Doc Tempest VS The Demons Of Dr. Loveless

…from the September 1961 issue

 

Sasha Explains It All

Reader Mail

Hi, folks! Sorry this took so long but I’ve been busy doing science stuff and helping Santa during Xmas Eve. Here is some reader mail from the past few months.

My Auntie Rosie Kirkland asks “Do they (meaning aliens) have dogs? If so, what do they call them?”

Well, Auntie Rosie, it turns out that a great many sentient species have beloved animal companions. The Gliinod on Tarsus 4 have lizardy looking creatures they call Yeens. Yeens grow to about the size of a German Shepherd and will eat damned near anything they can catch, not unlike cats.

The Rasultans, who are about 85% human based, love their Jungtaws, who are about 85% dog based. The other 15% for both is a symbiotic algae. I gotta say, green dogs are pretty fucking strange looking.

The Elves on Earth 378-C domesticated Tree Dragonets, which are small wingless dragons that live in trees out in the wild. The don’t breath fire and their farts smell kind of like wood smoke.

Anyway, there are tons of dog analogs out there.

A Mr. Watson wrote to ask if we have the Ark of the Covenant in the Museum Room on the Bus.

Actually, Mr. Watson, we do have it. Well, we have A version, if not the one from our universe. It looks pretty much just like the one shown in the movies, except it has a not taped too it saying “Do NOT open this! I’m not screwing around!” and it’s signed “God”. Mom and Dad said that was good enough for them, so we coated the whole thing with Eternocrete and put a Class 9 self regenerating force field around it. Should be safe for about the next 10.75 billion years.

Finally, a text from sweetbaby900 asks if there is any version of The Crazy Game that humans can play.

You already play two versions. They’re called Politics and Religion. You suck at both.

That’s all for now, folks!

Until my next rant,

Dr. Sasha Jane Cross, PhD

 

 

 

The Doclopedia #1,323

Spells Gone Wild: Detect Evil

So there we were, just about to step into the Crypt of Count Kragmore, up there in the Blackwood, and Urlin says to old Methaxis, “Cast Detect Evil on the area”. Well, the old fart was half asleep, which you can understand, what with him being 315 years old, and he gives a start and starts casting the spell.

It’s kind of sad that we took him with us, but Frandelius was sick as a dog and we had a tight schedule to keep, so we brought the old boy along. Anyway, it takes him about three minutes to cast the damn spell and when it goes off, we all start looking around for that blue glow that indicates something or somebody that’s evil.

Then we see the backpack of Gilda, our henchman, glowing to beat hell. Naturally, she gets out of it fast and we open it up to see if some bastard slipped in a cursed item. After dumping it out, we see one small bag glowing. We dump it out real careful like, and it’s just full of flour…flour with little bugs in it.

While the rest of us were laughing ourselves sick, Urlin is telling Methaxis “Damn you, deaf old fool, I said EVIL, not WEEVILS!”

Just let me drink some ale and then I’ll tell you about what happened when he was supposed to cast Feather Fall.”

The Terrible Oyster Gun

…WTF?

 

Sasha Explains It All

News Of My Death Will Be Greatly Exaggerated

Death. It happens to all of us. Happens to ecosystems, both local and global. Happens to planets, stars, galaxies and some folks believe, the universe itself.

You are gonna die. Everybody you know is gonna die. We are ALL going to die.

The trick, of course, is putting it off as long as you possibly can. Now, we’ll limit this discussion to we Terran lifeforms, because that’s who you folks know and besides, once you get into other lifeforms on other worlds, life and death become kind of subjective.

So anyway, this rant is about me dying. No, I’m okay. Healthy as a bitch can be, in fact. I am, however, almost 8 years old and that could well be half or more of my lifespan, so my thoughts do turn toward eventual old age and shuffling off this mortal coil. It’s a common thing among true sentients.

So, for all of you who just thought “Well, Sasha old girl, you’ve still got lots of years left before your turn in the checkout line”, I say “Yo, motherfuckers, I’d be a pretty piss poor Mad Scientist if I couldn’t conquer death, now wouldn’t I?”

I mean, dude, I put my dying sister’s katra (well, OK, about 80% of it) into a fucking indestructible robotic body and now she’s running all over the galaxy in CatEarth 6 and, barring some really gynormous all out assault by a couple of really up on their destructive shit space fleets or maybe a run in with a supermassive black hole, Lulu will be raising hell for a minimum of 7,500 years.

