Slingback Sunday — “Constancy Characters Tavern”

I have missed an inexcusable number of Throwback Thursdays, and I just came across this while sifting through some old posts, and it made me laugh out loud, so I’m posting it here with only the thinnest veneer of a pretext for it, and a run-on sentence intro to boot.

Originally published as a Facebook Note on September 11th, 2012.


Constancy Characters Tavern


My professor said we can do anything we want with our response papers. So I did. You’ve been warned.


Persuasion – Final Response Paper

[Dimly lit tavern. Several small wooden tables in the center of the room. Seated around these are Anne Elliot (Persuasion), Bella Swan (Twilight), Severus Snape (Harry Potter), Jack Bauer (24), Miles Vorkosigan (The Vorkosigan Saga), Ginny Weasley, and Harry Potter (Harry Potter). Buxom tavern wenches swoop periodically between the tables, resupplying drinks.]


ANNE: (finishing up what was clearly a long story) “. . . And that is why one must never waver from one’s first and dearest love. Constancy and loyalty will always be rewarded.”


BELLA: “Oh, totally. When my Edward left me, I was, like, completely depressed, I started doing super dangerous stuff like riding motorcycles and jumping off cliffs — but he only left me to protect me! For my own good! When he saw how much I loved him, he took me back! It was sooooo romantic!”


GINNY: “Ugh, gimme a break. As if your younger self has any idea what’s good for you. If someone’s not interested and treats you badly, MOVE ON.”


ANNE and BELLA: (shocked gasp)


SNAPE: “To be perfectly frank — and when am I ever not? — I have to side with the two ladies on this. My eternal and constant love for Lily Evans is my only redeeming quality. Otherwise I’m a total douchebag.”


HARRY: “Can we not talk about your creepy unrequited crush on my mom when I’m sitting right here?


ANNE: (with stiff politeness) “And what is your opinion on the matter, Mr. Potter? Do you concur with your wife?”


HARRY: “Uh, yeah! If I’d stayed all hung up on Cho Chang, I’d never have married Ginny, and we all know what a mistake that would have been.” (smiles goofily and nuzzles Ginny’s cheek)


ANNE and BELLA: “Awwwwwww.”


SNAPE: “I’ll just be over here, drowning my sorrows. Don’t mind me.”


JACK BAUER: (leaning over from an adjacent table) “Sorry for butting in, but I’ve gotta agree with the happy couple. I mean, my wife died pretty early on, and yeah, that sucked and I was depressed for a couple years, but then I got a hot new girlfriend. I don’t remember what happened to her, she probably died, but whatever, I got another love interest like practically every season after that. Plus I saved the world a bunch of times. So here’s to moving on!” (Jack, Harry, and Ginny all clunk their mugs together)


MILES: (ducking between Jack and Harry with a winning smile) “Well, I wouldn’t be so cavalier about it, but you certainly have a point. My crush on my childhood sweetheart didn’t work out — she rejected me and married this annoyingly decent fellow — and I had various relationships over the years, but as I matured, I came to better understand my own priorities and what I need from a partner, and wound up marrying a woman who wasn’t even introduced until the tenth book of the series.”


ANNE: “The tenth book? How on earth did you manage? And how could you simply abandon your first love without a fight?”


MILES: (shrugging) “It wasn’t easy. But sometimes you’ve just got to be a grown up.”


ANNE, BELLA, and SNAPE: “Never.



(A great debt of inspiration is owed to Zeke, creator of the Underused Characters Tavern on



I freaking love this movie, I’ll just get that out there right from the start.

It is tightly written, it is alien but scarily plausible, it is well-developed down to the fictitious slang terms the characters use, the objectives are so clearly defined, the characters are likeable, the details are precise and painstaking (the letters in GATTACA are all letters from the genetic code, entirely appropriate for a movie about a dystopian society where everyone is judged based on their genes), the stakes are high, every scene adds something to the overall picture . . . it is just a thing of beauty.

