Odestme oposalpre

I have a long commute right now, and I think a lot of things. One of the things I thought today was: why is Pig Latin usually spelled "...-ay", when "...-e" would be more in line with the "Latin" thing? Why "Igpay Atinlay" instead of "Igpe Atinle", in other words?

Whether Pig Latin was directly inspired by the sound of Latin's word endings or whether the name was applied afterwards in recognition of the resemblance is, I believe, irrelevant. If nations can rework their languages to hint more broadly at a glorious past that may or may not have existed, surely Pig Latin can do the same.

Iie uggestse, ereforethe, atthe Igpe Atinle ebe enceforthhe ittenwre ikele isthe. Omebodyse oge updateie Ikipediawe.


I've got towel fever... and the only cure is more towels!

Politics as advertising

Submitted without comment: the message on a poster I saw today advertising R-35, the "Importcar Festival in Yokohama".

When I was young, I looked up to America.
Now I only feel that way
about their cars.


First day

I worked today in an office full of adults, nary a teenager in sight, and when it got dark I looked out of my window and saw car headlights and Coca-Cola billboards far below.


Hand me my knives

Another day, another article about those wacky words that other languages have!

While English speakers have to describe the action of laughing so much that one side of your abdomen hurts (hardly an economical phrase), the Japanese have the much more efficient expression: katahara itai.

The vast majority of the "efficiency" there is packed into the word katahara (片腹), meaning "one side of your abdomen", although really "belly" would be more natural than abdomen, but in any case, is this really more efficient than "side-splitting"? I mean, the phrases are directly comparable in terms of both literal meaning and subsequent hyperbolic devaluation, and I count three syllables in "side-splitting", and at least twice as many in katahara itai.

(Incidentally, this phrase is probably a corruption of katawara itai (傍ら痛い), "beside-pain", which is applied to a person or circumstance so shameful or pitiful that it hurts to be near him, her or it. Which isn't really relevant to how it's used today, but is kind of interesting.)

Moving on...

The Japanese have bakku-shan - a girl who appears pretty from behind but not from the front.

True, but when you consider that this word (arguably pair of words) is simply a combination of English back and German schoen, "beautiful", it's not very good evidence for the idea that English isn't kooky enough.

I suppose you could argue that English speakers lack the creativity to put their words together in kooky ways like that, but come on -- even my relatively sheltered life has allowed me to hear several remarkably creative, although often quite unkind, 100% English expressions for people who are attractive from behind but not before. If there's one thing English doesn't lack, it's insults.



I have moved again, from a friend's friend's house to a friend's house, which is really a much more comfortable relationship to exploit ... no, actually, I guess exploit is the right word. Anyway, from tomorrow, I will start putting on pants and going to work. (Just kidding, Will. I'm wearing pants right now too. As far as you know.)

Maicch 3

A real-people version of まいっちんぐマチコ先生 (Maicchingu Machiko-sensei, more about the meaning of which below) has been released on DVD and in extremely, extremely carefully selected theatres in central Tokyo.

For those who came in late, Maicchingu Machiko-sensei is an 80s manga/anime property about a teacher for whom everyone at the school is hot, and her skirts' unfortunate tendency to flip up and reveal her panties, upon which event she says "iyan!" and/or "maicchingu!"

maicchingu is an example of the "adding -ing to Japanese verbs" thing I blogged about last year. The verb being mistreated is mairu, which is one of those super-old Japanese verbs that has a bunch of polite and casual usages involving movement from one place to another, but the important one here is the meaning "to be defeated, give up, etc." A Japanese person saying maitta na is roughly equivalent to certain of my relatives saying "Well, that's a bit of a pickle, isn't it?"

(This kind of nuance being difficult to translate, it was apparently known in English as "the Shame of Teacher Machiko", which makes it sound like an entirely different variety of entertainment.)

