Friday, October 29, 2021

Word of the Day -- Oobleck

When we were doing our puzzles this morning, there was a new quiz.  And it was about new words that make it into the dictionary.  I'm always fascinated by these and so glad when new ones are added.  That's because I'm not a stickler for formality in language; I don't believe that the rules are hard and set.  Things change over time, words shift, spellings change, grammar, formatting, all of that has to move with the world.  


So when I saw this word come up, I had no idea what it meant but I was correct in my guess, mainly because I wanted it to be that so bad:

Oobleck -- a mixture of corn starch and water that behaves like a liquid when at rest and like a solid when pressure is applied.

The first time I ever heard about this was on Mythbusters, which was one of my favorite shows when it

was running.  They explored this and of course ramped it up in Mythbusters style.  

Now you can find viral videos of people doing this at home.  It's a really cool experiment to play around with.  I have not tried it yet, but I plan to this weekend, I just have to buy some more corn starch.  I think the ratio is 2 parts corn starch to 1 part water.  

And it indeed does come from Dr. Seuss, though I did not remember it from the books, that's been a loooong time for me.  

Derivation -- after oobleck, a viscous green substance in the children's book Bartholomew and the Oobleck (1949) by Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss geisel

 So if I get around to playing with some oobleck I'll try and get some video for next week.  Have a great weekend folks, and enjoy this video of some oobleck!


Morning Myth - Gluttony

Gluttony, typically associated with the excessive consumption of food, can more broadly be interpreted as excessive consumption of anything. It would appear that gluttony is almost universally considered a vice that should be avoided. Almost. 

There is a mythical beast in northern Scandinavia called the Gulon. It is a very large hairy dog-like creature with many feline features. It has a cat's face, claws, and ears. It is variously described with a fox's tail. The beast is a voracious eater. It attacks and kills animals larger than itself and proceeds to fill its belly. It eats so much that, when it can eat no more, the gulon finds two trees through which it can barely squeeze. It then proceeds to squeeze itself through the trees forcing itself to excrete as much as it can. it then goes back to eating.

Gluttony is interesting. It is, at least in the judeo-christian tradition, considered a sin. The same can be said to varying degrees to be the case amongst many religious or philosophical beliefs. In some cases its more a prohibition rather than a sin. Yet, gluttony is one of the surest paths to social status. 

If I recall correctly (and I may not), during the middle to late Roman Empire, the elites would engage in a practice of having parties where eating and drinking to excess were the goals; eat and drink, then go vomit and return to the table to eat and drink more. The Satyricon is where I first came into contact with this idea. It occurred to me then that this had more to do with status than the pure enjoyment of food. To be able to be wasteful is only within the pursue of the wealthy and elites. To act wastefully is to establish social ranking. The accuracy of the Satyricon (it is a satire) is not issue, rather it is the idea. 

In large part the 'sinning' of gluttony is a prohibition against wastefulness.

In the case of the gulon, we have an interesting prohibition. Rather than the gluttonous act being outright sinful and punishable, it is associated with a disgusting act - forced excretion, much like the vomiting associated with those party goers in ancient Rome. This would be a mild prohibition against gluttony as far as I understand it. 

art by Hyun Lee
This would be my immediate, poorly thought out, take-away. The sinning of gluttony is probably quite old and likely existed shortly after man became conscious of himself and the consequences of his action. Being wasteful is bad, it is especially bad in lean times or amongst hunter-gathering societies. Gluttony continues to climb the rank of sins as more is produced and more is wasted. What is considered gluttonous also shifts depending on ideas and beliefs about scarcity. For example, the excessive consumption of fossil fuels is now being shifted into a social sin category. 

Anyway, the gulon got me thinking about consumption and sin and early man and evolution and sin and just carried me away on a path that lead.... nowhere really. Though the concept of wealth as a sin even makes it way into modern gaming.

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Morning Myth - Revolt and Punishment and Purification

Mayan mythology is wholly different than that with which many in the west are familiar. Central and South American mythologies only came to be known to the west (and east) in the mid 20th century. Even so, the ancient myths are poorly understood and go though wholesale rewrites every generation. At least it seems so to me.

There is a monster/beast in Mayan mythology called the camazotz. It is sometimes now referred to now as the Batman deity. I think you have seen the pictures of a modern artist's rendering. He created a stunning 'mask' in honor of this most ancient of deities. 

The beast does not, in any way, conform to the Batman presented in DC comics.

