Latest Update: 16 May 2016


Following the model of Drunkard's Walk II, we have compiled the following key to the various references, in-jokes and obscure comments in Drunkard's Walk V. As before, we can't promise that it's comprehensive; it's all too easy to miss things. If you think you've spotted something that was left out or needs explanation, feel free to email either of us about it!

As with DW2, we have not included entries for many of the songs that Doug that employs in DW5. Once again, this is because most of the appropriate citations are already included at the end of each chapter.

The format for this listing is simple. Entries are grouped by the chapter they appear in, in order of their appearance in the story. Each entry will start with the appropriate text from the story in italics, followed by a gloss, explanation, or, in some cases, a chatty little commentary by one or both of the authors. Where applicable, web links are provided for those interested in more information.

While we're at it, a note for clarity. To keep the distinction between Chris-the-author and Chris-the-character clear, we use a convention that Chris-the-author established, which is to always call Chris-the-character "Paradox." So in this concordance, in everything but the actual lines from the story, Chris = author and Paradox = character. Clear?

Enjoy!

— Bob and Chris


Table of Contents

Prologue

DRUNKARD'S WALK V / OH! MY BROTHER! BOOK II:
In addition to being the fifth "Step" in the Drunkard's Walk, DW5 is also the official continuation of Chris's well-known self-insert story, Oh! My Brother!. As a side-effect, this places OMB foursquare in the same multiverse and metacontinuity shared by DW, Legion's Quest, Twisted Path, and A Wolf In Crisis, among other works.

Another Divine Mess You've Gotten Me Into
Just in case you don't recognize this, it's a twist on the most famous catchphrase of Oliver Hardy, half of the early film comedy team Laurel and Hardy: "This is another fine mess you've gotten me into." (Which is actually a misquote built around the name of one of their later films, 1930's Another Fine Mess. The actual quote is "Well, here's another nice mess you've gotten me into!")

Zoom in on a city.
This is actually the second prologue which was written for DW5. Bob originally wrote a completely different prologue which tied the Walk (and the rest of its metacontinuity) into Gregg "Metroanime" Sharp's "The Bet" setting, but it was rejected by Chris. Bob then wrote this prologue, inspired by the prologue he wrote for an abandoned Step set in the television program Charmed.

Bob adds: I'd like to note that stylistically, this prologue owes more than a little to the opening scene of chapter two of Eric Hallstrom's Ranma and Akane: A Love Story. I'd also like to note that OMB was already tied into "The Bet" through the Ranma segment of Chris's God's Toy vignette series, so the Walk is still linked to the "Bet-verse" as a result of this Step.

Over there, spread out around the bases of several immense tanks storing natural gas, is a quiet suburban district filled with shops and restaurants and homes.
Nerima, for fans of Ranma 1/2 and All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku-Nuku.

It's not Toudai
"Toudai" is the popular Japanese abbreviation for the name of the school known in English as "Tokyo University". It's the hardest college to get into in all of Japan.

Chapter One

In Which I Wake Up Closer To Heaven Than I Want To Be At This Point In My Life
Sorry, no Warner Brothers quotes for chapter headers this time around.

The gods love heroes. They also love a good laugh. Think about it. — Anonymous
This quote comes from a small 8.5" X 11" pen-and-ink poster Bob got at an East Coast SF convention in 1984 or 85. The poster itself has a 1984 copyright date, but is signed with just a fused set of initials that create what can only be called a rune or glyph, and which is more or less undecipherable. Bob has no idea who the original artist/author is, but if someone could tell us, we'll happily give him or her proper credit.

Chris adds: The chapter heading quotes are particularly apt when you consider DW, OMB and God's Toy. Kami-sama's a prick.

the temple
Just a quick note on nomenclature. Although the compound where Keiichi and the Celestials dwell is composed of several distinct buildings, including the temple proper and a detached house, many of the characters refer to both the house and the compound as a whole as "the temple". We'll try to make this as unconfusing as possible, but sometimes you'll just have to grok what is actually meant from context.

Skuld, Norn of the Future, called by some the Raven-Haired
This and several other epithets that follow are tips o' the hat to the fine and talented people over at Eyrie Productions, Unlimited.

their elder brother Christopher Angel, known to some as the Lord of Paradox, to others as the God of Moments,
And if you're wondering who this guy is, you should probably head over to yggdrasil.org and read Oh! My Brother!.

Chris adds: Yes, do. Rack up those page hits, I'm lonely.

Nearby, Urd lounged idly on the engawa, watching them.
For those who don't know, an engawa is the wooden porch or veranda that runs along one or more sides of a traditional Japanese home. They're normally about as wide as a broad sidewalk, which is pretty much the purpose they serve. In the case of the house where Keiichi and the goddesses live, there is at least one known stretch of engawa, near the dining room and overlooking the temple yard.

"I remember the ice cube spell."
As is referenced in chapter 11 of Oh! My Brother!, Paradox is bad at magic.

"And if P-mmpf!"
Peorth, for those who can't guess.

"If *she* asks, Thor's gone to storm the gates of Hell, and he's letting me hold his cloak."
Blatantly stolen from David Eddings' Elenium/Tamuli books. The man is the grand master of witty banter.

"Where's your jerk of a brother? Why isn't *he* helping?"
Since Chris never touched on Megumi in Oh! My Brother!, he decided to take some author liberties and make Paradox dislike her immensely, making the character's feelings somewhat less intense than the author's. Chris loathes Megumi as a character.

The conversation hadn't sounded quite like what Megumi'd been expecting, and she wanted to think about it.
In Bob's original notes for the first chapter, this scene was followed by one where Megumi got a chance to press the "redial" button on the phone. The redial was even included in an early collection of teaser material for readers of Bob's discussion forums. Unfortunately, the scene ultimately disrupted the flow of the story. Since it didn't really add anything except a bit of humor, we cut it. Maybe when DW5 is completed we will include it in a posting of "outtakes".

Verdandi nodded. "Our Father, who is in Heaven."
"'Harold be thy name,'" I muttered

Once again, a tip of the hat to Cecil Adams and The Straight Dope.

the Olympians
The Greek gods.

When I see her with a guy, I don't see a monstrous, alien creature of immense power manipulating some poor schlmazel for its own amusement.
For those of you who don't know any Yiddish, a schlmazel is a guy who has nothing but bad luck — he always gets hit by the stray snowball, gets soup dumped in his lap, or bikes into the car door that opens unexpectedly into traffic; he's the guy that gives up on a slot machine right before it hits big, or wins the lottery only to lose the ticket. You get the idea.

"And whomsoever art *thou*, in thy cast-iron tuxedo?"
From Knight-Mare Hare (1955), directed by Chuck Jones. Oh, and just like Bugs, Doug is pronouncing the "r" in "iron".

Navajo turquoise plate mail
Probably not the wisest thing to say. Paradox is touchy about his armor color. It's teal.

Combination of at least three different martial arts, there,
Which ones? Skuld's "handoff" was a modified version of a Tai Chi "push" maneuver. The take-down was judo. The handstand over them was capoiera.

Alberich would have *loved* to have seen the style this guy uses.
Herald Armsmaster Alberich from Valdemar, with whom Doug did a fair amount of training during the events of the as-yet unwritten Drunkard's Walk I.

Can you fight Florentine with a pointed buckler for your main-gauche?
To fight "Florentine"-style is to do so with a sword in each hand. "Main-gauche" (literally, "left hand" in French) more properly refers to a variety of large knife used in the left hand in a slightly different style of fighting, and not the off-hand sword of a Florentine fighter, but Doug's not in a position here to think clearly about terminology. A buckler, while we're at it, is a small shield — anywhere from sandwich-plate-sized to pie-pan-sized — which is worn on the wrist of a swordsman's off hand. A swashbuckler, by the way, is someone who swashes (flamboyantly waves about) his buckler...

Chris adds: As a general point, Paradox' weapons and fighting style were conceptualized by me one day while I was playing with a bunch of 11x17 paper in high school. A friend of mine who was in the SCA (and was an expert fencer and martial artist) actually built the weapons and tried fighting with them. The best fighting style he came up with closely resembled a cross between Errol Flynn's swashbuckling, and the flamboyant martial arts style used in a lot of modern kung-fu movies. In general, there tends to be a lot of punch-thrusts and swipes, backhands and bash attacks.

*This guy hits hard enough to impress Magni.*
Magni means "strength." He was one of the few Aesir strong enough to lift his father's (Thor's) hammer.

Marquis of Queensbury
For those who don't know, this is the nineteenth century nobleman who formalized boxing and turned it into a sport.

Update, 30 May 2012: This is what you get when you don't fact-check when you write. It's not "Marquis", it's "Marquess". The next time one of us updates this chapter, we'll have to fix that.

Oh, and for the anonymous email correspondent who asked, "Marquess of Doonesbury" is just wisecrackery and doesn't hold any hidden meanings or references.

"<'From my heart and from my hand,'>" I whispered when I remembered what had happened, "<'why don't people understand my intentions?'>"
A couplet repeated several times in Oingo Boingo's song "Weird Science".

This ceiling looks familiar.
A little riff on a common refrain from Ikari Shinji in Neon Genesis Evangelion: "Unfamiliar ceiling."

"Lead on, MacDuff."
Yes, we know the proper quote is "Lay on, MacDuff". But the misquote has become a quote in its own right over the years.

"If the water in the tub starts swirling or bubbling, get out *fast*." He grimaced again. "It's less painful that way."
A reference to Keiichi's first encounter with Skuld, who 'ported into the temple via a furo he was using at the time, and then pounded him for being a pervert.

Slowly I turned.
Step by step, inch by inch...
<grin>

Update, 30 May 2012: For our younger readers, as well as readers from outside North America, let us explain that these are the key lines that identify a classic sketch from vaudeville, film, radio and early TV. It's probably best known from performances by Abbott and Costello, The Three Stooges, and even Lucille Ball, but is much older and its actual author is in dispute. The sketch has many different names, but it's best known by the line that Doug uses in the story — "Slowly I Turned".

"<Gods,>" I muttered to myself as I sank into the steaming water. "<Why does it always have to be gods?>"
An obvious play on Indiana Jones' "Snakes. Why does it always have to be snakes?"

my Hong Kong Cavaliers 1985 "War of the Worlds" tour T-shirt
Commemorating the defeat of the Red Lectroids at Grovers Mill, New Jersey, in 1984. Of course.

the White Manna in Hackensack
The White Manna is a real place in Hackensack, New Jersey — a teeny-tiny old-fashioned pre-franchise-era hamburger joint, all Formica and stainless steel. It's still open and doing business, too. Regular readers of Weird New Jersey magazine will no doubt be familiar with it. But neither of us has ever actually eaten there. (Chris, being an inhabitant of Canada, has a far better excuse for that than New Jerseyite Bob does.) Of course, Wikipedia has a page on it (along with a similar place in Jersey City); Yelp.com has a good page for it as well, complete with reviews from customers.

Can you say 'Modi'?"
Chris actually growled. "Don't remind me."

