Offence. Volskaya industries. Backfill, with about 2:30 to go; first point taken, first third of second point taken, but they've been flailing. I grab D.va, and they waste about 2:15 just raggedly charging in, ignoring my group-up requests - tho' I did get the enemy to blow a few of their ults. And once I announce that my nerf is up, my team finally groups, mostly because hey, about out of time.
I lead the charge in. I get one and a mech with my nerf. One of our team gets someone else, I don't know who. I get my mecha back, charge in, kill a third.
Their Reaper drops in with his ult and kills FIVE OF US. Quadruple kill. It is, in fact, play of the game.
But he does not get me. I am the only member of my team alive.
I kill every remaining member of the enemy team and take the point in overtime, while the entire rest of my team is dead.
I gold in objective kills, but I don't even card.
I cannot imagine what that looked like to everyone else.
What I read
Finished Boys will be Boys, which was still very familiar although it is many years since I last read it. Wonder if Turner would really have liked to be writing something a bit more serious about matters of popular culture; and would have liked to be nerdish in the archives of the publishing companies, because there are sometimes wistful asides about the mysteries that might be solved thereby. Pretty sure this is where the very youthful oursin first acquired that apprehension that each generation disses upon what the young of next are consuming (whether print or radio or more latterly other media) as A Road to Ruin (I wish I could locate my copy of his Roads to Ruin).
Also finished The Witch of Syracuse: worked well, did not have that sense one so oft has when scattered short stories on a character/s are brought together of 'fix-up', but that it worked as a narrative arc. Also thought it worked well on the historical contingencies, nature of the deities, etc. (Very unfluffy Hellenic/Punic goddesses.)
Being somewhat smitten with travel angst, read various short things, comfort re-reads, etc.
Did read the novella Suradanna and the Sea by Rebecca Fraimow (2016): very good, even though I couldn't remember why or when I'd downloaded it.
On the go
Finally began Victoria Bates, Sexual Forensics in Victorian and Edwardian England: Age, Crime and Consent in the Courts (2015) - very good so far.
Also currently in medias res, Patricia McKillip, Kingfisher (2017) - very good, but my bar for riffing on/mashing up Arthuriana is set very high with Naomi Mitchison's To the Chapel Perilous.
*Among other sights seen today, Rynek Underground.
The novel was written as four “books,” each one the size of a modern novel. I’ve since been working on collecting the translation into books to self-publish, and since the whole thing would run more than a thousand pages, I’m doing it book by book.
Book II of Amadis of Gaul is now available as a paperback and Kindle ebook at Amazon.
It joins Book I, also available in paperback and Kindle formats.
Books III and IV are coming soon.
The blog will remain up in case you want to read the book for free, which you’re very welcome to do.
Why would you want to read it? Because this novel is a masterpiece. It inspired a century of best-selling sequels in seven languages and changed the way we think about knights, chivalry, damsels in distress, and courtly life in castles. During the Renaissance, it even led to cosplay!
Most of all, this book drove Don Quixote mad. What will it do to you?
— Sue Burke
“I’m not up for sex,” she told me. “I’ve had a lot of medical issues lately. It’s more painful than not to even try.”
“Cool,” I said, and we spent the day going to a street festival.
I woulda liked sex. But life happens.
“I’m in the middle of my seasonal affective disorder,” I told her. “You show up, I might not be able to leave the house. I might just curl up and cry all day.”
“Cool,” she said, and I was pretty morose but we cuddled a lot and eventually managed to go out to dinner.
I woulda liked to have a working brain. But life happens.
“I’m not sure I can make it through this convention,” they told me. “My flare-ups have been really bad this season. I might not be able to go out with you in the evenings.”
“Cool,” I said, and I went out for little hour-long jaunts before heading back to the room to cuddle them, then charging out again to circulate.
I woulda liked to have them by my side when I hit the room parties. But life happens.
I’m a massively flawed human with a mental illness. I need to have poly relationships that include for the possibility of breakdowns. Because if I need to have a perfect day before I allow anyone to see me, I might wait for weeks. Months. Years. And then what the fuck is left by the time I get to see them?
I know there are people who need perfect visits. They have to have the makeup on when you visit them, and they’ll never fall asleep when they had a night of Big Sexy planned, and if they get out the toys there’s gonna be a scene no matter how raw anyone’s feeling.
But I can’t do that.
My relationships aren’t, can’t be, some idealized projection of who I want to be. If I’m not feeling secure that day, I can’t be with a partner who needs me to be their rock so the weekend proceeds unabated. And if they’re feeling broken, I can’t be with someone who needs to pretend everything is fine because their time with me is their way of proving what a good life they have.
