Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Babylon Quotes Project

From Babylon 5 "Meditations on the Abyss" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "He knows me, but he also loves me, and sometimes the one gets in the way of the other."
  • "You have given me back my sight, the least I can do in return is share a little of my confusion."
  • "It is not necessary to know, it is only necessary to try."
  • "Once you look in the mirror and see just how foolish we can be, laughter is inevitable. And from laughter comes wisdom."
  • [G'Kar's discussion on the nature of truth and god.]

From Babylon 5 "Darkness Ascending" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "I have been working up a good mad all day, and I am not about to let you undercut it by agreeing with me."

From Babylon 5 "And All My Dreams, Torn Asunder"
  • "The thing about losing one eye is that it makes you look deeply into the eyes of another. I found in yours all the thanks I will ever require, in this life or in any other."
  • "If you want to hurt me, there's a cleaner and faster way of doing it. Hell, you might even think about it for yourself. It's a hell of a lot more efficient than the road you're on, and you'll take fewer people with you when you go."
  • [What the candle stands for.]

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Babylon Quotes Project

From Babylon 5 "The Ragged Edge" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "Who knew the Presidency was fifty percent panic and fifty percent paperwork."

From Babylon 5 "The Corps is Mother, the Corps is Father" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "It must be nice, someone who will wait for you, someone who will love you..." "And if my wife ever found out about her..."
  • "Yeah, they told me, but I never let the facts get in the way of a good grudge."
  • "You're an optimist. Thank you, I'd almost forgotten what one of your kind looked like."

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Quote of the Moment

"Patience is all you need, that and the courage it takes just to be."
—Howling Bells, "Setting Sun"

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Babylon Quotes Project

From Babylon 5 "Secrets of the Soul" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "No tyranny has ever really lasted. No government based on violence has endured. Sooner or later they all fall."
  • "Stop smiling." "Then go away, if you're here I'm afraid I can't help myself."

From Babylon 5 "Day of the Dead" written by Neil Gaiman
  • "Oh, this is a moment you can tell your children about Captain." "I'll get on to having some right away."
  • "You know, the reports of my death, they weren't even exaggerated a little bit."
  • "Looking back on it though, I think I just tried to make people happy."
  • "The real comedy all happens in the senate."

From Babylon 5 "In the Kingdom of the Blind" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "There is no one obvious to blame." "Which means they will blame each other, randomly."
  • "He cultivated sobriety as his only vice, a break with conventional accepted behavior."
  • "Besides, everyone knows that the true source of pain is neither the hand nor the heart. It is the mouth."
  • "Beautiful night isn't it, as nights go. And they go so quickly now."

From Babylon 5 "A Tragedy of Telepaths" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "Sensible, wise, who thought it up for you?"
  • "Every great fall begins with a single mistake. This is yours."

From Babylon 5 "Phoenix Rising" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "There's only one thing more dangerous than Mr. Garibaldi when he's loud: it's when he's dead silent."
  • "On a scale of one to ten, how stupid do you think I am anyway?"

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Brightshadow Memos: Exorcism

[OK folks, some people may find this offensive, but as usual, I am merely taking some of the weirdness around us and deconstructing it into something that can be made light of. Note the tag on the post. Also note that the news stories linked herein are actually quite fascinating, particularly the cultural reactions in Mexico. There is a deeper, more human, actually real subject to be delved into here, if one so desires, but that is in no way the intent of this post.]

Sir, I have collated the information you requested on the subject of exorcism, and I must say that the official position of Project Brightshadow remains indeterminate. The idea of subtle entities invading or possessing humans is a fairly pervasive myth, which tends to give it some credence. However, there are quite a few… shall we say, more grounded reasons why such behaviors occur. Still, Christianity remains a huge influence around the world, and there is plenty of support for exorcism in the Bible. Christianity also has a way of absorbing older traditions into it, which can mask, or reveal, older traditions and legends.

The Catholic church revised the rite of exorcism to include the possibility mental illness in 1999, but retains the strict hierarchical requirements of its traditions. Protestant exorcism is as splintered as the various sects, though it tends to be flavored by the same focuses that differentiate the sects from one another. And of course, many of the powers that can be granted via demonic possession can also be granted through divine favor, making the discernment of demons and angels subject to the eye of the beholder.

