Monthly Archives: November 2009

Scotland Yard Doesn’t Need No Stinkin’ Badgers!

Or maybe it does. 🙂

Apparently, Dark Horse has put out a graphic novel named Grandville, set in the Belle Epoque France of a parallel world inhabited by anthropomorphic animals. A horrible crime has taken place — so horrid that the Surete has asked for assistance from Scotland Yard. They send over their best badger — the relentless Inspector LeBrock!

Yes, I believe I am their target audience. Maybe I should get to a comics store.

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Rosary Term from the Andes

Apparently, the word in Spanish for rosary beads (at least in the New World) is “cuentas” (counters). Usually the word for a decade of the Rosary is something obvious like “decenario” or “decena”; but in Ecuador back then, it was a “casa” (house). I really like that.

I read this in a book called New Granada: Twenty Years in the Andes by one Isaac Farwell Holton, which I found by poking around in Google Books. He’s awfully nasty about Catholicism and the Rosary, and yet he goes into these matters in detail. Heh.

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How Not to Improvise a Shark Hunt

A true story from Uncle Jimbo’s Story Time.

He also tells us that Mr. Habu the Pit Viper is not your friend.

(These stories are also a good index for your military characters. Can you picture the main characters of Stargate: SG1 telling this story about Habu? Yes. Gibbs on NCIS? Yes. Even the guys on MASH? Yes. But the guys on Stargate Universe, or any of the stupid movies out lately? Not that I’ve ever noticed. And yet, the military seems to RUN on telling stories, probably more than any other profession today!)


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The Social Secretary Was Too Busy Socializing.

Which is fine, as long as you hire somebody reliable to do the actual work behind your social secretary job. But apparently, Mrs. Desiree Rogers didn’t believe in having anyone get the job done.

I’m really surprised that this policy didn’t come back on them before. I mean, there are literally hundreds of things that can go wrong at a party, and they are not usually something that the head honchos of an organization can ignore. A moment’s annoyance usually means plenty of flak. So the White House kitchen and house workers must be covering up for the incompetence and apathy of this administration’s staffers. (Either that, or they just fired the one faceless but competent underling who was keeping things running.)

I guess we’ll find out whether the First Lady cares more about her idle rich friend, or her defenseless children sleeping upstairs.

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Veils in Court: An Anecdote

From Curiosities of Law and Lawyers, by Croake James, 1899:

A Witness Told to Look a Judge in the Face

On the trial of Glengarry, in Scotland, for murder in a duel, a lady of great beauty was called as a witness. She came into court veiled. But before administering the oath, Lord Eskgrove, the Scotch judge (to whom administering the oath belongs in Scotland), gave her this exposition of her duty. “Young woman, you will now consider yourself as in the presence of Almighty God, and of this High Court. Lift up your veil, throw off all your modesty, and look me in the face.”

— Cockburn’s Memoranda, 122.


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Curiosities of Law and Lawyers by Croake James

This is a very funny book of historical anecdotes and unhistorical jokes about lawyers, published back in 1899. The very first story is a joke about how a lawyer managed to get into Heaven.

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“Goldtongue”: A Patristic Filk.

Copied from my Maria Lectrix podcast blog, and inspired by today’s patristic Thanksgiving selection by St. John Chrysostom. “Chrysostom” is a nickname. It means “gold tongue”. (In English, we tend to talk of someone being silvertongued, instead.) Here’s a very short resume of his career.

To the tune of “Goldfinger”:

Goldto-ongue –
He’s the man, the man with the honeyed words –
Not moneyed words.
His old tongue
Beckon you to break from your chains of sin,
But will he win?

Golden words he will pour in your ear,
But what’s true has to move past your fear.
For the Golden Horn’s lord knows his hyssop
Is a kiss-up’s death
From Bishop

Goldto-ongue –
Little men beware of his heart of gold –
Their hearts grown cold.

They don’t know real gold.
Lonely gold.
His word’s gold.
He speaks only gold.
Lonely gold.
His love’s gold!

One of my secret ambitions when starting the podcast was to write filks about the stuff I was reading, or the authors. I think this is just about the first time I’ve managed it.


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Banjolele! Rap!

