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December 21, 2006

Open thread 77
Posted by Teresa at 08:30 AM *

Letter to Lady Georgiana Morpeth, 1820:

Dear Lady Georgiana,

Nobody has suffered more from low spirits than I have done—so I feel for you.

1st. Live as well as you dare.
2nd. Go into the shower-bath with a small quantity of water at a temperature low enough to give you a slight sensation of cold, 75 or 80.
3rd. Amusing books.
4th. Short views of human life—not further than dinner or tea.
5th. Be as busy as you can.
6th. See as much as you can of those friends who respect and like you.
7th. And of those acquaintances who amuse you.
8th. Make no secret of low spirits to your friends, but talk of them freely—they are always worse for dignified concealment.
9th. Attend to the effects tea and coffee produce upon you.
l0th. Compare your lot with that of other people.
11th. Don’t expect too much from human life—a sorry business at the best.
12th. Avoid poetry, dramatic representations (except comedy), music, serious novels, melancholy sentimental people, and everything likely to excite feeling or emotion not ending in active benevolence.
13th. Do good, and endeavor to please everybody of every degree.
14th. Be as much as you can in the open air without fatigue.
15th. Make the room where you commonly sit, gay and pleasant.
16th. Struggle by little and little against idleness.
17th. Don’t be too severe upon yourself, or underrate yourself, but do yourself justice.
18th. Keep good blazing fires.
19th. Be firm and constant in the exercise of rational religion.
20th. Believe me, dear Lady Georgiana,

Very truly yours, Sydney Smith

Comments on Open thread 77:
#1 ::: individualfrog ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 08:55 AM:

Aha! I am early enough to ask a question. I think this is the ideal forum for such an inquiry. I have read the phrase "know from" to mean "know about" occasionally, I think even here on this blog maybe. Like, "I'm American and I know from George Washington," or something. I'm probably using it wrong. Anyway I've read it, especially on the Internet, but where do people actually say it? Where does it come from? I'm from Connecticut and I've never heard anyone say it in my life, only read it. And whenever I read it it kind of bothers me with curiosity.

Does anyone know?

#2 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 09:23 AM:

And I'm early enough to provide an answer.

A cursory Google survey confirmed my recollection that "know from" is a Yiddishism. I think of it as a New Yorkish idiom, which often implies a Yiddish origin. Many of these Yiddishisms have been circulated via show business, so don't be surprised by your hearing it more on TV and movies than in your everyday life.

#3 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 09:26 AM:

Individualfrog, for what is worth, I had always assumed that it was a kind of variation of the good old "don't know his ass from a hole in the ground" or "don't know shit from shinola" expression common in the midwest; but I was told by a linguist that it came from a mistranslation of either the german or yiddish "von" (about) as "from". So what in German would be "don't know about" came out in English as "don't know from".
Can't find an actual reference on that, though.

#4 ::: JBWoodford ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 09:27 AM:

To #1 (individualfrog)

I think it's from Yiddish, but am not sure. It's (AFAIK) not a German construction; I don't remember "Ich weiß von..." from (admittedly long-ago) high school German class.

#5 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 09:27 AM:

9th. Attend to the effects tea and coffee produce upon you.

Hmmm... Not sure what Syd means here.

#6 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 09:34 AM:

A cursory Google survey confirmed my recollection that "know from" is a Yiddishism.

Just because I'm a Silly Linguist Person, I like to call these "Yiddicisms." Just for fun. This goes with calling the state of being frantic "franticity," and so on.

Seriously, I think it's very much New York dialect (did you know that "New York" is by itself one of only five major dialect groups in the US?), and it's usually used in the negative: "I don't know from classical" said to me by a jazz musician; "...and I'm gonna make 'em all exactly alike! So when he stops, he don't know from gas, he don't know from burgers, he don't know from nothin'!" from Inserts, a movie that was trashy despite the great efforts of Richard Dreyfus, of all people, to make it good.

#7 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 09:37 AM:

#5 Serge, I don't know either. I do know from college that they always helped create a great stippling effect while I was illustrating.

#8 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 09:40 AM:

calling the state of being frantic "franticity"

And, Xopher, is FDR really responsible for calling the state of being normal "normalcy"?

(As for Inserts, that takes me back a few years - 28 of them. It was a bit jarring to watch that right after Superman - the movie.)

#9 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 09:44 AM:

Steve @ 7... So, you too think Syd was talking of the activity quaintly refered to by ladies as 'powdering their nose'?

(Wow... Barely started and already the thread has gone downhill.)

#10 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 09:52 AM:

Is there such a thing as contests for the best Rube Goldberg contraption of the year? If so, is there a web site that runs films of said contraptions in action? Watching the MythBusters's own such creation a couple of weeks ago reminded me how much fun they are.

#11 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 09:57 AM:

Thanks for that letter, Teresa and Sydney.

So who's going to edit The Oxford Book of Blogging?

#12 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 10:01 AM:

Re coffee and tes: Sydney could also be talking about the effect that stimulants have on Lady Georgina.

#13 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 10:04 AM:

True, James. That would explain Syd's warning against "...everything likely to excite feeling or emotion not ending in active benevolence..."

#14 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 10:09 AM:

And I see that Sapmurat Niyazov Turkmenbashi is no longer with us in this Vale of Tears. Pinochet, Turkmenbashi... dare we hope for a dictatorial trifecta for Christmas this year?

#15 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 10:11 AM:

Serge @9, well, I was going more for the caffine. After a long night with a 2-liter bottle of Mountain Dew, you could lay down those dots like a madman. Although, from what I hear, that "other thing" also worked well, I could never afford such things so I don't know from personal experience. Just for the kids, either activity is not recommended. Each are bitchers to come down from.

#16 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 10:11 AM:

Having felt a bit low myself this holiday season, I am printing this excellent advice out in a charming old-fashioned font and plan to refer to it frequently. Nothing like an amusing book, a cup of coffee, and a blazing fire to lift the spirits!

#17 ::: Harriet ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 10:16 AM:

Serge and Steve - I wondered about the tea and coffee as well. But my own first guess was that Syd might have been referencing the effects of the caffeine in both beverages -- tea, frex, has been known as "the cup that cheers but does not inebriate" since before the date of this letter, and a lady in low spirits must be in need of good cheer. But I'd welcome a more definitive answer :-)

#18 ::: Jennifer Barber ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 10:19 AM:

is FDR really responsible for calling the state of being normal "normalcy"?

The OED's first quotation for "normalcy" is from 1857, so I'm going with "no".

#19 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 10:19 AM:

"the cup that cheers but does not inebriate"

I like that, Harriet. Sounds so classy.

#20 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 10:21 AM:

In #10 Serge writes:

Is there such a thing as contests for the best Rube Goldberg contraption of the year? If so, is there a web site that runs films of said contraptions in action?

There are certainly college competitions. In '91 I attended one at Purdue that was most amusing. Aha, this may help.

There must be video of such things. Don't forget to search on "Heath Robinson" as well as "Rube Goldberg!"

Until you find the motherlode of Rube Goldberg student videos, you can content yourself with the short film The Way Things Go and the Honda "Cog" commercial. These were discussed in this forum a few years ago.

#21 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 10:23 AM:

'Normalcy' goes that far back, Jennifer? I shall promptly call my wife and chastise her for misinforming me, even though today is her birthday. I might even withhold giving her that statue of UnderDog, as further punishment. (Or I could instead go downstairs to Starbucks and have some of the other cup that cheers but does not inebriate.)

#22 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 10:23 AM:

I believe that "normalcy," as a coinage, is usually attributed to Warren G. Harding.

#23 ::: Jennifer Barber ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 10:29 AM:

It sure does, Serge.

Debra, Harding is the third source quoted by the OED.

(I love having free online OED access from work. So much easier than waiting until I'm home and getting out the actual book.)

#24 ::: Jennifer Barber ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 10:31 AM:

Oh, I should probably mention that the quotation after the Harding is:

1929 G. N. CLARK in S.P.E. Tract XXXIII. 417 If...'normalcy' is ever to become an accepted word it will presumably be because the late President Harding did not know any better.

Which strikes me as nicely ironic.

#25 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 10:33 AM:

Individualfrog #1: 'Know from' is a Yiddishism, still I believe heard frequently in New York. I recall one of my political theory teachers (a man of impeccably WASP origin) using it very frequently. I taxed him about it, and he said that, given that political theory was a field with a lot of Jewish participants it wasn't surprising that something had rubbed off on him.

#26 ::: Joe J ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 10:34 AM:

Bill (#20) and Serge (#10)

I think that previous thread about wonderful machines ended up bleeding over onto Neil Gaiman's blog as well (or vice versa): Tuesday, April 22, 2003.

Also, someone provided him with a link to Arthur Ganson's mechanical sculptures, which you really must see.

#27 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 10:38 AM:

Thanks, Bill Higgins and Joe J. About the MythBusters's own contraption, my only complaint is that I wish the frozen turkey falling out of the oven had led to more than crash-test dummy Buster falling off his chair. Seems like an anvil falling on his head would have been the perfect grand finale. Still, the cymbal-clanking monkeys were a nice touch.

#28 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 10:46 AM:

sidelight: Liberal (n.): Conservative who's just seen his health-insurance premiums go up 81%

(beavis/butthead chuckling)

Funny stuff.

#29 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 10:51 AM:

Coffee and tea were not uncommonly promoted as medicines in the early modern era.

"Furthermore, respectable society physicians such Hans Sloane and John Radcliffe were not above trading on their reputations as physicians, and produced and promoted branded medicines. In Sloane's case this took the form of drinking chocolate; other exotic 'luxury' goods such as tea, coffee and tobacco were all promoted for their supposed health-giving effects, and as medicinal products may be considered within the same broad category of proprietary medicines. Users for many of these medicines also came from respectable classes - as the prices often appear to indicate. Rogers' Oils, the proprietary gout medicine promoted by Dr William Stukeley in the 1730s, were used by a number of men of wealth and rank, including Pitt and Walpole, as Porter and Rousseau (1998) have noted."

link

#30 ::: Adam Lipkin ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 10:52 AM:

PayPerPost is forced to require disclosure in its word-of-mouth campaigns.

Finally some progress on that front, for those who followed the thread here at the beginning of the month.

#31 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 10:57 AM:

Drinking chocolate for medicinal purposes, Sarah S? So that's why my wife likes the stuff so much - although she prefers it in solid form.

#32 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 10:57 AM:

Then there's Sir Sidney Smith's March from John Chambers' massive ABC Tunefinder site. If you're looking for a traditional European tune (tune, not song), particularly Celtic or British, start here.

It makes a surprisingly good harp tune, perhaps because of the Carolan-like phrases and irregularity.

According to the excellent site The Fiddler's Companion:

SIR SYDNEY SMITH'S MARCH. AKA – “Handel’s Gavotte.” English, March. G Major. Standard. AABB. Sir William Sidney Smith (1764-1840) was a British admiral and naval hero during the Napoleonic Wars, especially remembered for his defence of Acre against Napoleon in 1799. Smith apparently liked to think of himself as a second (Horatio) Nelson, and in fact he was instrumental along with that more famous admiral in ending Bonaparte’s dreams of eastern conquest. It is unfortunate that while Nelson became a national hero of immense proportions, Smith remains all but forgotten. There was a rivalry between the two, as well as friendship, and Smith hoped to snatch Nelson’s laurels by destroying the combined French and Spanish fleets with newly invented rockets and torpedoes before Nelson fought them decisively at sea off Cape Trafalgar in 1806.

Sir Sidney led a colorful life. An adventurer as was as strategist and naval expert, he had been imprisoned as a spy in Paris, with the threat of execution, until he made a daring escape. He was a diplomat with a flair for the theatrical, and returned to London from the Middle East wearing Arab robes, presaging Lawrence of Arabia a century later. It may be no surprise that Smith lived in Paris, the capital of his former enemy, for the last twenty-five years of his life.

#33 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 11:03 AM:

#31 Serge--

There's always a good justification for chocolate. Interestingly enough, the current research on antioxidants suggests that what were essentially wild guesses on the part of early modern doctors weren't that far off--about some stuff.

The cutting live birds in half and applying them to the feet or head to draw the "vapors" out....not so much.

#34 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 11:04 AM:

Sarah S #29: The Dutch East India Company employed physicians to promote tea as the wonder drug of the seventeenth century. Boxer's The Dutch Seaborne Empire mentions one who prescribed tea in doses of twenty to two-hundred cups per day.

#35 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 11:06 AM:

Fragano (#34)--

That's fabulous! I wonder if he meant the "venti" cups or the "tall" ones?

Now seems about the right time to recommend David Liss's The Coffee Trader."

#36 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 11:08 AM:

Sarah S #35: I've always assumed the traditional teacup.

#37 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 11:12 AM:

James @ #12 et al: if Lady G. had not simple depression but bipolar disorder, caffeine might not have been good for her in her manic phase.

#38 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 11:14 AM:

The cutting live birds in half and applying them to the feet or head to draw the "vapors" out

Drawing vapors thru people's feet, Sarah S? Is that what they thought was the cause of stinky feet?

#39 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 11:18 AM:

Serge (#38) Nope, it had to do with trying to stop fevers or other problems. They did it to John Donne when he had "relapsing fever" and also to Henry (James I's oldest son) when he was dying of whatever he died of.

It was not a stunningly effective treatment.

#40 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 11:23 AM:

"Run, run, run, as fast as you can! You can't catch me, I'm the Stinky Cheese Man!"

#41 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 11:34 AM:

Since 'tis the Season to be jolly, tra-la-la-LA... And since lots of things seem to be on YouTube... Does anybody have a link to Saturday Night Live's skit about the year Kris Kringle got food poisoning the night before Christmas so his wife phoned his old buddy Hannukah Harry to stand in for him?

#42 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 11:44 AM:

Xopher@6: I've certainly heard it in the positive. "And trust me, he knows from suits!" in an archaic source, and "Him? He doesn't know from cars. I know from cars!" from an elderly family friend (this is not a construction my family tended to use, as they were not Yiddish speakers).

TNH: That Noka expose is dynamite. Good investigative reporting, good research, good math. Thanks for the link!

#43 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 11:44 AM:

I posted this on Open Thread 76 minutes before OT 77 appeared. I'm copying it here so that it has a better chance of getting seen and answered.

I have a procedural question.

Over on the "Brilliant Sendup" thread, someone accidently did something with tags that made the whole thing almost unreadable in Safari from that point on.

Another poster pointed this out in a later comment. No moderators responded to this, so I made a post with the title "I see bad tags," on analogy with the "X sees comment spam" post titles. No moderators responded to this either, and until the thread died its own death, it remained almost unreadable.

Question 1: Can the moderators fix this kind of problem?

Question 2: Assuming the answer to question 1 is yes, do they consider it worth the time and effort to do so?

Question 3: Assuming the answers to questions 1 and 2 are yes, how does one notify them that it needs to be done?

I'm asking just so I'll know in the future.

#44 ::: theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 11:47 AM:

"Know from" always reminds me of

I am never forget the day I am given first original paper to write. It was on analytic and algebraic topology of locally Euclidean parameterization of infinitely differentiable Riemannian manifold.
Bozhe moi!
This I know from nothing.
But I think of great Lobachevsky and get idea - ahah!

#45 ::: TH ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 11:52 AM:

Did you all see this:

"Lots more. Do your own bloody research.