This new movie isn't the first live-action movie about Machiko-sensei's exploits, which is perhaps why it has the slightly more detailed title of 『まいっちんぐマチコ!ベギンズ』, "Maicchingu Machiko! Begins". I had hoped that this indicated a grittier, darker take on the Machiko mythos, perhaps featuring her early battles with the recalcitrant items of clothing which would later become her arch-nemeses, but the trailer (as linked from here, after the scarily well annotated list of people involved with the film) suggests that this is not the case.


If I downloaded some softcore p_rn it'd be just like Carnivale

I think a Brazilian person was using this computer before me, because all the sites are defaulting to Portuguese. So let me take this opportunity to plug Kim Ahlström's jisho.org, which is like WWWJDIC Lite (in a good way) and works on my phone. And, seriously, if it works on my phone it's guaranteed to work on yours. Hello, fourth bookmark.

Publicar postagem!


How to be completely naked in Japanese

A while ago, one of Something Awful's pretending-to-be-horrified-but-actually-acting-as-direct-product-placement-for-J-list porn reviews (hey, everyone's got to make a living) demonstrated the power of context-based language learning when its author successfully deduced that zenra meant "naked".

In kanji, you write it like this: 全裸, literally "completely naked". This is a Sino-Japanese word, though: there are a surprising number of native Japanese synonyms. In fact, they act as a pretty good catalogue of the common prefixes meaning "completely".

  • akahadaka (赤裸), "red-naked". The most convincing theory I've heard for why "red" = "completely" is that aka is related to words like akarui, which means "bright", and therefore "obvious" -> "unmistakably, completely". (I guess it might also be related to the aka in words like akachan for "baby", since babies are born naked and all -- but since there are also words and phrases like akahage ("red [= completely] bald") and aka no tanin ("a red [= complete] stranger"), I prefer the more general explanation.)
  • maruhadaka (丸裸), "round-naked". This one is so much easier. Something which is round has no discontinuities or awkwardness in its outline, therefore it is whole and/or complete. You can put maru before periods of time to emphasise their fullness (think "one week" vs "a solid week"), and it's also the meat of the very common phrase maru de ("just like..." or "completely").
  • hitahadaka (直裸), "just naked". This one must be pretty rare, because I hadn't heard of it before I started writing this post, and the Windows kanji entry system doesn't know it either. Apparently the hita here is probably related to hito, the old, old, ooold Japanese lexeme for "one". It's the same hita as in the fairly common word hitasura, which can mean a variety of things related to singleness and completeness. ("Merely", "single-mindedly", "completely", etc.)
  • mappadaka (真っ裸), "truly naked". Another easy one. Note that the ha at the start of hadaka has turned into a ppa.
  • suppadaka (素っ裸), "fundamentally naked" or maybe "purely naked". This one doesn't really belong here because the su is Chinese. I'm letting it in out of sympathy, though, because little 素 here doesn't even have a proper Japanese reading. The only native Japanese work it can get is obvious subbing for other kanji in words like 素人 (shirouto, etymologically "white person" (白人) but meaning "amateur") and 素より (motoyori, "from the beginning" (元より)). This, plus the fact that su causes the exact same ppa-ing as ma, has led me to grant su official status as a lexeme so thoroughly assimilated into Japanese that it might as well be native. You can also see it in the word suppin, which is probably from 素品, "fundamental/unblemished appearance/character", and means "face without make-up".

Anyone know any others?


I got a letter from the government / the other day / I opened and read it / It said

Work! Glorious, glorious work! How I've missed you!

The wait to get this news was actually even more exciting than it had to be. They told me on the phone that a decision had been reached, but they couldn't tell me what it was, so I had to go down in person. Two and a half hour journey. Then I spent half an hour waiting in the wrong line before I finally got the good news.

Thanks for your support, everyone! Especially people who let me sleep on their floor while I was a bureaucratic zero. (And, uh, who will let me sleep on their floor over the next couple of weeks until I get my own place. Ahem.)

Let us all celebrate by admiring images of Koyuki turning into a cat. So this is what they mean by Otaku-ism going mainstream.


"Fy on yow," quod she, "Everichoon!"

"I decided to do a lesson about light and shadow using photos of famous people, but I didn't have much time to prepare, so I only made copies of two different pictures, one of NAKAMA Yukie and one of INOUE Waka.