Modi's name means "wrath". His temper is legendary. Literally. Just what he did that has Paradox growling is covered in chapter 3 of Oh! My Brother!

after-you-my-dear-Alphonse'ing her towards the exit
Reference to an old, old, old newspaper cartoon, Alphonse and Gaston, featuring two over-polite Frenchmen, and to a trademark routine of theirs where each would politely bow and insist that the other should go first through a door or take some other action, which would then go back-and-forth to ridiculous levels. The very minor Warner Brothers characters Mac 'n' Tosh (aka "The Goofy Gophers") would occasionally lift some of this routine in their cartoons.

Oh, well, time to look into the abyss and all that.
Reference to the Nietzsche quote "If you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you", and Brother Theodore's riff on it, "I have looked into the abyss, and the abyss has looked into me. Neither liked what we saw."

a degree in Applied Theology
Doug's not being facetious about the field — with confirmed godly existence in Warriors' World, it is in fact an established area of academic endeavor there.

Douglas Q. Sangnoir, Colonel, UNMPFWA, UK, M.O.U.S.E..."
UNMPFWA = United Nations Metahuman Peacekeeping Force Warriors Alpha
UK = United Kingdom
M.O.U.S.E. = Joke, the closing of the old Mickey Mouse Club TV show theme song, but if you really want it to have an actual meaning, it can also stand for "Master Of Unusual Sciences and Engineering". <grin>

with not even so much as a lingonberry or a lutefisk in sight.
Two Scandinavian foodstuffs. The lingonberry is a sweet-tart reddish fruit somewhat reminiscient of cranberries. Bob has encountered them mainly in a jelly which is served and used in much the same manner as cranberry sauce. They also make a pretty good soda, surprisingly. Lutefisk is one of the stranger culinary specialties we've ever heard of — dried cod treated with lye, of all things, then cooked in boiling salt water. We'll pass, thank you.

Update, 12 January 2013. Dedicated reader Rob Kelk pointed out in the DW Forums that lingonberries are in fact a very close relative of cranberries, hence the resemblance in taste.

I promised myself that I would look up a place called "The Heart of Darkest Chocolate"
A tip o' the hat to Gregg "Metroanime" Sharp and the cosmology of his "Bet" stories.

Since he didn't have the look of a Jewish patriarch about him,
According to the Bible, the Israelite patriarchs Elijah and Enoch were physically taken into Heaven by God instead of dying.

I ... bowed toward Verdandi with a polite "Gochisousama."
An excruciatingly polite way of thanking the host for a meal.

I picked up the closest piece — the headlight — and studied it.
The similarity to Hamlet with Yorick's skull is entirely coincidental. Really.

"Then you and I have a little project, chibikko."
"Chibikko" is a Japanese colloquialism which can be translated roughly as "squirt", "runt" or "small fry". For those not familiar enough, it breaks down into the words "chibi" (small or little) and "ko" (child). And yes, there are supposed to be two "k"'s in it.

"Can't. I've got classes."
Yes, that's on a Saturday. The Japanese educational system uses a weekly schedule of 5 full days and one half-day, with the latter being Saturday. Oh, and Skuld became a university student in Oh! My Brother!

the prepacked overnight bag that I had stashed in there for just this purpose
By this point in the Walk, Doug's expecting to end up in an unfamiliar universe, and is prepped accordingly.

a clear plastic packet holding a pair of weathered gold coins
He learned his lesson about gemstones, mostly, back in DW2... <grin>

some kind of objection on the grounds that I was a threat to their precious bodily fluids or something
A reference to the movie Dr. Strangelove — the implication, for those who haven't seen it, is that he expects Paradox to be irrational and paranoid about the defense of his sisters.

Chapter Two

The big, blocky building that I couldn't get a good look at in the dark the previous night turned out to be a Shinto temple.
Yes, we're aware that according to the later manga and the 2005 TV series it's a Buddhist temple, hence the name. That information wasn't available to Chris when he originally wrote Oh! My Brother!, and he quite reasonably made the temple Shinto. We see no reason to change it. Consider it yet another wild divergence.

Chris adds: I don't have the tapes anymore to prove it, but I distinctly recall in the inserts from the OAV VHS release they stated it was a Shinto temple. *Shrug*

I hadn't aged a day in nearly 7 years
Why hasn't he? Go (re)read his departure from MegaTokyo in Drunkard's Walk II, and the Coda at the very end of that chapter. The answer's there.

The Stormsdaughter *lived*, in spite of all those in Hell who claimed otherwise.
Hexe didn't exactly file a set of change-of-address forms before she incarnated herself. A few of the other metagods who had roles in the same pantheon are presumed to have known what she intended, but as far as all the other Celestials are concerned, she and all her various avatars just vanished one day. Word of her disappearance, garbled and mutated by what amounted to a massive game of "Telephone", eventually made its way to Hell, where "common wisdom" interpreted it as news of her death. Or the godly equivalent thereof.

"My stars," I said with a little grin, "it's full of gods!"
"My god, it's full of stars", from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Update, 7 December 2006: Reader/prereader Logan Darklighter came across this in a FAQ file for 2001: A Space Odyssey:

...novelist Ken MacLeod has taken the "borrowing" a stage further. In "The Cassini Division", the only observer who witnesses Ganymede disintegrating into a zillion rectangular pieces mutters: "My stars, it's full of Gods". Though, since no-one else was around, it seems rather wasted.

The Cassini Division was published in 1998, predating our use by a good eight years.

The same FAQ entry points out that the "full of stars" line is not, in fact, from the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, but appears only in the novelization; it is, however, used extensively in the sequel film, 2010.

(Good thing that Kubrick's "2002" obviously had existed in that universe, too, otherwise that joke would have fallen *so* flat.)
No, that's not a typo. That's a second-stage joke and punchline. And in case you're wondering what one of our prereaders wondered, no, there's no extra hidden meaning in the change in the movie title. Except maybe WW's version of Stanley Kubrick had a bit more of a thing for symmetry.

"You're very Japanese for someone who's Scandinavian,"
Well, she is. The 2005 TV series makes the kitchen in the temple house far more primitive/traditional Japanese than the one in the OVAs — and the TV Belldandy takes to it, and to the corresponding traditional cooking methods, like a duck to water.

Chris adds: The joke aside, if Paradox really ate like me there'd be a lot of bacon (strip type), eggs, and cheese.

the threat Hanoi Xan posed to me
For those of you wondering who Hanoi Xan is, and what connection he has to Buckaroo Banzai, please direct your attention to the novelization of the movie, recently (post-2000) rereleased in paperback. According to this volume, Hanoi Xan is the archenemy of Buckaroo Banzai, is responsible for the death of his parents and his first wife, and just may be a pseudonym for Fu Manchu. Furthermore, he was supposed to be mentioned extensively in the movie as a prime mover behind Lizardo's escape and other problems plaguing Buckaroo. The studio suits thought that all the references to a character who never even appeared on screen would be too confusing to the audience, however, so they were edited out. (Some of them can be seen via the extra features menu of the most recent DVD release.)

I've dealt with the fact that the Judeo-Christian 'pantheon' is populated by weird-ass critters with a superiority complex.
As seen in the game In Nomine, by Steve Jackson Games.

Chris adds: Bob's recommendation of this was inspired. I had no clue how to deal with those guys until he brought up In Nomine to me a while ago.

I've adjusted quite well to the fact that Shiva — a goddess of death, mind you — decided to turn herself into something out of a Square game.
Mainly because Chris lifted his version of Shiva from a Square game.

Chris adds: There is an aspect of Shiva that is female. There's another related to ice. It's not too far a stretch.

a book blazoned with the title "GURPS Warriors' World"
Well, you knew it had to be out there in at least one timeline somewhere. What's curious is that Paradox doesn't turn to Doug's writeup and look for hints and advice on dealing with him. <grin>

Chris adds: The better question is what Paradox's analogue is like in that world. :D

Bob adds: We know, but we're not telling until we absolutely have to!

this was the same being who owned up to using dice to make key decisions.
Mainly to annoy Albert Einstein, whom he invariably invites to the main office for such occasions, but Paradox doesn't know about that part of it. <grin>

The Well of Urd
The traditional hang-out of the Norns in Norse mythology. It's been seen in Drunkard's Walk II as the misty white Place-that-is-not-a-place where Doug encounters the Three.

"Tarikihonganji" — "The Temple of Salvation By Faith in Amida Buddha"
Which is, if you're not aware of it, the actual name of the temple in Ah! My Goddess. The name didn't appear until well into the manga, and never in the OVAs, but it can be seen during the temple's first appearance in the 2005 TV series.

"Nekomi Street Shopping Plaza"
As seen in the TV series. Oddly enough, Bob wrote much of this scene with the open-air pedestrian shopping zone of Cape May, New Jersey in mind. A very different architectural flavor, to be sure, but the same kind of place overall.

he was a perfect example of Brattus Cashus Toomuchus — the Spoiled Rich Kid.
And yes, this is indeed who you're thinking it might be, at least if you're familiar with the major recurring characters of AMG.

Update, 11 April 2012: At this late date, it probably behooves us to note that we had intended to include a small subplot involving Aoshima — which is why we bothered to put this encounter here. But the main action pretty much took off on its own and left him behind. So you can consider this a fossil relic of a what-might-have-been.

Of course I said it with as audible a sneer as I could pour into the words.
Japanese is reportedly a wonderful language for couching deadly insults in exquisitely polite language. Doug's just taking full advantage of it while he has the opportunity.

Besides, I'd spotted a sign that said "Skeeball" down the block.
We actually have no idea if skeeball can actually be found in Japan, although we figure it's pretty likely. If not, there's always pachinko.

Oh, and yeah, it's a reference to Kevin Smith's movie Dogma.

"Skuld, *please* do not tempt the Happy Fun Full Manifestation."
See "The Happy Fun Ball" from Saturday Night Live.

"'How does your garden grow?'" Chris murmured to himself with a smile
For those of you unfamiliar with traditional Mother Goose nursery rhymes by reason of cultural background or a deprived childhood, Paradox is actually commenting on the contrariness that Skuld was denying a moment before, by quoting one such rhyme:

Mistress Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?

And yeah, there's just a little bit of an echo of the Argument Clinic sketch from Monty Python there, too.

"Like, how is it we ended up talking in Old Norse *again*?"
Just as they did after another heart-to-heart in chapter 5 of Oh! My Brother!.

Chris adds: In some copies of that chapter, it says Swedish. That's from an ealier revision. Old Norse is funnier.

I came away from the arcade with a cheap pair of sunglasses
"Go get yourself some cheap sunglasses..." Doug's just following the advice of ZZ Top.

a battery-powered toy mecha — called "Garban" or some such
"Garban" comes from Sister Princess, where it is the "star" of a show-within-a-show that's used to provide brief Greek Chorus comments on the main plot at the end of each episode.

Wayland ... demigod smith
A figure from ancient British myth; he's mentioned repeatedly in the old ITV Robin of Sherwood TV series as a master crafter of swords. Needed because the Norse didn't have a smith-god. They tended to outsource to dwarves.

We once won a battle because one of the enemy ruptured a disk in his back lifting an Abrams tank the wrong way and ended up dropping it on himself.
No, this didn't actually happen in a game. Bob just made it up because he wanted a funny example+moral here.