I'm completely out of patience with the ignorance displayed by the lefty blogosphere on this issue over the last couple of days."

Posted by: Patrick Nielsen Hayden

And that's Patrick on a *good* day, when Teresa made him take his meds. He's from Brooklyn, where not only are the weak killed and eaten, but the merely somewhat strong, as well. They work in the Flatiron building (image), the only building in NYC designed specifically to destroy other buildings by ramming).

During the 2004 black-out, after hijacking a bus from the Flatiron Building back to Brooklyn, they threw a barbeque - with the passengers as main course. They then led a mob of Brooklynites ('mob' is the basic plural term for Brooklynites, like herd, flock or school) and destroyed all bridges across the East River, to prevent starving Manhattanites from getting to Brooklyn. Not because they needed to defend Brooklyn, but because Manhattanites are just too stringy and lean for Brooklyn tastes.

Patrick and Teresa work for Tor books (as in 'we tore that lousy writer a new ______'). SM Stirling was inspired to write the Draka series after seeing them 'edit' a troublesome new writer - Patrick held the writer out the windwo by his shoes, while Teresa pointed out each and every flaw in the guy's work. It's not *their* fault that the writer was wearing slip-ons. However, Patrick did immediately call the police, and fess up to littering.

Teresa likes to knit, sitting outdoors in a park. She says that outdoor knitting runs in the family, ever since the late 1780's, back in France.

I could go on, but they've probably traced my internet connection by now.

Ciao,

Posted by: Barry | Dec 20, 2006 6:45:18 PM

from here.

I think it's complimentary, but it may have been intended otherwise.

#46 ::: Jon Sobel ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 11:52 AM:

11th. Don’t expect too much from human life—a sorry business at the best.

For I will consider my cat Jeoffry.

#47 ::: K ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 12:02 PM:

#23 OED at work -

Any readers that have library cards, do take a moment to find out what you can access through your library's web site. I get OED access, newspapers, magazines (many full text), Encyclopædia Britannica, Grove Music, and several dozen other databases and services.

A library is a wonderful thing.

#48 ::: K ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 12:03 PM:

#23 OED at work -

Any readers that have library cards, do take a moment to find out what you can access through your library's web site. I get OED access, newspapers, magazines (many full text), Encyclopædia Britannica, Grove Music, and several dozen other databases and services.

A library is a wonderful thing.

#49 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 12:18 PM:

36 & 35:

In a full set of china, you have both tea cups and coffee cups. You can tell the difference because the tea cups are larger.

#50 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 12:31 PM:

#34 Fragano Ledgister "doses of twenty to two-hundred cups per day."

That makes me have to visit the restroom just thinking about it. All you needed to add was the sound of water running.

#51 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 12:36 PM:

#34 Fragano Ledgister "doses of twenty to two-hundred cups per day."

I was wondering if they were demi-tasse size.

#52 ::: Harriet ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 12:38 PM:

Tracie #32 - according to Wikipedia, Sir William Sidney Smith KCB (21 June 1764 – 26 May 1840), the naval hero after whom the March was named, is a different fellow from Sydney Smith (June 3, 1771, Woodford, Essex, England– February 22, 1845), the English writer and clergyman who penned the "Letter to Lady Georgiana Morpeth".

Both men seem to have lived fascinating lives.

I'd heard of Sydney-Smith-the-writer in my readings into the history and culture of Regency England (and the Duke of Wellington and other evil passions of mine) but I'd never known anything about him or recalled seeing anything of his writing. Having now looked him up on Wikipedia, I'm putting him on the list of Historical People Whose Works I Really Need To Read When I Have The Time, and must thank TNH for bringing him to our attention.

#53 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 12:51 PM:

the Duke of Wellington and other evil passions of mine

In that case, Harriet... In the Sharpe TV movies, Wellington is shown as more interested in a man's military competence than in his social origins, but it is my understanding that this is an invention of the movies. No matter what, they were enjoyable and my wife, for some reason I can't fathom, thought that Sean Bean looked damned good in that black outfit of his.

#54 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 12:55 PM:

The cutting live birds in half and applying them to the feet or head to draw the "vapors" out....not so much.

One of my late aunts-by-marriage grew up farming-poor somewhere in Texas during the Great Depression, and in later life told the story of how her family employed the split-chicken treatment when she was bitten on the ankle once by a rattlesnake -- putting a half-chicken on the bite, and replacing it after the flesh of the chicken had (or so she told it) turned green from the poison.

#55 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 12:58 PM:

Saparmurat Niyazov, president of Turkmenistan, is dead.

#56 ::: Silverfox ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 01:02 PM:

# 4 "Ich weiß von ..." does exist, but would mean "I know via (enter name of person)". If talking about knowledge about a topic, you'd use "Ich weiß über .." , but there's "Ich weiß nichts von ..." which means "I don't know of (a change of plans/a rule/an event)".

#57 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 01:05 PM:

Rifle Green, Sir!

#58 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 01:07 PM:

James D Macdonald #55: I intend to celebrate by listening to opera on a car radio.

#59 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 01:09 PM:

Steve Bucheit #50: Whenever I mention this in class (in discussing the media and the antiquity of advertising), I always wonder if this would have required living in a tepee.

#60 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 01:10 PM:

P J Evans #51: I don't think so.

#61 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 01:13 PM:

I also posted something in open thread 76 right before this one started, and if I may I'll just copy and paste it here (unless the answer to my question at the beginning is "no," and that's why this thread got started, in which case just ignore me). So:

Can I say something unrelated to anything else that's kind of snippy? I can? Even though I'm new? Thanks.

I've been reading through Teresa's particle on Noka chocolate and finding it fascinating, even though I'd never heard of Noka before. The critic on Dallas Food is funny, smart, knowledgeable, etc, and the topic is interesting.

But here I get to page five and he really pisses me off.

"Go to Chocolate Secrets on Oak Lawn and you can get Cluizel bars from Madagascar, Venezuela, Santo Domingo, and São Tomé (though you'd be better off buying them online for about a third less)."

The website is called "Dallas Food," and the guy goes out of his way to bring up a local business and then discourage people from going there?!?!? Am I the only one left who still thinks local is important?

#62 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 01:16 PM:

Just heard a lengthy piece on SAD on NPR this morning. Did a little self-diagnosos - time to dig out the ionizing light box. Supposedly the ionizer works well overnight, so I'll put it on my nightstand and move it into the office next to my bicycle so I can ride the trainer while getting the dose of bright light first thing in the AM.

I'm telling myself that the days are lengthening! The sun is even out today in celebration of the solstice.

#63 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 01:16 PM:

ethan @ 61

I think the writer is hinting that (in his opinion) the store marks them up way too much.

#64 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 01:19 PM:

I need a cup of the beverage that cheers but does not inebriate with a large slug of booze in: the sweater I'm currently blocking grew and bled. It's a baby sweater, so bigger is OK, but I'm still irritated. And XRX's technical editors need to be garroted with a circular cable. Even their "clarifications" need clarifying.

#65 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 01:27 PM:

ethan - local food blogs aren't just about promoting local business, they also tend to be about finding value, quality, service and a fair price. The author's gripe seems to be that Noka creates minimal value add, misrepresents what they do and charges an outrageous price when better alternatives are available for less.

My take on Noka is that they're exploiting the Needless Markup niche of people willing to pay a pile of money for the perception of luxury. Hmmm, both Texas companies...

#66 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 01:37 PM:

To clarify, I have no gripe with the argument against Noka. That company is nonsense.

#63, I know, I know, it's just...the tone of it was so flip that it gave me the willies. Especially around Christmas, and especially with some local talk radio destruction that's happened where I am that I'll only go into if anyone seems interested, I'm very sensitive to that kind of thing. The whole notion of local-...what, localness? Anyway, the whole concept is being systematically rooted out and destroyed, and I'd like to think that a food blog named after its locale would be reluctant to so matter-of-factly advertise a local business's competitors.

#67 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 01:45 PM:

ethan - he is promoting other local business that sell a better product that happens to have its final stage of manufacture elsewhere.

How local does local have to be? It's not as if anyone is growing cacao in Texas.

#68 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 01:52 PM:

Larry, it's tasteless luxury combined with bragging rights.

And, yes, you get bragging rights with a Leica M8. But that doesn't have the bling factor.

#69 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 01:55 PM:

Ethan at #66, don't tell me, Clear Channel is gobbling down all your local stations too?

It's so bad here that I maybe listen 1 hour a day, and then only if one of the local announcers is in the booth. I can remember when the radio was on most of the time when I was home.

#70 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 02:48 PM:

Harriet #52: Indeed yes, Syd and Sid were different people, though they overlap chronologically. But Syd's similar name was enough to remind me of the tune, about which I previously knew only that is a traditional Northumberland tune -- nothing about its namesake. And this is, after all, an open thread. What I found amusing was the idea of getting naval history from a site about traditional music.

For Christmas, I usually give my father books on military history and my mother books on food. This year they're getting (jointly) Feeding Nelson's Navy. Mom is also getting an orb (she got the tiara a few years back) because at Thanksgiving she complained that she didn't have an orb. Or a sceptre either, but I couldn't find one I liked.

Did I mention that my parents are just a little bit strange? (In a good way, of course.) What can you expect -- they both started reading science fiction in childhood, my mother when she got a copy of A Princess of Mars for her 7th birthday in 1922. These are people who built a second weekend house in the mountains with library because they ran out of book space in their weekday house, and are now building an addition to the library.

#71 ::: aphrael ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 02:49 PM:

Turkmenbashi died? That's fantastic news!

#72 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 02:53 PM:

Regarding "18th. Keep good blazing fires":

There's a dumpster full of cardboard, styrofoam, used Huggies, and bags of dog poop a few blocks away that's begging for a tossed match.

Regarding the Splitting of Birds:

Do you split them into right and left, or rear and front? (Or, for that matter, top and bottom?)

When you use them as a compress, do you apply the feathered face or the bloody mess face to the body?

#73 ::: Jennifer Barber ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 02:55 PM:

Turkmenbashi died? That's fantastic news!

Isn't it?

What with Milosevic, Pinochet, and Turkmenbashi, 2006 has been a good year for Ridding the World of Evil Leaders. Now I'm waiting for Kim Jong-Il to drop dead sometime in the next ten days.

#74 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 02:58 PM:

Stefan @ 72
My mind is saying that they're using plucked-and-cleaned birds for this (thus no blood or feathers), and they're split lengthwise like the half-chickens in the stores. YMMV.

It still sounds like a really strange thing to do.

#75 ::: Mark D. ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 03:14 PM:

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows???

Sounds like Hogwarts is in for a very truncated school year.

#76 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 03:19 PM:

Tracie, your parents sound wonderful. Someday I hope my daughter will say "my parents are strange, in a GOOD way..."

#77 ::: Russell Letson ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 03:28 PM:

Tracie (#23)/Harriet (#52)/ Tracie (#70): The letter's recipient reminds me of another popular Northumbrian number, "Morpeth Rant"--I encountered it and SSSM as smallpipes tunes.

Recently I've been exploring the FARNE (Folklore Archive Resource North East) site, which includes some wonderful pipe recordings as well as lots of other material about Northumbrian music--www.asaplive.com/FARNE/Home.cfm

#78 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 03:39 PM:

Ethan @ #61, Speaking as someone who lives only a few miles from the Noka brick'n'mortar, and thus probably near to the Dallas Food blogger as well, there are two things that Dallasites love above all else: Eating Out (an oft-quoted statistic puts Dallas with a higher per-capita restaraunt supply than NYC) and Shopping. So I find it completely unsurprising that a local blogger would first mention a local source...followed immediately by its bargain competition.

BTW, Teresa...loved that Noka story, and will doubtless be reading more from Dallas Food in the future. Thanks for the linkage.

On a completely unrelated note, did anyone have any encounters with and/or participate in a Santarchy event? I did!

#79 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 03:39 PM:

K @ #48:
Any readers that have library cards, do take a moment to find out what you can access through your library's web site. I get OED access, newspapers, magazines (many full text), Encyclopædia Britannica, Grove Music, and several dozen other databases and services.

(gloat)
I have subscriber access to LEME from my library (research university), which means I can use it from the day job.
(/gloat)

The public version is still a useful research for people without a subscription, though. Or, um, a fun thing to just w/a/s/t/e t/i/m/e browse around in:

Calamarie. a fish, that may bee well called the Sea Clarke, beinge furnished with necessaries for a scribe. (Bartas, 1605)

#80 ::: Barbara Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 03:43 PM:

Having recently been tempted into reading much--not all--of the usenet R*ck*ids discussion, I particularly liked Mary K. Kuhner's explanation of why everyone was certain the original post was "an ad and not a contentless review".

I spend some time on ABEBooks forum, and every now and then we get a sockpuppet touting a self-pubbed book. They're easily spotted on a forum full of avid readers (and some writers) because of the lack of content, and the lack of detail about the _story_. Real readers will rabbit on and on about details of a story they like. The socks don't.

What I have real trouble understanding is _why_ they don't. After all, they're usually the writers. Won't most writers also happily rabbit on about the story, and how they decided to cut one bit and add another bit and how the characters simply would not do what they were told and all that? Self-pubbed writers are just as much in love with their work as any other writer. So why don't they talk about the story? Why can't they seem to come up with anything about their books that's specific as well as gushing?
Even when one particular sockpuppet decided to post as himself-the-author, and I asked him some polite writery questions, he evaded them all. Okay, I understood him evading the 'why did you go with this publisher' one, but he avoided talking about how he chose the names for his characters.

Does anyone have any idea why this would be? It seems to me Mr. S. avoided discussing characters and plotting as well.

#81 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 03:59 PM:

Barbara, I'd say it's part of the paranoid mindset that leads a number of these folks to the self-pub model. Not only do they believe that regular publishers are sharks and out to get them, they may also believe that other writers are sharks and out to steal their ideas (which are clearly too original and groundbreaking for "traditional publishers" to touch). Just theorizing...

Speaking (as I was) of DallasFood.org...Holy Crap, I know what I want for dinner! Those of you who live in locales where CFS is not a staple...you have my pity.

#82 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 04:04 PM:

Skwid @ 81

One of the things I miss, having moved from TX back to CA, is the DQ Dude. (DQs here don't do anything but Blizzards and Breezes.) It might not be great CFS, but when hot it's tasty.

#83 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 04:41 PM:

Ethan (66), that area's got no shortage of good local chocolatiers. What it does have is a company with a 1300% markup on little bars of a melted and remolded but otherwise unmodified chocolate, Bonnat -- which, under its own name, is commercially available in wholesale lots. It takes a lot of nerve to boast about using no additives when you're just repackaging someone else's basic ingredient.

Did you understand that what Noka was selling was the idea of local production, and that their product was no more "local" than chocolate bars I made in my own kitchen from Valrhona bought at the baking & confectionery supply place a couple of blocks from here?

#84 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 04:50 PM:

Skwid (81): My, but that's a fine-looking specimen. I'll resist temptation and make what I already have planned: filet mignon and funeral potatoes. It's the solstice, and we have a guest.

#85 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 04:52 PM:

Barbara@80: I think Skwid's pegged it. A bunch of those who go the self-pubbed route show paranoia above and beyond the average writers' nerves. At least one person with whom I personally conversed is absolutely convinced Paramount owes him money because an alien race named in ST:TNG had the very same (one-syllable) name he once submitted to a Paramount contest. (He thought I was a lawyer, and wanted to sue. I don't know why he thought I was a lawyer. The whole thing was very weird.)