If you’ve ever wondered how Jeeves or Wooster would fare as a rapper, and if you wanted Wooster to be able to use his banjolele in public…

…meet Mr. B, the Gentleman Rhymer.

And no, this isn’t a white guy rapper joke, either. And he’s a rather good musician and entertainer. Go see.

“Straight Out of Surrey”: skiffle rap about cricket. Yes. I know.

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Cattern Cake Attempt

I think the oven got too hot, so the edges burned big time before I pulled them out. I also think I maybe had a skosh too much flour, and that the self-rising flour could have used some more oomph. They spread out, but not up. And for some reason, I couldn’t find Zante currants, so I had to use raisins instead. Heck, I can’t even find the exact recipe site I used, even though I’ve got the printout right here. (A lot of the recipes have caraway seeds; the one I used, didn’t.)

So… um… welll… I didn’t really get a rolled up cake cut into slices. It… sorta… turned into giant scone cookies. Like if I’d made oatmeal cookies out of flour.

Not that there’s anything wrong with giant raisin sugar spice cookies.

In fact, it seems that at least one person just decided to make Cattern Cookies on purpose. She also cooled her log of dough for an hour before slicing and baking it. Obviously a wiser baker than me.

Anyway, happy St. Catherine’s Eve!

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Steampunk on NCIS

NCIS: Los Angeles, that is. Abby wanted to go to this steampunk hangout bar (played by that hotel they use on all their shows, I think).

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the really cool steampunk folks showed up as extras; they got more Goth costumes than Victorian ones, although there were plenty of goggles. OTOH, most of the folks were better looking than the average fan. Actors are like that. 🙂

They also had the steampunk folks calling average people “Muggles” in a non-ironic, everyday sort of way. Yeah. Sure. Iiiiii beliiiiiieve that one.

UPDATE: A month ago, Jeff VanderMeer did an interview with a show writer. About as expected. People try, but it’s hard to convey something if you’re not into it yourself. The interesting thing is that they seem to have felt that authentic steampunk costuming would overwhelm the rest of the show and/or freak out CBS.

They did put <a href="″>a call out for steampunk extras back in October, and the steampunk folks did find out about it.

Reactions from steampunk fans/members of the ‘scene’:

Steampunk Empire: “Conflicted, yet entertained”.


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Scriptural Justification and Linguistics

Frustrated linguists make an alliance with God, as they turn to proof texts and Cafe Press merchandise to make their points.

Singular ‘they’ and initial conjunctions: the T-shirt and mug.

No, go and look, and then scroll down till you get to the merchandise. I’ll wait here. Extra points to anyone who gives these as gifts to English teachers at religious schools. 🙂

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St. John Chrysostom’s Been Chattin’ on the Internet

It never ceases to amuse me, when I read stuff from the patristic age that could have been written yesterday. Apparently the man on the street in Constantinople and the man in the comment box aren’t so different.

In Homily 2 on the Letter to the Colossians, St. John Chrysostom (as a rhetorical device) loses patience with some typical combox religious arguments. Lemme run it through the Combox Converter:

“But if that is what you really feel, and you have the opinion that there is no afterlife, how is it that you call yourself a Christian?… Why did you accept the Laver of baptism? Why do you set foot within the Church?”

“….Why do you come, then, if you don’t believe the Scriptures? If you don’t believe Christ, I can’t call such a one a Christian — God forbid! — but worse off than the [pagan] Greeks. How? In this. You think Christ is God, but you don’t believe Him like God. In [the Greeks’] impiety there is at least consistency — he who doesn’t believe Christ is God, necessarily will not believe His words, either. But in this impiety, there is not even consistency — to believe Christ is God, but not believe Him worthy of belief in what He has said!”

He also has words for smartalecks like me, in Homily 3:

“But if the peacemakers are the sons of God, the makers of disturbance are sons of the devil.

“What do you say? Do you excite contentions and fightings? …Many there are who rejoice at evil, and who rip the Body of Christ into pieces more than the soldiers pierced it with the spear or… nails. A lesser evil was that than this. Those Members cut through in that way united again. But these, when torn off, if they not united here, will never be united, but will remain apart…. When you are minded to war against your brother, think that you war against the members of Christ, and cease from your madness.