Camazotz is a bat/human hybrid. It has a bat head, wings, and can fly as a bat. it also has the attributes of a human with legs and arms. outside of this we do not know much what it would like as it seems there were no cladisticians or taxonomists to render a more accurate description. it is know that it was a terrifying beast of the underworld that may come to the realm of man to enact punishment or sent as retribution for a crime humans committed.

To me, the most interesting aspect of this deity is its association with retribution. Presumably, the Maya people decided that they no longer wanted to be sacrificed to the gods or have sacrificial rites whereby people were killed to assuage the ever blood thirsty gods. So the gods sent the camazotz to the realm of man to let the Maya know how the gods felt about this. The sacrifices continued. Camazotz is the bogeyman. Without the sacrifices, he will come get you. 

There are other myths associated with camazotz. He bit of the head of one of the twins and used it in the ballcourt of the gods, he was the interlocutor between the gods and man (bringing man fire in return for sacrifice), lived in the underworld, and the destruction of the first me (this is sorta unclear as i can not recall the ages in Mayan mythology - I'll look that up in the morning).  

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

As Luck Would Have It

Davis has had a long run of bad luck. Just keep that in mind.

So those who know me, know I don't care too much for stuff. Those random things that pile up over time, filling  desk drawers, dressers, baskets in the bathroom closets, piled up in little decorative boxes, in trunks and so forth and so on. It's just the flotsam of a life lived, perhaps well, perhaps poorly. Few of the items have much meaning, though over time we assign them meaning because they had the courage to remain in the drawer, the basket or the trunk. And after time, the items in question develop a personality, become living things in our mind so that tossing them out becomes ever harder. 

This all leads to one final, inevitable conclusion. Someone else has to clean it up. That someone else has been me on multiple occasions. This has, in turn, led me to attempting (and often failing) to cleanse the flotsam from my own life. 

As much for me as those who come after.

Today, in an attempt to get a pen out of my  center desk drawer to make some notes for the CKG promo video, it caught on something else, a something else that was in turn under a small tray of pens. The one action caused a chain reaction and upturned the tray of pens. That was irritating and I should have taken it for the sign it was. But I did not.

A moment later, while filing some papers, the overflowing file cabinet would not take them. This was a second sign. This one led to a sudden and violent cleansing of the file cabinet into the burn pile. (I'm not sure what I burned, it was alot of paper, but it doesn't matter now, because it is gone).

At any rate, that in turn led to me plunging into the desk and cleaning it out as well. Quite a few things found their way into the garbage and others to whatever other home will hold them until I trip over them in the future. But in the midst of all that I found a rock.

Yes. A rock.

That rock has been with me for over a decade. It has sat in that desk drawer for year after year. With no knowledge of where it came from, why I had it, or even how it got there I just kept it. Some faint memory told me of a one time paper weight, but I couldn't really remember. The rock had seemingly earned its place by the sheer amount of time it spent there. It was part of the family.

Well. No more. The rock had to go. It was just a rock. It hit the desk top, ready to find its way, with one good chunk, into the wood beyond the fence post. 

I was talking to Davis, my brother, via skype, while this was going on and he was laughing at me and I mentioned this rock to him. He said "what rock?" I told him I had no idea how I got it. But it was going. I sent him a picture. 

His response was overwhelming! Let me show you...

He went on about it for awhile. He also texted me. Davis NEVER texts me. I could tell him he won the lottery, and if it were on text, he would not respond. The only persons I know that he responds to on text are his children, my wife and my daughter and that's it. I'm not sure why I don't make the cut, but suspect it has something to do with my never ending blather about how we need to work harder.

At any rate, the rock did not go hurling off and into the forest. It is here. On my desk, waiting to be shipped or carefully driven to his farm some 3 hours away. I'm afraid if I ship it, since he doesn't have his good luck rock, it will become lost in the mail. 

As luck would have it, he'll get his rock back one way or another.

Hopefully, he'll have a turn of good luck after this. And hopefully he will finish the product videos he's been working on so we can sell more CKGs! (The first of his videos is up for Starship Warden.)

And now he has me looking for a jade necklace carved for him in Hondurus....lord have mercy.

For those who don't know, Davis Chenault is my brother, together with Mac Golden we founded Troll Lord Games in 1999 and he and Mac created the Siege Engine that powers the RPG Castles & Crusades.

