I paid the cabman exactly his fare. He received it with an oath; upon which I instantly gave him a tract. If I had presented a pistol at his head, this abandoned wretch could hardly have exhibited greater consternation. He jumped up on his box, and, with profane exclamations of dismay, drove off furiously. Quite useless, I am happy to say! I sowed the good seed, in spite of him, by throwing a second tract in at the window of the cab.
It starts innocently. Casually. You turn up at the annual spring fair full of beans, help with the raffle tickets (because the pretty red-haired music teacher asks you to) and win a bottle of whiskey (all school raffles are fixed), and, before you know where you are, you’re turning up at the weekly school council meetings, organizing concerts, discussing plans for a new music department, donating funds for the rejuvenation of the water fountains—you’re implicated in the school, you’re involved in it. Sooner or later you stop dropping your children at the school gates. You start following them in.
The mind likes a strange idea as little as the body likes a strange protein and resists it with similar energy. It would not perhaps be too fanciful to say that a new idea is the most quickly acting antigen known to science. If we watch ourselves honestly we shall often find that we have begun to argue against a new idea even before it has been completely stated.
The notion that inspired play (even when audacious, offensive, or obscene) enhances rather than diminishes intellectual vigor and spiritual fulfillment, the notion that in the eyes of the gods the tight-lipped hero and the wet-cheeked victim are frequently inferior to the red-nosed clown, such notions are destined to be a hard sell to those who have E.M. Forster on their bedside table and a clump of dried narcissus up their ass.Not to worry. As long as words and ideas exist, there will be a few misfits who will cavort with them in a spirit of *approfondement*–if I may borrow that marvelous French word that translates roughly as ‘playing easily in the deep’–and in so doing they will occasionally bring to realization Kafka’s belief that ‘a novel should be an ax for the frozen seas around us’.
Are You Ready for New Urban Fragrances?Yeah, I guess I’m ready, but listen:Perfume is a disguise. Since the middle ages, we have worn masks of fruit and flowers in order to conceal from ourselves the meaty essence of our humanity. We appreciate the sexual attractant of the rose, the ripeness of the orange, more than we honor our own ripe carnality.Now today we want to perfume our cities, as well; to replace their stinging fumes of disturbed fossils’ sleep with the scent of gardens and orchards. Yet, humans are not bees any more than they are blossoms. If we must pull an olfactory hood over our urban environment, let it be of a different nature.I want to travel on a train that smells like snowflakes.I want to sip in cafes that smell like comets.Under the pressure of my step, I want the streets to emit the precise odor of a diamond necklace.I want the newspapers I read to smell like the violins left in pawnshops by weeping hobos on Christmas Eve.I want to carry luggage that reeks of the neurons in Einstein’s brain.I want a city’s gases to smell like the golden belly hairs of the gods.And when I gaze at a televised picture of the moon, I want to detect, from a distance of 239,000 miles, the aroma of fresh mozzarella.
Who knows how to make love stay?1. Tell love you are going to Junior’s Deli on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn to pick up a cheesecake, and if loves stays, it can have half. It will stay.2. Tell love you want a momento of it and obtain a lock of its hair. Burn the hair in a dime-store incense burner with yin/yang symbols on three sides. Face southwest. Talk fast over the burning hair in a convincingly exotic language. Remove the ashes of the burnt hair and use them to paint a moustache on your face. Find love. Tell it you are someone new. It will stay.3. Wake love up in the middle of the night. Tell it the world is on fire. Dash to the bedroom window and pee out of it. Casually return to bed and assure love that everything is going to be all right. Fall asleep. Love will be there in the morning.
Woodrow Wilson has just made the decision to take part in World War I. What was he feeling then? Did he know the possible outcomes of his decision? Did he feel the burden of American lives on his shoulders? He probably said something like: “Goddamn. I love America but this could be the worst decision in American history.” Don’t worry yourself Woody, it wasn’t.
This was supposed to be yesterday. I was sitting on the Cardiff/London train, supposedly about to write this very column, and realising something quite terrible. My head was entirely empty. A vast echoing void. Bigger on the inside, but with nothing in it. You could drop a pebble in my brain and wait for an hour to hear it land. No actually, you couldn’t – that would be aggressive and unhelpful, so keep your damn pebbles to yourself.
Younger wizards in particular went about saying that is was time magic started to update its image and that they should all stop mucking about with bits of wax and bone and put the whole thing on a properly-organised basis, with research programmes and three-day conventions in good hotels where they could read papers with titles like ‘Whither Geomancy?’ and ‘The role of Seven League Boots in a caring society
When she realizes that Nigel is having an affair, her first sentiment is satisfaction that she figured it out. Her second is that, despite all the palaver about betrayal, it doesn’t feel so terrible.This is pleasing–it demonstrates a certain sophistication. She wonders if his fling might even serve her. In principle, she could leave him without compunction now, though she doesn’t wish to. It also frees her from guilt about any infidelities she might wish to engage in. All in all, his affair might prove useful.
