Tuesday, December 1, 2020

The Holiday Season

It could be said the torunament cricuit follows the harvest spectrum of North America.

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

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.