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July 1, 2012

Posted by Jim Macdonald at 09:30 PM * 71 comments

It’s more than a month to Moose Festival. So what do you want to do?

“Hey, Ma, let’s go to the Moxie Festival!”

Yes, friends, in just two weeks it’ll be the Thirtieth Annual Moxie Festival in Lisbon Falls, Maine. They’ve got Moxie Ice Cream!

Lisbon Falls isn’t too far from me. Twenty thousand people blow into town to watch the Moxie Parade, join the Moxie Chugging Contest, run the Moxie Race, and visit the Moxie Museum.

Lisbon Falls is on Rt. 196, midway between Brunswick and Lewiston, just north of Portland. It’s a quick trip up I-95 from Boston. The Moxie Festival is July 13-15 this year.

Moxie. It’s good for you.

On your way through Portland be sure to stop off at Duckfat for some french fries. Those are Maine potatoes, fried in duck fat, and served with truffle ketchup.

Moxie. A restaurant that specializes in duck fat. Possibly a moose. (Can’t rule out a moose.) You’ll have a story to tell when you get home.

Comments on Moxie!:
#1 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2012, 09:40 PM:

How does it taste? Kind of like carbonated turpentine.

I keep a sixpack on my desk at work. When the need strikes, I pop one of those suckers and drink it warm.

People know to leave me alone if I'm drinking warm moxie. It's.... not for the faint of heart.

Trying to decide if I'm going to brave the crowds in Lisbon this year. My spouse is an active member of the New England Moxie Congress, and plans to be there whether I go or not.

#2 ::: Jim ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2012, 09:51 PM:

Just don't spill it on any furniture finish you care about . . .

#3 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2012, 09:57 PM:

The taste reminds me of envelope glue.

#4 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2012, 10:06 PM: spruce beer? Because I *love* spruce beer.

#5 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2012, 10:13 PM:

Is this the emetic thread? I actually gagged a little at the Duckfat description.

Is there a unicorn chaser coming? Please?

(Mostly kidding, but seriously ick.)

#6 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2012, 10:18 PM:

It's carbonated gentian root. It may not kill you, but it will certainly do in any intestinal parasites you have. It was originally a patent medicine that was supposed to cure paralysis, softening of the brain, and mental feebleness.

I love Moxie. It's my drink of choice for writing.

Moxie Ice Cream, folks! Moxie Ice Cream!

Moxie is Maine's Official State Soft Drink.

Also, at one time, it was the best-selling soft drink in America.

#7 ::: Adam Ek ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2012, 10:31 PM:

Moxie is Klingon root beer.

#8 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2012, 10:36 PM:

I like Moxie. I compare it to carbonated cough syrup. Lightly carbonated.

I don't like it enough to have it shipped across the country, though.

#9 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2012, 10:44 PM:

I am not sure I would like the idea of being chased by a unicorn.

#10 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2012, 10:46 PM:

People might be chased by unicorns at the festival for a beverage called Imp Ale.

#11 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2012, 10:56 PM:

I've never had it, but I wouldn't be averse to trying it. It can't possibly be worse than Dr. Pepper.

#12 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2012, 11:31 PM:

There speaks someone who has never drunk Big Red. Which exists, as far as I can tell, for Texans to order and drink when folks call Dr. Pepper bad. Picture drinking red licorice...

#13 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2012, 12:24 AM:

I'm deeply unconvinced that red licorice is licorice at all... I'm a fan of black salted licorice. Which, oddly enough, I buy at Ikea when the Amazing Girlfriend and I go.

I'd try Moxie if an opportunity presented itself; I like weird aggressive drinks.

#14 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2012, 12:29 AM:

Bruce D., #12: You're right, I've never drunk Big Red. I do like red licorice, but only certain varieties; but I don't like fake strawberry soda, and that's what I've been told Big Red is.

Have you ever had Cheerwine? It's like cherry coke with about 3x extra cherry. I like it, but a lot of people don't.

#15 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2012, 01:24 AM:

There's a Potbelly Deli a couple blocks from where I live, where we've been having board game meetups on Tuesdays. They have Big Red soda. I tried it one week. It was sorta bubblegum-tasting, I thought -- I guess it could have started life as strawberry flavor, but I wouldn't have guessed that unless you told me. I didn't hate it, and I'm not sorry I tried it, but I don't think I'll have it again.