"So at the start of class, I said, 'Okay, everybody, today we're going to be drawing from photos. I have plenty of photos of Inoue Waka, but only ten of Nakama Yukie, so if you prefer--' and at that point, all of the students had leapt to their feet and begun racing towards the front to get their picture.

"The first ten people took a Nakama Yukie picture. The eleventh said 'Aw, man... I have to draw Inoue Waka?' And then everyone else after him complained too.

"Later, when I was walking around the classroom checking on their work, the kids with Nakama Yukie pictures were carefully shading in her cheeks, brows furrowed in concentration, but the ones with Inoue Waka had just scribbled a vague outline and settled back to play with their mobile phones. 'Hey, come on, you can do better than that,' I told them, but they would just say 'Whatever. It's only Inoue Waka.'"

High school kids can be harsh. P.S. I'm back to no net at "home" status.


Probably not a new observation

So I saw a couple in Shibuya today. He was carrying her oversized Louis Vuitton bag for her. (I assume -- but he didn't look the type to have his own.) I looked at them for a few moments before the oddness really hit me. Isn't one's accessorising somewhat undermined if one doesn't actually carry one's own accessories?


Try and guess which is mine

When I see these exploitation posters, I think "keitai wallpaper".


He tells me in his bedroom voice

Starting this weekend, I'll be back to imposing on a friend for the roof over my head. It's been real having a place of my own, but I can't afford the rent they charge (in exchange for no deposit or "key money" or being-employed requirement), but I'm looking forward to being able to leech off someone else's routine again. Being completely adrift here means that I have to space out my few meagre errands even though I could easily finish them all in a single morning, because otherwise I would have one day of activity and then a long line of Nonedays in which I actually seriously consider the question of whether I should use the same tone for Cio-Cio-San's voice in my two Puccini Nintendo music files.

Speaking of Nintendo, yesterday was Mario's 20th birthday. That is, if you assume he was born on the day that Super Mario Brothers came out, which seems to be how Nintendo sees it. This view, mind you, has the unfortunate side effect of casting our pleasant childhood memories in a new, chilling light: who knew that our incompetence and poorly timed dash-jumps were driving an infant to endless, ignoble deaths? How were we to know? He had a moustache!

And if Mario wasn't born until SMB, who was that in Donkey Kong?! Not to mention the game-and-watches.

The best thing about the 20th anniversary site, as of press time, is the big collection of wigged-out, not-for-sale Micro designs, some apparently contributed by those famous and beautiful people we all love to love. Click on "Vol. 3" on this page, and then click on the top-left tiny micro (the Shiseido Uno one) to start a step-by-step journey through them. (The Web CMs here are also pretty cute.)

Egotism, thy name is Mario Mario. That's right, baby! It's not just fanon (and creatornon) any more! First name/Last name OTP! The Harmonians are just going to die.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the gaming industry, the 100-yen superstore Daiso has quietly launched a new line of cellphone games. The physical item you buy is a folded piece of paper in a polythelane sleeve. Once you've paid, you can tear open the plastic, unfold the paper, and enter the "User ID" and "Password"* to download the game you chose. There are quite a few available; this guy bought the dating simulator and wasn't all that impressed, but still -- it's 100 yen.

This, of course, is genius. After paying the programmers for the finished product -- and I think we can assume that the development process wasn't exactly Metal Gear-level intense -- Daiso own the rights to something that they can distribute for virtually no money as many times as they want, and at a cost to the consumer so low that even if the game didn't work they'd probably just laugh it off. (What are you going to do, march into Daiso and demand your dollar back?)

Of course this pattern applies to a lot of cheap cellphone games that are available these days, but Daiso have the big advantage of being able to put their games where throngs of people walk past them every day. I imagine the impulse purchase count is much higher when it doesn't have to be negotiated via a fussy miniaturised web browser and a half-interested publishing company's ill-designed homepage.

My phone, incidentally, is not supported. This doesn't surprise me. My phone is so badly designed that it doesn't even support its own OS.

