Sunday, January 31, 2021

Snow Belt

 Much of the population can be compared to the National Hockey League's "Origial six"

Thursday, December 31, 2020


 When asked what the population of Medieval Canada was, I answered "Somewhere between four and five million". From what I can tell, "central" Canada (Ontario/Quebec) has about three million people, and western Canada about a million between them. What we don't know for sure is how many people live in what's know as Atlantic Canada, or the Maritimes. 

In fact, the Medieval America project overwhelmingly explores what we would call the Continental United States, and it's closest borders. Occasional maps will give us a glimpses of the most adjacent surroundings--we know that British Columbia is part of the Northwest culture, Cuba and the Bahamas are part of an overall Gulf culture (Secretarial States and whatnot), and that Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia are very much assimilated into the American Church (and the latter officially absorbed into the United States). We know a little less about Quebec, but we do know it remains as a political fiefdom and remains Roman Catholic (Likely leaning into it, resembling its Colonial days). 

White does not cover areas that are much further out, even if those areas are currently part of the U.S., some states, some not. This is probably to be expected, as the maps would have to be extensive, and covering a lot of "dead space" like ocean, or unpopulated wilderness. Alaska, already not filled with a lot of people, and most living in cities propped up by modern infrastructure, would most likely simply revert to the indigenous tribes that lived there for thousands of years, and shake off the past 200 years of developments like a thin coat of paint. Hawaii would probably be a little less isolated, as an important pit stop in the Pacific Basin. However, as the cities crumbled into nothingness, it's very likely the Native population, which has never fully accepted the coup orchestrated by the American mainland, would almost immediately divorce itself from the United States from a political or cultural standpoint. It would ultimately not be part of "Medieval America", except in any abstraction. Puerto Rico, which has been talked about for Statehood, would probably be more outside the American sphere than say,  Cuba, but it's pretty easy to imagine it's culturally very much like southern Florida.

And then there's New Foundland. One of the quirkier parts of Canada, with its own accents and culture.You could say it's not part of Medieval America. You could say it's not even a part of Medieval Canada. It did not even join Canada until the middle of the 20th century (After World War 2). It has its own time zone. While it's not too far off the coast geologically, the shortest boat ride is off the absolute most northern part of the coast. Most of the people, most of the culture, most of the activity is on the Eastern half of the Island. In Medieval America it's possible they only barely interact with Americans more than Europeans. (Most of the interaction would be the fairly limited pilgrimages and trade between the two continents.) It's probably unlikely they're able to be the source of Neo-Vikings, because the Northeast of America actually has the best centralized navy (It's quite possible they tried out Viking style raiding, and the U.S. nipped it in the bud. It's also possible the U.S. was the aggressor from the start, keeping New Foundland from growing its own barbarian troops.) The population is probably not very high--right now it's about half a million, but like Maine, it's probably not going to experience too bad of a crash, either. But however many people live there, when White talks about the population of U.S. and Canada having 61 million people, New Foundland is not part of those stats either way. It is its own separate thing.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

The Holiday Season

North America has a far more diverse climate than Europe, and this has resulted in some quirky habits. The best time for many to hold tournaments is right after the Harvest season. People have free time, the dys are getting shorter, and armies are ready to lie low. (But are still pretty restless) In today's Canada, they celebrate Thanksgiving around the time Americans celebrate Columbus Day, which generally makes sense as seasons are shorter and they wrap up the harvest much quicker. Thanksgiving is now across the Non-Denominational World, a late November holiday, and the residents of Ontario have largely adopted the custom, although Quebec retains its traditional early October Thanksgiving. Still, Canadians start their tournament/Holiday season rotation right around October--it's generally a good start for preliminary rounds.

Once we get to the Midwest, we see the transition from the more Autumnal festivals to the Yuletide ones, and the d├ęcor switches from pumpkins and haystacks to holly and evergreens. It's right around the December solstice that the majority of tournaments happen below the Mason Dixon line, with knights and nobles using it as an excuse to be snowbirds and holiday in the warmer climes.

The heart of the Deep South--the Carolinas, Georgia, Mississippi is where they have the Christmas Bowl tournament, and a week later, the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day itself. There's a little bit of tension from the religous folks, but it's better than slaughtering each other.

Once we head into January, we have the less "official" but still very prestigious Super Bowl tournament in January, and a few weeks later, around the Gulf Coast, there's the downturn in tournaments for "Mardi Gras", as that is not an official Non-Denom holiday. After that, the tournaments largely stop for the rest of the year while people cleanse their souls and sow their crops.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

"The Modern Prometheus"


Frankenstein's Monster is considered at least number two in the holy trinity or Mt Rushmore of classic monsters. Along with Dracula, he has feet in both Victorian literature and more modern Hollywood, and is on the shortlist of anything evoking an old school, creepy feel. However, he occupies a strange middle ground in monster lore. Vampires, witches, and werewolves spring from late medieval beliefs, and are relatively easy to fold into medieval settings. By contrast, Mary Shelley's novel credited as the first entry in science fiction, and laboratories and electricity are considered as much a part of the lore as its gothic trappings. This may be why the subject matter has had a more difficult time transitioning than even older monsters, it's not quite ancient enough nor truly "futuristic enough". As well as the idea of stitched together corpses being someone aesthetically unpleasing to people.

But it's actually interesting if one goes back to the original text. Stiches and laboratory flasks and a lever collecting electricity are mentioned nowhere. In fact, it's implied Victor Frankenstein has looked back and reverse engineered the practice of alchemy, which would be more familiar to the, or a medieval world. Long before Boris Karloff''s lumbering, flat-headed, bolt-necked take crystalized the image forever, one can see early book art and even advertisements for stage productions, which paint a different picture than what we're used to. While there are variances on whether the creation is supposed to be good-looking, there's a generally common thread of it being long-haired and donning the apparel of classical antiquity, emphasizing the oft-dropped subtitle of "the modern Prometheus", and evoking the sense that Frankenstein is mucking around in more arcane and archaic knowledge than pushing the limits of "mad science".

In fact, what's also of note is that these illustrations dress Baron Frankenstein (He would not be a "Doctor", the textual version is basically a college dropout.) in clothes more likely found in the renaissance than the Regency era of the novel's setting. If this was in fact Frankenstein's costuming, there's a strong resemblance to dramatic depictions of Doctor Faustus. This would make sense, as Doctor Faustus was probably one of the earliest icons of "Forbidden knowledge", and costumers would be most inspired by him. The classical "alchemist" Frankenstein might be more appealing to audiences who see forbidden knowledge as something forgotten and buried, as opposed to on the precipe.

It's unknown what Frankenstein or his monster would look like to the denizens of 2900, as there's probably a considerable drift from any standardized look. It would be interesting if it came full circle to the toga-clad perversion of Adonis.

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


 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.