Operation: Mapleleaf (2005 edition)

typed for your pleasure on 24 October 2005, at 2.50 am

Sdtrk: ‘Nonstop to Tokyo’ by Pizzicato five

Saturday was fat-packed full of Excitement and Adventure, as instead of getting together round at either Derek or Jeff’s in the evening as per usual, we decided to make a day trip to Toronto, as we try to go at least once a year, and we missed out last year. Plus, we wanted to go before it got unspeakably cold, and before having a passport was absolutely necessary. Those of us living in Southeast Michigan are lucky, cos we can visit a whole other country after simply crossing a bridge or a tunnel; however starting next year, foreign visitors will be required to have a passport to visit Canada from Detroit, for the first time since the bridges and tunnel were built. Naturally, you can chalk that nonsense up to homeland ‘security’.
Aaanyway, it was to be a proper group outing, involving Jeff, Derek, Mike, Tim, Marika, and myself. Tim was the first to cancel, as he claimed financial embarrassment; plus he had to do something with his aunt on the week-end. Mike pulled out on Friday eve, due to some loan shark issues or some such. Since we were only going to be there for the day, none of us were carrying a lot of dosh; out of all four of us, I think I had the most, at $125. So, with our reduced numbers, Derek decided to stuff us all in his Cavalier as opposed to the van, as the mileage would be significantly better.

Having awakened at an unspeakable 4am Saturday morn, I left my house at 5.15 to obtain Mari, and she and I got round to Derek’s at maybe 10 after 6. Jeff was already there, polishing off his Egg McMuffin. We took off at about 7am, stopped at an ATM, bought fuel, drinkies and snacks, and were off in due course to the Blue Water Bridge.
Now, taking the Ambassador Bridge or the Detroit/Windsor Tunnel is fine if you’re only going to Windsor, but the Blue Water Bridge is much better for Toronto journeys, as it cuts the five hour drive time down by about an hour, as you don’t have to navigate through Windsor. However, we’ve noticed on our trips up there, that they’re a little bit more likely to stop you at the border, cos there’s less traffic, and the guards therefore have more time to inspect cars. So we were pulled over! Of course, adding to the suspense is that, apart from Jeff, none of us had proper ID — drivers’ licenses just barely count, and Social security cards aren’t valid. Don’t even bother with a school ID, and, as you well suspect, those ExpressPay cards they give you at Kinko’s aren’t an option, either. Whilst they disassembled Derek’s Cavalier, we had to go inside and present ourselves to an official over at the Immigration booth. After we proved that we were indeed on a peaceful mission, they let us go on our way; the whole process taking about 20 minutes. It was inconvenient, to be sure, but as we didn’t have to submit to a forcible cavity search, we left pretty satisfied.

Fueled by high spirits and various songs by Pizzicato five, the Space channel 5 sdtrks, and that song by Black eyed peas where the lass is singing about her ‘lovely lady lumps’ — a song so stupid, it’s funny, we all agreed — Derek drove, Jeff belched profusely, Mari knitted, and I passed out. I woke up round 10.30ish, when we had made it into Toronto airspace proper, and it was raining. As I’d brought Clicky Mk II, I had intended to take photos of the city from the view of the motorway, but it was too windy and cold (it was in the low 40s) to roll down the window, and with four people occupying a small car, the windows were perenially fogged up. C’est la vie..
After barely successfully navigating our way down several one-way streets, we pulled into an underground car park near City Hall. Fab Thing About Toronto, No.342783: You know how in ordinary car parks you have to remember ‘Red F’ or ‘Blue 6’, so you have an inkling as to where your vehicle is at? This being Canada, the floors were identified by various Canadian-related animals, such as ‘Squirrel’, or ‘Moose’, or ‘Rabbit’, as seen here.

Left, a 2D silhouette of a bunny; right, Mari

Very nice!