Word of the Day -- Pelinti

One more from the wonderful world of Mental Floss.  This time it comes from Ghana:

Pelinti -- Your friend bites into a piece of piping hot pizza, then opens his mouth and sort of tilts his head around while making an “aaaarrrahh” noise. The Ghanaians have a word for that. More specifically, it means “to move hot food around in your mouth.”

Isn't that awesome?  We all know the feeling of this, but until now I've not been able to give it a name.  Granted, I would have to be in Ghana probably for someone to understand what I meant, but maybe we can make it a loanword.  Oh, that reminds me, we need to get into the differences between loanwords and calques soon.  

Have a great day of wording, folks!  Use them wisely and don't eat your pizza when it's too hot...

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Word of the Day -- Shemomedjamo

Another from the collection of words that sum up a phrase or thought where there is no English equivalent.  I know this one way too well, as I love food:

Shemomedjamo -- You know when you’re really full, but your meal is just so delicious, you can’t stop eating it? The Georgians feel your pain. This word means, “I accidentally ate the whole thing." 

It's a Georgian (not the southern state) word and I couldn't find much more about the derivation history, etc. Or even how to pronounce it but I bet if I said it I would do it with a full belly and a belch. :-)

 ~ info from Mental Floss

Monday, October 25, 2021

Free Book!

The word of the day today should be: FREE.  That's right, we want more of you to sign up for our newsletter.  You'll not only get great info and specials in your inbox, you will also get a FREE BOOK if you sign up before Halloween.  It's simple and only takes a minute. Once you do, you'll get a confirmation letter with a coupon for both the 5th Edition and Castles & Crusades version of The Hanged Man...

A long journey under an azure sky filling with brackish, boiling clouds ends at a large oak tree. Here, from a muscled branch, a man hangs limply by a thick rope strangled around his neck. Beyond, a dim, rising, yellow moon silhouette’s a village. Snaking, ashy tendrils of smoke coil above rooftops, lights glitter in windows while a miasmal fog creeps down upon the village from freshly churned fields. Then, as sudden as lightening, a fife and fiddle begin a joyous tune. This stops as abruptly as it started. All that now can be heard is a rope straining and groaning with the weight of the hanged man.

A bizarre and humorous adventure where absolution is as important as keeping one’s head.

This adventure is designed for 4-6 high-level characters.

Go HERE to get your free book!


Friday, October 22, 2021

Publishing Tales: Gods & Legends

The Making of Gods and Legends

Our recently released RPG manual, Gods & Legends, has its genesis in a previously published title, Of Gods & Monsters by James M. Ward. That latter title was selling out and would need updating and reprinted or replaced. In long talks with one of TLG’s editors, Steve Ege, the idea of updating the manuscript by greatly expanding the idea behind the deity avatars dominated my thinking. That changed however as I dug deeper into the content.

About this time our Thursday night game took on a whole new direction. Davis’ cleric, long calling himself the Mouth of Gods, started proselytizing about bringing back an ancient forest (the Uthvold) and with that the power of the Og Aust (ancient gods of the Darkenfold and Uthvold, see Aihrde material). Mac Golden’s character, Ki, took up the cause with gusto. Ki served the god Amunet, one of the Og Aust, as a knight of sorts, so joining Davis’ crusade proved an easy transition. The two led the rest of the party in an ever-growing interaction with the gods.

This led to more nuanced play and design from my point, as some type of consistent reaction from the gods proved necessary. This in turn led me to begin thinking about the gods and their role at the table.

Come along the C&C Players Handbook 7th printing Kickstarter. This madcap project proved a winner on that platform and in the waning days of it, having run out of stretch rewards I foolishly offered up the Gods and Monsters, 2nd Edition (not printing as it would be a massive rewrite) as a stretch reward. Everyone loved the idea, though I did put a heavy caveat on the reward that it was only in the earliest of conception phases. Well, we hit the reward and it landed in the pile of books on the schedule.

And there it languished. It languished for many years as I went through several writers and an ever-evolving concept of what I wanted out of the book. Despite this, I never fully forgot about the project, largely because a few backers on the KS kept reminding me and I kept needing more deity material for my Thursday game. It lingered on the edge of my mind.

Fast forward to 2019/2020.

