Gore Vidal and Orson Welles Play Warhammer

GORE: The unfed mind devours itself. With a successful casting roll of six — ah, there — my Grey Seer unleashes Vermintide, and a horde of voracious Skaven roll across the field of battle, caring not for what they eat, so long as there is eating to be had.

ORSON: Always the vulgarian, never the esthete. If that remark was directed at me, I can only say that I hope someday to see you become an individual. No man who is afraid of dinner can ever amount to more than a mere representative of type.


ORSON [darkly, after a successfully-cast Arcane Bolt from Vidal’s Chaos Sorcerer Lord]: Gore indeed.


ORSON: I have only had one real enemy in life that I know about, and that is John Houseman. Everything begins and ends with the hostility behind that ministerial benevolence. [Rolling unsuccessfully for charge on The Great Unclean One] Now I have two: John Houseman and the Great Horned Rat.


ORSON [impatiently]: Anybody can hold an objective with a pair of Giant Cave Squigs and a Bad Moon Rising, just as anybody can make a movie with a pair of scissors and a two-inch lens. A long-playing full shot, that’s something only a man and a director can do. You’ve got to measure for movement from the center of the base, Gore, not from any damn point on the model closest to hand. Anchor the movement to something real. That’s the difference between a battle and a couple of grown men waving figurines about.


GORE: As societies grow decadent, the language grows decadent, too. Words are used to disguise, not to illuminate, action: you liberate a city by destroying it. Words are to confuse, so that at election time people will solemnly vote against their own interests. That’s five VPs to me for defeating the Poxbringer, Herald of Nurgle—

ORSON: Don’t be ridiculous. Sloppity Bilepiper still controls the objective. The Victory Points are mine.

GORE: According to the Victory Objectives, yes. But with the Clash of Titans auxiliary roll, I gain five points for killing a hero or monster.

ORSON: A hysterical and illiterate claim. Poxbringer is neither a monster nor a hero.

GORE: A named character, with specific abilities wielded at the start of hero phase, and a wizard to boot, not a hero? You’d better check your warscroll, Orson.

ORSON: Impossible — meaningless — get me a jury and show me how you can claim a herald can simultaneously inhabit the category of hero. Does the Herald in Othello follow his announcement of the general’s wedding-feast by taking over the action of the play? Is it Othello, The Herald of Venice?

GORE: It’s in the list of keywords. Your attachment to sentiment is getting in the way of your talents, just as it did on The Other Side of the Wind. See, right there: Chaos, Daemon, Plaguebearer, Nurgle, Hero, Poxbringer, Herald of Nurgle. Five points.

ORSON: I’m right about Othello, and I’m right about life. I’m right in every meaningful interpretation of the term. Spiritually, morally, meta-morally, and so on.

GORE: Five points, Orson.

ORSON: You’ve misread the Auxiliary Objectives as badly as you’ve misread Apuleius. It’s five points for killing an enemy general with a Hero or Monster, and my Rotigus hasn’t a scratch on him.


ORSON [Meditatively]: The reason Maggotkin of Nurgle are the only completely good thing about Warhammer — the only moral choice for anyone wishing to play the Great Game — they are the only faction possessed of a sense of humor. I mean humor, in the truest sense of the word. The Gloomspite Gitz are merely ludicrous, the Skaven beneath contempt, the Hedonites of Slaanesh terrified of pleasure and desperate to mask their terror with overindulgence, but those who follow Nurgle find real satisfaction, carry real weight, find the mark between comedy and tragedy and tread to its full depths. Their faults are small, but their goodness is like bread, like wine, like newly-turned soil. They are farmer-kings, and any battle that does not result in their ultimate victory is a disaster. They are life itself. “Banish fat Nurgle, and banish life itself.” They do not know disgrace. Unlike every other deployment in service of the Chaos gods, they are not murderers. They are only as moral, or immoral, as May. Nurgle is generous, capacious, nurturing, unafraid of either death or life — most men are afraid of life, Gore, you chief among them, you quake in terror at the prospect of being forced to reckon with it — and unafraid of the belly, the gut, where resolve and shit and reality are ever-brewn by flesh. Never fear the flesh, Vidal, and you’ll learn true vitality. Not merely Disgusting Resilience — though I’ll thank you to remove those wound-counts from the score, as I’ve rolled 5+ for my Putrid Blightkings and negated all wounds — but vitality, appetite, the pleasure that comes from satisfying an honest desire, like smelling roast pork on a hot day. Falstaff knew it. Eisenstein knew it, but only in pieces. And the sons of Nurgle know it. And I know it. No rolls for Battleshock while the Glottkin holds the field, Gore my boy.

Brio Magazine-Related Branding Opportunities I've Missed

Brio was a Focus on the Family-branded Christian magazine for teen girls my mother subscribed us to for a few years in the 90s. She eventually cut off our subscription because my sister and I “weren’t taking it seriously.” It had quizzes like “What kind of babysitter are you?” and useful tips for praying with your friends, an advice column by Susie Shellenberger I always suspected of being sponsored by Coke, because she’d start almost every answer (“My boyfriend wants to make out. How do I avoid this?”/“My best friend bought a Fiona Apple CD and now I’m worried she’s going to start cursing. How can I witness to her?”) with “Oh, kiddo. I wish I could take you out for a Coke and talk to you from the heart.” Like her answers were almost always Coca-Cola themed, suspiciously often, and at 11 in 1997 I’m not sure I knew what a lesbian was yet but I’d keep puzzling over her photo and think, Okay, there’s something going on here that possibly implicates me, and I think we’re both lying to one another, Susie and me, but I’m not sure her. I think there was also a feature that reviewed both Christian and secular music, and I’d always read it anxiously because I really liked listening to secular music but felt terrible about it, and they’d almost always pan the secular music, and I’d end up giving away my Fiona Apple CD again. I did this three times in eighth grade. The process looked like this:

  1. I’d be in Sam Goody and think, God, I want to own Fiona Apple’s “When the pawn…” album. “Paper Bag” speaks to me, and the men I anticipate being disappointed in someday. I must have it. So I’d buy “When the pawn…” with my allowance money.

