Sunday Shrine Delayed: St Patricks Cathedral, Chapel of the BVM

This is my favorite part of St Patrick’s. But first, a lovely pic of the cathedral I found on Wikimedia.[below]
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Here’s another. They did much better at photographing the building in place. [below]
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Here’s an image that shows you roughly where the chapel is. It’s on the right, where the blue light is flooding in.  It was far more vivid in real life. [below]

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Here’s a closeup of those gorgeous windows. I like the arabesque tracery dominated by that gorgeous cobalt blue.
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Here’s the main event– the chapel we’ve all been waiting for. [below]
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Here’s a closeup of the chapel altar. It’s magnificent, as appropriate.
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Seriously, look at this floor. Here’s a reason to be humble and stare at the floor during mass.
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This wasn’t inside the Marian Chapel but was near by. So I leave you with the Pieta in honor of the day before All Saint’s Day.
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Sunday Shrine– St Patrick’s Cathedral

This place has so much beauty, it is difficult to decide what pictures to post.  On my delightful tour of Down Town NYC, the highlight of my  trip was seeing Dagger John’s gift to God, Man and posterity.

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St Patrick’s Cathedral, New York Photo Credit: Margot St. Aubin :: I release this with a FDL.

After having shamelessly used other artist’s work for years on end, I present my own humble examples. Most of these are taken with my cell phone, so the quality isn’t quite up to my standard.

However, the subject matter is so wonderful I’m going to use it anyway.  If you don’t mind, I may use several Sundays to cover the best highlights. Remember, guys, the com box is there for a reason!

[above] The Cathedral is situated right downtown, next to office buildings and several malls– in the middle of everything.   Really should have brought the wide angled lens for this shot.

 

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St Patrick’s Cathedral, New York Photo Credit: Margot St. Aubin :: I release this with a FDL.

[above] It’s not quite as integrated with the surrounding area as St Peter’s in Chicago. Then again, St Peters of the Loop is built into a slab like building along the row, so it would be hard to build a church to look more at home with a bunch of rectangular glass buildings.
Here, the surroundings have had to blend in to St Pat’s than the other way around. When St Patrick’s was first built, this was the outskirts of Town.

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St Patrick’s Cathedral, Right Portcullis Door, New York Photo Credit: Margot St. Aubin :: I release this with a FDL.

[above] This is for scale. When I first saw the church in place, I thought it looked a bit on the small side… until I saw people in context with the building. Ah, yes, now THAT is a cathedral.

 

 

 

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St Patrick’s Cathedral, New York Photo Credit: Margot St. Aubin :: I release this  FDL.

 

[left] Some exterior details, plus [ right] a wonderful floor mosaic with the  coat of arms of the first Archbishop of New York. Click on the image to see more detail.

 

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St Patrick’s Cathedral, New York Photo Credit: Margot St. Aubin :: I release this  FDL.

[above] This is a view of the sanctuary from the front door, angled in favor of showing off the magnificent French High Gothic ceiling. The golden structure in the distance is the Holy of Holies, where the altar and tabernacle reside. The dark T shaped structure on the right is the ambo, an elevated shelter where the priest stands to give his homily. These were used in the days before microphones to project the priest’s voice so everybody in a large space could hear. Contrary to popular opinion, people cared about the congregation getting something out of the mass well before Vatican II came about.

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St Patrick’s Cathedral, Sanctuary shot.New York Photo Credit: Margot St. Aubin :: I release this with a FDL.

[above] This is a clearer picture of the sanctuary itself. Clearly, mass is being said, which limits my options in terms of approach and angle.

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Photo:: Declan Finn Released into Public Domain

[above] Here’s a closeup of the ambo.  The candelabra is really gorgeous, too.

 

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Photo: Declan Finn License: PPD

[above] Here’s a side view of the altar. Green fabric, the gold framework, and the candles…  Also is a nice canopy shot. Look at the filigree in both the wood and the gold.  You can see how it ties into the Celtic knotwork in [#1b below], too.