“So what… if he be open to contempt? So says He, “It is not the will of My Father that one of these little ones should perish.” … God, for his sake, and yours, even became a servant and was slain; and do you consider him to be nothing? Surely in this respect also you fight against God, in that you deliver a judgment contrary to His.

“When he that is over the Church comes in, he straightway says, “Peace to all”; when he preaches, “Peace to all”; when he blesses, “Peace to all”; when he bids to salute, “Peace to all”; when the Sacrifice is finished, “Peace to all”: and again, in the middle, “Grace to you and peace.” How then is it not monstrous, if, while hearing so many times that we are to have peace, we are in a state of feud with each other; and receiving peace, and giving it back, are at war with him that gives it to us?

“….You say, “And with your spirit.” And do you insult him abroad? Woe is me! That the majestic usages of the Church have become forms of things merely, not a truth. Woe is me! That the watchwords of this army proceed no farther than to be only words. Whence also you are ignorant wherefore is said, “Peace to all.”

“….We are therefore ignorant; because we look upon this merely as a figure of words; and we assent not to them in our minds. For do I give the Peace? It is Christ who deigns to speak by us.

“Even if at all other times we are void of grace, yet are we not now, for your sakes. For if the Grace of God wrought in an ass… for the sake of an economy, and the advantage of the Israelites, it is quite clear that it will not refuse to operate even in us, but for your sakes will endure even this.

“Let none say then that I am mean, and low, and worthy of no consideration, and in such a frame of mind attend to me. For such I am; but God’s way always is, to be present even with such for the sake of the many.”

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Yet Another Autumn Opportunity to Traipse Around and Collect Treats

Old Clem’s Night, the English apprentice craftsmen’s celebration of St. Clement’s Day (Nov. 23), is covered at Sub Tuum. They would traipse around singing at people’s doors and cadging drinks or pennies for the financing of the festival celebrations. Kids would often also go around and beg fruit or candy. This was called “Clementing”.

Catterning, for St. Catherine’s Day (Nov. 25), would take place just a few nights later. It involved begging for apples and/or beer, with the sometimes-implied threat of singing under the windows all night if they didn’t get enough. In some places, the apprentices spread out their doorstep tour of the surrounding area to accommodate all the nights in between. In the morning of St. Catherine’s Day in villages where they made cattern pies, there was some begging by the “bellmen” (town criers) for the unmarried girls of the town to wake up, make pies, and then give them some. (Other treats included cattern bowls of roast apples and cider, cattern cakes of spices and currants, and wigg bread rolls.)

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Sha Cha Beef

Sometimes I complain about Wikipedia. But there are areas where it really shines, like the Chinese food section. Been wondering what the heck the name means? Been wondering what those little doohickies are? You can find out.

The Chinese restaurant by me has some new items on the menu, so I went and looked up “sha cha“. Apparently, like mala chicken, this is one of those dishes named after the sauce. Sha cha sauce is pretty much soy and garlic and chilies, which sounds normal, and then a little bit of fish and shrimp stock, which was a bit of a puzzler. But apparently it’s a standard part of the cuisine in Fujian province, where most Chinese restaurant workers come from, so I figured it’d be okay.

The restaurant workers seemed surprised that I ordered it, but pleased. (I guess it takes people a little while to work up the courage to try new dishes in foreign-cuisine restaurants.)

It was really good. You can’t really taste the stock, per se; it’s just one of those flavors in back that make you wonder what you’re tasting but not worry about it being anything sinister. It was also one of those sauces that makes the food taste a little bit different all the time, with flavors coming up to meet you and then new flavors coming along.

Of course, if I didn’t know what was in it, I probably just would have thought “mildly spicy brown sauce – huh” and gone on. I’m not one of the great palates of the world, especially when recovering from all that sinus crud. 🙂 (Next time I think I’ll get it with white rice, though.)

Btw, it seems that the Philippines keep coming up. (Enbrethilielian synchronicity?) I finally found out what those tasty translucent cube things are in the Chinese buffet fruit salad. (I was afraid to ask, in case it was some form of aspic.)

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