Thursday, March 31, 2016

Jesus Approves of Skillful Violence

I'll just reprint this in its entirety from Hroarr. Fascinating.

The Sun, Jesus/Apollo, from a series on the Children of the Sun by Baccio Baldini, 1464

While the landsknechten of the 1500s certainly were a rowdy bunch and many had trained in the fencing guilds, it is not soldierly life that the art of combat was associated with, as that commonly came with a degree of chaos and destruction, with crime, pillaging, rape and slaughter. Mars, the god of War is therefore also connected with rapists, murderers, robbers, thieves.

The Sun, Jesus, the King of Kings, on the other hand is connected with order and structure, discipline and righteousness. Consequently, fencers, alongside of athletes, musicians and pious men and women are associated with the Sun.

This of course also refers back to the Sun God Apollo and the Pythian Games in Delphi where a laurel wreath was awarded the best athletes, just like in the Fechtschulen, and to the best musicians, dancers and painters.

Promotion of controlled, skilled violence was hugely important for society and the rulers of the time, a time where violent religious conflict was rampant and social changes constant, which is also apparent in the statutes of the various fencing guilds, where allegiance is sworn to both guild, fencing master and emperor, but also sworn obligation to care for the poor, the widowers and the orphans.

Fencing master Joachim Meyer mentions this in the foreword of his 1570 treatise.

"Therefore I hope that even if my writing is little heeded by some, yet many honest fellows and young fighters will come forth, and diligently restrain and guard themselves from the disorderly life, gluttony, boozing, blasphemy, cursing, whoring, gambling, and the like through which this noble art has been besmirched by many people, since this knightly art has been used by many people only for shameful lewdness and laziness, which are most deeply deplored by honorable people and all honorable combatants; and instead they will seek to thoroughly understand this art, and to learn to apply a true honorable earnestness, to purge themselves of useless peasants' brawling, and to be diligent in all manliness, discipline, and breeding, so that when they have truly and fully learnt this art, and lead an honorable life, then they may be thought able to direct others, and particularly the youth, and thereby to be of service."

Monday, March 28, 2016

Nazi Occult Collection Found

We all know the Nazis were into the occult. Well, some of the high-ranking ones. The worst offender? Himmler. He had about 13,000 occult books, some very old. Workers recently opened a library storage room that had been closed since the 1950s and found the collection. Interesting.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Popeye Village Still Standing

In 1980, Robert Altman directed a live-action version of Popeye starring Robin Williams and Shelly Duvall (I can't think of better casting). It did disappointing business at the box office, but when I was a kid, my family loved it. The songs, the costumes, and the sets were all clever and memorable. Turns out, the village they built to shoot scenes in (on the island of Malta!) is still there, and is doing brisk business as a tourist attraction. Check it out. And then, if you're bored, read about the ill-fated film.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Weird Job Titles from 1881

 Well, this just speaks for itself, doesn't it? Made my day, actually...

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Anatomy of Japanese Folk Monsters

 OK, this is just so cool I don't think any commentary is necessary. Check it out!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

On the Menu: Prime Minister

I'd heard that in 1672, a Dutch mob killed and ate their prime minister, Johan de Witt. He doesn't look all that tasty to me. I did some research on it (that is, I read a wikepedia article). It's a horrific story, suitable for Warhammer or Lamentations of the Flame Princess fans. It'd probably make a great short story, as well. Sad thing is, we can't really prove he was eaten. Here's what wikipedia has to say about it.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Sticky Note Nightmares

Artist John Kenn Mortensen has created a series of nightmarish illustrations on tiny sticky-notes. His work reminds me of Edward Gorey or, better yet, Sidney Sime. A cool series of images is right here, or you can see most of 'em in this moving collage.

Monday, March 14, 2016

1903 Alice in Wonderland Film Restored

Here's a restored version of the 1903 version of Alice in Wonderland. It's cool. Watch it. It's entirely possible I've posted this here before. Whatever. Watch it anyway!

