that which confines us


Pulse Percussion 2014: That Which Confines Us

WGI World Champions. Multi-Cam run of finals.

Enjoy and remember, everything is possible, you just have to keep trying.

Y’know what I would love, in terms of “waking F(r*)itz up”…

He points the gun at Jemma - or at someone else, but she probably steps in the way, because if anyone can get to him, she can,

and he’s about to lose his shit because seriously who ARE you and WHY won’t anyone tell me what is going on and WHO THE HELL ARE YOU

and Jemma contemplates an impassioned plea for him to remember her because they love each other across time and the cosmos can suck it or whatever, but then she thinks about it…

because the others, May and Coulson and Mack if they get him by that point… they’re not remembering who they actually literally are, they haven’t really remembered their actual lives (although Coulson has a bit), it’s more like they’ve remembered their true natures and how they would really make decisions, and they’re using that nature to resist the confines in which they’ve been put

so when Fritz says “Who are you?”

Jemma says

“It doesn’t matter. Forget about me, forget about what I said before, forget what anyone has told you that you are. What do you think? What do you feel?”

and he has always been told ‘don’t think that’ ‘don’t feel that’ so this is probably a weird sensation for him but he can’t help but wonder

and he looks down the barrel of the gun at this woman, pleading for his soul, pleading for the lives of her friends, showing loyalty and compassion and selflessness that he’s always been raised to believe are weak. he could shoot her. he could kill her. yet she is standing there. is that weakness? is it foolishness? or is it strength?

and he hears that voice, not his father’s voice, not Ophelia’s, but his own. ‘what if I didn’t have to do that?’ and all the other questions he’s ever asked, especially those he asked last time he was in this situation, last time he took the killing path

because he already knows this is wrong

and maybe it takes Jemma to highlight that

it’s not about her and it’s not about them

but she gives him space to act out his true nature in a world of people who have been trying to control him and even though our Fitz, real-world Fitz, doesn’t come through (because that’s not what’s been happening) his soul does and his heart does

and Fritz lowers the gun


∎∎∎ Sasuke lives with Sakura in the weeks after the war.




She couldn’t believe it.


Shizune laughed. “Who else?”

“You,” Sakura blurted out. “I mean, Shizune-senpai, you were the head of the medical division! Not to mention my senior—”

"I think you’ve more than proven yourself, Sakura,” Shizune said. A proud smile adorned her features. “Since Tsunade-sama is swamped with the aftermath of the war, there is no one but you with the skill to run the hospital. On this, Tsunade and myself are agreed.”

Sakura lowered her head. “I don’t know what to say.”

“There’s nothing to say.” Tonton snorted from her place in Shizune’s arms, prompting laughter from both kunoichi. “Just don’t disappoint us!”

Sakura straightened, raising her head in playful defiance. “As if I ever could.”

And just like that, the pace of Sakura’s life changed in the aftermath of the war.

Keep reading

What Aquarius has in common with the signs

Aries: Both are original thinkers who don’t like to fit the mold. Both are very extroverted and good at making friends and socialising. Both scorn romance and cutesy displays of affection.

Taurus: Both like to get their way and have some measure of control. Both are intellectual people who adore learning and communicating. Both enjoy platonic relationships with friends.

Gemini: Both are highly intellectual and love a good discussion or debate. Both are brilliant thinkers who are always coming up with new ideas. Both dislike emotional or romantic commitments.

Cancer: Both are deep and philosophical thinkers. Both are humanitarians who care a lot about others. Both are adept at hiding their emotions and save them up only for them to explode outwards one terrible day.

Leo: Both are extroverted people with a talent for making friends. Both hate to be bored and always like to be doing something, no matter what it is. Both hold true to their beliefs and are very stubborn at times.

Virgo: Both are highly intellectual people and brilliant thinkers. Both can act in a cold, aloof manner at times. Both have a strong connection to and love of modernity and technology.

Libra: Both can be very aloof. Both are sociable butterflies who have to hold back parts of themselves to be those people. Both have intellectual qualities and are good at understanding new things.