As we finalized work on the Codex Egyptium by Brian Young, I had the sudden and final revelation of what I wanted this book to be, of its place in the TLG library. I saw it as a bookend to Young’s Mythos series (Celtarum, Nordica, Germania, Slavorum, Classicum, and Egyptium) but not one that had monsters in it, just Gods. Gods and how to play them. Here we are with an open-ended series of Mythos books but no real instruction on how to use them. Gods & Monsters, 2nd edition would be that instruction manual. I furthered the thought by pulling the monsters out, with the plan to move those to another book entirely. A second bookend. The Gods book, rapidly dropping its title, would be one bookend to the mythos series, the monster book the other. With no clear title, but finally a clear agenda I began looking for an author (third time’s the charm my mother always says).

 Davis was hard at work on the Inzae mythos (his world setting, see Dragon’s Crucible) when it occurred to me that he could write the Gods & Monsters, 2nd Edition. He likes to work on multiple projects so I posed it to him and he said sure, give me a Table of Contents and an outline of what you want. Whipping that up I sent it to him and without much comment, he dove into it. The proposed idea was to make the gods more playable at the table, to give guidance and new ideas on what to do with the gods and how they interact. He loves this type of content as the gods play a heavy role in his world of Inzae. I enlisted Zoe DeVos to join Peter and Jason Walton in doing the art and the book at long last began to take shape.

Davis began hammering it out in the next half year. Writing up scores of gods for monsters and demi-humans and humans, fleshing out sections on how to play the gods, and creating all manner of minor myths. As it developed I took his manuscripts and began weaving them into the forthcoming Planescapes books so that we could line the products up.

As I began rambling through his text the mountain of tiny stories stood out. All these legends about these gods were cool and gave plenty of context for the gods themselves.

Then it hit me. The title wouldn’t work. I pulled the monsters out. It was Gods & Monsters no more, just gods and how-to’s. After some long debate with Davis, who frankly didn’t care what the title was as he never does, I settled on the title Gods & Legends. There were plenty of gods, but the book abounded with legends as well. It seemed to fit perfectly.

The book suffered some more delays as other projects consumed my time and GL was knocked about. But by early 2021 it took shape. The art poured in and proved amazing. I settled on a cover I had purchased from Doug Kovacs many years ago and at last, moved the whole project to layout. Peter Bradley hammered this together and I rolled back through and touched it up and then it went off to the printers.

At long last, after many, many years (this is our second-longest-running project, coming in after the first printing of the Castle Keepers Guide), Gods & Legends shipped to the backers of that almost forgotten Kickstarter (we are already on an 8th printing of the PHB) and went up in the store, where you can find it now.

Another wild ride in the annals of TLG publishing… and now work begins on Monsters of Legend…

Morning Myth - Time - Kala

So I started in Siberia but ended up in Java... long road. It began with the Yukaghir deity associated with time and the keeping of time, Kini'je. There was not much information on Kini'je other than an association with time. The internet did not have the information, I am sure its in a library somewhere. So I was left to infer aspects of the deity; death, the underworld, destruction, cyclical nature of life etc.

The inference is not without some basic understanding of mythologies. As is often the case, time is associated with death or destruction. More precisely, the passage of time is associated with destruction and death. It is also, coincidentally, associated with rebirth - at least in many mythologies found to the east of the Urals and into the Indian subcontinent. 

The 'K' sounded familiar so I dug around a bit. A Hindu deity, Kala, is associated with time. Now Hindu mythology is complex and I have no real understanding of its complexities. But one thing I find fascinating are the morphing of deities together and then splitting them up. Kala is believed to perhaps be one aspect of Vishnu (who has four aspects I believe more or less plus or minus). Kali is also associated with Kala. They are very close and Kali is death incarnate. Kala has four arms as does Kali. 

Then, I found out that there is a deity named Kala in Java. Interestingly, this deity has no antecedent in Javanese mythology but plays a massive role in day to day Javanese mythology. The appearance of Kala probably occurred during the expansion of the various Empires coming out of the Indian subcontinent 1000 years ago. This would have extended to Java. 

A bust of Kala is found above the entry to many temples, palaces, and other sacred structures throughout Java. What Kala represents is the not so much the god of death per se, rather the death of the self. When one enters a temple one ceases to be, is spiritually destroyed only to be reborn by the time one leaves. Kala is the destruction and creation of the self as well as other things but also the avenue for rebirth - through the passage of time.

It should be noted that the eastern religious experience is not dominated death and an end, rather by cycles of death and rebirth. To make a broad point, in the west there is death and the end either in a heaven or hell where in the east there is reincarnation, a repetitive cycle. That is a broad stroke. 