* Since both are single-use it's really just a long access code broken in two, but whatever.


If music were a fandom this would be pimping

Ironically, my cash flow problems have actually led to backsliding on the "stop spending so much time/money on obscure music" project. Not having the leeway to buy any albums has turned me into a scourer of obscure label websites, searching for music that's free, free, free. One of my greatest finds so far has been Graveface Records -- great name, varied roster, sensible site design.

I really can't recommend Black Moth Super Rainbow or Spires That In The Sunset Rise enough. Go ye and listen to their sample music, for it rules. (So much so that it's even worth battling STITSR's stupid, unhelpful site design to get to.)


P-type, level 2

Okay, I think I'm getting the hang of this. Who wants to hear the touching ballad "Un Bel Di, Vedremo", mercilessly wangled into a rousing, side-scrolling shoot-'em-up-appropriate march? (Come on, don't be shy.)

IN A.D. 1904


Would the ultimate goal of Madame Butterfly: The Game be to win Pinkerton's heart after all, or kill him?


Unappetizing restaurant name of the day

"Danger Steak". Sorry, no picture. (UPDATE: My mistake. The restaurant's name is actually Steakhouse Mr. Danger, named after the ex(?) pro wrestler who owns it. "Danger Steak" is just a menu item.)


Here they come bustling!

I went ahead and made a Nintendo version of Madame Butterfly's first big entrance scene. (That warbling is supposed to be her friends.)


I only corrected one letter

Great (and funny) example of how, to a Japanese speaker, the ideas conveyed by words can change according to how they're written.

  • 「加糖練乳」 -- Hard to understand, seems formal and jargony like an inter-office invoice or something
  • 「コンデンスミルク」 -- Something you pour on strawberries
  • 「こんでんすみるく」 -- A dirty video game
  • 「Condensed Milk」 -- A classy, expensive brand with stuff like "Since 1958" written on the package

I love the "ぴゅーりたん☆かくめい" in the comments. Now that sounds like a dirty video game.

Only ten?

Worst utopias ever.

Cultural differences department: when I hear the phrase "We have bred a race of psychic hybrids" -- well, let's just say my interpretation of "psychic hybrids" involves less racism and more psi-ray battles on the moon.


The real enemy

In 1928, the intellectual and political freedoms of the Taisho period were being severely curtailed by the new Showa government, the world was just about to descend into the Great Depression, and Marxism-admiring WATANABE On wrote this.


If it's too old, you're too loud

Why bother studying the Manyoushuu properly, when you can just view a poorly formatted, randomly chosen one any time you like?

Yeah, yeah, I know. This is the last "random x generator" for a while. By the way, is it poor form to link sideways into someone's database like that? I figure since we're just talking about small text files it doesn't really matter, but...


  • A collection of Japanese signs.
    One friend of mine once told me that to graduate from the Japanese language school that he went to, he had to take a walk with his teacher and be able to read any sign that the teacher pointed to. This set of photos allows you to test yourself in a similar way.
    I passed! (via LanguageHat)
  • Extreeeeeme kakekotoba!!! I understand this technique was first pioneered by Henjou as he snowboarded down Mt Fuji, slamming back a Mountain Dew and juggling sharks.
  • Nara picture books. Note that that's Nara as in the place, not the period.


I made a funny

Or maybe you'd be better off calling it an ugly.


Easing the pain

FEMA has a rap. For kids. Who know the word "mitigation".

The wisdom of our ancestors

"Stone-throwing festival hurts 50".

Every year, the festival is held in August or September in Chhindwada district of southern Madhya Pradesh, in which villagers of Saargaon and Pandhurhna form two groups and hurl stones at each other. ...
'We do not know when this festival started. It must be centuries old,' said Raghav Singh, a resident of Pandhurna.

Note also, fellow linguistics nerds, the two spellings of "Chhindwa(r|d)a", and tremble before what I assume is another example of the confusifying power of The Flap. Or maybe it's the confusifying power of being hit on the head with festival rocks.


