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Saturday, November 19, 2016

The Black Tower

Deep Space Nine: The Intendant - Maneater
The last line, spoken in the last few seconds (2:40), sums up the character perfectly.

Earlier this week a memory of Kira Nerys (Nana Visitor) as The Intendant resurfaced in my mind. Kira was a character on Star Trek: Deep Space 9. Normally Kira is normally one of the good guys (girls), but her role as The Intendant takes place in a mirror universe (in Star Trek all things are possible), and in this mirror universe she is a sadistic killer and a sexual hedonist. Watching her it doesn't take long to be both attracted and repelled.

Yesterday I picked up The Black Tower and started rereading it and one of the first things that jumps out at me is Intendant. Did a future event trigger my memory of Kira Nerys? Weird, man.

Napoleon Bonaparte in the coup d'état of 18 Brumaire in Saint-Cloud - François Bouchot 1840.
This was the end of the French Revolution and beginning of Napoleon's rule.
18 Brumaire is November 10, 1799. The French Revolution created their own calendar.
So I'm reading along and Vidocq and Doctor Carpentier take a trip to Saint Cloud, a suburb just across the Seine River from Paris. Everybody says it is ten miles from Paris, but nobody ever says which way, so why did I think it was to the East? In fact, it is West.

Estate of Saint Cloud - Étienne Allegrain 17th Century
In any case the Château de Saint-Cloud is there. It done got blowed up in 1870, but at the time of our story, which is in the early 1800's, it's still there. This is the second time the War of 1870 has popped up this week. The first time occured when Jack tells me he has found the bayonet for his old French training rifle. Weird, man.

Saint Cloud has pretty much always been a hang out for rich people. But back in the 18th century there was a porcelain factory. Start reading about china (porcelain) and there is no end to it. There is soft paste porcelain, hard paste, bone china, Chinese porcelain and fritware. I stopped there, it was getting to be too much.
     It was big business and a big deal. And if you think about it, it kind of makes sense. If you don't have dishes made of china, what do you use? You could use pewter, but that's a metal, and metal back then was expensive. There was no plastic. Surely they had pottery, so what was so special about porcelain? Stronger and lighter? Kind of like having a car with an aluminum body instead of steel? No real functional advantage, but gives your status a little boost and that, as I am slowly learning, can be more important than any real physical advantage.

Update June 2019 corrected spelling errors.

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