Yes, you can put out a kickass album of covers, but wouldn’t you rather put out a kickass album of covers, claim it’s the soundtrack to a movie from a parallel universe, and imply the plot with your song choices?
I don’t know much about the Protomen, but I know that their version of Silent Running blows the original out of the water (and that The Trooper sounds even better with the lyrics tweaked to be about robots).
I happened to catch Planet America last night and was extremely pleased that Cheeto Mussolini’s stupid shoes provided the perfect excuse to repeatedly play clips from Herreys’ 1984 Eurovision winning Diggy-Loo Diggy-Ley – a song that I am inexplicably and entirely unironically fond of.
Behold the official English version, which includes some classic 1980’s CGI – the creation of which probably took several weeks in Quantel Paintbox.
And if that’s not charming enough for you, here’s Herreys’ performance 31 years later at the Eurovision 60th anniversary concert. They’ve still got it! (Or at least still had it back in 2015).
History records that the psychedelic properties of LSD were discovered by Albert Hoffman in 1943, but anything more than the briefest glance at Piranesi’s Il Campo Marzio dell’antica Roma (The Campus Martius of Ancient Rome) suggests that some kind of extremely potent acid must have circulating among Italian antiquarians back in the 1760s.
In producing his map of ancient Rome the artist, architect and antiquarian Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778) did an incredible job of tracking down, measuring and plotting structures that still stood in his day, then backed up his on-site research with meticulous trawling through ancient (and not so ancient – he straight up plagiarised some stuff from other antiquarians) documents for further info. Having done all that however he proceeded to fill in the blanks with the wildest, most hallucinatory, architectural bat-shittery imaginable, transforming Rome from a city where people actually lived and worked into a vast field of palaces, monuments, circuses, gardens, canals, lakes and god-knows what else. He even left off a few real features (where the hell is the Via Lata?) to make room for his architectural fever-dreams. It’s not a historical reconstruction, it’s an Imperial Disneyland with Marcus Mouse and Domitian Duck.
All that said, we shouldn’t be too harsh on him. Archeology as we understand it didn’t exist in the 1700s, and Piranesi was – above all else – a guy trying to earn a living. A map with big blank areas would be far less likely to attract the interest of a wealthy Grand Tourist than one full of fascinating – albeit entirely fictional – detail. It also cannot be denied that the piece is magnificent. I’d happily display it on my wall despite its historical shortcomings.
An interesting footnote is that there are two versions of the map. Piranesi actually went back and edited his depiction of the circuses, shortening the central spina (spinae? I really must brush up on my Latin plurals…) and replacing his straight depiction of the starting gates (the carceres) with curved ones. This was apparently down to evidence from the spectacularly well preserved Circus of Maxentius on the Appian Way south of Rome. Clare Hornsby delivered an interesting lecture on the subject at the English School in Rome back in 2022 which can be viewed here on YouTube.
And of course the whole thing was inspired by the Forma Urbis Romae – the incredibly detailed map of the city carved into marble slabs around 205 AD. This covered central Rome at such a level of detail that the floor plans of individual buildings – including features such as pillars and staircases – were included, and it was all clearly labeled with street and building names.
Such an incredible historical resource could – of course – not be permitted to survive and the majority of it was burned to make lime in the middle ages. About 10% of it survives in the form of thousands of fragments, and archeologists have been trying to fit them back together for the last few centuries in the most frustrating game of jigsaw ever devised.
Through such seas of ignorance, archeology splashes on!
It’s been unreasonably hot of late (maximums hovering around 40° for the last three days), which means that I’ve found it rather difficult to sleep. I’ve tried what I often do under such circumstances which is to stay up watching weird, late night TV until I can barely form a coherent thought (La Brea seems interesting, at least when horribly sleep deprived) then crawl into bed in the hopes of passing out, but it never actually works, so I’ve spent much of the last few nights tossing and turning while my brain whirls away like a merry-go-round with a broken speed governor.
(Do merry-go-rounds have speed governors? Is a speed governor even a thing? You can tell I’m not all here can’t you?)