I have to post something to get Geraldo's face off the top of this page

Went to a restaurant in Asakusa today called 駒形どぜう, transliterable as Komagata dozeu. "Komagata" is the name of their neighborhood, and what they serve is dojou. So, you see, learning historical kana usage can be beneficial in the real world too. Just think how embarrassed you'd be if you were all "Do-ze-oo? That doesn't sound so tasty!" and your date was like "It's pronounced dojou, and they're delicious, delicious loaches!" Because they are, people. Served in sturdy iron and ceramic dishes on a giant slab of wood, in a room carpeted with a rush mat, just like God intended.

For those who are interested in that kind of thing: Penny Arcade are, at the time of writing, all set to make more than $7,500 for charity by selling one pencil drawing and one signed print... and there are still five days left on the auction. I have a feeling, too, that this year's Child's Play is going to be even more successful than last year's, which was in turn more successful than the previous year's. It never ceases to amaze me how good those guys are at organising their relatively-well-off, free-cash-having readership into a lean, mean, others-helping machine. Also, how good they are, period.

Finally, here is your waka of the day, in a dubiously pseudo-archaic rhyming translation just for kicks:

sakurabana / tirikahi kumore / oiraku no / komu to ihu naru / michi magahu gani
"Fall, sakura, fall, hither and thither, and cloud the sky,
Hide from Age the road, so that he never can come nigh."
(By billionaire playboy Ariwara no Narihira)

This poem is of particular interest to me because although there are plenty of classical waka that include an idea like "even the [insert animal or plant here] are [insert emotion here], just like me", I don't know many that anthropomorphise a complete abstraction this strongly. Anyone want to contribute another?


Nis nu cwicra nan þe ic him modsefan minne durre sweotule asecgan

I don't mean to seem insensitive by continuing to post about old Japanese books as though Hurricane Katrina hadn't happened (apart from a single link to a "lighter side" item). I figure that you guys can find places to donate without my help, and it isn't like my switching to an all-refugee camp format would make any real difference.

I do think that everyone who hasn't already should go down to Crooks and Liars and watch Smith & Rivera vs. Hannity & Colmes. I've heard people call Geraldo's baby-handling a cheap stunt, and it's true that those babies didn't look happy to be separated from their carers, even for a second. But you know, even in the least generous interpretation -- which I don't subscribe to -- of Geraldo cynically planning the whole thing and faking those tears without an ounce of genuine pity, the fact that there are still babies to pick up in that dark, dirty, corpse-choked convention centre renders the question of authenticity completely irrelevant. You can be an atheist in a foxhole, but you can't be a hipster.

Il Geraldo con bambino also served to mirror those hundreds and hundreds of "celebrity poses with child orphaned by war/famine/genocide/natural disaster" images we've seen over the course of our lives. It can happen to you wherever you are. Nowhere and nobody is safe. Or, put the other way, they were us all along.

Wyrd bið ful aræd.

Oh, and, confidential to S.H.: when you're talking to two guys who are knee-deep in the worst disaster on your country's soil in at least a century, and visibly on the verge of cracking, and the subject is the terrible plight of thousands of your fellow human beings, never, ever make this gesture:


EDIT: I just had to add this for posterity:

'And I want to give you one last story and I'll shut up and let you tell me whatever you want to tell me. The guy who runs this building I'm in, emergency management, he's responsible for everything. His mother was trapped in St. Bernard nursing home and every day she called him and said, "Are you coming, son? Is somebody coming?" And he said, "Yeah, Mama, somebody's coming to get you. Somebody's coming to get you on Tuesday. Somebody's coming to get you on Wednesday. Somebody's coming to get you on Thursday. Somebody's coming to get you on Friday." And she drowned Friday night. She drowned Friday night. Nobody's coming to get us. Nobody's coming to get us.'

The other Hyakunin Isshus

"MIZUKAKI Hisashi"'s Yamatouta page has a lot of interesting material about Japanese poems -- plus an associated blog -- but what caught my attention day was his page on the 『狂歌百人一首』, Kyouka Hyakunin Isshu, a collection of parodies of the original hundred poems, and the 『愛国百人一首』, Aikoku Hyakunin Isshu -- aikoku means "patriotism". And when was it published? 1942.

