Just threw the New Annotated Dracula across the room. As an annotated book, it is utterly and completely worthless. The first two paragraphs of the actual novel result in 7 full pages of annotated text, which is double columns in case you’re wondering. Almost none of it is in any way germane to the book and really feels like the idiot who annotated was just shouting (get your best Caboose voice ready) “I AM ANNOTATING! I WILL ADD LOTS OF NOTES TO SHOW THAT I AM ANNOTATING!” I don’t need the whole wikipedia article on Wallachia reprinted for me. The text dumps are exhausting, and we’re not into page two of the actual novel yet.
Worse yet, I’ve discovered that I already don’t trust anything this guy has to say about anything he’s said in his notes. I don’t know if any of the books he’s quoting exist, and I suspect that some probably don’t. He’s utterly destroyed his credibility with the bullshit fiction he’s woven into his annotation.
The central joke of the annotation, that the whole thing really happened and it’s all true, is so very frustrating and stupid that it really makes the book nearly impossible to read. I don’t need bullshit theories as to why there are inconstancies in the book. A bad writer didn’t write or research very well. Mina didn’t polish Harker’s diary up. Stoker wasn’t influenced by the hand of Dracula himself in a bid to tell the world he was dead so they wouldn’t come looking for him. Van Helsing was inspired by three people, and no amount of pretending he was one of those three will make it so. Quincy Morris wasn’t at the Battle of Shiloh and Steward never rapped on stage with Professor Elemental BECAUSE NONE OF THOSE PEOPLE EXIST BECAUSE THIS IS A WORK OF FUCKING FICTION!
The idiot probably giggled himself silly while doing this, but it’s an impossible read. It’s got to value or weight, just a lot of noise. Even when I see something that might have some bearing on the book, that is suspect because I don’t know if it’s just part of the bullshit or not. I can’t separate the wheat from the chaff, and I don’t feel inclined to try. I know now why the book looked like it hadn’t been read past page 17, which is exactly the page I got to before deciding to quit.
The other day, I got a comment to a post I made complaining about the three episodes of Game Of Thrones I’d “watched” a while back. The comment was everything you wish it wasn’t. I’ve deleted the comment, the post and all, because I deleted the post on LJ a long time ago (I wasn’t making my points clearly and I didn’t want to argue about something that was just making me angry) and just forgot to delete the one on WordPress.
You can read the rest, but you've only yourself to blame. Continue reading
I bought these Magic Marbles a little while ago, and you simply must buy these things! You can get them cheaper from this place, but you don’t really need that many. The kit came with 5 grams, and the other place sells them in groups of 50 grams. You may want that many, but need and want are different things.
All these things are, is a kind bead that absorbs water and becomes a gel like marble. Simple enough, but they have some fun properties.
The kit comes with a small tank, which helps because it gives you something to put them in. However, you can’t put all the marbles in the tank and expect them to grow to full size. For once, there’s actually too much stuff for the thing that they include to put them in. This means… MORE SUFF TO PLAY WITH! Unapproved uses! WOOO!
Now, what makes these things really fun, is that they have the same refraction index as water, so unless you look very close, you can’t tell they’re in there. If you have colored ones, you just see splotches of color. While they’re being sold as a toy here, the real use for them is growing water loving plants. They hold water and release it slowly, so you don’t need to water quite so often. I’m going to buy some bamboo, which should look neat held up by these marbles. They also feel neat when you slip your fingers in and wiggle them around.
Lembas, or elf bread or way bread, or any other number of names you might have for it, is a real problem in Lord of the Rings. The elves are not mechanical, they live in the forest, and as such don’t seem to have any actual agricultural class in their society. So how do they get the bread for grain? Who grinds the corn? Who bakes the bread? They’re strict isolationists, so they can’t be trading with the hobbits, who at least have farmers. And how can a person live off it for days with a single mouthful? What’s the caloric intake? How many carbs? How can it last nearly indefinitely? Is it a twinkie? It’s a twinkie, isn’t it? How do they get the cream in when they eschew machines then? This is one of those places where “It’s magic bitch” isn’t a good enough answer. They need to get the raw ingredients from somewhere. They need to process those ingredients, they need to combine them and put in a lot of extra ingredients in to make it last as long as it does. There is a lot that goes into that wafer of bread. There are a lot of steps to do anything truly from scratch.
This is a major problem I end up having with fantasy, over and over again. The writers stress that it’s a pre-mechanical medieval style society, forgetting that even medieval people have machines. Water wheels are parts of machines, they’re the power source, and they weren’t just used by millers to run grindstones for corn. They could be hooks to other machines to power blast furnaces, or sawmills, or even stamping machines. If you disallow all kinds of machines (as in Tolkien) there start to be things you can’t really have.