Scorpio: Both scorn emotional and romantic connections on the surface. Both are intelligent and good liars. Both like to be in control and feel uncomfortable if they must relinquish this power to another party.

Sagittarius: Both are extroverted and really great at making friends. Both love breaking the mold. Both dislike being tied down by emotional and romantic commitments and prefer to further themselves intellectually.

Capricorn: Both have an understanding of society and the ways in which it confines and changes us. Both appear quite aloof and dislike opening up. Both are very focussed and intelligent people.

Pisces: Both are eccentric, idealistic and humanitarian people. Both see themselves as transcending societal barriers. Both are allocentric and try not to put their personal interests first.

Babesia outbreak in UK dogs

As many of you are probably aware, over the past few weeks there has been an outbreak of babesiosis in the UK. I thought I’d make a quick post on what Babesia is and what it’s doing.

Babesia are parasites known as ‘protozoa’. These are single celled eukaryotic organisms. Babesia belong to a group of blood-bourne, tick transmitted protozoa known as piroplasms. Their life cycle consists of asexual and sexual multiplication within ticks. This can occur in the tick’s ovaries meaning the parasite enters the next generation of ticks causing a rapid spread. When the tick feeds, it transfers the parasite to the blood of the dog where it multiplies asexually in red blood cells forming two or four daughter cells that can be seen diagnostically in a blood smear with special stains. These daughter cells can disrupt the red blood cells, causing them to burst as the dog’s immune system tries to destroy the parasite. There are a variety of species, some being described as ‘small’ and others ‘large’ depending on the cell size. Some species are non-pathogenic, such as the large Babesia major, which may routinely be found in cattle blood smears without a worry. Others are pathogenic, such as Babesia divergens seen in cattle in the UK. This causes what is known as ‘red water fever’ as the bursting red blood cells result in haemoglobin in the urea.

The species of Babesia found to be responsible for the recent UK outbreak in dogs is the large Babesia canis. The tick vector is a tick known as Dermacantor which used to be confined to warmer parts of southern Europe and is rare in the UK. A variety of factors such as relaxations in the Pet Travel Scheme rules for treating dogs for ticks before they enter the UK, along with our mild winter allowing more ticks to survive, could be to blame for the outbreak.

Signs of a Babesia infection include weakness, lethargy, red urine, pale gums, fever and vomiting.

Reading reports from the 16th of March 2016, it appears that the outbreak was found in Essex, with 2 dogs dying from the parasitic infection and another three needing blood transfusions. None of these dogs had ever travelled outside the UK.

Babesia infections can cause immunity within the host relatively quickly. Cattle living in areas where the disease in endemic rarely show signs of disease as constant re-infection boosts their immunity. Here in the UK Babesia canis is not endemic, meaning dogs are completely naïve to the disease and have no immune protection from infection.

In order to infect the dog, the tick must have been feeding for at least 24 hours. To prevent infection, dog owners need to use tick medication that ensures it kills all ticks within this time frame for its entire duration. There are a range of tick preventing products out there so it is important to check that the product being used on your dogs sticks to this brief.

There is a worry that the infection will spread from Essex, especially due to the passing of the parasite from one generation of ticks to another. The Animal and Plant Health Agency are currently investing the outbreak. It appears that currently we are all being instructed to stay vigilant and ensure optimum tick control practices are being used by dog owners country-wide.

I’m off lambing for two weeks now, so there will be some very cute pictures to follow!

Robert Anton Wilson on the Film Batman, 1989

“Have You Ever Danced With the Devil in the Pale Moonlight?”

by Robert Anton Wilson

Scanned from Magical Blend, #25


Well I have finally followed the herd and tromped down to my local movie theatre to see Batman and I can tell you the the experience was not at all unlike Bad Acid. I had thought I was going to see another spectacular but empty “epic” in the Star Wars-Superman-Indiana Jones tradition of American “good clean fun” – a lot of mindless violence between cardboard cut-outs of “good” and “evil.” Instead, I found a film noirthat looked as if the ghosts of Dali, Bunuel and Orson Welles had all had a hand in it, aided and abetted by Wilhelm Reich and a horde of estistentialists. It was as escapist as a split lip, and I think it’s the best film about the Reagan-Bush era since Carpenter's They Live. You haven’t seen such shadows and overhead pans since the last time Orson Welles got enough money to make a movie the way he he wanted to do it, and the musical score (especially the organ solos) is alone worth the price of admission.