We hit Eaton centre first, to get out of the fucking rain (Normally, I don’t mind the rain, as you well know, but when the wind is actually flipping your brolly inside out, then it’s a problem) and to have lunch. We hit Sushi-Q, which was both good and bad — Good, cos I was hoping it was still there from the last time we visited T.O, but Bad, cos I had forgotten how small the portions were. Should’ve expected as much; after all, it’s a sushi stand in a mall, not an actual restaurant.. After scarfing the lot, we stopped round to Indigo, a book chain store akin to Borders, where Mari and I unsuccessfully tried to locate a copy of ‘Still lovers‘ (out of stock, the bastards), but I did see a copy of ‘The Stanley Kubrick Archives‘ by Taschen. It even comes with a Cd of an interview from the Sixties with Kubrick, as well as an actual 12-frame strip of film from ‘2001: A space odyssey’! Who wants to give me $200 USD to pick up a copy? You? Good!

Shortly after that, we made our way outside, where it was still pissing down. We’d noticed a lot of commotion towards the Sears side of Eaton centre, where various people were running — literally running — with tags of a sort stuck somewhere on their clothes, and more often than not, holding a piece of paper. As we left Eaton centre, we encountered more and more of them as we walked toward Chinatown. Over the course of observing several small groups of these people, we overheard a couple of conversations they were having over their cellphones; it was a good ol’ fashioned scavenger hunt. Hm! Although finding anything in a city that vast would be an epic undertaking, without question..
Chinatown was ace, as it always is. We hit a couple of bootleg backup DVD shops, and variety shops — there were more than a few places that had cheongsams on offer that would’ve looked delicious on Sweetie, but I passed — and eventually, we hit the creepy Chinese mall (Chinatown Centre) on Spadina, which is just an experience in itself. You kinda get the impression that the place was bought at a discount. The floors are always covered with leaves, the elevators sometimes work, the escalators don’t work at all, but it’s ace regardless. Plus, it’s got Kikiwai!

From there, we made our way back to Yonge (still raining, although not as windy), hitting Silver snail in the process, and then spending time in Sam the Record Man. Looking round as we walked, you couldn’t help but notice how much construction was taking place. Lofts. EVERYWHERE. Giant outdoor television screens. EVERYWHERE. New shops and restaurants. EVERWHERE. Having grown up in Detroit, one of the qualities that draws me to T.O is that it’s an actual, functioning city, with people, and transportation, and hundreds of places to visit and things to see. There was a metric ton of people making their way up and down the sidewalks, despite the inclement weather. Not only is it a living city, but it’s a friendly city, which amazes me no end. I mean, I don’t see myself suddenly becoming a people person upon moving there, but I’m sure my interactions will be, by and large, a lot more pleasant. I’ve been to Toronto probably about twenty times, and it’s always been like that. As I mused aloud to Mari, everytime I go up there I see something new, even in the places I’ve visited before, and I love that. And this is coming from someone who swears by consistency.

As we were running out of time — we wanted to leave Toronto by 8pm, plus, the walking was knackering us — we made our way back to the food court of Eaton centre for dinner, made a quick stop to Shoppers drug mart, where I acquired my requisite chip booty (four bags of Miss Vickie’s Original recipe, two bags of Ruffles All dressed), and we headed back to the car park, but not before getting one more decent photo in. An hour after leaving the city limits, driving through rain mixed with snow (!), I fell asleep again. All told, we really didn’t spend a lot of money, which I suppose is good. Jeff purchased the latest Goldfrapp Cd that’s not yet available in the States, I believe Derek bought a couple of DVDs, a wooden sake set, and a geomancy mirror, and Mari bought some Tylenol. Naturally, we had to let the border guard on the US side know that I bought some chips. Don’t you feel safer?

All in all, a lovely trip, weather and time restraints aside.

Yonge st, from the second floor of Sam the Record Man

Y’know, it’s all I can do to not drop dramatically to my knees and kiss the pavement every single time we visit Toronto

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Not the only one

typed for your pleasure on 20 October 2005, at 3.09 pm

Sdtrk: ‘Heroin face’ by The cure

During a recent conversation with Miz Laslocky, she pointed out that one of the aspects she got from my relationship with Sidore-chan was almost that of a performance art piece. We both agreed that there’s very little enjoyable performance art out there, unless we’re talking about ‘Sprockets‘, of course. I mentioned that her perception of that isn’t too wide off the mark, but it’s definitely a by-product, and not something that I’d set out to do.
However, once she’d mentioned that, my mind almost immediately turned to London-based performance/multimedia artists Jemima Brown & Dolly Brown. I’d read a brief article mentioning them in an issue of The Face years ago, and sequestered them in my mental filing cabinet, for reasons that will quickly become apparent.. It took about three years to find any decent sort of info on either of them, but, once again, threatening Google with a blackjack poised over its head, I found their website.

left, Jemima Brown; right, Dolly Brown

For the last decade Brown has been joined by her inanimate double, a life sized doll simply titled ‘Dolly’. Modelled upon Brown’s features, and often wearing the same clothes, Dolly is an uneasy and mute collaborator: a guardian spirit or questioning shadow? For all this she is very present, hanging out in the gallery, posing for photo-shoots or propped on the family sofa.

