Thursday, October 1, 2020

 



The king of Scotland had died without a son, and the king of England, a cruel pagan known as Edward the Longshanks, claimed the throne of Scotland for himself.


Medieval America is a religiously diverse place, perhaps the most diverse for a pre-Industrial society since the classical era. This is generally convenient for warmongers, as their strange rites and foreign tongues make for good propaganda to justify taking up arms. Even for places ostensibly share the same faith, the range in topography and centuries of legends and well, the urge to pick a fight have people even considering their neighbors rather queer. Each region has its quirks that its enemies spread stories over.

New England, has seen the exact details of the Salem Witch trials lost to time, and as far as many are concerned, the region is the gateway to Hell. For their part, New Englanders see themselves as the capital of both reason and piety, and everyone else is just falling behind.

The Mid-Atlantic is seen by many as an empire brought low by decadence and sin, who's more eserotic elements are merely keeping a relatively low profile. For their part, the people of the Tri-State see their people are the most civilized on the continent.

The Midwest is seen by many as a bizarre place where the oceans have no salt all things converge. For their part the Midwesterners consider themselves the most American of Americans, and the true heirs the nation.

The Cowboys of the plains are seen by many as brutes commanded by Shamans, who might as well be part beast. For their part, the herdsmen see themselves as the only men who are truly men, and their faith as one which has shed all pagan trappings.

The Mormons are seen as as a mysterious, insect-like sect. For their part, Mormons see themselves as cleaner and more efficient than anyone.

The New Agers are considered by many to be outright wizards with staves and everything. For their part, the New Agers think they're the only ones not doing magic.

The Californians are seen as the most opulent and mysterious of all the cults. For their part, Californians are the only enlightened one, and that everyone else is possessed by Thetans.

The Cascadians are seen as hallucinating Hippies are barely even American. For their part, they totally consider everyone else ogres.

The denizens of the Secretarial states are seen as a group of reptile-worshippers part of a matriarchal coven. For their part, the Louisianans say "Do we do magic? Maybe? I guess? Who cares?"

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Mutants

 I was watching a one of those specials about mythical monsters (in particular, the Minotaur), and as a lot of these specials tend to do, it appealed to people's knowledge of more recent popular culture. In this case, the reference was to the X-Men, in comparing them to various animal hybrids throughout mythology--your Minotaurs, your Centaurs, your Mermaids. I sort of found it maybe a little easy, and to be honest, not completely accurate, as there's relatively few X-Men characters with animal motifs. But it is possible, one supposes, to make a sizable lineup of exclusively animal based X-Men characters. There's Wolverine, Beast, Wolfsbane, Angel, and if one were to really stretch it out, Nightcrawler and Phoenix. (The 2000 movie also really played up the animal side of the so-called Evil Mutants) In fact, this panel from an issue proposes the possibility of a lineup with most of these members. (Interestingly, one is Siryn, named after the mythical singing creature, and another, Namorita, has the wings/mermaid aspect of the mythical Siryn). But in general, X-Men characters have super-powers found among most regular superhero characters, the word "mutant" is usually just used to distinguish characters who develop those powers spontaneously with an origin story.

To be honest, I think the special name-dropped the X-Men because it's generally seen as a more serious use of mutants than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which has always been more cartoonish and tongue-in-cheek, but who's mutant characters are overwhelmingly bipedal animals or some kind of hybrid. It's quite possible over time, oral tradition and the like would conflate the two franchises, and "mutant" would almost exclusively refer to the American equivalent to Satyrs and Centaurs, which I don't think ever had an umbrella term in various ancient mythologies. I think people might use the term "monster", but monster itself would be an umbrella term which would cover undead beings like zombies and vampires, or ostensibly less sapient beings like the Jersey Devil or Sea Serpents.

It does raise questions about how beings like the Mothman and Bigfoot, which are more naturalistic, and more overtly supernatural, respectively, fit into the taxonomy. Then again, formal classifications with folklore are a relatively recent practice. In any case, the word "Mutant"used to apply to mythological beings would be in line with a Medieval America where more contemporary, clinical terms like "President" or "District" are used for fiefdoms.



Saturday, August 1, 2020

Runs On Dunkin

Coffee is not grown in North America, and thus is something of a luxury. The Northeast of America was historically coffee crazy, especially on the drive to work. Cafes aren't really a thing anymore, and for that matter, neither are commutes. But during the collapse of America, coffee was hard for a lot of people to give up, and it is nice to have hot drinks in the winter months.

Root coffees: Chicoree root is the closest people came to approximating the taste of coffee, and dandelion is not too far off. They tend to be gathered like wildflowers, which makes them inexpensive but not always the most reliable.

Grain coffees: Grinding and watering wheat, oat or barley is not an unpopular choice for breakfasts, but the most common source are grains that are "on their way out" so it doesn't have the best reputation. Almost the Instant Coffee of the equation.

Cider: In New England, much as apple cider is usually the alcoholic beverage of choice, it's climbed in popularity here. The transition was not easy--many coffee aficionados were very put out and avoided out of principle, but the booming cider industry has come to mean it is the constant companion to donuts.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Path of Providence and the Ivy League

There's always been something of a dichotomy between young radical and educated elites.

Because the Non-Denominational Church set up shop in the old state capitals, major headquarters in the Northeast are fairly clustered together, to the point there are ten routes from city to city that are less than a hundred miles from each other, both New England (and including Albany) and the Mid-Atlantic have clusters of District HQ's that can be traveled in a fairly convenient circle. In fact, Providence to Boston is a relatively short trip even by Medieval standards. This means an often traversed road the hospitality industry takes advantage of. The location of the old Foxboro Stadium is not the commercial complex it was in the old days, but Patriot's Place is still the location of a decent-sized inn.