#86 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 04:55 PM:

fake newsflash from the Onion:

"...Howard Dean: 'This decisive Democratic victory could very well be part of an unfathomably brilliant plan of Karl Rove's to position the Republicans for the 2016 elections, and probably beyond.'..."

#87 ::: Malthus ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 04:55 PM:

Um, Teresa, you might want to go back and reread post #61. Ethan wasn't talking about Noka in terms of localness.

#88 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 04:58 PM:

Barbara Gordon #80: Obviously, the scheming members of the literary establishment are always looking to steal the brilliant ideas of the brave, maverick self-published writers they ruthlessly shut out of their tightly controlled monopoly.

#89 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 05:06 PM:

Skwid @ 78:
Santarchy! Back before I was someone's boring mother with few sitters on call, I played along every year. Looks like a good crowd. Le sigh. I don't think I really need to ask, but did you have fun?

Teresa @ 84:
Are funeral potatoes something I ought to know about? I'm always on the lookout for a good potato recipe.

#90 ::: Georgiana ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 05:08 PM:

My spirits have been particularly low these last few weeks. I believe that the second point may help as I like my shower-bath to be quite hot.

Thank you TNH for the excellent advice.

#91 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 05:21 PM:

Malthus, the word "local" is definitely present there. What am I missing?

#92 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 05:34 PM:

I think what malthus is getting at is the online alternative to the local store:

Go to Chocolate Secrets on Oak Lawn and you can get Cluizel bars from Madagascar, Venezuela, Santo Domingo, and São Tomé (though you'd be better off buying them online for about a third less).

I suspect that what the reporter was suggesting is that 'Chocolate Secrets' marks the products up a bit more than necessary, although nothing like 'Noka' does.

#93 ::: Meg Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 05:36 PM:

I like the stuff at the top of the thread. Advice from one depressive to another on how to survive the miseries, which is just what I need at the mo. One thing which appears to have worked for me just today (if anyone's interested): staying awake for 24 hours straight. As part of my own spiritual/religious structure, I try to manage 24 hours awake for each solstice (so I've been up for 23 hours and 58 minutes now). This past week or so I've been having an attack of the miseries; at present they appear to be going away.

Must be something to do with forcing the brain to remain active for an extended period, although at this point I've no idea why. Any suggestions?

#94 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 05:42 PM:

Sarah@89: Are funeral potatoes something I ought to know about? I'm always on the lookout for a good potato recipe.

See http://www.bycommonconsent.com/2006/12/mormon-culture-tournament-round-1-part-1/

#95 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 05:51 PM:

funeral potatoes: La Cuisine de nouvelle Zion in the archives...

#96 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 06:00 PM:

In re the thread referred to in post #45:
1. Shameful how long it took people to get around to Brunner and Zelazny.

2. About UKLeG's "sociology and anthropology" it helps a lot to know what the K stands for, and what her father was to modern anthropology. Bill Lipe, past president of the SAA, kept copies of The Dispossessed in his office to loan out to Anth majors who hadn't read it.

3. Frank Herbert wrote a lot of stuff other than Dune and its sequals; would that the Whipping Star stories had been his economic mainstay; fascinating, if weird, political writing is contained therein, as in Hellstrom's Hive.

#97 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 06:04 PM:

Meg Thornton @ 93: My copy of the book is at home and I'm at work, unfortunately, but IIRC Andrew Solomon discusses this in The Noonday Demon.

*pause*

Just phoned home and had my husband check the index. He says that sleep deprivation as a treatment for depression is mentioned on pages 137 and 144.

The Noonday Demon and Against Depression (Peter Kramer) are the two best books about depression I've read.

#98 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 06:10 PM:

10 minute countdown starting to the 2006 Winter Solstice, as the big ball of darkness falls upon the earth, and only a sacrifice of chocolate will bring back the light.

#99 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 06:19 PM:

Yeah, sorry, I guess I wasn't clear enough. My problem was specifically with the Dallas Food guy bringing up the store, Chocolate Secrets, and then recommending you go online rather than support this local store. Nothing to do with Noka itself, which I agree seems to be a dummy business with no...er...business existing.

I understand that if this Chocolate Secrets store is selling things for three times as much as places online, then yeah, it makes sense to buy them online. But to say that you're "better off" going online than going to an actual physical local store rubs me very much the wrong way.

The article was good; just that one sentence bugged me. But if what Skwid says at 81 is true, then maybe locality or whatever word I'm actually looking for isn't as endangered in Dallas as it is other places. Which would be encouraging.

#100 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 06:24 PM:

To Lori @ 69: Yep, Clear Channel. They just recently bought out one of the few remaining independent AM talk stations in Providence, RI. That station for decades was the home of a woman named Arlene Violet, who is a beloved beloved beloved local liberal talk radio host lady. Beloved. And liberal. When Clear Channel bought the station, they unceremoniously fired her (not even allowing her a last-show farewell because they misled her as to what her last day would be) and replaced her with...I can't remember which one, but one of the nationally syndicated conservative blowhard types. I got so distracted by the liberal-conservative switcheroo that it took me a while to realize that the problem with Arlene Violet wasn't primarily her politics. It was her very strong Rhode Island accent. She's a very promininent reminder to the people of RI that we have a culture and history unique to our location (as every location does). Clear Channel wants everywhere to be the same.

#101 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 06:48 PM:

#98: " . . . only a sacrifice of chocolate . . ."

Well. Oddly enough. Without knowing the actual time of the solstice, at about that time I was wandering around the office with a big tin of home-made mint fudge, offering up pieces.

So, thank my co-workers for helping nudge the sun back up from the abyss.

#102 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 07:06 PM:

Dave @ 68 - Bling is in the eye of the beholder! Not sure I'd spring for the M8, but if given one I'd certainly keep it. Still, the Nikon M80 would be bling enough for me.

Unfortunately, Santa doesn't have deep enough pockets for either...

#103 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 07:30 PM:

I finally got curious enough to look up a recipe for Funeral Potatoes.

I think I've had that stuff! They just don't seem to call it that around here. Then again, I'm not sure what they do call it. But it does very often turn up at potluck-type gatherings.

The recipe cited above says "crumbs" but that "Many things can be used for crumbs, such as corn flakes or Chex cereal, bread crumbs, French's fried onions, or potato chips)." I think the potato chip variation is more common in my neck of the woods. French's fried onions, of course, will be in the green bean casserole. And the green bean casserole WILL be there, probably right next to the rigatoni.

#104 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 09:28 PM:

Fluorosphere the bright and much-knowing:

Is there a secret to beautifully wrapper presents?

Because I see the presents I've just wrapped, and they're presentable, but not quite as elegant as others I've seen. Is it simply practice and not being in the hurry I usually am? Was there a class in wrapping at finishing school?

#105 ::: paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 09:38 PM:

Kathryn I feel your pain. However, I live with the Queen of Wrapping so most of the time she's my go-to for attractive wrapping. This year she's kind of out of sorts with a f-cked up knee that will be operated on Dec. 27 (the new partial knee replacement)... so I think I'm on my lame own-self for wrapping. I can do it neatly but not nearly as imaginatively.

Wish I could offer guidance.

#106 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 09:54 PM:

Kathryn,

In this case, Martha Stewart is your friend. She has some very good tips on gift wrapping on her website that stay the same from year to year. Every year, her Christmas materials come out with more suggestions. Many of these are either overpriced or far too fussy, but there are always a few that are cheap, easy and good looking. I keep an eye out each year to add something new to my repertoire.

For example, this year's keeper was paper doilies. They can be easily trimmed and laid against a solid backing to spectacular effect.

Go to her website and check the Christmas section, and browse the Christmas issue of her magazine at the bookstore. You'll get lots of great ideas!

(Note, my former brother-in-law is a professional chef, and rips her recipes apart. Apparently they frequently have wrong cooking times, ingredients that aren't in season or are otherwise unavailable, bad instructions and other major problems. I also don't have a small army of assistants to carry out her home decorating ideas in my house. But the gift wrapping stuff is the one thing of hers I follow.)

#107 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 09:56 PM:

Kathryn, Paula: tell me about the wrapping thing! My mother is an indifferent wrapper, but my father does lovely folds and pleats and tapeless assemblages of perfectly-sized paper. Somehow, my sister and I both ended up in similar marriages - indifferent ourselves, but with husbands who are very precise about the matter. And no, that never entered into my relationship-screening criteria!

I just figure that as long as the paper stays on the gift, completely covering it, I have done my duty.

#108 ::: Maureen ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 10:08 PM:

I like creasing the giftwrap with my fingernails. It makes everything look neater.

#109 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 11:04 PM:

Kathryn et alia: Having just wrapped a bunch of gifts, I have some suggestions to offer.

Use the nicest paper and ribbon that you can afford. Note that the heavy paper stuff doesn't take tape very well and works best if you are going to be tying the package with ribbon that can take the stress and hold the paper closed (not just putting a bow on top).

Measure carefully so you don't have excess paper.

I love the paper that has a grid on the inside, but you can usually use the decorative pattern to guide straight cuts.

Fold over all exposed edges.

As Maureen pointed out above, make sharp creases with your fingernails.

But above all, your recipients will just be happy to get a gift, and will probably be more interested in the contents than how carefully it's wrapped. I think wrapping presents is like ironing; you should put as much care and attention into is as makes you happy. I love wrapping presents, and spend far too much time and money on it, but it's not like I spend Christmas morning internally critiquing the neatness of the wrapping job on my presents.

Following on the other thread: On the topic of chocolate, I just made a batch of cranberry almond bark as a quick hostess gift (I just emerged from a morass of grading, so I have about a day to do all my errands before I get on a plane). I melted a pound of chopped chocolate in a metal bowl over simmering water, stirred in a cup each of sweetened dried cranberries and toasted slivered almonds, spread it in an aluminum-foil lined 9x13 pan, and chilled it for a couple of hours before peeling off the foil and cutting it into squares. Highly recommended as an easy, tasty homemade gift.

#110 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 11:05 PM:

When I was a little sprout, my sister worked as a gift wrap girl (as they were known at the time) at the long-gone Gertz department store in downtown Jamaica, Queens. She could do a basic wrap on an oddly shaped package and fling on a few handmade ribbons in mere seconds. It was absolutely amazing.

As a guy, I get a pass on wrapping - if the whole box gets covered, it's all good.

#111 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2006, 02:50 AM:

No, I didn't mean to be away from here for days, it just happened that way....

Meanwhile...

Thursday morning I headed into word with AM 1200 and AM 1430 both having AirAmerica on, two stations which Clear Channel, purveyor o larger=that-the-damned-billboards-Johnson's-Presidency-paid-the-predecessors-of-Clear-Channel-to-remove, owns.

Driving home after 6 PM, both stations were playing some kind of shitty Hispanic music (as opposed to e.g. some Ladino songs I heard played as a child, which were wonderful sounding music me).

I was pissed.

I went to http:/www.bostonsprogressivetalk.com and it forwarded to some URL with rhumba.com in it, and a webpage with the word "rhumba" on it and "under construction.

I electronically sent the following to the FCC, Sens. Kerry and Kennedy, and Cong. Meehan:

I would like to complain to the FCC about the removal of AirAmerica from AM 1200 and 1430 in Eastern Massachusetts and replacement of its programming with Hispanic music.

There are multiple rightwing hatemonger stations in eastern Massachusetts, the AirAmerica programming was the ONLY commercial non-rightwing talk show, and almost the only programming with any FEMALE talkshow hosts, to get airtime in this area.

Now it's gone, replaced by "rhumba" which I had no liking or appreciation for whatsoever.

As a citizen of the USA I find it extremely offensive that the airwaves have rightwing Christian bigotry and evangelism to be found everywhere, and a suppresion of anything to the left of the likes of Ralph Reed for programming over the so-called "public airwaves."

I want AirAmerica, NOT music aimed at illiterate in English immigrants many of whom are NOT here legally, and NOT rightwing extremist hatemonger radio trying to push women back into pink ghettos of typing pools and into the kitchen as unpaid slave family labor!

I would like to see the licenses YANKED for those stations and given to some corporation which will put AirAmerica programming back on it!

And I would ALSO like to see the licenses yanked of the stations with the rightwing evangelizing hatemongers yanked, and THOSE stations could get the Hispanic music!


#112 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2006, 10:33 AM:

#111:I want AirAmerica, NOT music aimed at illiterate in English immigrants many of whom are NOT here legally, and NOT rightwing extremist hatemonger radio trying to push women back into pink ghettos of typing pools and into the kitchen as unpaid slave family labor!

Um... I understand that this is something you wrote in the heat of anger. The loss of diversity on the airwaves is an awful thing, especially when with the ultra right wing dominance of talk radio, there was already little balance. However, as a formerly illiterate in English immigrant, and the son of the same (albeit we immigrated to this country legally and are now citizens), can I point out that the format the radio stations switched to is really not the issue? Am I being presumptuous when I suggest that you're not angry because they switched to some bastardized version of Latin American music? You are angry because they switched away from Air America. (i.e., they undoubtedly found Air America unprofitable.)

In that case, it really does not help your case to take a swipe at immigrants, regardless of their legal status. I don't think it's your intent, but what you sent to the FCC shows a greater vehemence for Hispanics and Hispanic music more than anything else. It reads like the most horrible thing they could have done in the world was replace it with Hispanic music. (I would have thought the most horrible thing would have been to replace it with more right wing radio.) I'm not saying that replacing Air America with classical music or bluegrass would have been ok. I'm say that I'd like to believe that rather than singling out Hispanics, you meant to express your outrage at losing a source of liberal radio.

(For the record, I'm ethnically Chinese, so I'm not reacting out of some slight to my native culture. I'm reacting out of the sense that you may have missed your target.)

#113 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2006, 11:05 AM:

Is there a secret to beautifully wrapper presents?

I get the job of wrapping at home. I use a lot of tape. Basically, every flap that gets folded gets taped down so it stays tight to the package. "puffy" or loose wrapping ain't pretty.

#114 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2006, 11:14 AM:

Got it, Ethan: not local production, but local purchase. I'm with you there. "Whenever possible, shop where you live" is one of the great rules for building good neighborhoods.

#115 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2006, 11:49 AM:

Paula - In addition to what JC said (sorry - don't mean to pile on, but it jumped out at me too, and I'm a white guy) I think you're confused about the FCC's role, both by mission and by the current political state of affairs.

If you've noticed, both editorials an editorial replies have all but disappeared from the airwaves. This is because there's no longer a mandate for any sort of balance or community service, and what little is left is not enforced.

Today, the FCC exists mostly as a language-nanny, charged with pandering to religious zealots. That's it. Shrieking harpies calling for the slaughter of people who oppose the GOP? A-OK! Janet Jackson's nipple? An offense against all things pure and good that must be destroyed!

#116 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2006, 11:51 AM:

I was incensed because the only commercial non-rightwing talk format in the area was gone, replaced by stuff that I find intolerable. I don't dislike all Hispanic music, but what I was hearing was at least as aggravating to me as disco, the rhythm and tonality I reacted HIGHLY negatively to.

Note that I DID suggest replacing the rightwing talk radio with Hispanic music.

The anti-immigrant-without-papers comment was aimed at the FCC rightwing apparatchiks--if they are so against undocumented Hispanics, WHY are they allowing format changes that violate all that "English as national language and culture" attitude?!

