Whiterun Entrepreneurs Murdered in Vampire Attack

Tragedy in Whiterun. Vampires attacked this jewel of the province late last night, and as the sun rose today, local business owners Adrianne Avenicci and Belethor were found dead at the city gates.

The Jarl’s guards report that the two both fought bravely to defend their neighbors. This was particularly surprising of Belethor.

The motivations of the marauding vampires are as yet unknown, as all three attackers were eventually dispatched by Whiterun’s guards, with the help of local adventurers Renaxula of Morrowind and Zora Fair-Child of Riverwood.

A blacksmith by trade whose work rivaled that of Eorlun Gray-Mane, Adrianne was of course also the daughter of Proventus Avenicci, chief advisor to Jarl Balgruuf, and reportedly served as an informal “advisor to the advisor.”

Adrianne’s grieving husband, Ulfberth War-Bear, is putting on a brave face as he carries on running Warmaiden’s—the blacksmith’s shop he owned with his wife—maintaining his usual friendly manner and masking the crippling sadness he is no doubt enduring.

Halldis, Adrianne’s apprentice, says she will do her best to assist Ulfberth with running the business.

Ysolda, a local merchant of Whiterun studying Khajiiti economic theory, will reportedly take over Belethor’s General Goods, and it is said she has no plans to change the shop’s name.

Though neither were native to Skyrim (Adrianne hails from Cyrodiil and Belethor from High Rock), it is widely believed by those who knew them best that both Adrianne and Belethor are drinking and feasting with other fallen Nord heroes in Sovngarde.

Like a sore thumb

“Jut”

An original song, written and performed by me, Paul.


Lyrics:

Back when I was lonely oh I could not comprehend
Why my species had decided that I was not one of them
Got my diagnosis and I wrestled with my pain
I made friends with my weirdness, now I’m lonely just the same

But perhaps I only serve as a reminder of the truth
That not everyone is beautiful or revels in their youth
And while no one will admit it we all feel it in our guts
That while all the pieces fit so nicely
All I do is jut

I don’t know who to talk to and I don’t know who to trust
Though I’ve tried to imitate the moves the TV said I must
The glow from my small candle tells the world what I’m about
But its light reflects and redirects to something sticking out

Now I try to take into account my old proclivity
To presume that anybody’s given any thought to me
And I know that to all thoughts of hope my mind has long since shut
But that filthy fucking fact remains that
All I do is jut

Like a sore thumb

Now I’m a tolerable person, by now I’m sure you’ve found
And you can have a beer with me when there’s no one else around
But I will understand it when your real friends arrive
If you excuse yourself politely and pretend I’m not alive

I could be a great companion, and a true friend to you all
But no one responds to questions or will answer when I call
Oh how much I’d love to reach out and pull myself out of this rut
But your averted gaze confirms that
All I do is jut

Like a sore thumb

Phrases as frenetic as a moth’s flight

“Irregular Heart”

An original song, written and performed by me, Paul.


Lyrics:

Nearsight unseen
Our vitals had been phoned in
When you chose me and I chose you

Tonight it seems
I’m down to my last moment
Before this dream
Resolves into a dew

Negotiating terms in our parlay
You’ve taken all my crimes into account
I strain my ears in hopes I’ll hear you say
You’ll measure out our days by keeping count
By the beat of my irregular heart

A swarm of souls
But you stand out like a statue
It’s hard to spot the cracks within the stone

The storm, it swells
But I’m too small to catch you
And now you lie in pieces there alone

But I am here to make it all okay
Your fragments I will bring in from the cold
And when you’re reassembled, will you stay?
You’re not the same, at least now you are whole
With my irregular heart

The time signature is wrong
Maestro breaks his baton
Phrases as frenetic as a moth’s flight

The pattern’s hard to see
But soft, and listen patiently
To a love so true
That you
Could set your watch by

You caught me flinch
When you were standing right here
The kind of clue you prayed you’d never see

You took an inch
But I offered you a light-year
You’ll be damned before you let me in that deep

I know you don’t want me to get this way
But I sense your affections moving on
I must believe this love is still in play
It’s your heartbeat that makes this sound a song
With my irregular heart

28 Lines of Verse for “Legends of Tomorrow”

Image: The CW

I wrote a sonnet about a TV show that’s been on for a while.

I have really been enjoying the “Arrowverse” shows, Arrow, The Flash, and Supergirl. They’re so much fun, in large part because they so gleefully embrace their inherent silliness and absurdity.