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Photo:: Declan Finn License:: Public Domain

#1b⇑

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Photo:: Declan Finn License:: Public Domain

#2b⇑

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Photo:: Declan Finn License:: Public Domain

#3b⇑
[above, #3a]  Another view from the altar, to the rose window, where the organ is. The beautiful blue window cascaded blue light over us.

[above, #3b] Now we turn our attention to the floor. I wish I could have asked everyone else to leave so I could have better displayed how gorgeous the floors are in here. This is a sample near the altar. Uh, I think it was built by and for the Irish… but I’m not sure… 😛

[above, #3b] I found this in the photo compilation of my companion on our trip here. I don’t remember him taking this one, probably because I was “high on architecture.”  Yep, that is an official architecture rush.

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Photo credit: Declan Finn ; License Public Domain

 

[above] The church was full of gorgeous detail to admire for those paying attention. Stuff like this doesn’t need to be there, but it certainly points to the devotion and artistry of those who designed and built this place.

There are a lot of beautiful churches that make a nice facade that otherwise are not reinforced by robust construction and layered attention to detail in their function.  This is a church that will be admired and looked to for thousands of years for “how you build a structure dedicated to a purpose.”

People keep telling me how elitist it is to have beautiful churches.

I say, “No. This was built for everyone, not the just the church. For most people throughout history, this was the only palatial structure that a person of any station could just walk into and take a rest, pray, and ask for a priest. Yes, even in the middle of the night.”  For hundreds if not thousands of years, the official position was that a church never locked it’s doors. Period.

And that is how it should be. Our hard and modern hearts make allowances for locks and whatnot today, but even in eras more dangerous than our own, it was the last refuge for the lost.

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Ramon Casas i Carbó [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Sunday Shrine Bumped to Monday

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Photo credit:: Declan Finn License: PPD :Margot Gawking…

This is a preview for the really awesome Sunday Shrine post that will be coming to you… tomorrow. Because it’s late, and I’m tired, and Sunday Shrine deserves to be done well.

Take a wild guess what site I’m going to post about.
Hint: Many of the photos I took live. Others were contributed by a fond admirer who is clearly a better shot than I am.

At any rate, I promise pretty pictures.

Soon. Very soon.

The Special Hell

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I found another category of “specially damned” individuals rampant in modern times. All those people who morph the faces of their friends or famous people (who can tell) on classic paintings. If that weren’t bad enough, they share them to the point it uselessly pollutes Google image search with the world’s most wretched and ugly Photoshop.

For goodness sake, what did Velasquez ever do to you?!  Just search for Velasquez if you really want your eyes to bleed.

OK, Fine. This is by far the best of the lot. It’s even funny.

So I guess sentence reduced to eating desert first and purgatorial probation.

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Behind the Moon Door: Part 14

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“You can’t have it.”

I blinked. His voice was sharp, when it had been so reasonable before. I opened my eyes to see if he was still the same man. I folded my arms and narrowed my eyes. I tried to read him– mostly as an experiment. The emotional equivalent of static burned my nerves, even causing physical pain. I willed the chaos to end. All was quiet, but I realized my new found senses were blocked. I sighed. Trajan looked like he’d just swatted away an annoying insect.
“Why? Need a fancy trinket for your collection?” I asked out of nowhere.
He flinched and his eyes narrowed, though his face was as bland and pleasant like vanilla pudding. The beard did not help.

“For your sake. For the sake of the universe I’m sworn to protect.” His voice had gotten a bit deeper like crunching gravel. Despite this shift I knew it to be true.

“I’m not just some damsel in trouble.” I snapped, exasperated.

“You are that, and you carry a weapon you do not understand. My lady, I don’t’ understand it. As a wizard that makes me highly uncomfortable.”

