Who are these name changers? Are they Bristolians, born and bed here of Bristol families, educated in Bristol Schools, worked hard to buy their own houses, and pay council tax? How dare they come here from other cities and countries and tell us what to do?
also P. Collins
I hinted on Twitter awhile back that I was entirely rewriting a major bit of Almeology, and now it’s done! It’s on what I used to call Caďinorian paganism.
That was one of the first pages I put up, 19 years ago, and I’ve never been entirely happy with it. I’ve greatly expanded it, with more information on non-imperial versions of the religion, and much more detail on the actual mythology. Now you can learn what the heroes Maranh and Koleva actually did. Plus you can get married using actual Caďinor wedding vows.
The old version was pretty jokey, which can be fun, but it didn’t fit in with the rest of Almeology. (It was already toned down from the first version I wrote, probably during the original D&D campaign. Sadly, I can’t find that version right now— I hope it’s hiding in one of my cabinets.) The old version was also a little too influenced by G.K. Chesterton and his rumination on paganism from a Catholic perspective.
This project also involved finding etymologies for, and sometimes renaming, a bunch of minor gods and demons. The Verdurian names came with the original document, usually just invented without a meaning. Now most everything means something. (Occasionally this meant changing the Verdurian name— I hope you’re not too bothered that Évetel, Leanota, and Urdelan are now Ávetu, Eduela, and Uřädec.)
There are a bunch of new pictures of gods. Two gods are still missing, but I expect to add them in later.
The advantage for me is that I can keep them up to date easily. The text files also take up less room than the old HTML files. And the advantage for you is that you can ask for just the words you need. Yes, you could use Ctrl-F before, but a listing of search results is far more informative and more likely to give you just the word you need. Plus codes are defined so you can enter all the diacritical marks.
Scott wrote another short story. As is usually the case, it's intriguing but there's also much to critique :) The aliens in the story develop great technology, and build an ansible out of negative average preference utilitarianism.
I have a lot of different thoughts inspired by this story. I don't think it's the sort of story where knowing what happens is a problem for reading it, but I will cut a detailed discussion just in case.
( Spoilers )
Eddie Tipton, a programmer for the Multi-State Lottery Association, secretly installed software that allowed him to predict jackpots.
What's surprising to me is how many lotteries don't use real random number generators. What happened to picking golf balls out of wind-blown steel cages on television?
Them feet-folks from York and Leeds that be always eatin' cured herrin's and drinkin' tea an' lookin' out to buy cheap jet would creed aught. I wonder masel' who'd be bothered tellin' lies to them, even the newspapers, which is full of fool-talk.I'm not terribly sure what 'feet' means in this context, and Google isn't helping, even when I put the phrase in quotation marks to rule out ordinary references to feet. Maybe it just means foot-passengers who have come to Whitby on the train? Or might it be Bram's attempt at spelling a local pronunciation of 'fit', and perhaps means something more like 'fine folk' (in a sort of 'fit to be Queen' kind of sense)? If any genuine Yorkshire-born chums have a clue, let me know. If it's a proper dialect word, it will have been something Bram got out of a book on Whitby dialect which we know he used in his research.
[ETA: apparently I wasn't Googling very effectively before. I've found the answer now and my first guess was right: feet-folks are foot-passengers.]
Anyway, I will be going to Whitby myself in just over a fortnight, along with the lovely lady_lugosi1313, to join a long weekend event marking the 40th anniversary of the Dracula Society's first official trip to that location. I don't have any particular plans to eat cured herring or drink tea (which I hate), but I won't turn down any nice cheap jet, and I will make a particular point of believing any and all legends of the macabre and supernatural which anyone tells me for the entire weekend - just to annoy Mr Swales.
The explorer lifted his hands toward the sky. “With the heavens as my witness,” he said, “if you do not release me, then I will respond by blotting out the sun…” He took a piece of paper out of his pocket, double-checked some numbers written on it “…starting exactly one minute from now.”
The savages snorted. The chieftain fiddled with the bone in his hair. “You no have power blot out sun,” he accused.
“My people possess great magic,” said the explorer. “And by threatening to eat me, you have incurred my wrath. So let me depart your country, or darkness shall fall over the land, starting…now!”
“Sun no get blot out,” said the savage chieftain. A few other savages nodded. “We think we stick with original plan of eat you.”
“The sun in so getting blotted out,” said the explorer. “Just a tiny corner at first. It’s hard to see. But gradually it’ll get bigger.”
One or two of the savages tried to stare at the sun, then averted their eyes after a moment.
“Definitely no blot out,” said the chieftain.
“You can’t see it because the remaining unblotted-out portion of the sun is too bright!” said the explorer.
“Not seem very good magic,” said the tribe’s shaman, joining in the discussion.
