titusnowl: (Harper's Jig)
Xanon was of House Vulpin in a village named Balneum: a place of sulfur-smelling springs, in the southern fringe of the hill-country. He had the fair hair and pale eyes of a southerner, but spoke with an accent soft and burred like a northerner's. He was an emotional man, given to poetry, and he took leavings hard. When they went skyborne he wept silently and unashamed. The true southerners - there were none in the unit Annie'd been given sergeantry of, but plenty surrounded them in the hold - looked down their long thin noses at him; the northerners closed ranks around him defensively. Southerners, they muttered amongst themselves, held themselves too close and high: not that they would shed tears in public, personally, for that sort of display was a private thing, done at the hearth, but to look at the southerners you would think a man couldn't have any feelings at all. Annie offered his arms to Xanon - then still a slight-built little thing, 15 years behind him, like the rest of them - and let the young man's tears salt his shoulder until his weather cleared.

They all shared their tears after battles, and Xanon's gift of words brought songs for fallen comrades: thus did they speak farewell to their friends' spirits, to keep them from feeling lost and alone when they died on those strange foreign worlds.

Xanon's sorrowing at leavings returned when they left their temporary home, where he had found a woman he called wife, and she had given him a child he'd named Xia. All of the men who wanted women had found them there, and for few was it an easy leaving, but again it was Xanon whose tears fell in plain air. Annie opened his arms again - this time taking into them a larger man, for Xanon had grown broader and heavier though not much taller with the years - and thought of his own woman, Carli, and the swelling beneath her shirt when they spoke their private farewell.

There were plenty of southerners in the centuria by then, but they had all become brothers, and one man's emotion gave pause to none. Annie's far-northern accent was as familiar and homelike as the crisp, sharp-voweled enunciation of the deep south spoken by some of the men: they were all Fimimundan; and skyborne, their home was in each other.

Of the southerners who became Annie's nephews, noteworthy was Simon, of House Iagus in Aquine, a great city. He'd found he had a natural talent for speaking to the spirits of machines, adjusting to their acquaintance and use long before any of his comrades. By now all were accustomed to it, and could laugh speaking of their early days of puzzlement at every new thing: and think what our mothers, our fathers, our sisters would say if they came to these ships, then! But Simon had known the machine spirits longest and learned to know them best, and had even spoken in friendship with the strange men or once-men who made themselves priests of those spirits. It was to Simon you went with a recalcitrant rifle, or a question of working some new machine. Annie had less talent than he, but he enjoyed the company of the machine spirits, and they two could speak of them together. Simon would have liked life on Nadys-21; to make the acquaintance of the servo-skulls would have pleased him immensely. Annie would have a great deal to tell of, if they could speak again.
titusnowl: (typewriter keys)
The name of the village was Boragerwix, with the X pronounced SH, of course, and the meaning of the name was North Farmhill. A very generic name, and one that came in a set: there was Meragerwix to the south and Oxagerwix to the west and of course Oragerwix to the east, and that was all of Agerwix that there was. Agerwix proper was a city, a few miles away and a bit southwest of center, all of them built on natural hills covering a good portion of the countryside. You could just see the beaconfires of Agerwix from Boragerwix, and of Oragerwix if the air was clear, but Oxagerwix was further off, out of sight even in the still, leafless, water-pure skies of early winter - it wasn't a perfect square, the figure drawn by those villages. It was because they were so far north that the towns were called wixes; that was a native word, something tribal. The closer you went to real civilisation the fewer Whateverwixes you'd find, although the names of places in the north still held descriptions, villages called by the names of landmarks; in the south the cities had proper names like people, which was of course the right way to do things, to honor the spirit of the place.

The name of the house was Lupus, presumably because the place where it was built was where someone had seen a wolf once, or because a wolf had visited, or at any rate wolves were likely to have been involved. It couldn't have been any time recently. There were still wolves, but they stayed away, deep in the woods and fens. Once in a while in the winter you could hear them howling, although that might be the tribespeople, some of whom wore the skins of the wolves for warmth and, according to the stories told to children (children who weren't your own, so you wouldn't be bothered when they couldn't sleep that night), sometimes turned into wolves - taking wolf-shape to attack the settlements.

"So maybe that's why your house is named Lupus," one of Anacreon's friends put forth. They two were sitting in the shade, under the deep-holded doorway with its wide-winged aquila carved into the lintel, discussing the wolf-shape story which had been told to them by Kleiton's older brother the night before. "Your ancestors were wolf-people who settled here." He looked hopeful that this slight upon Anacreon's lineage might spark a fight. Kleiton had lost the last tussle they'd had, and was keen to even the score.