Plus, there’s a fab little interview with Jemima, the more vocal half of the duo, here.

SPEAK: Has spending so much time together made you closer to Dolly?

Jemima: I think in a way I have become closer to her. It’s been a real test for our relationship. It’s put a strain on, and changed the relationship in some way. It’s made me want to have her become totally dependent on me. She’s getting away from me too much when I share her. I’m reluctant to let her take on a life of her own, although that’s one of the things I set out to do when I was making her. The process of defining my relationship to her has made me so protective of her that I don’t want her to have her own life. I’m frightened for her that she won’t be able to cope. I’m not worried that she’s going to upstage me, as she does that anyway.

Earlier video installation works consist of Jemima and Dolly seated in chairs, with Jemima unsuccessfully trying to imitate Dolly’s inanimateness. Other projects feature the pair being tourists out-of-doors, buying postcards and having their photos taken near various landmarks. And if you check anything the twins have produced, it’s always credited to Jemima and Dolly Brown. I happen to think that’s really ace

Off my chest, onto your monitor

typed for your pleasure on 18 October 2005, at 3.41 pm

Sdtrk: ‘Silver line’ by Birdie

Contrary to popular belief, I don’t go round attacking or sniping at people left and right in ‘real-life’ situations, as not only do I have that much time on my hands, but most people really aren’t worth the effort. But I felt it necessary that I wrote this post, much in the same way that the body rids itself of toxins by vomiting. So at this point, you should probably step back a couple of feet, so you don’t get any on ya.

At this point, I’m certain that over the course of the past week or so, you’ve seen various posts all round the World Wide Wet dealing with the Salon.com article. If not, merely fire up Technorati, and search for any conjunction of the words ‘Davecat’, ‘Sidore’, ‘iDollator’, or ‘creepy’, and you’ll have several sites to choose from. Many of those posts are less than charitable, and all of those happen to be written by closed-minded arseholes.
Now, the curious thing about seeing these excoriating posts, is that 95% of them are written by politically-motivated individuals. When I say that, I mean that a lot of these blogs are normally filled with content dealing with social issues, impeaching Dubya, etc etc. That, in and of itself, is odd enough, as what does a Doll and her husband have to do with a blog of that nature? But the really strange thing is, most of these politically-motivated bloggers? They’re liberals. Or, at least, so-called liberals. You would think that a person who stands for racial equality, the elimination of societal classes, gay and lesbian rights, etc etc, would be pro-Synthetik; or, at the very least, not entirely against the idea.

Over at pandagon, where they practically had me on the gallows, it seemed that a prerequisite of writing a response that would gain you their favour was to call me a misogynist. For those of you who don’t want to wade through the 400+ responses to the post concerning Meghan’s article, basically, I am a creep/loser/sexist/misogynist/tool of the patriarchy (choose one) because not only do I own a RealDoll, but I’ve given her a personality. Giving her a personality, or even referring to Shi-chan as ‘her’ rather than ‘it’, means that I hate women, but since I’m a loser, I still want sex, but having my ‘overpriced fucktoy’ means that I don’t have to deal with a ‘real’ woman’s opinions, likes, dislikes, etc. So obviously that makes me a creep/loser/sexist/misogynist/tool of the patriarchy (choose one)! It’s that simple!
There’s oh so many problems with that school of thought. So very many.

+ I wrote two responses on the pandagon post; in the first one, I’d said

So I would assume that no-one here has ever been rejected in their advances towards a partner? I assume every single one of you has been completely and utterly successful with their dating experiences? Moreover, the person you’re with is an absolute flawless joy to be around, physically, emotionally, and mentally? Well, congratulations to the lot of you! You’re extraordinarily lucky, each and every one of you. Really, I mean that.