  2. I’d listen to it endlessly and with great pleasure.

  3. I’d think, Come on, you know better than this. This album is full of swear words. She says fuck all the way. How’s that gonna strengthen your walk?

  4. I’d think, I should give this up. I should sacrifice this album to the Lord.

  5. And then I’d think, But throwing away CDs is wasteful.

  6. And then I’d think of a secular friend, or at least a Christian friend whose own walk I viewed with suspicion, and I’d give the album to them. She already has anger problems, so it won’t compromise her walk any more than it’s already been, plus she’ll like me better if I give her a present. Yeah, the spiritual math checks out here, this is the right thing to do.

  7. A few months later: God, ‘Mistake’ really speaks to me. I should go to Samy Goody…

Every month featured a different “Brio Girl,” a regular reader (just like you!) who embodied the qualities of Brio — homeworkfulness, tidyment, toothbrushery, boyfriend control, projects, social studies, haircut-mindedness, eyes on the prize, gel pens for devotional journals, Bible For Teen Girls, limited field hockey, one hour on the family computer, being on time, dishwasher awareness, college prep. My bitterest regret is that I was never selected as a Brio girl, not least because of the subsequent branding opportunities I’ve missed out on.

Can you imagine? What if I’d come out pre-tipping point? I could have written a book called Not That Kind of Brio Girl and made a million dollars opening weekend. I could have been the transmasculine equivalent of that lady who used to blog about her kids and then married Abby Wambach and wrote a memoir about the spiritual gift of lesbianism. That’s a whole career right there, repackaging evangelical Christianity for religiously-minded queers. I’d make a killing on devotional companions to HRT with folksy little asides about dealing with acne and avoiding pornography if T changes your libido:

Week One on T

2 Corinthians 5:17: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

Week Two on T

Romans 12:1: I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

Week Three on T

Colossians 3:9-10: Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.

God’s Plan For Trans Men: Becoming A Man Of God

Chapter One: Honoring Your Trans Sisters

Chapter Two: Building One Another Up

Chapter Three: Spiritual and Physical Disciplines

Chapter Four: Hey, Let’s Talk About Sex

Chapter Five: Hey, Let’s Talk About (Coercively Assigned At Birth) Sex

Chapter Six: Honoring Your Mother And Father Even When They Ask You About Your Genitals

Chapter Seven: Letting Your Light Shine Before All Men

Chapter Eight: Wild At Heart?

Chapter Nine: Rebecca and Eliezer At The Well

Chapter Ten: What Does The Bible Really Say About Eunuchs?

God, the branding is just right there. Position yourself as the slightly-worldlier and more with-it John Eldredge for religious trans guys, are you kidding me? It’s a permanent, full-time career path and a license to print money. I read all my own audiobooks, of course, and get a manly catch in my voice on the last line, which is obviously from Revelations 21,

And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.”

I’d make a goddamn killing every Christmas. A Brio Girl would have kept her eye on her branding, that’s all I’m saying.

I Am Determined Not To Quarrel With You, Dear Auguste

Previously in this series: How I would open my letters as a French wastrel and I believe we shall find Papa among the roses.

Fa, Auguste! You will have your own way, then, I see it now! No, no, there’s no use trying to dispute with me.

Tra-la, Auguste! I am determined not to quarrel with you today.

No, no, Auguste! I am fixed on it. No matter the provocation, there shall be no more dissension between us to-day. Come, let us shake hands and go out to the stables together.

Ho-ho, Auguste! How can we quarrel, when you must spur on Hyperion til his flanks heave merely to keep pace with myself and my palfrey, Jessica Lightfoot? You will have too much to do in keeping up!

Catch me if you can, Auguste!

Please, Auguste! You will only hurt me if you carry on in this way. And why should you grieve a friend who loves you so? Aren’t we happy as we are? Terribly, terribly happy?

Pray, Auguste! How can we quarrel when there are so many lovely red apples to pluck at the top of yon tree?

You do not take my arm, Auguste! What fit is this? I shall take my own arm, then, and lead myself into the pic-nic-ing field, though this basket be very heavy for one to carry all oneself. But what care we of baskets, when the sun is shining thus?

Dearest Auguste! You see I have anticipated your objection, and have laid no room for it — so you must remain in charity with me! How merry we all shall be!

Charming Auguste! What might Marie la Pianoforte say to you, could she hear you speak thus! I am convinced she would set you down outright, and remain persuaded you could not bear to see reproof in those laughing eyes.

Watch me skate, Auguste!!! See how much neater my leaps have become since last winter. I am sure I shan’t fall again, so it’s perfectly safe!

I caren’t a fig for that, Auguste!! Nor whit, nor tuppence neither, tra-la, and you may tell Stephen yourself!

Catch me in your strong arms, Auguste! I know I shall find no quarrels there—

[Image via]

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