I‘m hoping to get fully caught up with all of the shows in that universe before I watch the big Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover event, so I was overdue to get started on Legends of Tomorrow, which debuted in 2016. So I watched the two-part pilot.

And it’s pretty dopey. I may or may not trudge through the whole series, but the pilot was definitely rougher than the shows off of which it is spun. Maybe it’ll get better.

I was looking for an excuse to write a sonnet. And I thought it would be fun to pick a subject that wasn’t all that important. And “Legends of Tomorrow” fits so well into a line of iambic pentameter. Although, it turns out I didn’t actually use the title in the actual sonnet, but NO MATTER.

Here you go. A two-part, non-rhyming sonnet. About a TV pilot. About superheroes. You’re welcome.


Let’s put aside the fact that Snart and Mick
Are not endowed with any superpowers;
But only have the fancy guns they stole
From heroes on another show. The team
To which they’ve been conscripted has been told
By some time-hopping malcontent that none
Of them have value on their own, and must
Abscond into the past to thwart the plans
Of some immortal fascist demigod
Before he murders billions decades hence.
It’s only then that these fantastically
Empower’d also-rans will find a sense
Of worth. I think that’s just a bit absurd.

There’s Ray, a supergenius billionaire
Who built a suit combining powers of Mans
Both Iron and Ant. The odd couple that forms
Into a human conflagration? Holy crap!
The oft-respawning duo with the wings
Would seem to me to be a pretty damn
Big deal. And Sarah Lance! She once was dead!
And now she’s not! And smashing many heads.
It takes a special kind of asshole to convince
These Legends that they’re both of no import
Yet also indispensable. Come on.
I simply can’t believe how easily they’re duped.
(And what was up with Martin drugging Jax?)
They’d have been fine if they had just stayed put.


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Aspiring to Ordinary

I grew up under a strange and rather painful contradiction. Those who loved me told me I was special, that I had greatness in me. My peers told me I was garbage, that I was beneath them. As a result, I spent a lot of energy just trying to pass as ordinary, hoping that my latent greatness would get its chance to shine later on.

I guess I’m still doing that, except now it’s with the awareness that there’s a lot less “later on” left, and coming to terms with the possibility that the greatness is really more like “just-okay-ness.”

Devin Kelly writes:

Think of how young you were when you first thought you had to be the hero of your own story. I must have been barely older than a baby. My father called me maverick. It made me feel like a rebel. I wanted to be a star. I had to win at all costs. And yet: when was the last time anyone ever told a man to be ordinary? Think of the difference that would make, to begin to dismantle our need to be heroes, to finish things, to consider ourselves defined by accomplishment…

While no one is encouraged explicitly to be ordinary, it’s pretty obviously and vigorously implied. But I do not think we are ever encouraged to be extra-ordinary. We are told to excel, to achieve, to be great. Great, but not different. Be the same as everyone else, but be better at it.

What if you’re decidedly extraordinary, as in un-ordinary, but not quite great? Oddness can be forgiven if it comes with a superpower. You can be weird, sub-ordinary, if you truly excel at something. But not if you’re “just okay” at a few things.

Those of us who are weird and just-okay at things can be envious of the ordinary. Astounding no one, but not disappointing anyone either.

No one should feel pressured to be ordinary. But nor should anyone feel like a failure for not being great. What we should encourage in others, and aspire to for ourselves, is to be at peace with who we already are, and utterly free to discover what we might be.

We may discover more ordinariness. We may discover greatness. We may discover flaws and deficits. But whatever we find, we should be free to feel we are enough.

160,000

There were more than 160,000 new coronavirus cases today in the United States. In the span of 24 hours, a number of people equal to the population of Alexandria, Virginia were revealed to be infected. Yesterday, they hadn’t been counted yet. These cases, all 160,000-plus, are new today.

Tomorrow, there will probably be just as many new cases, if not more. These will all be from people who already have it, whether they know it or not, but will be counted anew tomorrow. We don’t know how it will compare to today, but it’s a safe bet that it’ll be another Alexandria, more or less. In one day.

What the hell is going on? What are people doing? I know there are more than enough deniers and reckless people who simply don’t care to keep this disease spreading. I get that people are being idiots and refusing to take basic precautions, having close indoor gatherings even when they know they shouldn’t. But 160,000 new cases in just one day?