I -am- angry at the Hispanic music, there are ALREADY Hispanic radio channels here. There is NO non-rightwing English-speaking commercial radio freely broadcast programming that I can recall hearing here in years, other than the now-gone AirAmerica programming, in this part of the US now.

The two stations are Clear Channel stations. Clear Channel under a -decent- government, would be busted up.... Clear Channel's more egregiously covering the landscape with giant billboards than the one the Johnson administration got removed, and the biggest most obnoxious one I've ever seen, blocks the view of the Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge from central Boson, instead of the bridge, one sees a giant monstrosity of a Clear Channel billboard, from the waterfront, from the the open air market, from the land that the central artery used to be on...

Hundreds of millions of dollars of graphically pretty bridge, and the view the citizenry gets is stinking Clear Channel commercial advertising on the biggest billboard I have ever seen. It's totally obscene.

#117 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2006, 12:40 PM:

I have a slightly glib and oft-unheeded rule about presents I buy: when possible, look for square or rectangular items (books, CDs) or things which can be placed in boxes with those shapes. It makes wrapping simpler if you're the impatient sort.

I defy anyone to wrap anything cylindrical and make it look professional.

#118 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2006, 01:27 PM:

Gift wrap: see the main page.

#119 ::: Vardibidian ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2006, 02:23 PM:

So, what I'm wondering about the whole split-fowl medical treatment is how they do the double-blind test. I mean, what constitutes a placebo in such a case?

Thanks,
-V.

(See, it's a set-up for a rubber-chicken joke. Don't say I never got you anything for solstice...)

#120 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2006, 02:40 PM:

Ladies and gentlemen:

The Snowman Irn-Bru advert.

Warning: will keep running through your head for DAYS.

#121 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2006, 03:00 PM:

Meg #93: more on sleep deprivation in the treatment of depression here.

#122 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2006, 03:10 PM:

Courtesy of a link at Nashville radio station WRLT*, Christmas music from local group Fleming & John:

Winter Wonderland as you've never heard it before.

Happy holidays, ya'll.

*a radio station that makes Clear Channel's head spin like a big ol' top

#123 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2006, 03:11 PM:

Lila @120:

The funny looking thing at the very beginning is the Falkirk Wheel (Better pictures here.)

It's a bizarre, fantastic sight in person, like something from an Iain M Banks book.

#124 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2006, 03:22 PM:

My mother and sister just loved the old Snowman cartoon. They'd get a big kick out of the Irn-Bru spoof.

#125 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2006, 04:52 PM:

Anyone have experience with long-term use of lamictal, the anti-seizure med?

Are there any risks to long-term continued use?

#126 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2006, 07:27 PM:

I was really good at wrapping presents (formal meals, book reviews, etc.) when I was well, but wrapping things in paper uses two hands which means I don't have anything to keep myself sitting up straight. So I've mostly gone to wrapping with fabric and a ribbon, which can be done rather haphazardly while I sit in the recliner. (Kip & Cathy's daughter's present is wrapped in a crocheted square made from leftover yarn.)

#127 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2006, 07:41 PM:

Holiday Overload Chronicles:

I swung by a Dollar Tree yesterday, with hopes of finding some cheap treats to make a gift basket for the dog kennel people.

I'm at the point where I'm close to overdosed on anything associated with Christmas, so the front part of the store was dangerous territory. One set of shelves was full of crappy looking "christmas village" doo-dads; Thomas Kincaid meets sweatshop labor. Whoever painted on the snow obviously had never seen the real thing. The items were being sold 2 / $1, which seemed like a depressing admission of how desperately grotty they were.

Nearby were more scenic doo-dads, these carded. The line was named "Gingerfrost Village."

Gingerfrost?

It's like, whoever makes stupid names for subdivisions has branched out into precious sounding knick-knack names.

If there were snow in Portland I'd have run outside and rubbed my face in it to shock myself back to reality.

I'm beginning to feel sympathy for the yutz who stabbed that Frosty inflatable lawn ornament.

#128 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2006, 07:49 PM:

Stefan Jones #127:

These are the seasons: first, gingerfrost,
when cold and tropic heat combine together;
then pancakegrow, when at last we shed leather;
after comes sugarsun, without thought of cost,
the season when all harsh restraint is tossed;
and then comes pumpkinglow with its mild weather,
the time when each leaf seems a flying feather.
We know this when our minds in time are lost.
The factories that make our time are hard
workshops in far countries where there's no
restraint from taste, or sense, or decency.
We in this strange reality are not barred
from comment, though we long for chilling snow
to take from madness its long regency.

#129 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2006, 07:59 PM:

The Dulles Aiport Traffic Controllers complained because the airport management, in offices next to the terminal and close to the tower, deep-fried a turkey.

#130 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2006, 08:20 PM:

A question raised by this thread which I'd rather not clutter it with: When did the word "consensual" become "consentual"? And why?

#131 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2006, 08:26 PM:

I wish to report a happy solstice. In keeping with the tradition my wife and I invented when we began living together, our family exchanged gifts yesterday and had a nice meal.

Minor cuteness: After we finished exchanging and opening presents, the 4 year-old asked: "When do we exchange presents?" "That's what we just did - look at all the presents you got." "Oh."

#132 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2006, 09:03 PM:

Jon @125,

While I don't know about that medicine, I have some general notes on online medical research (updating the urls for lamictal). In doing some initial looking about, it looks like the medicine forums at dr-bob.org have extensive discussions on lamictal. I'm not immediately seeing other forums with as detailed a set of discussions.

1. When starting a search on a medicine and side-effects, or when first reading the brochure on a medicine, consider having a friend do the first reading instead.

Reading the full side-effects list all at once, or reading all the top web results unfiltered, can discourage you from taking the medicine. Having a friend check to see if your symptom is even in the list of side-effects can reduce stress. So can having the friend pre-select some websites that are professional and neutral in tone. Every medicine will have scare stories, and reading them first can be unnecessarily discouraging. In addition, some websites can be heavily biased with hidden agendas. For example, scientologists are known to be against all psychiatric medicines, but they might not disclose they're running a website.

2. Having said that, make sure you know if a drug has symptoms that require immediate attention.

3. Drug interactions are easier than ever to look up, but they're also easier than ever to have. Herbal supplements, vitamins, and even foods (grapefruit, for example) can cause interactions.

4. Medline is useful, not only for looking up medical journal articles in PubMed, but also for their layperson's guides to medicines and medical conditions. They also link to clinical trials in the US.

When reading Medline's Pubmed, I commonly limit searches to Review articles (through the 'All' or 'Review' tabs), and may limit results to articles with free full text included (checkbox 'links to free full text' under the 'Limits' search tab).

5. Use open and general online forums like Craigslist.org, but always cross-check answers against websites like Medline. General health forums can be a good place to ask for suggestions on focused (and moderated) forums.

#133 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2006, 09:13 PM:

Fragano #128, that's beautiful. Bravo.

#134 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2006, 09:42 PM:

Rikibeth #132: Thank you!

#135 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 12:04 AM:

Jon H @ #125:
"Anyone have experience with long-term use of lamictal, the anti-seizure med?"

Lamictal was one of the drugs tried on my wife Hilde to see if it would help control her hand tremors. It didn't, and after about a week of taking it, it also had a really weird side-effect:

She developed hive spots. Not the first medication to have that effect, but...

...the spots grew larger. The center of the spots cleared, turning the spots into rings. The rings continued to grow and spread...

...and when the rings contacted each other, they cancelled each other out, so now you had partial loops. The result was like a fractal pattern on her skin, or the pattern you sometimes see in malachite.

AND... the whole process was quick. You could almost see the rings grow and spread.

It was actually... pretty, if weird. If you could figure out a way to trigger the effect deliberately, it would probably be a popular body modification.

(The rings faded away about a day after Hilde stopped taking the lamictal.)

#136 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 01:46 AM:

Bruce wrote: "She developed hive spots. Not the first medication to have that effect, but..."

Phew, I'm glad she came out okay. Apparently Lamictal can cause a rash which, in its worst form, causes lots of your skin to die and fall off. Other drugs can also do it.

Sounds interesting, though.

I ask because my father was put on lamictal for about a year, then six weeks ago was taken off, to see if he had any seizures. Well, last Friday he did, followed by significant loss of memory of the last ten years or so, and the doctor doesn't seem to want to put him back on the lamictal, as if it were somehow dangerous or risky to use long-term. But I'm not seeing any evidence that that's the case, with the main risk being the rash thing.

Thanks!

#137 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 01:55 AM:

Is there a reason the Irn-Bru sidelight links to a Wikipedia parasite instead of to Wikipedia itself?

#138 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 02:07 AM:

Jon: I would just ask if your doctor is willing to give you a frank explanation about what risk he/she is concerned about. It's possible that he is aware of some risks that aren't widely known yet. I assume if your dad's doctor's dealing with seizures, he's a specialist; it's possible he's been reading up on studies of the meds he uses a lot, and has an idea there could be trouble coming down the pike before it hits the FDA recalls and the NY Times. My rheumatologist suddenly got a lot more guarded about Celebrex and Vioxx well before the news hit of the extra heart attack risks, etc. She definitely caught on that the intended benefit (reduced risk of ulcer/kidney damage) was much less than expected, before that became widely recognized.

#139 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 03:07 AM:

I think this is a good venue to share the following from the recent issue of BMJ aka British Medical Journal. If not, never mind, nothing to see here . . .

Phenotypic differences between male physicians, surgeons, and film stars: comparative study
BMJ 2006;333:1291-1293 (23 December)
http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/abstract/333/7582/1291

Objectives: To test the hypothesis that, on average, male surgeons are taller and better looking than male physicians, and to compare both sets of doctors with film stars who play doctors on screen.

Setting: Typical university hospital in Spain, located in Barcelona and not in a sleepy backwater.

Interventions: An independent committee (all female) evaluated the "good looking score" (range 1-7).

Conclusions: Male surgeons are taller and better looking than physicians, but film stars who play doctors on screen are better looking than both these groups of doctors. Whether these phenotypic differences are genetic or environmental is unclear.

*************************************************************************************************************************************

Sword swallowing and its side effects
BMJ 2006;333:1285-1287 (23 December)
http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/333/7582/1285

Objective To evaluate information on the practice and associated ill effects of sword swallowing.

Design: Letters sent to sword swallowers requesting information on technique and complications.

Setting: Membership lists of the Sword Swallowers' Association International.

Participants 110 sword swallowers from 16 countries.

Results: Major complications are more likely when the swallower is distracted or swallows multiple or unusual swords or when previous injury is present. Sore throats are common, particularly while the skill is being learnt or when performances are too frequent. Sword swallowers without healthcare coverage expose themselves to financial as well as physical risk.

#140 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 03:15 AM:

On the other hand, going by some old photographs of my mother, nursing staff haven't changed; Britfans who know Omege will know the type.

#141 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 06:35 AM:

Teresa #114: Phew. OK, I'm done now. Except to say that today I finally completed all of my Christmas shopping, and managed to avoid buying anything from a chain of any kind. Hooray!

But anyway, sorry for the extended confusion caused by my rant.

Fidelio #122: You said Fleming & John! I love Fleming & John! They also do a damn fine Carol of the Bells. And California Dreamin', though that's not particularly festive.

#142 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 10:08 AM:

Tania @ 138... Are you familiar with the Annals of Improbable Research? Their electronic newsletter and their printed magazine always come up with research papers that sound like spoofs (spooves?) but turn out to be the Real Thing. Their web site also has a photo section called The Luxuriant Hair Club for Scientists, by the way.

#143 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 11:16 AM:

Just because I'm in a good mood this morning...

Merry Christmas everyone.

Happy Holidays all around.

#144 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 11:25 AM:

Same to you, Greg, and to all fellow MLers.

#145 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 12:01 PM:

Some sad fannish news to report; Dick Eney (filker and historian of fandom) died yesterday, December 22:

Dick had a stroke, apparently one of a series that had passed unnoticed because the symptoms were atypical until the one last night. The doctors at Prince George's Hospital operated to remove the clot, but the complications that followed were untreatable.

...

Plans have not been made yet. I do not intend to do the standard funeral scene. There may be a memorial service at some time. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the charity of your choice.

I knew Dick a long time, but never very well. In all our interactions, he was a mensch. May he rest well.

#146 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 02:28 PM:

Jon @125,

The medication forum at Dr Bob has many people who've discussed lamictal- it looks like a good place to ask.*

* in doing a quick look yesterday, it seemed like the website with the most useful discussions wrt active members and detailed posts.

#147 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 03:28 PM:

Fluorosphere,

Season's gratings, Jolly Decembaaaarh and Happy Hollandaise;
Traditional salutation for Zos Hanukkah;
Merry Christmas Eve Eve;
Festivus greetings;

Kathryn
(about to go Real Offline* and perform feats of strength by shopping today.

* I note with [blend of curiosity and recognition] that the medical site I'd mentioned earlier has an anti-addiction feature where:

If you have a case of "Internet addiction", this site lets you limit how often you may view and refresh the main pages in any 24-hour period. The first period starts with the visit during which you turn on the option, ie, your next refresh after that counts as your second. Refreshing the main page obviously counts as a refresh, but so does going elsewhere and then coming back. If you use up all your refreshes, you're taken instead to your browser's home page

But then there's a button where one can cancel the anti-addiction feature, and in turn there is no option to limit how many times one can do that.

As a very lazy lazyweb request(#), this would make a nice add-on for Firefox.

# Does not actually search to see if anyone's built this.)

#148 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 04:06 PM:

Jon H @ #125: For seizures -- minor ones, but dangerous if untreated -- my neorologist prescribed generic dilantin (3 at bedtime). For nearly seven years they've been working fine, no nasty side-effects, as far as I can tell.

#149 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 04:36 PM:

God rest ye merry flourosphere, let nothing you dismay
Remember all this marketing will end on Christmas day!
When all the gifts will be unwrapped and we'll have time to play,
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy
Oh tidings of comfort and joy.

- Abi, having cut her losses and given up on all that remains uncompleted.

#150 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 05:30 PM:


To all who read this, greetings of the season.
We're here to commemorate the most noble birth
of Mithras, Jesus, Sol, each the true master of earth,
and other gods and goddesses, though only within reason.
The gods, this time of year, of our land take seisin,
but still encourage us to feats of joy and mirth
as long as we pause to proclaim their worth,
as doing otherwise would be the highest treason.
And other days there are that we should mark:
Hannukah, Kwanzaa, Bodhi, Sylvester, the New Year;
or if we don't acknowledge at the least mention,
and thank the gods or heroes for their presence.
So I ask all, for this time cast off all fear,
abandon all hesitations or apprehension,
instead for this short time praise effervescence.

#151 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 05:35 PM:

My cube-mate at work has decorated his panels for Saturnalia. The elf (fairy?) with the 'Io Saturnalia' sign is actually quite cute.

#152 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 06:27 PM:

I had dilantin for a while because I had what looked like a seizure right before the stroke. It was actually part of the stroke. I didn't have any problems with it, though.

adamsj, I don't remember seeing "consentual" from people who know how to spell.

#153 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 06:52 PM:

I've been home sick this week, catching up on my TiVo. There is an episode of "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" from right after Thanksgiving with William Shatner as the guest. (Yes, I'm way behind. Yes, I have no life.)

Shatner gives an absolutely hysterical description on deep-frying his turkey, in the process illustrating everything Jim Macdonald warned us all about. He ended up bewailing the fact that he was humiliated in front of his grandchildren. Ferguson made some comment along the lines of "So what?" and Shatner replied, "It's all right for you, but I'm Captain Kirk!"