Sometimes, me and my lovers hoped for a weekend retreat of pure passion and what we get is curling up with someone under tear-stained covers, holding them and letting them know they will not be alone come the darkness.
We cry. We collapse. We stumble. We don’t always get what we want, not immediately.
But we also heal. We nurture. We accept.
And in the long run, God, we get so much more.
Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.
I guess I always figured Cohen would live to be 120 years old, but we knew the next generation had worthwhile successors, of which Lanegan is one of the most prominent ones.
Also, via rock's history of tragedy, Lanegan is on of the few leading men from the Grunge era. Cobain, Staley, Weiland, and now Cornell have all gone. Improbably, it's Mark Arm and Lanegan as some of the last few.
In any case, wisened old age has served Lanegan well. He fits into the shoes of an old blues singer like few others.
It was around 1994 when Lanegan 's star first shone brightest on Whiskey for the Holy Ghost, an offering on Sub Pop which many would have at the time considered a 'hobby' for someone whose main job was Screaming Trees. Ten years later, six albums in, 2004's Bubblegum made us all look backwards and realized that he had built a career that would dwarf his band's, and he was just getting started.
In that first decade of the new century, Lanegan was busy recording with Queens of the Stone Age, collaborating with the Soulsavers, and recording duets albums with Isobel Campbell and Greg Dulli. There's probably about ten albums in those years that range from 'very good' to 'essential'.
Whether we realized it at the time or not (and I think many of us did), Lanegan had a stretch that very few others could compare to in terms of artistry.
For me, personally, the current decade has been somewhat of a letdown. It almost would have to be after that. Still, it's not that Lanegan wasn't recording. he was as prolific as ever, but this time his artistry took him down some other paths- a covers album, a instrument-heavy collaboration with Duke Garwood, a collection of previously recorded demos, etc.
Cohen's Achilles heel was usually his backing band. Cohen wasn't a dual guitar, bass, and drums rock n roller. He often had background vocalists, strings and heavy production.
Lanegan similarly knows that his music is best rendered as soundscapes and not traditional rock band. For me, much of the let down on Phantom Radio and Blues Funeral was the music.
Still, Lanegan was born from Grunge, and he's always going to have an ear for rock.
Gargoyle dials that up quite a bit. The best moments are the hardest rocking like the not so imaginatively titled "Nocturne", which evokes the title in a hard-charging slightly seedy David Lynch soundtrack kind of way. the kind of music that is Barry Adamson's stock in trade.
The album's best song is "The Emperor", which cuts way too close to being a cover of Iggy's "The Passenger". Given the Josh Homme connection and everything else, it's likely more of a homage than a rip-off.
What helps this album out is that even the less remarkable tracks stand up. There really is nothing here that isn't good to some degree. When The Guardian gave this Five Stars out of Five, I totally get it.
I stop short of that, though diehard Lanegan fans will not be disappointed. To me, many of the songs are great but don't really leave much of a lasting impression (For example, "Death Head's Tattoo" which precedes "Nocturne" isn't really much different than its successor). Lanegan (on here) doesn't really have anything that is quite on par with any of other of Cohen's heirs like Cave or Waits.
Still, you can't quite expect that, either. It's a fine album and to me, one of his best in awhile.
Sorry this one took so long. I'm not good at large action sequences, and this chapter was difficult to write, mostly because of that. I was trying to keep it gamelike, in that it would be evocative of a failed charge onto take a point with a payload on it in game, as opposed to a realistic infantry scenario. I hope it works.
If nothing else, it's way longer than most of my chapters, so at least nobody's being short changed. ^_^
The opportunity came sooner than expected. An arms shipment, escorted by Los Muertos, task force almost certainly to be led by Jack Morrison - or, as it seems they called him, the white ghost.
Jesse McCree had been the one to catch the rumour, talking with some of his old Deadlock Gang contacts, who, turns out, would be happy if a rival gang did not get to run goods through their territory. And so, they passed the news to him, and he passed it to Amélie, who passed it to Venom, who gave it to Overwatch, and Gabriel Reyes, who built a plan.
Mockingbird lay atop the crest of the hill, silent, even her breath inaudible, even to herself, even she wasn't entirely sure she was bothering to breathe right then, as the small three-vehicle convoy stirred itself, beginning its early-morning trundle out of the two-building ghost town that had once called itself Cloverdale. There had been more here, once, before the climate warmed, but really, it had ended before then, a former bit of a farming town, a little store, a dance pavilion, enough water - just - for a bit of crop and cattle raising, but now, even that last was gone, which is, of course, why they were all where they were.