“I need more than that. The wizardly “because I said so” is not helping”

Because it is inimical to life– especially yours.. For another thing, your powers are rogue. We don’t’ know what would happen. As for walking the labyrinth, you are but a child. That… process quails– and kills — wizards more powerful than I. A slip of a girl like you with Deep reality changing magics? You could destroy the natural order, including this place you love so much.”

I frowned and flopped back on the ugly brown flowered couch in the apartment just over the carriage house. He would not come into the house proper, and wasn’t especially clear on why. My head was still bandaged, and hurt. The lights were low, but the wizard seemed to glow of his own subtle radiance. I leaned my head against the curved edge of the couch, squinted and looked away.

I stared at the strange yet humorously antique looking painting of what looked like a Sargent– if he’d ever painted one of his lovely brassy sea going vessels being attacked by a Kraken. I hadn’t noticed the strange disk shaped UFO figure in the clouds before. I wanted to laugh, but the hole in my heart was already aching too hard. The wound ached, seeming to suck all the hope out of my heart.

I pulled myself together and looked back.

“The drow said…”

“And why on earth did you believe her? The Drow have their own agendas, and it is not often you can trust them. The last time the Summer and Winter court worked together doesn’t bear thinking about. Trust me. I was young then, but I was there.”

“Did you or anyone else hear what she said?! I read her. She was speaking the truth. I could even feel her broken oath. She really wants to work for us now… or anyone who will stop this tihing.”

The wizard sighed. “Yes, we heard her story. She appears to belive every word, and indeed everything she describes, much has already come to pass. things even she does not know. But she still works for Drack. IT may be that she is doing his bidding even as she is fooled into thinking otherwise.”

“I know she hasn’t been tampered with. I can tell.” I said stubbornly.

The wizard cocked his head. “Could you? That is a rare talent. Cosciba had it… long ago. But he has passed in to the depths, and we are poorer for it.” he paused and looked at me pointedly.

“I’m sorry to hear that. But, okay?”

“He was killed by the winter court,” he said, voice low. “The house of Cerese are assassins for the king.”

I shook my head, both filing away the information and shoving aside my feelings about this. I turned to look at him. I knew what she said was true, I knew her version of things were accurate
… but I had no proof. I had to get the wand back. But I didn’t know how to go it when it was imprisoned for my own good.

“But I need to see that wand. Efen just visit it?” I asked.

He shook his head. “It appears we are at an impasse. Anything else before I go?”
“Yeah, okay. I guess.”

The wizard narrowed his eyes as I appeared to concede.

“What were the Rye wars?”

“That was the war over the ownership of the portals to this world. The winter court had a stronger claim, but the Summer court said that no one being should control them. So… we have this modern arrangement.
I blinked. “Which is?”

“Each portal is owned by the currently reighning monarch. In winter, it is the Winter court that controls the gate. in the Summer, it is the Summer court’s gate. In spring and fall, they are owned by no one, so as to satisfy the Summer court.”

“Lilly fought in them. She said I should ask you.”

“Lilly is the only Unicorn in that battle– in the whole war– that survived. yes, there are still unicorns, but none of those with ties to your world survived, save her. The rest went deep into the labrynth and haven’t been seen since.”

I was stunned.

“Unicorns were the first birth when the paths between worlds was established. It is their job to steward the magics of earth”

“That’s gotta be big job for one unicorn.” I said.

“Lilly tells me there are those who never fought, who stayed on Earth, who renounced Arcadia for attempting an invasion. But no tales of their works have come across into Arcadia– or even to the In Between. Lilly doesn’t even talk to me about them.”

I I shook my head. “My brain hurts.” I begged.

The wizard smiled, warm despite the words. “Do not attempt to read my thoughts. Blocking such is the first thing a wizard learns.”

I sighed. “you are exasperating.” I said.

“One could argue that is my job.”

I closed my eyelids, feeling their weight like irresistible gravity. Before long a blaze of light turned my inner darkness red. By the time I blinked my eyes open again, he was gone.