It really doesn’t occur to a lot of iDollator critics that quite a few owners have their Dolls because they’re sick of being rejected, due to failing to meet the standards of whatever person they’re trying to romantically impress. After a few couple of times of falling off the romance horse, some people, like me, say ‘this really isn’t fucking worth it’, and stop. Our society places great pressure on people to get together and be in a relationship, but it requires a lot of time and energy that a lot of individuals don’t have, so they ‘settle’ for someone, and either compromise parts of themselves in the process, or consciously/subconciously try to change their partner. And then, there are times when the person you’ve linked up with turns out to be a vicious liar, as KrazyQ pointed out. The pandagon fuckwits have no idea what makes an iDollator become an iDollator, as there’s no one reason. In my case, one of the foremost reasons is that I was tired of being stabbed in the back by people I placed too much trust in.

+ Which leads up to a comment I’d made in my second post, which turned into some seriously miscontrued bullshit:

I’d rather be in a relationship with a Doll, rather than be in one with a real woman who’s possibly lying to meet her own ends. I’m sure that’s got the feminists here chomping at the bit, but as I’d said, I’m not misogynist; I just don’t like liars, especially when love is involved. Being with a Doll eliminates that possibility.

Of course, they read that as ‘Davecat thinks all women are liars’. Frankly, I think 99% of the population, male or female, are liars, with a few notable exceptions. I was saying that it concerns me more that a) the few dating experiences I’ve had were with a couple of liars, most notably my interactions with the Slag, and b) it’s going to affect me more if a woman that I’m interested in is lying, cos I don’t date men. But being psychotic, they added 2 with 2 and arrived at 22.

+ I’m sorry, but if you are taking a paragraph, reducing it to its component sentences, and then chopping the sentences up to infinitesmally small thoughts that you don’t even fully comprehend, as you’re making presumptions to begin with, that is also a problem. People, especially high-minded individuals who consider themselves socially aware intellectuals, should know that sometimes the context of printed articles gets distorted. I have absolutely no problem whatsoever with Meghan’s article — it’s brilliantly composed, and I’m glad it was written — but part of the problem with the pandagon shits, and really, the other blogs ragging on me, is that the Salon.com edit is inferior to the original version. But everyone’s seen the Salon.com version, and as Salon doesn’t mention the existence of the original story, that’s all these people have to go on. Not only that, but as far as pandagon, most people didn’t read past the first page of the story, and quite a few people didn’t read it at all.

+ Brief thing: it’s great how they have a problem with me referring to Shi-chan as ‘she’ and not ‘it’. Is it just me, or wouldn’t referring to a female-shaped object that I’m intimate with as an ‘it’ be more offensive and sexist and dehumanising, than if I didn’t?
To the uninitiated, seeing the elaborate personality and backstory I’ve created for Sidore might seem weird at best, and creepy at worst. To be an iDollator, you do have to have your tongue planted in your cheek. Dolls are silicone receptacles that the more inventive of us choose to use as physical bodies for personalities. It’s called having fun. Yes, Sidore is not a ‘real person’; yes, she is a Doll, but giving her a personality is more of a ‘human’ thing to do, rather than seeing an expensive, beautifully-sculpted work of art as just a ‘fucktoy’.

+ Funny thing: In a phone conversation this Sunday past, Meghan pointed out that both of us had posted, and yet no-one actually asked us anything. Think about that. Both the writer and one of the main subjects of the story were there, and yet no-one actually asked us anything. Well, I take that back; one or two people asked Meghan a question, but all I received were sarky comments. That just solidifies everything as far as the mentality of people like that; the whole ‘it’s wrong because it’s wrong’, or ‘it’s wrong because I said so’, or ‘it’s wrong because it’s a lot easier for me to insult someone than to open my tiny fucking mind to questions that might shatter my fragile ideals’. It’s ironic and a little unsettling to me because those people are ‘liberals’. They’re theoretically supposed to be on my side.
Really, normal feminists I have nothing wrong with. I honestly believe that a lot of the reasons why society is as bollocked up as it is is because there’s been a male stranglehold on it for hundreds of years. But you’re a radical feminist, you say? O! You’re fucked up. You’re a bitter, scowling, sexually frustrated, morally confused, fucked up person. You are no better than the right-wing Republicans which you loathe, you are simply the opposite side of the coin. It’s like SafeT said, people like that drain any and all credibility from normal feminists and their sympathisers.

