Mimsy Were the Borogoves

…modern laws are almost always laws made to affect the governed class, but not the governing. — G.K. Chesterton (Heretics)

FiVe Faces of Alan Moore’s SaVior—Wednesday, February 21st, 2024

V for Vendetta, Watchmen, Twilight of the Superheroes, and Promethea: There’s a little Jack the Ripper in all of Alan Moore’s best work. He appears to be obsessed with the idea of individuals ushering in a new era of human flourishing by means of secrecy, manipulation, and bloodshed. A new world requires a blood sacrifice, and Moore’s promethean protagonists are willing to provide one.

Whether it works or not.

Moore is not alone among British comic book writers in using superheroes as a means to examine forced transformations of humanity. Grant Morrison’s Zenith and The Invisibles both showed us a war between two forces seeking to overturn humanity; his Doom Patrol featured a weird team seeking to maintain normality in the face of unimaginable change. His Animal Man sought to overturn the very reader of the comic, using possibly the most normal superhero in DC’s pantheon.

But Alan Moore takes the fantastic world of superheroes and crafts direct allegories with the real world more in the lines of a Shakespeare than Morrison’s Hieronymus Bosch.

Even his most psychedelic, Morrison-like comic, Promethea, still features a believable protagonist who craves normality. His most famous comic, Watchmen, is about a handful of individual heroes without the moral strength to oppose the villain’s manipulation. It’s a reverse of his inaugural V for Vendetta which is less about individualism than about one individual strongman. V and Veidt are arguably, like Michael Moorcock’s Eternal Champion, the same person from different worlds. Yet, while Watchmen’s Veidt is ostensibly the comic book’s villain and V for Vendetta’s V is ostensibly the comic book’s hero, in both cases that status is ambiguous.

V’s enemy is a government put in power/allowed to remain in power by the people, who are too lazy, or too concerned with personal comfort, to topple their totalitarians. Veidt’s enemy is the people, who are too lazy or too concerned with personal entertainment to vote for enlightened rulers.

Eggnog for Breakfast… and Beyond!—Wednesday, February 14th, 2024
Drink Your Breakfast!: Social media image for breakfast eggnog blog post.; breakfast; egg nog; eggnog

One of Bill Cosby’s greatest jokes involved a dad angrily making breakfast for the kids. His four-year-old asks for chocolate cake, and the dad is about to say no—very angrily—when the list of ingredients flashes through his mind.

Eggs. Eggs are in chocolate cake! And milk! Oh goody! And wheat! That’s nutrition. Chocolate cake… coming up! Now, you need something to drink with your chocolate cake, something breakfast. Grapefruit juice! Eggs, milk, and wheat in the chocolate cake. And… I didn’t have to cook.

That is a righteous conclusion. Chocolate cake is a great breakfast. With milk for kids and coffee for adults. (And leave the grapefruit juice for anyone who complains about chocolate cake for breakfast.)

More commonly, however, I do eat mildly healthier. Breakfast lassi, for example, from yogurt and various other flavorings. But while yogurt drinks make for a fine breakfast, they’re not the only option for a drinkable breakfast. And I’m not talking about the traditional pejorative meaning of a drinkable breakfast. Although it may well have been born from just such a drink.

Eggnog. Think about it. Eggs. Eggs are in eggnog! And milk! Oh goody! That’s nutrition. Eggnog… coming up!

Preferably without grapefruit juice.

While we normally think of eggnog as a holiday drink with heavy spirits, that as the only way to make eggnog appears to be a late twentieth century interpretation. Eighteenth and nineteenth century versions used wine, fortified, yes, but nothing like brandy or rum. And from the earlier twentieth century many of my vintage recipe collections include nogs that either don’t have alcohol or don’t need it. In fact, most of the recipes that have “nog” in their title and include eggs in the recipe either don’t call for alcohol or make it optional.