This was my third time seeing this movie — the first was in AP Bio after we’d taken the AP and class became basically party time, the second was when I forced my dad to get it from Netflix and watch it (he fell asleep grrrrr) — and even on my third viewing I have only three minor complaints:


1)   The murder victim whose death shifts the movie from fascinating setup to whodunit mystery is not someone we viewers ever meet. This is a minor quibble, because meeting him is obviously not necessary, but I really would have liked to know who he actually was and why he opposed the mission he was killed for opposing.

2)   The final confrontation between the narrator, Vincent, and his brother Anton kind of turns into a testosterone fest. There was a great line about motivation — Vincent says, “I never saved anything for the way back” in order to explain how he could swim farther than his genetically advantaged brother — that almost makes it worth it, but I’ll admit the scene is kind of silly.

3)   I’d have liked to have seen more of the world outside the Gattaca institution and its astronauts. How do the other genetically perfect people spend their time? What futuristic jobs do they do? I don’t know where this would have fit in, but I am CURIOUS.


Things I loved that far offset these tiny criticisms:


1)   The concept of exceeding your preordained potential. As Locke from LOST would say, “DON’T TELL ME WHAT I CAN’T DO!” I’m pretty sure Vincent says that verbatim at one point.

2)   Jude Law is fantastic as the wheelchair-bound Jerome. Favorite role I’ve seen him in by far. (To be fair, the only other Jude Law movie I can recall seeing at the moment is Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, but still.)

3)   Uma Thurman is stunning. Also, her performance is very poised, but she conveys so many nuances in every slight change of her expression. Makes me want to see more of her movies.

4)   The fact that once people perfected genetic engineering in this universe, they apparently stopped bothering to find cures for things. Like Jerome broke his back and there is no surgical procedure even suggested in order to fix it. It’s a culture of disposability — like going to an Apple store with a problem with your laptop and instead of fixing it, they just give you a new one.

5)   The doctor is played by Mason from 24.


So what I’m saying is, if you haven’t seen this movie, you’re missing out big time.

What is up with this White Paper thing??

The media seems to be all in a tizzy about a “White Paper,” which was unearthed by NBC News’ investigative reporter Michael Isikoff. According to what I saw in this Rachel Maddow clip, the White Paper is an abridged version of a ~super secret~ memo that gives the Obama administration its legal justification to order targeted drone strikes on American citizens without due process.

So people seem a bit freaked out by the idea that the government has that kind of authority, and matters are not made better by the vague language employed by the White Paper. There are no concrete criteria for determining what kind of evidence is required before your government can kill you. You just have to pose an “imminent threat,” which sounds fairly reasonable, until you get to the part where “imminent” is clarified to be referring to a “broader concept of imminence” which could mean…basically anything? That’s disturbing.

Many in the media have criticized others in the media for not completely freaking out about this. Nick Gillespie at says that journalists are too “awed by power” these days and make excuses for Obama because they’re not in his place, don’t know what he’s going through, etc. Others, such as Buzzfeed, have amusingly laid out in gif form the contrast between how Democrats would have reacted to Bush employing certain policies vs. how they currently react to Obama employing such policies.

I’m pretty sure that if this White Paper had surfaced under the Bush/Cheney administration, it would have been outright declared to be a tyrannical abuse of power and everyone would have gone bananas. People just don’t see Obama that way. And I’m in no way claiming that he is a tyrant; I’m just saying that the facts are open for interpretation at this point, and that’s an interpretation Democrats don’t seem to be making, for whatever reason.

I don’t think this White Paper is entirely evil and will end civilization as we know it. I think it needs clarification, a LOT of clarification — what does “imminent” mean, what is considered a force “associated” with al-Qaida, how much evidence is required before an assassination is justified, how it is determined that capture or arrest is “infeasible,” and so on and so forth. But I do think that in certain cases, as unpleasant as it is (and maybe I’m just totally corrupted from watching too much 24), it may be necessary to assassinate a terrorist leader even if he or she is an American citizen.