The lights were off and a light blanket I did not recognize was draped across my body. Though now it was night, and the porch light was on. I heard someone banging around in the kitchen.
I suddenly realized I had to feed the animals.. hours ago. Fortunately, most of the entourage that didn’t use the attic literboxes were already outside or paddocked. I still managed to fall on the floor instead of slip gracefully out of my impromptu bed.

Patrick appeared with a flashlight. He was even handsome in the half light.

“You shouldn’t be trying to move too quickly.” he advised. “Remember you have a concussion. Don’t worry about the animals, Grace. I took care of them that the help didn’t already tend.”
Hello Kitty slinked past Patrick and lept onto the edge of the couch arm rest. She sat regaly on the edge, tilted her head and looked at my pitifully. Then dangled her tail down just past my reach. I tried to grab it, and she yanked it away. She turned away haughtily, then turned back towards me, leaping to the cushion next to my head. There she crouched, as if to say, “you need someone to keep an eye on you.” In her crouch she looked very intent, but still at rest, with all four paws tucked under her body, like a white puddle. She was part Japanese bobtail, with the white coloring and a couple of black spots on her flank, but she actually had tail intact. The last third of it was black. But her face was more apple than wedge, and her body was rounder and her fur was denser. She had one yellowy green eye, and one deep blue eye, which in the wrong light made her look like a pirate. Her delicate pink collar with a bow competed the picture.

She watched me with incredulity as I attempted to get back on the couch. Patrick actually picked me up and carried me back to the couch, taking a bit longer than was strictly speaking necessary. I’m not skinny by any stretch, but I’m not fat, either. Just… a bit curvy in places. Mom would nag me into oblivion if I turned out like her sister Joelle. But I’m not light as a feather either. He seemed to have no trouble at all hefting me to chest height and swinging me over my sprawling distance from the couch. He set me down gently next to hello kitty, without disturbing her. Once it was clear I wasn’t moving, she padded closer, purred and nudged me with her pink nose.

“If you’d take care of yourself, I wouldn’t have to.” he said, but didn’t sound particularly displeased by it. My heart was screaming something, but I was too tired to hear. I drifted off while Patrick was still smiling.

Gata blanca con ojos de distinto color

Gata blanca con ojos de distinto color

Announcement

By Jaume Meneses (Flickr: Barris – Gòtic) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Turns out my hubby has cancer. It’s not the worst form of cancer, and it’s not a death sentence. But it’s going to be a real challenge.

That’s why I’ve been gone for a few days.

So…

I will do my best.

Thankfully, “Random File” got me something interesting, as you see above. I really like the cherubim and the scalloped detailing on this facade.  Then again, it is Baroque architecture in Barcelona. Can’t get much better than that!

Music: That Terrible Freedom

The song is actually called “Trial by Fire” by a ThouShaltNot… not to be confused with “Through Fire”..a forthcoming novel by Sarah Hoyt.  I do have to wonder if this song inspired her… for various reasons.

My musings lead me to wonder what Ariel’s life was like after he was released by Prospero.  One of my many story ideas is about what happens when a magicians apprentice is loosed on the world after his master died.  Because the Green Angel Tower series pissed me off that much.  But I can’t say that Tad Williams didn’t warn me.

But it may be why so many young people seem terrified of freedom. If you are coddled and protected all your life, and have no freedom at all– it eventually becomes threatening. It evolves into a spectral variation on Fear of the Unknown.

It doesn’t help that they are trained from birth to know that power over others is more valuable than personal freedom– while being taught they believe otherwise.

But do you trust freedom that was designed by people you don’t even understand?  But if you don’t know the unintended consequences (and these poor children don’t even know they exist, apparently), how can you know that what you design yourself through will gives you what you really want?

 

 

Age of Ultron, the review

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So I went with some friends to see Avengers. We went full hog and saw it in 3D with excellent front and center seats. The screen curved around our location… so I had an optimal view of the action.

