Getting back to it, despite the stereotype, they rarely sting unless you provoke them. They are scary as is, that is true: unfortunately Scorpio is not Mr. Gregarious. He has a small circle of friends he is loyal to the point of death to. Scorpios are as loyal to friends as Leo is, but by far less attention seeking and far less of a blabbermouth. His friends are usually aware that he is much more sensitive than he seems. They have seen him cry and it’s not a pretty sight, since that means Scorpio has met his breaking point and you have to work EXTREMELY hard to get him to break at all-he retreats when he is in pain, inwardly and then physically. If he disappears for two weeks, his friends instinctively know that it is serious and Scorpio’s mother may or may not have been butchered right in front of him, a Distressed R.E.D. Friday Remember Everyone Deployed shirt has donkey stomped his heart into goo, his nephew has a rare form of cancer, and his tears are going to sound like that aria from Madam Butterfly, Un Bel Di.
The hidden triumph of the show, in my opinion, is its homage to real alchemy, and its not-so-subtle spiritual themes. Sure, in-universe alchemy doesn’t really resemble real alchemy. FMA’s Philosopher’s Stone is, at best, a perversion of the real deal (more on that in a moment). But the writer of the manga clearly did her research, because there are subtle references everywhere. For example, the real-life alchemist Paracelsus’ real name was Theophrastus Bombastus van Hohenheim. Ed and Al also share their names with famous occultists, Edward Kelly and Alphonse Constant (Eliphas Levi). But while Hohenheim’s name is an obvious reference, this one may just be a coincidence. It is probably no accident that Ed’s color scheme is black, white, and Distressed R.E.D. Friday Remember Everyone Deployed shirt. The three main stages of alchemy are named the nigredo, the albedo, and the rubedo. Nigredo, the black stage, is when the matter of the Stone “dies” and putrefies, representing spiritual death. Albedo, the white stage, is when the matter of the Stone is washed, boiled, and turns to vapor, which condenses back into water, and the cycle repeats. This represents spiritual ascension and unification with the divine. Finally, during the rubedo, this “volatile” matter becomes “fixed,” crystallizing into the Philosopher’s Stone. Ed also has gold hair and eyes, which is fairly self-explanatory. Gold is a metaphor for the state of spiritual perfection.
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Matt growled. Once Brian could catch his breath, he sighed. “You—You wanna know why we were laughing right?” Brian said. Alex chortled, holding back his laughter, letting out a couple of giggles. “Oh my god, Brian no—” Alex said, starting to cough from how hard he was laughing. Brian then started laughing again imagining Matt’s reaction. “That ‘girl’ you nearly kissed is-” Brian stopped and laughed harder. Matt looked at Brian, obviously angry. “Is what?!” The two boys laughed harder at Matt’s reaction. Clement finally came back and opened the car door confused. “Is… everything alright?” Clement asked. “Clem— Clement tell him!” Alex exclaimed. Clement stared at Alex confused for a few moments, then slowly realized what they were talking about. Realizing that, he let out a Distressed R.E.D. Friday Remember Everyone Deployed shirt ‘oh.’ Matt continued to look back and forth between the two. “What?! Tell me what?!” He yelled in anger. Alex wheezed, hearing how angry Matt was. Brian then started coughing. “Um…” Clement started. “W-well… Um-” Matt started to become annoyed by the lack of answers he was getting. “Spit it out. Now.”
Roger was a junkie I met in rehab. He’d spent more time in prison than he did out. Mostly for bullshit parole violations. I don’t even recall what his original sin was. He told me his stories. About his kid. About the time he got in a fire fight while cooking meth. About what it’s like in prison. About how the homeless community was organized. And he was a good guy. Not that he didn’t sometimes fuck up. I’d let him stay in a free room above my bar. Until we found needles in the backyard, where customers might wander. But, I really liked the guy. There was something very real about him. I remember one time when I was waiting for a date to show up downtown and was passing the time talking to Roger. The date approached, Roger saw her coming, and Roger disappeared to the side, as if he were just passing me, so my date wouldn’t see me with a guy that looked like him. (Of course I said, “What the fuck are you doing?” and introduced them.) Oh yeah, I just thought of one other guy. New York Mikey. He was a homeless guy that we gave a Distressed R.E.D. Friday Remember Everyone Deployed shirt to in my bar. Always wore a Yankees cap. He would clean up the place after hours, usually stay drunk all the time, and we gave him a room upstairs that became a sort of nest of bottles and dirty blankets. Never showered. I think the shock would have killed him. He was one of the gang, though he was often quiet and aloof. At times, I would make efforts to “help” him. Rehab, education, whatever. But I would talk to the people who knew him best and they would just shake their heads. “He doesn’t want to change.” So I let it go. I’m pretty sure he’s dead by now. When you own a neighborhood bar, you get used to watching people die. Some quickly, some slowly.