Very funny, and probably on YouTube somewhere.

#154 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 07:06 PM:

abi @ #148

Remember all this marketing will end on Christmas day!
Don't they have the gigantic buy-o-fest of New Year Sales (or even Boxing Day Sales — those are quite beyond me) in your area? I hope that didn't put too much of a dampener on your hopes. It does quiet down, and many head off to relax on the long summer holidays.

My wish is that in this season of festivals all can catch a bit at least of that happiness we pursue.

#155 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 07:34 PM:

Epacris @153

I was trying to be optimistic. This is more the real me right now:

Since, I live in the Northern Hemisphere,
The planet, in its orbit round the sun
Is at ironic perihelion:
I have no comfort, though the sun is near.
Instead, half-starved for any natural light,
I take what refuge in the sunlit days
I can, before the angled and anemic rays
Are smothered by another heavy night.
Rejoice! Rejoice! The turning of the year
That heralds a return to warmth and cheer -
And most of all, the light - the day is here!.
Rejoice,
they say, for better times are near!
I know the light will come, and do me good.
But I'm too tired to care. I wish I could.

#156 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 07:40 PM:

Abi #154: That's excellent.

#157 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 07:44 PM:

Fragano @155

I didn't realise until I did it that I have had a secret ambition to use the phrase "ironic perihelion" in a sonnet for years.

#158 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 08:21 PM:

It seems it was a night like any night,
The sleepy town bemused and still below.
The hillside, chill in dying firelight,
Deserted, bare, bereft. I do not know
Of miracles. There's tales, of course, but just
An idle rumour for a winter's eve,
No more than that, impossible to trust,
With only addled peasants to believe;
The witnesses confused, of little worth,
The evidence uncertain, scant, unclear.
Yet every year I listen, hope to hear
The blessed angels singing, Peace on Earth.

Merry Christmas everyone, and peace be on us all.

#159 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 08:34 PM:

Abi #157: It's a good phrase.

#160 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 08:35 PM:

Dave Luckett #158: Not half bad.

#161 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 12:55 AM:

I have a food question I'd like to ask here--actually, it's a food question for a given value of food...

In my grade school years ago one of the few good lunch meals was what could best be described as a cinnamon roll without cinnamon but with hamburger crumbles instead of raisins, and a little bit of gravy on top. Any idea what this is called? I presume there's no recipe outside of a prison food book...

#162 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 01:35 AM:

Remember all this marketing will end on Christmas day!

The After Christmas sales marketing is not the same marketing as selling -for- Christmas.

The focus for the next fewer than 24 hours in the USA is Last Minute Presents and Bargains before Christmas!

The focus for after, is to clear out all the inventory of Christmas and New Year's Eve merchandise, empty out the shelves for the incoming Valentine's Day and beyond merchandise and the spring clothing and merchandise (although the spring clothing might already be in place...)

Different marketing campaign...

#163 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 02:10 AM:

Bruce (161): It sounds like something on the back of a Bisquick box. Prepare the Bisquick, roll out, add browned ground beef, cheese, what-have-you, and bake.

A quick google on "bisquick beef roll" turned up this recipe for "Beef Pinwheels," which if not exactly right, gives the general idea.

#164 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 02:23 AM:

Here's a question for British Making Lighters: I would like to know more about the custom of telling ghost stories on Christmas Eve. Apart from endless recapitulations of Dickens's A Christmas Carol, the association of ghost stories and Christmas is entirely outside this American's experience. Is this tradition still practiced much, or has it gone by the wayside? What kind of ghost stories get told? Do you have any favorites?

(I much prefer ghost stories to Christmas in the best of times, and I am having a particularly shtty Christmas this year, and a good scare would really cheer me up.)

#165 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 02:42 AM:

I'm having a cheesecake conundrum this X-mas. First, the gingersnap crust was puffy, so I patted it down. Then it was too crisp.

Then the triple layers of foil around the springform pan leaked and the crust is soggy. Otherwise, the cheesecake is perfect.

So, do you thing a bunch of Washintonians (state, not district) will be upset by a soggy crust. I'm thinking of making a blackout cake in atonement.

Oh, BTW, one of the dinner guests is a Japanese national, so I feel like I need to show America's best - Lasagna, Cheesecake, Garlic Mashed Potatoes - his step-sister-in-law is making Green Beans Almondine, Turkey Roulade and Mushroom Gravy. I've also made Cranberry Sauce with Candied Ginger. Is the blackout cake over-the-top, or just showing sensitivity to someone who may be lactose intolerant?

Oh, and please ParDoN thE RanDom CapitAliZAtion.

#166 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 02:50 AM:

Serge @ 142 -

One of my friends was published in the Annals of Improbable Research, while a grad student. He always includes publication on his full CV to see if anyone actually reads the whole thing. It's certainly a conversation starter. Ok, a conversation starter in academia!

#167 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 08:13 AM:

Marilee,

I didn't comment on "consentual" over on the other thread in part because I didn't want to suggest the people who were using it were less than literate. I didn't notice any other obvious misspellings in their posts, either.

But I have seen "consentual" for "consensual" quite often, and frequently it's in writing by people who are otherwise good spellers. I'm wondering why that misspelling is showing up now (for certain values of now), and why.

My guess is two-fold: First, that the question of consent in sexuality has become a hot issue, beginning with second-wave feminism and specifically its focus on rape. Second, I think that, in that context, seeing "sensual" rubs some people wrong.

#168 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 11:40 AM:

Tangential to the thirty days of pork (which sounds very yum), wild boar tenderloin seethed over rice in grape-and-lingonberry juice (the fresh pressed juice place didn't have plain red grape) instead of water works pretty well, especially if chopped apples and mushrooms, so much as the pot will hold, are dumped over it just after the liquid level is level with the rice again. (Liquid level goes right back up, but this does little harm.) Cinnamon, thyme, basil, and tarragon on the tenderloin when it goes in the oven.

One more year (to make three) and I can call this pig instead of turkey at Yule thing a tradition.

#169 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 12:29 PM:

Since I'm not a Brit, I can't help with that question about ghost stories, but last night while the networks were showing the usual Xmassy stuff our local station showed "Carrie"! (Plenty of red, but not much green in that one.)

#170 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 02:19 PM:

Serge@142: My favorite article is on the Law of Conservation of Limbs in statues (why Indian statues have many arms and Greek ones have none), very closely followed by the one about Tabletop Fusion and the best adhesive to use to achieve it.

#171 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 04:40 PM:

Bruce #161, when my college cafeteria made that they called it "Beef Pinwheels". I would not be at all surprised if they got the recipe off a Bisquick box.

#172 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 06:43 PM:

Larry, I was thinking I should post about lactose intolerance until I saw it at the end of your post. My sister-in-law is Chinese and loves cheese and pays for it if she eats it. But instead of another cake, maybe something else that will go with whatever you're putting on top of the cheesecake? Cherry stuff would go over pound cake fine, for example.

#173 ::: Pantechnician ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 07:23 PM:

I stumbled across the poem The Dark Huntsman by Charles Heavysege a few years ago, and ever since then I've been unable to hear or read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas without thinking of it. The full poem is a few pages long, so here's just the first three verses:

'Twas eve, and I dreamed that across the dim plain
One swept o'er the stubble,---one ploughed through the grain;
His aspect was eager, his courser was fleet,
He drove through the gloom as through air drives the sleet;
And dark was his visage, and darker it grew,
As o'er the dim landscape yet faster he flew.


I dreamed still my dream, and beheld him career,---
Fly on like the wind after Ghosts of the deer---
Fly on like the wind, or the shaft from the bow,
Or avalanche urging from regions of snow;
Or star that is shot by the Gods from its sphere;---
He bore a Winged Fate on the point of his spear;
His eyes were as coals that in frost fiercely glow,
Or diamonds of darkness;---"Dark huntsman, what, ho!"


"What, ho!" and my challenge went wild through the vale,
And long was my hollo, and loud was my hail:
"Dark huntsman, dark huntsman, what, whither away?
"Dark huntsman," I shouted, "I charge thee to stay;"
And backwards he bellowed, "I cannot obey---
A thousand ere midnight my task is to slay;
But ere comes the morrow,
With sickness and sorrow,
Shall I be swift riding again on this way."
And the huntsman laughed hollow,
As my fancy did follow
Him on his black courser that, knowing, did neigh;
My fancy did follow
Adown the dim hollow
And heard in the distance his hunger-hounds bay;
The vanishing spectre
Me left to conjecture,
As on the dark huntsman dim hurried away.

#174 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 08:30 PM:

My subconscious' Christmas gift to me was the couplet for the dinosaur sodomy poem. Which would have been great had it not been 1 AM in the shower.

A Kink in the Tail
Tyrannosaurus Rex comes thumping in,
At least an acre's worth of latex on.
His dom, a Microraptor with a grin,
Is eyeing up that cute Iguanadon.
Triceratops is green with envy for
Velociraptor's corsetry and tights,
While cosplay Stegasaurus at the door
Keeps riff-raff out. Our Mesozoic nights
Begin like this, but often end in pairs
Among the club-ferns, just two dino guys,
The costumes off, no longer after stares,
Embracing till the sun begins to rise.
You mammals look surprised? You know there's none
So strange as love, or new beneath the sun.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

#175 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 09:03 PM:

Abi #174: Very nice. Merry Xmas.

#176 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 09:13 PM:

Marilee @ 172 - A nice pound cake would have been a good idea, but I've already gone down the blackout cake road. The pudding is made and chilled, the cakes are baked and I'm getting set to make the ganache.

Not without issues though - they stuck! They've never stuck before! And they didn't rise as much as they usually do. I should have lined pan with parchment but this recipe has always been bulletproof. It'll still taste great, though.

FWIW, the recipe I use is here.

Could it be because I left out the 1/2 c coffee (I'm feeding a couple of observant Mormons) and substituted 1/2 c lowfat milk? The other liquid is 1/2 c buttermilk, and the leavening is a combo of soda and powder (both new and nowhere near expired.) I'm wondering if I've offended the baking gods.

BTW, I made a marionberry sauce to top the cheesecake, and left the booze out for the same reason I left out the coffee.

#177 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 10:48 PM:

Re #164, ghost stories on Christmas.

I strongly suspect that the tradition came from Scandinavian/Germanic roots (along with the word "Yule" itself, and the tradition of the tree). There's a book called The Folklore of World Holidays (ed. Margaret Read MacDonald), which compiles many traditions, and has this for Yule in Norway:

Christmas dinner, the lucky almond, and food for the dead

Christmas Eve dinner which usually consisted of short ribs, different kinds of bread and cake, and rice pudding. Into the rice pudding had been put one almond. The one who found this almond on his plate would be the first one to get married. Every one had to leave some pudding on his plate for the dead, who were certain to call during the night and get their share of the Christmas food. This was left on the table in great quantity and variety; but the dead do not eat like us mortals. They only want "the spirit of the food," hence when morning came everything looked as though it were untouched. It was, however, not only the good spirits that would visit the house Christmas night. The ghostly pranks of the evil spirits consisted in going from farm to farm and taking revenge on their enemies. This wild host brought fear and trembling wherever they went, for the transgressor was put through the most cruel punishment.

I may have more if I can find it. I think the "wild host" was associated with the wild hunt and the Horned God, and/or Odin.

#178 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 11:05 PM:

Did you know that if ganache separates (yes, the baking gods remain unappeased) you can bring it back together in the blender? It was an act of desperation that worked.

Now I'm tempting fate by storing the cake out on the terrace (in a sealed Tupperware cake plate) because the fridge is totally full.

#179 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 11:13 PM:

And further anent #164 & #177, a quote from The Book of Festivals, by Dorothy Gladys Spicer, something about the "Twelve Days":

The name popularly applied to the twelve-day period between Christmas and Epiphany. [...] In some Christian countries, witches, ghosts, and the souls of unbaptized children are said to roam abroad and do harm to mortals during the twelve-day interval between Jesus' nativity and his baptism
#180 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2006, 12:05 AM:

Still more on ghosts on Christmas:

The Norsemen, by Eric Oxenstierna, ch 10, "The Festivals of the Vikings", about Yule:

But for the Vikings it was above all a huge family festival, family alive and dead. Today only a small remnant of this traditional inclusion of the dead remains in a toast to "absent friends," All Souls and All Saints Day having taken over this aspect of the festival. But in the days of antiquity, a magnificent Yule table was set up for deceased relatives. A steam bath was readied for them, beds were freshly made, and the peasants slept on straw pallets on the floor so that those "from outside" could use the best rooms, take delight in all the luxuries, warm and satiate themselves. For they came out of the mounds, naturally, covered with earth or, if they had died at sea, wet and dripping. They sat with the living evening after evening, for as long as the feast lasted. We hear most often of exceptional cases, when the departed sat quietly presaging misfortune, dried their clothes by the fire and went back to their graves without having said a word. The Christian church turned sharply against this pagan form of communal life, but did not succeed in exterminating it entirely. All they could do was banish it into the realm of superstition and a reprehensible belief in ghosts.
#181 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2006, 01:02 AM:

And a question for any Latinists or other classicists.

Homo sapiens means "wise man" ("man [who is] wise").

How would one write "running man" or "man [who] runs", such that it would be proper Latin in genus-species form?

I think it would be something like Homo curras or Homo currax, but I got that from fiddling about with Perseus. I have almost no Latin.

#182 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2006, 01:42 AM:

We celebrated in our 'usual' way by going to Sunday dim-sum at our best local Chinese restaurant, then going to Lawrence, KS to do a bit of last-minute shopping and visit Jim's relatives for Christmas eve. We'll go up and visit my hoard tomorrow, in Lawrence, a few blocks further north.

While in the car, we listened to Thistle and Shamrock. Fionna Ritchie told a very pretty tale of the Lapp Father Christmas. l am going to look for it because, despite the fact I am not a Christian, it was a very nice tale.

Happy Christmas and season's greetings to all.

#183 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2006, 02:18 AM:

So, I'm stuck at home alone for Christmas -- vandals busted out the window in my car on Friday night, and no one, not auto-glass services or Toyota dealers, was open, nor will be open until Tuesday. I can't really drive across the midwestern US in December with no driver's side window, even with the relatively mild weather. So, family must wait.

If you ever find yourself alone and depressed on Christmas Eve, and you're a fan of obscure films, try to find a DVD, .mpg, or tape of "You Better Watch Out," aka "Christmas Evil." I just finished watching it, and this practically unknown, elegant melange of '70s New Cinema, surrealism, early German expressionism, and classic Universal horror films is about the most beautiful, cathartic thing for anyone feeling particularly dark during the holidays.

#184 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2006, 10:28 AM:

O knitters, I'm trying to track down that great knitted lace jacket for Lydy Nickerson, only I'm coming up empty-handed and I have guests coming over soon.

You know. The really good one. Mohair et Soie, or something like that. Where can I find it?

#185 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2006, 10:45 AM:

Teresa, is this the stuff you mean? The 'Patterns' button (under the fiber information on the right) has several lace jackets on its page.

#186 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2006, 05:12 PM:

Larry, I think I would have used water instead of milk. Even skim milk has protein and coffee doesn't. If you wanted to flavor the water, you'd want something acrid, and nothing is coming to mind.

mmmm, marionberries!

Good thing the ganache will come together in the blender!

