the whole thing went full circle and connected up. The coven, active in 1630s New England and then uncovered once more in a shonky autopsy room hundreds of years later, is back and – well, there’s going to be a sequel so let’s see what that looks like. My expectations are low and my hopes are high. I award The Babysitter a Samara Weaving out of a possible Falcor. And I’m definitely not going to explain that one.

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Farewell, René

I was saddened to learn that René Auberjonois, of Star Trek, Boston Legal and – oh no, he was the French Chef in The Little Mermaid! – passed away yesterday.

René has been a dependable and lovable force of entertainment for so long, it’s hard to imagine him not being around to delight us with more roles. But the ones he has given us over the decades are more than enough. And, like his Founder alter ego, he has a habit of showing up in places you least expect to see him. And, in doing so, elevating whatever you happen to be watching.

Farewell, René. You will be missed – but your legacy will live on.

odo

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Lord of BS, Part 15

It didn’t take Vamps long to get bored, and when he realised that his shield wouldn’t permit enough of the One Power through to provide him with any real alleviation of this boredom, he started to sulk.

Bashere, who was paying one of his annoyingly regular visits from Caemlyn in order to “keep an eye on the kids”, didn’t react very helpfully to the Lord Dragon’s protestations of boredness.

“Perhaps Milord Dragon would like to stamp on some bugs?” he suggested.

Vamps had a nagging suspicion that he was being made fun of, but wasn’t sure how. His normal response in such a situation would be to pretend he was the one doing the mocking, in a way that was obviously too clever for the person who was mocking him (or at least they thought they were mocking him) to comprehend. He would then congratulate himself on his subtlety and leave his opponent confused without actually having to think up any sort of counter-offensive of his own. In Davram Bashere’s case, however, Vamps couldn’t shake the feeling that the wise-mouthed Saldaean had already thought that far ahead, and would be ready with something that would catch Vamps completely flat-footed. The secret then lay in thinking yet another step ahead of that, and maybe making it all look like an elaborate setup that Vamps had very subtly laid out in order to trap his opponent. Once again, Vamps’s brain insisted in a nasty snarky whisper, Bashere was probably already there ahead of him, which would require Vamps to be yet one more step ahead.

Since the only alternative at that point was to trump the dude with balefire, and Vamps couldn’t channel that much saidin even if he wanted to (and he didn’t – the taint made his belly feel all queasy), the Dragon Reborn was left with no option but to mutter something inaudible under his breath.

“Is Milord Dragon aware that he just spoke his entire thought process out loud?” Bashere inquired politely, jiggling a pinky finger in his ear, “and that his definition of ‘inaudible under his breath’ could most likely be heard all the way across town?”

Vamps was spared the indignity of having to reply to this, by the relatively blessed sight of his brother, marching through the doorway as if he owned the place.

“Hi,” Mazrim said.

Davram got to his feet, lazy amusement no longer twinkling in his eyes.

“What do you want, Taim?” he demanded.

“I want to talk to my brother,” Mazrim said, “and I want you to bugger off,” before Bashere could do more than open his mouth, Mazrim waved his hand and the great throne room doors crashed open, burst momentarily into flame, and then went out again. There was nothing wrong with Mazrim’s access to the One Power, no sir. “Don’t let those hit your ass on the way out.”

After Bashere was gone, Mazrim looked up at his brother in amusement.

“Come on,” he finally said, “let’s get out of here.”

“Where are we going?” Vamps asked, as he stepped down off his throne-dais and his brother opened a gateway with another negligent wave of his hand. “When did you learn how to do that?”

“I picked it up,” Mazrim said lazily. “Jasin Natael isn’t as careful with this sort of thing as he should be, and Janica and Debs insist on sharing information. Not only that, but I’m getting quite a lot of information out of my pet Aes Sedai these days. Come on, I want to show you the changes we’ve made out at the Black Tower.”

“The Black Tower?” Vamps frowned to himself as he followed his brother through the gateway and into a vaguely familiar sort of settlement. He was also quite surprised to see it was the middle of the night. He’d had the weirdest idea that it was morning already. “Oh, right, the farm where all the male channelers were,” he wondered whether he should be alarmed about being in such a place while he still had a saidin-muzzle on, and he had foggy recollections about some of the guys in the Black Tower not necessarily liking the Dragon very much. Of course, that extended to Mazrim, who might actually be Demandred in disguise … but it certainly didn’t look like Demandred. He looked like the same old Maizecake Taim who always helped him braid his hair, who always helped him do his chores…

“What are you muttering about now?” Mazrim asked, giving his brother a quick noogie.

“Quit it! Are you Demandred?”

“Nope.”

“Okay.”

“But of course I would say that, if I was Demandred in disguise,” Mazrim added.

“Yeah, but are you?”

“Nope.”

“Okay.”

The Dragon and his brother made their way through the little town, and Vamps was amazed at how much had changed since his last visit. Even in the middle of the night, there were a lot of people outside, training in various ways.

“I teach the men about Healing first,” Mazrim was explaining, “not that I know all that much. Then I teach them the trick to avoid feeling the heat. Useful, in this neverending damned summer. Would you like to talk to the men?”

“Oh,” Vamps suddenly remembered what he should be doing. He was meant to be explaining to the asha’man that they would have all these special ranks and badges and things, and that they would be called ‘asha’man‘ from now on. That seemed important for some reason. Unfortunately, he hadn’t really thought about it all that much. He had just assumed that Janica and Debs would take care of it. He’d spent a little time a few weeks earlier, in one of his more creative phases, trying to make a series of badges that looked pretty cool. Unfortunately, the drawings were all in the pocket of one of his other coats. “Oh, um, okay. But aren’t they all in bed? We could come back in the morning…”

“You’re the Dragon Reborn,” Mazrim said, rubbing his knuckles painfully on the top of Puddin’s head again, “people will probably wake up for you.”

