Monthly Archives: January 2022

Footnotes to History

It turns out that Joan Didion’s famous essay on 1967 in Haight-Ashbury, “Slouching toward Bethlehem,” includes Chester Anderson as a character, by name. He was putting out some kind of crusading news zine that was very influential, using a mimeo machine that he bought — with a royalty check from his novel The Butterfly Kid, as it happens.

For most of us, Chester Anderson is better known as Michael Kurland’s co-author in writing science fiction novels, such as Ten Years to Doomsday, and for The Butterfly Kid.

The essay is famous, and a lot of people end up having to read it. I never did. So this is like meeting somebody new, from somewhere far away, and finding out that they already know, and perhaps have a longtime feud, with an acquaintance of yours from a totally different town from both of you. Very odd.

OTOH, the essay makes you understand why all the crazy/criminal stuff in sf fandom in Berkeley could go under the radar — because much worse things were going on, every day, in Haight-Ashbury. (Plus the Zodiac killer and other California serial rapists and killers of the day.) People were not paying attention to the evil practically in plain sight.

It also explains a great deal about SJWs. There’s even a genuine evil mime. Seriously. And he was ostensibly one of the good guys who were taking care of people, when their real interest was in getting everyone to turn into a kill-crazy mob! What the heck!

Another associate of Chester Anderson mentioned in the essay, with a picture of the famous mimeograph. Kinda interesting memoirs, kinda horrifying. Apparently one of the first Renfairs in the US turned into some kind of hippie circus of drugs, which explains a lot about why Renfairs tend to be so oriented toward crowd control.

When you needed Chester Anderson to write crusading news articles instead of jokes and poetry, you were clearly living in one of the refuse pits of human history. It’s very sad reading.

I also now understand a lot that went unsaid about the Borderlands shared world anthologies… and holy crud, why??? Why would you want some kind of re-creation of an urban summer camp hellhole, except with magic and Minnesota weather????

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Tarocchi Is a Game

Divination by the use of card decks is not a game.

If you want to play a card game, buy a modern tarocchi deck, not a set of Rider-Waite cards or other occult-designed decks.

If you want a randomization device, you can use whatever normal decks of cards are laying around.

If you want a randomization of storytelling device, you can get all sorts of gaming event/story element cards.

And yes, I do think Charles Williams was an idiot for using Tarot as a story device; but he was a genius idiot and not you. So even if he got away with it (which is a good question to debate), it doesn’t mean you will. If an Olympic swimmer can swim the English Channel, that doesn’t mean you won’t drown if you try it while out of shape and unprepared.

Do not dabble in divination. It’s stupid and wrong, and it attracts bad company.

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Two Good Bands

The Academic, an Irish rock band. Just solid, likeable rock, except they would have made a ton of money in the Eighties and should be making a ton now.

(OMG, I’m listening to a contemporary band!! I’m not totally old!)

The Midnight, another very likeable rock/pop band. Also I like this Nikki Flores; she’s a heckuva singer.

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Big Fuzzy Hooded Robe

Yes, it’s frivolous. Yes, I bought myself a big hooded robe. No regrets, except that it needs a little longer cord so that you can wrap it around further.

With heating prices going up, warm loungewear and sleepwear is pretty important. You’re going to need wool socks, fuzzy slippers, et al.

That said, I’m still horribly envious of the elaborate dressing gown that Lindybeige showed off on his channel. There are some things that are just not easy to buy in the United States, and that’s one of those things. If he sewed it himself, I’m even more envious.

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Giacobbino’s Pizza

It’s a refrigerated pizza brand from Chicago, thin crust. Got one on sale at Fresh Thyme today.

Oh, man. So delicious. Such tasty pepperoni, and pretty darned good cheese. Excellent crispy crust.

Seriously, seriously, so good.

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Genesis Day Four Is Hump Day

I know a lot of people are doing Fr. Mike Schmitz’ Bible in a Year podcast. I’ve read the whole Bible before, but I’m jumping on the train this year. Albeit a couple days late.

So you may know that in the Creation story in Genesis, when it says “evening came and morning followed, the first day” — it’s really saying the name of the day of the week in Hebrew. And in Hebrew, it’s really “Day One,” because that’s how Hebrew names the days of the week.

