Christina Hendricks is here to make us men feel good about ourselves. “Don’t change a thing, boys. Your pot belly is sexy and so is your smell,” she seems to say. Is that all I have to do, emit my smell? Give you a minute to slip into something slinky while I have a Scotch?
Marilyn Monroe performed this same function in the wake of the Kinsey report.
This weekend I fell into a wikipedia vortex about Worlds Of Power. Seth Godin, Ninja Gaiden, Scholastic books, gaijin… There was no bottom.
I eventually was stretched to an infinitely thin stream of mass/energy, compacted in wikipedia’s singularity, and emerged on its other side in my cubicle on Monday morning. It was worse than commuting, but not if there’s bad traffic.
Claude’s moment of triumph ended abruptly as the cornered figure charged him. Here was an unexpected development. He hadn’t thought past the Ho, there, ha ha. All his life, he had held the unchallenged and unexamined belief that a good Ho there (with a well-voiced ha ha as punctuation) would freeze a dragon tampering figure to the spot while the city watch came, or maybe reduce him to grovelling tears, confession, and maybe turning himself in to the next watch officer.
This figure exhibited no such plans. Claude dropped the coat and paper. He set his back foot and raised his hands to fend off a tackle.
"Come on," he wished he had roared challengingly.
Instead, he actually said, “Now, look. I don’t want any trouble.”
The figure dashed past him, though, apparently intending to flee. Claude grabbed two handfuls of cloak as it whipped past his face, and hoisted. The figure’s feet left the ground ahead of him. Claude’s shoulder hit him square between the shoulder blades and he let out a, “Hoof!”
Claude, embarrassed thus far by his dialogue but shocked by his combat prowess, released the cloak. The figure fell in a heap and entangled Claude’s legs with his arms. Claude yelled, “Hey! Someone!” He tried to kick and only lost his balance.
The figure kept its hugging grip around Claude’s knees and got into a crouch. Claude yelled some more, getting out a couple of Helps, pinwheeling his arms as the figure stood. Claude went over backwards, catching his ribs on the leather binding and studded brass nail heads on the edge of the trunk. Something cracked in such a way that he both heard it and felt it in his teeth. He kicked his legs and caught the figure a glancing blow in the back of the head that made him stumble forward three or four steps, which turned into a run.
Claude fell in the muddy straw by his dragon’s curled tail. He tried to get up. His ribs screamed and so did he.
“Canute’s exercise on the seashore was designed to persuade his courtiers of what he knew to be true but they doubted, ie, that he was not omnipotent. Don’t imply he was surprised to get his feet wet.”—
Deyonn’s three year old shadow never followed him to work.
"I know what you’re thinking," he told his boss at the christening. "You’ve never seen it before. ‘Why did I never see it before?’”
"No, no," his boss lied. "Look, I’m really glad you could make it," he lied on. His gaze drifted back over Deyonn’s shoulder. Deyonn could tell by the look in his eyes that his three year old shadow was tearing the shadow pages out of a hymnal and tossing them like confetti at their own shadows.
"Thanks for inviting me. It’s nice to see people outside of the office," said Deyonn.
The retrofitted ceiling fans did nothing but move the stale, hot air around in the colonial-era church. Deyonn’s boss loosened his tie. “How long have you had it?”
"Since I was three," Deyonn said. The shadow danced on the west wall of the church, dappled among the stained-glass colors. It appeared to be climbing over the empty pews in the back. Well, over their shadows anyway. "It’s always there."
"Why did I never see it before?"
Deyonn knew what he was thinking. He was drafting the letter excusing Deyonn from his position on the team. He was thinking about dealing with HR. He was deciding it wouldn’t be too much of a hassle. Deyonn could see him make the decision, so he answered honestly. “It does whatever my three year old self wishes I were doing.
The Applied Alchemy lab was filled with the sound of water rushing from the melting snow on the dome. Claude found it unnerving deep in his mind. He grabbed the newspaper from the lab bench, gathered up his coat, and headed for the door.
