Open Thread

In honor of Papa Ratzi leaving his position to spend more time with his family, this open thread is brought to you by the Space Pope, who reminds you not to date robots.

Also, it’s brought to you by the delicious tears of my sad, sad little stalker.  You sustain Zandar with extra hit points and additional damage resistance.

Carry on.

153 replies
  1. 1
    schrodinger's cat says:

    If priests and nuns take a vow of poverty, why is the Pope so ornately dressed?

  2. 2
    Pooh says:

    Something something defending the indefensible, sold us out, cole whistling past the graveyard.

  3. 3
    Mark S. says:

    You are so fucking done, Zandar.

  4. 4
    different-church-lady says:

    You know, I always did think sponsors and trolls bore a resemblance…

  5. 5
    Redshirt says:

    Let me second that advice about dating robots: Don’t!

    They just don’t care about the things you do, and you can’t change them.

    Space Pope is right.

  6. 6
    aimai says:

    You’re nobody until somebody trolls you.

  7. 7
    Dr. Bloor says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: why does a dog lick his balls?

    So what’s next for Ratzi? Fox gig, or straight to reality teevee with a Palin or two?

  8. 8
    The Red Pen says:

    Interesting new Freeper Trend: the use of “low information voter” to refer to people who don’t believe in their bullshit.

    I think this was started by Rush Limbaugh, ironically.

    It gets pretty hilarious. One Freeper commented that liberals are so stupid because they get their information from John Stewart instead of Rush Limbaugh. You really can’t parody these people any better than they parody themselves.

  9. 9
    Dr. Bloor says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:
    why does a dog lick his balls?

    So what’s next for Ratzi? Fox gig, or straight to reality teevee with a Palin or two?

  10. 10
    Jay C says:

    So what was old B16’s problem? Too pooped to Pope?

  11. 11
    geg6 says:

    You are so fucking done, Zander.

    I can’t believe it, but they are playing “Blitzkrieg Bop” on my local rock and roll station. I didn’t know Clear Channel would allow such a thing. I’ve been listening to this station for the last 30 years and never once heard the Ramones played on it.

    Edit: Shit…beaten to it by Mark S. But I, at least, remembered to misspell his nym.

  12. 12
    Redshirt says:

    Need some BJ advice: Please recommend the thee best spy/espionage novels of all time.

    No restrictions – I’m looking for the best of the genre.

  13. 13
    different-church-lady says:

    @geg6:

    Shit…beaten to it by Mark S. But I, at least, remembered to misspell his nym.

    You are so fucking done, greg6.

  14. 14
    Redshirt says:

    @The Red Pen: Poe’s Law is real. I’m watching one website launch troll attacks against the new Conservative Facebook and it’s quickly devolved to a bizarre world where no one knows who’s real and who’s a troll. Because the trolling sounds just like the sincere posters.

  15. 15
    The Dangerman says:

    Papal Pops Too Pooped To Pope?

    ETA: SHIT! Beaten to the pun punch by #10.

  16. 16
    freelancer says:

    But I wanted your promotion too!

    See, I have these links to prove that you are a fraud. So there, your goose, it is cooked.

  17. 17
    Scout211 says:

    Panetta is adding family benefits for same-sex spouses and their children: family ID cards to be able to use services on base, but not full benefits yet due to DOMA.

    It is a good start.

  18. 18
    The Red Pen says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    If priests and nuns take a vow of poverty, why is the Pope so ornately dressed?

    Not all priests, nuns and monks take a vow of poverty.

    Also, I don’t think the Pope technically owns anything. It’s up to the particular Pope to decide if it’s OK to wear fancy stuff that belongs to someone else.

  19. 19
    Yutsano says:

    @Pooh: Something something something Dark Side, something something something complete.

    /Star Wars dialogue generator

  20. 20
    Pooh says:

    @Redshirt:

    We are all DougJ.

  21. 21
    Cassidy says:

    You got a lot of balls coming back here to post.

  22. 22
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    ZOMG LAST POPE THE END IS NIGH

  23. 23
    The Red Pen says:

    @Redshirt:

    I’m watching one website launch troll attacks against the new Conservative Facebook and it’s quickly devolved to a bizarre world where no one knows who’s real and who’s a troll.

    That is so beautiful I teared up a little.

  24. 24
    Cacti says:

    Since it’s an open thread, thanks to the Paterno family for reminding me that your late father/husband spent a lifetime surrounded by a Joe can do no wrong cult.

    Who better to hire for a whitewash job than Iran Contra crook Dick Thornburgh?

  25. 25
    joeyess says:

    Here’s a song to send that bastard on his way:

    Fuck the Mothafucka

  26. 26
    Pooh says:

    @Yutsano:

    JJ Abrams is worse than Bush, he sold us out!

  27. 27
    canuckistani says:

    @Dr. Bloor:

    So what’s next for Ratzi? Fox gig, or straight to reality teevee with a Palin or two?

    Prison.

  28. 28
    Scott S. says:

    I just want to hear more about Knockabout’s inability to get promotions.