“Um. How about this. Do you have a cereal box?”
“What is cereal box?” asked the chieftain skeptically.
“Ah, frick. Um, bark. Do you have long and thin pieces of bark?” Some of the savages went into a hut, came out with some bark. “If you arrange them into a kind of box shape, and you cut a hole in that one there, and then you use it to block the other one, you…”
“Why we do this, again?” asked the shaman. “We hungry. We want eat you now.”
“Because,” said the explorer, “I’m trying to demonstrate that I’m blotting out the sun.”
“Me would think,” said shaman, “that if sun blotted out, maybe not need contraption made of pieces of bark in order to know.”
“I’m blotting it out really slowly! It’s too bright to look at directly!”
“Maybe you should blot out sun faster,” said the chieftain.
“I’M BLOTTING AS FAST AS I CAN!”
“Still not seem very good magic.”
“Oh, screw you, I’ll do it myself,” said the explorer, breaking out from among the warriors standing guard around his party. None of them moved to stop him as he sat down, took the pieces of bark, and propped them up against each other with sticks. He took a knife from his pocket and whittled a little hole into one of them. “See! The sun clearly has a little corner taken out of it.”
The savages all peered down warily. Finally, the shaman asked what all of them were thinking: “What supposed to be demonstrated by this?”
“Oh, for the love of God. It’s a pinhole projector. Normally the sunlight would come through this hole and illuminate a perfectly circular area on this other piece of bark here. But now, because I’m blotting out the sun with my magic, it’s producing this kind of crescent shape, with a bit taken out of the sun.”
“You able to blot out the sun with magic seem like overly complicated explanation for weird shape shadow,” said the shaman. “Maybe shadow made on bark always weird.”
“NO IT’S NOT,” said the explorer. “After I stop blotting out the sun, you’ll see it’s a normal circular shadow.”
“Okay,” said the chieftain. “Is good idea. You unblot sun now, we check for circular shadow, then re-blot sun again.”
“I’m not going to stop blotting out the sun just because you guys don’t understand optics!”
“Just unblot little bit, then reblot little bit. Not so hard.”
“Have you ever blotted out the sun before? No? Then stop telling me what’s hard or easy!”
“So when you stop blotting out sun?”
“After you release me!”
“So we only able to learn if releasing you necessary after you unblot sun, and you only unblot sun after we release you? Sound kind of like trick.”
“Look,” said the explorer. “I’m sorry about this. I really am. There are places north of here that are getting total sun-blotting-outs. If we were a few dozen miles away, this would be really impressive, I promise. But here, I’m only able to blot out the sun partially. Like, ninety percent. I just feel like, as demonstrations of power go, that’s still pretty impressive.”
“But definitely when ninety percent of sun blotted out, it big enough to notice, right?”
“Well…it will probably get darker. I think maybe the difference will be noticeable. And if you look at the pinhole projector…” He touched the contraption of bark and sticks, which promptly fell apart. He cursed and propped it back up again. “If you look at the pinhole projector, you’ll see that the part of the sun that’s missing is gradually increasing.”
The savages stared at the projector, dubiously.
“Look about same,” said the shaman.
“It’s not! Over the past few minutes, the ‘bite’ taken out of the sun has gradually gotten bigger!”
“Maybe should blot out whole sun,” said the chieftain. “Maybe then seem more obvious.”
“I’M NOT GOING TO BLOT OUT THE WHOLE SUN! Come on, can’t you tell it’s getting darker?”
The shaman squinted. “Maybe sort of look dark. Hard to tell.”
The savages started talking to each other. “Maybe look little darker than usual,” the chieftain concluded. “But maybe only because you give me suggestion.”
“Oh, come on,” said the explorer. “It’s clearly darker. Just let me go.”
The chieftain whispered something to the shaman. The shaman whispered something back to the chieftain. Finally, the chieftain turned to the explorer and nodded.
“Not sure if really darker or just power of suggestion. But you make sun come back, we let you go.”
The explorer gave a sigh of relief. He lifted his hands to the heavens. “In the name of the gods of my people,” he declared, “I command the sun to return to the sky!”
Nothing obvious happened. They waited a minute. Two minutes. Finally the chieftain shrugged. “Maybe little bit lighter,” he said. “Hard to tell.”
“Can I go?” asked the explorer.
The chieftain shrugged. Before he could change his mind, the explorer grabbed his pack and rushed out of the village.
Ten minutes later, he was back. The chieftain looked at him quizzically.
“Actually,” said the explorer, “I just saw the traffic on the road out of here. If the offer’s still open, I think I’d rather get eaten.”