The newspaper was the great success of the field of Applied Alchemy. Ink changes to paper, paper morphs into ink, and you can change the articles every day. Everyone owned one, and you only needed one. Saves on the fuss and expense of printing and employing delivery urchins in those funny flat hats. And you save all those trees, thought Claude.
A hooded figure stood in the stable yard next to Claude’s slim economy dragon. Claude was used to his dragon getting a certain kind of admiring attention from a certain kind of onlooker. They were, however, usually female, skinny, early-twenties botany students, or the sort of guys who went for skinny young girls with mud-stained fingers and thick-rimmed spectacles and maybe an active and operational bird’s nest or two in their hair. The people who hung around his parked dragon were normally not hooded and cloaked on a sweltering summer afternoon. They were not usually, he thought, figures.
The figure wheeled at Claude’s approach. The hood concealed his identity but the open cloak revealed the gender. Claude said what you say when someone’s tampering with your dragon’s trunk, “Ho, there.”
He turned and ran between the dragons, toward their heads. His way was blocked by the sulphur troughs and a stack of barrels of saltpeter. Claude had him cornered. “Ho, there,” he said again, adding a triumphant, “Ha ha.”
"No need to thank me, you’re the man for the job. Chronological Alchemy is alchemical principals with Chronomasty thrown in. You researched Chronomasty at Continental University before you came over, did you not?"
"Ah, yes," Brad said. "Before the war." He was sensitive about being a native of the continent.
"Yes, well, the war is what the project is about. The continent has seen fit, until now, to attack with fire-breathing dragons."
"Oh indeed," said Brad, seizing on the subject, "But I wonder if you’ve seen some of the new Islantic breeds we’ve got? Twice the size of continental fire-breathers and an exponential increase in conflagrational capabilities."
"It is this very escalation in arms that has led the Continental military researchers, your former colleagues among them, to create a weapon that threatens to end the war," Maressica said, squinting out of the window at the light mid-afternoon dragon traffic above the lab building. "With Them as the victors."
Brad frowned. He had left the field of chronomasty because of the constant military pressure to figure out a way to send an army, or a dragon, or maybe an army of dragons back in time to destroy all enemies while they were still in the crib. According to some theories, it would be possible to send maybe one person back a few months, but the past did not really exist, not in that way. The further back you went, the less the past existed at all, at least from the standpoint of the present. Could they have weaponized time at last?
"What sort of weapons are these?"
Maressica turned from the window. “Not ‘weapons’,” she said. “A weapon. A Non-Existence Bomb.
"We want you to make a bigger one. The biggest one."
She followed him in and closed the door without another word for Claude. She crossed to the open window and closed it, looking around the courtyard where the lunchtime snowfall had nearly melted.
"Brad, I’m making you head of Chronological Alchemy."
"Damned funny weather today," Brad said. He had queued up the nicety, and out it came. He had not been prepared for her to cut past the small talk.
"What?" Maressica said.
"What?" Brad said, "I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of Chronological Alchemy. And I’m to be head of it?"
"There’s plenty of time for you to learn."
"I suppose it involves the conversion of time into something else? Time into gold? Isn’t that what wages are?"
"No no no," said Maressica. "Then you’d be head of payroll." She smiled at Brad.
Brad smiled automatically. He sometimes worried he always mimicked the expression of anyone he was talking to. It worked fine for situations like this. It was keeping him from looking baffled and overwhelmed by the news of the promotion, which he was. When his superiors were giving him a good chewing out, though, he helplessly found himself looking angry as well, instead of appropriately contrite.
Maressica laughed. Brad laughed along with her, like a parrot.
She said, “You’ll have Mico Breen and Gretchellen Toggs, the department’s best alchemists. Best damn alchemists in Islantia, just about.”
Toggs. Brad thought Claude would have a good snicker at that. He nearly missed noticing that she did not consider him the department’s best alchemist. “Thank you very much, Maressica. Will Claude be on the project?”
