Monthly Archives: February 2015

THE VOYAGE HOME

Godspeed Nimoy. And live long and prosper exploring whatever new worlds you eventually find.

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The Man Who Was Spock

Leonard Nimoy, best known for playing the character Spock in the Star Trek television shows and films, died at 83.

Video by Robin Lindsay on Publish Date February 27, 2015. Photo by NBC, via Photofest.

Leonard Nimoy, the sonorous, gaunt-faced actor who won a worshipful global following as Mr. Spock, the resolutely logical human-alien first officer of the Starship Enterprise in the television and movie juggernaut “Star Trek,” died on Friday morning at his home in the Bel Air section of Los Angeles. He was 83.

His wife, Susan Bay Nimoy, confirmed his death, saying the cause was end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Mr. Nimoy announced that he had the disease last year, attributing it to years of smoking, a habit he had given up three decades earlier. He had been hospitalized earlier in the week.

His artistic pursuits — poetry, photography and music in addition to acting — ranged far beyond the United Federation of Planets, but it was as Mr. Spock that Mr. Nimoy became a folk hero, bringing to life one of the most indelible characters of the last half century: a cerebral, unflappable, pointy-eared Vulcan with a signature salute and blessing: “Live long and prosper” (from the Vulcan “Dif-tor heh smusma”).

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Nimoy Explains Origin of Vulcan Greeting

Nimoy Explains Origin of Vulcan Greeting

As part of the Yiddish Book Center Wexler Oral History Project, Leonard Nimoy explains the origin of the Vulcan hand signal used by Spock, his character in the “Star Trek” series.

Video by Yiddish Book Center on Publish Date February 27, 2015. Photo by Yiddish Book Center’s Wexler Oral History Project.

Mr. Nimoy, who was teaching Method acting at his own studio when he was cast in the original “Star Trek” television series in the mid-1960s, relished playing outsiders, and he developed what he later admitted was a mystical identification with Spock, the lone alien on the starship’s bridge.

Yet he also acknowledged ambivalence about being tethered to the character, expressing it most plainly in the titles of two autobiographies: “I Am Not Spock,” published in 1977, and “I Am Spock,” published in 1995.

In the first, he wrote, “In Spock, I finally found the best of both worlds: to be widely accepted in public approval and yet be able to continue to play the insulated alien through the Vulcan character.”

“Star Trek,” which had its premiere on NBC on Sept. 8, 1966, made Mr. Nimoy a star. Gene Roddenberry, the creator of the franchise, called him “the conscience of ‘Star Trek’ ” — an often earnest, sometimes campy show that employed the distant future (as well as some primitive special effects by today’s standards) to take on social issues of the 1960s.

His stardom would endure. Though the series was canceled after three seasons because of low ratings, a cultlike following — the conference-holding, costume-wearing Trekkies, or Trekkers (the designation Mr. Nimoy preferred) — coalesced soon after “Star Trek” went into syndication.

The fans’ devotion only deepened when “Star Trek” was spun off into an animated show, various new series and an uneven parade of movies starring much of the original television cast, including — besides Mr. Nimoy — William Shatner (as Capt. James T. Kirk), DeForest Kelley (Dr. McCoy), George Takei (the helmsman, Sulu), James Doohan (the chief engineer, Scott), Nichelle Nichols (the chief communications officer, Uhura) and Walter Koenig (the navigator, Chekov).

When the director J. J. Abrams revived the “Star Trek” film franchise in 2009, with an all-new cast — including Zachary Quinto as Spock — he included a cameo part for Mr. Nimoy, as an older version of the same character. Mr. Nimoy also appeared in the 2013 follow-up, “Star Trek Into Darkness.”

His zeal to entertain and enlighten reached beyond “Star Trek” and crossed genres. He had a starring role in the dramatic television series “Mission: Impossible” and frequently performed onstage, notably as Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof.” His poetry was voluminous, and he published books of his photography.

He also directed movies, including two from the “Star Trek” franchise, and television shows. And he made records, singing pop songs as well as original songs about “Star Trek,” and gave spoken-word performances — to the delight of his fans and the bewilderment of critics.

But all that was subsidiary to Mr. Spock, the most complex member of the Enterprise crew, who was both one of the gang and a creature apart engaged at times in a lonely struggle with his warring racial halves.

In one of his most memorable “Star Trek” performances, Mr. Nimoy tried to follow in the tradition of two actors he admired, Charles Laughton and Boris Karloff, who each played a monstrous character — Quasimodo and the Frankenstein monster — who is transformed by love.

In Episode 24, which was first shown on March 2, 1967, Mr. Spock is indeed transformed. Under the influence of aphrodisiacal spores he discovers on the planet Omicron Ceti III, he lets free his human side and announces his love for Leila Kalomi (Jill Ireland), a woman he had once known on Earth. In this episode, Mr. Nimoy brought to Spock’s metamorphosis not only warmth, compassion and playfulness, but also a rarefied concept of alienation.

“I am what I am, Leila,” Mr. Spock declares after the spores’ effect has worn off and his emotions are again in check. “And if there are self-made purgatories, then we all have to live in them. Mine can be no worse than someone else’s.”

