The toof mouse

So some time back I was driving listening to NPR and someone brought up the “tooth mouse.” The tooth mouse is basically the tooth fairy in other countries — particularly Spanish speaking countries, as well as France, and according to the commenter I heard also in former colonies of France or Spain. The tooth mouse supposedly takes the teeth to build its house, in one version of the story. In any case it usually leaves some small gift. My daughter Riley happened to be in the car and while she stopped believing in fairies and such in first grade or so, she had a loose tooth and suggested she’d leave it for the tooth mouse. Ever since, she would leave her teeth on her dresser, or on a banister by her door, and I’d write a silly thank-you from the tooth mouse (who has terrible spelling and grammar and just signs things “the toof mous”) and some trinkets like glass beads, sea shells, and some coins. The tradition fell by the wayside eventually but this week she lost one of the last three baby teeth she has, and the next day casually commented that the tooth mouse didn’t find her tooth. Riley’s going into seventh grade this year and I know there may not be a lot more of these kinds of moments. So, knowing how much she still loves hunting for toads when we go on hikes, I thought I’d paint the tiniest toad possible for her. It was so small it took only a few minutes really, and I couldn’t get my phone to focus very well on it. But here it is, based on a penny:

I tried it without the flash, not much better.

Honest, it looks pretty good in real life. It’s from the set of familiars Julie Guithrie sculpted for Ral Partha. Somehow I ended up with two of the sprues, so I still have another toad/frog like this and third slightly larger I think from Reaper.

Anyway here’s the card too, front, inside, and back.

Published in: on August 14, 2017 at 9:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Happy Holidays!

+
"x"
"XXX"
"XXXXX"
"GOD JUL"
"BUON ANNO"
"FELIZ NATAL"
"JOYEUX NOEL"
"VESELE VANOCE"
"MELE KALIKIMAKA"
"NODLAG SONA DHUIT"
"BLWYDDYN NEWYDD DDA"
"""""""BOAS FESTAS"""""""
"FELIZ NAVIDAD"
"MERRY CHRISTMAS"
"KALA CHRISTOUGENA"
"VROLIJK KERSTFEEST"
"FROHES WEIHNACHTSFEST"
"BUON NATALE-GODT NYTAR"
"HUAN YING SHENG TAN CHIEH"
"WESOLYCH SWIAT-SRETAN BOZIC"
"MOADIM LESIMHA-LINKSMU KALEDU"
"HAUSKAA JOULUA-AID SAID MOUBARK"
"""""""'N PRETTIG KERSTMIS"""""""
"GESE A BMDE KERSGEES"
"ONNZLLISTA UUTTA VUOTTA"
"Z ROZHDESTYOM KHRYSTOVYM"
"NADOLIG LLAWEN-GOTT NYTTSAR"
"FELIC NADAL-GOJAN KRISTNASKON"
"S NOVYM GODOM-FELIZ ANO NUEVO"
"GLEDILEG JOL-NOELINIZ KUTLU OLSUM"
"EEN GELUKKIG NIEUWJAAR-SRETAN BOSIC"
"KRIHSTLINDJA GEZUAR-KALA CHRISTOUGENA"
"SELAMAT HARI NATAL - LAHNINGU NAJU METU"
"""""""SARBATORI FERICITE-BUON ANNO"""""""
"ZORIONEKO GABON-HRISTOS SE RODI"
"BOLDOG KARACSONNY-VESELE VIANOCE "
"MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR"
"ROOMSAID JOULU PUHI -KUNG HO SHENG TEN"
"FELICES PASUAS - GLUECKLICHES NEUES JAHR"
"PRIECIGUS ZIEMAN SVETKUS SARBATORI VESLLE"
"BONNE ANNEBLWYDDYN NEWYDD DDADRFELIZ NATAL"
"""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""
XXXXX
XXXXX
XXXXX
XXXXXXXXXXXXX

This is a polyglot Yuletide greeting formerly posted annually to library forums by the late J. McRee (Mac) Elrod of Special Libraries Cataloguing. Whatever you celebrate or don’t, however you do it, I hope you have the company of friends and family in these dark times.