#187 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2006, 05:17 PM:

A WashPost article on fruitcake.

#188 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2006, 06:10 PM:

Owlmirror @ 181: How would one write "running man" or "man [who] runs", such that it would be proper Latin in genus-species form?

Homo currens would be what you're looking for, I think; based on the present participle of curro, currere (to run) just as sapiens is the present participle of sapio, sapere (to know intellectually; cognate w/ Spanish saber and French savoir).

#189 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2006, 01:22 AM:

Some time ago, Melissa Singer was looking for non-violent comic books for her daughter. A couple weeks ago, I finished one I would happily recommend: Castle Waiting by Linda Medley.

I read it in a b&w hardback compilation. It starts slowly, but it's really wonderful and amazing. Highly recommended.

#190 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2006, 09:12 AM:

Andy and I went to see the Calamity Carolers of Doom (see the "12 Isms" on the sidebar) last weekend. I recommend the show if you were taken by that sidebar and generally like song parodies and silly jokes. They're in New York City through Dec. 31, 2006, and noted at the end of the show that there are seats available.

#191 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2006, 11:36 AM:

Today's 'Human Interest' story in the LA Times: 13th century text hides words of Archimedes
The pages of a medieval prayer text also contain words of ancient Greek engineer Archimedes. It takes high-tech imaging to read between the lines.

#192 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2006, 11:41 AM:

mmmm, marionberries!

I thought marionberries only grew in Washington, DC. They're unusual in that they're wild, but are usually found in captivity.

#193 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2006, 02:03 PM:

Xopher #192: No, no, those are marionbarries. Eating them causes you spontaneously to smoke crack with old girlfriends who are working for the FBI....

#194 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2006, 02:12 PM:

Among my favorite Xmas presents... In my stocking, a tin of "After the Rapture" mints ('For those of us who arenit going anywhere.') And, no, I didn't make that up, nor that the stocking also contained a sample of Nietzsche's "Will to Power" Power Bar.

#195 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2006, 02:13 PM:

I am in red-state-land amid the Confederate flags and 40-year-old great-grandmothers, and my relatives are making my head explode. Christmas dinner for thirty: two turkeys, one ham, seven desserts. Brief views of teenage cousins and the French Broad while going Over the River and Through The Mountains and Up Ridge and Down Ridge and Up Mountain and Down Mountain. I have developed a theory that the missing street signs are a way of preparing for a potential Yankee invasion. I have seen in one day both the Biltmore estate and the fanciest McDonald's ever. Cognitive dissonance, aggh. I may have to write a trip report.

What exactly do Dick Cheney and Barack Obama have in common and what does this mean for 2008?

Topically, I have been reading a very interesting biography of Lady Morpeth's mother and collecting examples of cattiness I shall refrain from posting.

#196 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2006, 02:15 PM:

Aconite @ 170... I have fond memories of the Annals's previous incarnation where they had a fake science paper on how to generate energy by tieing a piece of buttered bread on the back of a cat, and then dropping the whole assemblage from a few feet above ground.

#197 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2006, 02:21 PM:

Serge@196: ...where it would spin endlessly. I remember that one.

#198 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2006, 02:37 PM:

Serge@194: I got a little container of Impeachmints from my local Hallmark store. Nice peach flavored mintlets, with a picture of Dubya on the tin.

#199 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2006, 05:05 PM:

Brief views of teenage cousins and the French Broad

I am intrigued, Susan. It sounds like my Xmas was much more fun although my 4-year-old nephew, all dressed up as the Last Son of Krypton, did draft me into helping his Superman fly around.

#200 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2006, 05:08 PM:

Xopher... I wouldn't dare eat any of those impeachmints. By the way, I also got a magnet with a photo of Dubya as a prez dispenser. Of lies, of course.

#201 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2006, 05:11 PM:

Speaking of kitties, Aconite... For Xmas, my wife gave me a sweatshirt showing a cat's face shot and profile shot, as if he'd been arrested by the police. The caption says he's wanted dead or alive. His name? Need you ask?

Schrodinger's Cat, naturally.

#202 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2006, 05:15 PM:

Serge @199

my 4-year-old nephew, all dressed up as the Last Son of Krypton, did draft me into helping his Superman fly around.

Kids and costumes. Excellent for any holiday.

My 3-year old daughter has the ideas of "Halloween fairy costume" and "pretty dress" hopelessly conflated, and wore her wings throughout Christmas dinner. (We did manage to get her to leave the magic wand behind when we came to the table, though.)

#203 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2006, 05:18 PM:

As well as 30 days of pork...

The Roast Beef of Old England

#204 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2006, 05:20 PM:

Afraid she might hit somebody with her magic wand, abi? ("Cabbage, I bannish thee!") Kids can be quite enthusiastic, but without the necessary coordination.

#205 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2006, 05:25 PM:

Serge @204

No, I got tired of having to pretend to be a statue, a cat, a dog, a dragon (OK, that one was actually rather fun), etc, etc.

(What? Not play along? Don't be silly.)

#206 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2006, 05:28 PM:

I also got a DVD of two John Agar movies. One of them is titled Journey to the Seventh Planet:

"...In futuristic 2001, the UN has sent a special team of scientists to explore Uranus. And what this interstellar crew discovers is a planet not unlike Earth - complete with a small Danish village filled with voluptuous women..."

#207 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2006, 05:37 PM:

a special team of scientists to explore Uranus

MUST...CONTROL...URGE...TO PUN!!!!!11!!

#208 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2006, 05:42 PM:

Xopher, Xopher, Xopher...

#209 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2006, 05:59 PM:

Amphibracous Uranus
Though punned with great thoroughness
Is hardly as blameless
As dactylic Uranus.

#210 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2006, 06:05 PM:

Dactylic, abi, eh?

#211 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2006, 06:11 PM:

I may have to do some penance for some of those rhymes.

#212 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2006, 06:37 PM:

I HAVE A BOYFRIEND FOR THAT!!!

*pant, pant*

I just couldn't do it. I just couldn't hold it back any longer. *sobs*

#213 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2006, 06:42 PM:

Xopher @212

But with a dact...

No, I'm sorry, I can't go there.

#214 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2006, 06:48 PM:

As to Holiday Confusion, here in Hawaii we had some quota of families in the neighborhood - including at least one on our block - who were under the impression that Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are celebrated by letting off aerial fireworks and firecrackers.

If unchecked this will surely lead to these poor souls celebrating New Years revelry by going door to door, dressed all in green, and ringing the bells to give people turkeys.

#215 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2006, 06:49 PM:

Larry, if you have to make the blackout cake without coffee again, you might try soaking walnuts in the water.

Marion Barry is a councilman now, but he's getting pretty old and creaky.

Serge and Xopher, you can buy more political and literary mints and power bars and such here.

#216 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2006, 06:50 PM:

Clifton @214

Well, in Scotland you don't have to wear green or ring bells, and whisky and coals are more common than turkeys, but it's not far off of first footing...

#217 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2006, 07:10 PM:

Abi and Serge: This is why I'm glad my sons are both now over 18....

#218 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2006, 07:16 PM:

Fragano:

Ask my parents in law if having sons over the age of 18 has prevented this sort of silliness. The principal difference is that they can hand the kids back, but my mother in law still spends a lot of time being Mrs Penguin* with my son.

-----------
* Do. Not. Ask.

#219 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2006, 07:27 PM:

Dave Bell #203 and his Roast Beef link:

I must say that it had never occurred to me that the USMC had formal mess dinners. So jug me for paucity of imagination or some such.

#220 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2006, 07:29 PM:

Clifford #214:

Our little street was blessed (not) with visitors who had the same idea. I hope they don't show up for New Year's Eve; an inch or two of rain is not making things any less tinder-like.

#221 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2006, 07:39 PM:

Serge (206), Journey to the Seventh Planet is the missing link between Bradbury's "Mars Is Heaven" and at least a half-dozen episodes of Star Trek: The Various Incarnations. It proved conclusively that you could blatantly rip off a classic SF short story without getting sued, thereby making much televised sci-fi possible.

It also no doubt accounts for the subsequent scarcity of Danish science fiction films.

My favorite part of the movie, however, is the bossa nova ballad, "Love Theme from Journey to the Seventh Planet," which plays over the closing credits. It's on regular rotation on my iPod:

Journey to the Seventh Planet.
Come to me;
Let your dreams become reality.
I wait for you.
Somewhere on the seventh planet,
Out in space.
You and I will find a magic place,
Like lovers do.

What's the other feature on the DVD? Is it Invisible Invaders? Because that film is the missing link between Plan 9 from Outer Space and George Romero's "Living Dead" trilogy. It's actually an entertaining little 50s B-picture, and the zombies wouldn't be out of place in a contemporary zombie movie.

#222 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2006, 07:43 PM:

Xopher and abi... This reminds me of yesterday's Xmas breakfast. My youngest nephew's action figures were strewn all over the living-room floor until one of my sisters-in-law grabbed Lex Luthor and Superman and started arranging them in positions that the kid would have been shocked by, had he been in the room at that time.

#223 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2006, 07:55 PM:

#176:
Could it be because I left out the 1/2 c coffee (I'm feeding a couple of observant Mormons) and substituted 1/2 c lowfat milk? The other liquid is 1/2 c buttermilk, and the leavening is a combo of soda and powder (both new and nowhere near expired.) I'm wondering if I've offended the baking gods.

I think what happened was that -- absent the coffee -- there wasn't enough acid remaining in the liquid for the acid/base reaction with the baking soda&baking powder to have its full leavening effect. A full cup of buttermilk instead of half and half buttermilk and lowfat milk might have worked better.

#224 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2006, 08:21 PM:

Howard Peirce... Yes, the DVD's other feature is invisible invaders. Not exactly John Carradine's best role, and not just because he's invisible most of the time, but decent in a cheesy kind of way.

As for the scarcity of Danish skiffy films... Yeah. Meanwhile, has anybody every seen Gorgo? That was England's entry in the Godzilla-wannabe cinema. No atomic bomb here. Instead, it's a British ship that captures a t-rex-sized monster off the coast of Ireland and, against the latter's protests, takes the monster to London. Then the monster's really big mom shows up and proceeds to flatten London. Of course, I won't stoop down to making Irish jokes.

#225 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2006, 08:26 PM:

Ah, Clifton. They could have been busted for jumping the gun; fireworks sales weren't legal till today. I maintain the permit price should be quadrupled, quintupled, or gazillioned from its current rate of $25. Why should the health of so many respiratory patients (not to mention that of so many pets, including my own) be endangered so a whole raft of thoughtless jerks can make things go BANG! in urban/suburban neighborhoods?

#226 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2006, 09:12 PM:

Debra @ 223 & Marilee @ 215/186 - Thanks for the advice - I knew I was taking a risk with the protein in the milk (1%, btw) but I never thought of the acidity in the coffee.

A quick search reveals that the pH of black coffee is about 5, and that of lowfat buttermilk is 4.5, so substituting buttermilk would have been a better choice.

Regardless of the reduced rise, the related absence of crumbs to toast and apply to the side of the cake (that would have been trimmed from the domed tops), and the hastily recovered ganache, it still got gobbled up.

#228 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2006, 10:39 PM:

#227: My connection doesn't seem able to load that file. (Alleged cable modem, but from Comcast so it's behaving like an acoustic coupler....) Is that the tune more recently known as "Hard Times of Old England" (as recorded by Steeleye Span)? (And itself parodied as "Hard Cheese of Old England", which is a vile pun.)

#229 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2006, 10:40 PM:

Re. Roast Beef of England: My sister Carol was born on Christmas day. (Christmas -- Carol! Thanks, Mom.) To make the day special for her, we always had Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve, and whatever Carol wanted on Christmas day. When she was about 12 years old, she had been reading some 19th c. English novel, and when Mom asked what she wanted for birthday dinner, she said, "Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding."

I don't think she (or any of us, in 1970s midwestern America) had any idea what Yorkshire pudding was, except that it sounded delicious. Mom dutifully tracked down a recipe, and fixed a rib roast, Yorkshire pudding, mashed potatos and gravy, and some kind of vegetables long since forgotten. The meal was such a success, Carol asked for it again the next year. Long story short, "Carol's Special Birthday Dinner" is still being made every year some 35 years later. So roast beef is very closely associated with Christmas for me.

Now, I couldn't make it home for Christmas day this year, but my car's being fixed tomorrow, and I'll be there this weekend, and so will Carol! So I'll be getting Carol's Special Birthday Dinner, with extra helpings of Yorkshire pudding, and the rarest slice of roast they can find for me.

#230 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2006, 11:54 PM:

I'm hoping somebody has suggestions about my sticky situation. I've been glazing a window, and the destructions start with 'roll the glazing into long strings'. I don't know what sadist wrote the destructions, but I'd have better luck removing my hands from the golden goose! Any hints on the right (or even a better) way to deal with this stuff?

#231 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2006, 11:57 PM:

Hard Times of Old England is, indeed, to the tune of Roast Beef of Old England.

#232 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2006, 12:46 AM:

Howard @ #228, I hope you have better judgment than I. We've been having roast beast (after the Grinch tale, of course) ever since my sister got married and moved one or two hills away, usually at her house. This year we had it here, and I ate about five slices of 1/4 - 1/2 inch thick beef and about 1/4 jar of horseradish, along with Yorkshire (which rose about six inches from the top edge of its Pyrex dish), mashed pots and spinach. I had no room left for the Red Velvet Cake.

#233 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2006, 01:18 AM:

And from the never-to-be-sufficiently-praised Les Barker, we have The Hard Cheese of Old England. I've been known to sing this at parties.

#234 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2006, 01:29 AM:

I think we all have ideas of what a Christmas feast should be - that's why I made a lasagna. My grandfather's family (actually my grandmother's second husband) was Sicilian, so big meals (Sunday dinner or better) featured pasta before the main course, and holiday meals required a fancy pasta dish, e.g. manicotti, lasagna, stuffed shells.

A good friend of mine (who's really family for all intents and purposes) introduced me to the same idea on a larger scale - anitpasta featuring freshly made (unsauced) meatballs, Italian cold meats and cheeses, the fancy pasta course served with the gravy meat on the side, a break, the main course (pretty American, but with more garlic), a break to play knee football in the basement, dessert with brown (American) coffee, nuts and fruits with black (Italian, pressure pot) coffee and homemade anisette.

Over the years, my own personal preference for the fancy pasta has shifted to making a real bolognese sause (stewing beef, veal, cooked in wine, shredded, with good (my own) tomato pasta sauce and cream added before serving). This time, I was cooking for my friend, who is a fishatarian, and her family whose tastes I don't know. Plus her sister and her family are Mormon, so no booze or coffee in the cooking. This pretty much left lasagna with no veggies, which would keep some of the kids from eating it.

Oddly, my non-meat-eating friend made a turkey roulade, filled with basil, proscuitto and lots of garlic - which she couldn't even taste. The fact she made this really surprised me.

I also sliced up a fennel bulb as a digistivo, and it went over big.

As I mentioned before, I made a cheesecake, which only got about 3/8 eaten, and a recalcitrant (coffee free) blackout cake that got devoured.

The meal was buffet style, the kids were adorable and well behaved. Interestingly, the American-Japanese kids (they live in Tokyo) were rowdier than the American kids.

All in all, it was a very pleasant Christmas, even though I started out moping because I wasn't in New York or Michigan with people I've known much longer.