+ And as I, and a couple of other posters had attempted to convey (surprisingly, there were a couple of people on my side. Actually, it was more like Meghan, and a friend of hers were defending me there, and there were two or three people who were leaning towards my side): why is it such a monumental issue that some people have a Synthetik companion to begin with? Female detractors will say ‘You’re creepy, and I wouldn’t want anything to do with you’. To a Doll husband, not only is that not in any way a loss, but anybody who would say anything like that is the kind of individual that we would take pains to avoid — romantically, in a day-to-day context, whatever. It’s a sign of over-inflated self-importance that a person would say something like that, as well as a striking indicator of closed-mindedness. Personally speaking, the more closed-minded you are, the less I’m going to think of you.

At this point, I think that pretty much covers the lot. ‘Your friends don’t need an explanation, and your enemies won’t believe you anyway.’ But I do want to leave you with a link to a very beautiful post, written by one of my dearest friends, Penda. You know, my closest female friend that I’ve known for 25 years, which is quite remarkable for a misogynist like myself. With her personal perspective, she brings across in her eloquent way a more condensed version of what I’ve just written here. So go read that instead. 🙂

All done!

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typed for your pleasure on 18 October 2005, at 11.44 am

Sdtrk: ‘What’s inside a girl?’ by the Cramps

Tonight’s topic has been a familiar fixture of the London skyline for 40 years, and is an icon of London which is as iconic as London itself. (What??) Thanx to a couple of corporate buyouts, these days it’s known as the British Telecom Tower, but since I’m perennially stuck several decades in the past, we’re gonna refer to it by its original name, the Post Office Tower.

The Post Office Tower soars 250 feet above the dome of St. Paul’s and is the tallest building in Britain. It is 580 feet high and is surmounted by a 40 foot trellis mast supporting a radar aerial designed to help short range weather forecasting. [..]

Besides its strictly functional use the Tower adds to the itinerary of London’s attractions. The public can view the panorama of London from galleries near the top of the Tower. Two lifts, each travelling at 1,000 feet per minute, carry passengers to the three public observation platforms.

From its opening to the public in 1966, to 1971, the revolving upper section sported a popular restaurant called ‘topofthetower’. Could you imagine the view from there? Unfortunately, some tosser planted a bomb in the mens’ toilets in 1971, and since then, the tower has been closed to the public. But back during the Sixties, the Post Office Tower attracted hundreds of visitors, not only because of its views, but due to its unique and futuristic look. It was also prominently featured in the last half of the Lynn Redgrave/Rita Tushingham film ‘Smashing time‘ and was home to evil supercomputer WOTAN in the Hartnell-era Doctor Who story ‘The War machines‘. Where else would you store an evil supercomputer? That’s what I’m sayin’.

Tours are still available of the Post Office Tower BT Tower, but by appointment only. Certainly not the same as the days when you could playfully chase Rita Tushingham round and round within the glassy confines of topofthetower

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‘Now I know how Joan of Arc felt / As the flames rose to her Roman nose and her Walkman started to melt’

typed for your pleasure on 15 October 2005, at 5.39 pm

Sdtrk: ‘Rock me booa’ by Merzbow

I have to apologise for the lack of recent posting or updates and sundry, as I’ve been attempting to keep a rather low profile lately. It seems that the recent Salon.com article has not only produced bandwidth spikes the likes of which neither Shi-chan nor I have ever seen, but also a passel of radical feminists are now literally shrieking for my blood, as I, more than any other man in recorded history, am singlehandedly responsible for the subjugation of all women, simply because I’m an iDollator. It’s True! Ahh, notoriety. Is it Good or Bad? I can’t tell from here…
At any rate, the longer, unadulterated version (with a better title) of Meghan’s excellent article is now online here. Read it! It’s markedly better, and if you’re anything of an open-minded individual who was perhaps unfortunately led away from reason by knife-wielding feminazis*, the full article makes a hell of a lot more sense. It’s literally like watching ‘Blade runner’, then seeing the Director’s cut version — it’s like two different films. Well, stories.

