Indiana Jones and the Peril of the Middle Child
Completely Unauthorized Indiana Jones/Downton Abbey Fanfic
Javier Grillo-Marxuach

Presented with pre-emptive apologies to Julian Fellowes, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Herge, Ismail Merchant and James Ivory, David Lean, E.M. Forster, Kazuo Ishiguro, The Mahabharata, Harrison Ford, and Laura Carmichael and anyone who may be offended by a daffy parody of Orientalism in popular culture.

Part One

Even in 1924 - with the world becoming smaller with each passing day thanks to such wonders as the telephone and telegraph, newsreels, and even the British Broadcasting Corporation’s fledgling operations - the journey from a country estate in Yorkshire to the Jewel of the Crown remained a thoroughly exhausting slog: three weeks of trains, ferries and steam ships.

Thankfully, Lady Edith Crawley had three week’s worth of work in her kit. Sent to Bombay on assignment by The Sketch to provide a “balanced woman’s perspective on the inauguration of the Gateway to India monument,” Lady Edith - never one to leave a stone unturned in her pursuit of completion - had packed as many books in her cases as hats and dresses.

The books turned out to be a blessing, as her traveling companions, Miss Adela Quested and her future mother-in-law, Mrs. Moore (the only way her parents would allow and finance her endeavor was by securing for Lady Edith the company of a respectable fellow traveler and her older chaperone), seemed far too concerned with Miss Quested’s impending nuptials and with their somewhat naive expectation of friendship from Her Majesty’s colonial subjects to pay much attention to Lady Edith’s attempts at fellowship. For the balance of three weeks, Lady Edith contented herself with the company of a chaise longue, and T.E. Lawrence’s Seven Pillars of Wisdom, Hugh Gunn’s The British Empire: A Survey, and a recent translation of The Mahabharata.

By the time Miss Quested and Mrs. Moore parted ways with Lady Edith at the Bombay Harbor - sending their bags ahead with porters and agreeing to meet for dinner at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel - she was more than relieved to throw caution to the wind and board a rickshaw accompanied only by a massive woven hat, her trusty Bombay Baedeker and the highly-polished, cloisonné-handled cane her grandmama had insisted she take - claiming that it had “served as her guardian on numerous escapades.”

After much linguistic confusion, Lady Edith successfully convinced the muscular young man who was to be her driver to take her to the Siddhivinayak Temple - one of the unmissable sights of the city.

Leaning back on her seat, Lady Edith could do little else than to allow the brobdignangnian heat wash over the soft cotton shift she had chosen to wear, and let the sights, sounds and smells of the city overwhelm her usually preoccupied mind.

Although her thoughts would invariably drift back to Downton Abbey - her sister’s inexhaustible stock of insulting insinuations about her ability to survive a journey such as this one, her mother’s benign lack of affect on all matters regarding her occupation, and even the occasional consideration of what sort of “escapades” a battle-axe like the Dowager Countess could have probably encountered in a life lived in service to the Aristocracy - Bombay soon became all-consuming in its scope and superabundance of sensual stimulation.

The scent of spice and humanity, the vivid colors expressed in every sign, storefront and sari, and the sheer otherness of the architecture all steadily conspired to conquer in Lady Edith’s thoughts any of the anxieties of her life as a middle-child spinster whose sole worth to her family seemed to be as a challenge in husbandry.

Indeed, it took only a moment’s travel through the crowded streets of this alien mecca to dislodge Lady Edith from the bonds of her upbringing…and even her ongoing consideration of how strange it was - as a result of a mere minute’s travel powered by one young man’s feet - to be the only spot of alabaster in a sea of sun-kissed brown.

Nevertheless, all it took was the sound of gunfire and the crack of a bullwhip from an uncertain distance to bring all of her anxieties about being a stranger in a strange land back to the fore.

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the right to not bear arms

my death is not only inevitable - it is also, imminent.

no, i have neither been diagnosed with a lethal ailment and given minutes to live, nor am i contemplating suicide once i am done putting this down. i merely mean that my life is a mere flash in the two million or so years in which humanity has walked the earth.

seen in the perspective of that time frame, the end of my life is, in fact, coming very soon - whenever in my life it may choose to arrive. i might as well accept it.

i think about that whenever the topic of gun control comes up…especially when a czar of american letters like david mamet picks up the quill to write a barn-burning opinion piece (like that on the cover of this week’s newsweek) in which he insists that the right to bear arms is an essential component to society; both in that it insures protection against the corrupt depredations of an increasingly intrusive government, as well as in that it is an essential prophylactic against incivility. in mamet’s philosophy, no one dares to be an aggressor in an society in which every man, woman and child is given the inalienable right to carry guns.

in short: mutually assured destruction is the best insurance for our right to life. in the macro: should the government overstep, an armed populace will rise to pull it down. in the micro: if you kill, you will be killed.

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three thoughts on "quantum of solace"

1. there's this kind of shot called "a master," it's the one that tells the audience where people/objects are located in space. paul greengrass knows how to use them. no really, he does.

2. i was staying up late at night burning with uncertainty as to whether james bond could kick the ass of the guy from "the diving bell and the butterfly." thank god, our long national nightmare is over.

3. i will be quitting my regular career to build a high-end resort in the middle of the bolivian desert. the selling point will be that the entire outer architecture of the building will consist of highly flammable fuel cells. who wants to invest?
...here is ed bacon, rector of all saints pasadena episcopal church - a man of the cloth - giving a simple christian interpretation of the injustice of proposition 8...