#236 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2006, 03:42 AM:

Serge@201: Surely that should be "dead and alive"?

#237 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2006, 07:58 AM:

Is it a Boolean OR?

#238 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2006, 08:47 AM:

Marilee @ 215... Thanks for the link. Lots of silly stuff out there.

#239 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2006, 08:56 AM:

David Goldfarb... Let me check. The sweatshirt does say 'dead OR alive'. So, either they missed that possibility for a joke, or, like Dave Bell said, maybe it is a boolean 'or'.

As for guide cats for the blind, Dave, when we rescued the first of our dogs abandonned by New Mexico, we called her Freya, after the Viking Goddess of Love. What we later found out is that the mythological Freya's favorite mode of transportation was a cart pulled by cats. That says a few things about her worshippers ("True Viking Romance") and why our canine Freya often chases after Jefferson the Bad Cat.

(Hmm... Last time we had a thread where the subject of cats came up, didn't we wind up creating an evil universe where Making Light is a sex site?)

#240 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2006, 09:13 AM:

People got some non-jokey Xmas gifts they really liked? My wife gave me Amelia Peabody's Egypt and Ian McDonald's River of Gods. Actually, they both are cases of my buying them at the local Borders then handing them to Sue and saying THAT's what you're giving me. (Hey, we've been married for over 21 years.) I just spent the Xmas season going thru Land of Mist and Snow and The Atrocity Archives, faster than I expected, and we're 1000 miles away from home and from our many books right now, so I'm glad I've got some other good stuff I could immediately jump into.

#241 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2006, 09:41 AM:

Abi #218: Some kinds of silliness never go away, I suppose. And, yes, I do want to ask.

#242 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2006, 12:38 PM:

Serge #240:

I loved all my Christmas gifts, including the one from friends who give Seriously Odd books. This year it was _The Medici Giraffe_ ,which can only be described as a non-fiction fantasia upon exotic animals and the collecting thereof.

The great local gift store institution is having its last gasp, and it netted me at least a giant sepiaized poster of a back canal in Venice and Joyce Goldstein's _Enoteca_, recipes for Italian wine-bar snacks.

#243 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2006, 12:57 PM:

No, no, no! Schrödinger's Cat is wanted dead or alive. As long as it remains hidden, it's in neither state! They want its status to be resolved. That's the joke.

And me not even a physicist.

#244 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2006, 01:03 PM:

#240, Serge, I got two semi-jokey T-shirts which absolutely suit me. One says "National Sarcasm Society" with the following slogan below it: Like We Need Your Support. The other is white with the word "Piffle" in large blue font.

#245 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2006, 01:48 PM:

Linkmeister... "National Sarcasm Society"... And their patron is Dr. House?

#246 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2006, 01:51 PM:

No, Xopher, the cat isn't in neither state. It's in both states, right? Maybe I should re-read Where does all the weirdness go?...

#247 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2006, 01:54 PM:

Serge, what you've said and what I've said are precisely the same thing. And at the same time opposites!

Does your head hurt yet?

#248 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2006, 02:17 PM:

Linkmeister: I saw someone wearing the "National Sarcasm Society" in Jelly's yesterday and stopped to admire it, as did their bookbuyer. An odd coincidence, even odder if that was you.

#249 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2006, 02:21 PM:

#248, OMG! Holy Cow! Clifton, that was indeed me. I'd been in the neighborhood looking for Hopaco, whose space has been overtaken by RedLine Automotive. I can't resist Jelly's if I'm anywhere close.

Drat. We should exchange photos or something so we could recognize one another next time.

#250 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2006, 02:27 PM:

Yes, Xopher, my head does hurt. By the way, every time I try to describe the whole Schrodinger metaphor to my wife, she points it'd be easy to know if the cat inside the box is alive because, unless it's dead or drugged, it'll be fighting like crazy to get out.

#251 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2006, 02:40 PM:

Clifton @ 248, Linkmeister @ 249 - Sounds like we need a Making Light facebook page.

#252 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2006, 02:47 PM:

#251 Larry, I'll defer to the wishes of the proprietors. Failing that, here's a photo of me modeling the shirt Christmas morning.

#253 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2006, 07:15 PM:

Serge @240:

I got Season 2 of Old Trek from my mother in law...along with a red long-sleeved shirt.

After I stopped laughing (which took a while) and explained, I had to stop her from apologising.

I like them both.

#254 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2006, 07:26 PM:

Abi #253:

Just how embarrassed was she?

#255 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2006, 07:32 PM:

joann @ 254:

Well, she hates to think we might doubt her affection for us. But I think she was more worried that I wanted Season 1.

#256 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2006, 07:49 PM:

abi...

You could have asked her for Season 3, which has among its classics the episode where Spock walks around without a brain in his skull, and the one where Kirk's body is taken over by a woman, which gives him the chance to really overact.

As for the red shirt... That reminds me of a 'panel' back in the mid-Eighties where Timothy Zahn came up with a special insigna for the security guys - a target with a duck sitting in front of it.

#257 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2006, 10:27 PM:

I love the episode where Kirk's body is taken over by a woman! It's so...bizarrely against everything the show had painstakingly established up until then. Am I wrong in thinking it was the last episode?

Also, how did I not know that separate season editions of TOS were available? I thought it was just those horrible two-episodes-to-a-disc nonsense things.

#258 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2006, 10:29 PM:

Serge@250: Pterry (in The Unadulterated Cat with Joliffe Gray) suggests that your sister is collapsing states; he says that the cat may be dead, alive, or bloody furious. I've certainly seen happily boxed cats; you just have to convince them it was their idea.

#259 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2006, 10:30 PM:

Oh, and I forgot to mention: I got a fondue pot! And an awesome looking book about how the punks were Jewish, because getting books about Judaism for Christmas is just one of those wacky things that happens in my family.

#260 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2006, 01:43 AM:

I've currently got a cat that can't get herself out of a box tipped over on her. But she's the dumbest cat in the world(tm).

I got Land of Mist and Snow as a slightly delayed Christmas present (it showed up yesterday in the mails). I took it to the hospital with me for our wait for Margene's surgery.

However the friend's finished manuscript (it's going out to publishers) I had obligated myself to read (and I finished and I really liked) was so different that I postponed reading the MacDonald and Doyle novel until later. I like LMS well enough, I've already read bits off the Internet, but it is very different from the novel I'd already finished and it was too jarring for the moment.

Got a streak of knitting, a scarf out of really chunky yarn and rather large needles done though.

#261 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2006, 02:07 AM:

CHip... What I could point out to my wife is that maybe Shrodinger's Cat is inside a heavy steel box and thus even Blofeld's freaked-out kitty at the end of the movie You Only Live Twice couldn't make it budge from inside.

#262 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2006, 02:10 AM:

ethan... Yes, I think that Turnabout Intruder was the last episode. And yes, each season is now available in its own container shaped like a tricorder. I wound up buying even the third season's set because it had the very sad episode Requiem for Methuselah.

#263 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2006, 02:12 AM:

Paula Helm Murray... I didn't know until now about Margene's surgery. I hope she's doing well.

#264 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2006, 03:25 AM:

Containers shaped like tricorders?!?!?! How am I so out of the loop?

#265 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2006, 05:50 AM:

Serge@240 said: People got some non-jokey Xmas gifts they really liked?

I got The Mislaid Magician and The Jennifer Morgue and The Ghost Brigades and a game called "Lunar Rails" (in the "Empire Builder" series of crayon rail games, for those who know what those are) and the soundtrack to Cirque du Soleil's "Corteo" (which I took Jonathan Schwarz's sister to see last year for her birthday and it was amazing) and some Scharffen Berger chocolate. So yes.

Oh, and Hitherby Dragons has a Christmas story everyone should read.

#266 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2006, 09:03 AM:

David Goldfarb... Ah yes, The Jennifer Morgue. It's on my list of things to look for as soon as I'm back in Albuquerque, now that I have finished reading the first volume of the adventures of spy Bob Howard.

#267 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2006, 09:13 AM:

I got a neat leather motorcycle jacket.

At last, at long, long last, I can be a cool dude.

(Okay, I can pretend to be a cool dude. I'd have to get an actual motorcycle -- a '52 Vincent Black Lightning, preferably -- and learn to use it to be cool.)

#268 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2006, 09:34 AM:

Bruce, once you have a '52 Vincent Black Lightning, I think actual coolness is optional.

Re Christmas gifts: I got a nice necklace with a pendant shaped like an analemma, a t-shirt that says "Taekwondo: my foot bone is connected to your head bone" (from my daughter's boyfriend, a kung fu and capoeira practitioner showing appropriate respect for other martial arts), a biography of Nicola Tesla (what a weirdo) and some money which I have used to buy the laptop that I really, really wanted.

#269 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2006, 09:37 AM:

Sue's baby sister and her hubby visited last night. The whole family had gotten together on Christmas Day, but this was a chance for us all to meet again before Sue and I drive back to New Mexico on the weekend. Of course, our two nephews came along. On Christmas, the youngest was all dressed up as the Last Son of Krypton, cape included, and drafted me into being not a mean supervillain this time, but in carrying him around above my head so that he could pretend he could fly. Last night, he was dressed as the Flash, but still wore that red cape, and STILL wanted me to help him pretend he could fly even though, as I pointed out, the Flash is a runner, not a flyer. Details, details... This made for a rather raucous setup, especially when he decided that his mom was Supergirl and the Flash and Supergirl were married and he'd answer the phone (ring-ring sounds included) to respond to emergencies and that's when I had to pretend I was the collapsing San Francisco Bay Bridge.

I eventually thought I'd better find a way to quiet things down, for the sake of the eardrums of the grownups. Then I remembered that, right next to me under the Tree, was the DVD set I had been given of Bugs Bunny cartoons.

That worked, shocking as that may sound.

Of course, I thought it best to keep the kids company.

#270 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2006, 10:23 AM:

Serge-she had knee surgery yesterday, the partial knee replacement (hardware by Stryker, the one they're advertising on TV). It went well, we all stayed until she was in a room and fairly conscious, Jim took me home and went back to stay until she was well awake and they tossed him out (10 p.m.).

Gonna call her in a bit. (I'm at work)

#271 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2006, 10:51 AM:

Was it normal wear-and-tear that made the knee replacement necessary, Paula? My mother, who's now 72, had one hip joint replaced last year and went thru that again for the other hip on Dec 12. I called her the day before Xmas and she's already walking around. Now I know from whose side of the family I got my awesome healing factor.

#272 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2006, 10:53 AM:

Lila said, "Bruce, once you have a '52 Vincent Black Lightning, I think actual coolness is optional."

I think once you have a '52 Vincent Black Lightning, I think actual coolness is mandatory.

In other words, we agree.

#273 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2006, 10:56 AM:

Bruce (267), but does having a '52 Vincent Black Lightning raise your chances of coming to a sticky end? ('Folksongs' are your friends!)

[One of my few highlights of 2006 was a Richard Thompson concert at the Enmore Theatre, Sydney. From the second row of the stalls. Squeee! <ahem> Major highlight was surviving. Stuff like that a) helped; b) made it worthwhile.]

#274 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2006, 11:44 AM:

My "holiday" gift from my boyfriend arrived. He got me an Ipod Shuffle. Since I sent him some chocolates and brownies (both made by me in my kitchen) and a t-shirt and some boots (nice boots, but hand-me-downs: I bought them and then discovered they weren't my size, but they ARE his size), I feel a little...funny about it. He doesn't make nearly as much money as I do, but he appears to have spent much more.

#275 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2006, 01:47 PM:

Serge, look for an email from pmurray at ascendmedia.com. I'm at work and a bit at loose ends.

She does have remarkable healing powers, so we're hoping for the best. But right now we're less than 24 hours after surgery...

#276 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2006, 01:54 PM:

Lila #268:

Which bio of Tesla was it?

#277 ::: Eric Sadoyama ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2006, 03:08 PM:

Don't know if someone's already mentioned it, but over at Scientific American, George Musser is musing about how to phrase Einstein's Laws of Physics as elegantly and succinctly as Newton's Laws have been. Sounds to me like a task tailor-made for the Making Light community.

#278 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2006, 03:42 PM:

Hogfather on TV. Why was I not informed?

Seriously, I must be living under a rock. Or on the wrong side of the pond. Or something.

#279 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2006, 04:55 PM:

I liked the TV version of Hogfather a lot. They only cut out a few of my favourite lines, only wrecked one (and that not beyond repair), and as far as I could tell only conflated two characters, which didn't cause problems.

The sets and costuming were more or less uniformly good, though Fhfna'f yrngure obqvpr was rather rkprffviryl boivbhf at times. All that urnil oernguvat...

It did look a bit disorienting to me at times, but I put that down partly to having been brought up on the Kirby covers as a young teenager, and subconsciously not associating anything Discworldish with real or even realistic people and scenery.

#280 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2006, 05:01 PM:

Xopher, don't worry about it unless it happens again.

#281 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2006, 05:14 PM:

Xopher @274

Either: talk about it (depends on your relationship) or splash out on the birthday/Valentines thing, whichever comes first.

#282 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2006, 06:10 PM:

Hmm, good advice. I'm going to start planning for Valentine's Day! LOL I have some ideas already!

#283 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2006, 11:03 PM:

Serge @ #271: not to denigrate your mom's healing powers, but recovery after joint replacement surgery is typically amazingly rapid. Especially amazing if you've ever observed such a surgery (I have--it's rather, um, strenuous--and I have also been charged with making people get up and walk in the 2-3 days between surgery and discharge from the hospital).

Paula, best wishes to Margene for a swift and uneventful recovery!

joann @ 276, Tesla: Man Out Of Time by Margaret Cheney. (Have gone back & edited my original post to correct misspelling!)

#284 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2006, 11:06 PM:

um, make that "wish I could go back & edit..." Bah. Nikola, not Nicola.

#285 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2006, 11:11 PM:

I've read a few negative comments about the Hogfather movie, but I haven't got any. I loved it.
I was surprised at how many of the actors have been in Doctor Who.

#286 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2006, 12:00 AM:

Lila @ 283... I's not unusual for recovery from hip surgery to be rapid? I didn't know that. I got the impression that it had been unusual, because they'd expected my mother would have to go thru physiotherapy, the first time around, and she never needed to. Well, no matter what, I'm glad she's doing fine,

#287 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2006, 09:46 AM:

No physiotherapy?? That IS unusual; normally she'd be in PT for several weeks at least. She must be not only unusually active but unusually sharp (to keep up with the precautions, i.e., don't cross your legs, don't bend over) and probably has a high pain tolerance. Most patients are reluctant to move the limb as much as they need to to maintain normal range of motion.

#288 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2006, 10:08 AM:

Lila... I never thought about it, but, yes, my mom is quite active, always making sure her house is spic and span. Like I said earlier, I must have inherited that healing factor (*) from her, and some resistance to pain (**)

(*) no, I don't look like the movie version of Wolverine.

(**) although you might have thought otherwise had you been around a few months ago when my heel collided with one of my backyard's cacti.

#289 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2006, 10:32 AM:

So, all you lucky !@#$%^&*! who got to see Hogfather: was Marnix van der Broecke (sp?) as good a Death as Christopher Lee in the animateds? And is there any likelihood this will come out on a US-playable DVD?

#290 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2006, 10:56 AM:

Update on my shock about the Star Trek DVDs: I just spent WAY TOO MUCH MONEY on them. Thanks a lot, people.

