"I love you," you said,

when we'd stopped laughing, and then: "...no, I love us."

Us was improbable. Us shouldn't have worked. But now me is we is us; I am more limb than man. I'd wither without your blood flowing into me.

You're my favorite deputy.

Hidden Treasures

I've been hunting for vintage dinner plates online and my tracking cookie ads have gotten unexpectedly great:

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This is WAY better than when they show me stuff I already bought on Amazon.

It is the 41st Millennium

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FORGET THE POWER OF TECHNOLOGY AND SCIENCE, FOR SO MUCH HAS BEEN FORGOTTEN, NEVER TO BE RE-LEARNED. FORGET THE PROMISE OF PROGRESS AND UNDERSTANDING, FOR IN THE GRIMDARK FUTURE OF PROJECT MANAGEMENT THERE IS ONLY KRULLPEN.

Him got a backpack

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The trainer said we had to

We were forced

We did not do this because it's adorable and also carry your own poo bags for a change

Definitely had nothing to do with OUTWARD HOUND

Legion

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I need one of you guys to watch this pilot so we can discuss our feelings about it. For it has awoken the four-dimensional kaleidoscopic psycho-imp that slumbers in my heart

KAFKA // Aesthetics

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One of my all-time favorite movies. Just gorgeous and weird and full of crazy-gigglin'.

More than half my life ago, the video store on Campbell Avenue ran a going-out-of-business sale on their entire inventory. I realized they had a rental copy of "Kafka", which was no longer being produced on VHS. You couldn't buy it anywhere. Even rental places couldn't order it anymore.

I adored this movie. It's one of two films in my life that I watched for the first time, wondered what the hell was that, and started over immediately.

So I ran out there, and awash in a sea of $5 gently-used rental copies of "Pumpkinhead" and "Night of the Comet", there it was. Marked for the bargain price of $70.

I didn't have $70. So I walked away, freshly educated in the truth that sometimes nerdery is for people with money.

Seeing lighting this good makes me a little sad. Feels like a dying art, like watchmaking and hand-engraving.

Wexstan's Son

This is from a friend of mine, a man who's probably the best writer I've ever shaken hands with. It's an off-the-cuff thing he shared with his friends and is allowing me to reproduce on condition that I keep him anonymous. This is a good'un:

I tell people from time to time that I am Wexstan's Son. I don't have any tattoos, but when I do, and soon, it will be that—"Wexstan's Son"—in beautiful script on my shoulder or over my heart.

It comes from the epic poem "Beowulf", which is the oldest written artifact in the English language, surviving in only one copy and damn near lost to mankind. It's the story of a hero. Starts out with Beowulf as a young man, heading off to assist a neighboring kingdom with a big problem: namely, a kinda-human monster named Grendel, who keeps busting up in their mead hall in the night and eating them.

Beowulf, a demigod with the might of thirty men in his handgrip, sails stormy seas. He lands on the shore in his longboat. He and his magnificent, battle-hardened cadre of warriors march to the great mead hall there, where they lay down and feign sleep. Long after midnight, Grendel busts in, and a great battle ensues, shaking the hall until it nearly falls. Beowulf eventually rips off Grendel's scaly claw, killing him and winning eternal fame and glory for besting the monster.

The end of "Beowulf", however, is a very different story. Beowulf by then is old. He's fat. He is not the man he once was. His reputation has helped him reign for fifty winters in peace. But now he's got his own big problem: A dragon has arisen from a cave and started burning the countryside, killing scores of Beowulf's people.

When I say a dragon, I mean it. Scandinavia is where our idea of sorta "Game of Thrones" dragons comes from. Tolkein, the guy who really saved the poem from obscurity as a scholar, got his image of Smaug from there too. So this one is a real monster: scaly, horns, flies, breathes fire, the works.

Nonetheless, Beowulf, who is old and fat, lets out the straps on his armor, then saddles up to go out to do battle with the dragon. Knowing his fame as a warrior is on the line, he tells his men that he will go out to face the monster alone. And so the king draws onto the field of combat, before the dragon's lair. Beowulf stands there, grey beard flowing in the wind, still majestic in his armor and with his ancient, ring-patterned sword. Then he shouts in his mighty voice for the dragon to come out, if he dares.

And out he comes, churning smoke like a locomotive, hide like iron, tail covered in deadly spikes, fangs dripping with venom, the bringer of nightmares and the handmaiden of chaos. The battle commences, and Beowulf is holding his own.

But as he brings his sword down on the monster's head, the ancient blade of the king shatters like glass and suddenly Beowulf is defenseless. The dragon turns, draws breath, and roasts him. Beowulf is down behind his shield, being burned alive, wrapped in swirling flame.

Seeing the king fall, his great and majestic cadre of warriors—men he had called friends, men who had sworn oaths in times of peace to stand by their king in good or bad—turn and haul ass, fleeing like cowards deep into a nearby stand of trees to huddle there in fear. All of them.

Except one...this one guy, who we as readers didn't even know existed until that exact moment because he was not famous or important enough to mention. This one nobody.

"His name was Wiglaf," the poet says in the Burton Raffel translation. "He was Wexstan's son, and a good soldier."

He's not a god. He's not even a demigod like Beowulf, with the might of thirty men in his handgrip. He has no majestic armor, inlaid with silver and gold. He has no title. He has no ring-patterned sword. He's just a dude who decides that he will not run, even if it means his death.

And so he draws his sword, squares up his shoulders, and rushes into the flames to save his friend and the man he swore oaths to protect. And thus, the dragon was slain.

I'm a tough nut, but that moment, when I read it, always gets me a little choked up. Because it is the poet saying that all of us, every one, even a nobody like me, has the capacity to slay dragons if only we can convince ourselves that any cost, even death, is preferable to living in fear.

And so, I am Wexstan's Son.

In the years to come, there may come a time when you see one of your sisters or brothers kneeling alone, wrapped in the swirling flames of racism, or homophobia, or religious persecution, or sexism. Then it will be up to you to decide, my friend: Which would I rather be? An unruffled coward or Wexstan's child? I know which I would rather be. And in that moment, it will not be me who fears the dragon. It should be the dragon who fears me.

If you will stand, my friend, I will stand with you. No matter what comes.

Twenty-four cartloads of books

A prayer from The Inquisitor's Tale, which is our current bedtime chapter book and one I am feeling hard right now:

..."I think we should pray," Jacob whispered.

"A Jewish prayer or a Christian one?" William asked.

"I don't think it matters," Jacob replied.

Jeanne looked surprised—and then she didn't. She smiled.

So they closed their eyes—and Gwenforte, nestled between Jeanne's legs, sat down—and William said, "O Lord God, we have tried to hear Your voice above the din of other voices. Above the heresy—and even above the orthodoxy. Above the abbots and the masters. Above the knights and even the kings. And though this world is confusing and strange, we believe we have heard Your voice and followed it—followed it here, to this place. Now, please, God, hear us. Help us, watch over us, and protect us as we face the flames of hate. Please God. Please."

And they all said, "Amen."

Uttered moments before Brother Michelangelo di Bologna, bighearted mad bastard that he is, climbed atop what would become a burning heap of illuminated Talmuds and hollered STOP.