All the way back to Kini'je then, we probably have a deity representing that cycle of death and rebirth (the 'k' is not out of character) destruction and creation, etc. Basically ensuring time passes. And thence we roll back to the shamans who ascend and descend the tree of life, take on different forms and come back reborn - often with magical powers but minimally with knowledge. 

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Word of the Day -- Zhaghzhagh

So I never said that each word of the day was going to be in English, did I?  If I did, I lied.  I came across this wonderful collection of word that have no english equivalent.  You know, those kind of words that you have to explain what it means, what the context of how you are feeling, what you are seeing, etc.  Well these words do that in one word.  In other words, when you say to yourself, there ought to be a word for that, there is, it is just in another language probably.  I'm going to use several of these over the next few days, but this one caught my eye for both what it describes and for the beauty of the word:

Zhaghzhagh -- The chattering of teeth from the cold or from rage. 

It's Persian and I know little else about it except that it is a cool word...

Morning Myth - the Shamans of Siberia

This myth/story/truth comes from Siberia. The people to which I draw this from are/were shamanistic.

Much like Norse mythology, in some of the ethnic groups of northern Siberia there is the belief in a world tree that connects all the realms of existence. The upper realms are where the good deities roam and the lower realms are where the bad deities roam. There are variously three to seven realms mentioned.

Several things all the peoples have in common is that the world tree connects all the realms, earth is the middle realm or realm of man, and shamans are the only who are able to climb up and down the world tree. Often times they can only do so when changing into an animal, though this is not necessary. 

Shamans travel to and from realms to learn, fight, and gain magical powers. There are few really cool stories from Siberian myth I will relate over the coming days. 

"One Siberian myth tells of a hero who followed a golden bird up the World Tree. The bird changed into many shapes, finally becoming a woman, whom the hero wished to marry. First, however, he had to destroy an extra sun and moon that were making the world too hot and too cold. For help, the hero turned to a sea god, who boiled the hero in an iron kettle and then shaped the fragments into a new man of iron, armed with iron weapons. The hero used these to shoot the extra sun and moon."

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

1600 Miles ~ There & Back Again A Cheeseburger Holiday

I own, and with a wild band of miscreants, operate TrollLord Games. We publish role playing games. Lately things have been insanely busy. We have been hammering the final touches on five massive projects, getting them to print and shipped. Though we are now through the thick of it, I don’t think I have taken a day off in 18 months (aside from a few holidays) and have worked mostly on weekends to boot. I have needed a break for some time. I saw an opportunity for a few days coming up and thought to myself, what to do. Where to go to get out of from under this crazy mountain of table top games.

Outside of family and close friends, I do not take pleasure in many things. A good book. Finely crafted tv show. Music of many genres. New Mexico. A cold, cold can of Dr. Pepper. And a good cheeseburger.

I decided to combine all these things together, and head to Tatum, a little town in New Mexico, and have a cheeseburger at Tiny’s Burger Barn. I had stopped there with my family some few years ago and had, what I thought then, was the best damn cheeseburger crafted by man or god. It seemed a good idea to head out that way, enjoy the flat dry plains of east Texas and New Mexico and have myself a cheeseburger, and see if time played tricks on me. Roswell, famed for being near the 1947 alien crash site, was close by and a town I love to visit. I figured, a quick drive to Roswell, spend the evening and then head over to Tatum (there are no hotels in Tatum, that I know of).

It is only 800+ miles to Roswell from Little Rock, Arkansas and another 80 or so down to Tatum. 900 miles for such a cheeseburger seemed a fair price. Monday out. Tuesday there. Wednesday back. That seemed a fair vacation for a troll lord.

Enlisting the aid of my youngest son, Wilson, (he is virtual schooled, which gives us this freedom), we planned to set off first of the week.

Monday morning, at 8:30 a.m. saw my old truck heading west on I40 to Oklahoma. Though recent years have seen me a little tired of travel by car, it is such a part of our culture here in the States that it seems almost sacrilegious to travel any other way. The open road, your own space on it, the freedom to go whither you will, makes for a comfort no other mode of transport yields. It’s who we are and I embraced it for the cheeseburger. 

The hours and road ticked by as we rode down I40 through Fort Smith Arkansas, Oklahoma City Oklahoma, Amarillo Texas, all the way to Vega Texas. We stopped to enjoy the dry wind and rolling expanse a few times. It is a wide-open world out there, with few trees, but draws crowned with dry grass and sage. The land seems lonely and at first glance, almost lifeless, but its easy to be fooled by it, for on a more reflective glance it is as open as anything in all the wide world.