Yes, I have good friends.

Unlike most Hollywood ventures, I went in with high expectations. The original was a truly excellent movie. And so is about everything that Joss has set his stamp on in the Marvel franchise. As a matter of fact, everything the Marvel studio has put forward has an enviable track record for quality storytelling. There has been some sideline noise and nonsense that will be addressed on, but I’m mostly focusing on the work itself.

The first scene drew me in with a sense of deja vu, yet tinged with tension. Yes, we’ve seen this set before in previous movies, but there was more. The fight scenes were… different. I don’t know how someone watching this on a conventional screen would see it, but there was a fourth dimension to battle that I hadn’t noticed before. It stirred older memories, those of me reading this very sequence in the comics as a child. He’d captured them so well the panels they were based on flickered in my brain. The fight scenes were as punchy, smooth and vivid as if I’d imagined them. This is the best use of 3D technology I have ever seen. There was no color bleed, there was no gratuitous projectiles grazing the audience. Never the less, you felt a part of the action. Granted, I had the front and center seats of platonic ideal, but even in the back the framing was so perfect it was seamless.

Right away we introduce two new characters, and with a stab of your heart you realize they are villains. Yet you want to like them, you want to identify with them, even as they side with Hydra–, that is, nifty Nazi analogues. For a while I thought it was because of my fondness for Eastern Europeans, especially Croatians, but it was also the deft way the characters were defined through the way they used their abilities in the fight scenes themselves. Quicksilver and The Red Witch are fun both to watch both as an audience member and from the writer’s perspective, so much potential for harm, and trouble.

These storytelling assets were used powerfully throughout, and with deep seated plot based consequences. This is a bold, refreshing move. With mind altering characters, they most often come off as cosmetic, a bald excuse for character development that skims the surface of the plot, or as a diversion. Any similarity between a red herring and the Red Witch is entirely coincidental.

And this is not just the usual “beginning fight scene to whet your appetite and draw you in” either. This is a setup for a twist of the knife that directs the thrust of the entire rest of the film.

Because our mind meddling witch twists the perceptions of all of our heroes, and curses them with premonitions that reveal their darkest fears. The tone is prophetic. The results are devastating.

Stark is racked by self doubt, a convincing reversal of his cocky nature. Because of that nature, his introspection powers are… crippled.

Though Bruce Banner is stronger with introspection, he literally becomes his fears and destroys a neighborhood– and a building. Stark –with all his resources — can only stop him by literally dropping a skyscraper on him. I know you are screaming about spoilers at this point– but seeing how he does it is the real payoff. Trust me.
Stark taps on the fourth wall by proclaiming themselves mad scientists, and furthers his journey into dubious territory, by building the solution to “all our problems”… and quotes the great Quisling proclaiming “Peace in Our Time”. Those scare quotes should be scary. These troubling words echo the peace treaty undermined by Adolf Hitler. Funny how comic books are more culturally literate, yet tell better stories than many ‘sophisticated’ arthouse efforts.

The secret: Joss hasn’t forgotten that strong characters have to overcome difficult circumstances. They have to move past thwarted hopes, broken dreams, and tear free from some serious shit. The development of Black Widow through out the film, happily spurred on by meddling courtesy of the Red Witch. Her addition to the mosaic is a dark lace throughout the film. The flashes and implications of her history make La Femme Nikita – or even Dark Angel — look like a jaunt through happy land.

The effect on Captain America is subtle, but has strong implications for later movies. He becomes more introspective, less receptive to friendship from his compatriots, and gives up hope on ever finding love. Yet this is subtle background to the “Empire Strikes Back” of the Avengers canon. Like the original Empire, it is even better than the first film. Yet the film owes it’s stunning success to the effective build up from it’s predecessor.