"My ancestors didn't build this house," said Anacreon, unruffled. "My father's father came here from the south with the Fourth Legion. That's why we have light eyes. If anyone's family came from wolf-people it's yours. Your brother's been sniffing around my oldest sister like a dog, anyway."

"He has not been, either, you slanderer," came Amelisa's voice from inside, shrill. Anacreon flinched slightly; the wrath of women was a terrible thing to raise, especially when the woman was one of his sisters, both of whom were well-praised hunters who would not hesitate to lay a trap for a younger brother just as for a washing-bear. 
titusnowl: (atomic liquor)
It is just before 9:00 on a Thursday morning when the sirens go off.

At this university in Dallas, just within the ever-expanding ring of suburbs, nestled gently amidst trees and streams so that the campus seems far removed from the busy highways a block past its edges, an awful lot of students aren't even awake.

Jason De Luca, a 24-year-old graduate student in mechanical engineering, is one of those who are awake, although he'd really rather not be.  He had a rough time last night - Debbie Harmoner, the girl he's been Quietly There For, got dumped and had to cry on his shoulder until the wee small hours, and right when he'd decided he was finally going to try to kiss her she'd said she needed to go home and get some sleep before her test.  He's still sort of beating himself up over not taking the chance in time as he heads across campus, certain he's going to be late for the CAD course he doesn't feel like taking in the first place (just because he's a science nerd he's supposed to know how to program a computer?).

His first thought when the sirens start to wail is that it's a tornado.  He jogs toward the nearest lecture hall and heads down the back stairs to the basement.  There's a slightly rusty Fallout Shelter sign on the outside wall, but he really only chose this building because it was close.  Most of the undergraduates he passes were looking shell-shocked already just from being up this early, and now they have hands clamped over their ears as they shout questions to one another about what's going on.  He gives a couple of them shoves to the shoulder to move them toward the building as he passes - "Quit bawlin' and get inside" - but he doesn't know any of them or stop to chat long. 

He's only planning to get down in the basement, find the most structurally-sound area, and wait until they've called the all-clear on the tornado watch, but when he reaches the bottom of the stairs he finds a professor standing by a door and waving people inside as they come down from the main stairs on the other end of the hall.  When he approaches he's waved inside too, and finds himself in a space about the same size as the upstairs classrooms, but empty of desks - nothing in it but stacks and stacks of cardboard boxes and barrels along the back wall and a group of confused and terrified people.

"What's going on?" someone asks, and someone else can barely answer:

"On the radio - the Russians - it's the bomb!"
titusnowl: (crank cunt)
It wasn't until the 1920s that sentries began to be electrical, and you could still find engineers clinging to the old clockwork-and-coilspring designs well into the '40s. Dispensers, being little more than prestocked ammo caches with a canister of Unspecified Liquid bolted on, took even longer to advance technologically; the earliest known electrically-powered dispenser (which had an automated Unspec release valve, taking advantage of the recent invention of a new method of storing Unspec as a pressurized gas) was made by S. H. Eppstein in 1934. This was not, of course, due to any laxity on the part of the Engineers of the time; the state of the art was far from stagnant, and multiple variants on existing machines were produced over this period, but there was simply very little that could meaningfully be done to change or improve them in any significant way until the discovery of teleportational technology in 1949. By 1952 teleportation had been perfected enough to be used for restocking Dispensers, essentially turning them into bottomless ammo caches with a canister of Unspec bolted on. The final piece of the Engineering trifecta was in place by September of 1958, when the first teleporters capable of more-or-less-reliably transporting living people were introduced (although it took quite a few years after that for the scale to start skewing towards "more" rather than "less").

Early Spies, therefore, had a range of equipment quite different from their modern counterparts'. For many decades the best, most useful, and most reliable piece of equipment any Spy could carry was simply a pair of strong wire-cutters, and a good wrench was so useful for so long that there are many adult Spies today who can remember working with or studying under an older member who kept a captured Uhlman on him at all times. (This custom remains in some circles to this day; however, it is now commonly regarded as a sort of good luck charm, and rarely if ever does the wrench get used.)

Even as electrical sentries came into play, the wire-cutters remained the primary weapon against technology. Sappers, designed to disrupt or overload the circuitry of the machine, existed as early as 1924 (the first design was patented merely days after the debut of the earliest known electrical sentry), but few Spies bothered to use them; they were heavy to carry and could take dangerously long to set up, besides the necessary delay until the vacuum tubes that powered most early models warmed up and the sentry went down. Simply knowing which wires to cut - or even not knowing, and snipping wildly - was far more efficient.