Sure enough, the growing collection of male channelers and various hangers-on gathered together on Mazrim’s bellowed order, and even though a lot of them looked tired, they stood satisfactorily to attention and listened closely while the Dragon Reborn made his speech.

“Um, hi,” he started. “I, um, I’m the Dragon Reborn, and king of a lot of places,” his confidence returned a little. “And don’t get me started on women,” he waited a moment, just in case one of the men did want to get him started on women, but none of them seemed to want to. “Because, um,” he went on, “I could never narrow it down to just one. If I had to pick my favourite three … look, just don’t get me started,” he waited again, then decided nobody was really understanding his point. Which was only natural, since it was a fairly subtle one. “From now on,” he continued, “you will be known as asha’man. Does anybody know what ‘asha’man‘ means?”

Three or four of the men, including Mazrim, raised their hands. Vamps had a vague and horrifying memory of sitting in the back of the room during Old Tongue class, facing the wall with a bell-bedecked jester’s cap on. He stamped the memory down savagely, and then realised everybody was staring at him, and then further realised that he had actually physically been stamping.

“You,” he said, pointing to one of the men. “Tell us what it means.”

“It means ‘guardian’,” the man replied, “or ‘defender of a just cause’,” he paused, then added, “it’s the Old Tongue, Lord Dragon.”

“Correct,” Vamps nodded approvingly. “Just testing. So, um, I’ve decided that-”

“Puddin,” Mazrim said quietly, into his ear.

“What?”

“I’ve already told them. Soldier, Dedicated, the pins, all that. You can just go ahead and confirm the order, and hand out these pins,” he handed Vamps a fistful of little silver swords, and an enamelled dragon. “Maybe it’d be best if you laid the first one on me. So I could get, you know, the respect and all.”

“You already have the pins and stuff?” Vamps gaped.

“Yeah,” Mazrim shrugged. “Janica gave them to me before she left.”

 


 

A giggling Contro had only just begun to work up a charge on Cyberwollf’s belly by the time Janica and a scowling Debs rounded the wagon and crouched to avoid any further attention.

“We have to be quick,” Janica hissed, “I can’t be away for long right now. They’ve got all these things for me to sign, and they want to have meetings and tell me how I’m supposed to act and things. I told them I had to go to the toilet, but I don’t think it’ll fool them for long. I’ll feel a lot better about the situation if I can just be sure of myself,” she jerked her head at Debs. “Do her first.”

“What in the neem o’ the Greet Lord o’-” Debs demanded, then swore as Contro delivered a swift bolt of static electricity. “Gah!”

At the same moment, Janica’s entire body went rigid and her hair stood on end.

Gnhg!” she spluttered, and fell to the ground. “I shoulda thought of that,” she concluded a few seconds later, clambering back to her feet and shaking the sparks out of her hair, dress and stole. “Okay, now just in case, you’d better do me too,” she glanced at Debs. “Are you better, Keeper?”

“Aye,” Debs said, and gave Contro a clap on the back as he bent back over Cyberwollf’s tummy. “Thanks, mate.”

“Aww! You’re welcome!”

“So … you’re not … you don’t seem to be…” Chucky waved his hand vaguely.

“I don’t know, to be honest,” Janica said. “It didn’t seem to affect me. But let’s be sure of it before we start talking.”

“But they did turn you?” Chucky asked, “with the thirteen halfmen and all?”

“Oh yeah, they did the whole thing,” Janica nodded, “but I’m beginning to think it’s a bit pointless, since it’s so easy to break the hold.”

“It’s a bit easy to turn channelers to the Dark One in the first place, if you ask me,” Dr. Nick said. He’d been woken up by the announcements, but didn’t look very happy about it. “Sooner or later, the whole idea gets silly and Angus’ll probably just settle for killing everybody who won’t turn voluntarily.”

Janica stood patiently while Contro zapped her.

“So I gather congratulations are in order,” Chucky went on as Janica once again patted her seven-striped stole down. “They actually made you Amyrlin. Or puppet-Amyrlin, or whatever.”

“That they did. But we’ll see about how much of a puppet I am,” Janica frowned. “I’m more worried about what Angamael’s game is now. This doesn’t seem like the sort of thing he’d want to do, considering the way he thinks … but it must have been his idea.”

“Did they actually make you Aes Sedai as well?” Shannon asked.

“They performed all the tests they could,” Janica said, “considering that they don’t have access to the ter’angreal in the White Tower. But that’s more for the benefit of the Lightfriends than anybody else.”

“Lightfriends?” Dr. Nick frowned.

“That’s what they call people who aren’t sworn to the Dark One,” Janica explained. “There are actually quite a few of them around, but things are so mixed up, nobody really knows who is what anymore. From what they told me in the debriefing, Angamael let the Salidar White Tower split thing go ahead for several reasons. Partly – although he didn’t know how important this was at the time – it was to protect the prophecies and the narrative, to stop things from falling apart too much. Secondly, he knew this was where the enemies to the White Tower would end up, so he figured he might as well take charge. He even stilled and dethroned Siuan Sanche and put Elaida in charge over there – well, in nominal charge. The whole White Tower is riddled with Forsaken.”

“Is Siuan Sanche here somewhere?”

“Last I heard, she was,” Janica nodded, “her and Leane, although I think there’s more to it than that. They’re trying to come up with some way of Healing stilling, but Nynaeve seems to have lost her knack for Healing. There’s more there, too, that they haven’t told me. Nynaeve is probably a Darkfriend. Anyway, they found out that Debs and I had solved the problem somehow, even though our attempts have been frankly terrible. And then everybody got confused about who was a Darkfriend and who wasn’t, and – gah!”