I looked over at my human host.
Yes, you Twin Peaks fans, Doug requires a human host. <grin>

"Damn," I murmured. "That's a *Prefect*. A genuine 1959 Ford Prefect."
For those who don't know, this is in fact a real model of car, one that is specific to Great Britain. The whole joke of Ford Prefect's name in The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy is that he essentially called himself the equivalent of "Honda Civic" or "Mini Cooper", thinking it would make him inconspicuous. The car that almost runs him down in the flashback in the Hitchhiker movie is a Ford Prefect, but just in case it went by too fast for you, here's a photo of one standing still:

[A green Ford Prefect]

She's gotten a lot more relaxed since that business with the cave.
From Japanese myth — in response to Susanoo being an out-of-control jerk, Amaterasu hid herself in a cave, depriving the world of the sun. It took a lot of convincing and a fair amount of trickery to get her to come back out.

"You do," Doug replied in a curiously high-pitched voice, "and I'll give you *such* a pinch!"
A quote from Rabbit Fire (1951) — the comment of a very annoyed elephant who suddenly appears when Elmer is upbraided (by Bugs Bunny) for using an elephant gun on rabbits and he starts reconsidering what he should shoot with it. The original was delivered in a high-pitched, extremely-peeved voice reminiscent of Joe Besser (aka "Curly Joe" of the Three Stooges).

"Almost twenty years ago," she said softly, "at the moment you were conceived, the One who expresses herself here as Urd spun out the thread of your life."
Yes, the imagery and symbolism here are more from the Greek Fates than the Norns. But remember — the Three are all such trinities of goddesses, so they are the Fates as well as the Norns.

Chris adds: If she really wanted to be confused, she could ask where Paradox fits in that. :D

Bob adds: Wait until the next chapter.

"She has a heart of chrome, and a voice like a horny angel," I quoted absently
The quote is from Jim Steinman's monologue/soliloquy "Love and Death and an American Guitar". It's available on both Steinman's "Bad For Good" CD and Meat Loaf's "Bat Out Of Hell II" CD (under the title "Wasted Youth"). And, of course, you can always listen to it on YouTube. In the Discworld novel Soul Music (by Terry Pratchett, of course), Death actually semi-quotes/paraphrases part of its first line.

my first thought on seeing *him* was that he looked like a psychotic Freddie Mercury on steroids.
Well, he does.

For you young whippersnappers out in the audience who don't recognize the name "Freddie Mercury", he is the late, great lead singer of the band Queen. He died in the early 1990s from AIDS, but not before leaving behind a hell of a musical legacy. You ought to know "Bohemian Rhapsody" if nothing else, at least — and that was just the tip of the iceberg. Go do yourself a favor and listen to almost anything by Queen.

"I always told ya you'd pull that shit on the wrong person someday, Tamiya, and you'd get yer ass kicked."
Tamiya's lunge triggering a defensive reaction and Ootaki's comment afterward are inspired by similar moments in Barry Cadwgan's long-incomplete fic Happily Ever After...?. Credit where credit is due.

Oh, and Barry? *NOODGE*

"See if I make Arabic food for you again anytime soon,"
Chris says: My parents were from Palestine and Jordan. I don't look it — I resemble my grandfather closely, down to the more Italian features and heavy freckles. Now, my brother — he looks it. Paradox, being a mutation of me, probably shows it a bit more clearly. Nonetheless, my mother used to make Arabic food on occasion, and there are certain dishes I adore. It's not a far stretch to believe Paradox would beg/plead Belldandy to learn those dishes.

Itou Hot Springs
Location of a later manga story. Keiichi wins a free trip to the springs and of course brings along the goddesses — only to find that Mara's spending time off there, too.

Besides, the man played a *mean* game of ping-pong, and it had been far too long since she'd had a decent challenger.
Mara is, apparently, quite the ping-pong player in canon. She spends a lot of her time at hot springs, where it is a traditional pasttime.

Chapter Three

Good morning, Starshine,
There's love in your skies,
Reflecting the sunlight
In my lover's eyes.

This is the recording of "Good Morning, Starshine" by Oliver that Doug's playing; it's the only place that we know of where you will find this verse, which doesn't appear in either the play or movie version of Hair. It's not even certain that the original authors of the song actually wrote this verse.

*"Vengeance is mine," sayeth the cook,* Chris thought glumly,
"'Vengeance is mine,' sayeth the Lord," a common paraphrase of Romans 12:19.

Breakfast was -- as it frequently became in Belldandy's hands -- a foray into the foods of another culture, prepared with exquisite care and attention.
For those unfamiliar with the cuisine of the Southeastern United States, be aware that all of the food items in this passage are real and regularly eaten as breakfast foods in at least some part of the American South. Even the coffee-salt pork sauce — called "Red-eye Gravy" — for the grits. Bob has actually had the opportunity to try a few of them (though, like Paradox, he loathes okra).

And yes, hushpuppies are just as good as they sound here.

Chris adds: As an amusing sidenote, thanks to my parents' influence, I pronounce okra "awkra", not "oakra" like North Americans do. And my sensitivity to the foulness that is okra is understated here. I can detect even the most minute tainting of okra in an otherwise fine dish.

"Truly classical cooking," I declared, and held up a piece of scrapple speared on my fork. "Bring back the glory that was grease!"
"The glory that was Greece, the grandeur that was Rome!" is a line from Edgar Allen Poe that refers to an idealized version of classical antiquity that people from much later periods had of those civilizations. The specific quote "Bring back the glory that was Greece" refers in particular to Victorian England's self-identification with the height of Greek civilization, and their use of it as a justification for empire-building.

And now you're saying to yourself, "all this for a joke about food?"

Yes.

Chris adds: I'm rather pleased with this whole sequence, Bob did a fantastic job on it. One of the problems with writing a story based on a romantic-comedy manga/anime is that the characters in the sources tend to be very much caricatures and very much over-the-top. Throughout OMB and in DW5, I've made an effort to make the characters more real and human. This kind of harmless petty sibling one-upmanship adds a human dimension to Belldandy that you don't really see otherwise. Paradox's counter to that — the whole popping every joint thing — and Belldandy's reaction really shows that this is not a one-time thing, but rather an old game with them.

Bob adds: Well, as old as it can be with only a year of history between them at this point.

Now Jean's going to tell that prick Dom, and I'll have got a bloody Inquisitorial Triad on their way, and there's nothing we can do about it.
More In Nomine references. Jean is the Archangel of Lightning (and by extension through electricity the archangel in charge of technology). Dominic is the Archangel of Judgment — the head of the Divine Inquisition, which is Heaven's Internal Affairs division. (Although some would liken his forces more to the Gestapo.) A "triad" is a standard three-angel investigatory squad from his forces.

Chris adds: I thought that having a little cross-pantheon antipathy is fun, and really based on how I've developed the Celestials we've seen, Dominic's and Jean's attitudes would really rub a whole lot of people the wrong way.

"Tian-mu's tits!
Chris says: Tian-mu is a Chinese goddess of Lightning. Her name literally means "mother of lightning". And yes, I'm continuing the whole "Paradox offends everyone by taking their names in vain" joke.

Bob adds: No, Hexe is not Tian-mu. Just before anyone asks.

Finagle's Law
"The perversity of the universe tends toward a maximum." A superset of Murphy's Law.

something called "essential metal" -- which was apparently a completely magical substance
For those who've Googled on this and come up with a CD box set of 1980s rock music instead of something which made contextual sense, here's an explanation. The terminology comes from the GURPS magic system, and refers to the pure, unalloyed essence of one of the mystical elements — earth, air, fire, or water. "Essential Fire" is pure elemental fire, and burns better, more and longer than ordinary fire; "Essential Water" is pure elemental water, and is better for drinking, putting out fires, etc. than ordinary water; and so on. These substances can be conjured by a mage with sufficient skill in using that particular element.

Now, in classic Asian alchemy/magic, "metal" is a mystical element. So it only stands to reason that it, too, has an Essential nature that can be evoked or conjured. This substance is what Doug was talking about. Bob already has a fair-sized passage written which describes the properties (and alternate names) of essential metal. It's intended for Drunkard's Walk XIII, but there's no reason not to share a little here:

"Different cultures had different names for it: godsteel, uru, adamantium. ... It has all the best properties of all the metals — the lightness of lithium, the strength of steel and titanium, the corrosion resistance of gold, the conductivity of copper..."

"I'm always here ... It's all you other people who go away."
Bob says: This is a quote from something that's stuck in my head for years, but I can't remember the original source. Possibly a Heinlein novel?

Update, 1 February 2007: Numerous readers have pointed out multiple Heinlein works as the source for the line. It may well be one of those stylistic elements of his — like the name "Oscar" — which shows up in many places over his career. More on this as it develops.

"Belldandy is the Present ... She's the now, the necessity,

In Old Norse, "Verdandi" means "Necessity".

(And in case you're wondering, "Urd" means "Fate" and "Skuld" means "Being".)

I chuckled at the idea of cleaning an oven with dragon's blood (it was a use for the stuff I'd never heard of, though I knew of almost a dozen others)
This is a joke for fans of Harry Potter — one of Albus Dumbledore's claims to fame is having discovered most of the twelve known uses for dragon's blood. The only one of these mentioned explicitly in the books is oven-cleaning.

This is just the right size to use as a whaddayacallit -- one of those sticks you use to hit shiatsu points in combat.
Bob's pretty sure he's heard these called just tsubo sticks (tsubo being the word for such shiatsu points) but he can't confirm it.

though there was this one time a little mortal girl with a wooden sword defeated one all by herself.
Another tip o' the hat to the fine folks at Eyrie Productions, this one for their story Ash Knight.

*So,* he thought dimly as he grasped at the frame of the door to his room, *this is what a migraine feels like*
Actually, it isn't. But that's okay, it's not a migraine.

Chris adds: Shush you, stop spoiling things.

"Bell... where's your... limiter?"
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Ah! My Goddess, Belldandy is so powerful that she normally wears a special magical "lock" to keep from accidentally cracking the planet open when she sneezes. (This is not an exaggeration.) This "lock" is called a "limiter" and in her case takes the form of an earring.

Chris adds: I've toned down the power of the Goddesses in OMB. Belldandy is still ludicrously powerful and needs a limiter, but I've brought her in line with an Archangel from In Nomine. Since the OMB universe is smarmy with Celestials and Infernals, I felt I needed to balance things out and tone everyone down.

I less-than-politely refused the same offer from Urd, who seemed a bit too... eager for my comfort.
Which is a pity, because she was going to put him in a really sharp Armani.

no doubt certain Fate-shaped entities of my acquaintance had been examining my life with a metaphoric magnifying glass
Actually, they hadn't — they were working entirely off of observation and what he had already told them.

Genmai-cha, filtered by the carafe so there weren't any grains of roasted rice floating in it.
Bob's personal favorite variety of authentic Japanese green tea. Like Doug, he likes nibbling on the rice.

'the sons of God looked upon the daughters of Man and saw them fair and took them to wife' or some such
Genesis 6:1-4. Doug's specifically recalling Genesis 6:2, which in the American Standard Version reads "... the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all that they chose." Bob would also like to note that he didn't cheat and look up the verse while writing, but quoted it from memory.

