Short bits

So: during the last few weeks I moved house from one side of Small Finncity #1 to the other side of Small Finncity #1.

Actually, the moving took just one day, so it doesn’t explain my dearth of posting. But I could say I was without an Internet connection for a week…

Except that that is, without a real Internet connection: I had the one at the university which, while quick, is not suitable for all uses (“How’s the research?” — “I’m looking at lesbian pornography; does that tell how the research is going?” — “No, not really. Ooh, that’s a good one!”), and I had the one in my phone (which theoretically could be made to be a Wi-Fi hotspot for the laptop, if I didn’t read “rooting” as “humongous fireball and then you have no phone”). Either could be used to throw a laptop-written post into the void. But, I, er, uh, here are some short bits.

* * *

Here’s an atheist talking p… okay, an atheist mocking-point: Mary saying, “I was impregnated by my own child!”

Now, this is not quite correct. As I understand the foundations of Christian theology, Jesus did not come to being when Mary got pregnant; no, the mind (soul?) called Jesus is of equal age with the Father. This used to be a fairly big theological fight a long time ago.

So to be exact, Mary was not impregnated by her own son; no, she was impregnated by an ancient spirit that then indwelt the flesh shell thus created.

I’m sure this is a much more palatable formulation of the matter.

* * *

What I wonder is this: was there one miraculously created sperm, or several? Or did Mary’s egg just start dividing, nudged by a divine appendage? If you looked in the face of Jesus, would you have said, “This is clearly Mary’s son”, or was there something else to those features?

Not that I think these are questions about reality, but I like poking at fiction. It’s not a wholesome habit, and doesn’t always increase your appreciation of the whole, but you can get much entertainment from it. And since I don’t think the Gospels tell a good story, poking like this is what I must do to get some fun out of them. (Really: (a) God decides some things are bad and mean hell. (b) God changes his mind. (c) God decides the only way he can credibly change his mind is offering himself to himself as blood sacrifice! — ancient allegorico-mystical stuff doesn’t make a good plot.)

* * *

I’ve been watching Avatar: the Last Airbender lately; as I am thirty, I am utterly without any need to show by my entertainments how adult I am, though not yet beyond making statements like this.

It’s a… a wickedly good show, always shivving you with a joke when you least expect it. And there’s a sense that there’s a backstory and a plot to the whole piece (so far); and I like how small bits of the backstory get dropped in every episode. (As in, why is the Fire Lord’s own brother travelling around with the outcast prince? No initial explanation. Well, in the nineteenth episode it gets dropped he failed to conquer Chinese Name Earth City, whose name has been dropped a few times already as being a place the Fire Lord would very much want conquered, and the conquering of which would mean the end of major combat operations on the Earth continent. And since it has been made clear the Fire Lord is not a forgiving person… it fits, and still leaves you thinking we will hear more interesting details about this failure.)

There’s less murder than I’d like, but I suppose that’s the price of the show getting made. (“I have a pitch for a children’s show. Five intrepid kids… who get all killed in episode five! Then we start with five new— okay, this door is out?”) And at least I can be content with the implied deaths — if your ship sinks with an iceberg in sight and you’re wearing metal armor, you are not going to live. Incidentally, I am not sociopathic, as far as I know; I just like there to be a bit of genuine danger and consequence in my fiction; I’m fairly okay without any in real life.

I don’t think the reader is supposed to ship Zuko and Katara, but I do. Because I don’t know anything beyond the first season, this is either a “D’awwww” or a “DEAR GODS NO” choice.

* * *

Now, before settling on Avatar, I watched the pilot double episode of Warehouse 13.

I did not like it, and thus did not watch any more. Maybe I was not in the right mood; maybe I expected something different; maybe the subtle gravitational tuggings of the Moon influenced my judgment. Maybe I just have certain philosophical pet peeves.

It went like this —

Two special agents of some arcane American persuasion are yanked without explanation or consent to service in a much more secret and sinister organization: Warehouse 13, which squirrels away all kinds of extraordinary and inexplicable items.

One of the agents is a woman; didn’t hear her name often enough to remember it. She’s cast as the cranky one because she doesn’t think this forcible reassignment to a loony bin is peachy.

The other agent is Latimer; he’s an irritating man-child, whose attempts at humor are either sexism, bullying or plain far away from any semblance of funny. Perhaps this unfunniness is supposed to be funny; it did not work for me.

They meet the old Warehouse 13 employee, Artie; he seems like a garden-variety crank, a sad mental case driven to eccentricity by isolation; the two new arrivals don’t seem to be interested in the easy explanation that Artie is crazy, and all his explanations are lunatic ca-ca and demented sleight-of-hand; this would seem to be the natural explanation, but apparently this does not come naturally to our heroes. If the government has a magitek division, apparently this necessitates the existence of genuine magitek, instead of it being a mare’s nest of the First Earth Battalion subtype.

Really, once Artie says they’re riding a cart made by Edison for Henry Ford, that is powered by a couple grabbing a guardrail — for me, the obvious comment would have been, “Very droll, Artie — now hands or feet off that hidden switch, hands behind back, down on the ground, and tell me what this schtick is all about? Is this a test, or are you genuinely off your rocker? Let’s go to see your boss — I’m not going to take orders from someone who believes in ferret-generating magic pots!”

Oh, and that pot which fulfils wishes, that would have been very persuasive — except that the one wish which was wished, that was naturally impossible, so a ferret popped up. Proof of the efficacy of the wishing pot!

I don’t know if the viewer is supposed to think the main characters are gullible, or just jaded to the nonsenses of the intelligence services. Or if the fact that they’ll be encountering real working magitek in the future means it would be tedious build them up as sensible, skeptical human beings at the start.

Some sense of the unusuality of the situation would have been nice.

Grumblety grumblety.

I prefer SCP Foundation, thank you very much. And as for me preferring grimdark horror over light comedy-action, well, that’s just me.

* * *

And finally, here’s a 176-clip strong Youtube playlist of the Just for Laughs Gags mini-candid camera show; that should do to destroy the rest of your day very nicely.

As I understand it, the show’s made in Quebec, which explains why there’s almost no spoken language in it. It’s splendid fun; at least one Finnish TV channel uses it as five-minute clips to make their schedules fit. Much better than using commercials, I think; both are equally good in making me desire the buying of tampons and Twilight tickets.

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