Obviously, a Spy who needed to manually disarm sentry guns and dispensers required a certain amount of technical knowledge and training. In the early days through most of the inter-War period, this was generally gained "on the job" through liaison (personal or professional) with the Engineer on the team. As IBAE became more exclusionary and withdrawn, particularly during and after the Second World War, this method of instruction became unavailable to the majority of Spies.

This social factor combined with the ever-increasing pace of technological advance to quickly and heavily increase Spies' dependence upon sappers, which were now far more efficient and, thanks to the advent of transistors in 1947, small enough to easily carry - even conceal - on the person. The formation of UIEEI and founding of l'Université de l'Espionage in the post-war years helped to fill the gap in Spies' educations, providing classroom training and further instruction to make up for the increasing hostility of the Engineers who had once been unofficially responsible for the spread of such information.

In a circular fashion, of course, the increasing insularity of Engineers led to the increasing insularity of Spies and thus exacerbated the ever-present, ever-growing tensions between the two classes. It is difficult for any historian to compare the Spy and Engineer of the Roaring '20s, both dusty and oil-coated as they bend together over the incapacitated shell of an enemy sentry gun, with the Spy and Engineer of today, glaring at each other and exuding enmity regardless of their status as teammates; or even the Spies alone, one so familiar with the objects he destroys that he could very likely rebuild them again and one with neither training nor interest - without feeling that something has been lost.
titusnowl: (Default)
So he AWOLed from the Spanish Foreign Legion.  There's a pretty narrow period in which this could've happened, since it was only formed in '20; of course, there'd only be one or two years before that when he'd have been old enough anyway, so yeah, whatever.  Some random facts about 'em, off Wikipedia:

  • Its members, regardless of rank, are titled Caballero Legionario ("Knight Legionnaire").
  • Legionnaires consider themselves novios de la muerte ("bridegrooms of death").
  • Legionnaires are never supposed to abandon a comrade on the battlefield; they must try to help him until all have perished, if necessary.
  • The legion's motto was Viva la muerte! ("Long live death!")
titusnowl: (house classy)
This whole rambling mess began because I was thinking, and wrote down, one question:

What made Dan want to be a cop?

I then proceeded to never actually touch on the answer to that question.Read more... )
titusnowl: (typewriter keys)
1. Choose a few of your own characters. Five at most.
2. Make them answer the following characters.
3. Then tag three people. I hate tagging people.
4. Feel free to go ahead and add some questions yourself!

I'm doing OCs, but if anybody felt like doing fandom dudes/dudettes I dunno what'd stop you.  'S gonna help me get a handle on Joe, maybe.

Read more... )
titusnowl: (kiefer what)
Penelope was a platypus, as I've just said, and she resided in Guava Guava, which was a small village on the island of Kapingamarangi, which lies off the coast of Papua New Guinea. It is a peculiarity of Micronesian culture that the only animals they breed for meat are pigs, which is I suppose good news for cows but not nearly so good for the local porcine population; and Penelope, being a soft-hearted soul, could never bring herself to eat bacon, restricting herself instead to a strict diet of carrots and whey.

It happened that a young pig by the name of Francisco Soledad managed to escape from his sty in a neighbouring village and run off to Guava Guava, where he remained in fear for his life as the natives there were just as fond of ham as those of the town he had recently left.  Taking cover beneath a paw-paw tree, he was surprised to find himself nose to nose with Penelope, who had been resting in the shade on her way back from her afternoon stroll.  Penelope could see that something was troubling Francisco, and she encouraged him to unburden himself; upon hearing his sad story, she immediately offered to take him directly to her home, where he could live in peace and safety, provided he too was willing to subsit upon carrots and whey - a decision he was entirely pleased to make.

After a few days in close contact with one another the sexual tension was thick enough to cut with a dull soup-spoon; and finally Penelope could restrain herself no more, and flung herself upon Francisco, crying "Take me!"  Unfortunately for her he found himself incapable of dominating her in the manner which she desired; because as we all know...

pork bottoms.
titusnowl: (Default)
Well, that was fun.  I'm afraid I was sort of bitchy last night; I've discovered, rather forcefully, that I can only take a certain amount of socialisation before I find in myself a fervent desire to be elsewhere and preferably alone.  It's sort of the same feeling as the way I can only take a certain amount of living in the same place before I desire to be elsewhere.  It's not the company - that was absolutely delightful.  I suppose I'm just broken.