“Ha ha ha!!!!!”

“Cybes, would you get away from him?” Janica asked. “We’re all better noo.”

Cybes did as she was bid, with only slight disappointment. She had a feeling that if she could see auras the way Min could, she would see an awful lot of tickle-tums floating above her own head right now.

“So then a lot of the Aes Sedai we freed, both during the Tar Valon exercise and during operation Dream Tickle Dream Whatever, were confused,” Janica went on. “A lot of them were in a situation where they couldn’t get away, and they were recaptured. Of the rest, a lot of them fled, and they’re scattered all over the place, busily trusting nobody as per Robert Jordan’s normal M.O.,” she sighed. “The rest, wherever possible, sort of wandered towards Salidar, and Angamael had already filled this place with his minions. They’ve been filtering out the Lightfriends and converting them ever since, or at least keeping them fooled. And that just added to the confusion.”

“Right,” Chucky nodded. “So basically, we don’t know who to trust. We’ll have to zap any channeler we meet before we talk to them. Sort of like the Dominion shapeshifter screening process at Federation Headquarters.”

“But just like that, I’m pretty sure there are plenty of ways around any security measures we think up,” Janica replied. “Anyway, the point is I’m now a sworn Accepted at least, just like Egwene was, and I think the Amyrlin Seat ritual makes me officially Aes Sedai anyway. I didn’t swear on any Oath Rods, although of course they’d want to avoid all that anyway, being Black Ajah. They could have taken me back and put me through all the ter’angreal, but that would make everybody wonder how the so-called rebels managed to access the Tower.”

“Gateways,” Chucky suggested. “You could gateway in there, steal the Oath Rods and stuff, use the ter’angreal that were too big to steal, and then gateway the fuck outta there again.”

“Maybe once this whole village is subverted, the need for such secrecy will no longer exist,” Someshta, apparently completely sober again, had eased himself into the meeting and simultaneously provided extra cover from the prying eyes of untrustworthy Salidarans. “Then they can return to the White Tower and continue with their plan for world domination and the complete destruction of the Pattern.”

“Right,” Janica said, “and that’s why they have to succeed, and you have to leave.”

“What?” Chucky hissed. “Where are we going? And what are you doing in the meantime?”

“In the meantime, I’m staying here with Debs, and a couple of others, and keeping an eye on Angus,” Janica said. “Our plans for the cleansing of saidin will have to be put on hold, but I suppose that’s no big loss, considering what it might have done to the Pattern. Anyway, sooner or later Angus is going tae get all of these Aes Sedai cornered, and we might as well let him. We can’t keep running around, trying to free the Aes Sedai like this. Angus is always going to be a step ahead, and it’s only a matter of time until he comes up with something permanent. While he thinks he’s got us under control, we should take advantage of it.”

“So you’re going to sit around in Salidar being Amyrlin Seat to a bunch of Darkfriends who are pretending not to be Darkfriends in order to lure in the Lightfriends, and using your position to figure out what Angus is doing?” Chucky threw down his empty burger-plate. “And what are we doing?”

“You,” Janica said firmly, “are going to Ebou Dar to find the Bowl of the Winds.”

 


 

“According to this,” Bashere said, “there are a lot of little things like fireflies around you, but they are all being devoured by some sort of spreading shadow. Then,” he turned over the paper dubiously, “when there is another of your ta’veren friends in the room, the fireflies don’t get eaten faster than they can appear, but manage to remain steady,” he lowered the little scroll. “A bigger load, in conclusion, I have rarely seen in written form.”

“Where did you get it from?” Vamps asked. He was currently undergoing an extended Puddin Taim phase, and was consequently quite pleasant and relatively intelligent, although still prone to the occasional fuckwitted delusion.

“Apparently it was delivered by that Min woman, who was asked to give a report on all the things she’s seen floating around your head,” Bashere replied. “Personally, the only things I’ve seen floating around the Lord Dragon’s head are flies. But she has some sort of gift.”

“Min freaks me out,” Puddin confided, “although I have nothing but respect for her. She is a very forceful and dominant young lady, with a great deal of admirable self-confidence.”

“If forcefulness and self-confidence freaks you out, you should’ve gotten a load of Zarine,” Bashere said jovially. “She went off to hunt for the Horn of Valere, and I haven’t heard from her since. It’s certainly been quiet around the place, but I sometimes wonder where she is. Off making some poor man’s life miserable, no doubt.”

“So what does the viewing actually mean, Mister Bashere?” Puddin asked.

“I neither know nor care, my Lord Dragon,” Bashere replied. “There are also some comments here about you needing certain people around you at certain times, otherwise bad things will happen to you. Frankly, I could have told the Lord Dragon this just by looking at him. Wranglers, these people are referred to in the world of inbred nobility.”

Vamps scowled, certain that Bashere was making fun of him. It had been going on for so long, though, and had eased its way into his daily life so insidiously, that he was unsure of where to start in terms of objecting, let alone announcing that a punishment was due. In the end, Puddin Taim decided that Bashere’s intelligence more than made up for his occasional sarcasm.

“There was also a note left by Janica Sedai,” Bashere went on, “or whatever she is meant to be. It is styled for your eyes only, but after what the Lord Dragon did to the last parchment we gave him-”

“What did I do?” Vamps asked in spite of himself.

“Best left forgotten, really,” Bashere unrolled the scroll a little further. “Janica wants to know if you are hearing voices in your head, specifically the voice of Lews Therin Telamon,” he looked up from the scroll expectantly.

“I … can’t remember ever hearing voices in my head,” Puddin Taim said thoughtfully, “only Muffin Vamps, and he’s really more like another part of me.”