Who’s Johnnie Walker?””It’s a drink. For grown-ups.””Is it nice?””Makes you drunk.””What’s it like being drunk?” “Like being awake and asleep at the same time.””Sounds nice.” “It was meant to sound terrible,” he said looking down his glasses at her. “You get sick and stagger around. People actually vomit sometimes.
Experimenting with touch, he found he barely had to ripple a light fingertip over his sleeping lover, and Tristan would move, twisting until he was melted into Michael’s embrace. Stroking Tristan’s cheek got Michael a sleepy kiss. Touching Tristan’s back or sliding a hand down his spine earned Michael the satisfying squeeze of arms around him. And squeezing Tristan’s ass got him a fully awake and erect boy-toy looking for love.
And people think she killed him?” said Miss Tick. She sighed. “They probably think she cooked him in the oven, or something.””They never actually said,” said Tiffany. “But I think it was something like that, yes.””And did his horse turn up?” said Miss Tick.”No,” said Tiffany. “And that was strange, because if it’d turned up anywhere along the hills, people would have noticed it…”Miss Tick folded her hands, sniffed, and smiled a smile with no humor in it.”Easily explained,” she said. “Mrs. Snapperly must have had a really big oven, eh?””No, it was really quite small,” said Tiffany. “Only ten inches deep.
I saved a man’s life once,” said Granny. “Special medicine, twice a day. Boiled water with a bit of berry juice in it. Told him I’d bought it from the dwarves. That’s the biggest part of doct’rin, really. Most people’ll get over most things if they put their minds to it, you just have to give them an interest.
Wizards don’t believe in gods. They didn’t deny their existence, of course. They just didn’t believe. It was nothing personal; they weren’t actually rude about it. Gods were a visible part of narrativium that made things work, that gave the world its purpose. It was just that they were best avoided close up.
Do not do that again,” he said stiffly.”Don’t kiss me back then,” I retorted.He stared at me for what seemed like forever. “I don’t give ‘Zen lessons’ to hear myself talk. I don’t give them because you’re another student. I’m doing this to teach you control.””You’re doing a great job,” I said bitterly.
Female Mercenary. This will be a companion on your Tour. She is usually tall, thin and wiry, silent, and neurotic. Sex scares her. This is because she either came from a nunnery or was raped as a child. Or both. Somehow this inspired her to become a mercenary and she is very good at her job. You can rely on her absolutely in a fight. She can usually kill two people at once while guarding your back in between. The rest of the time, she will irritate you with lots of punctilious weapons cleaning and a perpetual insistence that a proper watch be kept. Mostly, she will have no magic talents, but sometimes, in an emergency, she will come up with a gift or vision. You will end up grudgingly admiring her.
Of course it is juggling, theman in motley was saying…YOu know what your problem is, Sir Grenall? You’ve been seduced by the lure of spectacle. Sure, I could juggle three or four balls and use two hands, and that would be very impressive, but then what would I do after that? Five balls? Three hands? You see how it goes? Now me, I’m an artist, trying to recapture the original purity of the art form. This-the man nodded at the ball he tossing up and down-this is the essence of juggling.
What – what – what are you doing?” he demanded.”I am almost six hundred years old,” Magnus claimed, and Ragnor snorted, since Magnus changed his age to suit himself every few weeks. Magnus swept on. “It does seem about time to learn a musical instrument.” He flourished his new prize, a little stringed instrument that looked like a cousin of the lute that the lute was embarrassed to be related to. “It’s called a charango. I am planning to become a charanguista!””I wouldn’t call that an instrument of music,” Ragnor observed sourly. “An instrument of torture, perhaps.”Magnus cradled the charango in his arms as if it were an easily offended baby. “It’s a beautiful and very unique instrument! The sound box is made from an armadillo. Well, a dried armadillo shell.””That explains the sound you’re making,” said Ragnor. “Like a lost, hungry armadillo.””You are just jealous,” Magnus remarked calmly. “Because you do not have the soul of a true artiste like myself.””Oh, I am positively green with envy,” Ragnor snapped.”Come now, Ragnor. That’s not fair,” said Magnus. “You know I love it when you make jokes about your complexion.”Magnus refused to be affected by Ragnor’s cruel judgments. He regarded his fellow warlock with a lofty stare of superb indifference, raised his charango, and began to play again his defiant, beautiful tune.They both heard the staccato thump of frantically running feet from within the house, the swish of skirts, and then Catarina came rushing out into the courtyard. Her white hair was falling loose about her shoulders, and her face was the picture of alarm.”Magnus, Ragnor, I heard a cat making a most unearthly noise,” she exclaimed. “From the sound of it, the poor creature must be direly sick. You have to help me find it!”Ragnor immediately collapsed with hysterical laughter on his windowsill. Magnus stared at Catarina for a moment, until he saw her lips twitch.”You are conspiring against me and my art,” he declared. “You are a pack of conspirators.”He began to play again. Catarina stopped him by putting a hand on his arm.”No, but seriously, Magnus,” she said. “That noise is appalling.”Magnus sighed. “Every warlock’s a critic.””Why are you doing this?””I have already explained myself to Ragnor. I wish to become proficient with a musical instrument. I have decided to devote myself to the art of the charanguista, and I wish to hear no more petty objections.””If we are all making lists of things we wish to hear no more . . . ,” Ragnor murmured.Catarina, however, was smiling.”I see,” she said.”Madam, you do not see.””I do. I see it all most clearly,” Catarina assured him. “What is her name?””I resent your implication,” Magnus said. “There is no woman in the case. I am married to my music!””Oh, all right,” Catarina said. “What’s his name, then?”His name was Imasu Morales, and he was gorgeous.