Economic woes, traditionalism, and isolationism can all contribute to greater belief in, or perhaps greater awareness of, the supernatural. As such, recent years have seen the public view of exorcism and exorcists to rise again. Whether it is caused by cultural impact, such as the brutal drug cartel violence in Mexico, or simple capitalistic business opportunities, or indeed an actual rise in demonic activity likely varies on a case by case basis. And this without even touching on non-Christian beliefs.

One thing is certain, in our post-modern, post-Buffy age, a trio of pretty, young, female exorcists can only exist so long before reality TV comes knocking. As usual, we will continue to collect intelligence as we can.

If you are in a horror game, the subject of exorcism is bound to come up at some point, and it does provide a myriad of tropes to follow, twist, and subvert to keep things interesting. As with all real-life things, and horror in general for that matter, know your group before you go there. Religion can be touchy, and the Adversary doubly so. That said, here are a few things to start your creative juices flowing should you want your group to encounter an exorcist NPC.
  1. The exorcist is a charlatan and knows it. If the PCs are ghost or demon busters, this character may follow them around to figure out how they pull off such convincing cons. And if he/she accidentally interferes in that rather important containment ritual…
  2. The exorcist is a charlatan who knows it, but believes he/she is genuinely helping the rubes. Call 'em a professional placebo. This character makes a good likely revenge target, both for relatives of someone who was ripped off and for any demons insulted by the fake exorcism attempt.
  3. The exorcist is a charlatan who does not know it. Can the PCs convince them they aren't helping, and may in fact be making things worse? What happens when he/she encounters a real spirit/demon?
  4. The exorcist is genuine. The character can save the PC's bacon and become a valuable mentor/aid, or could be an antagonist who believes the PCs are interfering in God's work.
  5. The exorcist is genuine but does not know it. Fighting demons tends to make cranky, powerful, supernatural enemies. If a con-artist out to make a buck happens to be using the real/correct rituals to foster a sense of authenticity, they may be getting themselves into situation where they will need protection or rescuing.
  6. The exorcist is genuine but does not believe it. Perhaps he/she is the one key to dispelling a certain malignant entity, and is thus a high-priority target who must be protected through a gauntlet of horror long enough to be convinced or for their power to be triggered.
  7. The exorcist is genuine and wants nothing to do with it. Perhaps freaked out by a prior encounter, he/she must be convinced they can do good by exercising their power once again.
  8. The exorcist is working for the enemy. Maybe the ritual is inverted, opening the victim up to possession. Maybe the cultist is identifying 'marginals' who can be influenced and offering a better life, with just a very minor catch. This one is particularly applicable for evil forces of the long-game or corporatized bent (such as Wolfram & Hart from TV's Angel).

Skeletor is Love?

Motivational quotes using image macros are no uncommon on the internet, unless perhaps they feature iconic 80's cartoon villain Skeletor. Yeah, it's niche. Also hilarious.

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Babylon Quotes Project

From Babylon 5 "Learning Curve" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "A challenge is to stand alone, unarmed, prepared to die. I would hardly say sitting and thinking is a challenge." "True, you do seem to have the sitting part down to an art, so I suppose there is hope. As for thinking, well, uh, let's leave that for the advanced classes. We shouldn't expect too much of you at once."
  • "You're a source of constant annoyance to me Turval, but only because you're right more often than you're wrong."
  • "You sure this is a good idea?" "I'll let you know if I survive it."
  • "You see, we create the meaning in our lives. It does not exist independently."
  • "At the end, Captain, we all stand alone."

From Babylon 5 "Strange Relations" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "If there was a straight answer buried in there somewhere, I sure as hell didn't see it."
  • "How am I doing so far?" "Annoyingly logical." "Thank you." "It wasn't a compliment."
  • "I'm caught in a web of my own good intentions."
  • "You don't just walk into somebody's office and start a fight. Unless invited to do so."
  • "Compassion is a lovely thing, taken in moderation."
  • "What the hell is your problem?" "For starters, I don't know you, therefore I don't trust you." "The world is full of people you don't know." "I worry about that all the time."
  • "There's nothing more appealing than knowing someone is willing to lay down their life for you." "And nothing more dangerous."
  • "All right, all right Delenn, but mark my word, this is going to be trouble." "Everything of value is, Londo."