A quick stop for fuel and a discussion as to whether we would stay the night yielded more road. There we left the well beaten path to follow 385 south to Herford and then 60 west to Farwell (here we speculated that Farwell was named for the furthest well in some Oil Baron’s Empire) and Clovis, New Mexico. It was past 8 p.m. as we turned on 70 south with about 100+ miles to Roswell, so we decided to push on. 

That was a lonely dark road with little traffic on it. But smooth and easy on the tires and our bones. Sometime after 10 p.m. we lumbered into town. Tired and a bit worn out, we found a quick hotel to camp out in and laid up for some rest.

We slept a bit past dawn but closed out the hotel and headed to IHOP for some breakfast with the intent to explore Roswell a bit and check out the alien shops and museum. I enjoy this side of the story as much as the crash itself. I love to watch people, businesses and towns thrive and the extremely kind people of Roswell, have embraced the alien crash with a gusto and it’s wonderful. 

We spent a bit of time in the museum, reading and listening to the recordings. It was interesting to note that they have included a whole case of Star Wars figures, something new since my last visit. It’s an echo of an evolving story of the crash and what really happened and how people perceive that stormy night in New Mexico and the aftermath so many years ago.

From there, we hit some shops, picked up some alien six siders for the game table and some other bits and pieces. I also felt compelled to visit the John Chisum statue, that adorns Roswell's town center and was not disappointed. It is an amazing statue.

At that point I had a notion to head out to Walker Army Air Field, the place where the remains of the crash were carried along with other unmentionables. The air base is all but gone, swallowed up by the Roswell Air Center. There are some buildings left I suspect, from those long-ago days that saw some frenzied activity as debris was carted in and uniformed soldiers scrambled to pack it all up. These old Quonset huts seemed to fit the bill of World War II buildings, but it has been a long while.

After that we found ourselves sufficiently hungry to head on to the Tiny’s Burger Barn in Tatum, the original intent of our journey. We figuring we’d get there just before dinner time, have a good meal and head back home to Arkansas.

Off we went.

Heading out of town on 308 east we stopped off at the Roswell Welcome sign. This is the only sign that welcomes you to Roswell with sufficient alien fanfare, and one we’d stopped at before. (If you are looking for it, it is a ways out of town, on the left side as you leave Roswell on 308). We stopped, got some pics, and lumbered on.

After mounting a light ridge and heading off across the flats we spotted the Bottomless Lakes National Park and did a quick turn into it to poke around and see what that was all about. It proved worth the short drive with some scenic buttes and amazing little lakes tucked beneath them. It gave us a good feel of what it must have been like in the old west days, hiding out from bandits or the law. Circling the park with a few stops found us back on 308 and driving to Tatum and Tiny’s Burger Barn.

The roads in western New Mexico are flat, well maintained, and easy to drive on so it took us no time at all to traverse the 70-80 miles to Tatum. We came to the Burger Barn without much ado, pulled up and headed inside. After taking the order of a weathered cowboy in battered hat and well worn boots, the waitress told us to take any seat and brought us our menus. We were there for cheeseburgers and fries and in my son’s case, some fried pickles, so there was no real need to read it over.

I placed my order, a cheeseburger dry (cheese and meat only), some fries and a coke (I never drink Dr. Pepper out of a cup or glass). Wilson followed suit with his cheeseburger (loaded) and fried pickles. We chatted up politics and the desert and aliens while we waited. The pickles arrived and Wilson ate them with gusto, clearing the plate.

But it wasn’t long before the food was set before us by the more than friendly staff. By this point we were good and hungry and with 900 miles behind us, ready to eat. Despite that, both of us held off a minute, ready to savor the first bite. Years and memory change the meaning of things, and as oft diminish as inflate the experiences of the past, so we were unsure of what would happen after that first bite.

We didn’t wait long, though, but both bit down at the same time and suffered no loss of love for Tiny’s burgers. The taste, texture and make up of the burgers proved exquisite and we settled in and ate in silence. We didn’t hurry to finish the food, Wilson was tanked up on Pickles and I eat slow, and took our time, enjoying every mile the burgers cost… or rather the burger we earned with those many miles.