And yay, people talking about Richard Thompson! Those who are fans: have you heard his "1000 Years of Popular Music" project, where he sings songs literally from the past 1000 years? Chronologically speaking, he starts with Summer Is Icumen In and ends with ...Baby One More Time. It's kind of incredible.

#291 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2006, 11:14 AM:

Off any previous topic, I'd just like to note that, much as I delete them unread from my Spam folder, I'm amused by the spamails I get with titles like "Why be an average guy any longer?"

One can accuse me of many things, but "average"? No. :-)

#292 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2006, 11:36 AM:

ethan (#290): A mutual cheer for all fans of Richard Thompson who show up here! I got "1000 Years of Popular Music" last month (luckily, my husband skipped his usual Friday night board gaming and helped hook up the DVD player). I don't know if you had the same reaction, but some of the songs stood out more on the accompanying CD, others on the DVD -- which, of course, had more of the intros etc. I think I mentioned this on another thread, but he truly did redeem "Oops, I Did It Again", as well as being just right for some of the darker, much older material. (And he wisely left "Night and Day" and another luscious ballad for the woman to sing.)

#293 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2006, 11:38 AM:

the Star Trek DVDs: I just spent WAY TOO MUCH MONEY on them. Thanks a lot, people.

Bwahahah!!!

#294 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2006, 12:06 PM:

Okay. I have a puzzle and a challenge for the fluorosphere. For the past day or so, I've been working (with assistance) on this quiz. The idea is to name 54 albums from bits of their cover art; between us, my friend and I have successfully named 41 of them. There are about 15 relatively easy ones, and after that I had to resort to reference materials (some I had seen but couldn't name offhand, and some I'd never seen).

How fast can this group get all 54?

#295 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2006, 03:34 PM:

I got nineteen in my first pass (plus three more where I knew the artist but not the album--there's a limit to my interest in the Kiss oeuvre).

Which ones are you missing?

#296 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2006, 03:47 PM:

Oh, man, I think I need glasses. I was looking at the "Geostationary Banana Over Texas" sidelight and kept saying "I don't get it"

sigh. eyes going bad. must be getting old.

Would a vampire please bite me? I've been slowly accumulating a number of physical problems I'd like to go away now. Wait. Do vampires heal old problems or just new ones? Maybe I'm thinking of werewolves. Jack Nicolson didn't have to use his glasses after he got bit. Oh, this is too complicated. Just make me Wolverine for petes sake. I don't need the superskeleton, just the regeneration ability. Thank you...

#297 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2006, 03:54 PM:

Greg @ 296:

That's not getting old, that's just the strangeness of the idea. (I haven't figured out how they plan to keep it geostationary.)

#298 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2006, 04:03 PM:

Tim 295: I'm still missing Row 2, #1,3,6 (from left); Row 3, #3,6; Row 4, #5; Row 5, #4; Row 6, #5; Row 7, #2; Row 8, #1,3; Row 9, #4,6

I *know* I've seen that very last one before, as well as the one in Row 6. But blowed if I can recall them. It would be good if the test had a "give up" button, not to mention if its CGI worked better. (I've been refreshing the page to get verifications, or it takes forever.)

#299 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2006, 04:52 PM:

Row 9, #4 is Blackout by the Scorpions. Other than that, I'm missing all the ones you're missing.

Live updating only seems to work in Exploder.

#300 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2006, 04:55 PM:

I still don't get the geostationary banana. Are they kidding, or are they crazy? They're planning to launch a bamboo frame into LEO? Likely result: rain of bamboo charcoal, shortly after (attempted) launch.

#301 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2006, 05:01 PM:

Xopher @ 300

All I can think of is that it's some weird flavor of conceptual art. Or possibly performance art. The critical details for actually getting it off the ground (pun intended!) seem to be missing from their site. I also think they're underestimating the size of banana needed for seeing from the ground. (Echo I was thirty meters in diameter, and looked like a moving star from ground level!)

#302 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2006, 05:02 PM:

The best way to make something geostationary is to rest it on the ground.

#303 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2006, 05:14 PM:

Bruce 298: I want a Give Up button too.

What's driving me craziest are the ones I KNOW I've seen before... often... but can't place even with the help of checking the artists I THINK they are in Amazon.

Row 2 #6, Row 6 #2, Row 7 #2 and 4, Row 8 #3 and Row 9 #3 are the ones driving me buggiest.

And the one that ought to be from The Wall and
isn't.

Please, for the sake of my sanity, drop me a note at my email?

#304 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2006, 05:29 PM:

Tim #299: Thanks. Up to 42. If I quit now, at least it would be at a superior number :-)

Rikibeth #303: Sent.

#305 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2006, 07:24 PM:

Okay. I've posted what I've got so far at my LJ. Contributions gladly accepted; now up to 43/54.

#306 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2006, 08:07 PM:

Bruce,

I can't get the table on your LJ up, but Row 6 #5 is Fly by Night by Rush.

#307 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2006, 08:10 PM:

Bruce,

I take it back. That was R6 #6, not 5

#308 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2006, 08:35 PM:

abi #306-307: Thanks. Fly By Night was an easy one; thanks to a friend, I now have R6, #5 (Hawkwind, Hall of the Mountain Grill -- which I really ought to have gotten on my own)

#309 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2006, 08:45 PM:

I can't help but think that the proposal for the levitating banana is the real project. Either that or it will be held up by art, much like the Nutrimatic Cup.

Besides, wouldn't an armadillo be more appropriate?

#310 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2006, 09:02 PM:

Man, that quiz is tougher than it looks - I should have all of 'em (heck, I did college radio in the '70s, so this should be a cakewalk, right?...) and I'm only up to 50% (27/54).

Ok, I peeked at Bruce Adelsohn's answer key. I don't have any that haven't been solved already. I am duly chastened.

#311 ::: otherdeb ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2006, 10:16 PM:

I was a college DJ in the 70's, too, and I have been having an absolute hell of a time getting them. But 45/54 for a collective score (Bruce, the folks here,me) ain't too shabby at all, at all. Nice going, so far, folks!

#312 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2006, 11:12 PM:

I hadn't heard until recently that there was a benefit concert of Murray Gold's "Doctor Who" music. I bittorrented it, and it was really good. So I went and ordered the soundtrack album from amazon.co.uk; and I figured that I might as well treat myself to the light-up sonic screwdriver toy, too. Only they won't ship it to the US. Alas.

The concert was emcee'd by David Tennant, and it was really strange to hear his true accent (he's Scots). It featured the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, who do the music for the show, so it sounded very authentic. Interspersed were clips from the show and bits of stage business. This was my favorite (rot13'd for your spoiler protection):

Ng bar cbvag n Qnyrx ragref.
Qnyrx: Lbh ner nyy freinagf bs gur Qnyrxf. Lbh jvyy borl. Yrg zr urne lbh fnl "Rkgrezvangr".
Nhqvrapr: RKGREZVANGR!
Qnyrx: V pnaabg urne lbh. "Rkgrezvangr!"
Nhqvrapr (jub jrer npghnyyl cerggl ybhq gur svefg gvzr): RKGREZVANGR!
Qnyrx: Jvyy lbh borl gur Qnyrxf sberire?
Nhqvrapr: ABBB!
Qnyrx: Va gung pnfr, V jvyy unir zl fynir bepurfgen cynl fcrpvny Qnyrx zhfvp. Vg jvyy pbaireg lbh gb gur Qnyrx pnhfr. Gura lbh jvyy borl!

#313 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2006, 11:42 PM:

Speaking of Richard Thompson...

...if you take the music from "Cooksferry Queen" (on the MOCK TUDOR album)...

...and sing the lyrics to "The Star Spangled Banner" to it...

...it actually works surprisingly well.

#314 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2006, 03:39 AM:

Kind of like how you can sing any Emily Dickinson poem to the tune of "Honeymoon Suite" by Suzanne Vega, but why on earth did you notice that?!?!

#315 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2006, 06:05 PM:

David, you can preorder the soundtrack.

#316 ::: Laurel Amberdine ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2006, 10:25 PM:

Oh yay, here's the open thread.

I know there are lots of frighteningly smart genre readers and writers (and of course editors) around here.... any thoughts on this agent's comments about the quality of the fantasy genre?

#317 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2006, 12:02 AM:

Ah, the art of the insane! I have a wonderful book about that which supplemented what I read in the old Life Magazine book about The Mind (which I still look at from time to time): The Discovery of the Art of the Insane. It refreshed my knowledge of Louis Wain (the crazy cat guy), and introduced me to Richard Dadd and Jonathan Martin. We crossed paths with Martin at York Minster, where the guide mentioned a crazy person who tried to burn the Minster down, and later in the trip found an exhibit at the Museum of London on the Bethlehem Hospital, aka Bedlam.

And lo, there were all three of those crazy guys, the mental wing artists. Louis Wain was there, and one could buy a postcard of the first work shown on this page, "The Fire of Mind Agitates the Atmosphere." (His earlier postcard art, when he was popular instead of crazy, includes this oddly ironic card (scanned from a book of old postcards).

Richard Dadd was there (though not his great unfinished magnum opus, The Fairy Feller's Master Stroke, which I was pleased to find as a poster at a crystals 'n' herbs shop in Virginia Beach).

Martin was there too, with his ingratiating smile and pet squirrel, but I'm not putting any more links in here. The comment might get held up as it is.

Another page of the book (the art book) came to life when I was privileged to gaze on "The Throne of Third Heaven of the Nations' Millenium General Assembly" was displayed at the Rockefeller Folk Art Museum in Williamsburg, VA, the work of a janitor who worked every day and came home to add more glittering decoration to his amazing assemblage.

Time to get some sleep, or I'll go crazy myself. Bzzk.

#318 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2006, 12:04 AM:

Um, forgot to say that this comment was prompted by a December 28 Particle.

#319 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2006, 12:05 AM:

Ethan @ #314:
"Kind of like how you can sing any Emily Dickinson poem to the tune of "Honeymoon Suite" by Suzanne Vega, but why on earth did you notice that?!?!"


Ethan, are you asking me where do I get my ideas?

Oh, man, I've been waiting years for someone to ask me that.

I get my ideas from the Brain Angels. You see, just like everybody has a guardian angel, everyone has a Brain Angel.

These little guys dart back and forth between Earth and Heaven. In Heaven, they gather up an armful of ideas from the Idea Library (it's right next to the warehouse where the Nine Billion Names of God are kept).

The Idea Library is not that well organized. The stuff at the front, where it's easy to reach, tends to be rather tattered and worn, stuff like "Hi, Eve, my name's Adam," or "He was really a vampire/werewolf/cannibal/alien [choose one]!" That's where the lazy Brain Angels pick up their armloads.

But some Brain Angels are more ambitious, and they'll venture farther back in the Library, back in the stacks where it's dark and rarely visited. But, wow, when they pick up some of the stuff back there and blow the dust off it, it turns out to be really bright and shiny.

Anyway, the Brain Angels pick up their armloads and wing off back to Earth.

(It should probably be noted that Brain Angels are, in and of themselves, not particularly bright. Sometimes they get confused and fly to the wrong person, leaving some poor soul totally bereft of ideas until their Brain Angel realizes their error. This is where Writer's Block comes from. This also means that some other more fortunate soul ends up with two, or even more, Brain Angels at a time.) (Yes, I'm looking at you, Charlie Stross!)

Anyway, the Brain Angels reach their assigned individuals (hopefully) and go into a holding pattern, hovering over the person's head. Then, at random intervals, they take one of that armload of ideas and drop it -- KERPLOP! -- right onto the person's head, where it soaks through the skin and right into their brains.

Sort of like pigeon poop, y'know?

And that's where ideas come from. You don't think I could just make something like that up, do you?

#320 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2006, 12:56 AM:

Laurel #316: Well, probably not the agent for you if you write fantasy.

BTW, if Mr. Brown doesn't want to get fantasy manuscripts, perhaps he should change the profile for his agency over at the AAR website that says he represents them....

#321 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2006, 12:58 AM:

Kip W @317: I have a wonderful book about that which supplemented what I read in the old Life Magazine book about The Mind [.. ,] The Discovery of the Art of the Insane.

Don't have that book, but remember the Life Magazine book about The Mind. That's where I remember Louis Wain from. William Kurelek was also referenced in that book, but not named; I saw examples of his later work and learned who he was, recognized his style and learned more about his story.

Coincidentally, my search for an appropriate link brought me to a page near Teresa's original Louis Wain link.

A more entertaining book (although I cannot recall title and author) was a book I had on how children's art develops. Ideas of schemas children developed to solve drawing problems. Hands tend to be drawn with fingers fanning out from the wrist, or attached to a crossbar; having found a solution, a child tends to stick with it.
A child who decides animals have four legs draws four-legged birds in the trees. Another child, making a set of color dots on the corner of the page, is asked what it is she is drawing. Her reply: "the world, and everything in it".

#322 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2006, 02:53 AM:

Bruce, Brain Angels? All right, maybe I'll buy it.

But I have a hard time believing that even an infinite heavenly library of ideas would have room for the idea that goes "Hey! Why don't I try putting on Cooksferry Queen and singing The Star Spangled Banner along with it!"

Although, I guess that's probably the same Dewey Decimal number as the ideas for mashups...

#323 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2006, 03:00 AM:

Marilee@315: Thanks, but I'd rather pay a bit more and get it in a week instead of waiting till mid-February.

#324 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2006, 09:33 AM:

#43: Sorry I didn't notice this before now. To answer your three numbered questions: yes, yes, and email. (Our addresses are in the sidebar.)

#137: No better reason than oversight. I didn't notice that it was duplicating Wikipedia content.

#290: We're certainly Richard Thompson fans around here. We've seen him live fifteen or twenty times, starting with the Hand of Kindness tour in 1983. We have indeed seen "1000 Years of Popular Music," here in NYC at Joe's Pub. We also have both officially-released recordings of the show, with significantly different songlists, plus an unreleased recording of one of the "1000 Years" shows at the Getty in LA. Actually, what we have in our iTunes "Richard Thompson" folder, sorted into playlists called "1000 Years," "As group member," "As guest musician", "Compilations," "Covered by others," "Interviews," "Live," and "Studio," is 1,305 tracks, totalling 7.41 GB, which would take 3.9 days to play. Yes, this is sad fannish behavior.

#316: Since the agent in question says very little that's specific, it's hard to have any response than "Okay, you don't like fantasy and SF." Lots of people don't like fantasy and SF.

#325 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2006, 11:27 AM:

Since the thread has woven its way back to Richard Thompson.... My different reactions to the audio and video versions in the official package apparently aren't "just me." The NT Times has an article on the subject (in general, not as it relates to RT).

I've seen Richard quite a few times, including one show with Fairport when we were both teenagers, but my wildest fannish feelings were reserved for Quicksilver Messenger Service. Though the band-as-it-was-then and my teenage hormones are long gone, I still love those sounds from the past.

#326 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 03:51 PM:

Wow, that was fast! My Doctor Who CD order shipped on the 2nd...and arrived today! I wonder if amazon.co.uk has a warehouse in the US? I wouldn't expect regular overseas shipping to take only two days.

And when I was looking at reviews of the Torchwood season finale, I ran across a US website that would sell me the sonic screwdriver toy. Cheaper than Amazon, even.

#327 ::: Cadbury Moose sights spam ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2010, 04:42 AM:

Post #327: id links to website, post appears to be "warm feeling" boilerplate to sneak under the radar.

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