“It’s a study in dark and light,” Kim Basinger, the actress who plays Vicki Vale, said in an interview. “I represent light.” The remark is a bit of an understatement. In fact, Ms. Basinger has been garbed in white dresses, especially in the last third of the film, and is treated rather kindly by the (compared to the other characters, who all look ugly, or sinister, or a few bricks shy of a full load, or as if they had escaped from The Andalusian Dog) but she represents something less metaphysical than “goodness.” She represents the only point of sanity in a world gone psycho, the world of Iran-Contra, the pitbull and Morton Downey Jr.

Steven Spielberg, evidently miffed by the complaints that his technically superb films have no depth, has started to add levels of resonance; but all of his levels, as far down as he goes, are equally shallow.Batman goes as deep as Frankenstein or King Kong and will become, I am sure, as much a part of folk-lore and as frequently quoted as either of those masterpieces. Like all first-rate Hollywood films, it leaves you in perceptual confusion about whether it is a very good bad movie or a very bad good movie.

The film hangs on a few logical points that neither the comic book nor the TV series ever confronted overtly. Batman, we all know, wears black. But isn’t it usually the villain who wears black? Somehow, despite this, we have previously been persuaded to accept Batman as a hero. In spectacularly gloomy technicolor, however. Batman looks even more like a villain, in contrast to the gaudy multi-colored clown suits of the Joker, the erudite and poetic nominal villain who seems more like an unhinged concept artist than a criminal of any sort we can understand.

Bats, and man-bats, are associated with vampirism. The logo for the movie takes advantage of this; it looks like both the familiar Batman symbol and a vampire’s gaping mouth. The first thing we hear about Batman in the film, before we even see him, is that he sucks the blood of his victims. We mightexpect him to have a Transylvanian accent.

But wait – did I say his victims? Well, yes, that does seem to be the logic of the situation. The people Batman has killed before the film begins didn’t actually have their blood sucked (I think; you may have to see this film several times to be sure of anything) and they were all criminals, of course, but nonetheless, set against the towering, black, half-faceless, never smiling, totally sinister figure of Batman, the first thugs we see on screen seem victims as surely as a mouse seems a victim when a cat pounces on it. The hoods’ fear that their blood will be sucked seems altogether reasonable under the circumstances, in the world they inhabit.

We are obviously being seduced into a film that is devoted simultaneously to amusing dolts (the path to box office success) and subtly undermining the reality-grids of everybody in the audience with more than a half inch of forehead. The first shot sets us in non-linear space as surely as a Picasso painting or the famous three-minute tracking shot that opens Orson Welle's Touch of Evil. Welles, in that classic shot, kept both his camera and his actors moving over three blocks of city streets, in so many different directions that we were jerked to attention, trying to figure out what was going on (and what was happening to the bomb we saw in the first two seconds). The opening shot of Batman is a bit shorter and has no actors, but the camera also careens madly through a set that totally disorients us. That is a warning of what is to come.

By the time we find we are in “Gotham” we also recognize that this nightmare-city is a cross between New York, Detroit and Dante’s Hell. Gotham is Orson Welle’s sleazebag Los Robles of Touch of Evil – all the grime, all the garbage, all the corruption, all the dirt, all the violence – but miles wider and (it seems) even miles higher. It is Phil Dick’s Black Iron Prison in VALIS, the mad universe where mankind has been confined by the Demiurge which is attempting to blind us to the Gnosis.