The difference in approaches is basically because of the difference in resources.
And here we have the federally-mandated educational content of the story. <grin> Just be glad we don't stick a "Sailor Says" tag scene on the end of this thing.

So. Christ-bearing messenger of God.
The literal translation of "Christopher Angel" from the various languages used.

Chris adds: Christopher James Angel. My parents were on a religious kick, I think.

Bob adds: Doug hasn't heard Paradox's middle name yet, so he didn't account for it in his snark.

New Jerusalem
A synonym for the Christian Heaven, at least for some Protestant denominations, although in Revelation it is an actual city in Heaven, most likely its capital.

did I mention she screamed something and malleted me the moment she appeared?"
"Knocked him right out," Urd added from where she sat. "She called us in a panic absolutely convinced she'd killed him."

As recounted in the first chapter of Oh! My Brother!

Last thing I needed was to be stuck in, say, a 15th-century mage-punk Vienna
Bob says: Before anyone asks, no, I'm not planning any such story.

"He's still locked up, you paranoid git!"
Chris says: They're referring to Loki. In OMB the Lord of Terror arc won't happen, mostly because I thought it was lame — and let's be honest, if Urd being a vessel for a super-high-level nasty like the LoT were common knowledge, Paradox would be a busy guy, because there'd be a lot of covert (if not overt) action taken against Urd by both sides. So, no.

Kyriotates make my teeth hurt
Kyriotates are a variety of angel from In Nomine which don't have physical bodies of their own, so they "borrow" those of animals or people. They can split themselves up to occupy more than one body at a time, as seen here.

That this particular Kyriotate appears to be controlling dozens of ravens at once indicates that it's substantially more powerful than a run-of-the-mill angel, by the way. Not even close to Archangel-powerful, mind you, but definitely way up there.

Laurence
Archangel of The Sword, also from In Nomine. Take every arrogant, prissy, rules-obsessed supervisor you've ever met or worked for — every one of whom has been promoted out of his league and is desperately hiding his incompetence — roll them all together, give the result armor and a sword, and put it in charge of Heaven's armies. That's Laurence.

'I say to the gods and the sons of gods the things that whet my thoughts; by the wells of the world there is none with the might to make me do his will.' ... Loki. From the 'Lay of Loki'.
Specifically, this is verse 64 of "The Lokasenna", also called "The Lay of Loki," "The Flyting of Loki" and "Loki's Wrangling". It is part of the Poetic Edda. The original Norse reads:

Kvađ ek fyr ásum,
kvađ ek fyr ása sonum,
ţats mik hvatti hugr,
en fyr ţér einum
mun ek út ganga,
ţví at ek veit, at ţú vegr.
The particular translation we're using here was originally found in The Roaring Trumpet, the first "Harold Shea" novella by L. Sprague DeCamp and Fletcher Pratt (written in 1940). DeCamp and Pratt were normally quite rigorous in their research, but the second half of the English version of the verse as given by them and quoted by Doug does not seem to match any known authoritative translation that we can find. However, since it fits Doug's point of view here so perfectly, we're using it anyway.

My maternal grandmother was a German Jew.
Strictly speaking, being ethnically Jewish is transmitted only along maternal lines — if your mother was Jewish, you are, too. If only your father is Jewish, you may have a Jewish name and may be ''raised'' Jewish, but you are not "really" Jewish, not as far as the religious authorities are concerned. Conversely, as in Doug's case, if you have an unbroken Jewish maternal line, it doesn't matter what your name is or how you're raised — you're Jewish.

Mawu-Lisa
An African deity, a dual-aspected creator god woshipped by the Fon of Dahomey/Benin.

Soldier ... Servitor
Terms for various kinds of mortal agents of Celestials, again from In Nomine. Yes, we've played a little fast and loose with the terminology.

Chris adds: In In Nomine, they have the concept that Celestials/Infernals have access to technologies far beyond what mortals have. This fits in nicely with what we've seen in OMG, so adapting some of the consequences of that into OMB/DW was almost automatic. Both the guys above and below have some fairly strict restrictions on what they're allowed to give humanity, because no one wants humanity to get ultratech too soon. Skuld, by giving Megumi skills and knowledge centuries ahead of the state of the art and not controlling how she can use it, is breaking all sorts of rules, some of which came down from Kami-sama himself.

Chapter Four

he has had no direct Celestial modification to his Forces.
Once again, "Forces" are a concept from In Nomine. Outside of their use as a game mechanic, they represent the unique combination of energies that make up an individual — or rather, his soul. There are three kinds of Forces — Celestial, Ethereal, and Corporeal — and different combinations and quantities make for different levels of ability in various domains.

Celestials have vastly more Forces in their souls than mortals do — it's part of what makes them Celestials. (It's also what Doug is detecting when he sees the "triple spiral" in a Celestial soul; in a mortal soul, the Forces are too few/weak for him to perceive them separately.) When a mortal becomes a Soldier, he is usually given at least one Force by the Celestial to whom he has sworn, which brings with it at the very least the ability to perceive the Symphony — the In Nomine term for the "sound" of the Cosmic All — in addition to whatever ability boost it provides.

"And the kicker is, he may not even know he's carrying it."
The Mark of Favor was given to him by Hexe way back in Chapter 12 of Drunkard's Walk II. (And yes, she put a similar one on Lisa Vanette.)

Pardon me if I *like* seeing the world the way I'm used to instead of as freaky day-glo streamers with metadata tags
For an example of which, see the opening credits of the 2005 Ah! My Goddess TV series.

There's only one god -- goddess, really -- that I trust enough to swear any service to...
Wetter Hexe, of course.

"The Scarlet Pumpernickel Parry".
Name taken from the 1950 Daffy Duck cartoon The Scarlet Pumpernickel.

"The Hassan Chop"
Taken from the signature move of Arabian guard Hassan in the 1957 Bugs Bunny short Ali Baba Bunny.

No, wait, that was somebody else.
Bob sheepishly admits that while the text here is original, he stole the structure of this bit of comedy from a similar passage in chapter 8 of the Ranma 1/2 fanfic Girl Days by Rob "Kenko" Haynie.

Not that under most circumstances I needed to worry about a mere handgun, but I wasn't wearing my armor, and if my field didn't deflect it, taking a bullet would hurt like a sonuvabitch.
In V&V, Doug has about 70 hit points (compared to 4 for an ordinary human). A handgun does 1-8 points of damage in the game. Even if his field didn't deflect it, he didn't dodge, and he didn't roll with the hit, a maximum-damage point-blank gunshot wound wouldn't even inconvenience him. But yes, it would hurt.

"So you two are stuck like this until that momzer makes his choice?"
"Momzer" is Yiddish for "bastard".

*Nothing like one of the seven deadlies to bring a mortal around to my side.*
The Seven Deadly Sins don't seem to be as prevalent in pop culture as they used to be, so for those who have no idea what they are, specifically, here's the list:

For more information, there's always Wikipedia.

a colorful flier on the bulletin board at the entrance advertising a robot-battle tournament.
Of which there seem to be a lot around Nekomi for some reason. Skuld won't be entering this one, as she's got something else on her mind right now.

and the top of a tight blue dress.
Yes, that's an intentional reference to the song "Devil in a Blue Dress".

"Ooooh, just a little private time," she cooed. "A little this and that, you know?"
I knew. Odd that she chose a Japanese idiom

For those who aren't familiar with it, "this and that" (along with variations like "this or that" and "that thing") is a typically Japanese euphemism for the act of sex.

"<I know you've deceived me, now here's a surprise,>" I interrupted her, singing softly in English, "<I know that you have 'cause there's magic in my eyes.>
These are the first two lines of The Who's 1967 song "I Can See For Miles".

"The androgynous wonder!" Chris said in semi-amused derision. "I'm surprised you could even tell she was a woman. She must have put the butch clothes back into her closet."
Chris says: Paradox's first encounter with Mara is the same as Keiichi's in the manga — the story where she says to Keiichi that she's Belldandy's fiance. Considering that Keiichi doesn't find out she's a girl until the end, I played that up with Paradox too, and so from now on he refers to her as "the androgynous wonder". Mara's clothing has changed by now into something more feminine, as it did in the manga, so Paradox is just being mean here.

She turned me into a car! She took over my body!
In Mara's first two appearances in the manga. Her tactics were somewhat different in the TV series, and despite being in the opening credits, she never actually appeared in the OVA series.

my friend Joe, who's a properly-trained wizard.
Also known as Dwimanor.

Chris scowled. "I was thinking of making the circle a little tighter. Otherwise, we have to deal with 'help' from real winners like Modi."
Chris says: Paradox really doesn't like Modi. As a general rule, he's not too impressed with most Celestials, since in his mind they tend to be lacking in little things like common sense.

Bob adds: In this, Doug and Paradox have something close to common ground, but they've had so many other things to disagree over, it's hard for them to notice. Besides, Doug's dislike of Celestials is more akin to ethnic prejudice, whereas Paradox's is just "they're mostly clueless jerks".

I'd made it to hard vacuum in less than 50 seconds.
The Karman Line, considered to be the boundary beyond which is officially "outer space," is 100 kilometers or approximately 58 miles up. At Mach 6 (about 4566 miles per hour and Doug's top atmospheric speed using "I Am A Pioneer", as seen in Chapter Six of DW2), Doug can reach the Karman Line in a hair under 46 seconds.

The faintest touch of "Pioneer"'s power kept me in position, floating high above sunlit Japan.
Yes, this scene is influenced by the similar moment from (and promotional image for) the 2006 film Superman Returns.

It had been ten years since I had last held her -- the *real* her -- in my arms. ... I was sorely tempted to break the oath I'd sworn to myself in Megatokyo and call up her simulacrum once again, if only to just look at her.
As seen in Chapter Two of DW2.

the house's generous supply of nightingale flooring.
"Nightingale" floors are designed to creak when you walk on them, as an intruder-detection system. They're surprisingly common in older, traditional Japanese buildings. The whole ninja "walk on rice paper without breaking it" schtick is probably supposed to be training on how to defeat nightingale floors.

The presence of these floors in the house, by the way, was established in Oh! My Brother!.

M.C. Escher and Buckminster Fuller, with helpful kibitzing by Kernighan, Ritchie and Linus Torvalds.
Most of these names should be familiar to our readers already. Some folks might not recognize Kernighan and Ritchie, though — they wrote the definitive book on the "C" programming language back in the 1970s.

there are few things more important to me than Keiichi, but one of them is the free will of mortals.
This is a character trait of Belldandy's that's seen clearly many times in the source material.

when Hexe disappeared into the upper planes we rescued her in a matter of weeks!
Bob says: This is a reference to a specific adventure that the Warriors ran through some time in the late 1980s.

Var the Beloved, Goddess of Contracts
Var is a genuine Norse goddess, obscure today and overshadowed by more famous names like Thor and Heimdall, but once one of the most prominent deities of the pantheon. "Beloved" is actually the literal meaning of her name, and yes, she really is the goddess of contracts, as well as wedding vows. As for why the Vikings needed a goddess of contracts, well, within their own society the Vikings were extraordinarily honorable and law-abiding, possessing one of the more sophisticated and comprehensive legal systems seen in Europe during the Dark Ages. This included an extensive body of contract law used to handle agreements between themselves. The classic image of the savage Viking raider is only the face presented to those they considered outside those laws.