On a more acquisitional note; yesterday, I managed to score an inexpensive copy of the Tetsujin 28 box set — just over $15, compared to the $28 – $30 that most online shops want for it — and my copy of Merzbow’s ‘SCSI duck‘ Cd arrived through the post today, which I’m listening to right this very minute. So far, it’s rather sonically penetrating, which is what I require out of my Japanese power-electronic artists. Good job, Masami-san!
And thanx to a benefactor, yesterday I got a new computer! It’s a Toshiba Satellite M55-S135, that I kinda had to jump through some retail hoops to obtain. I’d recount the story here, but it’s a bitter one, and I’m trying to maintain a rare good mood, here. But the laptop boasts a 80 GB harddrive, 512 MB of RAM, and a DVD burner. It’s got some other bollocks as well, which I’ve not paid a whole lot of attention to, as the three qualities I’d mentioned are the selling points for this difference engine for me. So that’s also a factor in my recent silence; not only have been adding all my old software, I’ve also been trying to configure the look and feel of the fecker, so that it’s similar to my old machine. Colour me satisfied!
However, I have to say without reservation, that touchpads are fucking shite. Ergh. I’ll be getting a mouse for this bad boy really soon..

Annnd back to Synthetik women (heh; that didn’t take long, but I stick to what I know), I ran across a photo on 4chan recently of two Japanese lasses seated on a train. They were twins; one was Synthetik, and the other was Organik, and they were both dressed in the height of Elegant Gothic Lolita fashion. Whoever posted the photo didn’t give any names or details, and as a consequence, I had to repost it in the Request board, to find out what the source was, the lasses’ names, anything. A couple of days later, someone provided the URL http://absolutmetropolis.com, and after duly scouring that site, I learned that the name of the Organik lass was Marie Honda, who worked in conjunction with a doll maker by the name of Erimo. So after a number of minutes grabbing Google Japan by the lapels and shaking the information out it, I successfully located Erimo’s site. I have to say, his work is overall rather fab, but my interest is especially piqued by his life-sized Dolls. But that goes without saying!

left, Marie Honda; right, Marie Honda

Right, I’m off to meet up with Penda, for our (mostly) monthly dinner rendezvous. I am having ridiculous cravings for tendon and that soba with the dipping sauce right now

*I don’t use that term too often, so it really means a lot here

EDIT (05 June 2008): The Pandagon, err, ‘people’, have deleted the above-linked post for reasons unknown. Thankfully it’s archived on the Internet Wayback Machine, so you can view the baseless vitriol here

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typed for your pleasure on 12 October 2005, at 2.03 am

Sdtrk: ’40 days’ by Slowdive

Much to my chagrin, and I’m certain some people’s delight, I’ve just had to take down ‘Kitten with a Whip!’ as the Salon.com article was starting to drive my bandwidth through the roof. Can’t you people wait in line like civilised.. people? Like Sweetie says on (what’s left of) the site, it really needed to be revamped and overhauled anyway. Once I obtain a copy of Dreamweaver, as well as some spare time, I’ll get cracking on it. I might very well upload the pics elsewhere; in which case, I’ll let all genuinely interested parties know when and where..

‘Kitten with a Whip!’ is not dead! It shall return! Better, stronger, faster, etc

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typed for your pleasure on 11 October 2005, at 11.54 pm

Sdtrk: ‘Sympathy for the devil’ by Laibach

Funny story: at the bank today, I encountered another bloke with a robotic left arm! He and I didn’t actually speak, as we didn’t know each other, but he entered the queue about four people behind me. But I mean, it was rather strange; it wasn’t just the coincidence that he had a prosthetic arm just like Kyle, but this bloke’s left arm was mechanical, just like Kyle. What the hell is going on here??

It looked exactly like this, to be honest. Without the accessories, of course

I was giggling, however, as I was reminded of the character Martin Finnucane from Flann O’Brien’s surrealist riot of a book, ‘The third policeman‘. He was the self-proclaimed captain of all the one-legged men in Ireland, and a pivotal scene describes him leading a small army of men, each boasting a timber shin, into a rescue operation. A highly recommended book!

If Kyle truly is some sort of mechanised assassin, I’m guessing he probably sent that fellow round to keep an eye on me. How very clever, Kyle… if that is your real name

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