You might think this would make the collection a disaster of shoddily-constructed jingoistic trash written to order, but, perhaps in recognition of this danger, the selection criteria extend only to poems published before 1868, i.e. the beginning of the Meiji Emperor's reign. So, what you end up with is one hundred poems from throughout Japan's literary history, chosen on the basis of both quality and "patriotism", which was apparently interpreted "broadly" to include "國土禮讚、人倫、季節など" ("praising the land, morality, the seasons and so forth"). You can read more of judge ORIKUCHI Shinobu's comments, including individual comments on each poem, here.

The first poem in the collection is a golden oldie from KAKINOMOTO Hitomaro:

ohokimi ha / kami ni si maseba / amagumo no / ikaduti no uhe ni / ihoriseru kamo
"The Emperor, being a god, has built a dwelling above [on?] the lightning in the clouds."

There are other poems about gods:

hatuharu no / hatuhi kagayohu / kamiguni no / kami no mikage wo / ahuge moromoro
"The first day of spring shines on this land of the gods; revere the spirits of those gods, o multitudes!"

And there are a couple about the military, like this one:

arare huri / kasima no kami wo / inoritutu / sumeramiikusa ni / ware ha kinisi wo
"Praying and praying to the god of haily Kashima, I have arrived to join the Imperial Forces!"

Some of them were once innocent, but seem more unpleasant in the new context of the war effort:

morokosi mo / ame no sita ni zo / ari to kiku / teru hi no moto wo / wasurezaranamu
"China, too, is under the heavens, I hear; forget not the land of the rising, shining sun".

That was originally written by Joujin's mother when he went to China to learn more about Buddhism. The goals in 1942 were a little different. (Much more about Joujin and this poem here.)
The very last poem even has some spring book recommendations:

haru ni akete / madu miru humi mo / amatuti no / hajime no toki to / yomiiduru kana
"At the dawn of spring, the first book to read is the one that opens with 'when the Heaven and Earth began...'"

If you've ever wondered how eleven Japanese intellectuals in 1942 might have reconstructed a modern form of patriotism from their country's literary history, this is the collection to check out.


You have to remember that this was before they had Wikipedia

The National Diet Library's mini-page about the Japanese Calendar has a delightful section called Unriddling the Daisho-reki calendar.

According to the lunisolar calendar, there were long months with 30 days and short ones with 29 and their arrangement changed year by year. So knowing the arrangement of long and short months, with the inclusion of an intercalary month from time to time, was very important for the people who lived in those times. Merchants, who made it a rule to effect payments or collections at the end of each month, would make signs to show a long or short month and erect them up in their shops according to the month in order to avoid mistakes. ...
The Daisho-reki calendar, which showed only the order of the long and short months, appeared during the Edo period (1603-1867). In those days it was called simply "Daisho." But instead of merely showing the length of month, it incorporated such devices as indicating long and short months with the use of pictures and sentences. ...
Later, in the Meiji era, when the solar calendar was officially adopted, Daisho calendars fell into disuse and were no longer produced. However, the puzzles they included continue to excite interest even today. From generations people have collected Daisho calendars and many of them are kept in the National Diet Library. So let us try to solve a few of their puzzles.

Yes, let's! The page includes all the information about characters and things you need to know to solve the puzzles, even if you don't read any Japanese at all.

The gallery elsewhere on the site has a few other interesting sections, too. Sadly, the most exciting part (for me) is in Japanese only: Rare Books!

Here's the list of what they have, or you can start from Book Number 001 (the Āryasarvapuṇyasamuccayasamādhi Sutra, if memory serves*) and just keep clicking on 次 to go forward.

Most of them are just scans of the cover or first page or two, as far as I can tell, but there are exceptions. Look for and click on the phrase "特別展示があります" below the photos, and be rewarded with a peek inside, among other things:

Also, this isn't a complete work, but I just had to share it: a scene from the completely unacceptable tale Nansou Satomi Hakkenden, in which (spoilers) the deceased Fusehime and her dog-husband Yatsufusa return from the dead long enough to shoot some sort of ray at a scoundrel or two. Or maybe it's a printing error? I have to admit I'm not that familiar with the story, because ew.

