by Lillian Csernica on April 21, 2016
by Lillian Csernica on April 5, 2016
In my many travels I have encountered a variety of drinks. Here are a few of the more entertaining beverages, notable for both their flavors and the stories that go with them.
Apple jack or Apfeljack — During my visit to the Netherlands, my host sisters and I would spend Thursday nights at the disco in the next city. The cover charge included a two drink minimum. In late June the Netherlands can still feel like November in California, so my preferred drink would be apple jack. I strongly suspect the drinks were watered, which was probably a good thing. One night somebody told me a particular guy wanted to dance with me. Turns out he was a big, gorgeous Dutch soldier who had just turned 18. Andre and I enjoyed more than one dance. I tell you, apple jack makes for excellent antifreeze when you’re running to catch the last train home!
Bottled water — These days you see people carrying spiffy personalized water bottles all the time. When I was in Paris, this was a strange sight. I chalked it up to one more thing the Europeans did differently than people from the U.S. When it comes to “sparkling water,” that does make a good alternative to soda if you like the fizz and don’t want the sugar. As I continue to battle my Coca-Cola addiction, sparkling water is my friend!
Dragon’s Breath — There are so many recipes and so many individual variations that I can only point you to Google. Back in the days when I was working at the Renaissance Faire, before I got married, I had a close encounter of the personal kind with a homemade liqueur named Dragon’s Breath. In those days I worked for a jeweler. Our booth was set up right next to the legendary Cardiff Rose, the fencing booth designed to look like a privateer vessel. One day a
pirate privateer came calling with a jug of Dragon’s Breath. I knew the fellow by sight as one of our Faire neighbors, so I felt fairly safe in taking a swig of the brew in the ceramic jug. Oh my stars and garters! Imagine mulled wine with a good dose of brandy. Before my shock could fade, said privateer grabbed me and kissed me. Ever chewed a peppermint or cinnamon candy then inhaled really fast? The kiss felt a whole lot like that!
Melon soda — I first encountered this divine beverage at the Toei Kyoto Studio Park. It came with the meal I ordered at one of the park’s restaurants. Not overly sweet, similar to honeydew melon, and even better when made into a float with vanilla ice cream. Bonus: the melon soda came in a souvenir mug shaped like the hanging paper lanterns that decorated the Park. The Park’s name and logo are written on the side in kanji.
Seattle microbrews — My latest trip to Seattle for Norwescon 39 featured a pumpkin beer party that also furthered my acquaintance with a few more of the spectacular microbrews of the city known mainly for coffee. I regret not writing down the names of each beer. One tasted of coffee and hazelnuts, much to my delight. Another had plenty of ginger. A strong, bitter brew left me thirsty for plain water. I’m just happy nobody took photos of me there. The dress code required me to borrow a helmet made from half a pumpkin with some horns stuck into it!
by Lillian Csernica on February 28, 2016
A brand new release from Thinking Ink Press! Included are my stories “Putting on Airs” and “Blown Sky High.” I am proud and honored to share the Table of Contents with such masters of fiction as Harry Turtledove, David L. Drake, and Katherine L. Morse.
If you enjoyed my stories “In the Midnight Hour” and “A Demon in the Noonday Sun” which appeared in Twelve Hours Later, then you’re sure to have a good time reading the further adventures of Dr. William Harrington and his mechanical genius daughter, Madelaine. The creatures of Japanese myth and folklore have more dangerous business with the Harrington family!
by Lillian Csernica on April 29, 2015
When you Google the name Yamato Takeru, you will discover everything from the Toho Studios movie to various anime and manga to actual videogames. Here is the legend of Prince Yamato Takeru, first known as Prince Osu:
Prince Ōsu slew his elder brother Ōusu (大碓命, おおうすのみこと). His father, the emperor Keikō, feared his brutal temperament. To keep him at a distance, the father sent him to Izumo Province, today the eastern part of Shimane Prefecture, and then the land of Kumaso, today Kumamoto Prefecture. However, Ōsu succeeded in defeating his enemies, in the latter case by cross-dressing as a maid attendant at a drinking party (see image left). One of the enemies he defeated praised him and gave him the title Yamatotakeru, meaning The Brave of Yamato. But Emperor Keikō’s mind was unchanged.