    Is Knockabout up for a promotion that *I* could try to steal from him?

  29. 29
    MikeJ says:

    @Redshirt:

    I’m watching one website launch troll attacks against the new Conservative Facebook

    Linkee?

  30. 30
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Jay C:
    Ha! I was waiting for someone to make the inevitable Chuck Berry reference.

  31. 31
    DZ says:

    @ Redshirt

    “Shibumi” is one.

  32. 32
    Cacti says:

    @Dr. Bloor:

    So what’s next for Ratzi? Fox gig, or straight to reality teevee with a Palin or two?

    An undisclosed location where he’s safe from any subpoenas for child sex abuse coverups.

  33. 33
    JCT says:

    @The Red Pen: The best part of that is that their Lord and Savior Rush is PLAYING them to make $$$. Just like Ann Coultergeist.

    So much cluelessness, so little time.

  34. 34
    Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason says:

    @Redshirt: Dunno about all time but here’s a couple of my favorites:

    Alan Furst. The Polish Officer. (or really, anything by Furst)
    Donald Hamilton. Death of a Citizen (first Matt Helm) These have nothing to do with the crappy movies or TV show.

  35. 35
    Comrade Mary says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead: That’s a bunch of Malachy and you know it.

    (End times? Sorry, meant to say )

  36. 36
    Jewish Steel says:

    Twitter:

    I did Nazi that coming.

  37. 37
    Pooh says:

    @Scott S.: you’ll be sorry when we don’t have him to knock around anymore

  38. 38
    Yutsano says:

    @JCT: He used to be a Top40 DJ, then figured out where the money pot is sweeter. He really is the ultimate troll.

  39. 39
    Redshirt says:

    @MikeJ: I’m not sure what you can see here if you’re not a member, and this thread is long as heck. Here – Something Awful.

    It’s been great – the members of TPC (the conservative Facebook) have entered a deeply paranoid phase where no one trusts anyone and they’ve started to turn on one another. Also, watching their attempts to figure out what’s going on is hilarious, since they are dumb ass wingnuts.

  40. 40
    Hypatia's Momma says:

    @Redshirt:
    GBS is having much fun. We have two new members who arrived from TPC, one of whom seems to be quite decent.

  41. 41
    different-church-lady says:

    @Cacti:

    An undisclosed location where he’s safe from any subpoenas for child sex abuse coverups.

    Oh, so Penn State.

  42. 42
    ruemara says:

    At least you know you are loved. Obsessively. Looks like I am heading to a SFX career fair in April. in LA. Thinking of trading cooking skills for a couch surf.

    Also too, goodbye Ratzy.

  43. 43
    Hypatia's Momma says:

    @Redshirt: @Redshirt:
    GBS is public. I recommend people start on page 87.

  44. 44
    PIGL says:

    @Redshirt:

    1) The Spy Who Came In From the Cold
    2) Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
    3) The Honorable Schoolboy

    Why, yes, as a matter of fact, all were written by John le Carré

  45. 45
    Redshirt says:

    @Hypatia’s Momma: I saw them. One was surprisingly nice – though that might be a counter-troll. The other was as expected wingnut idiot.

  46. 46
    Hypatia's Momma says:

    @Redshirt:
    Possibly, but she’s already participating in TVIV. And SA is used to trolls and generally handles them quite well. Generally.

  47. 47
    Chris says:

    @Redshirt:

    I still think Tom Clancy’s early work, before he went completely over the edge, is pretty good (Cardinal of the Kremlin being the best pure spy novel – lots of political maneuvering and intrigue set in the era of Gorbachev’s reforms. Might need a little background from The Hunt For Red October, but I think you can survive without it).

    Frederick Forsyth’s become my favorite author in the genre, though. The ODESSA File is the one I like best, but if you want something that’s more purely espionage, I say give The Fist of God a try – my second favorite, set in the 1991 Gulf War. There’s a sort-of-sequel, The Afghan, set in the War on Terror era starring the same person, a British SAS officer with mixed heritage and native-level Arabic – not as good but still quite respectable.

    So, yeah, I’d say Cardinal of the Kremlin, The Fist of God and The Afghan.

    My turn; any particular spy thriller movies that anyone recommends, besides the obvious franchises like Bond, Bourne and M:I? I saw Traitor about a year ago and think it might be my favorite war on terror movie to date.

  48. 48
    Poopyman says:

    @Cacti: Ha! I’m getting a bit of a thrill up my leg thinking about the two hack prosecutors pimping their respective clients’ position.

    And me a PSU grad, to boot.

  49. 49
    Redshirt says:

    @Hypatia’s Momma: No doubt. A wingnut troll will have no luck at SA. I just wonder what the lady’s game was, if any. There doesn’t seem to be much of a crossover from TPC to SA.

  50. 50
    Xecky Gilchrist says:

    I’m curious to see who they get for the next Pope. Benedict was chosen at a really horrible time in history, when the fad was to have balls-out fascists in charge of everything because War on Terror! or whatever.