I've never tried Cheerwine. I wouldn't mind having some one of these days.

#16 ::: Alan Hamilton ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2012, 02:15 AM:

I finally found some on my last trip to Massachusetts. I actually thought it was pretty good. The usual description is that most soft drinks started out as patent medicines, but Moxie is the only one that still tastes like one.

#17 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2012, 04:21 AM:

I really must try this stuff. It can't be weirder than Dandelion & Burdock, or more insanely sweet than Irn Bru.

Benjamin Wolfe, next time I come back to the Bay Area I'll bring you some Dutch zoute drop. And, if you're feeling brave, salmiak. They take the salty licorice experience to new and unimagined heights.

#18 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2012, 06:49 AM:

Jim Macdonald #6: Are you seriously saying that a soft drink was marketed as a cure for syphilis?

#19 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2012, 06:51 AM:

In Kentucky, and nowhere else, one can find Ale8One. This is akin to caffeinated SevenUP.

#20 ::: David Wald ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2012, 08:19 AM:

abi@17: I don't know if Irn Bru wins on actual sugar content, but the bubble gum flavor definitely makes it taste sweeter than any root-based drink I've had. (Or, at least, any root-based drink where they remembered to dilute the syrup.)

#21 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2012, 09:03 AM:

I remember enjoying Big Red as a kid in Texas, but I doubt if I'd care for it now. Never had Moxie, but I'm irresistibly reminded of Bored of the Rings, in which Frito's companions were Moxie and Pepsi.

#22 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2012, 09:56 AM:

Ah, Moxie! n. animal, feline, small and white with long hair. A.K.A. Starchface, a.k.a. Lady Howlmore. When she got fat (my fault), she looked like a cantaloupe with legs. One of my most-fondly-remembered cats.

R.I.P. Moxie.

#23 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2012, 10:02 AM:

Ugh, Big Red is awful. Mainstream (i.e. corn-syrup) Dr Pepper is only slightly less terrible. Dublin Dr Pepper, the only one still made with sugar, is one of my favorite things in the world.

#24 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2012, 10:27 AM:

#18 ::: Fragano Ledgister

I suppose so. Unlike sarsaparilla, which was supposed to cure the clap. (Next time you see a cowboy hero in a movie western walk into a bar and call for sarsaparilla, remember what it's for.)

#25 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2012, 11:04 AM:

I've got a box of cans of Moxie, and willing to share with folks..only one other person at work even knows what Moxie is, and he grew up in Mass.

I've had Cheerwine, RC, Big Red (I've lived in a lot of different places), Vernors, and soft drinks in Ireland. I don't drink much soda, but when I do, I like something different.

#26 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2012, 11:06 AM:

Jim Macdonald #24: Presumably root beer was nineteenth century v**gr*.

#27 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2012, 11:41 AM:

Ginger @ 25... I've lived in a lot of different places

...and carry a sword and sound like Christophe Lambert?

#28 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2012, 12:13 PM:

I seem to remember cartoons in Mad magazine showing rather sad-looking neon signs advertising Moxie. I thought is was a made-up word like potrzebie+, or another word for spu spirit: "Da kid's got Moxie!"

+which probably isn't a made-up word.

#29 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2012, 12:27 PM:

Another festival this month in Maine is the Maine International Film Festival, featuring the world premiere of The Eighteenth Hour in which my brother plays the villain. (There is a rumor that he got the part because he already owned the black leather drover's coat.)

I will not, alas, be able to be there to see it, as the festival schedule (and acceptance announcements) weren't set far enough in advance for me to rearrange travel and vacation plans.

#30 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2012, 12:28 PM:

I've been gnomed -- probably due to a url to another Maine festival I'm shamelessly promoting.

#31 ::: Peter Aronson ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2012, 02:51 PM:

I used to describe the taste of Moxie as a cross between shoe polish and root beer. In my youth I used to like a Diet Moxie with a clam pie.

My younger kid, who liked neither Diet Moxie nor my wife's preferred Diet Coke with Lime, claimed a 50/50 mix of the two was much better than either alone. Since he did drink the mix, I guess he meant it or was being really stubborn.

These days, alas, I have had to give up soda for my teeth's sake.

#32 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2012, 04:13 PM:

Peter Aronson @31: These days, alas, I have had to give up soda for my teeth's sake.