If those recipes are anything to go by, eggnog used to be very popular not just for Christmas parties or even parties in general, but as a general beverage for any occasion. Or even for breakfasts or brunches without need of an occasion. The Sunkist eggnog I’ve included here is literally from a book titled “…recipes for every day”.

The earliest recipe for eggnog in my collection is in the 1916 Table and Kitchen from Dr. Price’s Cream Baking Powder. It describes its “Egg Nog” as:

Light a candle for Christmas hymns—Wednesday, February 7th, 2024
Joyful Music: Joyful music leads us sunward/In the triumph song of life.; Hymns

Christmas certainly has its share of bowdlerized hymns, some of them more consequential than others. But even the less consequential changes show a severe change in theology. O Little Town of Bethlehem, for example, has changed from humans to everything:

    • For Christ is born of Mary,
    • And gathered all above,
    • While mortals sleep, the angels keep
    • Their watch of wond'ring love.
    • O morning stars, together
    • Proclaim the holy birth!
    • And praises sing to God the King,
    • And peace to men all on earth.

Belying the claim that these are merely modernizing the lyrics, the new bowdlerized lyrics retain “thee” and “thy”.

Looking up the new lyrics, I ran across an interesting article from 1986 about Methodists making a new hymnal. O Little Town of Bethlehem fared better than Onward Christian Soldiers and Battle Hymn of the Republic, which were removed completely. Fortunately, actual Methodists complained loudly enough that these powerful—and, in one case, anti-slavery—hymns were restored before publication.

Complaining about bowdlerization does occasionally work, as we’ve also discovered at my church.

Hark the Herald Angels Sing has seen a similar change. The ever-popular replacement of all mankind with “we” is a weird one. It’s as if the editors of hymnals are uncomfortable with spreading the word of God throughout the world, and want to confine it only to people who have already been graced with it.

    • Hail, the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
    • Hail, the Sun of Righteousness!
    • Light and life to all he brings,
    • Ris’n with healing in his wings.
    • Mild he lays his glory by,
    • Born that man we no more may die,
    • Born to raise the sons of us from the earth,
    • Born to give them us second birth!

I’ve also seen the version “Born that all no more may die”.

The funniest of these I’ve seen recently is not a Christmas song at all. I Am the Bread of Life is filled with references to mankind as a whole.

My Year in Food: 2023—Wednesday, January 31st, 2024

In My Year in Books I wrote that quite a few of the books I read this year were cookbooks. This may have been my most interesting year yet for cookbooks, vintage and modern. Besides the cookbooks I’ve acquired, I completed or began three projects in 2023 that were each fascinating in their own way.

Most importantly, in June, I published Tempt Them with Tastier Foods, a collection of recipes from Chicago-area chef Eddie Doucette, who was also the face of IGA groceries throughout the country. This was a fun project—especially testing some of the recipes Doucette encouraged people to try. He’s mostly forgotten today, and that’s a shame. He was a pioneer television chef in Chicago in the fifties, and went on to promote the fun of cooking around the country and around the world.

Crêpe with orange sauce: Crêpe Suzette, from Eddie Doucette’s 1954 television show, Home Cooking.; oranges; Eddie Doucette; crêpes

Eddie Doucette’s delicious and easy crèpe suzette.

Orange Nog Breakfast Eye Opener: Orange Nog Breakfast Eye Opener, from Tempt Them with Tastier Foods, the Recipes of Eddie Doucette.; breakfast; oranges; Eddie Doucette; egg nog; eggnog

His wonderful orange nog breakfast beverage.

I also went through a 1950 recipe calendar and began a survey of early refrigerator manual/cookbooks, each of which I’ve written about elsewhere.

It was definitely my most interesting year for travel. This is the first time I’ve been to a place that officially doesn’t speak English.1 I went to Italy, and it should come as no surprise that the food was amazing.

I began the trip in Venice, for an Adriatic cruise. Our group stayed at the Molino Stucky Hotel on Giudecca before sailing, and even the hotel food was amazing.

