Monday, August 20, 2007

Oedipus Rick

August 20th, 2007

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I was just sick about this.

Patrice was strutting around town, enjoying the deferent attitude that virtually every European was showing towards every African. I just wanted to leave. I didn't know if I even wanted to set up a homing beacon with Patrice here. If it was a choice between certain death and coming back here, death had, at least, a sense of honor to it. I felt like a traitor to every one of those slaves.

But, then, you know, it's not like I'm one of them. Sure, I bear a certain superficial resemblance to them, but I was not of their people. My ancestors had been the ones doing the enslaving, and I had never been a real slave a day in my life. You know?

Like I said before, it's my rationalization. Bite me.

"Now that I've managed to create the perfect African universe, I don't know if I want a homing beacon here, Gabriel." Patrice and I were in our room. I was packed and ready to go, and had arranged the crystal that'd let me find him again if I needed to. He was being his usual pleasant self about it. "You see, there are a lot of other planewalkers out there who might see this universe as a challenge, something else of Africa to be conquered. I don't want them coming here."

"Just take the damn beacon, Patrice." I was getting tired of it. I didn't want to even look around anymore. I just wanted to get someplace where I could feel a little more clean.

"What's wrong with you?"

"The fact that I just helped you crush a rebellion for truth, justice and the American way, probably, Patrice. Now, take the beacon and let me get out of here."

He took the crystal and pocketed it, smiling and laughing at me. "Your problem is that you've got much too soft a heart for this, Gabriel. You've got to learn to be ruthless if you're really going to enjoy planewalking."

"No thanks, man. I'll keep looking for the plane where they all love each other." I turned to the door, about to leave in a righteous huff, but, you know, when you've been walking with somebody for a few years, doing the quest, it gets hard to leave them mad. I turned back to him and stuck out my hand. "Take care of yourself, slavedriver."

He took my hand and pulled me into an embrace. "You, too, you little chauvinist pig." I pried myself away from him, because if I said anything else, there was going to be a lump in my throat, and no way was I going to give the bastard the satisfaction of seeing me cry as I left him. I do have my pride.

I had to sneak out of the city, since I was now an unaccompanied slave. Patrice had handed me some papers in case I was asked what I was doing, but I didn't exactly trust the law in these parts. I didn't think there would be too many penalties for 'accidentally' maiming or killing a slave.

There was a conjunction about a mile outside of Nijima, just down the river, and that would be the hard part. Inside the city, I could plausibly be on an errand for my master; outside, there would be no question that I was trying to escape. I would be taken in and pressed into service with the nearest gang.

And after all I had done for these people.

But, being a planewalker has its advantages, chief among them being access to a much higher level of technology than most of the people you encounter. I made myself invisible and teleported to the general coordinates of the conjunction. I can put myself within about a hundred feet of a conjunction, usually. I wasn't so lucky this time, though, and materialized on the wrong side of the river. I didn't have enough power reserves to teleport again in the dark, so I swam across.

A little travel tip. Never swim across a river that's been used by humans for thousands of years. Running sewer.

I made it to the conjunction without anything else going wrong, and left all those betrayed people behind me. A few days out in the mid-planes was what I needed; time away from all the real people, with just other planewalkers around me. Time to get unattached from the human condition again.

I don't want to sound cold and callused, but you can get into compassion overload if you start to empathize too much with the people you find in the planes. I found a place where everyone was starving; and I mean everyone. There had been a plague on all the crops, and it was only a matter of time before everyone died. I spread around a cure for the crop plague, but it was too late. There wouldn't be crops grown in time to save anyone. The cities were like morgues; the rural areas were a little better, if only because the bodies weren't piled as high.

God, I'm getting morbid in my old age.

But, enough of that kind of stuff, and all you want to do is find your own little paradise and shut out the rest of the multiverse. So, you look for the African world, or The Age of Aquarius, or the Porno Universe. Because you can't save it all, and you'll only make yourself crazy if you try. There was this one guy I knew, he called himself J.C., all he did was move from plane to plane trying to relieve suffering. Whenever you saw him in the mid-planes, all he did was cry. I'm not ending up like that for anybody.

Hope I didn't bring you too far down.

But, that's why I wanted to rest for a while in the mid-planes. It's not easy; there's nothing permanent there, and even a temporary campsite is hard to make. Still, we are an ingenious and inventive sort, and quite a few of us have figured out ways to set down stakes in the shifting sands. There was a very restful place, a sort of tent-spa, that had been established even before I started planewalking, near several popular conjunctions. I was quite a ways from it, but walking the mid-planes is never tiring.

I suppose if you've never seen the places between the universes, it would be a bit disconcerting, and the thought of trying to find anything inside that vast kaleidoscope would be enough to send you back to your own universe. Once you've made it there, though, each little spark of light means something to you, and you learn to recognize how other people look out there. Each conjunction has its own flavor, and the well-worn paths of travel look like highways paved with rainbows. You learn that there are signs pointing everywhere you might want to go, if you can just decipher them.

Then, you learn that those signs are printed in millions of languages, most of which are dead, and very few of which have living interpreters, and you just basically toss a coin whenever you come to a conjunction. Life is rarely the grand drama we hope it'll be; it's more like an improv skit.

What is this that stands before me?
Figure in black which points at me
Turn around quick, and start to run
Find out I'm the chosen one
Oh nooo!

Big black shape with eyes of fire
Telling people their desire
Satan's sitting there, he's smiling
Watches those flames get higher and higher
Oh no, no, please God help me!
Black SabbathIs it the end, my friend?
Satan's coming 'round the bend
people running 'cause they're scared
The people better go and beware!
No, no, please, no!