I remember a high school science experiment my brother did, back in the late '60s: fill a glass with Coke, drop a penny in it. Leave overnight. Next morning the Coke is a weird shade of green, and what's left of the penny is a thin, delicate lacework.

I just ran across a video the other day pointing out that you can use Coke to clean the limescale off your toilet bowl.

#33 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2012, 04:25 PM:

It's carbonated gentian root.

Ick. In other words, it tastes like Suze? I think Suze is the most unpleasant beverage I have ever tasted (my housemother in France drank it.)

#34 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2012, 04:34 PM:

For a brief time in the early 70s, Nehi soda was available in my neighborhood on Long Island. I used to buy a bottle of pineapple, or "blue cream," to drink on my paper route.

I'm sure that this in part explains all the cavities I got during that part of my life.

#35 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2012, 04:46 PM:

Serge @ 27: Ah, we've met!

#36 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2012, 04:52 PM:

Jacque #32: That's probably the phosphoric acid. (I wonder if it still works with modern pennies?)

The thing is, you can use any weak acid to clean limescale (or most of the other things Coke is supposed to be able to clean).

#37 ::: jennythereader ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2012, 04:52 PM:

@28 tykewriter -

I believe that use of the word "moxie" comes from the soda. It might even have been an ad campaign for the soda.

#38 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2012, 04:58 PM:

The "Moxie" advertising campaign sounds like the advertising campaign for Filboid Studge.

#39 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2012, 05:32 PM:

You need a lot of moxie to drink Moxie.

Let us not forget the legend of Lieutenant Moxie who, so we are told, made it all the way through the Spanish-American War without getting dysentery or cholera thanks to his habit of drinking Moxie.

(Speaking of Moxie's patent medicine roots, the guy on the Moxie label is a pharmacist, recommending Moxie. No, really.)

#40 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2012, 07:58 PM:

Wait...I *have* drunk Moxie, and I liked it a lot! Last year, while I was traipsing through the Northeast. I didn't think it was at all outré. Then again, I think Roquefort is kind of mild.

#41 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2012, 09:25 PM:

I've heard of people using Coke - or Pepsi - to de-rust car parts, particularly stuck cylinders. As long as you rinse the stuff off afterward, it's okay. It's the phosphoric acid, I understand. (Commercial rust remover/preventers are phosphoric acid, mostly. Not sure what else is in them.)

#42 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2012, 10:20 PM:

P J Evans: the citric acid probably helps too: it's a modestly effective chelating agent for iron. And the mechanical effect of the fizzing may also contribute.

#43 ::: Stephen Sample ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2012, 06:31 AM:

Carbonated sodas with a high phosphoric acid content (like coca-cola) can also be used to keep a wheelbarrow of mixed concrete from setting up as fast.

(This according to a friend in mechanical engineering with whom I used to build tiger cages; I don't know how it affects the final strength or rigidity.)

#44 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2012, 12:17 PM:

I thought I should take a break from housework do some research following my comment @28 on Moxie adverts appearing in Mad. I found this in the obvious place:

Mad was long noted for its absence of advertising, enabling it to satirize materialist culture without fear of reprisal. For decades, it was the most successful American magazine to publish ad-free,[...] beginning with issue #33 (April 1957) and continuing through issue #402 (February 2001).

As a comic book, Mad had run the same advertisements as the rest of E[ntertaining] C[omic]'s line. The magazine later made a deal with Moxie soda that involved inserting the Moxie logo into various articles.

Pleased he did not misremember, Local Man resumes his housework.

#45 ::: tykewriter has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2012, 12:21 PM:

...and can offer Rooibos tea, and several varieties of (English) biscuit.

But cannot remember whether he hit POST, so does it again. Perhaps.

[It was a spacing issue. -- Moaoto Remmins, Duty Gnome]

#46 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2012, 01:16 PM:

graciously thanks the Duty Gnome, and will pay more attention in future to spacing following a comma.

So even though Moxie were paying for the product placement, Mad used Moxie as a byword for tattiness. I seem to recall a lop-sided Moxie sign visible through the grimy windows of a sleazy motel room, or in a grotty gymnasium or a partially deserted sports field.

Actually, the description of its taste elseWiki doesn't sound at all bad.