Born in Boston on March 26, 1931, Leonard Simon Nimoy was the second son of Max and Dora Nimoy, Ukrainian immigrants and Orthodox Jews. His father worked as a barber.

From the age of 8, Leonard acted in local productions, winning parts at a community college, where he performed through his high school years. In 1949, after taking a summer course at Boston College, he traveled to Hollywood, though it wasn’t until 1951 that he landed small parts in two movies, “Queen for a Day” and “Rhubarb.”

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Leonard Nimoy Dies at 83

Leonard Nimoy Dies at 83

CreditJerry Mosey/Associated Press

He continued to be cast in little-known movies, although he did presciently play an alien invader in a cult serial called “Zombies of the Stratosphere,” and in 1961 he had a minor role on an episode of “The Twilight Zone.” His first starring movie role came in 1952 with “Kid Monk Baroni,” in which he played a disfigured Italian street-gang leader who becomes a boxer.

Mr. Nimoy served in the Army for two years, rising to sergeant and spending 18 months at Fort McPherson in Georgia, where he presided over shows for the Army’s Special Services branch. He also directed and starred as Stanley in the Atlanta Theater Guild’s production of “A Streetcar Named Desire” before receiving his final discharge in November 1955.

He then returned to California, where he worked as a soda jerk, movie usher and cabdriver while studying acting at the Pasadena Playhouse. He achieved wide visibility in the late 1950s and early 1960s on television shows like “Wagon Train,” “Rawhide” and “Perry Mason.” Then came “Star Trek.”

Mr. Nimoy returned to college in his 40s and earned a master’s degree in Spanish from Antioch University Austin, an affiliate of Antioch College in Ohio, in 1978. Antioch University later awarded Mr. Nimoy an honorary doctorate.

Mr. Nimoy directed two of the Star Trek movies, “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock” (1984) and “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home” (1986), which he helped write. In 1991, the same year that he resurrected Mr. Spock on two episodes of “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” Mr. Nimoy was also the executive producer and a writer of the movie “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.”

He then directed the hugely successful comedy “Three Men and a Baby” (1987), a far cry from his science-fiction work, and appeared in made-for-television movies. He received an Emmy nomination for the 1982 movie “A Woman Called Golda,” in which he portrayed the husband of Golda Meir, the prime minister of Israel, who was played by Ingrid Bergman. It was the fourth Emmy nomination of his career — the other three were for his “Star Trek” work — although he never won.

Mr. Nimoy’s marriage to the actress Sandi Zober ended in divorce. Besides his wife, he is survived by his children, Adam and Julie Nimoy; a stepson, Aaron Bay Schuck; and six grandchildren; one great-grandchild, and an older brother, Melvin.

Though his speaking voice was among his chief assets as an actor, the critical consensus was that his music was mortifying. Mr. Nimoy, however, was undaunted, and his fans seemed to enjoy the camp of his covers of songs like “If I Had a Hammer.” (His first album was called “Leonard Nimoy Presents Mr. Spock’s Music From Outer Space.”)

From 1977 to 1982, Mr. Nimoy hosted the syndicated series “In Search Of…,” which explored mysteries like the Loch Ness Monster and UFOs. He also narrated “Ancient Mysteries” on the History Channel from 1995 to 2003 and appeared in commercials, including two with Mr. Shatner for Priceline.com. He provided the voice for animated characters in “Transformers: The Movie,” in 1986, and “The Pagemaster,” in 1994.

In 2001 he voiced the king of Atlantis in the Disney animated movie “Atlantis: The Lost Empire,” and in 2005 he furnished voice-overs for the computer game Civilization IV. More recently, he had a recurring role on the science-fiction series “Fringe” and was heard, as the voice of Spock, in an episode of the hit sitcom “The Big Bang Theory.”

Mr. Nimoy was an active supporter of the arts as well. The Thalia, a venerable movie theater on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, now a multi-use hall that is part of Symphony Space, was renamed the Leonard Nimoy Thalia in 2002.

He also found his voice as a writer. Besides his autobiographies, he published “A Lifetime of Love: Poems on the Passages of Life” in 2002. Typical of Mr. Nimoy’s simple free verse are these lines: “In my heart/Is the seed of the tree/Which will be me.”

In later years, he rediscovered his Jewish heritage, and in 1991 he produced and starred in “Never Forget,” a television movie based on the story of a Holocaust survivor who sued a neo-Nazi organization of Holocaust deniers.

In 2002, having illustrated his books of poetry with his photographs, Mr. Nimoy published “Shekhina,” a book devoted to photography with a Jewish theme, that of the feminine aspect of God. His black-and-white photographs of nude and seminude women struck some Orthodox Jewish leaders as heretical, but Mr. Nimoy asserted that his work was consistent with the teaching of the kabbalah.

His religious upbringing also influenced the characterization of Spock. The character’s split-fingered salute, he often explained, had been his idea: He based it on the kohanic blessing, a manual approximation of the Hebrew letter shin, which is the first letter in Shaddai, one of the Hebrew names for God.

“To this day, I sense Vulcan speech patterns, Vulcan social attitudes and even Vulcan patterns of logic and emotional suppression in my behavior,” Mr. Nimoy wrote years after the original series ended.