Day One is the same as English’s Sunday, Spanish’s “domingo,” and so on.

So it’s pretty commonplace to observe that the week of Creation is divided into groups. Cosmic stuff is happening on Day One, Day Two, Day Three, and Day Four, and then animals and humans are happening on Day Five and Day Six, and then Day Seven/Day Sabbath is the end of the week, when God rests.

(Sabbath, or Hebrew “shabbath,” is yet another horrible/great Biblical pun. The phrase “shabath” means “He rested.” But “sheba” means “seven” and “shaba” means “to swear.” So it’s Day Seven, and the day God rested, and the sworn covenant day, all in one.)

Well… I noticed just now that Day Four, Wednesday, is indeed Hump Day. It’s not only the middle of the week, but the day when God creates the stars and Sun and Moon to time the years and seasons as well as give light. And then the next couple day are all about animals and humans, so it’s all different from then on.

A lot of Old Testament poetry and religious practice is about organizing the world into categories and distinctions, so it’s good to notice.

Four days plus two days plus one day. Everything building up. It’s not how modern people think, but it’s not a wrong way to do it. The very fact that Genesis is so easy to memorize shows that it’s set up well.

Right down to the horrible Biblical puns!

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Mustang Souls

“….Our Lord Christ has a palace which has many storerooms and a “cellar of wine” (cf. Sgs. 1:3; Sgs. 2:4), and it is understood to include the spaces of “the fields,” within which, having entered through the gates and admiring them, the blessed Paul gave praise, saying, “O the depths of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!” (Rom. 11:33) 

Among its many riches – that is, among the multitude of saints – this palace is understood also to hold mustang souls [animas agrestes], which have been caught by the Church’s hunters from the woods of philosophy, in the net of faith; after being penned up and gentled, they run to and fro through the fields of the Divine Scriptures, and with speed down the literary racecourse, for the enjoyment of the daughters of Jerusalem.”

— Apponius, Explanation of the Song of Songs

  • “agrestis” is kind of a weird word. It relates to “ager,” field, so “agrestis” can mean rural or rustic, or a peasant type of person. But when “agrestis” is describing animals, it means a wild animal, not a farm animal. So I guess it’s basically “stuff not in the city” or “animals of the woods and countryside.”
  • The passage was talking about Songs 2:7, with “the roe deer” and “the harts of the woods,” or possibly talking about she-goats as in the Hebrew. But I’m pretty sure there weren’t deer races or goat races in the ancient world. (Camel races, yes.) I’m guessing/suggesting that Apponius is talking about horses, because he does use a lot of horse imagery.
  • There were people who hunted things like deer or wild horses with nets. You basically hid the nets, made them into a sort of giant corral, got a lot of people to act as beaters to scare the animals into moving into one area, and drove all the animals into them. I assume something like this is being pictured.

UPDATE: Okay, maybe he is talking about goat races.

Apponius tends to bring up an image, and then talk about something else, and then circle back to the image. And yes, he does seem to be talking about either roe deer or some kind of mountain-loving goats. Possibly not so much a racetrack as a path, but all the same! What the heck!

Man, patristics as a window into the ancient world is just so weird.

I still contend that mustangs are as much “agrestis” as “ferus” or “saevus,” or any of the other Latin options for “wild.”

Roe deer are apparently an odd species, because like songbirds they like to live in woodlands that aren’t too dense, and that border on cleared agricultural land. They’ll live in wilderness too, but they have lived alongside humans since Neolithic times. So they really are “agrestis” in the sense of countryside animals. (We don’t really have them in the US, except in deer parks.) They stay in forest cover during the day, and then go into the open at twilight or at night.

They live in most of Europe and in Iran, and in Neolithic times they lived in Jordan. So even though the Hebrew is talking about gazelles and regular deer in Songs 2:7, it’s not that weird for the Latin translator to take it as roe deer and regular deer.

The idea that the daughters of Jerusalem would be able to freely watch roe deer during the day does suggest a deer park, on the grounds of a palatium, where the deer were so tame that they didn’t worry about predators. (Or goats. Or gazelles. Both of which are more daytime species.)

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