Published in: on December 22, 2016 at 8:34 am  Leave a Comment  
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Gryla & the Yule Lads

The yule lads

Now that the hipsters have ruined Krampus for everyone (“About 20,800,000 results” in Google), I predict that the fad for Xmas 2016 will be all Gryla and her brood of Yule Lads: Sheep-Cote Clod, Gully Gawk, Stubby, Spoon Licker, Pot Scraper, Bowl Licker, Door Slammer, Skyr Gobbler, Sausage Swiper, Window Peeper, Door Sniffer, Meat Hook, & Candle Beggar. Gryla is a child-eating ogress and the Yule Lads, her sons, each come on a different night (December 12-24) cause mischief. The Lads seem pretty innocuous for trolls, but since most of them are stealing food in the winter in Scandinavia, their antics were probably pretty scary back in the day.

Anyway you have eleven days to prepare for their onslaught.

Gryla catching lunch

Dimmu Borgir, one hopes, is working yuletide concept album on them. (Dimmuborgir is supposedly the home of Gryla and her family.)

Published in: on December 2, 2016 at 8:00 am  Comments (1)  
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Orc ID

So blogging has mostly ground to a halt since I’ve taken a new job at an academic library; maybe it will resume some time. But today a publisher got in touch to get a license to publish a short article I wrote and they recommended I get an Orc ID. O_o

Orc ID

No, not like that. But that is definitely what I imagine.

An ORCID is actually an identifier used to disambiguate people. Libraries have been doing this for centuries, but in the past couple of decades there’s been a push to use numerical identifiers rather than textual ones. Libraries have long kluged the problem of many people with the same name by adding qualifiers to names, such as middle names, years of birth/death, or other titles or even activities. So because there are many “Michael Monaco”s in the world,  I might be established as “Monaco, Michael Joseph” or “Monaco, Michael Joseph, 1972-” or something like that. But a simple number would make the identifier more useful worldwide. Consider Tolstoy — written in Cyrillic his name is be Алексей Константинович Толстой; “Толстой” is various Romanized as “Tolstoi,” “Tolstoy,” or “Tolstoĭ”. Likewise Korean, Japanese, and Chinese names may vary a lot depending on the language they are publishing in. There is an effort to bring all the forms together in individual countries’ authority files (for example the US has the Library of Congress’ National Authority File or NAF) and the NAF-equivalents of many countries are brought together in the Virtual International Authority File (VIAF.org — where Tolstoy is VIAF # 96987389). But these are focused mostly on people publishing books, albums, films, and so forth. More minor works like journal articles don’t get cataloged individually in library catalogs and there is no need to disambiguate the millions of academics who publish worldwide for library catalogs. So the ORCID (Open Researcher and Contributor Id.) is meant to work a bit like the VIAF but for researchers and academics (as well as journalists, etc., in principle), so that my publications as “Michael Monaco” are not confused with other “Michael Monaco”s, and it uses a string of numbers (in my case, 0000-0001-7244-5154).

So anyway it’s nice work and hobbies encounter each other like that.

Published in: on September 16, 2016 at 9:07 am  Leave a Comment  
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The rioting saw

This week there’s been some kind of crazy machine operating in front of my building. I think it’s some kind of saw or grinder — they are tearing up and replacing a bunch of pipes. But the thing is, the sound it makes is very much like a huge crowd — roaring, occasional whistles or screeches, and the volume rises and falls like some kind of riot (or a football game) is taking place. It’s creepy as hell when there is no one else to be seen (the workers are in a hole six feet deep).

I recorded a snatch of it on my cheapass MP3 player. Listen closely. Do you hear muffled voices? Half-formed words? Is that someone called your name?

Enjoy. (Click for MP3)

Published in: on September 8, 2016 at 3:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Beautiful Mutants!

The guy who runs the “2 Warps to Neptune” blog started an online magazine, “We are the mutants.” Check it out!

The image isn’t on 2W2N or WATM, as far as I know, but it used to have Duty Now for the Future on LP and never forgot the image.

Club Devo ad from the inner sleeve of "Duty now for the future." Original image source: Wikimedia, https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8c/Club_Devo.jpg

Club Devo ad from the inner sleeve of “Duty now for the future.” Original image source: Wikimedia, https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8c/Club_Devo.jpg

Published in: on August 31, 2016 at 9:17 am  Comments (1)  
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Vor Da-Da war, da war Da-Da

A cautionary tale. Ish.