But that wasn’t such a bad thing, he discovered. “Given the choice,” he wrote, “if I had to be someone else, I would be Spock.”

Correction: February 27, 2015
An earlier version of this obituary, using information from Antioch College, misstated the name of an institution that award Mr. Nimoy an honorary doctorate. It was Antioch University, not Antioch College.

Wishful Thinking: Elegy for a Dead World

Escape Vectors

Don't stare straight at the sun too long!

When Did I Put This On The List? 

December 10, 2014.

Why Did I Put This On The List? 

There is nothing more thrilling than fictional archaeology and paleontology of alien worlds. It marries the excitement of finding out we’re not alone in the universe with an instantly compelling mystery. If you meet an alien species, too often the fiction amounts to ‘these are the differences between us and now some thrilling war sequences!’ Finding a mega-structure or a planet with strange artifacts or the bones of a great being that must have plied the spaceways often opens up so many more intriguing ideas to explore. Elegy for a Dead World is about going to observe the remnants of some strange civilization on an alien world and deciding, via typing out a story, what you think they used to be like. That’s so weird and great.

Is This Game Well-Liked By Others? 

It’s pretty…

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Game Development: Design process for a game system.

OneLonePixel

One of the things I find so interesting about game development is the process that is used in order to design and implement the multiple game systems that co-exist, interact and inform each other in order to bring life and functionality to a game or gameworld. For me, it’s all about the logic behind the flow of data and the rules and/or conditions that the designer will implement within the game system in order to control the flow of the data.

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Good Versus Bad Addictions: Player-Motivation as a Sustainable Resource

Scrap Street journal

We App developers are a lot like drug dealers. Only not as good.

Or “useful” I should say. I think we still hold the moral high ground. Which is weird, because with drug dealers at least you’re getting a physical product. App developers are charging you money for imaginary sheep because we invented a scenario where your imaginary farm is short on wool.

But we are indeed similar. We peddle an unnecessary product that makes fun chemicals flow in your brain. And addiction is one of the tools in our toolbox to ensure player motivation. Player Motivation is the umbrella term I use for why a person is playing your game. Why did he buy it, why is he still playing it after five minutes, why is he still playing it after an hour. It’s subjective, but I’ve noticed some common reasons:

Indulging your obsessive compulsive need for order. OCD…

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Green Beret is in the house!

brtrain

"Comes with everything you see here!" “Comes with everything you see here!”

I got my copies of the new, OSS Games folio edition of Green Beret. Very pleased! (not pleased with the quality of the photo though).

Everything is quite functional and well laid-out, and the counters are very nicely die-cut – so well cut that they are falling out of the frames by themselves. OSS thoughtfully put the counter sheet into a small ziploc bag for transit, and then gave you three small ones for storage. Also very happy to have a 17×22″ map.

$22.95 each, my friends!

http://ossgamescart.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=6&products_id=49

Some time in the next six weeks will see Operation Whirlwind come out, which has a very nice map of urban Budapest. Not sure about when Kandahar, the fourth and last one will appear; its subject matter is not as much of a draw and it is a bit more complex than the other three.

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A Tale of Two Jams – Global Game Jam 2015 and Blue Jam Micro

5 beautiful little moments in Gaming

‘In memory of Bodicia’: A rare find is uncovered in Cirencester

archaeorosie

Bodicia Image from Cotswold Archaeology

There has been much excitement amongst archaeologists working on a Roman cemetery site in Cirencester this week, as an intricately carved tombstone from the 1st-2nd century AD was unearthed, along with the remains of the woman whose death it records.

So what makes THIS find so exciting?

The find is believed to be unique.  Roman burials and tombstones have of course been found individually, but the discovery of this tombstone, alongside the remains of the individual associated with it, may be the first of its kind in Britain.

The tombstone, discovered by archaeologists at Cotswold Archaeology, is finely decorated and bears the inscription ‘D.M. BODICACIA CONIUNX VIXIT ANNO S XXVII’, which has been translated as reading: ‘In memory of Bodicia. Wife. Lived 27 years’ There are only a relatively small number of inscribed tombstones discovered in Britain, making this find all the more…

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D&D 5th Edition: A Fine Game, Will Continue Playing

Stay-At-Home Gaming

DragonThis new edition of D&D is the best since 3.5 Edition.

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Bookshelf Scavenger Hunt – Part Eleven

anastasiaadamov

Bookshelf Scavenger Hunt – Part Eleven

Find a book with illustrations in it – Draconomicon The Book of Dragons (Dungeons and Dragons Guide)

kr

Here are examples of illustrations in the book:

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This is an awesome book about dragons. Who doesn’t like dragons?

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Arrow 3×15 Discussion: What happens when Arrow enters Batman’s world.

Girl-On-Comic-Book-World

arrow season 3 episode 15 batmanArrow season 3 episode 15 well and truly said goodbye to the grounded roots of season 1, and instead said hello to flying men and a possible new heir to the Demon’s throne. Arrow from the very beginning has drawn parallels to Batman, with some criticising the show for being too Batman and not enough Green Arrow. This episode has definitely furthered that issue, so let’s discuss Arrow season 3 episode 15!

Spoilers follow.