Vegas ought to be better, as there will be lots of things to distract me, and also things to distract the rest of you if I need to wander off and be alone.

After dropping Jen off at the airport this evening, we drove around downtown Dallas a bit, and found (a) the neighborhood Dan was sworn to Serve & Protect, (b) his apartment complex (a fake Spanish place built in the '20s), (c) a house I want to live in (on Ross Ave just off Greenville). 

I am developing rather a taste for beer.  Lone Star is good; Bass is excellent.  If only we lived in a place where you could actually purchase beer in the supermarket.
titusnowl: (new york city)
I am distressingly often struck by the realization of these things gone by I will never see, these places in time I will never visit.  Today's hopeless longing:  the World's Columbian Exposition.  The approach of a new century, full of cheer and glory and optimism!  The future was on its way, and it was going to be good!  The present was already here, and even it was good!  The world was a wide and wonderful place; we were learning from history and building a bright new future; there were electric lights and a Ferris wheel and ice cream cones, and as long as H. H. Holmes didn't bump you off, the beauty of the White City would help you greet all that was to come.

I think what I really wish I could experience is the optimism.  You don't get a whole lot of that these days.

Sufjan Stephens - Come On!  Feel the Illinoise!
titusnowl: (justifie liquor nothing else matters)


Also Carrie made Justifie icons!  Hee!  We have our own ship fandom!  (Of roughly the same size as the Saint fandom, which amuses me.)
titusnowl: (t rex science bitches)
Is there a hidden meaning (or any meaning at all, really) to "Bicycle Race" that I'm not picking up on, or is its flamboyant homosexuality just the inevitable result of being sung by Queen (a band that could write a song about a man and a woman having vaginal intercourse and still make it be the most flagrantly gay tune anyone had ever heard) (which is why I love them so)?

Every time I read "The Maltese Falcon" I picture Welfy as Effie Perine.

The band Wolf Parade has a sound that makes me imagine that they're actually recording from a post-apocalyptic future. They grew up there, and did not survive the actual apocalypse, so they sing about what seems to them to be a normal life, but it is strangely depopulated, causing weird echoes, and it's all slightly off to us.

I wonder when Target is going to get their Halloween stuff in. I wonder what the theme will be this year. I hope they have a faux-Victorian slightly-silly creepfest option amongst their choices; faux-Victorian slightly-silly creepfest is the best of all possible options for Halloween.

There is a spider roughly the size of a housecat living in the ladies' room at work. I'm going to have to develop a stronger bladder and/or obtain a .22 and sneak it in to assassinate the damn thing so that the bathroom can once more be safe for ladies' bottoms. Well, as safe for a bottom as a public bathroom ever is.

Insert joke tying together the Queen stuff and the "bottom in a public bathroom" here.
titusnowl: (new york city)
My early childhood's soundtrack is from the '60s and '70s - "To Everything There Is A Season" on a portable record player while I, barefoot in a sundress at six years old, spin in the yellow sunlight through the daisies in our yard.

Billy Joel's music is a soundtrack to a childhood I didn't have - it's hard to express what I mean by that.  When I was in middle school, my father spent a few weeks in a hospital in Massachusetts, either for an ulcer or a hernia - I forget which.  My sister would drive me over to see him every weekend, and for some reason the only tape she had in the car was Billy Joel's Greatest Hits Vol. 1 & 2, the set that covers the '70s and '80s.  So that music is all associated with my dad and stuff like that. 

My dad's from Allentown, too, so there's that.

Makes me homesick, hearing it.  Of course, lots of things make me homesick these days - although most of it is homesickness for New York City, which isn't really homesickness as I've never lived there and have only visited on three widely-separated days in my life.  But I have a wild restless longing to live there.  Reading the Preston/Child books and hearing Rufus Wainwright are the two biggest triggers.

Which sucks because I've had "Matinee Idol" stuck in my head all day and just got a copy of "The Cabinet of Curiosities" at Half-Price Books.  So I've been reading a Lord Peter book (it's got a lot of bells in, Carrie, but they're church-bells, which I assume to be something entirely different from your carillons and such) and listening to all 6000 of my mp3s EXCEPT Rufus Wainwright, on random in Winamp, in hopes of not feeling that heartsick urge to sell all my shit and run north and rent a room in Murray Hill.

Only REM came on, and Michael Stipe makes me think of Spider Jerusalem, which makes me think of the City again.  So I hit "next" and it came up "Allentown," which started this whole entry.


titusnowl: (Default)
titus n. owl

February 2015

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