The sniper had been in her nest since two days before, had watched the convoy trundle its way across the desert and to a stop, loading out into the little stone ruin, and calling it a night. She had not slept; she did not need to, for this watch. Once everyone had tucked themselves in so nicely, so quietly, she'd then confirmed via radio to Gabriel that Jack Morrison was, indeed, in the front truck, and that they were not, in fact, transporting refugees or undocumented workers - there were no innocents to get in the way. Just a simple cargo delivery - maybe the weapons, maybe a side delivery before the main delivery, no way even to know.
Not that it mattered, really.
She watched as the convoy slowly rode its way west, towards her and past burned out soil, past former farm gates, now collapsing along the road, the paint bleached in the sun. She took in a breath, just enough to speak. "They're on their way."
Gabriel's voice in her ear. "Do you have the target?"
Lena allowed herself the smallest of smirks. Less than a kilometre. No breeze, at all. Crystal clear skies. Do I have the target. Honestly, Gabe. But she kept it to herself. "Target confirmed and moving into go/no go. Do I have go?"
Reyes ran through the numbers one more time in his head. Everyone in position for the ambush. A lot more fighters on the Los Muertos side - more than they expected, and it bothered him - but only one hard target. The gang side wouldn't be trying for a capture - they'd be shooting for kills, without hesitation - but Overwatch had surprise on their side.
"Nearing optimal range, Gabe. Go or no go?"
Who knows when we'll get intel even this good again, he decided. "Action confirmed. All team, on my mark - go."
Venom - no, Mockingbird - smiled the spider's smile, and pulled the trigger. Morrison's head jerked to the side as the tactical visor went flying out across the desert in pieces, and he swore, loudly, in Spanish, blinded by his own blood, but not really hurt, despite the proximity of the bullet. The transport vehicle swerved, blocking the road forward, but did not fly out of control, and seconds later he was shouting orders to his team as the Overwatch group moved in from the northeast, from the dried-up spring.
"Visor down," the sniper confirmed, as Mei threw up a wall behind the convoy, Gabriel lay down fire blowing out the front vehicle's tires, and the unlabelled Overwatch carrier blared its orders to drop weapons and be commandeered. Pharah charged into the air, letting loose with a series of rockets aimed at vehicle engines, as Mockingbird readied for a spray of long-range discouragement fire from her position, to keep the grunts under cover. She grinned as she watched the Los Muertos gangsters circle their vehicles and swarm for weapons, and then her grin froze as Jack darted away from her sight, without a visor, then reappeared on the other side of the transport vehicle, with one.
What th'...?! She looked back towards the wreckage of the visor. Yes, there, pieces, still on the ground. She called into comms, "Gabe, he has a second visor somehow, watch it!" just as Jack triggered the device, visual overlay screen appearing almost instantly, knocking Pharah out of the air just as she'd disabled the third vehicle. Mockingbird adjusted her sights and took a second shot, surely hitting him dead on, but somehow apparently not as he just kept shooting through the visor, after briefly jerking to the left.
She waited for a third shot, and Jack's head popped up again, again through the front transport, behind two windows. Mockingbird reacted instantly, and fired. Her vision seemed to blur, and suddenly, it was a Los Muertos grunt splayed out across the sand, her head smashed, and Jack Morrison was still firing.
Nobody's that lucky, she thought, coolly. Something's going on.
Los Muertos got a shield generator running as Mei threw up another wall while taking bullets to the shoulder and chest, saving Gabriel, who had also been hit and hurt by the barrage of bullets. Pharah limped back into the air, got off a single rocket knocking Morrison down, and went down again herself almost immediately, Mercy flying to her wife's side. Gabriel, Mockingbird, and - a moment later - Mercy's fire kept most of the rest of the Los Muertos fighters ducking for cover, as Winston leapt down, shield in place over the wounded Mei, Tesla cannon keeping braver Los Muertos back, as Athena flew in as pickup for the injured.
"Gabriel, Tracer here," Mockingbird shouted into comms, trying to force some emotion back into her voice. "Mockingbird's hit this guy in the head three times and he just shakes it off, something is very wrong. We need to..."
And then Jack fell to the ground, unconscious, and an older woman's voice came over the Overwatch comms, saying, "He's down, but it won't last more than 30 seconds. Get your wounded out while you can, and regroup at my position. Tracking beacon enabled."
"Don't care," insisted the woman in black and green. "I shot the first one off, just like we planned it. It was on the ground, in pieces." She folded her arms. "My sight takes pictures, I can show you."