Moxie has a unique flavor that is not as sweet as that of most modern soft drinks and that is described by some as "bitter."

I like bitter.

I wonder if Waitrose have it.

#47 ::: Phil Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2012, 02:26 PM:

I've never been brave enough to try Moxie myself, largely because friends of mine who have describe it as tasting like sore throat. That said, knowing it's carbonated gentian root does make the stuff sound more appealing, if only because I'm envisioning Heino belting out "Blau Bluht der Moxie".

As far as regional sodas go, I'm from Cheerwine country myself. I can't say I'm a huge fan of Cheerwine but I did once stumble across a convenience store outside of Charlotte that had a machine which dispensed it in slushie form, which was pretty fantastic.

#48 ::: BigHank53 ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2012, 03:22 PM:

Stephen Sample @ 43: slowing the cure rate of concrete usually strengthens it. The stuff the Romans used typically took 2-3 months to cure, and it seems to last a couple thousand years. No idea about how much the formula has changed in that time...

Moxie is one of the things I miss about New England. If you've got a taste for odd soft drinks, check your local Central American grocery for Inca Cola, which is totally bubble-gum flavored. I was introduced to the stuff at a Peruvian roast chicken joint...which is one of the things I miss about the DC area.

#49 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2012, 04:38 PM:

I went to the Central Market, and looked at their soft drink wall. They had lots of interesting soft drinks, from France and Japan and Jamaica. But no Moxie. Oh, well.

#50 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2012, 05:56 PM:

I was recently in Durham CT, admiring the Moses Austin house that was for sale (as a longtime resident of Austin, I found this fascinating). We had parked across the road at a small store, so we figured we should buy something. No Moxie, but there was Moxie Seltzer. Just fine, no weird taste.

(This is a new computer talking, new browser and everything, so gnu knows what to expect.)

#51 ::: Braxis ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2012, 06:13 PM:

Stephen Sample @ 43 When I read '...with whom I used to build tiger cages;' I can't help wishing that my life had been a little less conventional...

The one, and only, place that I've come across the word Moxie, was as one of the player character stats in the first edition Paranoia RPG. I've no memory of what it actually represented though. The same source also introduced me to the concept of Chutzpah, which I have come across in real life occasionally.

#52 ::: Cassy B ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2012, 08:08 PM:

Braxis @51

I've run across the adjective "moxy" (I think spelled with a "y", but it might have been an "ie") and from context deduced it meant boldness or brashness.

#53 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2012, 09:02 PM:

Cassie B (52): I've only ever seen the adjective* spelled 'moxie'.

*'Brashness' isn't a bad definition, but my sense of it is closer to 'chutzpah'.

#54 ::: Cassy B ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2012, 09:39 PM:

Mary Aileen @53,

It's a word I've *heard* more than *seen*; I'd have to guess at the spelling. Usually, in phrases like "(s)he has a lot of moxie" meaning, from connotation, "big brass b*lls"... {grin}


#55 ::: Stephen Sample ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2012, 11:03 PM:

BigHank53 @48: adding a can of soda to the concrete slows the setting - so it stays plastic longer, giving you time to wheelbarrow it to where it needs to go, and then shovel it into position.

But as far as I know, it doesn't slow the curing.

Between the mostly-unchanged curing time and the slightly changed chemical composition, I have no idea whether or how a can of soda affects concrete strength[1].

It's really handy when you need to concrete in a new pole that's got 100m of rough terrain between it and the nearest water, though.

[1] In any case, there's enough variation in the strength of concrete that's measured and mixed by shovel, that it'd take a pretty large effect to be noticed.

#56 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2012, 11:19 AM:

Fragano Ledgister @19 - Ale81 is actually a ginger ale, although a very light and fruity one. It is also available in parts of southern Ohio. Of course, from my part of southern Ohio, you could throw a rock into Kentucky. It would splash.

#57 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2012, 12:05 PM:

Who was it defined 'chutzpah' as "The attribute displayed by the young man who, having murdered both his parents, asked the court to take pity upon a poor orphan"?

#58 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2012, 03:23 PM:

Lee: Have you ever had Cheerwine?

Unfortunately not: too high a sugar count the last time I looked. This unfortunately extends to Green River, which I've always liked. There's a really good burger place in Burien that carries both, as well as lots and lots of other regional sodas they've imported including whatever category that chocolate Yoo-Hoo goes into.