“The annoying part?”

Muffin Vamps made an indignant lunge for bodily control, and failed as only Muffin Vamps could, when bodily control was involved. Puddin Taim twitched and looked a little embarrassed.

“Well, I wish this Min woman was here to explain it all,” Bashere said, “and Janica and Debs came back to look after the Lord Dragon for a while. It feels like they’ve been gone for weeks.”

“Why don’t we go and visit them?” Vamps suggested. “I’m sure I could figure it out.”

 


 

Olver’s horse was named Wind, and it wasn’t because of his speed.

They were village-hopping towards Ebou Dar, and had been for almost a week. For most of that time, Wind had apparently gotten by on a diet of cabbage, sprouts, and beans. Even the extremely dubious collection of men who had gathered under the leadership of Mat and Melindhra, men who thought music was three people farting at once and opera was three people farting at once while three other people sat watching, thought Wind was a bit bloody much. Olver thought Wind was the best thing to happen since getting away from Contro.

Chucky, actually using his pipe bag as a breathing mask, wondered what the story with Mat and Melindhra was anyway. The Aiel woman had, according to the pair of native Chaggabaggawoggalanders, been a Darkfriend at some point, but was now rehabilitated. Chucky wondered if this was some of Mat’s ta’veren effect or, alternatively, Melindhra playing everybody for giant chumps. Technically, Mat and Melindhra were in charge of the expedition, although that technicality was a very minor and downplayed one since Nynaeve was along with them, and everybody seemed to be shitscared of her.

“I don’t know how much longer I can take this,” Dr. Nick muttered. He had one of his ears folded over his mouth and nose, and his veil up as well. It had earned him some worried looks from the Redarms, but he had promised he wasn’t going to dance the spears, unless it was with the lower colon of Olver’s horse.

“Be strong,” Chucky said, “we’ll be in the city soon, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that cities in this world smell worse than anything you can possibly imagine.”

“My imagination’s been working out a bit lately,” Dr. Nick replied, “but I don’t think I can imagine anything worse than that fucking horse. That horse’s ass is the Bore. That horse’s farts are bubbles of evil. That horse’s intestines are the Dark One, trying to escape into the world and destroy the Pattern.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Sandrine interjected. The skeletal woman was jogging alongside their horses, occasionally dropping into a deft army-roll or unshouldering-twirling-shouldering a mercifully-unseen weapon of some sort. After leaving Shannon behind in Salidar, she had improved almost overnight, even though she insisted there were still ta’veren swirls around. Her recovery had coincided with the bizarre accidental death of one of Nalsean’s friends, who had somehow managed to cut himself on a thorn bush in his sleep and die of blood loss without getting any blood on himself or his bedroll in the process. The Redarms had muttered forebodingly about the Dark One walking the land, and Sandrine had muttered about indigestion. Not long after that, though, the only digestion anybody really cared about anymore was the digestion going on somewhere between Olver’s thighs – a digestive process gone terribly, unnaturally wrong. “The air is clearer than it has been for days.”

Chucky, who lacked Dr. Nick’s experience with gholam, gave a slightly nervous laugh.

The majority of the Ebou Dar taskforce – and this was what sent innkeepers into a panic, from The Marriage Dagger to The Southern Hoop – were Ogier. Ogier and Ogier and Ogier. Wyse, Coarshus, Hoarni and Frendli had come along for the ride in their raggedy Illian T-shirts (“Illian – One in a Billian!”) and their novelty hats (“I braved the Golden Bees and all I got was this stupid hat”), along with the huge, rumbling mass of Ogier Heroes of the Horn, who still hadn’t solved their case and departed back to the World of Ogier Dreams. In the midst of this walking combination library, foodhole and giant bumblebee’s nest, the Green Man crunched and rustled along like … well, like the Green Man. Nothing else quite like him, really.

They were never going to get into Ebou Dar and out again with the Bowl of the Winds unnoticed, but on the other hand, nobody was going to get in their way, either.

Nynaeve rode up, looked at the gleeman and the Aielman imperiously for a moment, and gave her braid a halfhearted tug.

“Once we get to Ebou Dar the Ogier, Someshta and I shall present ourselves at the Tarasin Palace,” she said, “and to the Queen, Tylin Quintara of House Mitsobar.”

“Sounds like a brand of tequila,” Dr. Nick remarked.

“You and the rest of the entourage will find rooms at a handy inn, and stay there until summoned,” Nynaeve went on. “Matrim, Melindhra and Sandrine will join us at the palace. We shall enlist royal aid in searching for the Bowl of the Winds. We will find it and return it to the Amyrlin Seat. There will be no fuck-ups.”

“Perish the thought,” Chucky said.

“Why would there be?” Dr. Nick agreed.

“You’d think people and events lately had some tendency to fuck up for some reason.”

“Now that’s just crazy talk,” Dr. Nick asserted.

“Just keep quiet, and do as you’re told, and nobody will get hurt,” Nynaeve replied coolly, “including you.”

“Is she more annoying now than she was in the books?” Chucky murmured as Nynaeve rode away.

“If anything, she’s improved,” Dr. Nick shook his head. “You should have tried talking to her before this whole ‘icy psychopath’ phase she’s going through. Oh God,” he groaned as Olver’s horse lifted his tail again. “Just kill me now. Figure of speech,” he added hastily as Sandrine looked up with a disturbing pointy smile, “for now at least.”

That evening, the Green Man and the Ogier Heroes happily declared that they were entering Barashta.

“I thought we were going to be getting to Ebou Dar tonight already,” Chucky grumbled. “I thought we’d gatewayed a safe distance from the city and only had to ride a few miles, but this-”

“Barashta is Ebou Dar,” Nynaeve explained impatiently, “the Ogier are just using one of the old names.”