And then there was the time that I created a living man out of dead body parts using old school 1818 mad science straight out of Victor Frankenstein’s own book! Mr. Perkins is doing just fine, thank you very much, and his scars have all faded. He’ll be driving that RV of his around for another hundred years or more.

Let’s not forget that I have also built android bodies for my sibs and non-human friends to use. Okay, so those bodies were kits, but still, I tricked ’em out in my shop.

And finally, you are talking to the Queen Mad Scientist Bitch when it comes to genetic manipulation. If you don’t believe me, just ask my ottopus…or my flying monkeys…or my assorted dinosaurs…or my altered pig lab assistants.

So no, despite the fact that one day Mom & Dad and whatever siblings I have will lay my lifeless body to rest somewhere, I will not be dead. Body dead? Yes. Sasha Jane Cross, PhD (X3) dead? Nope.

I’ll be in a cloned dog body or an android body or maybe some other species or, more likely, I’ll be walking around in a human body with a few genetic upgrades. But I will go on. And on. And on.

Will I want to live a million years? Doubtful. Will I live a few centuries? Count on it.

So when the day comes that Daddy & Mom announce my death, feel free to cry over the passing of the sweetest and smartest and most lovable dog you ever knew. But don’t EVEN think the world has seen the last of me.

The Really Odd, Yet Quite Touching, Story Of Mostly Purple Patty And The Ferengi Outcast

…co-starring her Uncle Zeek Zebrahide

Sasha Explains It All
All The Time In The World

I love time travel movies. I love time travel TV shows, novels, short stories, plays, heck, I love ’em all.

In spite of the fact that almost none of them, especially movies and tv shows, get anywhere near how it really is. They introduce paradox and going back to tell yourself stuff and changing history willy nilly or NOT being able to change history at all or Time being some quasi intelligent entity or any of a hundred other weirdass things. From a purely entertainment aspect, I enjoy this creativity, but as a seasoned time traveler, it either makes me laugh or groan.

Mind you, this also extends to all of the current science you humans have concerning time travel. Which is why I’m writing this, to set you all straight. Let’s do this by the numbers.

1: It’s the Many Worlds theory all the way.

Whenever you travel in time, regardless of if it is your own reality or another, if you fuck with the timeline, you spin off new break points and create new timelines/realities, but the old one STAYS THE SAME. If you are in the current Absolute Now in a given reality, you simple create a new one that starts then (with the unfucked with past being the same in both timelines). It’s like dumping a big bucket of water down your driveway. At first, there is one big stream, but then little offshoots form and then more and more for as the hit deformities in the concrete, pebbles, chunks mud, etc. Time is like that.

Let me explain even better, based upon a story (indeed, the OLDEST story) I heard from the Guardians of the Multiverse. See, when the Big Bang (as you call it) happened, it happened in 9 other quanta at the same time. Almost immediately, these quanta developed differing laws of quantum physics and, while VERY similar in most ways, were just a tiny bit different. The most noticeable of these were the two where magic eventually arose.

At some point, some sentient race in each reality got the bright idea to travel through time and they spun off countless new realities. This happened a shitload of times over the eons so that now there are a near infinite number of realities that get stranger and stranger as you go out farther because at some point they touch and blend with other realities to form new realities. Trust me folks, it will make your head spin to think about it for too long.

2: There is no such thing as paradox.

If you read the above, you should understand why. Go back in time and kill your grandfather? Sure you can! But you’ll find yourself back at your Absolute Now with no change in history. Meanwhile, some other you has just pulled off a hell of a murder/suicide. Or he gets a new, different grandfather. Or both, in TWO new timelines.

3: You can MAKE history, but not change it.

Example: My dad went back in time to stop Ronald Reagan from ever entering politics, or, in a few instance, get him to remain a liberal Democrat. He succeeded every time, but, not in our timeline. In OUR timeline, his repeated appearances, even though he was well disguised, convinced Nancy Reagan that some force (possibly connected to astrology, but who the hell knows) wanted Ronnie to become a conservative and run for governor of California. Which he did, of course, much to Daddy’s eternal disgust.