#59 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2012, 03:34 PM:

Vernor's is also a ginger-ale-like soda, though as far as I know it doesn't actually have ginger in it. It was available in Michigan, where I grew up, and isn't in New Jersey, where I live now.

That said, my interest in it is chiefly nostalgic. It's not as good as real ginger ale.

As for the word 'moxie' as a human characteristic, I've always seen it used to mean something like "guts" or "fortitude," that is, courage and strength of character. The classic joke is that it's not so much what drinking Moxie gives you, as what you have to have to be able to drink Moxie.

#60 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2012, 04:44 PM:

Bruce D., #58: If you can tolerate aspartame, diet Cheerwine actually tastes fairly similar to the HFCS variety.

Xopher, #59: I used to love Vernors when I was growing up, and was initially happy to see it appearing in grocery stores elsewhere around the country. Unfortunately, the expansion came with some changes to the original formula; I'll still drink it, but it's not the stuff I remember. Not nearly as strongly-flavored, for one thing.

#61 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2012, 06:51 PM:

Xopher (59): As for the word 'moxie' as a human characteristic, I've always seen it used to mean something like "guts" or "fortitude," that is, courage and strength of character.

That's a better definition than my 'chutzpah'. Thank you.

#62 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2012, 06:55 PM:

I tend to read "moxie" as the noun version of "spunky", complete with the mild patronizing sense of "...coming from someone who you wouldn't expect to have that kind of confidence!" But that may be a misreading based on the types of places I've seen it used.

#63 ::: dana ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2012, 11:48 PM:

Odd that this should come up here, since I very recently found out that our local elementary school is named for the son of the inventor of Moxie. Apparently he and his wife funded a large number of scholarships for local high school graduates. From the town website:

"Moxie: The connection between Moxie and Arlington is the legacy that Arlington resident Francis Thompson as president of the Moxie Co. (from 1904 to his death in 1939) and his wife left to the town. The money finances scholarships for Arlington High School graduates as every year, and more than 100 seniors receive Thompson Scholarships ranging from $200 to $2,000."

#64 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2012, 11:10 AM:

There's another ginger ale that's peculiar to North Carolina, and is rather spicy; I wish I could remember the brand name.

Anyone else remember Jones back when it was owned by some lesbians and made decent quirky little sodas?

#65 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2012, 01:56 PM:

Ginger, #64: Would that be Blenheim? ISTR that it's manufactured in the Carolinas, although it has some limited distribution elsewhere. And yes, "rather spicy" -- as in, I warn people who are trying it for the first time to sip slowly, because it's very strong. And they usually don't, because hey, ginger ale, how strong can it be? and, well.

#66 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2012, 06:48 PM:

Seems to be an outgrowth of GAFilk. Haven't listened to the album yet, thought.

#67 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2012, 06:56 PM:

BigHank53 #48:

Here I thought I was the only Gringo who'd had Inca Cola. I had it in actual Peru. And yes, it's totally bubblegum flavored.

#68 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2012, 11:12 PM:

Ginger @64 - I remember too well some Jones Soda holiday dinner packs. Brussels sprouts is not a good soda flavor.

#69 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2012, 12:11 AM:

Lee @65: That must be it! Yes, we can be very spicy, we gingers that ale.

Anne Sheller @ 68: I missed the Brussels sprouts soda, alas. I would have tried it.

I have enjoyed Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray, a celery-flavored soda (very much like a pale non-spicy ginger ale).

#70 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2012, 09:09 AM:

Memory, that uncertain thing, brings up the grave of Lt Colonel A.R. Maxey (presumably no relation to the US Marine) of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, which lies in the cemetery in Stanmore, Malvern, Jamaica. Colonel Maxey (remembered locally, for some reason as "Major Maxey")* was famed for having established a tomato cannery at a place called Bull Savannah some miles downhill from the location of his grave.

*On the grave is inscribed "A spot that is forever England", which is a misquote (in that place, at this time of year, you need misquote spray). I recall mentioning the grave and inscription to the late John Maxwell who said to me, incredulously, "You don't know who Major Maxey was?"

#71 ::: Fragano Ledgister has been Gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2012, 09:10 AM:

I'll serve their Lownesses a propitiatory glass of rum. Or even a can of tomatoes.

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