Keikō sent Yamato Takeru to the eastern land whose people disobeyed the imperial court. Yamatotakeru met his aunt Princess Yamato-hime, the highest priestess of Amaterasu at Ise Grand Shrine (in Ise Province) and grieved, “my father wishes I would die?” Princess Yamato-hime showed him compassion and lent him a holy sword named Ame no Murakumo no tsurugi (Kusanagi no tsurugi), which Susanoo, the brother god of Amaterasu, found in the body of the eight-headed great serpent, Yamata no Orochi. Yamatotakeru went to the eastern land. He lost his wife Oto tachibana-hime during a storm when she sacrificed herself to soothe the anger of the sea god. He defeated many enemies in the eastern land, and legend has it that he and a local old man composed the first sedōka in Kai Province with Mount Tsukuba (now in Ibaraki Prefecture) as its theme. On his return he blasphemed a local god of Mount Ibuki, which sits on the border of Ōmi Province and Mino Province. The god cursed him with disease and he fell ill.
The story above is found in the Kojiki. In the Nihonshoki version, the father and Yamatotakeru keep a good relation.
According to traditional sources, Yamato Takeru died in the 43rd year of Emperor Keiko’s reign (景行天皇43年). The possessions of the dead prince were gathered together along with the sword Kusanagi; and his widow venerated his memory in a shrine at her home. Some time later, these relics and the sacred sword were moved to the current location of Atsuta Shrine.
Yamato Takeru is believed to have died somewhere in Ise Province. According to the legend, the name of Mie Prefecture was derived from his final words. After death his soul turned into a great white bird and flew away. His tomb in Ise is known as the Mausoleum of the White Plover. A statue of Yamato Takeru stands in Kenroku-en in Kanazawa, Ishikawa.
The movie is a somewhat condensed version of the Prince’s very busy life.
After killing his brother, Prince Yamato is banished from his father’s kingdom until he can bring his dangerous powers under control. On his journey, he meets and joins with the magical priestess Oto, and together they go to fight against an evil god that has been ravaging the Earth in the form of an enormous hydra. Will Yamato ever return home to reclaim his rightful place on the throne? Written by Jean-Marc Rocher <firstname.lastname@example.org>
So we have a Japanese prince, son of the twelfth Emperor of Japan. We have a sorceress/Shinto priestess who has mystical powers. And we have an eight-headed dragon, the dreaded Orochi. This movie was made by the same wonderful folks who brought us the original Godzilla. That means we can expect high drama, noble sacrifice, and a monster suit made out of rubber. What’s not to like?
by Lillian Csernica on April 21, 2014
Apologies for the delay in posting my entry for this letter. Russian Easter is a lot of work and a lot of fun. Somewhere along the line I came down with some kind of illness which kept me in bed today. Nevertheless, I bring you today’s chocolate wonder:
From nowimhungry.com, “Jean-Phillipe Maury’s Dragon Sculpture in Chocolate. The tree, dragon and large flowers are dark, white and light chocolate. The pearls and small flowers are sugar, and lanterns are pulled fondant.”
Last but far from least, a marvelous Chinese Dragon from the Highland Bakery. No, strictly speaking it’s not a sea dragon, but it’s just so fabulous I had to include it here:
From the Highland Bakery Blog: “Chinese Dragon head, made by Karen out of fondant and modeling chocolate. The bride used to work at Highland Bakery and instead of a traditional tiered cake, she made little individual cakes that snaked back behind the dragon to mimic the shape of its body. ”
What’s your favorite breed of dragon? How would you like to see it rendered in chocolate?