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Babylon Quotes Project

From Babylon 5 "A View from the Gallery" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "Though cruel and capricious, bringing us into a world that fears and and hates us, nature did not leave us entirely without protection."
  • "The universe hates me, you know."
  • "I spent my years in one shelter after another, but sooner or later I was able to leave the shelter and walk out into the daylight. You do not have that luxury. You carry your shelter with you every day. You did not grow up, you grew old."
  • "So, how long you figure they've been married?"
  • "Man, did you see that smile? It's like the sun coming out from behind a cloud."
  • "My mother used to tell me, 'God knows the age of every tree and the color of every flower, and He knows just how wide your shoulders are. And he'll never give you anything to carry that's bigger than you can handle.'" "Then maybe that's what this whole place is about. Maybe that's what you have to do to get by in a place like this." "What's that?" "Grow bigger shoulders."
  • "Yeah, typical. They call all the shots, they get all the glory, we clean up all the mess." "Well, maybe not all the mess."

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Babylon Quotes Project

From Babylon 5 "The Very Long Night of Londo Mollari" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • You have that vacant look in your eyes that says, "hold my head to your ear, you'll hear the sea".
  • "He must follow the calling of his heart." "And if he's not, if he's just running away to avoid the situation here?" "The universe will teach him what he needs to know."
  • "Perhaps it's better if I die now, if only to, to spite fate."
  • "There's a time for charity and a time for truth. You're almost out of both."
  • "Prophecy is a guess that comes true. When it doesn't, it's a metaphor."
  • "It was not my fault! I said..." "You said nothing!"
  • "Whether it was me or my world, whether it was a total stranger or your worst enemy, you were a witness! It doesn't matter if they'd stopped! It doesn't matter if they'd listened! You had an obligation to speak out!"
  • "No Vir, the universe is an evil place, but at least it seems to have a sense of humor about the whole thing."

From Babylon 5 "The Paragon of Animals" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "Come all the way out here just to depress me? "Naw, I can do that any time."
  • "I'm not big on guns either, but if everyone else has 'em, I want to make sure I can get my hands on the biggest one I can."
  • "If you're going to make a point, why not make it so no one misses it."
  • "Dukhat once told me, 'If you can create sufficient fear in your enemies, you may not have to fight them. Always remember that terror is also a form of communication.'"
  • [The intro to the Declaration of Principles.]

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Babylon Quotes Project

From Babylon 5 "No Compromises" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "You're a very strange man, even for a human." "Why thank you."
  • "The bottom line is: wherever you are is home enough for me."
  • "I'm flattered. Also terrified. This is a great responsibility."
  • "That's a tall order." "Perhaps, but where is it written that all our dreams must be small ones?"
  • "You want to be President?" "Yes." "Put your hand on the book and say, 'I do'." "I do." "Fine, done, let's eat."

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Quote of the Moment

"These safety nets didn't arise out of a power grab by progressives. They arose out of a need that was not being met by free market capitalism."
—John Stewart, The Daily Show, March 5, 2014

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Bookworming: The Big Sleep

The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler, ***
I must get two things out of the way before going into the review. First, the usual caveat for a book born out of the late-30's pulps: some content may be considered offensive in our current culture. Second, I love the 1946 movie adaptation staring Humphrey Bogart enough that I can't read Philip Marlowe's dialog in any other voice.