"But a second visor - that's not possible," Gabriel insisted.
"I know I hit him. I know I did. Three times. There's something we've missed, Gabe. This should've been easy and it was a disaster."
"You look very familiar," said the older woman with the beacon, looking with narrowed eyes at the younger sniper.
Mockingbird blinked, and looked over to the older woman, finally realising who she was seeing. "...no question of it on my side," she said, recovering. "The legendary Ana Amari, in the flesh. You're supposed to be dead. What the hell, mate? And how'd you get on our comms?"
Gabriel glanced away from Mockingbird and brushed dust off his hands, looking resolutely unsurprised. "Ana, this is our sniper specialist, callsign Mockingbird. Mockingbird, this is Ana Amari, apparently not dead."
Ana snorted at her former Blackwatch friend, and gestured over to Mockingbird. "You think that can replace me?"
"You have been dead since 2069," said Winston, stepping in between the new and the old, "as far as we knew." He gave Reyes a look, a look that said they would be talking about Reyes's lack of surprise in the very near future. "She's an independent contractor willing to work with us, and we're happy to have her service."
"I know that kit," said the Egyptian, with a sideways glance back to the younger woman. "And I know that blue tinge. Working with Talon, are we, now? Maybe Jack's not so crazy as I thought."
"Not with Talon, luv," Mockingbird lied. "But I always buy from the best. No second chances in this game. 'Cept for you, apparently. And Jack." She looked around at Angela and Gabriel and Ana, and frowned. "And apparently all you old lot."
Amari glanced disdainfully at the young assassin, then returned to ignoring her, looking back to Gabriel. "And where's the so-called Hero of Old London supposed to be, then?"
Mockingbird glared, anger a flash across her face. No, she told herself. Lena's not here. Ana's trying to provoke you. Realising that, she found she didn't even need to bring up the web further to keep control. It's a game. She knows, she just wants us to admit it. Spill the beans, grams? Not likely.
"We all thought it was for the best if she stayed out of any direct action involving the man who left her to die in the Slipstream." He looked directly into the sniper's eyes. "Knowing you're here, I'd say that was the right call."
"Afraid she'd lose her cool, get hurt?" She made a little unimpressed sound, a kind of pffft. "And yet here you hand whatever they've made of her" - she waved at Mockingbird, without looking - "a sniper rifle. You're fools."
Lena almost spoke up, then almost laughed, but kept her expression flat. Nice try, she thought. "So I shouldn't ask for your autograph, then?"
Winston shook his head at Mockingbird's verbal jabs, and Gabriel crossed his arms, with a frown. "I have no idea what you're talking about, Ana. More importantly - where the hell have you been all these years?"
"Really? You're going to keep up this laughable facade?"
"Whatever. You gonna tell us where you've been all this time?"
Amari glared. "No. But I will give you this." She pulled a small memory card out of a coat pocket. "It's video and notes from a... previous attempt to solve the Jack Morrison problem. If you're going to try to kill him, I need you not to make things worse."
"We aren't trying to kill him," Winston said, taking the card. "We're trying to bring him to justice."
Amari spat at the ground. "There's no justice for what he did, or for what he's become. I thought you understood that."
Well, thought Mockingbird, there's one place we agree. She found she didn't like the agreement. "That's what I thought, too. Maybe I ought t'reconsider the point."
"Does it always make this much noise? Maybe it should be reprogrammed again."
"ENOUGH OF THIS." Mercy glided down from the flat spot on the hillside above, where she had been tending to Mei and Pharah, watching since Ana showed herself, stunned to see her mother-in-law, of all people, reappear from the dead - not her way, but alive and well the entire time.
"Angela, why are you mixed up in this idiocy? I thought you'd know better."
The field medic marched over to the old military officer, and slapped her across the face, hard, staggering her back. "You dare show your face? You dare act like this to my friends, after what you have put us through?!"
"Woah!" interjected Mockingbird, jumping forward to restrain the doctor. "Angela, no! It's fine, she's just horrible!"
"No," she said, looking back, and shaking her arms free, "it is not fine!" She turned back to the old soldier, and pointed to Pharah, unconscious, but recovering. "She mourned you. You ignored her as a child and she loved you anyway and then you died and she put it behind her and now you are here and alive and she is here and wounded and you have not even acknowledged her existence?!"
"I've done what has been necessary, and I've stayed out of the way of the medic while she works. Fareeha will understand that."