Anyway, as I was writing in mental and physical torment last night my brain spat up a really silly idea, which was to attempt a translation of everyone’s favourite Dwarf song – Diggy Diggy Hole – into Khuzdul, the language of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Dwarves.
What do you mean you don’t know Diggy Diggy Hole?! What have you been doing with your life?! Here’s Wind Rose’s version to get you up to speed.
Anyhoo, translating it isn’t quite as crazy as it seems because we don’t really know a lot about Khuzdul words and grammar – which gives me plenty of scope to just make things up!
So I looked up what scraps of the language we actually have, and threw in the Neo-Khuzdul lyrics ofThe Bridge of Khazad-dûm from the Lord of the Rings soundtrack which helpfully provides a basic grammar and a number of words found in Diggy Diggy Hole despite being wildly different in tone.
And here it is! The first verse and chorus of Diggy Diggy Hole translated into what we might call Neo-Neo-Khuzdul…
For years now there’s been a post rattling around in my head on the subject of how both literalist American fundamentalists and angry American atheists suffer from a complete misunderstanding of what the Bible actually is, but I can never seem to find the time to write it up. It’s very interesting and includes unicorns, so keep an eye out for it. In the meantime though I’ve been thinking about the particular instance of the Tiffany Problem as found in the historical books of the Old Testament.
(You don’t know about the Tiffany Problem? Put briefly it’s that there are things that are actually really, really old, but which seem so modern that if you include them in a historical work it looks like a mistake. Like the name “Tiffany” which dates from the 12th century, but would completely freak people out if used in a film about, say, Henry VIII.)
Western society (for better or worse) has been massively influenced by the Bible, and as a result a lot of names we assume are perfectly ordinary, modern names are actually taken from it. This means that if you’re reading one of the Old Testament history books (which you should – they’re filled with enough bizarre events, weird claims and insane, gory violence to put Game of Thrones to shame) you get this exhilarating mental whiplash effect…
…And so KING GABILGATHOL did marry the eldest daughter of JERABOSOPHAT,“abigail”, and she bore unto him a son he named IGLISHAMEK for he was like unto the thunder of the mountains, and IGLISHAMEK was blessed by the HIGH PRIEST ZIRAK-ZIGIL and the Prophet “nathan”…
Seriously, there’s a prophet named “Nathan” in there, which is the kind of name you’d usually associate with a guy who spends all his spare time playing darts down the pub.
Being the tragic geek that I am, I spent several months last year coding up an interactive map of the Warhammer 40,000 galaxy. What I came up with worked beautifully in Firefox on my fairly grunty, fairly new computer, but like an absolute dog with any other setup, so I’ve had no choice but to go back and start over from scratch – a prospect so disheartening that it will be many, many months before I can bring myself to look at it again, if ever.
The upside of this failed project however is that I ended up doing a complete revision of my Warhammer 40,000 map icons. And when I say complete revision I mean a radical change in the way they’re organised. So radical in fact that I’ve decided to leave version 5.0 available in this post for those who might prefer them, while making the new version available here.
The major changes in version 6.0 include…
Separation of Environment, Class and Affiliation: There are now separate sets of icons for the environment of a planet, how it’s categorised by the Imperium (ie: what ‘Class’ it is), and who controls it.
Consistent Colours: Each major faction now has a consistent colour scheme rather than the previous hodge-podge, so it’s easier to see who controls what at a glance.
Consistent Shapes: The sizes and shapes of icons are standardised rather than being all over the place with bits sticking out the sides.
Meaningful Shapes: Five different icons shapes are provided to represent planets/moons, space stations, dwarf planets/asteroids, fields/swarms and fleets/ships.
I’ve also added sub-faction specific icons so you can differentiate between (for example) Biel-Tan Eldar and Iyanden Eldar, or Mephrit Necrons and Sekemtar Necrons, should that be your idea of a morally acceptable good time.
I present the icons here in three formats
SVG Version – This is the version to use if you know what you’re doing with Vector graphics. If you’re making your map in a vector editor such as Illustrator or Inkscape this is the superior option. If you’re not, then one of the PNG versions will probably be more convenient. DOWNLOAD