"Claude will be keeping the lights on in Applied Alchemy," she said, her smile no longer in evidence.
"I was just looking for… Ah, Bradlynn," Maressica said, "Would you join me in here for a moment?"
Brad bristled at his name. He thought it sounded like a girl’s name, or an extremely rich boy’s. His parents never having been rich, Brad had spent every day of elementary academy dreading the moment when his full, girly name would reach the ears of his classmates. Improbably, it had never happened. The experience and accumulated stress left him gray-haired in his twenties.
In his undergraduate Alchemical Studies years, he tried writing poetry and going by Bradlynn. It seemed suited to a silver-meined poet, and it might have worked, but the poetry was never very good. The acme of it was probably the couplet:
My sweetie’s bosom’s big and white Like a dragon’s teeth at night
It had gone over like a lead demigod with the sweetie in question, as his dragons obsession did with most of his sweeties. But he was a man, was his thinking. Men were into dragons.
"What about the department meeting, Ressie?" asked Claude, who was not above retaliatory name-wielding when a colleague was on the ropes.
"It’s canceled, Claude." Claude’s name was Claude and there was not much one could do with it. Proposed diminutives had all failed swiftly and pathetically. As he also lacked a middle name, attempts to express stern disapproval by authority figures were likewise hampered. Maressica did her best by drawing it out almost to the point of adding a syllable. She was a very effective department head.
The mood in the hall simmered like a narrow-necked flask.
"I’ll catch up to you later, Claude. Don’t do anything with the thing yet." Brad stepped into Maressica’s office.
Brad prevailed on Claude for the time being that eliminating all existence was a bit too strong a tactic for avoiding mere department meetings, even ones you were remarkably unprepared for.
"If anyone asks what we’ve accomplished," said Claude, "we can always just tell them about the button."
Brad said, “I think we ought to play the existence of a Non-Existence Button close to the vest, actually. Someone else in the department may have an even more formidable meeting looming, you know. With the Academy head, perhaps.”
Claude shrugged. Brad was the motivated one. Claude usually let him take the lead. They had worked in the Applied Alchemy lab for almost the same amount of time, going on five years. Claude was there first, but Brad was older and had come in with other research experience. Claude let Brad fly when they went out for lunch together. Brad’s dragon was much nicer, though it got terrible mileage.
"By the light of Chleosis," Maressica gasped when she bumped into Claude in the hallway outside her office.
"Sorry," said Claude, grasping her elbow to steady her. She looked like she might faint.
"It’s you, Claude?"
"According to all available data," Claude answered, caught off guard by the question. He tended to opt for nerdy whenever he was unsure of the footing.
Claude and Maressica had dated briefly when he was a senior and she was his TA. The romance had ended due to an imbalance in passion, her having almost none at all for him.
Now, he worked for her.
He was used to being politely ignored by her. He had never come close to knocking her off her feet, try as he may have in his early twenties. “Who else would I be?”
"You." She said, color draining back into her face.
I have never had a dream that involved the Internet. I plug into it every day; I work in the medium; I have a shot at being among the last people alive who can remember its ascendancy. Still, I never dream about it.
I dream about stuff that happens in books but I never dream of literally falling into the pages. I think this is that.
The second asset, the Professor is positively chatty.
“I work alone, like you,” the Professor says, then, mystified, “we always work alone.”
He seems gratified to catch up, share some shoptalk as he dies. Endearing, for an assassin. He wears glasses. “Treadstone, both of us,” he says. British accent, not upper class. Shaking his head, smiling ruefully. “I get such bad headaches. At night when you’re driving a car? Maybe it has something to do with the headlights.”
The Professor’s friendliness […] underscore that Bourne is part of their world. They know more about him than he does.
“Look at this,” he says. “Look at what they make you give.”
This scene is my favorite thing I’ve seen Clive Owen do, and I’m grateful to Ms Malone for spotlighting it.