~ Earth's Lyrics to Black Sabbath - Click to Watch Sample
Black Sabbath
In 2002, during the Osbournes series 1 Ozzy listened to Black Sabbath, the demo studio song from 1969 that his band Earth never released. Geezer Butler had died shortly afterwards and things got a bit weird. In fact things had gotten a bit weird as soon as Ozzy took the witchcraft book around to Geezer's crazy house (Geezer had painted his apartment matte black and placed several inverted crucifixes on the walls.) Ozzy did not sleep very well that night. In fact, he couldn't take his eyes off the foot of the bed. Just in case, you know how it is. The lyrics are available at at Lycos
~ quotation by Co-Historian Steve Payne from Counter-history – You're the Judge!

In 2008, on this day Pappy's Texas Barbecue Chicken, Inc issued a product recall. 50,000 pre-packaged happiness meals had been dispatched in error to franchises throughout the State.

The production recipe had been corrupted due to a code flaw in the Macrosoft Vesta Enterprise Server Edition. As a result, the meals had an unacceptably low content of transfats, salt and sugar. Consequently, this defective product would not necessarily cause obesity.

In his press release, the President of the Company provided sufficient confidence to consumers and investors that corrective action had been taken. “Regrettably, “ said Pappy, “ we have suffered a technical glitch as a result of the Macrosoft product defect. We have recalled all shipments to reassure consumers that we are absolutely committed to obesity. This is a storm in a bucket, that will quickly blow over”.

~ entry by Co-Historian Steve Payne

In 1945, the Japanese conquest of south-east Asia headed towards a dramatic conclusion. The invasion of Australia was well underway, yet Allied resistance was about to deliver a shattering comeback blow.

~ variant from Steve Payne: extensive use of original content has been made to celebrate the author's genius.

In 636, Byzantine forces defeated an Arab Army led by Khalid bin Walid, triumphing at the Battle of Yarmuk. On the critical fourth day, Ikramah bin Abu-Jahal called upon his regiment to take an oath of death. The men refused, and the forces of Abu Ubaidah and Yazeed fell back without the crucial protection they needed. It had been a bloody day on which the Byzantines seized victory.

Considered by some historians to have been one of the most significant battles in the history of the world, the first great wave of Muslim conquests was repelled and Byzantine Empire retained control of Syria and Palestine, a vital buffer zone for the Roman Empire of the West.

~ entry by Co-Historian Steve Payne

In 1969, all four Beatles were together in the recording studio for the final time as they finished the Abbey Road LP. Since the White Album, Eric Clapton had collaborated with the band, playing lead guitar on While My Guitar Gently Weeps. George Harrison stormed out of the studio and was replaced by Clapton. It was a confusing situation, with Clapton obsessed with Harrison's wife Pattie Boyd-Harrison.

~ entry by Co-Historian Steve Payne

In 2002, RM Muleuch published Twelve Legions of Angels. Disgraced Air Marshall Hugh Dowding is offered a unique opportunity by the ghost of Keith Park. To return to 1940 and make a success of Big Wing. However there is a price..

~ variant from Steve Payne: extensive use of original content has been made to celebrate the author's genius.

Castle Bonny
Castle Bonny
In 1943, movie critics gave a varied response to Castle Bonny which premièred the day before on Broadway. The film was directed by Michael Curtiz, and starred Cary Grant as Dick Blaine and Ingrid Bergman as Ilsa Lund. The rekindled romance between Blaine and Lund was set during Great War II in the Nigerian city of ..
.. Port Harcourt, off the Bight of Bonny – then controlled by the Nazi Protectorate of Britain. William Donelley argued that Dick's relationship with Sam is, "a standard case of the repressed homosexuality that underlies most British adventure stories". Harvey Greenberg presented a Freudian reading in which the transgressions which prevent Dick from returning to Britain reveal an Oedipus complex, which is resolved only when Rick begins to identify with the father figure of Laszlo and the cause which he represents.

~ entry by Steve Payne from Counter History in Context - You're the Judge!

In 2007, heterophobic America was convinced of the truth of revelations made on the third and final episode of the documentary “All the President's women”. An avalanche of allegations regarding womanising were presenting regard 35th President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Surveys by the networks after the show revealed .. John F Kennedy
John F Kennedy
.. that over 50% of Americans believed that “most Presidents had had an affair with a woman during their time of office”. More revealingly, only 30% believed that heterosexuals should be allowed in the military.

~ entry by Steve Payne from Counter History in Context - You're the Judge!

In 1914, German High Command briefed Kaiser Wilhelm II on the proposed modifications to the Schlieffen Plan that would be necessitated by a two-front war. “Of course,” said Helmuth von Moltke “ we will need to steal troops from the right wing”. The proposal is rejected by a startled Kaiser, who cables his cousin ..
.. Tsar Nicholas II to offer final status terms including the return of eastern European territories to the Russias.

~ entry by Steve Payne from Counter History in Context - You're the Judge!

In 1976, following the censorship of
Roots: The Saga of an American Family”, comedian Richard Pryor lampooned the statements of President George Wallace, African-American Anthology editor Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and the author himself, Alex Haley. Appearing on the Tonight Show, Johnny Carson asked Pryor to comment ..
Richard Pryor
Richard Pryor
.. on the controversy, to which he replied “You can put a cat in an oven, but that don't make it a biscuit”. Carson was somewhat confused by these words of wisdom.

~ entry by Steve Payne from Counter History in Context - You're the Judge!

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