Thursday, December 06, 2007

Good? Oh Man!

I just finished the Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett book, Good Omens. I have intended to read it for a very long time and finally decided to read it as a car book, (for those times I am waiting in a car to pick up a kid-let). The book was so entertaining and witty that I carried it back in the house with me the first day I started reading it and I have carried it anywhere I can sneak a few minutes to read. I have stronger Zygomatic major and Orbicularis oculi muscles from the constant smile that was on my face as I read Good Omens.

It is a satire of sorts of all those Omen movies-- you know, the Apocalypse in near, the End of Days is upon us. But it is also very cheeky in that lovely dry yet loopy British manner. Think Monty Python, Dr. Who, Red Dwarf. It also will be loved by anyone who enjoyed Hitchhikers Guide to the Universe.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book (in no particular order):


"God does not play dice with the universe; He plays an ineffable game of His own devising, which might be compared, from the perspective of any of the other players,* to being involved in an obscure and complex version of poker in a pitch-dark room, with blank cards, for infinite stakes, with a Dealer who won't tell you the rules, and who smiles all the time."
* i.e., everybody."

"Newton Pulsifer had never had a cause in his life. Nor had he, as far as he knew, ever believed in anything. It had been embarrassing, because he quite wanted to believe in something, since he recognized that belief was the lifebelt that got most people through the choppy waters of Life. He'd have liked to believe in a supreme God, although he'd have preferred a half-hour's chat with Him before committing himself, to clear up one or two points. "

'You do know you could find yourself charged with being a dominant species while under the influence of impulse-driven consumerism, don't you?'"

"She herself had short red hair and a face which was not so much freckled as one big freckle with occasional areas of skin."

"Most books on witchcraft will tell you that witches work naked. This is because most books on witchcraft are written by men."

""You see, evil always contains the seeds of its own destruction," said the angel. "It is ultimately negative, and therefore encompasses its downfall even at its moments of apparent triumph. No matter how grandiose, how well-planned, how apparently foolproof an evil plan, the inherent sinfulness will by definition rebound upon its instigators. No matter how apparently successful it may seem upon the way, at the end it will wreck itself. It will founder upon the rocks of iniquity and sink headfirst to vanish without trace into the seas of oblivion." "Crowley considered this. "Nah," he said, at last. "For my money, it was just average incompetence."

"Shadwell hated all southerners and, by inference, was standing at the North Pole."

"DON'T THINK OF IT AS DYING, said Death. JUST THINK OF IT AS LEAVING EARLY TO AVOID THE RUSH."

"You can't second-guess ineffability, I always say."

"In our Sunday paper it said there was thousands of witches in the country," said Brian. "Worshiping Nature and eating health food an' that. So I don't see why we shouldn't have one round here. They were floodin' the country with a Wave of Mindless Evil, it said." "What, by worshipin' Nature and eatin' health food?" said Wensleydale."

"It wasn't a dark and stormy night. It should have been, but there's the weather for you. For every mad scientist who's had a convenient thunderstorm just on the night his Great Work is complete and lying on the slab, there have been dozens who've sat around aimlessly under the peaceful stars while Igor clocks up the overtime."

"Most of the members of the covent were old-fashioned Satanists, like their parents and grandparents before them. They'd been brought up to it and weren't, when you got right down to it, particularly evil. Human beings mostly aren't. They just get carried away by new ideas, like dressing up in jackboots and shooting people, or dressing up in white sheets and lynching people, or dressing up in tie-dye jeans and playing guitars at people. Offer people a new creed with a costume and their hearts and minds will follow."

"It may help to understand human affairs to be clear that most of the great triumphs and tragedies of history are caused, not by people being fundamentally good or fundamentally bad, but by people being fundamentally people."

"There are some dogs which, when you meet them, remind you that, despite thousands of years of manmade evolution, every dog is still only two meals away from being a wolf."

"Crowley always found [Satanists] embarassing. You couldn't actually be rude to them, but you couldn't help feeling about them the same way that, say, a Vietnam veteran would feel about someone who wears combat gear to Neighborhood Watch meetings."