    Are we due for a bit more liberal one, or will the cardinals go all teabagger and lurch even farther to the trog side?

  51. 51
    Poopyman says:

    @Yutsano: And he sucked even back then. He was on KQV and nobody was listening to him. We were all tuned in to WDVE.

  52. 52
    Alex S. says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead:

    I recall that Nostradamus said that the next pope is going to be the antichrist. But Nostradamus has said many things, supposedly…

  53. 53
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @Chris: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and other John Le Carre novels.

  54. 54
    Hypatia's Momma says:

    @Redshirt:
    I suppose that depends on how you want to define “crossover”. GiP and TFR might be pretty welcoming if someone from TPC only wanted to talk about military and guns. But there are so many forums, from YLLS to NMD, that just about anyone can find a little corner and just stay there.

    Plus, DnD is full of crazy people. They’d fit right in.

  55. 55
    aimai says:

    @PIGL:

    You really can’t beat TSWCIFTC or Tinker, Tailor… You just can’t.

    I want to put in a plug for a horrifyingly good cultural/political thriller writer: James McClure. He wrote a series (don’t know if he is still writing) about Apartheid era South AFrica with a protagonist team of a white detective and his black “side kick” that is just horrifyingly creepy and insightful about race, racism, south africa and a whole lot of other stuff. Here’s a link to The Steam Pig The series came to mind because its so nested in its time and place and language that, like Tinker Tailor, you really have to enter almost a different cultural space to understand the plain meaning of the sentences the characters speak. That is: people say stuff but sometimes it takes two or three readings to grasp the hidden meaning behind what they say, or why they said it.

  56. 56
    Johannes says:

    @PIGL: Second the motion on the so-called “Quest for Karla” trilogy. Also, I recommend Ken Follett’s “Eye of the Needle.”

  57. 57
    Cacti says:

    @Xecky Gilchrist:

    Are we due for a bit more liberal one, or will the cardinals go all teabagger and lurch even farther to the trog side?

    JP2 spent his multi-decade pontificate packing the college of cardinals with reactionaries. I don’t think Ratzi would be stepping down if he didn’t know the fix was in for his successor.

    I imagine it will be a replacing William Rehnquist with John Roberts type of change. I foresee another knuckle dragger who’s about 30 years younger.

  58. 58
    aimai says:

    @Xecky Gilchrist:

    Given that Ratzi hand selected the Cardinals–90 of them?–at a fast clip for his relatively short tenure as pope, and that he presumably had the goods on all of them from his tenure as the previous pope’s rotweiler/enforcer/sex police we can be sure that there will be no surprise lurch to the left or to a kinder, gentler, pope.

  59. 59
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Redshirt: @PIGL: Tinker, Tailor definitely belongs in there. I would also suggest Day of the Jackal, unless it is not pure espionage enough to qualify.

  60. 60
    Humanities Grad says:

    @Xecky Gilchrist:

    LGM had a thread about this earlier today, and the consensus among commenters was that the next Pope is unlikely to be much different from the current one.

    Apparently the College of Cardinals, who will choose the next Pope, is comprised completely (as in, literally 100%) of men appointed by either John Paul or Benedict.

  61. 61
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: That was a pretty good movie, as well.

  62. 62
    Redshirt says:

    Thanks for all the suggestions everyone. Keep ’em coming!

    Anyone read the “The Bourne” series? Like ’em?

  63. 63
    Xecky Gilchrist says:

    Aha, thanks for the tip about the cardinals, all. Too bad, but maybe it’ll help hasten the weakening of the church’s influence to have them get out of step with reality even faster.

    Heighten those contradictions!

  64. 64
    MomSense says:

    @canuckistani:

    Unfortunately, no. The Catholic Church is the original “too big to fail”.

  65. 65
    BillinGlendaleCA says:

    It seems that the County of Los Angeles has a problem with one of the ads on this here website. I’m spending a lovely morning in the jury room at the Stanley Mask courthouse.

    ETA: Praise be to FSM for tax payer provided WIFI.

  66. 66
    Tone in DC says:

    Some crazed billionaire is gonna create a Tyrell Corporation knockoff just so he can have Rachel, Pris and the rest of the Nexus Six hotties from “Blade Runner”. Matter of fact, it may be happening already.

    As for trolls, leave ’em under the damn bridge.

  67. 67
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy or Day of the Jackal? I the the original DotJ movie was damned good. The Bruce Willis remake from the 90s was horrible, almost unspeakably – especially as I saw it in a theater where I was seated just behind John Kasich (R-Asshole). The Tinker, Tailor movie wasn’t bad, but I didn’t like the way they handled the Peter Guillam character.

  68. 68
    aimai says:

    @Redshirt:

    I tried reading a bourne book after the movie came out. It struck me as really, really, dated. And I don’t have a problem with period pieces. Qua anthropologist I’m committed to the concept “the past is another country/they do things differently there” and so I enjoy things that are true to their cultural era. But that being said the racism and sexism that underlies conventional notions of agency at certain periods makes those books a heavy lift for a modern female reader, or a non white reader. There’s no voice given to the kinds of people you identify with–the ones who turn up are patently fake and have no real function other than as fuck toys or romantic entanglements. That becomes tedious and it distances you from the otherwise absorbing aspects of the plot as plot.