I saw the eclipse! Mostly! Not in totality, like most people. But I still thought it was pretty cool, so I made this shirt:
Various color shirts are available (black/red/blue/more) — also, you can order a mug or sticker with this design, or a hoodie.
All of them are available for just 7 days, through Tuesday August 29 only!
The theme of today's post: MSM chǎomiàn / Cant. caau2min6 trad. 炒麵 / simpl. 炒面 ("fried noodles").
When I was a wee lad growing up in East Canton (formerly Osnaburg; population about a thousand), Ohio, all that I knew of Chinese food came out of cans, and it was branded either as La Choy or Chun King. The noodles were short, brown, hard, and crunchy, the vegetables were rather tasteless (with mung bean sprouts predominating and plenty of somewhat rubbery sliced mushrooms), all in a mucilaginous matrix of thick, starchy sauce. But it was a lot of fun to prepare and eat because of the way it came in three cans and was so very exotic — not like the daily fare of meat, potatoes, peas, beans, and bread favored by Midwesterners. Oh, and the watery, caramel colored soy sauce was so cloyingly salty.
The only exception was that once a year our Mom would alternate taking one of the seven siblings to the big city of Canton (population about eighty thousand) five miles to the west and would treat us to a Chinese restaurant meal. I think the owners were the only Chinese in the city. The two things that impressed me most were how dark and mysterious the room was in the unmarked, old house where the restaurant was located and how the egg foo young (and I just loved the sound of that name!), which was so much better than the canned chicken chow mein we ate at home, was served to us on a fancy, footed platter with a silver cover. It was always a very special moment when the waiter uncovered the egg foo young and I smelled its extraordinary aroma.
Here's a description of an intrepid foodie preparing and eating today's version of La Choy's Chicken Chow Mein, which is still apparently "available at supermarkets everywhere":
La Choy’s chow mein dinner comes in three separate cans. Following the instructions faithfully I first heated the chicken and gravy mixture from one can in the microwave for two minutes, stirring in between. Right off the bat, the gelatinous concoction began making popping sounds, like it was exploding. While that was going on, I opened the can of vegetables—carrots, water chestnuts, etc.—drained them in a colander, then mixed them in with the chicken and gravy once they were done. This combo gets heated for three minutes, or until hot. Then you sprinkle on the dry noodles, which come in a can of their own.
Digging in, I found the dish unbelievably bland. The vegetables, such as they were, were indistinguishable from each other. The chicken was fairly unrecognizable as chicken, too. The noodles were the best part by far: dark, even burned-looking, deliciously crispy. An hour or so later, alas, I “had to go to the bathroom.” Badly. And, I can’t help thinking it was mainly because of the chow mein feast. Either my constitution is much more delicate than when I was a kid—or La Choy just ain’t no Chun King.
That's from "Bygone Bites: A Review of La Choy’s Chow Mein: Glenn and Carol do a side-by-side critique of these canned fake-Asian noodles. Cue the nostalgia." Carol Shih [and Glenn Hunter], D Magazine (3/4/14)
Here are some interesting facts about La Choy:
The company was founded in 1922 by Dr. Ilhan New (유일한), later founder of Yuhan Corporation in South Korea; and Wally Smith from the University of Michigan. The first product, canned mung bean sprouts, was originally sold in Smith's Detroit, Michigan, grocery store.
New left the company for personal reasons in 1930. Smith was killed by lightning in 1937.
And Chun King:
Chun King was an American line of canned Chinese food products founded in the 1940s by Jeno Paulucci, who also developed Jeno's Pizza Rolls and frozen pizza, and the Michelina's brand of frozen food products, among many others. By 1962, Chun King was bringing in $30 million in annual revenue and accounted for half of all U.S. sales of prepared Chinese food. Chun King was sold to the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, in 1966 for $63 million.
l won't go into the history of how the two companies competed and merged, nor how they were both bought by large food conglomerates. What's remarkable is that, in one or another guise, they survived for so long even after authentic Chinese food became widely available in America.
What prompted this post in the first place was the following photograph, sent to me by fintano:
Maidhc comments on the feelings evoked by the photograph:
I have a vague recollection from my youth that Stan Freberg made commercials for Chun King (which was founded by an Italian), and even as a child I loved Stan Freberg, and more so as an adult.
See Stan Freberg Presents the Chun King Chow Mein Hour in this Wikipedia article. This was during the advertising part of his career, which was later than most of his recordings.
I was just looking through the Yelp reviews and I found this:
"some dishes may be hella ma la hot"
Is this the most SF Bay Area sentence ever?
Chow mein from a can ≠ chǎomiàn / caau2min6 from a wok ≠ Chóngqìng xiǎomiàn 重慶小面 ("Chongqing / Chungking noodles") in a San Francisco Sichuanese restaurant, though they all have their own charms.