Another example: We are back in the past on holiday in England in 1870 and Lulu is in a flashy looking robot body that I had made to look like a big black dog. While romping in a meadow, she is talking to Mom about various things and a man hears her. This man, who was on the bleeding edge of insanity anyway, thinks he is hearing the Devil in canine form (the legendary Black Dog) and next thing you know, he’s killing hookers in Whitechapel. Note: I didn’t figure this out until I was bored one rainy day and thought, “hey, I’ll go find out who Jack the Ripper was”. Sadly I can’t tell you who he was because I neuralized myself to forget his name.

 

4: Actually, you CAN have your historical cake and eat it, too.

So, suppose one night at a big gaming con a bunch of gamers, game designers and generally smart and geeky folks got to talking about temporal paradox and time travel and changing history (believe me, this is perhaps the LEAST strange thing they discussed) and they formulated the idea of going back to save Lincoln by replacing him with a clone or Life Model Decoy or something just before Booth fires the bullet. They turned the subject every which way but loose before going on to discuss vampires shaving or some shit.

And then the very next day, Daddy and Uncle Spike asked if I could whip up a clone of Abraham Lincoln. I have DNA samples from many famous people, so using temporal folding and speed cloning (during which the clone ages at about 300 times the normal rate, until you hit it with Olzaxoril, which will make it age normally for a short time) I had them a clone ready in only a couple of hours.

Then, using a Katra Replicator (that Daddy should have had no idea how to use but used it perfectly anyway!), Daddy & Uncle Spike went back in time, duplicated Lincoln’s katra the night before the assassination, put the katra into the clone and swapped him out for the original just before President and Mrs L left for the theater. Then they brought the real Lincoln here to (at the time 2014) our house. Well, it was actually the Bus. but you get the idea.

They explained to old Abe how things were and to his credit, Abe accepted his fate pretty quickly. Of course, they had shot him up with a very mild sedative first. Then, after some hours of discussion, it was decided that Mr. Lincoln would be treated with Rejuvinol to take him back to about 30 years old, given a bit of cosmetic surgery, cured of his depression, and taken to the year 1955 where he would find work as a history teacher and a Lincoln impersonator. He loved both jobs and died a happy man in 2015.

Having succeeded once. Daddy and Uncle Spike pulled the old switcheroo many more times. Some of those people are teenagers today and will no doubt have some effect on the future.

 

5: You can’t go into the future, but the future can come back to you.


Okay, this is kind of a mindfucker. Time travel is one way except for you returning to your Absolute Now. You cannot go into the future because it is just a zillion possibilities. But, just as we can into the past, so can folks from the future. And, just like us, they cannot change their past which is our present. It’s all rather strange, so time travelers from different eras try to just avoid one another.

That being said, you can quite easily travel into other timelines that are ahead of ours. Just last week, Mom and Silky popped over to an Earth that is several decades ahead of us to get some groceries cheap because due to global climate change, that Earth does all their farming in tower farms and has wonderful organic food available all year. Of course, they also have to feed only 4.25 billion people, down from 5 billion a couple of years ago. Climate change is driving millions off planet and killing millions more. But damn, the fruits & veggies are great.

6: You can’t go back and talk to yourself.

The upshot of even being too near your past self is that you get a blinding headache. You need to be at least 150 feet away to not get what Mom calls “brainstabbed”. This is why Dad, Mom Auntie Mary and Uncle Spike have to stay in different areas each time they go back to Woodstock in our timeline. In other timelines, like the one where Jethro Tull and Led Zeppelin played, they are ok to stand right next to the other versions of themselves.

So yeah, you’re thinking how you could call yourself or write a letter telling you to how to make millions or not marry that cheating son of a bitch or get free of that goddamn yard you share with those two stupid fucking lab mixes. Well, you can do that, but as we’ve stated all along here, it just spins off a new timeline or causes you to do what future you was trying to prevent.

7: On the other hand, time travel is easier than you think.


Provided, of course, you have all the right equipment. The dead easiest way to time travel is by sending your consciousness back in time to an earlier version of yourself or even another person entirely. Actually, this happens to some people spontaneously and it drives them insane. More than a few of the mentally ill folks you see out on the street are bouncing back and forth in time. Of course, others are mutants or aliens or even messed up androids, but that’s for another rant.