    Eye of the Needle, which someone mentioned upthread, was actually quite exceptional since it takes as a main protagonist a woman, leading a woman’s life, and it is really her struggle with the german spy that is exalted and explored.

    Other books that come out of left field for women are things like “Not so Quiet on the Western Front” which is a fictional account of women running ambulance crews in WWI (I think, unless it was WWII).

  69. 69
    handsmile says:

    I’ve already posted this once here today (and it may not be the last time) but herewith, one of the masterpieces of recent American poetry, James Tate’s “How the Pope Is Chosen”:

    http://aspenanomie.tumblr.com/post/241861939

    (also strangely appropriate for the opening day of the 137th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show)

    @Redshirt:

    Agree with many here recommending the masterful works of John LeCarre, but for the “best spy/espionage novels of all time,” I must add Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent. In an interview I read years ago, LeCarre himself cited it as inspirational.

  70. 70
    taylormattd says:

    Did I miss something?

  71. 71
    Cacti says:

    I heard that the reason for Pope Benny’s resignation is that he’s been meeting with the Mormon elders, and has decided to convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He hopes that his former flock will join him in recognizing Thomas S. Monson as God’s true prophet on earth.

    j/k

  72. 72
    HobbesAI says:

    @Redshirt: Best of all time? I suppose that depends on what you like. Maybe try: The spy who came in from the cold(John le Carré); Running blind(Desmond Bagley); Kim(Rudyard Kipling) or something from Alastair Maclean(Ice station zebra is fairly well liked).

  73. 73
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I was talking of the older Day of the Jackal, not the one with Willis. I did like the latest version of Tinker Tailor too, though it could be a bit dense at times. What did you not like about Guillam’s character.

  74. 74
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @HobbesAI: Alistair McLean is too pulpy. The Germans are always making stupid mistakes, while the allies make hardly any.

  75. 75
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @aimai: Follett has strong and central female characters in all of his books. If you are a feminist and a fan of espionage novels, he ain’t bad.

  76. 76
    aimai says:

    @HobbesAI:

    KIM! That is all I want to say.

  77. 77
    Chris says:

    @Xecky Gilchrist:

    My hunch is that the RCC will double down on the reactionary craziness and count that there are enough social conservatives in the third world to make up for all the Europeans and Americans that continue to be scared away. Love to be wrong, but as has been pointed out, JP2 and B16 have done everything they could to stack the deck in favor of conservatives.

  78. 78
    eemom says:

    I’ve been a bit freaked out this morning by FB posts from Catholic and other religious friends who take this Pope thing as something other than a snarkfest. Worse, makes me feel like I can’t post jokes about it.

    Dayum, and I was so proud of myself for having a wingnut-free FB page. :(

  79. 79
  80. 80
    schrodinger's cat says:

    After the epic snow, we had freezing rain this morning. Do not want. I landed on my butt, as I slid off the ice, after getting out my car. Thankfully the only thing hurt was my ego. Then it is going to be in 40’s and freeze overnight. What joy!

  81. 81
    aimai says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    I loved Follett but eye of the needle (before the cathedral books) is the only one of those books that stayed with me since I read them in the 70’s. I just don’t remember the others. But the movie they made out of Eye of the Needle was pretty good, if people just want to see it.

    Espionage is, for me, so defined by LeCarre that its hard to really think of people who come up to that but deal with other periods. There are a bunch of historical novels about espionage under Queen Elizabeth I, though, I think–since her spymaster Walsingham was one of the first known spymasters in history.

  82. 82
    The Red Pen says:

    @Alex S.: Expect to read a lot of Internet comments about St. Malachy, who (supposedly) had a bunch of predictions about the “final 112 Popes.” We’re at 111 since he made those, I think. Not sure.

    Anyway, a favorite of crazy people. I like to say, “Saint Malarky, the man who puts the ‘scat’ in eschatology.”

  83. 83
    Chris says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Alistair McLean is too pulpy.

    Correct.

    With that qualification, I loved Where Eagles Dare, movie as well as book (only MacLean I’ve ever read). Just so one knows what one’s getting into.

  84. 84
    Robin G. says:

    @Redshirt: Thank you for this! I laughed till I cried.

  85. 85
    Paul in KY says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: Er, Klaus, that is one of the reasons we won the war.

    That, & the enigma machine that allowed us to read all their secret codes. I guess that helped too.

    Plus the Soviets were fighting 75% of them. Guess that also helped a bit…

    Anyway, bottom line you Germans kept making stupid mistakes.

  86. 86
    Steeplejack says:

    @Redshirt:

    I’m not good at “best”–I’m more of a “like/don’t like” person–but here are a few suggestions.

    The heyday of the genre was probably the ’60s and ’70s, so you could go for a little Len Deighton (The Ipcress File, Funeral in Berlin) and John le Carré (The Spy Who Came in from the Cold; Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; Smiley’s People).