"Will she? I hope not! But I will make sure she knows. I will make sure she knows everything. Including how horribly you have just abused our Mockingbird. 'It?! '" She shook herself, as though fluffing feathers she did not have, except in her wings. "You call her an it?! She is a person, not a tool, and you have become a monster."
Quietly surprised, Lena's heart tore, just a little, at the medic's furious defence. "Doc, really, it's fine, she's just digging..."
"I know what she's doing," Mercy said, not looking at Lena. "And I don't care why." She turned to the openly astonished Reyes and Winston. "We should get the wounded out of American territory as soon as possible. They will not be happy with our actions today."
"I agree," said Reyes, taking the opportunity. "Ana, we can pick this up later. Do any of your old dropboxes work?"
"No. Do yours?"
"I'll leave a contact point there, then."
"Thanks. And... thanks for helping out."
"You're welcome. Maybe next time we can work together, make sure the grown-ups are in charge."
Mockingbird's face showed absolutely no sign of emotion, and her hands did not tighten visibly on her rifle.
"We'll talk later," said the former Blackwatch head. "Team - back to the ship. Mockingbird, give Mercy some help with Mei; Winston, I wouldn't mind a little help myself. Let's roll out."
The Lunar gorilla offered his friend an arm, as Mockingbird turned towards the Chinese scientist with a curt "acknowledged." Behind Venom's mask, beneath the web, the assassin roiled viciously, but no hint of that storm made it outside.
Maybe I've got more than one problem to solve, she thought, as she guided the semi-sedated Mei up off the ground. Maybe I've got two or three.
Inspiration is not a requirement to write. I tell myself this isn't the first lull I've hit with writing - and it will not be the last. It's nice to have the lull emanating from a place of calm. I also feel just the slightest of guilt, as if I am ignoring something. Hard to know if you're "taking a break" or "procrastinating."
I know eventually something will break and I'll be back to the keyboard with typing possessed. I'm not so far out of the woods as to think it will be smooth sailing forever. Not only is that not my luck (there's no "tragedy limit" for me and my life), but that's life in general. At least for me. In this quiet time, I'm settling to accept that.
There's been quite a bit of thought around that idea lately. That for whatever reason - karma, fate, the cold, cold hand of an uncaring Universe - my life will be a battle. Where most people have years and years of calm broken by events of crisis, mine is the absolute opposite. My calm waters are the punctuating events, not the rule that leads from year to year.
But in these glass seas, I can come to appreciate that. It's not so easy to be grateful when the ground cracks beneath you and sends you scrambling for an overhanging rock to keep you from plunging into the earth, but here, now, I can be grateful.
Maybe accepting my life as it has been (and for how it will be) is grace.
I can't bring myself to believe that there is some being out there that guides my hand and heart through the hard times. I can't bring myself to believe that I, as I was born and as I live, am deserving of some kind of divine benevolence. But I can take these quiet moments and reflect on my life, the things that brought me here and the things that propel me further.
I can take these quiet moments and think of things I might be able to believe.
I can take these moments of quiet and comb through the answers that I asked all of you to give me about ritual, about belief, and find ways to bring it back to grace. To an acceptance - a true acceptance, one not borne out of exhaustion - and continue to learn to love the Teressa that comes out of the other side of that acceptance.
This last year has been so hard. Hard in ways that I've never struggled with before. I do not believe there is some cosmic prize at the end of this finish line. I do not get the girl, I do not win the lottery, I do not get a Happily-Ever-After. Maybe no one does.
But I do get to learn just a little more about myself.
A great deal of what I've discovered over the last year has not been pretty. A huge chunk of what's been revealed about me has, in fact, been horrifying and shameful. But I am beginning to realize that there is no such thing as having too detailed a map about your inner self - craggy cliffs and raging torrents included. I know myself, in sickness and health, in ways that I never have before.
To learn those things as positives, as things to learn from...if I have any definition of "grace" that I can believe in, that is it.
This morning it was overcast and a bit cool, by this evening via mildly drizzly has become colder and wetter.
Nontheless, we have managed some flaneurserie around the Old Town, a visit to St Mary's Cathedral with its massive gothic altar, and several museums:
The temporary exhibition of 350 items from the The Princes Czartoryski Museum
All of which leaves me rather too overwhelmed to say much beyond: that's a hell of a lot of old scientific instruments/apothecary paraphernalia, and dealers across Europe must has seen the Czartoryskis coming, with their interest in associational historical items (I would guess scamsters moved into this after the decline in fake relics?).
There was also (v expensive) coffee taken in a very plush place with numerous historical associations.
Place is generally heaving with tourists and tour groups.