So back in grad school, some 20 years ago, another student shared his amusement with the German phrase “Vor Da-Da war, da war Da-Da,” which we translated as “Before there was Da-Da, there was Da-Da.” It just sounds funny, but it is also probably true. He could not remember where he’d heard it first and I forgot all about it, until for whatever reason I recalled it. So I decided to try Googling the phrase. That was not something you could do back when I first wondered about where it came from. So my Googling turned up exactly one hit, which led to a question I’d sent to a listserv 20 years ago (asking participants of a list discussing a German philosopher not associated with Da-Da if they might have heard the phrase). It was easy to navigate from there to the larger archive of listervs, and see all the posts ever made to it. I wasn’t the most active participant of the list during my stint, but it was a little bit like reading letters from old friends.

It was a listserv that changed hands a few times and technically seems to still be “active” in the sense that you can try to join it, but in reality all that it shows for the past dozen years are monthly announcements from some other mailing list. Reviewing older stuff, though, it was pretty interesting to see what other topics I’d asked about, and what I’d answered to other people’s questions, and in general what online conversations between strangers looked like back then. In fact even the most “heated” exchanges are pretty tame by today’s standards.

So the cautionary part of this tale is that the stuff I posted to that listserv was mostly harmless and mostly not embarrassing, and I’m glad about that because at the time, it was a private listserv that you had to join to see the archives, but by the magic of intertoobing you can actually find all the posts everyone made back then. Back before keyword searching of everything digital was an option, back before people had surrendered all expectation of privacy online, back before your words posted to an obscure academic discussion list might come back to haunt you, the posts were made somewhat innocently. I guess there is no way to be sure how long such things will continue to exist “out there” on servers, but it is a good reminder that any time you write something online, you are writing in permanent ink.

Apropos nothing, “Da-da” is also a pretty great Alice Cooper album, one of the ones he now has no memory of writing or performing because of his struggles with addiction in the early 1980s.

Published in: on April 8, 2016 at 11:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Just saying

I’m not one of those people who resist new words or usages just because they are new. I like neologisms. But there is one I’ve started hearing over and over lately that is absolute shit. “Impactful.” There are already dozens of ways of saying something has an impact. Many of them are a single word, so don’t say “impactful” is more concise the than the synonymous phrases it is presumably replacing (“has a great impact,” “is deeply affecting,” etc.). What’s wrong with “impressive,” “stunning,” “influential,” or “stimulating?” These all seem to be what people mean when they say “impactful,” in various contexts. Is it really helpful to have one portmanteau word that covers all those connotations?

If the idea of coining “impactful” was to reduce excessive verbiage of “has a great impact,” or “is powerful,” here’s another synonym with one fewer syllables: “forceful.” You’re welcome.

“Impactful” usually seems to be applied to an emotional or psychological impact, but there is something to be said for clarity. Is a meteorite impactful? If not, did you really mean to use the word “impact” in it?

Also, “impactful” generally brings to mind “impacted colon” or “impaction”: “Your low-fiber diet is impactful.”

Note that this rant is not specifically against the kids on my lawn, because I have heard this word being used by people of my generation and older. Although a few online dictionaries are recognizing this impacted neologism, it has not yet made it into the OED, so maybe there is still time to shame people into dropping this ugly coinage, or at least redefine it.

Impactful : (adj.) causing impaction. “The Adkins diet is really impactful.” Etymology: coined by bad business writers as a term to suggest “effectiveness” (“My impactful projects include…” and made popular by journalists with inferior judgment. Occasionally used as a lazier, buzzier form of “forceful” or “having impact.”

Published in: on March 21, 2016 at 12:00 pm  Comments (2)  
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Canton cannon!

Last month I spent some time visiting a veteran’s memorial in Canton, Ohio. It was a weekday and the place was pretty empty — no doubt fact that the memorial is right off an interstate highway, and not really in a residential area, I suppose.

Anyway apart from a pleasant gazebo to sit in, and a path around a small pond, the things that really caught my eye were a couple of pieces of 18th century artillery that were mounted there on stone pedestals. Both were looted late in the 19th century from the Philippines and eventually found their way to Canton, Ohio. The amazing thing about them is that although they are utilitarian military weapons, they are also intricately sculpted and decorated. They were made at a time when everything was basically made by hand and decorated because why the fuck wouldn’t you make anything you are making beautiful as well as functional.

Here are some pictures, taken with my primitive flip-phone. Both are obviously bronze.