This I swear to you on my blood
The Vikings placed a great deal of stock in blood-oaths. Blood-oaths were more important than just about anything, including family.

"This unworthy one thanks you for your boon," he said with exquisite formality
Lost in the English rendering of this sentence is the fact that Doug actually used the archaic first-person pronoun sessha, which means something more like "this humble, unworthy, clumsy fool" in formal, courtly Japanese. (You Rurouni Kenshin fans out there ought to know that one quite well.)

Taylor Ham
Also known as Taylor Pork Roll, this is a regional delicacy that is still mostly limited to New Jersey, although since around 2000 it has been expanding into other markets across the United States. In case you're not familiar with it, it's a kind of pork sausage, but with a size and texture more like a cold cut/deli meat than a typical breakfast sausage, and very delicately seasoned. The Taylor Provisions Company of Trenton, NJ makes and markets it, and there are a number of imitators out there which generally call themselves just "pork roll". It is sliced anywhere from an eighth to a quarter of an inch thick, notched along the edges (because the edge shrinks when cooking and the slice turns into an undercooked dome if you don't) and then fried, grilled or microwaved. It can be used as a breakfast meat, or on bread or a roll with cheese as a sandwich.

The "Farkleberries" blog describes it thusly:

...an obscure preserved meat product; one that inspires intense longing in Garden State expats, and expressions of complete incomprehension in just about everyone else. The object of our devotion is New Jersey's sine qua non of the sausage family, more ancient than but analogous to SPAM™ - only without the global ubiquity or junk-commerce connotations. If SPAM™ is the Elvis of processed pork, then the Taylor Ham is more like James Dean, full of swagger and nuance, machismo and mystery.

As part of the classic pork roll, egg and cheese sandwich, the Marks over at Weird New Jersey call it the quintessential New Jersey diner food. Bob grew up with it and loves it to death; there's almost always a package of it in his fridge. Doug picked up a taste for it during his years at Princeton University, during many a midnight run to the Princetonian Diner on Route 1.

Finding Taylor Ham in Japan of all places — especially in 1997 — would be so unlikely as to qualify as a genuine miracle. It can be purchased off the Internet, though, so if you want to try it, hie thee hence to jerseyporkroll.com, where you can get Taylor Ham and a number of other delicacies specific to the New Jersey/New York/Philadelphia area.

Skuld glanced between him and the band of his friends waiting for them halfway down the block. "You sure?" she asked. Now that she knew that they *all* had Celestial connections, she couldn't summon up the same disdain she'd had for them before. All she could feel was a strange, puzzling sadness for a moment, a feeling of not-rightness that wasn't exactly bad in and of itself, but hinted that things could be so much better. For a moment she let herself entertain the notion that maybe Chris *would* be happier if he had a few mortal friends. Maybe. Then she shook her head and dismissed the thought. Ridiculous.
Chris says: Never let it be said Skuld doesn't have her own little prejudices. This is an important bit though, as it highlights a developing situation in Paradox's growth as a deity.

Takeshi nodded. "Yeah, that's all we need -- a pissed-off demon roaming the neighborhood. Talk about Hell having no fury..."
"Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, nor Hell a fury like a woman scorned." From the 17th-century play "The Mourning Bride" by William Congreve, not Shakespeare as so many people think.

Chapter Five

Thor looked at the girl, noted her buxom figure, and then rolled his eyes. "Go on, get out of here. It's too early in the morning for your attempts at guy talk."
Chris says: As noted repeatedly, Paradox shares my personal tastes, which means very "talented" — to use a Sailor Moon dub joke — female companionship. This is not shared by a large portion of the denizens of the various heavens, who tend to share the popular tastes of humanity.

"You wouldn't believe it, sometimes I think he's the second coming of Modi."
Chris says: Modi, who is known as Wrath, who... oh never mind, we've gone through this before.

Every cycle I have to grow up and lead the Valkyrie.
For those who don't know Norse mythology, Skuld really is a Valkyrie. She's counted among their numbers in both the Poetic and Prose Eddas. Verse 31 of Völuspá from the former namechecks her:

On all sides saw I | Valkyries assemble,
Ready to ride | to the ranks of the gods;
Skuld bore the shield, | and Skogul rode next,
Guth, Hild, Gondul, | and Geirskogul.

Just to make it clear it's not a different being with the same name, the Prose Edda book Gylfaginning specifically identifies her as "the youngest Norn":

These are called Valkyrs: them Odin sends to every battle; they determine men's feyness and award victory. Gudr and Róta and the youngest Norn, she who is called Skuld, ride ever to take the slain and decide fights.

Bob adds: The position as leader of the Valkyries, well, that I lifted from Undocumented Features, which I think originated the idea. At least, I can't find any period sources that portray her as anything but one Valkyrie among a band of equals. Either way, it's a strange position for her, but apparently the line between Norn and Valkyrie is a blurry one.

There's a bit of OMG fanon here in this passage, too. The idea that the goddesses periodically are "reborn" and grow up is not supported directly anywhere in the manga or anime, but has been proposed as an explanation for why the goddesses — who are the same entities once worshipped by the Vikings — are as surprisingly young as they are. And, as we see in the Ah! My Goddess movie, clearly grow up from (at least) childhood, just like humans. (And as we saw in the OVAs and other sources, Belldandy was a child at the same time Keiichi was.)

You each have an ability to unravel and reweave destiny that rivals *anything* my sisters and I can do!
Once again, imagery from their Greek counterparts creeps in...

The music I am sure you are hearing, by the way, is the Symphony -- the music made by the Universe itself.
The Symphony is yet another concept taken from In Nomine.

The flight from Heaven was always a pain for Chris. Unlike his sisters and the majority of other Celestials, who could make the journey almost instantaneously, for him it required a significant length of time, as he had to fly there -- a trip of not only distance, but also from one plane of existence to another.
Chris says: Okay, explanation time. When I originally came up with Paradox's powersets, I didn't really consider a lot of things. One of the prime ones was how the heck he was going to get to Heaven and back. I basically came up with the idea that he could fly there, but it was a really long flight, that only he could do due to his unique powers.

I've managed to expand this, by making so that his flight isn't just a journey of distance, but it's also a journey of perception and realities. The time it takes is symbolic of the change in his frame of reference from that of "on mortal plane" to that of "in heavenly plane". Make sense?

What really sucks about it is the fact that no one really comprehends his woes, since for them it appears instantaneous. It's kind of a variation on Flash (from DC comics) and his tribulations with his unique perceptions. Yeah, he can run around the world 50 times in a second, but seriously, for him, it feels like a really long time. Sorta. DC writers employ a lot of Handwavium on that.

"For Fnord's sake, Megumi, you're probably going to be my sister-in-law some day! I may not *like* you a lot of the time, but damnit, you're family and I *care* about you!"
Chris says: For those wondering, this came out of nowhere. I (and Bob) never planned this at all, but I'm quite pleased with it.

Bob adds: As am I, and as was at least one very vocal prereader. <grin>

Their fading calls sounded suspiciously like someone yelling "Baka! Baka!"
A little device stolen from various anime. For those new to anime fanfic, "baka" is the Japanese word for "idiot" or "fool", although it can sometimes be translated as "jerk".

God -- Big-G God ... Harold be his name
No, we don't think we're over-using this gag. Why?

You care to explain that little ex cathedra pronouncement?
For you non-Catholics out there, Doug is mocking Paradox by ironically suggesting that, like the Pope making a formal statement of Church policy/dogma, he is speaking "ex cathedra" and thus infallibly.

Besides, omniscience in a 3-space is a party trick, if you live in more than four dimensions
Well, it is. If you are two or more orders of dimensionality higher than another world/space (and, of course, if it's available to you), you have random access to its entire space-time from beginning to end.

Okay, follow us. Imagine Lineworld, a one-space — that is to say, a one-dimensional universe. The progress of Lineworld through time will sketch out a two-dimensional surface, like a sheet of paper, with all of its space dimension on one axis, and all of its time on the other. Because you are three-dimensional, you can look down upon the entire history of Lineworld from beginning to end, and you can see what happened at any point in that world at any point in time.

(A two-space — Flatland — will form a three-dimensional space-time which is effectively "solid" to a three-space native and cannot be randomly accessed. You'd have to exist in at least four spatial dimensions to be able to randomly access any point inside a three-dimensional space-time. And you're living in a three-space now, sketching out a four-dimensional "hypersolid" along its time axis.)

We won't even get into what you can do by actually interacting with Lineworld, but this should give you an idea of how the/a universe looks to the gods. They're not tied to its time arrow, and thus have random access to its history. This makes prophecy so easy that it's like cheating. (Although prophecy can cause changes that ripple down the time arrow, and which might require that the prophecy be changed, causing further ripples, requiring further changes... but we won't get into that now.)

And just as a point of information, the gods of Oh! My Goddess are canonically known to be creatures of much higher dimensionality than humans. This ties in perfectly with the greater cosmology of the Drunkard's Walk.

But, we hear you ask, what about Paradox? If he's a god like everyone from Kami-sama/Odin on down insists, how come he seems to be tied, albeit loosely, to the time arrow of the OMB world? Why isn't he multidimensional and omniscient now?

Good question. We'll answer that in the next lesson.

Omnipotence and omniscience I can easily extrapolate from higher orders of dimensionality
The omnipotence part just comes from assuming the ability to alter/edit those points you can reach once you have omniscience.

Kierkegaard had covered this kind of thing
Indeed he did. Christian existentialist philosopher Soren Kierkegaard claimed that God's omnipotence and goodness were inextricably bound to each other, and that without one the other could not exist. Thus, every act of God's creation is also an act of the greatest good. Also, being absolutely omnipotent, God would have no difficulty creating sentient beings that have complete freedom from his will. Furthermore, Kierkegaard concluded that God would inevitably do so once he had made the decision to create sentients of any kind, because, as he put it,

"the greatest good ... which can be done for a being, greater than anything else that one can do for it, is to be truly free."
So, in Kierkegaard's view, it's not "God chooses not to know what we'll do" as so many have argued, but "God intentionally created beings who could surprise and confound Him" — because it would have been evil by comparison to create sentient beings who couldn't.

Chris adds: A couple things about this scene. Bob and I fought tooth and nail to get this one right, since it had to have the right balance of Paradox getting one over on Doug (for once) without Doug being an intellectual doormat — after all, the guy's got genius-level intelligence, and Paradox is like me — smarter than the average bear.

Also, this scene is perilously close to Character-as-Meat-Puppet range, but it has a purpose. It deals with a philosophical issue that I went through at the that age (being about 8-9 years ago at this writing), that Paradox would have even greater issues with, being as he's seen the computer that runs creation.

Bob adds: More so than anywhere else in DW5, this scene is a genuine dialogue between Chris and myself. The ultimate resolution of our problems in crafting it was to trade it back and forth almost line-by-line until it reached the point we wanted it to end on, and even then it went through a couple of false starts at first.