A cup of ice cream and some friendly chatter ended the Tiny’s Burger Barn experience and we found ourselves well satisfied and content, ready for whatever came next. We only had a few hours of light and content as we were, decided to drive on for a spell and stop when the feeling hit us. We took off across New Mexico and into East Texas, where the roads are as flat and easy as those behind. 

It is a beautiful country to drive through. Open expanse and a blue sky that seems to go forever. The land is dry and the houses weathered and everything seems to bend with the wind. We passed through cattle country, crop lands and windmills. A herd of pronghorn antelopes grazed the dry grass along the highway and paid no mind to us or any others. The drive proved calming and easy.

So we drove on, through East Texas down to Abilene and onto Interstate 20 east. I have to say the land between the mountains of New Mexico and Abilene fascinates me. Open and inviting, yet old and hard. The wind doesn’t seem to stop but holds you to a purpose. Not sure why I like it out there so, but I do.

Tiny’s burger kept us for many miles through the night. It never wore off until we crossed the whole of Texas and into Arkansas, somewhere near Hot Springs we started to rumble in hunger and show a little exhaustion. It was 3 in the morning at that point and we pushed on for another hour to home. Pulling in just before 4 a.m., greeted at the door by a pack of dogs and Kathy we tumbled off to bed, satisfied and tired. A burger well earned, that only cost a few days and 1600 miles.

Word of the Day -- Batten

This one came to me today in an email and I realized I really like this word.  Usually I do some digging, and I also keep a list of words that I want to do on here on day, but this one just was too perfect:

Batten -- to furnish or fasten with or as if with supports.

Now, you ask, why is that too perfect?  Because just before I read it, I was thinking to myself that we needed to get the cabin ready for winter.  I said to myself, we need to batten down the hatches.  Then I started wondering about that phrase.  Batten down the hatches, where did it come from?  What does it mean exactly?  

So I opened up my email and there was the answer!  There's a bit of serendipity in the world sometimes. 

Batten comes from the name for an iron bar used to secure the covering of a hatchway on a ship, which was especially useful in preparation of stormy weather. The verb batten is used in variations of the phrase "batten down the hatches," which means "to prepare for a difficult or dangerous situation." It winds back to Latin battuere, meaning "to beat." ~ Merriam - Webster.

The email also came with a quiz:

What 5-letter word is the name for an object (as at a dock) around which a rope can be tied or a projecting piece on the bottom of a shoe to prevent slipping?


Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Images from Roswell en route to Tatum

While we await verdict on the Tiny Tatum Burger, Steve and Wilson sent over more images of their trip.  We have Fort Walker where Steve claims they are "hiding the bodies" to the Bottomless Lake, which he did not say where it is, but I'm guessing just outside Roswell...


The Intrepid Two have touched down in New Mexico

I have a confession first -- I don't get it.  I get the burger, mind you, I'll travel just about anywhere for good food.  But I just don't get the fascination with the desert.  Apologies to all of you who love it, and I know there are many adherents.  And there are parts of the southwest I love, but they involve trees.  I'm arboreal by nature and the long flat lands just give me the willies.  My wife is from farm country and it's the same thing, acre after acre of desolate looking brown land except for the months some crop is growing.  Again, I know some people love it, and I wouldn't say I'm agoraphobic, but I will say flat land and I do not get along.

Then along comes one of my best friends who suddenly develops a fondness

for flat land, for heat and sun and miles of cacti and scrub brush.  And I try to like it, I've been through that area of the country many many times, even spent some time in Arizona and New Mexico and got to know some lovely people.

And still, I just don't get it.  

But that's just me.  And the dude is having a great time.  They made it to Roswell, got some shuteye, then had breakfast at IHOP.  Then the highlight so far -- the UFO museum.  Steve's always been an X Files fan and I have to believe that part of him truly believes something happened in Roswell.  Frankly I do too, because, well, why the hell not? 

They've been wandering around the city center streets and like a moth to light, he found a fantastic bookstore in Roswell called Books Again on 308 Richardson.  And if all goes well, they plan to hit Tiny's burgers later today!  I'm not sure how far Tatum is from Roswell, but like much of the west, things are spread out.  On the east coast, it's always a pleasure to drive because something is always happening, you are going through another state, etc.  But you could drive all day and still be in Texas.  Another one of my biases showing up I suppose.