We could not understand the mayhem or it’s consequences, or even the dramatic shift in Stark’s character– had we not had the previous movies giving us a clear picture of the limits of his introspection. The companionable bonding between him and Dr Hulk makes no sense without the tension they fought through earlier in series. Even Black Widow’s apparent insanity– falling for Hulk– is a dramatic non-sequitur had we not seen her flirting with Captain America. Indeed, it doesn’t make sense until we start thinking about the effect of her nightmare journey through her past, and remembering the path she was denied.

Though these choices, we start seeing the character of the Red Witch in stark relief, as a wounded shadow in the background of every hero. Between this and her playful banter with her beloved brother Quick Silver, we know she is not only likable, but disturbed. And this carries through to the end game, where we see her innate fragility that allows her to sniff out weakness behind the toughest exterior. Look out for the scene where we see a brilliant stroke from the only hero she did not damage– that affects her deeply, likely for movies to come.

For all that it is a wide ranging ensemble piece, Joss is very good at ensembles. This is tightly written, and not a single detail goes unused throughout. I haven’t even started on the movie’s namesake… who, as mostly a voice and a rendered CGI figure, whose skillful delivery and clever dialogue would have stolen the show in a lesser film. Though he did get close more than once. You won’t find a stereotypical, emotionless AI here. He is snarky, alternating hot and cold in stunning vivid fashion.

Even through crippling and betrayal, he manages to score one last gambit.

Despite plenty of foreshadowing it comes as a surprise. It gives plenty of scope for both kicking ass and heroics– and is utilized to it’s fullest. They do things that they would have only hinted at in any other film. The final fight scenes have the same 3D quality to them as the beginning, except on a grand scale. The action is so fast you are afraid to blink, lest you miss something. Each and every detail pulls you closer to a satisfying finish.

There is a bit of a hint at the end of the film, that I’m afraid only comic book nerds would get the reference… and I’m not one of those nerds. I did not follow the whole Marvel opus closely, and my access was sporadic at best.

One last bit I’d like to highlight is the development that goes into Hawkeye, that comes as a great surprise, even to fans of the comic books. Well, I hate to destroy the surprise, but, well, let’s just say you see him in his home environment. Had the timing been better, I would have snarked that Joss’s choices hinged on the popularity of American Sniper. Yet… it couldn’t have. The timing on production is literally impossible for this to be true. No, it is just Joss’s innate knowledge of character chemistry and delivering exactly what our pot of heroes needs to function. That is, a leader, someone who knows what they were fighting for, and came home to it when work lets him. You see that leadership shine in several beautiful and unexpected moments, but it is never contrived, or spelled out in a definitive scene. Also look for a surprising but pleasing quote from one of the greatest unsung feminine heroes in American History, Abigail Adams. Joss’ degree in Women’s studies has some meat.

The last thing to mention was the eminently likable scientist, and her girl crush on Thor, and how you desperately hope she’ll come back in a different film. She played a small but vital role in the mosaic. It would not hold together without it.

Oh, and I haven’t seen such great use of parties to build character since True Lies. The sort of drunken games that men and women play are used to great effect, and a surprising cameo leaks some nerdy goodness that refers back to the original comic source. It is even used to pull in some old friends in the form of side kicks, and adds a little tension and humor later on– in the middle of a fight scene.

Stay tuned.

Suffice to say, a cosmic Gauntlet has been thrown.

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Speaking of gauntlets, I guess I have to talk about the Pyrrhic twitter barrage. Update: Not chased.

Joss is so not one of my political compatriots. Yet these women… can’t even wrong properly. Seriously. Why attack and devour one of their own? They call that a win? If they think they scored points in the culture war, well, let’s just say they were engaging in some deliberate friendly fire, just because.

Hell of a way to lose, mon cheri. Godspeed, and enjoy those ashes in your mouth. If this keeps up, those of us in the “leave me alone” contingent won’t have to fire a shot.

I have more to say. Same blog time, same blog topic.