How to make friends and oppress people: a quick review

I recently read How to make friends and oppress people, a very funny travel advice book which collects advice from Edwardian and Victorian era British travel guides, interspersed with satirical advice from “Vic Darkwood,” a gentleman traveler.  The original sources are pretty amusing in their own right, but Darkwood’s commentary and the illustrations (which are cleverly derived from period sources but usually manipulated for effect) make this laugh-out-loud funny.  At least to me. A random example from p. 100:

If you are continuing your travels by river, for example, there is no need to assume that a boat is intrinsically different in principle from the snug bar at the Olde Cheshire Cheese, and with a bit of panache it can be made every bit as comfortable:

Fireplaces in boats — In boating excursions, daub a lump of clay on the bottom of the boat, beneath the fireplace — it will secure the timbers from fire. — The art of travel, Francis Galton, 1872.

This passage is accompanied by a picture of two chaps in evening dress sitting in front of an iron fireplace on a small boat, obviously assembled from three different period illustrations.

The humor is pretty dry at times, but some of the original sources are so outrageous it hardly needs Darkwood’s commentary. There are sections such divers topics as:

  • Using anthills as ovens
  • Hunting elephants and hippos with a javelin
  • Sleeping on a billiard table as a means of avoiding vermin
  • Digging a well with a pointy stick
  • The practical theory of tea-making
  • Modes of salutation
  • How to treat banditti
  • Engaging in gun battles
  • Ballooning as a sport
  • Revolting food that may save the lives of starving men
  • Employing a burly henchman

and so on, all pretty funny in their own right but with Darkwood’s running commentary, it can be hard to put this one down.

Can you use this for gaming? Probably. On the one hand it may provide some inspiration for your own campaign’s travelogues, but if you are running something set in the real world, from about 1800 to 1930, you could incorporate some of the anecdotes, advice, and illustrations into your players’ handouts to inject some humor, whether you are doing steampunk, Call of Cthulhu, a safari, or plain old pulp adventure.  The author (Victor Darkwood) assumes a fairly hilarious persona as “Vic Darkwood,” an oblivious and arrogant English gentleman adventurer, and he’d make a great NPC “guide.”

A curious thing tends to happen eighteen months into an expedition. The endless routine of living under canvas; slaughtering and collecting vast quantities of the local fauna; constructing roads, mines, oil refineries and railways; acquiring lorry-loads of artworks and antiquities; introducing foreigners to the Englishman’s genteel concepts of fair play, queuing, and afternoon tea– all these will suddenly lose their shine and begin to pall. At this point the adventurer must decide if this is nature’s way of telling him that his travels are at an end, or whether it is worth forging on, despite his misgivings, in pursuit of his next goal, such as the lost temple of Phu Kham Chan or some equally enticing prospect. (p 241)

Just so.

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Published in: on November 4, 2011 at 9:17 am  Comments (4)  
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Viking travel advisories

Scotland … not such easy pickings.

England … bad for your teeth.

Vinland … no rest for the wicked.

Published in: on September 8, 2011 at 5:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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This is relevant, sort of

I’m not one to shy away from gratuitously political posts, but that is not the point of this post. here’s something that is also very tangentially related to dorkery —more sides than a bag of polyhedral dice!  I am very tickled that a journalist anywhere would throw that line out in the first paragraph.  A new one to me.  I will resist commenting on the Bachmanns as best as I can, even though they seem to be trying harder than anyone else to be complete caricatures of know-nothing Tea Carpetbagger fundaterrorist tardines.  I mean, I think the Palins must joke about what a pair of tools those jokers are. 

OK, could not resist; failed within the same sentence.  Sorry. 

Where was I? … polyhedrals.  Nice.

Also, I may as well point out The Journal of Are You Fucking Kidding, a blog where the use and abuse of science is mocked.  Some political content there too.  Sorry.

Published in: on August 15, 2011 at 6:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Neologisms II

Here’s three more neologism I’ve collected lately.

susject (typo for “suggest” ; suspect + reject) –v.  To form a hunch or suspicion which is then immediately rejected. “When I heard they buried him at sea, I susjected that the story was a hoax.”

deceipt (typo for deceit ; deceit + receipt) n. 1.Written or printed evidence that a lie was told. 2.  The physical evidence of misinformation, lies, or fraud. “Your honor, I hereby submit the following deciepts into evidence…”  “I was amazed to learn that there was a second account book which provided deciepts for years of falsified tax returns.”

hypocracy (typo for hypocrisy ; from the Greek) n. Rule by the subterranean. “Since the Morlock Party got in office, there have been no more elections; it’s a hypocracy.”

Nota bene!  “Hypocracy” has previously been offered as a neologism for lying or hypocritical politicians, but I believe my definition is far more defensible etymologically.  Moreover, there is no need for a term for “lying or hypocritical politicians” when we already have the word “politician” which has exactly the same denotation.

Published in: on June 14, 2011 at 2:10 pm  Comments (2)  
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I’m the wizard!