Brass buttons for one, you need a lot of technology to get brass buttons. Yes, they can be stamped by hand, but since Bilbo uses brass instead of gold, because wasn’t rich enough, there has to be some kind of middle class here. If there is a brass level, there has to be some kind of manufacturing system in place to make those people brass buttons. Even if we accept a simple hand powered stamp like a coin stamp, how do they get brass for the buttons? Okay, maybe there are miners because hobbits are hole dwellers and digging should get raw metals sometimes, but processing ore into brass requires smelting, and blast furnaces are “teh debil” in Tolkien’s world. He said several times that he mistrusted anything more complicated than a wheelbarrow, and a water wheel is more complicated. The point is, there is a lot of work that goes into a simple brass button. Anyone who has tried to make things for an authentic SCA costume can tell you the trouble that goes into making an outfit with no modern shortcuts. There is a large and complex society, once which Tolkien says doesn’t really exist, that is needed to produce brass buttons. Never mind the woven and brocaded waistcoats and the mechanical looms needed for those complicated designs for anyone but the royalty level rich.
This always becomes my problems, we’re told that these fantasy realms don’t have machines, but they’ll often have styles of armor that have leather bits connected to their metal bits with small screws. Metal screw are pretty much only machine made, you have to own a lathe to do them properly. Yes, you can make them by hand, but even then the expert making them is going to charge you up the ass. Lathes have been around for about three and a half thousand years, but they never seem to turn up in fantasy. Many a technological device is denied the fantasy world. In fact it’s often explicitly stated that they don’t have these things. It’s this blind spot that always annoys be, because they want to have the things that said technology will bring, but not the society or technology that demands it’s invention.
Clothes are much the same. I’m wearing a t-shirt that, as far as I know, can only exists form the 20th century on. It has no seams along it, except where the sleeves meet the body, because the main of the shirt was woven as a tube of fabric. Even if the sock with sleeves method has come before, there is also silk screening, the cut and the fact that it’s a t-shirt to peg me at the late 20th, early 21st century. There are social and environmental reasons that the clothes I’m wearing can only fit the time I’m in. Like wise, it’s just as bad when someone wears an Elizabethan style doublet during what is clearly supposed to be a society gripped in the tenth century. And no, I’m not talking about someone wearing a gambeson, or an armored jack, but what is clearly a warm weather doublet in what is clearly a cold weather climate and about 300 years too early when compared to other clothing in the story. Not tunics or jerkins either, but highly complex doublets with removable sleeves and short fringe like skirts. This, quite often, from a society that hasn’t yet moved past the “big lumps of fur” coat design for winter and summer wear. You basically end up with everything thrown together, from roman shirts to colonial era jackets, without any understanding of how each outfit had come about and what need it filled.
This extends to weapons, which are not interchangeable with each other and have their own niches and societal influences. You can’t just carry a 45 inch bladed sword on your hip with you wherever you go, that’s a war sword, not a local fracas sword. And if I may digress for a moment, a hollow pommel is just stupid. Even the Irish, who are dumb enough to make a hollow pommeled sword, still stuck the end of the tang through it to secure it, because they understood having your sword break because of a weakened tang was an embarrassment that could kill you. It’s just too darn big and unwieldy for a foot level entanglement. Even granting that someone might carry such a large blade, those are heavy things to always have on you, and they make moving awkward as hell. Swords have specific purposes in both fighting and in societies that make them important, and they need to fit in those societies. You should be able to simply look at a sword or knife and tell exactly who uses it and what purpose it serves, and in fact I can. Once in a while I get one wrong, but I’m not an expert, I just play one on the internet. Rapiers cannot exist with two-handed broadswords because one is a civilian weapon devised after the middle class started putting on airs and the other is a weapon for the battle field devised after noticing that things die when you hit them with five pounds of sharpened metal.
And guns, don’t get me started on guns. Cannons started turning up in the mid 1300s or so, hand guns soon followed, but never in a fantasy story, not even one that uses weapons, clothing and armor developed after the firearm and some that were developed as a reaction to firearms. Oh no, we don’t never have no guns, even if we are basically retelling the Wars of the Roses in all but name. We don’t need no stinking guns, we got dragons and shit. Besides, guns aren’t romantic and we’re being all romantic with our fantasy story and why do you have to be so damn pedantic all the time?
I just have problems with lazy writing, and I’ve learned enough about the history of technology to know that you can’t have this unless you have that. And if you have that, then there’s this other thing over here that you can also have.
So, yeah, where do the elves get the grain to make lembas?