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Action 2 – Superman stops a war, Tex Thompson gets a friend, Inspector Donald and Bobby debuts, and Zatara grows a moustache

Babblings about DC Comics 2

act_2

The degree to which DC was uncertain about Superman is reflected in the covers of this, and the next few issues of Action.  Despite appearing on the cover of the first issue, Superman was not featured, or mentioned on the cover of Action 2 (July 1938), which went for a generic image, not tied to any story.

act_2_001

Superman’s tale, by Siegel and Shuster, continues with Superman terrorizing the pro-war lobbyist.  His inability to fly is conveyed by his landing, which sends pavement flying in every direction.  There is no control to this landing at all.

act_2_002

Clark Kent and Lois Lane both sail to Europe to report on a war brewing between two (fictional) countries.  They arrive in San Mateo, after spies push Superman overboard, and he swims the rest of the way. Superman forces the man who had him tossed overboard to join the army, and then joins as well…

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THE DOLMENS ARE COMING, THE DOLMENS ARE COMING!

Never underestimate the power of the Mighty Dolmen. I’ve had many a Real Life adventure at just such a spot.

And they make great Gaming Adventure locales as well. You never know what will arise from under, or out of, the Dolmen. Just ask the Irish.

 

MEDIEVAL MISDIRECTION

Common misconceptions, and their associated tropes, but if you ask me the way the Real World existed was much more interesting. The fantasy is rarely as complex, fascinating, or interesting as the Reality.

And you have to keep in mind both the differences in the eras (time periods – 5th century life was very different from late Medieval period life), and, of course, the differences in locale.

The Medieval Byzantine Empire was a wholly different place, for the most part, from the Medieval Holy Roman Empire, or from Medieval Scotland, or Medieval Scandinavia, or Medieval Syria or Egypt.

Differences in time and place always matter.

10 Worst Misconceptions About Medieval Life You’d Get From Fantasy Books

10 Worst Misconceptions About Medieval Life You'd Get From Fantasy Books123

Some tropes are so ingrained in Medieval-inspired fantasy stories that it’s tempting to think that they represent real aspects of Medieval life. But often these stories are just reinforcing myths and misconceptions about life in the Middle Ages.

Top image from the Dragonlance series, which I love, but is steeped in pseudo-Medievalism.

One thing that it’s important to remember when talking about the Medieval period is that it spans a long time — from the 5th century CE to the 15th century CE — and involves a great number of European countries. You’ll notice that a great deal of the debunkery here involves 14th century England, thanks to works like The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England by Ian Mortimer and the works of Joseph Gies and Frances Gies (although another source, Misconceptions About the Middle Ages, covers a bit more ground). But the point here is that the Middle Ages were, in fact, far richer than the Medieval-like settings of many swords and sorcery stories would lead you to believe.

Do fantasy novels need to be historically accurate? Certainly not. Part of the fun of worldbuilding is inventing new ideas, or combining elements of different cultures and time periods, and even integrating historical myths and misconceptions. But If you read a lot of books or watch a lot of movies with pseudo-Medieval settings, you may come away with a mistaken impression that you know what life in the Middle Ages was like. Plus, real history offers new ideas that you might want to incorporate into your own stories in the future.

And this is not to say that all Medieval-esque settings slip into these myths; only that many, many do.

This post was inspired by this fascinating thread on reddit’s r/AskHistorians, which we highlighted a while back. Here are the misconceptions, with debunkery below:

1. Peasants were a single class of people who were more or less equal to one another.

10 Worst Misconceptions About Medieval Life You'd Get From Fantasy Books

It’s easy to think that people in the Middle Ages were easily divided into very broad classes: royals, nobles, knights, clergy, and toiling peasants at the very bottom. But just because you didn’t have “king,” “lord,” “sir,” “father,” or “brother” (or their female analogs) in front of your name doesn’t mean you weren’t concerned with your own social standing. There are vast classes of people whom, today, we might generally refer to as “peasants,” but there were actually various classes of people within that broad category.

Mortimer points out that, in 14th-century England, for example, you have your villeins, people bonded to a particular lord’s land. Villeins were not considered free folk, and they could be sold with the lord’s land. And free folk were of a variety of social and economic classes. A freeholder, for example, might become successful enough to rent a lord’s manor, essentially acting as a lord himself. And, in a village, a few families might hold the majority of the political power, supplying most of the local officers. We may tend to think of these people as “peasants,” but they had much more complicated ways of thinking of themselves, with all the class anxiety that goes with that.

2. Inns were public houses with big common halls below and rooms above.

There are few images as firmly rooted in pseudo-Medieval fantasy as the tavern inn. You and your party enjoy a few flagons of ale in the main room, hear all the local gossip, then go up to your private rented chamber where you’d sleep (alone or with a lover) on a lumpy mattress.

That image isn’t wholly fiction, but the truth is a bit more complicated — not to mention interesting. In Medieval England, if you combined a city inn with an alehouse, you’d probably get something resembling that fantasy inn. There were inns where you could rent a bed (or, more likely, a space in a bed), and these inns did have halls for eating and drinking. But these were not public houses; innkeepers were generally permitted to serve food and drink only to their guests. And, Mortimer points out, you would likely find a single room with several beds, beds that could fit up to three people. It was only in the most upscale inns that you’d find chambers with just one or two beds.