The food only got better after we set sail. In Kotor, Montenegro, a cookbook author and chef opened her home to us and we had a sit-down meal of local foods and local wines. A planned drive to an archaeological dig in Santorini was canceled, so I wandered about the island on foot catching the sights. One of the sights was a restaurant in the middle of nowhere at the top of a tall hill.

My Year in Books: 2023—Wednesday, January 17th, 2024

This was a relatively slow year for books. According to Goodreads, I read an even 100, but quite a few of them were cookbooks. I’ll be writing about them later in 2023 in Food. Fictionwise, I started the year with Jack Vance’s Eight Fantasms and Magics. You could hardly do better. Vance is a master of fantasy, and a pretty good hand with science fiction as well. Especially when his science fiction looks like fantasy.

The green light floods the planet, and I prepare for the green day.

I ended the year with Lee Gold’s marvelous fantasy Valhalla: Into the Darkness. Gold is the proprietor of the Alarums & Excursions roleplaying zine (of which I’m a part) and shows the true role-player’s dedication to accurate mythology. While the dead role-player who was the protagonist of the first book remains here, this book’s protagonist is an Internet-obsessed squirrel who lives on the world tree.

I sang as I ran, and I never got tired. I was inspired, rhymes blazing like fire. I can’t even begin to tell you what it was like. When I ran across a patch of ash honey, and the bees swarmed up and stung me, I cried out in joy, because I knew just how they felt.

If you enjoy weird fantasy with a fairy-tale bent that’s deeply rooted in real mythology, you will enjoy Gold’s series.

I read three sailing books toward the end of the year, although only two really count. I finally got around to reading Patrick O’Brian’s Master and Commander; while reading that in paperback, I also started up a new ebook, David Weber’s On Basilisk Station, the first of the Honor Harrington series. I had no idea when I started it that it was clearly either inspired by Master and Commander or by the same books that inspired Master and Commander.

Trump and the January 6 defendants—Wednesday, January 10th, 2024
Admiral Ackbar: It’s a trap!: Admiral Ackbar, “It’s a trap!” for January 6 and Trump.; Star Wars; January 6

I recently read Cynthia Hughes’s Due Process Denied. She’s not a professional writer, and in a book like this that’s a benefit. Her story about how she became involved with the January 6 prisoners runs the gamut from emotional to rambling to prayerful to humorous.

This is the kind of book that we need more of: inexperienced writers telling a story they’re compelled to tell because they have a unique perspective on an important event. Hughes experienced January 6 through her nephew-from-another-family who, like many, was allowed into the Capitol by the Capitol Police and was then arrested for it.

Unlike Julie Kelly, who does great work as a professional journalist, Hughes really is just an American who happened to see evil happen to someone she loves and decided to do something about it. Her Patriot Freedom Project grew from a weekly support chat for families of those held without bail to a fund for helping them survive the loss of breadwinners and jobs, as well as a referral service for helping them find lawyers and therapists. Many people lost both friends and family after the arrests.

She is obviously someone who doesn’t understand what’s going on in her country yet who wants to make a difference anyway. And by most accounts, she is making a difference.

Sometimes, among the concerted efforts to make it seem like President Trump should abandon his supporters, it seems like there’s a concerted campaign on the conservative forums I follow to fool people into thinking Trump has abandoned his supporters. I see a small number of unfamiliar posters claiming that he’s abandoned the January 6 prisoners, for example, despite him introducing and praising people like Cynthia Hughes at his giant rallies for all the world to see, despite him calling out the prosecutions as the witch hunts they are.

“We all saw this a mile away,” they write, so why didn’t Trump? Why didn’t he pardon all of his supporters who attended his rally?

But the fact is, we didn’t see this a mile away. We certainly didn’t see it less than two weeks away, which is what would have been necessary for a blanket pardon between January 6 and January 20. And it would have had to have been a big blanket. It’s not like there were signups for people attending his rally.