By all accounts he and Wilson are having a great time, and as long as you have great company, who cares if the world is hot, flat, and scary?  :-)




Monday, October 18, 2021

On the road with Steve and Wilson and their quest for the perfect burger

 I've known Steve a long time, over 30 years now I think. And in that time, there have been a few constants in his life -- his love of Dr. Pepper and his love of hamburgers.

He's particular about both. Dr. Pepper must be in a can and very cold once it starts to warm up, he's done with it. He's been promising a primer to a good Dr. Pepper for years, but basically that is the gist -- cold and in a can.

Similarly he loves a good hamburger. Used to be when we would go on cross country trips, we would get drive-thru at McDonald's because it was always quick and I was always in a hurry (I love to drive from full to empty tank without stopping) and he would order the same thing -- two hamburgers with nothing on them. They would inevitably ask: Do you want cheese? Ketchup? And he would say: "No, ma'am (or sir, he was always very polite) just two pieces of bread and some meat." And just as I would start to put the car in gear to leave with our grease, he would tell me to wait and he would check the order. At least 20% of the time they would have it wrong and we would have to ask them to fix it. It used to drive me batty. Just eat it I'd tell him, it mostly tastes like cardboard anyway. At least this way, you won't choke on dry cardboard.

Fast forward a couple decades and a few thousand burgers later, and he has made a small concession to the burger. He will now order it with cheese though he still eschews any condiments. 
When I visit The Dens we always go to the Purple Cow and get the same thing. And it is a darn fine burger, probably one of the better ones I've had (Jackman Trading Post burger is slightly better).

However a few years ago, Steve called me from vacation with his family. "Dude (he calls me Dude, or Smoke, I don't think he's actually used Tim in addressing me since college) -- Dude, I just had the best burger I've ever had. I love it!"

I asked him where it was and he told me Tatum, New Mexico, population 726 burger fanatics.
So I wasn't too surprised when he told me last week that he and Wilson (his son and our other chief shipper) were heading out on a mission: The perfect burger from Tiny's Burgers in Tatum. Just a quick trip, Monday through Wednesday night. Wilson had better drive, because Steve gets sleepy about 15 minutes into any trip.

All of this rambling is to tell you all that while they are on the burger quest, shipping will be less than normal. And to encourage you to keep shopping (Steve needs to pay for the Dr. Pepper and burger after all) we are offering 30% off all items in our Digital Category of our store for a limited time!


Use this coupon code for 30% off everything in the Digital Category at checkout: BRGR30

Friday, October 15, 2021

Word of the Day -- Ocarina

Each morning Mary and I get up at 5, make coffee, do word puzzles and games, and spend a little time together before the hectic day starts.  It's my favorite time of the day, still quiet... the dog and cat are asleep or not begging for food yet at least and the world outside the door is peaceful.  One of the games we play is a "name that thing" game, where you see a picture of something and then it gives you 4 choices.  Today's was a special themed one, on musical instruments.  Do you know what this musical instrument is?


We had no clue.  None.  Turns out it is an:

Ocarina -- a wind musical instrument—a type of vessel flute. Variations exist, but a typical ocarina is an enclosed space with four to twelve finger holes and a mouthpiece that projects from the body. It is traditionally made from clay or ceramic, but other materials are also used—such as plastic, wood, glass, metal, or bone. 

For more information, I turned to Wikipedia...
The ocarina belongs to a very old family of instruments, believed to date back over 12,000 years.[Ocarina-type instruments have been of particular importance in Chinese and Mesoamerican cultures. For the Chinese, the instrument played an important role in their long history of song and dance...

Head over to Wikipedia to read more on this fascinating instrument!


Thursday, October 14, 2021

Word of the Day -- Yegg

Following the theme from yesterday's WOTD, we have another thieving definition, this time we have:

Yegg -- safecracker

I was always fascinated by safecrackers, they were always the calm and cool members of heists.  They got done what no one else could.  Think the Italian Job, Ocean's Eleven, Thief, King of Thieves.  What are some of your favorite safecracking movies?

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Word of the Day -- Brigand

If you want to find some of these, look no further than our very own Den of Iniquity...

Brigand -- one who lives by plunder usually as a member of a band.

Brigand shares a root with brigade; both words come from the Italian brigare, meaning “to fight.” If one resembles a brigand one may be described as brigandish, and the word for the practice of engaging in such acts as a brigand is wont to is either brigandism or brigandage. 

Memories from the Office of a Game Publisher – Office Space

Everywhere I look across social media I seem to be encountering two things. Economic news about the pending commercial real estate collapse,...