There were establishments for drinking in these cities as well: taverns for wine and alehouses for ale. Of the two, alehouses were the rowdier establishments, more likely to function as your Medieval Mos Eisley. But ale and cider were often made at home as well; a husband might expect his wife to be skilled in brewing. The Gieses note in Life in a Medieval Village that a tavern in an English village was often someone’s home. Once your neighbor opened up a fresh batch of ale, you might go to their house, pay a few pennies, and sit and drink with your fellow villagers.

There are other options for accommodations as well. Travelers could expect the hospitality of people of equal or lesser social class, enjoying their food and beds in exchange for tales from the road and a tip. (Mortimer says that, if you were lucky enough to stay with a 14-century merchant, the digs were much nicer than any inn.) Or you might go to a hospital, which was not just for healing, but also for hospitality.

10 Worst Misconceptions About Medieval Life You'd Get From Fantasy Books

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3. You would never see a woman engaged in a trade such as armorer or merchant.

Certainly, some fantasy stories will cast women in equal (or relatively equal) positions to men, carrying out the same sorts of trades that men might carry out. But in many fictional stories, a woman who makes armor or sells good would seem out of place — although this does not universally reflect Medieval reality. In England, a widow could take up the trade of her dead husband — and Mortimer specifically cites tailor, armorer, and merchant as trades open to widows. Some female merchants were actually quite successful, managing international trading ventures with impressive capital.

Women engaged in criminal activity as well, including banditry. Many criminal gangs in Medieval England consisted of families, including wives with their husbands and sisters with their brothers.

Image from the Holkham Bible Picture Book, via the British Library Board.

4. People had horrible table manners, throwing bones and scraps on the floor.

Sorry, even in the Middle Ages, members of polite society, from kings to villeins, followed certain etiquette, and that etiquette involved good table manners. In fact, depending on when and where and with whom you were eating, you might have to follow very strict procedures for eating and drinking. Here’s a tip: If a lord passes you his cup at the dinner table, it’s a sign of his favor. Accept it, backwash and all, and pass it back to him after you’ve had a sip.

5. People distrusted all forms of magic and witches were frequently burned.

In some fantasy stories, magic is readily accepted by everyone as a fact of life. In others, magic is treated with suspicion at best or as blasphemy at worst. You might even hear the Biblical edict, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.”

But not all claims of magic in the Middle Ages were treated as heresy. In her essay “Witches and the Myth of the Medieval ‘Burning Time,'” from Misconceptions About the Middle Ages, Anita Obermeier tells us that during the 10th century, the Catholic Church wasn’t interested in trying witches for heresy; it was more interested in eradicating heretical superstitions about “night-flying creatures.”

And in 14th-century England, you might consult a magician or a witch for some minor “magical” task, such as finding a lost object. In Medieval England, at least, magic without any heretical components was tolerated. Eventually, the late 15th century would give rise to the Spanish Inquisition, and we do see witches hunted down.

Witch burnings weren’t unheard of in the Middle Ages, but they weren’t common, either. Obermeier explains that, in the 11th century, sorcery was treated as a secular crime, but the church would issue several reprimands before it would resort to burning. She puts the first burning for heresy at 1022 in Orleans and the second at 1028 in Monforte. It’s rare in the 11th and 12th centuries, but becomes a more common punishment in the 13th century for relapsed heretics. However, it depends where you are. In the 14th century, you probably won’t be burned as a witch in England, but you may very well get the stake in Ireland.

6. Men’s clothing was always practical and functional.

10 Worst Misconceptions About Medieval Life You'd Get From Fantasy Books

Yes, Medieval people of various classes were interested in fashion, and sometimes fashion — particularly men’s fashion — got pretty absurd. Early clothing is more functional, but during the 14th century, men’s fashions in England were both body-bearing and rather experimental. Corsets and garters were common for men, and increasingly, popular fashions encouraged men to show off the shape of their hips and legs. Some aristocratic men wore gowns with sleeves so long they were in danger of tripping on the cuffs. It became fashionable to wear shoes with extraordinarily long toes — one such shoe, imported from Bohemia, had twenty-inch toes that needed to be tied to a man’s garters. There was even a fad of wearing one’s mantle so that the head went through the arm hole rather than the head hole, with the sleeves functioning as a voluminous collar.

Image: Selection of Medieval leather shoes from the Museum of London.

It’s also important to note that fashions would trickle down from royalty, through the aristocracy, and down to the common folk. In the seasons after a fashion appeared among the nobility, a less expensive version would appear among those of lesser stations. In fact, sumptuary laws were passed in London to prevent people from dressing above their stations. For example, a common woman in 1330s London was not permitted to line her hood with anything but lambskin or rabbit fur, or risk losing her hood.

7. Servants were all low-class people.

Actually, if you were a high-ranking individual, chances are that you had high-ranking servants. A lord might send his son to serve in another lord’s manor — perhaps that of his wife’s brother. The son would receive no income, but would still be treated as the son of a lord. A lord’s steward might actually be a lord himself. Your status in society isn’t just based on whether or not you were a servant, but also your familial status, whom you served, and what your particular job was.