But what's also notable is District Headquarters are not too far from the old Ivy League colleges. Havard and Brown are right across the river, Princeton is only a few hours by coach, and Dartmouth, while fairly isolated is on the way between Concord and Montpelier. Columbia is located in the strategic and prestigious New York City. Only Cornell, the forgotten Ivy League, is out of truly out of the way for those who wish to traverse the circle. These ancient Universities are scaled back, and have sort of returned to the roots of colleges as religious institutions. So we have the Path of Providence, a circuit traversed by young, ecclesiastical intellectuals.

In times of strife though, the Path is occupied by a more motely flock of believers. In the 1960's, the counterculture sort of embraced Jesus as the ultimate Hippie, and this tends to come back in style when society looks like it's going to collapse and clerical intellectuals runs head first into youthful rebellion.Thus, the Christian Scholar circuit is occupied by unkempt students who are austere, and even self-flagellate, but preach "free love", and campfire orgies even break out.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Avengers

While it's presumptuous to think just any pop culture phenomenon will endure a thousand years, Earth's Mightiest heroes seem to be more tailor made for the world of Medieval America than most. Many characters like Captain America, Black Widow and Hawkeye almost seem tailor-made for an adventuring party. Captain America's mix of chainmail and star spangles makes him a very "If he didn't exist we'd have to invent him" figure. And of course, the presence of Thor, and honest-to-God figure from actual medieval times to legitimize it. The first Avengers movie almost goes out of its way to evoke dragons, ogres and the Mouth of Sauron. I'm not the biggest fan of "scientist=wizard", but they definitely made it easy.

But even if it's not the same exact lineup (The team roster  from the comic changes over the years), it definitely left an indelible effect, not just on America, but the world. Just about every country has its own version of The Avengers, even if altered to accommodate its own regional culture.

The lineup we're most familiar with is probably mostly located in the Non-Denominational world, as Captain America definitely comes across the most as a sort of American Roland figure. As we move away, fidelity to the United States as a concept would fade. In fact, the Cowboys would not be big on the knights of the forest zone, and less likely to appreciate pagan figures like Thor. This would see a huge break in the "classic" Avengers. As we go out west, we would see Captain America altered to resemble the country faith of New Mexico, California or the Pacific Northwest, possibly merged with Iron Man. Thor may be replaced with Thunder Gods from Indigenous or East Asian cultures, less influenced by Europe. Other Marvel heroes like Spider-Man or the Human Torch, or wholly new creations to fill in the gaps, but the core usually consists of an armored/shield-bearing hero, a female warrior, a monster, an archer and a Thunder God.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Shadow Theaters

A subtle effect of Covid-19 is the spike in attendance for the Drive-In Theater. A signature of post-war America, its popularity waned due to things like technology and sprawl, but locations still number in the hundred. In some ways, this would be the hardest to transfer to Medieval America, as there are no cars, and it is unlikely every member of the hoi poloi would have their own horse and buggy. But how do

Something that has definitely seen a resurgence is the puppet show. When "turning the clock back", I think it's best to think the most enduring staples would be things that don't have to transform as much. That is, the most popular subject of puppet shows would be things that had already existed as puppets--Pinocchio, The Muppets, Howdy Doody. (Toy Story might also be an example, as the movies are already something of a high tech puppet show, and Woody was the star of one in-story)

Shadowplays are one of the oldest forms of "high tech" entertainment. Not particularly common in Middle Ages Europe, it would probably be something of interest to people wanting to recreate the big budget spectacles and cartoons that would not be possible in a low-tech age. For a few decades, people might be able to use existing drive in screens. Recreating canvases of that size might be a little more difficult in the post industrial age, although the Hydraulic Empires of the Southwest (Which are always the most popular places for drive-ins, due to low inclement weather) might be able to whip up something. However, smaller scale shadow theaters could still operate around America, and they would largely resemble the drive-ins by being outdoors, and taking advantage of the nighttime. By contrasting light and shadow, they would be able to create effects and suspend disbelief (and better catch people's attention) the way they wouldn't be able to do with "live performances". (It would also give a LOT of leeway on the roles actors could play)

Puppetry is the most obvious use, but occasionally the use of human actors would be possible. The most popular stories would likely be genres with distinctive silhouettes, and a relative lack of talking. Westerns, swashbucklers, stories with vampires and with superheroes. Superman, Batman, Captain America and Thor--heroes with iconic capes and helmets would be the easiest to convey. Spider-Man would also not be difficult, as he's especially featureless, and could be conveyed with a lot of crouching. Also, the Hulk if you can find someone with the physicality. More generic characters with "laser powers" like Iron Man or Green Lantern would be difficult.

Other films that could be adapted that have recognizable silhouettes include Star Wars, The Exorcist, Psycho, and Gone With the Wind. Lord of the Rings would be very popular, as it would be easy to use height and pointy accouterments to distinguish the races of various characters In fact, the 1978 Lord of the Rings gives us a very good model on what it could be like. Puppety could also be used to convey popular cartoon characters--once again we go back to the basics and favor characters like Mickey Mouse and Felix the Cat who were able to work with very, very simple designs. It may even be feasible to draw from video game characters from the 8-Bit era, like the original Mario Bros. However, this would require performers and craftsmen start doing this right off the bat, so that people are doing it out of tradition, long after they've forgotten what video games and cartoons were.