"'Riiiiight. What's a cubit?'," I quoted
From Bill Cosby's brilliant "Noah" routine. In this stand-up dialogue, Cosby portrays Noah as just a little skeptical about this deep voice coming out of nowhere and telling him to do all kinds of strange things. Like build an ark.

a Dr. Morozumi over at the NIT robotics lab
A canon character from later in Oh! My Goddess.

I noticed but did not comment upon its almost perfect resemblance to the Japanese system for drivers' licenses,
Which, of course, was just a gag on Kosuke Fujishima's part.

"Not that I can see, no."
Of course, she can't foresee... but no, that would be spoiling things. <grin>

If there were a Norse or Asatru temple nearby, I'd go and make an offering in thanks
Asatru is the name of the modern revival of ancient Norse paganism.

"Cut down the mightiest tree on the campus with a herring?"
Adapted from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, just to let the culturally-deprived in on the joke.

You're a better man than I am, Hunka Tin.
"You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din," from "Gunga Din" by Rudyard Kipling, but the specific line comes from a parody of that poem written by SF author Randall Garrett in honor of Isaac Asimov's novel The Caves of Steel.

Chris pulled himself to his full height in simulated offense. "I, sir, am a wild party.
Chris notes: A wild, wild party, in fact. Name the song, kids.

Bob replies: It's either Kim Mitchell's "I Am A Wild Party" or "Wild, Wild Party" from the musical/poem The Wild Party. So, which one is it, Chris? <grin>

"...and then suddenly I just *knew* -- I had to turn it just *so*, and then say *these* words, and then twist it like *so*, and turn it like *so*, and say *those* words." Chris shrugged, then took a long swig from his beer. "The scales leveled out, and Mara started swearing a blue streak. Keiichi came back to his senses, and we got everything cleared up right away."
As seen in chapter 11 of Oh! My Brother.

I still can't believe I can take Mara out with *disco music*.
Actually, the original Japanese specifies "rock music"; the North American translation changed that to "disco". For many cultural reasons, disco is much funnier than rock, and we've chosen to stick with it.

Just like Sister Mary Ocarina ... Extremely obscure less-than-pop culture reference.
Very obscure — it comes from the last moments of a song called "They Don't Make Nun Names (Like That No More)", recorded in 1977 by Tommy Sharp and the Sharptones. It was a local hit in Detroit; Dr. Demento also picked it up and periodically broadcasts it still.

Update, 27 March 2012: You can now find a couple videos for the song on YouTube, including this one.

"The Fates," Doug intoned dramatically, "are having a pillow fight."
"And when the Fates have a pillow fight, mortals *die*," Chris concluded in an ominous rasp.

Bob says: Okay, I admit it. I stole these lines, sorta. Somewhere out there on the web someplace is or was an archive of funny things people said during tabletop roleplaying games. (Well, actually there are a lot of such archives. But I'm thinking of a specific one; a quick Google search does not turn it up, so it may not exist any more.) And one of these things was the following:

The players are finally figuring out what's going on in the world:
"Basically, the gods are playing paintball."
"And when gods play paintball, mortals die."

I found it funny and stashed it in my quote file. It almost directly led to the writing of this scene, but obviously mutated along the way.

"You remind me of the girl."
The original version is "You remind me of the man"; Bowie changed that to "You remind me of the babe" to match the action in Labyrinth.

*I* got it from the original source -- 'The Bachelor and the Bobby-soxer'.
A 1947 film staring Cary Grant, Myrna Loy, Rudy Vallee, and a teenaged Shirley Temple. (And just as a point of information, at 19 Shirley Temple was smokin'.)

Update, 27 March 2012: There is, at least for the moment, a clip of the original scene on YouTube.

And don't call me 'Shirley'!
And once again Bob slips this line into a fic. Credit due to Zucker-Abrams-Zucker and the wonderfully twisted comedy film Airplane!

I flicked an amused look over at Chris. "So, who's on first?"
He didn't miss a beat. "What's on second?"
"I don't know!" I zinged back.
"Third base!" we crowed together

It has been suggested that we need to footnote this exchange — this is a fragment of the infamous Baseball Sketch that helped put the old-time comedy team Bud Abbott and Lou Costello on the map.

"<I'll take your word for it, Scarlett, ma'am,>" I said in English.
A slight misquote of a line spoken by Yosemite Sam in 1953's "Southern Fried Rabbit." (The actual line is "I'll just take your word for it, ma'am.") It's also something prereader Josh "Offsides" Megerman says whenever he's confused.

But, brother! What a way to run a railroad!
Again, another slight misquote. "Oh, brother. What a way to run a railroad!", uttered by Daffy Duck in "Duck Amuck," also made in 1953.

ferkokter
Yiddish. Literally, "overcooked", but actually corresponds to the English "half-baked"; it's frequently used to mean "screwed up". As with many Yiddish words, there are about a dozen different (and equally valid) spellings, including "pherkokter" and "farkakta".

So there I was, on the Group W bench...
A line from the narration in the middle of Arlo Guthrie's song "Alice's Restaurant," thrown in just to be random. In the story he tells, it's where the draft board puts you when "you may not be moral enough to join the Army and go out and kill people after committin' your particular crime." Guthrie was put there because he was a convicted litterbug.

"Can I give you guys a little advice?"
Ami fixed him with a suspicious look. "What's that?"
Doug sighed. "It's suggestions offered by one person to another in an attempt to be helpful, but that's not important right now.

Yes, more gags from Zucker-Abrams-Zucker and Airplane!

Rachel pointed to her. "I'm *not* sharing!"
Chris says: This bit was a work of genius by Bob. It partially refers to a situation that came up with the original version of another fic of mine (Turn the Page — which is unfortunately abandoned until I get the willpower to work on it again) which featured characters from OMB but could be considered an AU. In that, a hopelessly unhinged Paradox is barely kept under control by the Valkyrie doppelgangers of the two girls — maintained by his sisters. Yeah, very wacky.

It's also another way we can play with that situation. I've still not decided how I'm going to resolve that little triangle, so adding more stress to it is a valid exercise. Especially since people won't let me just say "Ami wins because my wife is named Amy." *grumble*

Bob adds: What people? I'm cool with that, if it helps the story. And I'm sure Amy approves.

After a brief but furious discussion there was a pause followed by a round of jan-ken-pow
What was the jan-ken round for? To see who got to kiss Paradox first.

And once again for newcomers to anime or Japanese culture, jan-ken-pow is the Japanese version of rock-paper-scissors. Alternate spellings include "jan-ken-po" and "jan-ken-pon".

*DANGER, WILL ROBINSON!*
The stock alert phrase for the Robot from Lost In Space, in case you're too young to have ever seen it.

Hues Corporation
The vocal trio which is generally regarded as having recorded the first "true" disco song (that charted, at least), "Rock The Boat", in 1974.

but his intuition on such matters had never failed him yet.
Well, hardly ever.

Yeah, that's a deliberate echo of the Gilbert and Sullivan lyric.

Chapter Six

*Doug's gone bye-bye, Egon.*
Ghostbusters, of course.

"Did it never maybe occur to you I might want to know that I was busy trying to maim my fucking *sister*?!"
Chris says: It's always odd when I write in swears in Paradox's dialogue. In real life, I'm often unintentionally foul-mouthed, while Paradox has more or less trained himself not to be. Considering a lot of times his voice is very similar to mine (10 years of me growing in real life, and him not so much has caused a bit of drift) I always feel guilty about it. Go fig.

the closest thing Belldandy had to a full-blown scowl short of her battle-rage
If your only exposure to Ah! My Goddess is the various anime productions or fanfiction, you may not realize it, but Belldandy is one of those people who have long, long, slow fuses — with a nuke on the end. Belldandy can and does get mad, and when she does, watch out!

as the goofy conditions of his particular godly gift (as I understood it) would pop him immediately back into normal time if he tried to touch -- or punch, or break -- something solid.
Chris says: Doug's narration is cluing you into the fact that's he's wrong here. Paradox can touch things, it's people he has a problem with. That's what makes him really dangerous when he's thinking. While his martial prowess is among the worst of the Aesir, the simple fact that he can set up all sorts of traps and effects around his opponents in the midst of battle makes him a pain of an adversary. On the other hand, when he's in the state he thinks is his Full Manifestation, it's the opposite — he's actually really effective in melee, but doesn't think strategically.

"I must be frank," Belldandy declared quietly.
Chris says: Am I the only one who can't read this line without snark running through their mind?

Bob adds: ...and featuring Belldandy Wishbringer as TV's Frank! <grin>

her already-weakened Celestial structure
"What already-weakened Celestial structure?" we hear you ask. Don't worry, keep reading.

And I could almost forget that weeks would go by and I wouldn't talk to my parents, or I'd never even think of my brother or my old friends.
How many self-inserts never think about their old life once they've arrived in their setting of choice? How many even bother to feel bad about abandoning their friends and family? Don't they have anyone they'd miss? At least Paradox has it better than some — he's still in the same universe, on the same planet, and can just pick up a phone to talk to his birth family and older friends.

How am I supposed to deal with this? What else is That Jerk going to pile on me before I can't deal?
Chris says: Ever notice that SI authors love to pull a Mercedes Lackey on their avatars? That is, they drop a mountain on them, and once they dig their way out of that, they drop another mountain on them? As much as it seems I do, I try to not do that to Paradox, and balance the good with the bad. Yes, for all the trouble he's been though recently, he's due for a little nervous breakdown, but all in all, life's been pretty...well...life-ish for him.

Bob says: Well, some SI authors like to do that. Others are content to write the umpty-ninth chapter of "L33TR1T3R CONK3RZ TEH WURLD!!!11!"

"I'm going to *enjoy* watching you vanish into nothingness."
This is one of those scenes which had been percolating in Bob's development file for several years before he and Chris made the decision to collaborate. Believe it or not, Megumi was actually far nastier and crueler to Mara in the earliest versions of this exchange; and believe it or not, it was Megumi-hater Chris who argued that she needed to be toned down and maybe even shamed a bit. Prereader Logan Darklighter helped quite a bit as well, providing a different reaction from Mara than Bob had originally written.

"Oneesan..." she began.
As we've worked it out for our story purposes, Mara is the oldest of the sisters. This conflicts with one of our primary inspirations for making her a sister; by all rights she should be the second youngest, were we following it closely, but this arrangement of ages works better for our needs.

"Sorry. I'm a dimensional traveler, from a parallel Earth." He paused and frowned in thought for a moment. "Or maybe not so parallel.
Doug's beginning to wonder what's so different about his homeworld that it is the only one with metahumans in it (at least on the same scale) that he's come across so far in his journeys. It's starting to weigh upon his mind.

if I could reach some kind of Customer Service department
No, Doug is not planning to play Meat Loaf's "Life Is A Lemon And I Want My Money Back" at them.

Not yet, at least.

my first urge, which was to clap my hand to my chest, make a sound like an arrow hitting a target, and announce "'Message for you, sir!'" in a British accent.
Concord receiving the message-on-an-arrow from the imprisoned Prince Herbert in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

a webwork I realized that I had seen once before, peering through Skuld's barely-open door late at night.
Just a couple chapters ago, in fact.