“How do you know that?” Chucky asked. Nynaeve ignored him – and rather pointedly avoided sniffing as she did so.

They rode into the sewage-and-corpse-gas stench of the Ebou Dar Central Business District a few hours later. While not noticeably effective in smothering Wind’s emissions, it was enough to overload the scent receptors of Chucky and Dr. Nick’s noses completely, which was even better in a lot of ways. Especially when they got to the Wandering Woman, and were ushered gracelessly into the common room by Setalle Anan, who was suffering from some sort of disease that lived in her crotch but had no compunctions about riding her fingers to various other locations around her body, or indeed the inn at large.

“Dish of the day’s meat,” she announced.

“Meat from what sort of animal?” Dr. Nick asked.

“Were you involved in the preparation at any point?” Chucky added.

“And are you married?” a voice asked from the back of the crowd. There was a long silence, and Chucky turned to stare at an unusually tall, bulky Redarm in the doorway.

“What?” Hoarni shuffled embarrassedly on his knees, to which he had tied a pair of fake boots. “She’s a babe.”

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Chittle

It wasn’t much to look at. Or it was quite a bit to look at, but all packed into a rather small package.

Chittle was the size, and approximately the shape, of a badly-halved apple. A little lopsided dome of shell, with a baleful eyeball on one side and an unlovely collection of tiny stingers and pincers and claws on the other. It had more legs and things on its flat underside, but frankly overturning it was an unrewarding exercise.

Her Sister called it Shittle. She called it Chit. And no, it wasn’t much. But it was Her first attempt at creating life, and She loved it dearly.

The Secret Father was supportive.

“Would That You Could Have Seen Some Of The Things I Made When I First Brought Forth Life Into The Urverse,” He said. “Even Once My Brothers And Sister Had Learned Much, And We All Worked Together, Still We Created Misbegotten Things That Did Not Even Have Bodies.”

She had laughed at that. “How do You create a thing without a body?”

Her Sister had overheard this, and said, “Would that You had created Shittle without a body.”

The Secret Father had laughed, and said, “But Then Chittle Would Be Naught But Glaring Eyeball And Multitudinous Sharp Stingers, And Then Everybody Would Confuse The Two Of You.”

Her Sister had stormed away in a huff, and the Secret Father had winked.

So it was that when marauders broke into the Sanctuary and attempted to carry away a number of Their youngest Gods, the Secret Father had volunteered Himself to be taken in Their stead.

“No,” She said, while the leader of the marauders was deliberating the merits of this decision. “Take Me instead.”

“Very well,” the leader of the marauders said, a cruel light in her eyes visible behind the thick amber visor of her warhelm.

“Wait,” Her Sister said, and gingerly picked up Chittle where it was scuttling industriously on the banqueting table. “Take this in Her stead.”

The marauders laughed.

“That is not so easy on the eyes, little Godling,” their leader said.

“Then take it as well as Her,” Her Sister countered.

This earned more laughter from the marauders, and their leader extended a dark-armored gauntlet and took Chittle from Her Sister’s unresisting hand.

“So be it,” she said. “We will-”

Chittle made an angry chittering noise – this was where it got its name – and stabbed and scraped at the marauder’s gauntlet with its cluster of tails. It had no effect on the metal, but the marauder growled and raised another of her four hands to crush the little creature.

“No,” She cried.

“No?” the marauder’s expression changed behind the heavy crystal. “Perhaps not. Perhaps this … thing … will ensure Your good behaviour. Come, little Godling.”

As the marauders led Her away, She cast a final look back at Her Family. Her Sister looked anguished. Her Brothers, enraged but impotent. The little ones cowered and wept, and the Secret Father looked up from comforting Them. His eyes met Hers, and He nodded, all but imperceptibly.

Then the marauders escorted Her out of the hall, across the gardens, and out through the ragged hole they’d cut in the Sanctuary wall. Into the dark.

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Lord of BS, Part 14

The Hall of the Tower, or whatever they were calling it these days, was dark and shadowy … but only for a little while.

“I hope you don’t expect me to strip down tae my skin for this,” Janica warned. “I know you Aes Sedai like your silly rituals and your spankings, but there’s not going to be any of argh.”

There was suddenly a bloom of light, amplified by the One Power and several lanterns and mirrors around the room. Janica was temporarily blinded, but most of the discomfort came through the a’dam from Debs, who was dazzled as well – and Janica, of course, received a nice tenfold enhancement of the sensation. Aes Sedai, and other figures, stood around the room in dark silhouettes, concealed by the increasingly-bright lights all around.

“Welcome, Janica, you who would be Amyrlin,” one of the Aes Sedai said – Janica suspected it was Romanda, or maybe Lelaine, but it was difficult to tell any of them apart because of the goth facepaint. “We will begin the ceremony as soon as possible, but before we can use this legal loophole, there are certain … other rituals we must observe.”

“They will not involve you being naked,” another voice said.

“You are not, as yet, Aes Sedai,” maybe-Romanda went on, “you are a wilder and this will not do. This ritual-”

Janica got tired of the discussion, and reached for the Source. She heard Debs give a surprised grunt, and realised she was shielded. In the same instant, Debs apparently attempted to surge forward and deliver a swift ‘Edinburgh Tattoo’ to the head of their nearest assailant, but they were immediately clamped in bands of Air.

“-will essentially see to it that your wilder status does not cause any particular problems,” possibly-Lelaine concluded smugly. “And as you may have noticed, there are enough of us Linked right now to keep you nicely under control. This whole thing will be done swiftly, and while everybody is enjoying themselves outside, our incursion will be complete. And lest you think you can catch us unawares while we are … enjoying the Link, think again! We are all selected specifically for our Linking experience, and will not be so easily caught unawares in the midst of our explosive-”

“Remember Rule Three,” one of the shrouded figures rasped.