Took that test which has been around for years and years, and sure it’s basically a rip off of the Ultima IV game (and WotC either ripped this off or the test borrows some of their alignment questions too) — but here’s my result:

I Am A: True Neutral Human Wizard (5th Level)

Ability Scores:

Strength-13

Dexterity-12

Constitution-13

Intelligence-16

Wisdom-13

Charisma-13

<SNIP! 3e glosses on alignment, race, and class, which form the basis of the questions, are omitted here>

Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?, courtesy of Easydamus (e-mail)

(end of quiz results html)

I will just note that “level” appears to be tied to your age and how many “experiences” you report having had (?). Also while my attributes are all above average, if you check out the statistics page you’ll see that the D&D community is very much like Lake Wobegone, where all the students are above average. 13-16 is pretty much “average” when you assign them based on self-reported abilities. (I can believe that the average D&D player has a higher IQ than average but … above average in everything else? Not so much. The player demographic seems to skew toward the neutral axis regarding law vs. chaos and toward good on the good/evil axis. )

Published in: on April 11, 2011 at 6:00 am  Comments (3)  
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Frightening news

Ohioans continue to ignore the judgment of Thor, and will rebuild “Touchdown Jesus.” Oh the hubris! What must the thunder god smite next? When will those ingrates accept the Son of Odin as their lord and savior?

Also, researchers have reported that liberals tend to have more gray matter in an area of the frontal lobe responsible for understanding complexity and uncertainty, while conservatives tend to have an enlarged right amygdala which is responsible for fear responses. Of course the real headline which is being lost in the controversy is that researchers have apparently developed a method of locating gray matter in conservatives, a feat previously believed to be impossible without serious advances in nanotechnology.

Published in: on April 8, 2011 at 6:00 pm  Comments (1)  
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Barely treading water in a sea of retarded sexuality

“May your sword stay wet, like a young girl in her prime”

— Man O War, “Hail & Kill”

“Anoint my phallus with the blood of the fallen”

–Nile, “Ithyphallic”

I had a few more seriously stupid heavy metal lines in mind and intended to make a list but these two deserve to be appreciated on their own. I mean, you could probably just paste in the entire opus of GWAR for similarly silly lines, and yeah, I know these guys don’t take themselves all that seriously. “Hail & Kill” and “Ithyphallic” stand out for me because they are fairly awesome musically IMO but the silly lyrics kind of spoil things.

Feel free to add you favorite slightly retarded metal lyrics to the comments.

Published in: on September 3, 2010 at 12:59 pm  Comments (5)  
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What we wanted to do

Ron Carlson wrote a seriously awesome story that appeared in Harper’s back when I was in college and had time to read magazines.  It is called “What we wanted to do” and is a very dry and funny story that appears as a sort of anachronistic town hall speech about pouring boiling oil onto Visigoths.  I just stumbled upon it here.  I kept a copy of this story for ages, re-reading occasionally, because for whatever reason I think it is the cat’s tits.

Published in: on July 22, 2010 at 11:53 am  Leave a Comment  
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Neologisms

For my (and perhaps your) amusement, a collection of neologisms.

As far as I know I made all of these up, either on purpose of from found typos by myself or others.

surmission (nouning of surmise) (n.)– the product of surmising, i.e. an inference based on scanty evidence or contestable premises. “It is my surmission that since everything is on the internet, we can cancel all our print subscriptions.”

obbreviate (obfuscate + abbreviate) (v.)– to obsfuscate by using an ambiguous, obscure, or misleading abbreviation or acronym. “I just got another memo from HR and they obbreviated so many terms I can’t understand what it is about.” obbreviation (n.): an obfuscatory abbreviation or acronym

disgussion (discussion + disgust) (n.) — to segue a discussion into a venting session about the state of the profession, the workplace, or coworkers. “We were just having a disgussion about the new tardiness policy.” Disguss (v.): to have a disgussion. “Yeah, I read the memo but I don’t have time to disguss it right now.”

suscitation (n.) (resuscitation – re-)– To give support or life to, by extraordinary means. “Our blog is now open for respectful and positive comments on this proposal. Please commence nose-to-anus suscitation.”

anniversity (n.) (anniversary + adversity)– the anniversay of a painful, difficult, or traumatic event. “We’re celebrating our tenth anniversity this week.”

tardine (n.) (sardine + retard; possibly also derived from tardiness)– Idiotic, sheltered, or ineffective office workers, generally used by management to disparage staff. “Send out a tardiness memo to the tardines.”

UPDATE: Apparently surmission has already been coined, almost six years ago according to the Urban dictionary. Shit.

And suscitation is apparently a real word. Double shit. I still really like disgussion though.

Published in: on July 16, 2010 at 10:27 am  Comments (5)  
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New Monster: Dire Gazebo

Some comedian added the “Dire Gazebos” to the list of new monsters in the TSR AD&D module “Conan against darkness” in Wikipedia. I’m sure this is in no way a comment on the quality or reliability of information you’ll find there.

Here’s a nice pic of a Dire Gazebo constructed from parts cast in Hirst Arts molds.

The details are here. That’s pretty cool.

By the way, of the actual new monsters in the module (this one of the very few AD&D modules I kept when I gave a lot away), the fire guardian seems totally to go against Howard’s sensibilities, being largely impervious to weapons.

This last paragraph is just here to mention that I couldn’t be less interested in whether or not a particular blog or company or writer is properly referred to as “old School” or not, or part of the OSR or not, or who is offended by what looks for all the world like an inoffensive paean to the OSR at LOTFP. Fuck, does that mean I just took a side? Leave me out of it.   The real tragedy is that this kerfluffle is overshadowing the latest installment of the Cold Text files.

Published in: on July 13, 2010 at 10:29 am  Comments (1)  
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