The first cop we see in Batman is both physically fat and morally corrupt, like the first cop we see in Touch of Evil. When Bruce Wayne (Batman) and Vicki Vale sit down to eat, they start at a table so long they can hardly hear each other’s voices, and end at a tiny table where they are practically nuzzling: a reversal of the famous alienation sequence in Citizen Kane. The film is replete with similar in-jokes for Welles addicts: tributes to the man who first discovered film could be noir …

If Batman is, as I think, an anarcho-surrealist attack on  the conventions of mass market melodrama (which it pretends  to follow with owl-like solemnity), it is especially interesting to how the “hero” and “villain” react to the charge that they are mentally unbalanced. The Joker (Jack Nicholson in another Academy Award performance) is first told he’s crazy, by an associate, when he unleashes a particulary eldritch and inhuman laugh after killing a rival gangster. With the sweet reasonableness that is always alternating with his total mania, the Joker asks sagely, “Haven’t you ever heard of the healing power of laughter?”

In fact, Joker’s crimes move slowly from rational felonies for profit into surrealist outrages and something like the Halloween pranks of an especially cunning and nasty child. Yet he laughs like hell continually and may be considered in the process of trying to cure himself of the traume inflicted when Batman, that merciless one-man lynch mob, threw him into a vat of chemicals.

Batman (Michael Keaton) has an even more interesting rationalization for his own insanity. With an almost Pythonesque touch, the film has him, as Bruce Wayne, start to confess his double life to Vicki Vale. He stumbles and hesitates, looks embarassed. She says she will understand. Kim Basinger’s delivery (as Vicki) suggests that she thinks he is going to tell her he’s half-Gay or likes to wear ladies panties or something of that sort. They are interrupted, and only after several other scenes does she discover Bruce’s real secret. “But that's abnormal” she cries at once–the only voice of sanity in the film, as I’ve said. Indeed, transvestism and/or homosexuality certainly seem like reasonable lifestyles, probably even to a Falwell, compared with Bruce’s compulsion to dress up like a bat and commit murder and/or mayhem on people he thinks deserve “punishment.” (Is this really a Feminist film in disguise? Is Vicki, as the only point of sanity in a mad world, the walking refutation of the mad machismo of both the nominal hero and “villain”)?

At this point the logic of the film seems to undermined the logic of the original Batman myth; but not quite. Bruce 
Wayne has answer to Vicki’s charge to abnormality:

“What’s ‘normal’ in a world like this?”

And that has always been, of course, the logic of surrealism. After World War 1, the surrealists hung toilet bowls in sculpture shows and painted things like Debris of an Automobile Giving Birth to a Blind Horse Biting a Telephone precisely to force everybody to ask, “What’s normal in a world like this?” Punk Rock and Heavy Metal today are still asking the same question. In a world where the govern ment is telling us “Just say no” while telling its favorite coke dealers “Just fly low,” dressing up like a bat and taking the law into your own hands makes as much sense as painting Campbell soup cans or making a movie that simultaneously glorifies, challenges, satirizes and (with Swiftian irony) rationalizes a vigilante with a fetish costume …

The moronic Bronson and Stallone “one man above the law” films glorify vigilantism with the logic of right-wing para-noids. Batman both challenges that folk fascism and poker-facedly “defends” it on the eminently Existentialist grounds that in a universe without morals or meaning everybody has to create their own reality and take responsibility for it.

All in all, Bruce Wayne/Batman makes more sense than George Bush, Oilie North and the rest of Ronnie Reagan’s Guns, Cocaine and Assassinations Glee Club. But so does the Joker, and that is the really subversive message in the darkest of all film noir nightmares.

“You created me,” Joker says to Batman in the climax; and indeed Batman did dump the poor, deranged chap in toxic waste and start his mania rolling.

You created me,” Batman replies with equal passion; and indeed Joker shot Bruce Wayne’s parents which started his mania growing.

Both Batman and Joker are partly right, in linear causality, but neither is as totally right as he imagines in this nonlinear universe. There hasn’t been such a poetic Jungian moment on film since the four sadists came out of their castle, at the end of Bunuel's Golden Age, and each one of them looked exactly like Jesus Christ in popular art.