“Yes, of course,” Romanda muttered. “‘Perform the dastardly, complicated deed first, and then explain it to the victim’. The Nae’blis is wise beyond measure,” she turned to one side. “Go and tell … Nynaeve … that we are proceeding. I would use the communicator, but you know how these things behave when you’re standing this close to a halfman. It’s nothing but static.”

Another dark-clad woman bobbed a curtsey, and scurried out of the spotlit chamber.

Janica looked around as much as her bonds would allow, trying to see if there was anything around that she could use. There was nothing. The lights blazed brighter and the shadows in between and around the assorted figures grew deeper, seeming to move of their own accord. The process seemed different to the last time she’d witnessed it, but she supposed the bad guys had refined the process a lot since then. There probably wouldn’t be a Logain-style mix-up this time, much less any sort of ‘Sheriam Incident’, of which she had heard whispers on several occasions. This was actually a relief – she had no intention of becoming bonded to a halfman, whether that halfman turned out to be Mister C of 9 or not. In fact, especially if it turned out to be Mister C of 9. And after what had happened to Mister C of 9, she doubted he would be around to help with his unique brand of ungracious, accidental assistance.

Equally, she had no intention of allowing herself to be turned to the Dark One, although it would probably signify a change in wardrobe more towards what she was used to wearing. If nothing else, it would give her a reason to change her shoes. The grey slippers were comfortable, but ever since they’d had the toes sliced off them, they were regrettably cold. She had no intention of allowing the procedure to take place, but sadly there didn’t seem to be much she could do about it.

At least, she reassured herself, her husband wasn’t likely to show up and attempt to save the day. Not that it wouldn’t have been a sort of sweet, romantic thing for him to do, but – and another glance around the room convinced her of this – the best he could expect for his efforts was a messy death.

“Let’s separate them,” a stern-faced Aes Sedai who had the look of a Supervising Engineer said. “We’ve ironed out most of the kinks in this, but a linked pair with a ter’angreal might mess things up, since we haven’t tried it before. Get the collar off.”

A couple of Aes Sedai, then a third Aes Sedai, then a creepily-smirking myrddraal, gathered around Janica and poked and prodded at the a’dam. When the halfman touched the metal, its fingers hissed and it stepped back with a muttered curse. Whether it hurt as much as certain ter’angreal hurt gholam, Janica wasn’t sure – but there was some sort of reaction.

In the end, they failed to open the collar just like everybody else had failed, and they settled for getting Debs out of the bracelet instead.

“Do the little one first,” the engineer-Aes Sedai instructed. “She’s more powerful. The fat one with the awful Seanchan accent barely even has the spark.”

The Aes Sedai channeled, the halfmen swayed and gyrated, and the shadows thickened even as the light intensified. The silvery collar around Janica’s neck suddenly went very cold. At the same time her glasses, possibly reacting the way normal metal would in contrast to the ter’angreal, heated up painfully. “Ow,” she muttered, and would have reached up to pull them off her face if she hadn’t still been bound by straps of Air. She watched the shadows thicken and twine together into a thick black cable, and watched with detachment as it pierced her. Nothing seemed to change in her mental outlook.

Gradually, the hocus-pocus faded away, and the Aes Sedai looked at her expectantly. None of them seemed to have burned out, and none of the halfmen seemed to have collapsed either. Janica supposed they had worked out all the kinks … except that she didn’t seem to be enslaved. Of course, she had never been forcibly turned to the Dark One by a convocation of thirteen Black Ajah Aes Sedai and thirteen myrddraal before, so she admitted that she wouldn’t know what it felt like. It might feel no different, until you were spreading whitewash over your face and balefiring small children.

“Are ye alreet, lass?” Debs whispered.

“All praise be to the Great Lord of the Dark,” Janica intoned, hoping it was a sufficiently bad-guy-esque thing to say.

The Aes Sedai seemed to relax.

“Alright, let her go,” Romanda-or-Lelaine ordered, and Janica felt the shield and the bands of Air dissolve. She almost embraced saidar and blasted them all to shreds where they stood, but decided against it for the time being. She was at least moderately assured that this hesitation was nothing to do with love of the Dark One, and more to do with the fact that she might be passing up on an opportunity to do some real inside work on Shadow Monkey’s organisation. “Put the fat one in the middle.”

Janica tried to get out of the way, but a swoop of nausea demonstrated that the a’dam, at least, was unharmed by whatever had just taken place. “I’ll need somebody to take the bracelet,” she said, “and move it to an out-of-the-wee location.”

One of the bystanders hurried up and took the bracelet. Janica had a couple of seconds to endure the particularly weird feeling of somebody completely unfamiliar on the far side of the a’dam link, then the Aes Sedai was tugging the bracelet off and resting it on a table behind one of the big curved mirrors. If the mascara-laden woman noticed Janica’s lack of Darkfriendliness, she gave no sign.

“If you will just wait there a moment, we shall deal with your friend,” Lelaine (she might have been Romanda) declared. “Then we shall continue with the next part of the ceremony.”

 


 

It was approaching midnight, and most members and guests of the Gentlemen’s Club were approaching catatonia. Someshta, having downed an entire barrel of apple brandy as part of his initiation ritual, was now sitting against the back wall, his hazelnut eyes unfocussed and a Warder’s sword in his hand, drunkenly wittling himself. Shavings and splinters lay all around him. Every now and then Frendli, who was the only Ogier still capable of speech, would sing a little jingle and the Green Man’s pruned appendages would grow back, sometimes in amusing shapes depending on the jingle. Contro had finally been allowed to join as an associate member, and he was sitting with Olver. Olver was attempting, and evidently not for the first time, to teach Contro how to play the Snakes and Foxes game. Olver was more than a little drunk, and he’d already punched Contro in the face three times. Contro, who hadn’t touched a drop, was still arguably the least coherent living thing in the room, with the possible exception of Lan, who was standing at the bar, having a slurred, angry conversation with nobody visible.