Are people just getting together and hocking mucous-globs into each other’s mouths? Are people going around in public licking doorknobs and other people’s faces? Is there an explosion of meetings where thousands of people get together for casual, serial French kissing with arbitrary partners?

I get that we in the United States are screwing up this pandemic, I really do. But how can it be this bad?

And at what point does it become inevitable that we’re all going to get it? Are we already there?

Homepage Hopping at the End of Democracy: How Are News Sites Presenting Trump’s Coup Attempt?

I have a bad habit. When big, anxiety-producing events are taking place (and they always are now), I hop around to different news sites’ homepages to see how they are characterizing the situation. My guts are in a constant, immovable clench as I doomscroll and site-hop for any new development.

Here’s what CNN’s homepage presented its readers this morning:

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“Akin to a dictatorship”! That should wake people up, right?

You see, it’s not just news I’m looking for. I’m trying to get a sense of how the major news organizations are presenting the story to their audiences. Republicans are trying to overturn democracy, and I’m hoping that our news outlets are making that clear, right away, without normalizing or both-sidesing.

CNN’s headline, while horrifying, at least told me that a mainstay institution of American news was getting the point across.

But then I remembered that most folks don’t go to news websites directly. Regular people who aren’t obsessed with this stuff don’t constantly refresh the front pages of the Washington Post or the New York Times. If they’re not just getting everything through social media, a lot of them are just opening their browsers and seeing whatever was already set as their default homepage. So how are they covering the coup?

It’s not as reassuring.

Here’s Yahoo News.

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It acknowledges the issue, but it’s framed as an ongoing contest, not a power-grab. Trump has a “new weapon” and insists he didn’t lose. Biden isn’t concerned. Yes, well, I am concerned.

Look further down the page, and what do they choose to highlight? Biden’s mask mandate idea and how he can’t actually enforce it. So right away we get “Trump says he didn’t lose” and “Biden can’t make you wear a mask.” Not encouraging!

Aol.com’s homepage, which is still Yahoo content, at least begins with “State election reports defy Trump’s baseless claims.”

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There’s also MSN, which is where millions of Edge and Internet Explorer users will get their first dose of news, and there’s no mention of the coup at the top, but some everything-is-normal coverage of a presidential transition, a little tiny dose of paranoia about Trump’s border wall, and something about the guy who played Ron in the Harry Potter movies.

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You get the point. While CNN—correctly, I think—presents the coup as the emergency it is, the news outlets that most regular people will probably get their information from are a mixed bag.

ABC News and NBC News both take the coup more seriously on their respective homepages. ABC gives context to Trump’s bullshit by showing that he always does this (as well as featuring the news of the recanted claims of voter fraud by a postal worker). NBC highlights the personnel massacre at the Pentagon, along with other problems caused by Trump’s recalcitrance. (Plus, further down there’s stuff about how great Stacy Abrams is.)

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CBS News’s homepage is formatted differently, highlighting whatever they’re talking about on CBSN, which, I assume, nobody watches (I could be wrong). But what did I see when I popped that URL into my browser? BALLOT PROBLEMS!!!

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Yes, it’s Puerto Rico. Now, you and I know that Puerto Rico doesn’t vote in the presidential election (and we also know that this is morally wrong). Regardless, any big-splash story about BALLOT PROBLEMZZZ only serves to feed the existing false narrative of a rigged election.

I was also none too pleased to see USA Today’s homepage, which seems to be stoking a lot of small fires without committing to one conflagration.

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The CDC is stumbling. The lieutenant governor of Texas is offering a bounty for evidence of election fraud. Trump “shakes up” Pentagon leadership. It’s not at all clear that these things are all part of One Unified Crazy.

Then I had to look at Fox News, because I am sure plenty of folks do make a beeline to that homepage for their dose of indoctrination. And it was not exactly what I expected.

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There’s Fox News calling Biden the president-elect right in its top headline! The propaganda arm of the GOP is saying, yes, this guy is your president-to-be, folks. As weirdly assuring as that is, it’s heavily saturated with reasons to be afraid of this new administration. “Controversial names”!!!

I mean look at those people hovering over Biden’s shoulders like a quartet of devils! There’s that crazy socialist lady Elizabeth Warren! There’s a Black lady right next to her! On the other side of Joe’s head is a Black guy! AND THEN ANOTHER WOMAN. CONTROVERSIAL!!! PERSONNEL IS POLICY!!!

As gross as Fox News is being, it almost feels like a return to normal…where normal isn’t very good to begin with.


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