Kenneth Hite (princeofcairo) wrote,
Kenneth Hite

In My Day, We Used To Call This A Smattering

* I know it's been forever and long since we've had a single substantive post here, but post-GenCon creates almost as much rush-and-bustle as pre-GenCon does.

* Especially because this is also pre-ConQuest; I'll be a guest at ConQuest SF (which will be in San Jose, or rather Santa Clara, this year) next weekend. The Guest of Honor will be John Hill, the designer of Squad Leader, which will impose a mandatory -1 penalty to my rally rolls. Other guests include Dana Lombardy, James Ernest, and (according to the website) Dave Arneson. I don't know my schedule, but I imagine we'll get up to some sort of seminars, plus the usual pickup games and goofing around.

* While we were all at GenCon, I apparently published a new product: GURPS Infinite Worlds: Lost Worlds. This book covers six worlds (in standard IW format) cut for space from the GURPS Infinite Worlds manuscript, some of them somewhat familiar ("Etheria," "The Nine Worlds," and "Steel") from other GURPS books. However, it has more details on Reality Cyrano and Reality Iskander-2, from the GURPS 4e iconic character writeups, and one entirely new world, the Indian-dominant Siva-5, which was my attempt to explicate the tossed-off reference to "the Siva worlds" from GURPS Time Travel.

* Sadly, it doesn't include Reality Mameluke, my alien-invasion AH tribute to Harry Turtledove's Worldwar series (and to Poul Anderson's "Soldier From the Stars"). The breakpoint comes in 1965, when President Nguyen Van Thieu of South Vietnam hires a dreadnought full of Gormelite warriors to win the war for him. Maybe SJG will publish it in another collection.

* Speaking of my e-retail presence, Atomic Overmind has brought Dubious Shards and Tarot of Cthulhu: Major Arcana to DriveThruRPG, should you be interested in purchasing either fine item from that purveyor. And who could blame you if you were? Not I.

* My attempt to make chicken corn tortilla soup last week was deflected by the covert metamorphosis of my dried pasilla peppers into something truly unappetizing; I was forced to make do with two ancho peppers and a cinnamon stick. The result was still pretty darn good, but I'm waiting to post the recipe until after I try it with the correct peppers. Which cannot be had for love or money in Hyde Park, apparently. Or in the Oak Park Whole Foods, which carries ancho peppers helpfully labeled "Ancho Pasilla Peppers," because somebody or other also calls poblano peppers "pasillas." Gah.

* In other news, robin_d_laws has descended so far as to blog my unfamiliarity with the legendary Black Hand killer "Shotgun Man." Having noodled around on the topic since, I can assure Robin that the Wikipedia entry holds every datum available on the topic. Or perhaps more data than are, strictu sensu, available: the source of the tale is Herbert Asbury's Gem of the Prairie, (republished in 2002 as The Gangs of Chicago to take advantage of the nascent Scorsese-induced mania for all things Asburian) which shares with Asbury's other works a charming preference for lurid effect above grim historicity. (That said, Asbury is more reliable than Wikipedia; he gives the span of killings as January 1910 to March 1911, contra Wikipedia's still-sloppier source, Sifakis' Mafia Encyclopedia.) A check, for example, of the Northwestern University 1870-1930 Chicago Homicide Database indicates only three firearm murders that fit the pattern in early 1911, one of which was in a tavern, not on "Death Corner" (now part of the former Cabrini-Green). Should anyone be interested in that or any of Chicago's other death corners, I can heartily recommend Richard Lindberg's Return to the Scene of the Crime: A Guide to Infamous Places in Chicago, which manages to combine lurid effect with more historicity than otherwise.

* Further to the Ongoing Interrupted Conversations File, on Sunday lhn and I were wondering just when the "mean old Normans vs. doughty stout Saxons" meme got started, the one we all recognize from reading Ivanhoe, or rather from watching Robin Hood movies made back when anybody read Ivanhoe. It sounded suspiciously like the kind of thing Hanoverians would make up to remind people that Germans were good and the French (and by extension the Stuarts) were bad, and that furthermore it had a kind of Tudor "black legend" feel to it (which was, of course, right around when all the Robin Hood gestes were being printed, along with everything else), but neither of us could remember anything relevant from Shakespeare's King John, and I resolved to look in my Robin Hood books once I got a chance. Well, I still haven't, but I did wind up looking in Leon Poliakov's The Aryan Myth: A History of Racist and Nationalistic Ideas In Europe, which indicates that I'm almost exactly right. He cites the future Bishop of London, John Aylmer, fulminating in 1558 against the "lousye law brought in by the Normanes" compared to the "Saxonysche" language and customs of the people. And again, the aim is to contrast (Protestant) Germany and England with (Catholic) France. That said, neither the word "Norman" nor "Saxon" appears in King John, so it probably doesn't achieve takeoff until Cromwell (combining Protestantism with anti-aristocratic populism) and then the Hanoverians.
Tags: alternate history, britain, chicago, conventions, games, gratuitous plug, history
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