Shannon, even though he hadn’t been allowed to join because of the long-standing rule about girls, had finally been permitted to attend as ‘help’. At the moment, that meant cooking up a new round of steaks for those midnight snackers who got the urge. He was surprisingly good at tending to the barbecue, and as long as he didn’t try to come inside or listen in on any of the “secret men’s business”, nobody had any real objections to his presence. Min was also hanging around, willing to read the auras of anybody who would give her a penny. She seemed unwilling to go back to her tent, but considering there was an a’dam-bound Forsaken sitting in her tent, that was probably fair enough. Plus, she might lack Shannon’s lifetime experience, but she was pretty handy with the barbecue as well.

Chucky had little hesitation in declaring the new Salidar wing a rousing success.

“Ha ha ha!!!!” the happy laugh cut through Chucky’s head, but did nothing to erase his good cheer. “Honestly! We lost again!! We never seem to get any better, do we??!? Or maybe you’re not a very good teacher!! Aww, but you did great, really!!”

Olver, with positively inhuman patience, set up the pieces again and recited the special Snakes and Foxes rhyme.

“Ha ha ha!!! Music to dazzle!! What does that mean??! Maybe we’d win if that little poem of yours made sense!! It’s a bit much, don’t you think????” Contro laughed again, picked up one of the pieces, and put it in his mouth for no reason. “Ha ha ha!! I thought it was a piece of toffee! Funny that!!! Why don’t we add a new line to the rhyme?? Beans on toast to win!!”

Chucky took pity on Olver, leaned out of his seat and smacked Contro on the back of the head with the long wooden tray he’d been using as a steak sandwich assembly line. The little round stone popped out of Contro’s mouth and hit Olver in the face. With the quick reflexes of a street urchin, Olver lunged forward and punched Contro in the face again.

“Oi!!!!!”

Olver put the stone back on the board and glared at Contro. “Just play.”

Contro laughed again.

Chucky was beginning to formulate a theory about that laugh. A theory that disturbed him a great deal. He’d started out thinking that perhaps the laugh wasn’t really a laugh at all, but a sort of pre-mortem corpse-gas, the sort of buildup that was spontaneously released like a death-rattle. The death-rattle of a man dying of terminal chirpy shitheadness. It was a good start to the theory, but even that wouldn’t hold up after a while, especially not if you looked at Bela and Cow. There was obviously more to it. Chucky was beginning to believe that Contro was a nexus for a fourth kind of power, one as far from the Light and the Dark as Shadar Logoth’s evil was … but on the other side. It was a bright, colourful, soulless power, full of happiness and free of care, and ultimately, it was poison. And the laugh was a way of venting that uncontainable poison into the outside atmosphere, where it would inevitably infect the rest of the world.

He wondered if maybe he had been around Contro too long.

This disturbed him even more, because he hadn’t been around Contro very much. Dr. Nick, Mat and Someshta had been around him for a long time, and they seemed okay. Except of course that they were all pretty lousy drunks. It was possible that they had been infected, and were acting as carriers, and they might need to be burned out in order to protect others.

He realised he was wondering about this quite seriously, shook his head, and had another drink.

In the momentary pause as the Tinker and the orphan resumed their game, the only sounds in the Clubhouse were Dr. Nick’s snores, Logain’s low voice – he was so drunk he seemed to be attempting to chat up Hoarni, a concept that made Chucky wince and momentarily forget his frightening Contro Theory – and the continual mutter of Lan’s monologue.

“…thing is, the thing is, cockshucker, it all comes down to who’s wearing the hadori, if you know what I mean, it’s all about the hadori and I don’t care what you say, cockshucker, get out of my face, I’ll tell you what the matter is, it’s all falling down and you’re just shtanding there with that stupid look on your face, I don’t care, I don’t care, it’s a metaphor, isn’t it, and you can stand there in your white cloak and smile like a barshtard all you like…”

“Fa la la,” Frendli got himself carefully into tune, and there was a soft rustle of regenerating vegetation as the song worked its magic. His actual words were drowned out, however, by a pealing of bells, amplified by the One Power.

Shannon popped his head in through the door.

“No chicks,” Asmodean said, raising his head from its puddle of beer-vomit and glaring at Shannon balefully. The two of them seemed to have some sordid, unspoken-of history that Chucky couldn’t manage to get to the bottom of. Asmodean had muttered darkly about Nancy Sidesaddle’s ta’veren effect, but hadn’t gone into any more detail even after his ninth pint.

“Fuck off,” Shannon snapped. “Them thar bells mean there’s some sort of gatherin’ a-happenin’. And in the middle of the night, it must be important. They’se probably gettin’ ready to trot out their new Amyrlin Seat. Come on, Chucky, I bet she’ll name y’all First Lady.”

Chucky lurched to his feet, found his balance, and weaved in as dignified a manner as possible out of the front door. He paused beside Shannon, and gave him a haughty look.

“You can be a real smartass when you put your mind to it,” he said, “Sidesaddle,” he held out his tray. “How about a steak for the road, and try not to make it fall off the side of the plate and land directly in a cowpat with your ta’verenness this time.”