"Define 'bad'."
"Imagine every particle in your body exploding at the speed of..." Oops, sorry, wrong movie.

Bob adds: I'm not entirely sure how a smattering of Ghostbusters references made their way into this chapter; it certainly wan't intentional.

the spell's rather less-than-satisfactory ABEND handling.
"ABEND", for those who don't recognize the term, is an old mainframe-era shorthand for "ABnormal END" — a program crash, in other words. The term originally came from an error message on the now-antique IBM 360. However, Doug's using it here to refer to any problem with the Redemption that will have the "catastrophic" results which have been mentioned at least twice.

There's a secondary implication here, that a hacker would pick up on. A critical program with bad or no error handling is almost certainly something thrown together by someone for their own personal use; because the writer of the program understands it intimately and knows its limits/requirements, he (theoretically) won't ever give it bad input, and thus doesn't have to handle its effects. Doug is looking at a kludge written by God, essentially, that Skuld has been trying to modify for her own use.

No, you shouldn't feel worried at all. Why do you ask?

"Speaking of intent," Chris decided to change the topic before he got yet *another* lecture on spellcraft, "is *this* ward going to hold up if Doug's toy decides to make with the hurting and the causing of the pain again?"
Chris says: Ah Jerry Lewis, you have given us much. Like some of that dialogue structure.

Bob adds: Really? I thought it was mimicking Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Okay, there you have it, folks, proof that collaborators are not mutually telepathic.

Chris replies: Meh, you're probably right, but I still associate that word structure with Lewis. That specific sentence? Very BTVS.

"I'm on a mission from goddess," he said in a fair approximation of a young Dan Ackroyd.
Do we need to footnote The Blues Brothers? And maybe it wasn't Ghostbusters sneaking in so much as Dan Ackroyd movies...

Energies began flowing along the link and into Doug's pattern, where they circulated and transformed.
Yes, this is Doug using a song. Which one? "Here Comes The Sun" by the Beatles.

It also took nearly three dozen songs, seven light shows, two fireworks displays, a brief ankle-deep flood of faintly green fish-smelling seawater, one accidentally-summoned air elemental, and a rather substantial explosion
No, we haven't assigned a song to each (or any) of these effects.

Bob adds: I suppose I understand the urge to know everything about what Doug's powers can do, but really, it's not that important here.

"And let me just say, oh, joy, I get to drink from the fire hose."
Yes, that's a reference to the film UHF.

"Whither thou goest," he whispered, "there go I."
A slight paraphrase of the famous line from Ruth 1:16. As the King James Version puts it:

And Ruth said, Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.

Bob adds: As I said in my forums when this scene was posted as a teaser: It's not a point at all anywhere in the story, but for my purposes of characterization, I figured that Keiichi got reasonably interested in comparative religion not long after getting a girlfriend. He's done some casual reading.

a mental picture formed of himself clad in a blue hakama, wielding a bokken and self-importantly reciting poetry.
Do we really need, even at this late date, to identify Tatewaki Kuno of Ranma 1/2, patron saint of delusional two-timing?

'Toon Town, Canada
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

...my first kill. That happened in London when I was 24, and it was an accident in a street fight caused by my carelessness...
Mentioned briefly in Drunkard's Walk II, as well.

"...I disintegrated the space suits from around a pair of hostile aliens while they were in hard vacuum..."
Bob says: This happened in-game, on the moon. The aliens in question were, as best as I can recall, scouts for some kind of military force, and were nearly as tough as Hexe or Shockwave. But I noticed that they still wore spacesuits. It was pretty easy to figure out what to do after that... Need I mention that the GM wasn't happy with me?

"...By rotting the bindings on the ballista I caused it to explode violently, killing most of its crew -- which was my intention..."
From the as-yet unwritten Drunkard's Walk I — Doug singlehandedly took on a small pre-Renaissance-era army mainly by using "This Corrosion" by the Sisters of Mercy and depriving them of all their equipment, supplies, and ultimately clothes. As an unfortunate side effect, though, he completely destroyed the fields and crops of the town he was defending. (This is the event that Doug obliquely refers to in chapter 11 of Drunkard's Walk II when he says, "And without accidentally burning out anyone's crops like I did while defending Demsbury...")

"...not realizing that they were enslaved sentient beings, I murdered at least twenty-one combat androids..."
In Drunkard's Walk II.

"...I deliberately killed an elderly man by disconnecting his life support mechanisms while taunting him..."
Quincy, at the climax of Drunkard's Walk II.

"...I slaughtered seventeen of Hanoi Xan's minions with a Gurkha kukri and a pair of chopsticks before I found my helmet..."
This references an as-yet unwritten sequence from Drunkard's Walk IV. A kukri is one of those freaking huge knives with the bend in the middle that Hollywood usually puts in the hands of Middle Easterners and Hindu types. And in case you missed it, we covered "Hanoi Xan" back in the notes for chapter 2.

"...Worst of all, I sometimes give in to despair that I will never get home..."
Yes, worst. According to numerous theologians, yielding to despair is, if not the greatest sin, one of the biggest.

This ancient Covenant was the first contract
Bob says: The Covenant is something we'll see mentioned again at other points along the Walk.

"Forgiven," Belldandy breathed
Bob says: This was a very strange scene to write. Doug's confession to the goddesses and Chris was initially intended to highlight him, and to remind the reader that Doug might be a hero and a badass, but he's not Superman. He's not even Batman — he's a soldier, and he sees himself as soaked in blood, some of it the blood of innocents, and the knowledge of this weighs greatly upon him. A confession was consistent with his family background, and let us present his body count precisely as that — a list of murders that he regrets, although as Paradox notes later, his regrets are somewhat ... different from those a normal person might have.

However, we had to present this from the point of view of someone other than Doug, because there was no way it wouldn't come across as a flat-out boast if Doug were recounting the scene. Since Paradox is our other primary POV character, he was the natural choice... but in doing so we found the scene going into completely unexpected territory as the direct result of having to answer the question, "what does Paradox experience on his side of the confession?" In exploring answers to that question, we realized that up to this point, through both OMB and DW5, Paradox has never done anything specifically godly, other than grant a single wish — and as we note in the narrative, even then he was little more than a glorified messenger boy (and, arguably, a targeted fall guy). As a result the focus of the scene mutated, shifting off of Doug and onto Paradox dealing with the first time a mortal asks him to perform a traditional godly task. Paradox coming to these conclusions, and subsequently taking his first steps into a much larger definition of his godhood, is an important development in his characterization — and fortunately for us, this is a much better payoff than we would have gotten out of just a bloodless but wangsty recitation of Doug's sins.

Chris says: Honestly, I was glad Bob did this, because I don't think I'm intellectually capable of doing it justice. While we were considering it, I was constantly thinking of what that scene would have been like if I had had a bigger part in writing it. Probably would have had Paradox giving snarky commentary ("Ooh, nice. Chopsticks? Classy.") or being completely dismissive. This was infinitely better for his development as a character in this story and for Doug's development as well.

As she passed, Chris noted the glow of a blush spreading across her cheeks and the bridge of her nose.
No, Skuld doesn't have a crush on Doug; it's a more general embarrassment, engendered by her growing awareness of and interest in the opposite sex, combined with having to kiss Doug as her sisters did. But that doesn't prevent Paradox (and her sisters) from misinterpreting her blush.

*Huh. Wonder what that is... something he won't admit to?* Chris thought.
One thing it isn't: Doug confessed his moment of "inappropriate arousal" the night before during one of the interludes when Paradox's focus was on more "technical" issues.

Belldandy was flattered. But still all-business about it.

Russ Meyer
Director of grade-Z sexploitation films from the 1970s — not exactly porn, but nothing you'd bring your mom or kids to, either. Infamous for his fixation on impractically humongous breasts. Valley of the Supervixens and its various sequels were some of the best-known examples of his obsession and the work it spawned.

"So... what was that like for you?"
Or, as one of our prereaders snarked, "Was it good for you, too?"

"They didn't give me a penance to do."
Well, they're not Catholic priests. They're not obligated to do so. Then again, Doug's participation in the ritual to come probably counts as his penance, regardless of Paradox's opinions.

"Hi, guy!"
Bob says: I'll be very surprised if someone other than me gets this. In the 1960s there was a series of commercials for Right Guard deodorant whose central device was a medicine cabinet that was shared by two adjacent apartments' bathrooms — a common set of shelves embedded in a wall with a door on either side. Central to almost all of these was the moment when the commercial's POV character would open the cabinet at the same time as his neighbor (played by Chuck McCann), who would greet him with a cheery, "Hi, guy!" I very deliberately used this line with these ancient commercials in mind.

Chris groaned and resisted the urge to facepalm. "What are *you* four doing here today?"
Chris says: You ever get the feeling that by the time he hits 30, Paradox is going to have a callus on his forehead from all the facepalming these people make him do?

And here I am nowhere near OTB
For those who don't live in New York state, OTB is "Off Track Betting," a peculiar chain of state government-sanctioned betting parlors where New Yorkers can wager on and even watch horse races from all over the country, all from one location.

"I *like* her. She's silly."
A classic Bugs Bunny line, usually uttered when a completely discombobulated enemy blurts out a non sequitur in a daze.

Chapter Seven

Life is a mystery
Everyone must stand alone
I hear you call my name
And it feels like home.
-- Madonna, "Like A Prayer"

This song in many ways inspired the entire concept for the story back before Bob and Chris decided to collaborate. For many years it was slated to be the power song Doug uses in this chapter, and it wasn't until someone now long-forgotten pointed Bob at The Echoing Green's "Supernova" that it was "retired".

On any given day I can dead-lift just over a hundred kilograms with two hands and hold it over my head pretty much as long as I want, and on a good day I can double that
As calculated from his V&V stats.

*Like the philosopher says, know thyself.*
Chris says: If you look at the run from Oh! My Brother! Chapter 1 all the way to this, everything Paradox has discovered about his godly powers is always (insert Scottish accent) fraught with peril. As you find out through this chapter, the fact that it was all a scam (of sorts) is more or less par for the course. The fact that his own subconscious is in on it? Icing on the cake.

The mouthing off? Even Paradox's subconscious likes the witty repartee.

"I'm not sure which would be more disturbing -- finding out that my future sisters-in-law each actually have two heads, four arms and a pair of wings, or that they're in some kind of weird symbiosis with creatures that look like angels."
When you think about it, the angel thing must be pretty freaky to see in person. The girls are taking it all very well, considering it probably looks like something out of a horror movie. What's really a mindbender is that, compared to some of the angels who appear in the Bible, the Belldandy+Holy Bell combination is actually not all that strange-looking.

"'Supernova'. Play!"
As the credits note, this is the song by the band The Echoing Green. As it's somewhat obscure, here's a YouTube video of it.

"Did that hurt?" Chris asked casually. "It looked *real* painful."
An Eddie Murphy quote, from 48 Hrs.

And in that moment
Paradox
Self-Assembled.

Chris says: This was a massive, to put it mildly, point of contention between me and Bob. When he first put forward the idea of Paradox turning into a force like The Guardian, I wasn't too thrilled with the concept. The idea behind Paradox's power levels was that he'd be at the bottom of the heap when it came to gods. Putting him in such a ludicrously important role seemed a little too... self-aggrandizing for me. Hence what you see throughout this chapter of Paradox being a "different" sort of figure. To use the "finger of the puppeteer" concept raised earlier in the story, in Paradox's case, the fingers are in charge of the puppeteer.