Artemis: “Right, brothers. Onward. Imagine yourself seated at a cafe in Montmartre.”Myles: “In Paris.”Artemis: “Yes, Paris. And try as you will, you cannot attract the waiter’s attention. What do you do?”Beckett: “Umm…tell Butler to jump-jump-jump on his head?”Myles: “I agree with simple-toon.”Artemis: “No! You simply raise one finger and say clearly ‘ici, garcon.'”Beckett: “Itchy what?
I’m really enjoying my solitude after feeling trapped by my family, friends and boyfriend. Just then I feel like making a resolution. A new year began six months ago but I feel like the time for change is now. No more whining about my pathetic life. I am going to change my life this very minute. Feeling as empowered as I felt when I read The Secret, I turn to reenter the hall. I know what I’ll do! Instead of listing all the things I’m going to do from this moment on, I’m going to list all the things I’m never going to do! I’ve always been unconventional (too unconventional if you ask my parents but I’ll save that account for later). I mentally begin to make my list of nevers. -I am never going to marry for money like Natasha just did. -I am never going to doubt my abilities again. -I am never going to… as I try to decide exactly what to resolve I spot an older lady wearing a bright red velvet churidar kurta. Yuck! I immediately know what my next resolution will be; I will never wear velvet. Even if it does become the most fashionable fabric ever (a highly unlikely phenomenon)I am quite enjoying my resolution making and am deciding what to resolve next when I notice Az and Raghav holding hands and smiling at each other. In that moment I know what my biggest resolve should be. -I will never have feelings for my best friend’s boyfriend. Or for any friend’s boyfriend, for that matter. That’s four resolutions down. Six more to go? Why not? It is 2012, after all. If the world really does end this year, at least I’ll go down knowing I completed ten resolutions. I don’t need to look too far to find my next resolution. Standing a few centimetres away, looking extremely uncomfortable as Rags and Az get more oblivious of his existence, is Deepak. -I will never stay in a relationship with someone I don’t love, I vow. Looking for inspiration for my next five resolutions, I try to observe everyone in the room. What catches my eye next is my cousin Mishka giggling uncontrollably while failing miserably at walking in a straight line. Why do people get completely trashed in public? It’s just so embarrassing and totally not worth it when you’re nursing a hangover the next day. I recoil as memories of a not so long ago night come rushing back to me. I still don’t know exactly what happened that night but the fragments that I do remember go something like this; dropping my Blackberry in the loo, picking it up and wiping it with my new Mango dress, falling flat on my face in the middle of the club twice, breaking my Nine West heels, kissing an ugly stranger (Az insists he was a drug dealer but I think she just says that to freak me out) at the bar and throwing up on the Bandra-Worli sea link from Az’s car. -I will never put myself in an embarrassing situation like that again. Ever. I usually vow to never drink so much when I’m lying in bed with a hangover the next day (just like 99% of the world) but this time I’m going to stick to my resolution. What should my next resolution be?
She was murdered by rebels.’ He took in her unconcealed look of shock. ‘So there you go. Something for you to celebrate.’ Magnus turned away from her, ready to find solace in his chambers, but the princess grabbed his arm to stop him. He sent a dark look at her over his shoulder. ‘I would never celebrate death, no matter whose it is,’ she said, her gaze filled with anger and something else. Something that looked vaguely like sympathy. ‘Come now, I’m sure you wouldn’t mourn any Damora.’ ‘I know very well what it’s like to lose a parent in a tragic way.’ ‘Oh, yes, we have so much in common. Maybe we should get married.