The big myth about time travel is that it takes enormous power to accomplish. I mean, there are physicists who say it would take all the energy in the universe. Well, their asses are sucking swamp water, because I’ve met time travelers who powered their machines with everything from fusion power plants to D cell batteries (admittedly, 560 of them, but still…) to methane gas. They all worked just fine and no universes were hurt. So go ahead, build your time machine! Odds are, it won’t work, but then again, it might.

8: Stepping on a goddamned butterfly will only affect the butterfly.

Sorry, Mr. Bradbury and all you chaos theorists, but that shit just doesn’t happen. Plenty of butterflies and bugs and shit out there.

Well, folks, I could go on at length here, but a bitch needs her beauty sleep. At least now you can relax knowing that no matter what we do as we travel around in the Bus, we can’t fuck up the past.

Until my next rant,

Dr. Sasha Jane Cross, PhD

Fig Soup

…hot or cold

Sasha Explains It All

MALES!!!

What the hell is it with males? Does having a penis shut off half of the brain? I don’t include testicles here, because when you’re a dog, they are often missing on your male partners. But they all have a dick and half the time it’s all they think with and the rest of the time they barely think at all! I am reliably told by most of the female humans I know that this is why civilization is so fucked up.

Okay, so here is what prompted this rant. As some of you might know, I have two main DWBs (Dogs With Benefits), Buster and Moose. Buster is my age, 6, and Moose is 4. Much of the time, either or both (Don’t you dare act shocked, humans. Most of you have probably done a threesome at least once) of them are up for some sex, even if it’s just a quicky. But other times, it’s all “sorry, baby, but me and the guys are gonna chase rabbits or go pee on stuff or bark at birds or roll in a dead squished possum”. I mean, there is hot coochie ready for lovin’ and they’ve got to go chase a damned jackrabbit? WTF? They can’t wait 10 minutes? Odds are they won’t catch the rabbit anyway.

So that happened today. Buster, Moose, my good old backup pal Darby, even that hyperactive fox terrier on the next block, all going off to do male stuff. No love for Sasha (or Silky, but she’s mellower about it) today. “Maybe this evening”, Buster said. “How about tomorrow”, Moose asked.

Well to hell with those guys! The vagina train has left the station, boys, and you weren’t on it! 90 day Bad Dog timeout for you! I’m going to go check out that little pit bull/spaniel mix over on the next block. Or maybe that young husky 3 blocks west of here. Or maybe I’ll just build a male dog android! You wouldn’t find him passing up a good time just so he can go roll in a dead possum!

(Note: I have nothing against rolling in road kill and in fact enjoy it, but mama has been working hard in her lab and was looking for a bit of the old in & out, ya know?)

Now, don’t go writing and telling me that all males aren’t dumbfucks. I know they aren’t. Well, at least not all the time. But damn, they can be pretty fucking obtuse.

Anyway, thanks for listening to my sexually frustration based rant. I’m sure I’ll be fine after I go call on that young good looking husky.

Until my next rant,

Dr. Sasha Jane Cross, PhD

Chapter 305: In Which Our Hero Herds Sheep And Drinks Overly Sweet Wine While Eluding An Angry Scotsman

…although once the Scotsman saw the sheep, he calmed right down

 

TWO blog posts in one day? Thank Sasha for this one.

Sasha Explains It All

Reader Mail

Hi there, folks! For this entry, I thought that I might FINALLY get around to posting some answers to some of my voluminous reader mail, so here we go.

In an email, Ms. A. C. writes: “Just how big is the inside of the Magic Bus?”

A great question, but one that is not easily answered. See, certain of the rooms adjust their size depending upon how many people are on the bus. The living room is particularly adept at that. Then we have the problem of new rooms (like the Forest Room and the infamous Dungeon) popping in from time to time. And that damned Warehouse just will NOT allow you to get an accurate measurement!

The best ballpark figure I can give you (which does not include the area under the main living areas) is about 3 square miles.

A personal message from Robin asks: “How can you justify creating a nearly indestructible dog with such destructive tendencies, then giving an equally crazed cat a suit of power armor? Have you no morals? No conscience?”

Since that is actually a three part question, I shall answer each part in turn. A: I’m a Mad Scientist. We do not justify what we do, we do it because we can. Also, my sister was dying. B: Being mad means having a more “adaptable moral structure”, to quote my Dad. C: Nope, nope. Not a whole hell of a lot of conscience to speak of.