Presidents have pardoned named individuals for unspecified crimes (President Ford, pardoning Richard Nixon). Presidents have pardoned specific groups for specified crimes (President Carter, pardoning people who avoided the draft by moving to Canada).

Looking back over 1950 in vintage cooking—Wednesday, January 3rd, 2024
Distracted vintage chef: Last year’s vintage cookbook jealous of this year’s.; cookbooks; memes; food history; vintage cookbooks

On December 28 of last year, I posted A 1950 recipe calendar for 2023 and wrote that:

I’m looking forward to trying a new recipe from this calendar each month come January.

I didn’t use as many of these recipes as I would have liked. Life kept intruding, and new cookbooks kept beckoning. But I did manage to try July’s Banana Cream Whip recipe well after the Fourth, August’s Date-Peanut Butter Filling for summer guests, November’s Cranberry Ice Box Pudding for Thanksgiving, and December’s Fruited Peanut Butter Rolls for Christmas.

I remade October’s Bacon-Corn Fondue over the holidays, as I planned to do, although I didn’t use ham this time.

Given how few recipes there are per month, I do wonder how often members of the Hope Lutheran community brought the same dishes to get-togethers! Fortunately, making these recipes 73 years later I didn’t have to worry about someone else bringing the same one.

Independence Day’s Banana Cream Whip is such a lovely and simple recipe, I’m surprised it’s not in the Chiquita Banana Recipe Book.

Banana Cream Whip

Banana Cream Whip

Servings: 4
Preparation Time: 1 hour
A 1950 recipe calendar for 2023
Hope Lutheran 1950 calendar of recipes (PDF File, 11.7 MB)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup mashed bananas (2-3 bananas)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  • ½ cup whipping cream, whipped

Steps

  1. Mix bananas, lemon juice, sugar and salt.
  2. Fold in whipped cream.
  3. Chill.
  4. Serve as is, with sliced fruit, or sprinkled with granola.
Refrigerator Revolution Revisited: 1928 Frigidaire—Wednesday, December 27th, 2023
The Fruits of Your Frigidaire: Women enjoying the fruits of their Frigidaire refrigerator, from the 1928 Frigidaire Recipes.; refrigerators; Frigidaire

Enjoying the fruits of their Frigidaire.

Since writing Refrigerator Revolution I’ve picked up two other refrigerator cookbook/manuals, and I’ve written a script to scan cookbooks into PDFs. So besides covering three refrigerator manuals (1928, 1942, and 1947) in this series, I’ll also provide searchable downloads of them, so that you can see my sources for yourself.

  1. Frigidaire, 1928
  2. Cold Cooking, 1942
  3. Norge Cold Cookery, 1947

The oldest refrigerator manual in my collection, and the inspiration for this series, is the 1928 Frigidaire Recipes (PDF File, 15.5 MB). Like all three of these books, It’s both a manual and a recipe collection. It goes over the basic functions of the refrigerator, such as its dial for adjusting how quickly things freeze and how to defrost.

The Frigidaire book’s subtitle was “Prepared especially for Frigidaire Automatic Refrigerators equipped with the Frigidaire Cold Control.” That’s a very dry description of something you had to see to believe:

The primary purpose of Frigidaire Automatic Refrigeration is to preserve food. In this capacity it is today preventing needless food spoilage and safeguarding health in hundreds of thousands of homes throughout the world. But there are many other services which Frigidaire offers.

The delicious frozen desserts and salads which may be prepared with the aid of Frigidaire, represent an entirely new application of the household refrigerator. To understand thoroughly how easily these frozen dishes may be prepared is to value Frigidaire above all other household utilities.

The language reminds me of early home computer manuals, promising a revolutionary appliance that will change the way you live. Like Andy Hertzfeld in Revolution in The Valley, the refrigerator is referred to as a subject without an article. Frigidaire, like Macintosh, is a person, not a thing.

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