The weed of crime bears bitter fruit, the Shadow once told us; but this dark film tells us the Wheel of Karma has Strange Loops. Batman created Joker, and Joker created Batman, and Gotham created both of them. Who created Gotham? Either Man or God, or both of them, and if this is what Man and God have done, what is left to believe in? The Joker, after wrecking an art museum, decides to preserve one painting, by Francis Bacon. Like the poetry of his best lines (and he gets all the best lines), this seems to imply Joker understands the universe he’s in better than Batman does.

It could only be more pointed if Francis Bacon had painted, instead of a slaughterhouse, Ronnie and Nancy grinning wholesomely, with a thousand dead Nicaraguans sprawled behind them, and the Contras packing the cocaine for Oilie.


Pulse Percussion 2014: That Which Confines Us
Multi-Cam of Finals Night. 1st place: 96.813

What Capricorn has in common with the signs

Aries: Both are very stubborn and have a strong talent for business. Both are adrenaline-filled kick-starters who are very good at getting projects on the go. Both are intensely loyal people.

Taurus: Both are stubborn people who prefer to stick to routine and are often afraid of trying new things. Both express their love physically and intimately. Both like to be surrounded by luxury.

Gemini: Both are very intelligent people who work hard for what they want. Both greatly dislike appearing unattractive to other people. Both need a lot of private time and dislike being forced to open up.

Cancer: Both are mature people who hate not to be in control. Both love routine and balance in their lives. Both are great liars and intelligent people who can be exceedingly manipulative at times.

Leo: Both desire to be in control and dislike any possible loss of power. Both like to appear beautiful and to be surrounded by beautiful things. Both have high physical drives.

Virgo: Both are smart and hard workers who adore logic and routines. Both are very emotional, but tend to hide it. Both have a dark, witty, and ironic sense of humour which is often cruel.

Libra: Both are very classy people who hate to look unattractive or be around unattractive things. Both have a deep sensuality about them. Both are great at starting projects and moving forwards.

Scorpio: Both are very dominant and controlling people with high sex drives. Both work extremely hard and have an intelligent mind. Both are highly dark, private, and difficult to understand.

Sagittarius: Both are wise and intelligent people who are good at understanding the world around them. Both like to express their emotions physically. Both are absolutely amazing at telling jokes.

Aquarius: Both have an understanding of society and the ways in which it confines and changes us. Both appear quite aloof and dislike opening up. Both are very focussed and intelligent people.

Pisces: Both are introverted people who treasure their alone time. Both invest their all into relationships. Both feel that others misunderstand them and misinterpret their motives in harmful ways.

In her sit-down with NBC’s Meredith Vieira after winning the silver medal for the skeleton event, U.S. Olympian Noelle Pikus Pace told why she’d returned to the sport after being away. She had been fine and fulfilled as a retired athlete, she said, and as a wife and a mom, but then had miscarried a baby and gone into a serious funk. Her husband nudged her back into sledding, suspecting that the exacting training would take her mind off her sorrows. It turns out that - in this instance at least - he was right. Not only did she flourish, but she returned to top competitive form and relished it.

Probably a lot of people heard this and shrugged, or filed it away in the Can’t Relate Folder, and a certain number - myself included - nodded knowingly and returned for a few minutes, or half a day, to that searing country with its oven-hot winds and no shade and no oases.

Background: When I was a boy, my aunt lived with us and married late to a man older than she. There had been a lot of whispering about whether they would even attempt to start a family of their own and they soon did. Several weeks into each of her early pregnancies there was an “event” which was not confided to us children but involved tears, confinement to their room, long silences, meals taken back to their room, and weeks of isolation and sadness. Her husband looked hangdog and we took him to us and played cards with him. We kids couldn’t fathom what had happened, exactly. When we pressed, we were told she had “lost” the baby. What does that even mean? Should we institute a search? Has anyone checked the bushes in front of the house? There’s nothing peskier than a baby, we knew, and the damned things were as likely to crawl into traffic as not.