And finally, just so that this blog doesn't degenerate into a collection of links to scans of old books, let's talk about 美津朝 as a word for "new year". Pronounced mitsu no asa, it means "three mornings". (美津 are ateji for 三つ, and the no is not actually written, as was very common in the Olden Days.) The "three mornings" are, of course, the dawn of the new year, the dawn of the first month in that year, and the dawn of the first day in that month. Cool, huh? Also expressible as sanchou, 三朝, which was probably borrowed along with the calendar from China.

* Okay, okay, I googled it.



I was watching a flannel-shirted man talk about his attempts to rehabilitate troubled youth.

"Of course, sometimes he'd rather just hop around, but, hey -- that's Paul for you!"

Laughter from the crowd. Then an old man with glasses on a strap stands up. "You're the problem with this society. You're encouraging delinquency! He'll be shooting up heroin and you'll still be making a joke about it!"

Later, I found Flannel-Shirt in another room of the castle, hugging his protege fiercely and on the verge of angry tears. "It's OK, Paul," he says. "That old bastard will never understand." For you see, Paul was a kangaroo!

Suddenly the lights go out. "RUN! RUN!" blares over the P.A. The four towers at the corners of the castle read RUN in huge fluorescent green letters. Displaying my usual caution, I decide to flee via the moat and make my way to the main gate only to find a group of my fellow castle residents, despair on their faces, filling in the moat from the inside with corpses and dirt. The gate itself is guarded by a bipedal robot with powerful weaponry instead of arms -- a Vesh! The Vesh are back!

The Vesh! A monstrous race from the depths of space whose reign of terror here still brings nightmares to those who remember it! As ruthless and invincible as Genghis Khan's Mongols, leaving the native peoples of the worlds they conquer only two choices: serve as slaves, or be brutally killed! One of their scout parties almost took over the entire planet Earth! We fought them off, but at great and terrible cost -- and we knew they would return one day in force. Now they have. Human civilisation is over.

My options were threefold: I could die, I could join the Vesh slave crew, or I could remain in hiding and try to escape the castle into the wilderness. More out of fear than anything else, I choose the latter. There is a lot of swimming and lurking. I team up with a wizard who lives in the belltower and has made contact with a newly formed tribe of freemen in the forests nearby. But with the Vesh patrolling the castle on all sides, escape seems impossible. Despairing, we concoct one final plan: lure the Vesh Prince away from his handlers, and use him as a hostage to secure our freedom! (The Vesh Prince is a smaller, orange version of his older fellow Vesh.)

I woke up in the middle of a tense, three-way armed Mexican standoff involving myself (holding the Vesh Prince as a non-human shield), the wizard, and a Vesh Duke. And felt such an incredible sense of relief. I haven't been so rattled by a dream since that time I dreamed I was an Autobot, and realised that the Decepticons would never, ever stop trying to kill me and steal my energy cubes.

I can only presume that this is my subconscious trying to process the New Orleans disaster.

(I also want to mention that Paul's kangaroohood was, in the dream, a shocking and moving revelation rather than a cheap reveal gag.)

Mana burn from heaven

I was searching for information about IHARA Saikaku's Nippon Eitaigura when I found most of an extremely old copy high-res scanned and put online.

Turns out that Kyoto University has given this treatment to all kinds of old documents. A goodly proportion of them are Japanese (and in cursive hands largely or completely unintelligible to me), but there's also the Collection de Documents Relatifs a l'Architecture et a la Topographie en France, Siebold's Fauna Japonica, an Ethiopian scroll in Ge'ez, a book from Sumatra in Batak, a picture of SANTOU Kyouden, a bunch of maps, Islam-related stuff in Arabic, Persian and Ottoman Turkish, all kinds of documents in Qing-period Chinese, etchings by SHIBA Koukan, some kind of illustrated mini-newspaper...

Some of this stuff is accessible through the English page, but not all.