    If you really get into Deighton, you can check out his three Bernard Samson trilogies.

    Robert Littell’s The Company (1981) is very good. The plot covers the whole postwar landscape and includes a number of historical figures.

    To go really old-school: Erskine Childers’s The Riddle of the Sands (1903) is a ripping yarn about the dastardly Huns threatening dear old England. It’s available at Project Gutenberg. And John Buchan’s Greenmantle (1916), about intrigue with the Germans in Istanbul in World War I, also is available at Gutenberg.

    On the modern end, I recently finished reading Owen Steinhauer’s Milo Weaver trilogy: The Tourist (2009), The Nearest Exit (2010) and An American Spy (2012).

  87. 87
    Mandalay says:

    @Redshirt:

    Please recommend the thee best spy/espionage novels of all time.

    Must be a young crowd on this board since nobody has mentioned:
    – The Ashenden stories by Somerset Maugham.
    – Absolutely anything by Eric Ambler. My favorite is A Coffin for Dimitrios.

  88. 88
    Steeplejack says:

    Halp! I’m in moderation.

  89. 89
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: Guillam is one of my favorite characters from the book. He has grown up in the spy world and idolizes the previous generation. He is drawn to and charmed by Haydon (who he, like everyone else, probably subconsciously knows is the traitor), but is ultimately one of Smiley’s reliable people. His internal conflicts and the fact that the case basically forces his to grow up and drop his romantic illusions about the world in which he lives were captivating. I don’t think the movie really caught that. In the book, he also projects all sorts of weird ideas of betrayal onto his girlfriend and I again don’t think the movie does a good job with particular way in which his romantic life is fucked up from the inside by his job.

  90. 90
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @Paul in KY: I am not German! Aren’t his novels works of fiction. If the Germans were as inept as in the MacLean novels, the war would have been over in a year or less.

  91. 91
    Steeplejack says:

    @Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason:

    Agree on Alan Furst. Some of his books are atmospheric almost to the point of there’s no substance there, but The Polish Officer is my favorite.

  92. 92
    melissa says:

    Tinker, Tailor, as mentioned above
    The Ashenden Stories by Summerset Maughm
    The 39 steps by John Buchanan

  93. 93
    Elizabelle says:

    @Jewish Steel:

    Love the twitter.

  94. 94
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Redshirt: I read all of the Ludlum stuff more or less when it came out, and enjoyed it as fast-moving pulp at the time. I haven’t revisited it since, although I suspect aimai’s comments may be on the mark. OK in the 70’s, not so much now. And requiring, then as now, a heaping helping of “suspension of disbelief.”

  95. 95
    Steeplejack says:

    @aimai:

    Those James McClure novels were very good. I think at least one of them was made into a movie, but I don’t remember it very well. (Sean Benn? Too lazy to look it up now.)

  96. 96
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Did he even have a girlfriend in the movie? I thought the movie hinted that he may have been gay.

  97. 97
    HobbesAI says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: Pulp, sure, but fun and quick to read, and pulp seems to be what people like: look uponAmazon’s best sellers 2012 and despair.

    **Note: best pure pulp I can recall is Guilty Pleasures (Anita Blake Vampire Hunter), although I recommend not reading the entire series.

  98. 98
    J R in WVa says:

    @PIGL:

    I second this. Anything by Le Carre, then the rest.

    Also too, what is GBS that we should mention it? Google starts with amazing variety, including God’s Bible School, some school district, businesses that contract with the gov’t. Gastric bypass surgery, Group-B Streptococcal septicemia of the newborn, and one syndrome I can’t spell and won’t swipe to copy.

    Also I see the wingnuts have obviously copied Facebook, not realizing that this violates copyrights and patents worth billions of dollars they don’t have. Doomed, I tell you!

  99. 99
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Steeplejack: Yeah, I got introduced to the Furst novels a less that a year ago through the recommendation of someone on this blog. I have read about half of them – one after another. I then decided to take a break from them for a while; I am about ready to go back and read the rest.

  100. 100
    handsmile says:

    @Redshirt:

    Three more:

    Our Man in Havana (Graham Greene)
    Rogue Male (Geoffrey Household) A unjustly now-obscure classic, recently re-issued by the New York of Review of Books imprint.
    The Untouchable (John Banville) A roman a clef about Soviet spy and Surveyor of the [British] King’s Pictures, Anthony Blunt. Banville is one of my favorite contemporary authors and writes great mysteries set in postwar Ireland under his pseudonym, Benjamin Black. This book is more lit’ry than cloak-and-dagger.

  101. 101
    Elizabelle says:

    RE spy novels: My dad had some Helen MacInnes paperbacks, and they were very good.

  102. 102
    Comrade Scrutinizer says:

    @Redshirt: I endorse Tinker, Tailor/Honorable Schoolboy/Smiley’s People as the ultimate espionage story. I also like a lesser known le Carre novel “Our Game”, a post Cold-War espionage novel. Both “A Perfect Spy” and “The Secret Pilgrim” vie for third place. Yes, both by le Carre.