Friday, March 11, 2016

An Executioner's Diary

I don't know why, but this just screams "Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay" to me: Franz Schmidt, an executioner working in the so-called Holy Roman Empire (Germany) in the late 1500s/early 1600s kept a diary. The family just stumbled into the line of work, apparently, and Franz was essentially raised by his father to mete out punishments for a living. There's a slim Wikipedia article about him right here, and you can actually buy his diary and read it. Probably makes for some dark bedtime reading.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Creepy Talking Robot, 1846-Style

Woah. I'd never heard of this before. A fellow Space: 1889 fan posted it on Facebook. This early text-to-speech machine left the audience it was first exhibited to creeped out with uncanny valley weirdness, rather than applause. Said one observer: "
The Professor was not too clean, and his hair and beard sadly wanted the attention of a barber. I have no doubt that he slept in the same room as his figure—his scientific Frankenstein monster—and I felt the secret influence of an idea that the two were destined to live and die together. ... One keyboard, touched by the Professor, produced words which, slowly and deliberately in a hoarse sepulchral voice came from the mouth of the figure, as if from the depths of a tomb.
Here's an interesting article about this disturbing machine. I wonder what other uses the Professor put that head to?  At any rate, I think Euphonia has to find her way into the Gonen's World campaign...

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

From Russia, With Love: Pelicans

Here's an interesting review of a new museum exhibit in England. It's a collection of royal diplomatic gifts, mostly between England and Russia. Without the context it might all be just more royal treasures, but the idea of gift-giving as an alternative to war is a nice one, don't you think? Of note to me personally, as an Elizabeth I fan, is a new portrait of her that has been discovered. Check it out. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

What Libraries Should Look Like

When I was a kid, my favorite thing to do in the summertime was our weekly trip to the library. I'd load up on Greek mythology and bound runs of the Peanuts strip and spend the next week in the air conditioning pouring over it. Unfortunately, as cool as my local library was, it looked like an Aldi. In fact, today I think it might be an Aldi. Here is an article featuring some libraries that look the way I wish all libraries looked. It's an annoying slide-show format but it's still pretty cool. Now if only I could visit the Library of Alexandria.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Crowdfunding an Anti-Matter Drive

Once again, science fiction approaches science fact. Here's a great article about a scientist who is using Kickstarter to fund research on an anti-matter drive, which he thinks we can have soon if money isn't a factor (but isn't it always?). The really cool stuff is under "Meet the Craft," which you've got to scroll way down for. The "anti-matter sail" conjures up images of 18th-century galleons floating through the black.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Go to Space, Grow 2 Inches!

We don't venerate astronauts like they did back in the day (by which I mean The Right Stuff). But this is a cool story about Scott Kelly, whose mission was, partially, to test the long-term effects of living in space on the human body. Apparently he grew two inches! He has an identical twin brother they could compare him to. It's an cool story. Read it here.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

More About Morlocks

When I was a kid, my interest in H.G. Wells was awakened by the underrated (if a bit dated) time travel movie Time After Time. The film posits that Wells (Malcolm McDowell) actually built his time machine, and it was used by Jack the Ripper (the fabulous movie baddie David Warner) to escape to 1970s San Fransisco. Wells chases him down into the future, meanwhile falling in love with a young and adorable Mary Steenburgen. Next, my mother got me some cassette tape/book combos called "Audi-See" that told an abbreviated version of Wells's actual novel. That's when I heard about the Morlocks. They scared the crap out of me as a kid - even the slightly silly ones from the classic Rod Taylor version of the movie. All that is by way of introducing today's link. The Swords and Stitchery old-school gaming blog has a nice article about Morlocks, and their associated gaming ripoffs such as Grimlocks from Ye Olde Fiend Folio. I found it interesting. You might, too.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Found: German Adventurer's Mummy

In a story that sounds like the basis for a Doc Savage novel, the mummified remains of a German maritime adventurer were found recently on an abandoned, drifting yacht. Filipino fishermen saw the drifting yacht and investigated. The body was found in a seated position - I guess he just laid his head down and died (the photo above was taken by police in Barobo, Surigao del Sur). Weird. At any rate, this story is mildly interesting.