Something you might not expect about servants in English households in the late Middle Ages: they were overwhelmingly male. Mortimer points to the earl of Devon’s household, which had 135 members, but only three women. With the exception of a washerwoman (who didn’t live in the household), the staffers were all men, even in households headed by women.

8. Medicine was based on pure superstition.

Admittedly, if you’re looking outside of Game of Thrones, a lot of healing in fantasy novels is just plain magical. You’ve got your cleric class who gets their healing from the gods, and otherwise you might have someone on hand who can dress a wound or make a poultice.

And yes, a lot of Medieval medicine was based on what we would consider today mystical bunk. A great deal of diagnosis involved astrology and humoral theory. Blood letting was a respected method of treatment, and many of the curatives were not only useless — they were downright dangerous. And while there were medical colleges, extraordinarily few physicians were able to attend.

Still, some aspects of Medieval medicine were logical even by modern standards. Wrapping smallpox in scarlet cloth, treating gout with colchicum, using camomile oil for an earache — these were all effective treatments. And while the notion of a barber-surgeon is a horrifying one to many of us, some of those surgeons were actually quite talented. John of Arderne employed anesthetics in his practice, and many surgeons were skilled in couching cataracts, sewing abscesses, and setting bones.

10 Worst Misconceptions About Medieval Life You'd Get From Fantasy Books

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From John Arderne’s De arte phisicali et de cirurgia, via Wikimedia Commons.

9. The most powerful military force consisted of armored knights riding into battle.

James G. Patterson, in his essay “The Myth of the Mounted Knight” from Misconceptions About the Middle Ages, explains that while the image of the mounted knight might have been a popular one during Medieval times, it didn’t match the reality of warfare. Armored cavalry, he explains, can be incredibly useful — even devastating — against untrained revolutionaries, but they were far less useful against a trained foreign infantry. Rather, ground forces, including knights on foot who frequently served as officers, were invaluable in battle. Even during the Crusades, when the image of the mounted knight seemed synonymous with glory in battle, most the actual battles involved sieges.

In the 14th century, English warfare focused increasingly on archery. In fact, Edward III prohibited football in 1331 and then again in 1363 in part because people were spending too much time playing football and not enough time practicing their archery. The English archers were able to repel many a French cavalry force.

10. Only men’s sexual pleasure was important.

A common belief during the Middle Ages was that women were more lustful than men. A lot more lustful, in fact. Rape was a crime in 14th century Medieval England, but not between spouses. A wife could not legally refuse her husband’s advances, but a husband could not refuse his wife’s advances either. The popular belief was that women were always longing for sex, and that it was bad for their health not to have intercourse regularly. A woman’s orgasm was also important; another common belief was that a woman could not conceive without an orgasm. (Unfortunately, this also made rape impossible to prosecute if the victim became pregnant; Medieval English scholars believed women’s bodies had a way of, in the modern parlance, shutting things down.)

So what was an unmarried woman to do? Well, if she couldn’t find a husband, the English physician John of Gaddesden recommended that she find a midwife who could get the job done manually.

KING

My daughters both said, “He’s fine…”

Lol.

I also think it is a very good thing to get the hostility between Batman and Superman out of the way early on in their relationship (rather than later) so that they can establish an on-going friendship that will allow them to both lead the Justice League against future enemies.

 

‘Aquaman’: First Photo Released of Jason Momoa as DC Superhero

Aquaman: Photo Released of Jason Momoa

February 19, 2015 | 10:20PM PT

Aquaman has officially landed.

Director Zack Snyder tweeted the first photo of Jason Momoa as DC Comics superhero Aquaman on Thursday night.

Momoa, ex-star of “Game of Thrones,” will appear in Snyder’s upcoming film “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” as well as the future Justice League films.

In the DC comic books, Aquaman is the king of the seven seas, hence the poster slogan.

“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” hits theaters March 25, 2016.

DAYS OF FUTURE PAST

Ancient Shrines Used for Predicting the Future Discovered

by Owen Jarus, Live Science Contributor | February 19, 2015 07:14am ET

ancient shrines, gegharot archaeology, divination, ancient hilltop fortress

A shrine excavated at the entrance of a fortress’ west terrace in Gegharot in Armenia. The stone stele like would’ve been a focal point for rituals practiced there some 3,300 years ago.

Credit: Photo courtesy Professor Adam Smith

Three shrines, dating back about 3,300 years, have been discovered within a hilltop fortress at Gegharot, in Armenia.

Local rulers at the time likely used the shrines for divination, a practice aimed at predicting the future, the archaeologists involved in the discovery say.

Each of the three shrines consists of a single room holding a clay basin filled with ash and ceramic vessels. A wide variety of artifacts were discovered including clay idols with horns, stamp seals, censers used to burn substances and a vast amount of animal bones with markings on them. During divination practices, the rulers and diviners may have burnt some form of substances and drank wine, allowing them to experience “altered” states of mind, the archaeologists say. [See Images of the Divination Shrines and Artifacts]

“The logic of divination presumes that variable pathways articulate the past, present and future, opening the possibility that the link between a current situation and an eventual outcome might be altered,” write Adam Smith and Jeffrey Leon, in an article published recently in the American Journal of Archaeology. Smith is a professor at Cornell University, and Leon is a graduate student there.