“It weren’t no ta’verenness last time,” Shannon growled. “It fell offa your plate because you was standin’ with it tilted at a fiddy-five degree angle, an’ it didn’t land in no cowpat because there’s only three cows in the entire town, it landed in a horsepat, and it did so because there’s horse shit done gone been sprayed all over this place. In fact, if your lousy drunken ass had dropped it and it hadn’t landed in a durn horsepat, that woulda been ta’verenness at work.”

Chucky sighed and did his best to look hungry, and Shannon grudgingly relented and gave him a steak. Chucky assembled himself a quick burger while he walked, and by the time he was done, they had reached the little stage near the Hall of the Tower from which Shannon and Min insisted the Aes Sedai made all their proclamations.

Sure enough, a collection of dark-clad Aes Sedai were arranged on the podium, together with Debs and Janica.

“The rightful and venerable Amyrlin Seat, Flame of Tar Valon, Guardian of the Seals and all that,” one of the Aes Sedai said with surprising casualness, “Janica Hindle,” she paused, “and her Keeper of the Chronicles, Debs. Debs Hindle.”

There was a murmur that fell more than a little short of awed.

“Let’s keep it in the family, why don’t we,” one particularly cynical servant muttered to Chucky’s left.

Janica stepped forward, and spoke with saidar-enhanced volume.

“In keeping with tradition, I hereby absolve all novices and Accepted of their penances,” she said. “I also take advantage of my first day in office to raise the following Accepted to the shawl,” she turned and consulted very briefly with Debs, and a couple of the other Aes Sedai. “Theodrin Dabei, Faolain Orande, Nynaeve al’Meara and Elayne Trakand.”

There were more murmurs, this time a little bit more enthusiastic.

“I also declare that today – that is to say, the day starting later this morning – is a feast day of celebration, and any servants not involved in the preparations for this feast day can have the day off.”

Chucky cheered along with everybody else, although it seemed quite obvious that most of the servants would not be getting a day off, and there were continued mutters from all sides. Then Janica raised her hands in benediction, and stared out across the gathered crowd to look directly at the alt.fanatics on the outskirts.

“Eet-may ee-may ehind-bay ontro’s-Cay agon-way,” she intoned, “in ive-fay inutes-may. And ave-hay an ickle-tum-tay eady-ray.”

The Salidarans seemed suitably impressed by these baffling words of wisdom, and the Aes Sedai standing around Janica nodded sagely as if what they’d just heard had been some sort of ancient prophetic announcement. Of course, looking at their serene, masklike faces, there really wasn’t any way of telling what they were thinking.

Chucky gave Shannon a nod, took another bite of his burger, and moseyed away into the crowd.

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Science Doesn’t Care What You Believe

I was sent this article recently. If you can zoom in, by all means take a look. My apologies for the poor quality.

opinion-piece

There’s a lot to say here, but let’s start at the end.

I’m sorry, aging conservatives, but you are not the little boy stating the dangerous and frowned-upon obvious here. For that to be the case, the social justice warriors and liberal yahoos would have to be the Emperor and his establishment cronies.

You … you know that’s not the case, right?

The little boy saying what is true despite the massed pressure of sociocultural impetus and tradition … is literally the little boy saying he’s a boy despite the fact that he was born with a hoo hah. The child, disagreeing with the established “facts” and voicing what is inherently obvious to his innocent and unprejudiced eyes, free of agenda and investment. That is what “the Emperor has no clothes” means.

Stop trying to cast yourselves as the rational and downtrodden minority. You are the Emperor, being told his outfit is amazing. You are the Vizier, agreeing that the Emperor looks smart. You are the courtiers and functionaries and businessmen. You are the throngs of adults in the streets, gauging the way the wind is blowing and then blindly following along with the “majority view” because it is safe.

That’s you.

Okay, so now we’ve sorted that little bit of subtext out and revealed it for the clumsy sympathy-grab it is, let’s look at the rest.

Look, I’m pretty sceptical too. I get it, it sounds silly. I had a hard time believing that a university would make such a wild statement. When my research revealed (mostly from strident articles in conservative and other right-wing publications[1]) aspects of the issue like Anthony Lennon winning Arts Council funding due to his self-identity, it made me wonder who was being harmed and who was being helped.

Then I realised it’s not really any of my business.

And then I realised that it’s places of education that are making these claims. The so-called twaddle of numerous spectrum-based biological genders, and the vast range of psychological identities and orientations that come along for the ride? It’s all backed up by the science, baby. And as you antitheists and other cold hard rationalists love to say, science doesn’t care what you believe. Is it uncomfortable? Oh dear! That’s science. Wear a goddamn helmet. You don’t get to pick and what is true and what is dangerous liberal nonsense just because it makes you feel icky.

You know who is mostly helped by the phenomenon of self-identity? Gay and trans kids who are finally being encouraged to speak up about the person they feel like they are, and tearing down the impossible wall between that person and the person the Emperor’s cronies insist is the real person. You know what normalisation of self-identity has done to child and teen suicide rates in these demographics? It’s fucking decimated it is what it’s done.

How are you, aging conservatives, affected by the politics of self-identity and the destruction of racial and gender definitions? I’ll let you in on a little secret, it’s not the scary spectre of a man self-identifying as a woman and molesting little girls in public toilets that really scares you (that’s actually a fantasy you’re having).

No. It’s the idea that the social and cultural structures that have kept you in power are being undermined.

I can’t predict how I’m going to react if my children experience this sort of – in the original opinion piece’s words – “confusion”. If I’m lucky, I will be one of the majority of people whose loved ones continue to live and thrive in the identities they were assigned at birth. I can tell you this for nothing, though: Anyone tries to send my daughter to a gay conversion camp to convince her she’s the person society decided she was at birth, I will round up my gun-toting right-wing friends and I will do violence.

You’re not the hero of this story. You’re the fat old bastard standing in front of a crowd of people with your withered old cock out.

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