    Almost as good are just about anything by Alan Furst, if you prefer the pre- and early WWII era to the Cold War and post-Cold War.

    These two authors are head and shoulders above the Ludlums, Trevanians, and van Lustbaders.

  103. 103
    Dr. Bloor says:

    @Cacti:

    I call bullshit.

    Tom Cruise got to him.

  104. 104
    Redshirt says:

    @J R in WVa: GBS is a subforum of Something Awful. It’s the general interest section.

  105. 105
    lojasmo says:

    Got a three day “administrative leave” for my offhand comment last Thursday. It may revert to a suspension without pay.

    I hope I won’t be terminated, as I have no history of these kinds of comments.

    Turns out the complainant is a lazy person with a grudge.

    Oh well.

  106. 106
    schrodinger's cat says:

    Speaking of spy stories and movies. Avoid the Good Shepherd. Pretentious, boring and overly long. I don’t know how but DeNiro managed to make the story of the formation of CIA boring.

  107. 107
    Steeplejack says:

    @Redshirt:

    Damn it, I’ve got a long reply to you in moderation at about #86. Too many links. I hope some front-pager will release it soon.

  108. 108
    Redshirt says:

    Let me ask another question: Are there any sci-fi spy novels? Or spy/espionage novels set in the future/alternate timeline?

  109. 109
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: The movie did imply that he was gay and that he was going through a break-up. The first is neither here nor there, and the relationship problems really only matter because of how they are related to his work. Otherwise, they are just “not only is it tough at work, but home isn’t all that fun either.” Now, Guillam isn’t one of the true central characters, so the fact that they took liberties with him isn’t damning to the movie, but it diminished it for me.

    @handsmile: I am a big fan of Household’s work. I particularly like his short stories. They can be hard to find.

  110. 110
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @Redshirt: Have you seen DS9. Garak is best sci-fi spy!

  111. 111
    Comrade Scrutinizer says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: In TTSS (the book) Guillam was said to have run, among other things, “a network of girlfriends who were not, as the jargon has it, inter-concious.”

    Baffled as to why the movie presented him as gay.

  112. 112
    Steeplejack says:

    @lojasmo:

    Jeez, that seems excessive. You weren’t flecking spittle when you said it, were you?

    I had a friend who worked for UPS who joked about “going parcel.”

  113. 113
    aimai says:

    @Redshirt:

    I’m a huge fan of the Vorkosigan Novels by Bujold, Lois McMaster. Space opera, not sci-fi spy but there are some great mixes of spy/diplomatic/war issues. I’m also a huge fan of S.M. Stirling’s Nantucket-goes-back-in-time series for its exploration of war, economics, and politics in 1200 BC.

  114. 114
    handsmile says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: , @schrodinger’s cat:

    You two have been exchanging comments on the recent Tinker, Tailor… movie, but do you know of the 1979 BBC miniseries starring Alec Guiness as George Smiley?

    if not, then please devote some time today ordering it from Netflix or your favorite DVD provider. Utterly, breathtakingly, brilliant adaptation, and Guinness is simply definitive. Of course, at five hours length, it could do far better justice to the intricacies of LeCarre’s plot and characters than the much shorter, albeit creditable, feature film.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T.....iniseries)

    ETA: O.O.: not familiar at all with Household’s short stories. Thanks for the tip!

  115. 115
    Steeplejack says:

    @Redshirt:

    Oh, yeah. Iain M. Banks has at least a couple. Try Consider Phlebas or The Player of Games. Also coincidentally the first two novels in his “Culture” series.

  116. 116
    Paul in KY says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: I was hoping you could see my subtle humour :-)

  117. 117
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @Redshirt:

    It’s been great – the members of TPC (the conservative Facebook) have entered a deeply paranoid phase where no one trusts anyone and they’ve started to turn on one another. Also, watching their attempts to figure out what’s going on is hilarious, since they are dumb ass wingnuts.

    SO I went to TPC, just for the schadenfreude. At the bottom of the first post were these words:

    *Minor editing has been done in an attempt to make the responses grammatically correct.

    Dumb ass wingnuts indeed.

  118. 118
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @handsmile: I have heard of it, but I haven’t seen it. Gary Oldman made a great Smiley, I thought.

  119. 119
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @handsmile: I have watched it several times. Whenever I reread the book, Guinness’s Smiley is how my mind’s eye sees the character.

  120. 120
    Paul in KY says:

    @Redshirt: There is a short story that H. Beam Piper did called ‘The Strange Case of Benjamin Bathurst’ or something like that.

    Set in an alternate timeline where Napolean was a fine artillery officer for the king.

    Excellent read, IMO.

  121. 121
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @Paul in KY: My bad! After all Germans are supposed to have no sense of humor right? My German friend used to joke that most Germans need to take Small Talk 101!

  122. 122
    Steeplejack says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    The new Tinker, Tailor is nothing compared to the two Alec Guinness miniseries (Tinker and Smiley’s People).

