Thursday, March 24, 2016

In Which the Washington Post Proves That "Futurist" Is a Title Without Meaning

A friend on Facebook asked me what I thought of this article in the Washington Post. The thesis of the article was that Disney's commitment to Star Wars franchising, after building its empire on fantasy properties like Sleeping Beauty and The Little Mermaid, showed how science fiction was "eating the world."

I'm afraid my response was...a tad negative:

I think the author, despite his title as "futurist," doesn't know what science fiction is, doesn't know what fantasy is, doesn't understand the distinction between science fiction and space opera, and doesn't understand the dynamics driving the increase in female participation in fan culture.

So, not much wiggle room there. But let me expand a little. 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

What You Didn't Know About St. Patrick

1. Pat was a Fifth Century Romano-Brit. Kidnapped by Irish pirates, he was a slave in Ireland for six years before he got his revenge by converting the Irish to Christianity.

2. When they say Pat drove the "snakes" out of Ireland, that could be code for "druids." I don't know why.

Here's a Snake

Here's a Druid
Not getting it.

3. In New York City, most people who celebrate SPD are not actually Irish; they are from New Jersey.

4. St. Patrick's Breastplate is a Gaelic prayer that was supposed to have concealed St. Patrick and his monks from their enemies.

5. Dude named Palladius might be the real St. Patrick. Or maybe not. The deeds of the two might have been conflated. Happened a long, long time ago, y'all.

6. Although St. Patrick's Day is celebrated with parades throughout North America, there is no historical evidence that St. Patrick himself ever participated in one.

Monday, March 14, 2016

FREE! Great Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories!

Yep, you heard that right.
Until March 31, you can download an entire book filled with the best stories from 2014 and 2015 of new F/SF writers who are just breaking in. Want to know which books to buy in 2018? Start your research now.


So don't say I never give you nothin'. Just don't.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Medieval Recipe Day: Bread!

Bread was a big, big deal in the medieval European diet. The Europeans weren't alone in history, of course - Jesus was fond of it too ("Give us this day our daily bread") and for Jews, bread occupies a place just below wine as a ritual food - both are considered necessities for a Sabbath/holiday meal.

Nobility preferred tasty white breads made of highly sifted wheat; commoners made do with darker breads. Ironically, the peasants' breads were probably more nutritious, with a wider variety of grains and even legumes and other veggies baked in. (Imagine you're a poor housewife, and you have a double handful of last year's dried peas to get rid of. Add them to the grain that you hand the miller to be ground into flour and bake it into your bread...)

Unfortunately, because bread was *so* common and such a staple, and (maybe) because so much of it was baked by guild bakers, instead of in the home (heat sources big and hot enough to bake fine loaves weren't as common as they are today) there are relatively few bread recipes from that period.
In fact, one of the few types of bread made in the average commoner's home, instead of by a baker, involved putting the dough in an overturned pot in the embers of the fire lit on the flat rock that was the single source of heat for the entire hut. Unleavened oatcakes were another staple. We do know that there were a lot of varieties of bread. Honey was often used as a sweetener, and ale (perhaps as a fermenting agent?). A cross was often cut into the top of the loaf.

Here's a recipe for barley bread that was probably a big hit among the monks of the day.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Rules for Favors

Last week I met someone who is making a documentary. Let's call her...Pina. Pina is smart, talented, and as soon as she heard about my Old Life in Film, she said "Oh, I have to get you onto my project." And I smiled a noncommittal smile...

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Ah, The Sandman Adaptation

So, it seems that Joseph Gordon-Levitt is departing from the Sandman project. The Churn continues...par for the course for a literary property with an enormous, and well-deserved, reputation. Ask Hollywood folks how long the Dune and Stars My Destination adaptations went on...

Medieval Recipe Day: Let's Make a Cretone of New Peas!

What's a cretone, you ask? This is.

Take some new peas. (Baby peas, perhaps? I think the point is that they're sweet, small, and not yet too starchy.) 

Fritters. Not fried pea fritters, but still-
Cook them into mush. Drain the mush. And then - I love this part - fry it in lard.  I think we're talking the medieval equivalent of refried beans...or, it's a fritter!

Next, boil some milk for just a moment, and soak the bread in the milk. The original recipe specifies cow's milk, which tells us that things like goat milk and almond milk were a lot more popular then. I suspect that the "bread" that's mentioned is the fried-pea mush, which isn't mentioned by name again.

Now that that's done, here's the sizzle: Crush up ginger and saffron, steep them in the milk, and boil. Cook chickens in water, quarter them, fry them, and add them to the milk to boil. Then put it all to "the back of the fire" and thread in egg yolks.

Now, the most important bit:
If you actually try this at home, let me know how it turns out.

BTW - As is usually the case, this medieval recipe is brought to you by "Le Viandier" of Taillevent.