I hope that cleared things up.

Ms. Bonnie, from Seattle, asks: “Why are so many humans so fucked up?”

Man, talk about a question that could fill several books. Anyway, Bonnie, I think it mostly comes down to religion. When you have an idea that promotes one species above all others as special, then give that species one of the premiere creative brains on the planet, you are asking for trouble. It also doesn’t help that humans, like chimps, are a violent species. When you toss in politics (at least, human politics) and the damned near universal mammalian habit of males thinking with their dicks, you end up with some really bad hairless apes. We can only hope they wise up fast or, barring that, die off in droves.

An email from Justin asks: “Can you tell us about some alternate world Canadas?”

Sure, Justin! I’ll tell you a bit about three of them.

In the first Canada, there is no poutine or hockey. Neither one ever really caught on for some reason. It is a sad place to visit, although the sport of Bear Teasing is kind of fascinating to watch. By the way, 80 years into it, the score is Bears: 39,753 Humans: 0.

In the next Canada, the entire population of the UK and much of Ireland moved there when the British Isles sank into the ocean in 1835 thanks to the machinations of Professor Demonicus. Canada became the jewel of the British Empire, at least until the Empire exploded. Even today, it is the #2 superpower in the world, after the United States. Both nations work together to make sure that never changes.

The third Canada was invaded by Martians in 1950, but these Martians were only 3 feet tall and very friendly. There were only 278,000 of them and the were allowed to settle in the northern parts of Alberta and parts of the southern Northwest Territory. They soon fitted right in and became valued members of Canadian society. It didn’t hurt that their poop contains large quantities of precious metals and rare earths.

Well, folks, that’s all for now.

Until my next rant,


Dr. Sasha Jane Cross, PhD

 

Please Don’t Feed The Kraken

…and for goodness sake, do NOT unleash him

 

Sasha Explains It All

You Are Not Alone, Or Even Unique

One of the things that makes humans and a whole bunch of other races interesting and also kind of delusional is this whole idea of you each being totally unique. This belief is a cherished one, especially by self help gurus and fashion designers. And pretty much every consumer product company. Oh, and advertisers. Can’t forget them.

Now, while is is ultimately true that each living thing is unique due to the influences of it’s own life path, outside effects & such, you humans are not so unique as you think. Not even close, really.

Before I go any further with my puncturing of your egos, let me just say that we dogs aren’t exactly bastions of uniqueness either. Just look at a bunch of black labs or bichons or scotties, for goodness sake. They really DO all look alike! Hell, even dogs with some variety of coat colors/patterns look pretty damned similar unless we’ve had some accident. We bassets all have the big snout, long ears, short legs, etc. Same for every breed, really, as well as cats, rabbits, etc.

Now, we DO have other things to help individualize ourselves, including smells, but we aren’t that much more unique than you guys.

So back to why you aren’t unique. In a word: multiverse. See, on average, most folks here on Earth have between 190 and 400 pretty damned near exact duplicates out there on other world’s. These are the ones who aren’t radically different from the Prime. Go out a few more quanta and you can easily quintuple that number and still not be in the really exotic realms.

As an example, let’s take a look at my Auntie Avis. Now, she is a sweet hearted lady who is single (long time divorced), a geek, level headed, over 60, pretty healthy and has worked at her job for over 20 years. She lives in a city in a New England state and has a cat named Leon.

I can show you at least 67 just like her on other worlds. Now, in some she works a different job and in some she has a dog named Leon and in some she was married longer or shorter lengths of time and in some she lives in another city in the same state but fundamentally, she is the same person each time. A great person, but not unique.

Now, there are worlds where Auntie Avis is WAY different, like the one where she is 6 inches taller, has tattoos and is part of a roller derby team when she isn’t working as a police officer. Or the world where she is, essentially, Batman. Or the world where she’s a zombie killing asskicking grandmother. But in the near quanta, she is the wonderful auntie who gives us dogs bellyrubs and sort of balances out Daddy in each universe.

So, like I said, you aren’t really unique. While that might kind of deflate and depress some of you, I think it ought to make you feel good. After all, you are not alone in the multiverse. There are plenty of you.