  123. 123
    Comrade Scrutinizer says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: It’s worth watching, if you have the time. I got a copy of the original 7-hour version, but the 5-hour version on Nflix is good too. I think I like Guiness’ version of Smiley a tad better than Oldman’s, but only a tad. I much prefer the version of Guillam in the BBC version. If you watch the BBC version of TTSS, you might also want to try Smiley’s People from the same source.

  124. 124
    Chris says:

    @Redshirt:

    Well, sci-fi franchises have had spy fiction as a running secondary plotline in Deep Space Nine (Garak and Section 31), Babylon 5 (Nightwatch and Psi Corps), Stargate (the NID and the Tok’ra) and Firefly (the Hands of Blue and the Operative), if that fits your bill. Although a lot of these come under the “secret police” rather than “intelligence” heading.

    Otherwise, do you read the Star Wars expanded universe at all? If so, the Wraith Squadron trilogy (books 5, 6 and 7 in the X-wing series) makes for pretty fun spy/commando reading. There’s an Agent of the Empire comic book series set in the run-up to Episode IV, too.

    ETA: and may I add how absolutely desolated I am that Garak and Section 31 never had an episode together? That would’ve been the best Trek-spy episode of all time.

  125. 125
    ruviana says:

    Here’s mine: LeCarre, Day of the Jackal, which I loved, and a fairly obscure book called Frost the Fiddler by Janet Weber. It sounds hoky but it works: Frost is a concert violinist but that’s her cover as a U.S. spy. The book gave me the starkest grimmest view of East Germany that I’ve ever read.

    Also too, a shout-out for the BBC/PBS? television production onf Tinker, Tailor which was wonderful!

  126. 126
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @Steeplejack: I will order it from my library. I am sure they will have it.

  127. 127
    Steeplejack says:

    @Redshirt:

    Okay, my previous comment is still in moderation, so here it is without the links:

    I’m not good at “best”–I’m more of a “like/don’t like” person–but here are a few suggestions.

    The heyday of the genre was probably the ’60s and ’70s, so you could go for a little Len Deighton (The Ipcress File, Funeral in Berlin) and John le Carré (The Spy Who Came in from the Cold; Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; Smiley’s People).

    If you really get into Deighton, you can check out his three Bernard Samson trilogies (see Wikipedia).

    Robert Littell’s The Company (1981) is very good. The plot covers the whole postwar landscape and includes a number of historical figures.

    To go really old-school: Erskine Childers’s The Riddle of the Sands (1903) is a ripping yarn about the dastardly Huns threatening dear old England. It’s available at Project Gutenberg. And John Buchan’s Greenmantle (1916), about intrigue with the Germans in Istanbul in World War I, also is available at Gutenberg.

    On the modern end, I recently finished reading Owen Steinhauer’s Milo Weaver trilogy: The Tourist (2009), The Nearest Exit (2010) and An American Spy (2012).

  128. 128
    Comrade Scrutinizer says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: OTOH, the latest guy reading the audiobook of TTSS, Michael Jayston, does a dead ringer imitation of Guiness when he is reading Smiley dialogue. I find it a bit off-putting, to tell the truth.

  129. 129
    Robert Sneddon says:

    @Redshirt: Charlie Stross’ “Laundry” novels, starting with “The Atrocity Archives”. Bob Howard (not his real name) is a computational demonologist working for the British Secret Supernatural Service aka The Laundry. He spends half his time dealing with gibbering horrors from beyond spacetime and the other half dealing with bureaucracy, matrix management and paperclip audits. He’s still not sure which is worse.

    Declaration of interest: Charlie’s a friend of mine.

  130. 130
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Comrade Scrutinizer: I believe Jayston played Guillam in the miniseries. and now for a rousing chorus of “It’s a Small World.”

    I have never been able to get into audiobooks for some reason.

  131. 131
    Steeplejack says:

    @Robert Sneddon:

    Hey, Stross’s Accelerando even got a shout-out from Paul Krugman. It’s on my “to read” list.

  132. 132
    Redshirt says:

    @Chris: Garak was wonderful, as was Section 31. But I’m not looking for an established franchise with spy stories, but rather just a spy novel that also happens to be sci-fi or otherwise set in the future. Star Trek/Star Wars novels don’t match what I’m looking for.

    Definitely will be picking up some LeCarre.

  133. 133
    canuckistani says:

    More votes for Tinker Tailor and Smiley’s People. I didn’t love The Honourable Schoolboy as much.
    I’ve also been getting into Alan Furst, and really getting into Phillip Kerr’s Bernie Gunther books (an ex-cop detective in Nazi-era Germany).

  134. 134
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Whoever designed the wardrobe for the TTSY did a great job. You can see that even in the staid bureaucratic environment of the Circus. Hayden is a bit of a dandy, Smiley is drab and boring and Guillam is most aware of the trends. The sideburns, the longish hair and the broad lapels on his suits, so 70s, I remember my uncles looking like that.