First up, a cannon.

cannon-0

Looking at it from the end the crew would see, there is a face — perhaps a ‘green man’ — sculpted onto the butt.

cannon-1

He’s a little cross-eyed.

cannon-2

The whole barrel of the thing is covered with reliefs and inscriptions. The touch-hole (where you’d insert a fuse to set it off) has a fire-burst decoration.

cannon-3

Futher along the barrel is a nice sun face.

cannon-4

Happily there is also a plaque explaining the Latin inscriptions;

cannon-6

Next up, a mortar.

mortar-0

I like the face on this one even more.

mortar-1

There is a set of loops that I think were used to adjust the mortar’s elevation. I guess you’d have chains or ropes threaded through them. They are sculpted into stylized “dolphins” typical of the sort you see in Renaissance art.

mortar-2

There is a plaque for this too.

mortar-3

This is just displaying my ignorance now, but back when I first saw the art in various Warhammer Fantasy Battle books (and the corresponding Citadel figures) of artillery with faces and other grotesquery on them, I assumed it was the drug-fueled visions of John Blanche, Ian Miller, and the other Games Workshop staff artists. I didn’t realize they were just depicting how old artillery really looked.

 

Published in: on October 17, 2015 at 12:41 am  Comments (3)  
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Podcasts

Here’s a brief rundown of some podcasts I’ve been listening to during my commutes and during some the more routine tasks I do at home or work. Not all are swords and/or dorkery related.

Save or Die! : a podcast about OD&D and the various “Basic” sets and their clones. This one is worth listening to only when the guest is a good one (e.g. John Peterson) or they are covering an interesting old supplement. Most of the time, there is far too much chit-chat among the hosts. My issue with the hosts is that they are very prone to saying some opinion or ruling they prefer is the only one that “makes sense” without making much effort to understand alternatives. That just gets on my nerves. YMMV. B.

Nerd Poker : a podcast about Brian Posehn and some comedian friends of his playing D&D. This is definitely not for people who are hung up on rules, as they stumbled through 4th edition for something like 30 sessions before giving up and going back to 2nd edition, which they actually don’t seem to understand any better than 4th. But this the only “actual play” podcast I’ve liked, because the table talk is always pretty funny and the campaign settings have been imaginative, even though the actual play part is mostly horrifically slow combat. Table talk is probably 50% or more of the run time, meaning they rarely finish an encounter in one episode if it involves combat. A.

System Mastery : A podcast devoted to making fun of RPGs, I think. I’ve only actually listened to one episode (about the Galloway Fantasy Wargaming), and I probably picked a bad one to start with because I actually know a fair amount about this one and have a soft spot for it. In this case they went directly after the low hanging fruit (sexist comments in the literature review, stat mods for females) but they did give some begrudging kudos for the magic and religion ideas. Listening was a good reminder about how incredibly easy it is be snarky and hypercritical of something if you studiously ignore context and only half pay attention. (I don’t think the podcasters here would disagree, since they bragged about doing “no research” and made a lot of bizarre errors about history.) As a comedy podcast, it had its moments though, and I’ll check out a few more before firming up an opinion. C.

Heavy Metal Historian : I don’t know how I found this one, but it is not bad at all. Each episode looks at some part of the development of and influences on heavy metal or a subgenre within it. The narration is mixed with excerpts of music and from interviews or documentaries, and this is a big plus. I was kind of impressed with an early episode that illustrated the influence of classical music on Black Sabbath (cf. Holst’s “Mars, the bringer of war” juxtaposed with Black Sabbath’s eponymous song), and I really like being able to hear snatches of obscure bands that I’ve heard *of* but never heard. A.

Welcome to Nightvale : I know this one has been around a long time and has been praised to death elsewhere but so far I’m really enjoying this too. I can’t listen to it at work for fear of laughing out loud. If you haven’t heard of it, it is supposedly a broadcast from a small town in Arizona where rivalry with the neighboring town, eccentric locals, and cosmic horror are all facts of life. A+.

Stuff you should knowStuff to blow your mind / Stuff they don’t want you to know: Howstuffworks.com has a whole portfolio of podcasts, blogs, and whatever the word is for video podcasts. So far I’ve really enjoyed a lot of them. In particular I’d recommend the ones on Vultures, Ergotism, spiders, and of course Dungeons & Dragons. A.

WTF with Marc Maron: This one is evidently really well-known too, I am late to the party, whatever. Comedian Marc Maron just has really in-depth conversations with people. The best on I’ve listened to so far is with Wyatt Cenac, a distant second is Jason Bateman. Bob Guccione Jr. was great too. Maron has a way of really probing his subjects and getting them to open up in a way you don’t often hear. A+

 

Published in: on October 8, 2015 at 6:13 pm  Comments (2)  
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