(The field of Paradoxes scene)
Chris says: I had a hard time deciding whom to use here. I wanted recognizable figures from the God's Toy series (even the Toychest entries), and others whom I didn't write. Some who didn't make the cut: Lancer variant (Fate/Stay Night), nine-winged dragon and his host Naruto (Naruto), the Silver Dragon (Pern), Battlefield Hero (Warriors Orochi), Paradoxe (City of Heroes), and Captain Paradox of the USS Cyclotron (Star Trek).

Bob adds: The Naruto one made it almost all the way to the prereaders. Oh, and you can blame me for the Autobot. (Whose name happens to be Crisscross — something I don't think I ever mentioned to Chris. <grin>)

"And against such as you I have long ago sworn eternal war."
This is a deliberate echo of a line penned by Thomas Jefferson in a letter he wrote to Dr. Benjamin Rush on September 23, 1800, and which can be found inscribed in a frieze below the dome of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC:

I have sworn upon the altar of god eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.

"Boss, in case you haven't noticed, I already *have*."
Chris says: And that, ladies in gentlemen, is why Paradox is a better man than I ever could be.

"You are Paradox," and Kami-sama counted off one finger. "You are Moments." A second finger. "You are the Guardian." A third finger. "And you are Champion Eternal." A fourth and final finger.
There is a lot said there. Please don't get caught on any one of them (especially the fourth). You can read a lot of layers into each of those, and that's the point.

"Father, Abba, *Daddy*,"
In addition to being the name of a Swedish pop group from the 1970s, "Abba" is also the word for "Daddy" in both Hebrew and Aramaic.

One reason it's used here is that some translations of the Bible make it clear that when Jesus was instructing the disciples in how to pray, he told them to address God as "Abba".

the pathetic fallacy
As Wikipedia defines it, apparently quoting the Encyclopedia Britannica, "the treatment of inanimate objects as if they had human feelings, thought, or sensations." It's not "pathetic" as in "pitiful", but "-path-" as in "sympathy" and "empathy".

There was a crack, and a flash of light, and instead of the fragile blonde, a brawny-looking man in what looked to be vigorous middle age hung in her place
Starting with this, what follows is a sampling of some of the other divine/infernal identities that Marller's Overself embodies in other times, places and timelines. They are, in the order that they appear:

"Thou wilt be condemned into everlasting redemption for this," she added
Urd is playfully quoting Shakespeare at Doug here. The line is spoken by the character Dogberry in Act 4, Scene 2 of Much Ado About Nothing. It's actually a malaprop — he really means the opposite, as he's threatening Boracchio (one of the minor bad guys) with damnation. But Urd's being very literal with it here.

"Wherever Keiichi is, Megumi, *there* is heaven."
Bob says: It's been pointed out to me that this line is very similar to the final line of Job: A Comedy of Justice by Robert A. Heinlein. It's not a deliberate steal; it's actually not even very close. It does, however, echo the sentiment of the last two paragraphs of that novel.

"Why, this is Asgard, nor am I out of it."
Belldandy is paraphrasing a line from Scene III of Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe (possibly because Urd just quoted a line from Marlowe's contemporary Shakespeare not long before):

Faustus: How comes it then that thou art out of hell?
Mephistopheles: Why this is hell, nor am I out of it.

Rebel Yeller
Chris says: When I thought about what Paradox's analogue in Warriors' World would be, I was still playing City of Heroes, and I thought a sonics-based hero would be a good idea. Now, one of my characters in CoH is the Sonic/Gadgets Blaster Juke Box Hero, who basically takes him image cues from Billy Idol. That led me to "Rebel Yell" and then to "Rebel Yeller". It all flowed from there. And yes, women in the family genome are short and curvy, while men are all tall and husky.

Bob adds: Oddly enough, the Earth of GURPS International Super Teams, which is based on Warriors' World, has a super named "Rebel Yell" (as seen in GURPS Super Temps). I'm pretty sure Chris was unaware of him; the coincidence, though, is interesting.

"Hey, I *know* this ceiling."
Yet another poke at Evangelion's "unfamiliar ceiling".

"I feel good," I said with some surprise. "I feel better than James Brown. I feel better now." I narrowed my eyes and looked her up and down. "How do *you* feel?"
An extended quote from the end of "I Feel Better Than James Brown" by Was (Not Was).

"I got better,"
That hadn't been intended as a Monty Python and the Holy Grail reference, but... <shrug>

In one world, I was reborn as a dancer named Linna Yamazaki, who grew and lived as a mortal and came into her birthright on the eve of the Apocalypse.
Again, this is a reference to John Biles' Dance of Shiva.

I have been Sekhmet, Mylee, Ishtar, Michael, Athena and a billion others, and I will be a billion more before the worlds grow dim and cold.
Yeah, that's a Marathon shout-out. For those unfamiliar with the game(s):

i have been roland, beowulf, achilles, gilgamesh; i have been called a hundred names and will be called a thousand more before the world goes dim and cold.

(See Bungie's website for more.)

"...I am the Warrior."
"Shootin' at the walls of heartache?"
"Bang, bang," Marller confirmed with a smile

This is a reference to the song "The Warrior", recorded in 1984 by Scandal featuring Patty Smyth. The relevant lines are:

Shootin' at the walls of heartache
Bang, bang, I am the warrior

I quietly recited the Shin'a'in warsong I'd learned from Dee so long before, during my two-and-a-half-year stay in Velgarth.
He learned the song during the events of the as-yet-unwritten Drunkard's Walk I.

The Rover has crossed your path once already on your journey
In Chapter 5 of Drunkard's Walk II.

and will cross it again.
In the as-yet-unwritten Drunkard's Walk X.

"And that's not all!" Skuld sounded like a presenter on a game show. "I was studying the enchantment on *Skidbladnir*..."
"That's Frey's magic boat the dwarfs made, that can fold up and fit in his pocket," Megumi added helpfully.

A genuine bit of Norse mythology, one of the more obscure ones, at least until recently. In the last few years it's shown up, in one form or another, in Code Lyoko, Halo, and a few other works that a fanfiction reader might come across.

Bob adds: When I was a kid, I once read a book in which several English youngsters stumbled across Skidbladnir and had many magical adventures in it, with at least one involving meeeting the Norse gods and negotiating with Frey to keep using his boat, at least for a while. I can't remember what this book was called or who wrote it. But I'm pretty sure it was part of the "British children on fantastic adventures" literary genre from the early 20th century that produced stories like Narnia, the works of E. Nesbit, Bedknob and Broomstick (sic) and Mary Poppins. If someone recognizes this book from my sparse recollections, I'd be very grateful if you would drop me a line about it.

Update, 28 July 2012. Bob says: Naturally, after digging up that memory for the concordance, I couldn't just leave it alone. Judicious searching on Google and Amazon turned up the book: The Ship That Flew by Hilda Lewis, published in England in 1939. I ordered a copy and a week later reread it for the first time in probably forty years — to my surprise I had remembered it pretty accurately. (Although I had conflated it in my memory with another story that had a ship sailing across land just as it did sea; I wonder what book that was?) I had to get my copy used from England (a reprint in the "Oxford Children's Modern Classics" collection) because apparently it's nowhere to be found in the United States; this makes me wonder how the hell I came across it in my county public library as a kid.

I'll add that the book is amazing time-capsule view into what it was like to be an upper-middle class kid in England before World War II. There's a movement these days to counter the "helicopter parent" phenomenon by letting children have the freedom and independence that was taken for granted in the 1960s and earlier; the term typically used is "Free-Range Kids". Well, the Grant children in this book are free-range on a scale that would probably horrify even free-range proponents; it's pretty clear that no one thinks it unusual or bad parenting to pack four pre-teen kids a picnic lunch and let them wander off on a day-long unsupervised excursion to an unpopulated beach. It's a beautiful picture of a long-gone idyllic time, but don't think it means the book is devoid of tension or threats — in stark contrast with their ordinary lives, the children's magical adventures do put them in occasional, very real, danger. I was surprised how sophisticated it was at times, too. I'm pretty glad I found it again.

"I thought you said the red light around the wheels was wasteful."
In Chapter 2.

I pulled a Sharpie out of my shirt pocket, and carefully labeled the back of the bench "Group W" in large, block romanji letters.
We covered the "Group W Bench" in the notes for Chapter Five, above.

"No, don't wait up, Kei -- Ama-chan and I are off to terrorize the einherjar," Megumi called back through the gate. Oh, so that's who she was. Megumi shut the gate and the two heartbreakers strolled past me -- "Ama-chan" with a mirror in her hand, and Megumi wearing a necklace that seemed to be made up mostly of comma-shaped jade beads.
"Ama-chan" is, as noted in Chapter 2, the goddess Amaterasu. The mirror she carries is the Yata no Kagami. And the necklace Megumi's wearing is the Yasakani no Magatama. Both are part of the Imperial Regalia of Japan, and have rather significant roles in Japan's national myths.

Oh, and the einherjar are the spirits of those that have died in battle and have been brought to Valhalla by the Valkyries. They make up a kind of standing army in the Norse afterlife. They spend their days fighting each other to keep in trim for the Ragnarok; at the end of the day anyone who got killed during the fighting gets resurrected, after which they feast all night.

a young fellow with blue skin dressed in silks and a gold crown appeared, awkwardly holding a measuring cup.
This is Krishna dropping in to borrow a cup of sugar, as Doug sort of foresaw back in Chapter 2.

Satyabhama is cooking and she sent me out to borrow a cup of sugar.
Satyabhama is Krishna's third wife, known for her strong will and tantrums. Which is why Krishna's come personally to get that sugar.

the most amazingly improbable "General Stanley" mustache
"General Stanley" is the Very Model of a Modern Major General from Gilbert and Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance. In every production I've ever seen, he is given a spectacular walrus mustache.

"Harold Laird," he said
"Laird", of course, being Scottish for "Lord". As for "Harold"... Do we really need to go over the "Our Father" thing again?

what will the skalds think?
A skald is a bard/historian/poet in the Norse tradition.

We had noticed a timeline not unlike this one, in which an audacious experiment had taken a human male and, well, *smeared* him across all his analogues and counterparts in a very large number of the four-dimensional universes.
This unfortunate is Legion from the fanfic series Legion's Quest by Ed Becerra.

It turns out that he is descended from an avatar of one of our number, who has taken it on himself to guide his descendant into a full ascension.
Coyote, in case you're wondering, who is one of the avatars of the Being who generally manifests as most of the Trickster gods.

Including Toltiir from the "Bet-verse".

One of your... acquaintances in another universe once swore in a private moment that you were chaos incarnate;
Katherine Madigan, in chapter 12 of Drunkard's Walk II.

the last time I felt this comfortable and welcome was when I lived in the Kurata household.
That's Kurata as in Sana Kurata, from Kodomo no Omocha, in the as-yet unwritten Drunkard's Walk III.


This page was created on October 15, 2004.
Last modified May 20, 2016.