Really, there isn't much I can say that hasn't already been said. Chandler's first novel is famous for its convoluted (some would say incomplete) plot, for its hard boiled main character, and some very sharp phrase turning. As for me, I found some real spark there, especially in the character writing and descriptions, but if I'm fair (and it's hard to be), things are a little uneven. It's considered a classic for a reason, but it's just below four-star territory. Though with this as a starting point, I do expect there will be more Chandler reading in my future.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Babylon Quotes Project

From Babylon 5 "Rising Star" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "We are developing a rather strange relationship, I think. At times, I find I rather enjoy it."
  • "I find it amazing that you think that threats still mean anything to me."
  • "It's just that I'm so rarely in the presence of living history. It, it thins the atmosphere, makes you giddy. You realize that you are quite mad for even considering this." "Perhaps."
  • "I hope you have all brought a change of underwear. You will need it after you read this."
  • "Half of Earthforce wants to give you a kiss on the cheek and the medal of honor. The other half want you taken out and shot. As a politician you learn how to compromise, which by all rights means I should give you the medal of honor then have you shot."
  • "So morally, I was right, but politically, I'm inconvenient." "Inconvenient doesn't even begin to cover it."
  • "Don't make the mistake of assuming this is a conversation."
  • "The bitch of it is, you probably did the right thing."
  • "As long as we speak his name, he will always be a part of us."
  • "Now the time I spent on Babylon 5 I learned about choices, and consequences, and responsibility. I learned that we all have choices, even when we don't recognize them, and that those choices have consequences, not just for ourselves, but for others. We must assume responsibility for those consequences."
  • "Peace is a concept. If I'm going to sell this to my generals and the public, I'm going to need something a little more tangible."
  • "Well, there'll be plenty of time for stories later." "All the time in the world."
  • "I need to decide where my heart belongs before the rest of me can follow."
  • "You do not make history, you can only hope to survive it."
  • "It was the end of one chapter, and the beginning of another. The next twenty years would see great changes, great joy, and great sorrow. The Telepath War. The Drakh War. The new Alliance would waver and crack, but in the end it would hold. Because what is built endures, and what is loved endures. And Babylon 5, Babylon 5 endures."

From Babylon 5 "The Deconstruction of Falling Stars"
  • "But there's a time and a place for everything, and this is the time and this is definitely the place for one hell of a party."
  • "Our marriage ceremonies are solemn, sober moments of reflection. Also regret, disagreement, argument, and mutual recrimination. Once you know that it can not get any worse, you can relax and enjoy the marriage. But to start with something like this, no it is a very bad sign for the future. ... Perhaps it is something I said." "Perhaps it is everything you say."
  • "You came all this way just to say that?" "You came just as far to say less."
  • "You do not wish to know anything. You wish only to speak. That which you know, you ignore, because it is inconvenient. That which you do not know, you invent. But none of that matters, except that he was a good man. A kind man, who cared about the world even when the world cared nothing for him."
  • "The purpose of this simulation is to provide reverse correct infospeak as support for current changes in Earth policy."
  • "No point in having a conversation with someone who doesn't really exist."
  • "Now, what suggestions do you have?" "Well, I suggest you put your head between your legs and you kiss your ass goodbye."
  • "Yes, I've read Job brother Alwin. It is really not helping."
  • "Faith sustains us in the hour when reason tells us that we can not continue, that the whole of our lives is without meaning." "Then why were we born able to reason if reason's useless." "Not useless, but it's also not enough. Faith and reason are the shoes on your feet. You can travel further with both than with just one."
  • "Give him another twenty years, he'll be fine."
  • "This is how the world ends, swallowed in fire but not in darkness."
  • "We did what we did because it was right, not to be remembered. History will attend to itself. It always does."
[Because of the travails of syndication, these two episodes have the feel of being essentially a coda for the show. After being cancelled at the end of its fourth season, cable network TNT resurrected it to complete the five year run. However, the fulfillment of the main plot arc leaves the fifth season functioning as something of an extended denouement. In some other re-watches, I'll admit to having skipped from here to the final episode, which originally was produced to end the fourth season. But I am being completest in this viewing, so onward we go through to the end. Also, that bit about shoes is my second favorite quote from the series, second only to 'faith manages'.]

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Babylon Quotes Project

From Babylon 5 "Endgame" written by J. Michael Straczynski
  • "You are to forget that these people were once friends, associates, and fellow officers. They are targets to be destroyed. Nothing more, nothing less."
  • "These are your sons, your daughters whose loyalties have never wavered, whose beliefs in this alliance has forced us to take extraordinary means! For justice, for peace, for the future, we have come home!"
  • "Delenn, we need you." "We are there."