Except for my human dad. Now, there are tons of him out there, and in the near quanta they are pretty much ordinary guys. Farmers, game designers, writers, cooks, etc. Almost all of them live in California, except a couple who live in Hawaii and one who lives in Seattle. They are all married to some version of Mom, although she does sometimes have different hair color.

The problem is, there are none like the man sitting 15 feet from me right now humming the theme to The Wild Wild West while eating a pb&j and reading a web comic. None driving Magic Buses with mentally jumped up dogs & cats & robot dogs. None who can use a BilTokian gravity glove with ease, but not be able to tell you how and where he learned how to use it.

Maybe there are others like him in the outer quanta, but it’s still a mystery to me how he could be the Prime to so many ordinary dudes. And while I’m at it, there’s something subtly odd about Mom, too, but I’m damned if I can pin it down.

Anyhow, my parents aside, none of us are unique, so get over it.

Until my next rant,

Dr. Sasha Jane Cross, PhD

My Life Among The Wild Writers

…which is actually most of them.

 

Below, Sasha’s latest rant.

Sasha Explains It All

Why You Can Never Really Talk To Your Dog

I know, I know. The first thing you humans say to that is “well, they don’t understand <insert your local language here> anyway”. Typical human arrogance. Look, dogs have been hooked up with humans for maybe 30,000 years and for sure for 25,000 years. We learned your languages as they developed, folks. When we met you, your vocabulary was maybe 300 words. Not real hard to master, ya know?

Now, to be fair, 99% of dogs do not have enormous vocabularies, but we all understand your languages at at least the conversational level. Of course, most dogs only understand the human languages they were raised with, but we understand them. And we pick up new languages pretty fast. Survival skill, don’t ya know.

The above also applies to cats, pigs (have I mentioned how smart pigs are?), apes and several other species that are either in contact with humans a lot or related to you. None of them are quite as good at understanding humans as dogs, but they DO understand you.

So, back to why you and your dog can never really understand one another. It’s pretty simple, really: humans lack tails, scent glands and really moveable ears.

Now, you lot have figured out that tail/ear positions indicate some general emotional stuff, but you have only scratched the surface and you can’t differentiate smells worth a damn, if at all. Let me set you straight.

Suppose I meet my friend Moose, a 4 year old male basset hound. You see Moose and I wagging our tails, ears perked up as much as we can perk up our floppy ears and we are sniffing each others butts. You figure that are greeting each other in a friendly manner. You are right, but only partly.

What you don’t know or notice is that Moose is wagging his tail in a clockwise rotation. He is also emitting a very slight fear odor and his ears go back a couple of times, just for a second. This means that he is glad to see me, but he is a bit nervous about something. We exchange woofs and a sub-vocalization or two and I learn that he is going to the vet later and is worried. Given that the vet once removed his testicles, it’s easy to understand his nervousness. This is very common among most male dogs & cats.

So now, I give him a few reassuring woofs and hold my tail a bit lower, wagging slower. My ears are relaxed and I emit a bit of female scent. You know what I’m talking about. Just a whiff that says “You’re gonna be ok, you hot hunk of dog.” His tail wags faster and then we are on our way with our humans.

Two humans meet like that and all you’ve got is facial expressions, hand moves and body stance and emotional inflections in your voice. We dogs have all of that (except hand movements), plus the tails, ears & scent. Hell, sometimes we say things just with scent alone, which is why we mark territories and sniff each others marks.

But wait, you say, what about dogs & cats who lose their tails or have them docked way short or were born without them? Or have tiny ears or have lost an ear? Well, truth is, those critters speak to us the way a person with a speech impediment or maybe a mental problem speaks to you. We understand them, but it’s a bit more difficult and requires some patience. While I’m on the subject: STOP DOCKING EARS & TAILS, YOU FUCKING HAIRLESS APES!

Sorry for the outburst, but it’s a touchy subject.


Of course, there are also certain concepts that all species have that are unique to that species. Dogs have things like
griff and warrooo, which I can’t even begin to explain to humans, although oddly, my human father has a fair understanding of griff. But then, he’s special. Cats have things like mrrowk and hssht going on and they won’t even try to explain them to non-cats. Among you humans, the concept of religious and political fervor are a couple of the many emotional states we animals can never hope to understand.

So there you have it. We can understand each other, but not completely. I’m not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing or just a thing. Regardless, we all seem to deal with it.

Until my next rant,

Sasha Jane Cross