The fortress at Gegharot is one of several strongholds built at around this time in Armenia. “Evidence to date suggests that this coordinated process of fortress construction was part of the emergence of a single polity that built and occupied multiple sites in the region,” write Smith and Leon.

Smith believes that Gegharot would have been used as an occult center for the rulers. “I would think that this is probably a cult center largely specializing in servicing the emerging rulers from the ruling class,” he told Live Science in an interview.

At the time, writing had not yet spread to this part of Armenia so the name of the polity, and its rulers, are unknown.

Predicting the future

Smith and Leon found evidence for three forms of divination at Gegharot. One form was osteomancy, trying to predict the future through rituals involving animal bones, in this case the knucklebones of cows, sheep and goat.

The knucklebones, which were covered in burns and other markings, would have been rolled like dice in rituals attempting to predict the future, Smith said. “You would roll them and depending upon whether the scorched side or the marked side came up you would [get] a different interpretation,” Smith said.

Lithomancy, trying to predict the future through the use of stone, also appears to have been practiced at Gegharot. Inside a basin at one shrine, archaeologists found 18 small pebbles. “These stones appear to have been selected for their smooth, rounded shape and their color palette, which ranged from black and dark gray to white, green and red,” Smith and Leon write. How exactly these unmarked stones would have been used in rituals is unknown.

Flour for the future?

At one shrine, on the fortress’ east citadel, the archaeologists found an installation used to grind flour. Smith and Leon think that this flour could have been used to predict the future in a practice called aleuromancy. [The 7 Most Mysterious Archaeological Finds on Earth]

“What is conspicuous about the grinding installation in the east citadel shrine is the lack of a formal oven for bread baking,” Smith and Leon write. The shrine’s basin “was clearly used for burning materials and certainly could have been used to bake small balls of dough, but it is unlikely that it would have been used to cook loaves of bread.”

Stamp seals found at the shrine would have allowed people to punch a variety of shapes into dough. “One possibility (admittedly among many others) is that the stamps marked the dough that was then used for aleuromancy.”

Future’s end

The shrines were in use for a century or so until the surrounding fortress, along with all the other fortresses in the area, were destroyed. The site was largely abandoned after this, Smith said.

At the time, there was a great deal of conflict in the south Caucasus with a number of regional polities fighting against each other, Smith said. The polity that controlled Gegharot seems to have been wiped out in one of those conflicts.

Although the rulers who controlled Gegharot put great effort into trying to predict and change the future, it was to no avail — their great fortresses being torched in a cataclysm they could not avoid.

Excavations at the shrines are part of the American-Armenian Project for the Archaeology and Geography of Ancient Transcaucasian Societies (Project ArAGATS).

The west terrace shrine was excavated in 2003, the west citadel shrine in 2008, and the east citadel shrine in 2010 and 2011.

YEAH I WOULD and THE VIKINGS

Yes I would. Scandinavia was a hotbed of technological innovation and experimentation at that general time. Metallurgy, ship-building, social organization, navigation and exploration.

I consider it the early Northern Technological Renaissance.

Which reminds me, the premier of The Vikings is on tonight.

This is superb work by the way.

 

Norwegian Artisan Creates 3D Printed Replica of 6th-Century Sword

You probably wouldn’t consider 6th century Scandinavia a hotbed of anything, much less technological and artistic innovation, but that’s precisely what was happening in that region of the world as a result of increased migration in an era that’s actually called “the Migration Period.” From around 400 to 550 CE (Common Era), the northern migration of Germanic tribes, following earlier encroachment by the Romans, brought a great deal of change to Scandinavia–now Denmark, Norway, and Sweden–a region that was predominantly tribal and populated with small farms and settlements. This is the epoch that gave birth to the Vikings and it began with an influx of ideas from the south.

The hilt of the original, 6th-century sword.

One modern-day Norwegian paid homage to that long-ago period of awakening in his home country by replicating an artifact from that era of burgeoning technology and artistic mastery: Teacher, game developer, and 3D design- and printing enthusiast, Nils Anderssen used his expertise to produce a stunningly accurate reproduction of a 6th-century, double-edged, iron sword with a bronze hilt, which was originally crafted in Snartemo in Southern Norway. Anderssen used the cutting-edge technology of today to recreate a symbol of his country’s ancient, expert craftsmanship.

It has certainly been possible before 3D printing to undertake a project like Anderssen’s, but it has been more expensive and far more time-consuming. Also, Anderssen, who has many talents, is not a professional goldsmith, so he was willingly heading into uncharted territory when he began his Snartemo Sword project. What he did possess was an enthusiasm for history and historical artifacts and, of course, a maker’s curiosity and ingenuity, so he began his project, spending a couple of years figuring out how to go about using 3D printing to create a believable replica.

Eventually, Anderssen uploaded the results of his ongoing project on his website, which prompted the National Museum of Art in Oslo, Norway to approach him about creating a replica of the sword as a companion display to the real sword (which, as we understand it, is part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Cultural History in Oslo). The museum insisted, quite reasonably, that the copy should resemble the original as closely as possible. Visitors would be able to handle the replica, so it needed to feel like the original sword as well.