  135. 135
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: Yeah, the miniseries, being shot in the 70s, obviously gets it right, but the movie does really capture the vibe as well. One of the other things the movie does well is that it captures the sort of lost feeling in the Circus of knowing something is wrong but not being able, for a variety of reasons, to put your finger on it.

  136. 136
  137. 137
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Steeplejack: Wow. I am prescient. Of course, what was left?

  138. 138
    mainmati says:

    @Redshirt: The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John le Carre, Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene, which is a satire of intelligence agencies and The Ipcress File by Len Deighton. There are many others, of course, but those are some good ones. The Americans don’t write good spy novels; only the British do.

  139. 139
    JoyfulA says:

    @Steeplejack: Fursts are great, as is A Coffin for Dimitrius, and let me tout my favorite spy, Charlie Muffin, “the Lieutenant Colombo of spies,” a series by Brian Freemantle: http://www.spyguysandgals.com/.....in_Charlie

  140. 140
    Felixmoronia says:

    @Redshirt:

    Many good suggestions: Buchan, Ambler, anything by Robert Littell, Furst, Kerr, and check out some of the early stuff by Ross Thomas.

    eta: Charlie Muffin, yes!

  141. 141
    Steeplejack says:

    @JoyfulA:

    Thanks, I’ll check out the Freemantle books.

    One of the really great benefits of having a Nook that I didn’t anticipate is the ability to shop instantly for books in situations like this.

    (Applies to the Kindle, too, of course.)

  142. 142

    Ha ha, Tea Party chumps, you guys were had! You’re tools and fools:

    A new academic study confirms that front groups with longstanding ties to the tobacco industry and the billionaire Koch brothers planned the formation of the Tea Party movement more than a decade before it exploded onto the U.S. political scene.

    Far from a genuine grassroots uprising, this astroturf effort was curated by wealthy industrialists years in advance. Many of the anti-science operatives who defended cigarettes are currently deploying their tobacco-inspired playbook internationally to evade accountability for the fossil fuel industry’s role in driving climate disruption.

    The study, funded by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institute of Health, traces the roots of the Tea Party’s anti-tax movement back to the early 1980s when tobacco companies began to invest in third party groups to fight excise taxes on cigarettes, as well as health studies finding a link between cancer and secondhand cigarette smoke.

    I know, pointy-headed academics from San Francisco, liberal bias arggle barrgle….

  143. 143
    JoyfulA says:

    @Felixmoronia: Ah, yes, Ross Thomas, beginning with The Cold War Swap. I am about to collect all his books under all his pseudonyms so I can reread them all. I’d forgotten he’d written spy books. He makes me laugh, he makes me cry, he makes me marvel at a figure of speech.

  144. 144
    Darkrose says:

    @aimai: No joke, I was thinking about that series the other day and couldn’t for the life of me remember the author’s name….and I didn’t really want to Google “steam pig” at work, for some reason.

  145. 145
    Darkrose says:

    @aimai: No joke, I was thinking about that series the other day and couldn’t for the life of me remember the author’s name….and I didn’t really want to Google “steam pig” at work, for some reason.

  146. 146
    Comrade Scrutinizer says:

    @mainmati:

    The Americans don’t write good spy novels; only the British do.

    As is evident, I love le Carre, but you’ve obviously not read Alan Furst or Robert Littell. Littell’s The Defection of A.J. Lewinter is classic, and while I found “The Company” to be a bit overly ambitious, it’s easily the equal of some of le Carre’s lesser works.

  147. 147
    Comrade Scrutinizer says:

    @mainmati:

    The Americans don’t write good spy novels; only the British do.

    As is evident, I love le Carre, but you’ve obviously not read Alan Furst or Robert Littell. Littell’s The Defection of A.J. Lewinter is classic, and while I found “The Company” to be a bit overly ambitious, it’s easily the equal of some of le Carre’s lesser works.

  148. 148
    Comrade Scrutinizer says:

    FYWP

  149. 149
    ookpik says:

    Beaten to it, but I can at least second the recommendations: Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan books and Charles Stross’s Laundry Files. Also Stross’s “Merchant Princes” series, starting with “The Family Trade.”

  150. 150
    Robert Sneddon says:

    @ookpik: Charlie Stross has just signed a deal to write another three books in the Merchant Princes series, due for publication some time in 2015. He’s currently hacking on final changes in the next Laundry novel, “The Rhesus Factor” before it goes off to the publishers in the next few days; it should be out in 2014 some time. Next new book from him to hit the shelves will be “Neptune’s Brood” around June this year. Ignore the cover painting, it’s the publishers fault.

  151. 151
    Jerzy Russian says:

    @Jewish Steel: God bless Al Gore for inventing the internets!

  152. 152
    Ecks says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: apparently there is some serious historian speculation that hitlers spy master was not a big Nazi fan, and made a point of not trying TOO hard. Incredibly the nazis had no operative spies in Britain in the war

  153. 153
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Ecks: Canaris was one of the people purged following the July 20 plot. It may have been because there was evidence connecting him to it or it may have been Himmler simply taking out a rival.

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