"There were people who called themselves Satanists who made Crowley squirm. It wasn't just the things they did, it was the way they blamed it all on Hell. They'd come up with some stomach-churning idea that no demon could have thought of in a thousand years, some dark and mindless unpleasantness that only a fully-functioning human brain could conceive, then shout "The Devil Made Me Do It""

"...the whole point was that the Devil hardly ever made anyone do anything. He didn't have to. ... Where you found the real McCoy, the real grace and the real heart-stopping evil, was right inside the human mind.

"On those occasions when the angel managed to get his mind into the twentieth century, it always gravitated to 1950."

"[Humans] were born into a world that was against them in a thousand little ways, and then devoted most of their energies to making it worse."

"There had been times, over the past millenium, when [Crowley the demon had] felt like sending a message back Below saying, Look, we may as well give up right now, we may as well shut down Dis and Pandemonium and everywhere and move up here, there's nothing we can do to them [humans] that they don't do themselves and they do things we've never even thought of, often involving electrodes."

"God does not play dice with the universe: He plays an ineffable game of His own devising, which might be compared, from the perspective of any of the other players [i.e. everybody], to being involved in an obscure and complex variant of poker in a pitch-dark room, with blank cards, for infinite stakes, with a Dealer who won't tell you the rules, and who smiles all the time."

"Kids! Bringing about Armageddon can be dangerous. Do not attempt it in your own home."

"It wasn’t a dark and stormy night. It should have been, but that’s the weather for you."

"It may help to understand human affairs to be clear that most of the great triumphs and tragedies of history are caused, not by people being fundamentally good or fundamentally bad, but by people being fundamentally people."


"Along with the standard computer warranty agreement which said that if the machine 1) didn't work, 2) didn't do what the expensive advertisement said, 3) electrocuted the immediate neighbourhood, 4) and in fact failed entirely to be inside the expensive box when you opened it, this was expressly, absolutely, implicitly and in no event the fault or responsibility of the manufacturer, that the purchaser should consider himself lucky to be allowed to give his money to the manufacturer, and that any attempt to treat what had just been paid for as the purchaser's own property would result in the attentions of serious men with menacing briefcases and very thin watches. Crowley had been extremely impressed with the warranties offered by the computer industry, and had in fact sent a bundle Below to the department that drew up the Immortal Soul agreements, with a yellow memo form attached just saying: 'Learn, guys.'"

"He was just killing time until the main event, but he was killing it in such exquisite ways. Time, and sometimes people."

"NOTE FOR YOUNG PEOPLE AND AMERICANS: One shilling = Five Pee. It helps to understand the antique finances of the Witchfinder Army if you know the original British monetary system: Two farthings = One Ha'penny. Two ha'pennies = One Penny. Three pennies = A Thrupenny Bit. Two Thrupences = A Sixpence. Two Sixpences = One Shilling, or Bob. Two Bob = A Florin. One Florin and one Sixpence = Half a Crown. Four Half Crowns = Ten Bob Note. Two Ten Bob Notes = One Pound (or 240 pennies). One Pound and One Shilling = One Guinea. The British resisted decimalized currency for a long time because they thought it was too complicated."

"The device is named after a real person?" he said. "Oh, yes. Fine old Lancashire name. From the French, I believe. You'll be telling me next you've never heard of Sir Humphrey Gadget--" "Oh, now come on--" "--who devised a gadget that made it possible to pump out flooded mineshafts. Or Pieter Gizmo? Or Cyrus T. Doodad, America's foremost black inventor? Thomas Edison said that the only other contemporary practical scientists he admired were Cyrus T. Doodad and Ella Reader Widget. And--"

"He'd have liked to believe in a supreme God, although he'd have preferred a half-hour's chat with Him before committing himself, to clear up one or two points."

"Getting in touch with Heaven for two-way communications was far more difficult for Aziraphale [the angel] than it is for humans, who don't expect an answer and in nearly all cases would be rather surprised to get one."

"It was then that Marvin got religion. Not the quiet, personal kind, that involves doing good deeds and living a better life; not even the kind that involves putting on a suit and ringing people's doorbells; but the kind that involves having your own TV network and getting people to send you money."

"On the orders of Head Office I will encourage the belief in Intelligent Design – despite the fact that the human airway crosses the digestive tract. Who thought that was intelligent?"

"Have a nice doomesday."

1 comment:

Lori said...

Oh my god. I HAVE to get this book. I'm calling Mom right NOW to add it to my christmas list.