I doubt we could have put her miscarriages into any emotional context, being so young, so we looked upon her with the chop-chop clear-eyed misunderstanding of the immature. We were quiet around her and gave her space. And were glad to see her come around when she finally did. But each one of these events seemed to take more out of her and her recovery time lengthened. She did eventually have a baby that survived and that baby went on to have more babies. The hard, hard story has a happy ending.

Eventually I/we had the misfortune to have it happen to me/us. Possibly God, in his boundless wisdom, and after noticing how woefully I had absorbed the lessons of my aunt, saw this as an area where I needed a bit of a smartening-up. I don’t think He thinks this way, however, though I’d never presume one way or the other. I will say that if you live long enough, the riches of the world will open before you like oysters one-by-one and so too will the Greatest Hits of all the tragedies. This was probably just my time.

He had been a planned pregnancy. It had gone according to Hoyle and we were certain of his sex for some reason and had settled on a name for him almost immediately, which anyone who knows anything about these things will tell you is rare. We referred to him in conversation by his given name, spoke to the belly and addressed him as such and -hubris of hubris - had the existential temerity to think of him as a done deal.

He passed after one of those viability thresholds doctors seem to know so much about but don’t bother to tell you unless your kid goes face-first into one. Seventeen weeks? I forget now. During one checkup the midwife smeared clear jelly on the belly and listened to the heartbeat and it was triphammer strong and during the next there was nothing. Nothing. The machine is listening into Deep Space and there is only Void. There are three of you in the tiny examining room and the only one who knows anything goes totally silent. Free fall. Urgent questions. Her hand slips into mine and squeezes with the force of a python. It’s grim. All joy is sucked up into the air conditioning vent and goes who knows where and stays away for a season. Specialists. Confirmations. The Drive Home.


Terrible, terrible, terrible. This was years ago and I write these words today blinking through tears. If I say my boy’s name even now I have to leave the room to get it together again. His name is a kind of talisman to me now, a word made out of lightning, a thing of fearsome power. This past year one of my friends referenced an acquaintance of his who just so happens to have my lost boy’s name. I felt as thought I’d been punched in the throat. “What?” I said after a few moments. “Who was this?” But the conversation had moved on and it was then I realized just how badly I’d been put back together. It couldn’t be him, of course, but how could that name have been given to another?.

She blamed herself. She had a second cup of coffee one day, she confessed. I thought of my parents, smoking four packs a day and drinking Old Fashioneds through our gestations. I blamed no one. She didn’t believe me. She said I must hate her. She hated herself. I was aghast. Just when you think things are at rock bottom, that’s when your anchor knot begins to untie itself.

The boy is gone. The ten million smiles he would have provoked in his lifetime - with me, with others - will never happen. His Little League games, his report cards, his graduations, his wedding(s), his own kids, the things he would have done to help others, his ideas. Wiped off the slate. Feeding him, feeling his litttle power-plant-warm head nestled into my neck as he sleeps off his bottle, smiling broadly as I enter the nursery first thing, crawling, high chairs, da-da. Gone. All gone.

Go ahead and tell me this is a vast overreaction to a clump of cells fizzing out. Tell me it happens to X% of all pregnancies. I get all that. I do. But this one was mine. My boy. Mine.

The way to stay together through something like this is to stay together. Hold, love, assure, reassure, listen, be quiet. Take the whipping together. Do not flinch. Do not hide from your fate; it has already found you. Because next on the agenda, if her body doesn’t naturally push out the lost one, is what is essentially the aborting of your dead baby.

This is so laughably grim I won’t bother to revisit it here, but when you leave that place it’s inconceivable you could be any sadder. You have not been able to lose with your dignity intact. You drive home in smithereens, in shards.

Throughout those days and weeks I prayed for strength for his mother - who had to host this terrible event in her body, of course, and who was really the one this all happened to, and had to feel all that I felt plus irrational guilt and overwhelming unearned failure - but what I asked for myself was that he be the first to meet me when I get to the other side. Don’t ask how I could possibly recognize him. I would know him anywhere.


In case you missed it….

Pulse 2014-That Which Confines Us