Equipped with photos and measurements of the sword, Anderssen used 3D Studio Max to create his 3D design. “In Studio Max,” he explained, “I have good control over the thickness and size of the patterns and therefore avoided problems in printing.” The sword’s sharp edges were easily modeled in 3D Studio Max. His secret was to use “almost exclusively…the basic features of the polygon modeling tools…”

3D printed hilt

Without the capacity to 3D print in bronze himself, Anderssen needed to find a 3D printing service to help him undertake this major part of the sword project. He did his research and opted to enlist i.materialize, whom, he found, could print larger sizes than most other companies. Not unlike the original process of crafting the sword, Anderssen’s replica was created in parts. After he received the 3D-printed bronze pieces from i.materialize, he smoothed them and then had them gilded. He did make one important change: With his design, the hilt was hollow and later filled with wood to make the finished piece more stable and to facilitate easier assembly.

It isn’t clear how and where the blade was produced, but the various pieces of the sword were assembled by Anderssen and the results were spectacular. He had the pleasure after completing the project of seeing his replica placed next to the original sword, by far the greatest test of his success. As the photo emphasizes, the similarities between the reproduction and the original really are remarkable. What a brilliant means of both preserving history without compromising the physical state of an ancient artifact and allowing those of us who want to appreciate such objects to do so in a more interactive way! We hope that this becomes a trend with museums and archives; 3D printing certainly makes it plausible and far more budget-friendly.

both swords

 

Let’s hear your thoughts on Anderssen’s work in the 3D Printed Replica Sword forum thread on 3DPB.com.

3D Print (Left), Original (Right)

Board Games Used For Education #2 Creative Writing

TGIK Games Blog

I never liked creative writing time in school because I could never visualize the worlds we were asked to create and write about. I never really got into reading until Harry Potter was made into a movie and I had visual aids to help me generate the images in my head. What I wonder is, what if you gave students the goal of generating stories and worlds that could give their classmates a game experience? What if creative writing time was an exercise in both creative thought and game generation?

I am not sure what grade level this would be applicable, but I like the idea of instructing students to write about a game experience they would want to have if they were playing a game. The idea would be to have students write short, two or three paragraph idea that would be about a game theme and the experience…

View original post 341 more words

NEW ALIEN LANDSCAPE

It’s a go…

New ‘Alien’ Movie Confirmed with Director Neill Blomkamp

Alien: New Movie Confirmed with Director
February 18, 2015 | 04:32PM PT
Justin Kroll
Film Reporter @krolljvar

20th Century Fox has closed a deal with director Neill Blomkamp to develop a new “Alien” movie, sources confirm.

The untitled sci-fi project is separate from “Prometheus 2,” which Fox is still making with Ridley Scott.

Blomkamp, who directed “District 9″ and the upcoming Sony feature “Chappie,” had been teasing the project in recent months but said the extra-terrestrial reboot was likely abandoned. It was supposed to star “Alien” veteran Sigourney Weaver.

But on Wednesday Blomkamp confirmed the tentpole was back on track at Fox.

“So I think this is officially my next film,” he confirmed on Instagram.

It’s unclear whether Weaver is still attached to the movie.

According to insiders, the new “Alien” takes place years after the “Prometheus” sequel. Scott is producing both films through his production company Scott Free.

“Prometheus,” also distributed by Fox, was “loosely based” on the “Alien” franchise and earned over $400 million worldwide. But the 3D movie opened to mixed reviews, and Fox hopes Blomkamp, who last directed “Elysium,” can take the franchise to the next level.

Born in South Africa, the 35 year-old Blomkamp is repped by WME.
Filed Under:

Alien

 

DEADPOOL COMES ALIVE

I don’t know who this chick is, but she’s a looker. So I doubt I’ll argue much.

Morena Baccarin Nabs Female Lead in ‘Deadpool’ (Exclusive)

1:19 PM PST 2/18/2015 by Rebecca Ford and Borys Kit

Ryan Reynolds is starring in the Fox film.

Morena Baccarin Headshot - P 2014
Courtesy of UTA

Homeland star Morena Baccarin has nabbed the female lead in Deadpool, Fox’s action movie based on the Marvel character.

Tim Miller is directing the action-adventure project, which stars Ryan Reynolds as an assassin who undergoes a procedure to cure his cancer that ends up leaving him twisted and scarred but also imbued with superpowers.

T.J. Miller and Gina Carano are already attached to the project, which is eyeing a March shoot and is slated for an early 2016 release.

Baccarin was one of a handful of actresses shortlisted for the role of Reynolds’ character’s love interest. The character grapples with falling for a man with a hideously scarred face.

The film is based on a script by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick. Simon Kinberg is producing with Lauren Shuler Donner.

On the film side, Baccarin will appear in Paul Feig’s upcoming action-comedy Spy opposite Melissa McCarthy. Her previous TV work includes Showtime’s hit Homeland (which garnered her an Emmy nomination) and Fox’s Gotham, on which she currently stars. She’s repped by UTA, Seven Summits and Jackoway Tyerman.

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