Poorly-lit work in progress.  Notice how when I actually start writing, I completely improvise new line divisions.

NAR, by the way, is a beast to write.  It’s the only sign I was unfamiliar with before beginning this, and necessary moreover.  My fiancee is a music teacher and owns her own music school, hence DIŠ KIŠLAḪ a-šar LÚ.NAR-ú-tam ú-ša-aḫ-ḫa-zu, for ištēn maškanum1 ašar nārūtam ušaḫḫazu, “one business place where she teaches the musician’s craft.”

For now, this is a trial run.  I’ve got another six weeks before the wedding, so there’s time to work out the kinks and time likewise for me to work on my “stylus-ship”.

——

  1. I’m not yet satisfied with the use of this word here (which often means “threshing-room floor”) and need to do more research on its period context before I settle on it.

“But what did scribes call the É sign?”

Many American children enter kindergarten knowing that the Latin letter “K” has a name, pronounced “kay.” In fact, most of those children, if they’re blessed with parents who’ve taken the time to teach them (or alternatively set them down before enough episodes of Sesame Street) know every name of every letter of the alphabet.

The names of letters serve, among other things, an important pedagogic function, in that when a teacher instructs students that “cat” is spelled “C-A-T”, the students, if they know the names of their letters, understand which letters they are expected to write.

I have long taken it for granted then that cuneiform-literate scribes would have given names to their signs as well, even if on a solely informal and local basis, and if for no other reason than one of instruction. Anything else would be unwieldy.

Enter Gong’s Die Namen der Keilschriftzeichen, which collects and discusses all of the known names for cuneiform signs and documents their source texts.

This, like many of the practicalities of cuneiform as a system, fascinates me to no end. Of course in the modern age — where the majority of the communication of scholarly subjects is transmitted via latin-lettered text and displayed on computers without cuneiform typefaces — the descriptive architecture created by generations of Assyriologists for cataloging and indicating one sign over the other is far superior.

But while not of any practical use today, the period correct sign names are nevertheless a compelling bit of trivia.


Wolverine and the X-men #8

In twenty-four years of reading comics, and I’ve never bought a Wolverine solo book. The quality of the writing regardless, I just don’t care for the character that much.
Amazing how a single image can make me reconsider that.

Wolverine and the X-men #8

In twenty-four years of reading comics, and I’ve never bought a Wolverine solo book. The quality of the writing regardless, I just don’t care for the character that much.

Amazing how a single image can make me reconsider that.

Because Hiromu Arakawa should have more of my money, and Shogakukan doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to license Silver Spoon.

I also totally adore The Heroic Legend of Arslan OVAs of the early 90s, even if I don’t exactly remember all of the plot.

I’ve avoided, on the whole, reading any lengthy reviews or discussions of Fifth Edition Dungeons and Dragons. I was not involved in the play test, nor have I kept up with Wizards’ regular articles regarding their design philosophy.

Yesterday however, I did finally receive my Amazon preorder of the Player’s Handbook, and on my initial canvass I’m rather pleased with the result.

Mechanics-wise, Fifth Edition seems to be about 75% Third Edition. True Vancian spell progression is back, and the designers appear to have compensated for the weaknesses of low-level spell casters by jacking up the power of their spells. Time only will tell with respect to the wisdom of this choice, but I suspect that it will exacerbate the “Linear Fighters, Quadratic Wizards” problem of the Second and Third Editions.

While decisions like this may indeed hurt game balance, on the whole, the Fifth Edition rules set feels more like the Dungeons and Dragons of my youth than Fourth Edition ever did. I do not believe that there’s a pen-and-paper veteran on the planet who doesn’t bring a load of baggage to the game table; that said, what I like about Fifth Edition over all is that it accords with what I expect of the franchise, based on my own acute experiences, again, with Second and Third Edition.

As long as I’m touching on nostalgia, the one area where I believe this new PHB truly excels is in art direction. The interiors of the Player’s Handbook are delightful in their simplicity. Moreover, every one of the illustrations would not look out of place in the revised 1995 version of the Second Edition Handbook. While I don’t mean to suggest that the layout of the Second and Fifth Edition Handbooks are perfect, they do have a certain elegance, a quality sorely lacking in the gimmicky covers and pages of Third Edition materials, or Fourth Edition’s powers and spells framed in boxes that share far too many of the aesthetic qualities of a Windows XP GUI.

If you have made it this far, you’ve probably guessed that I was never a fan of Fourth Edition; that I’m glad to put all of that behind us. I have spent thousands of hours and thousands of dollars on Dungeons and Dragons over the years, and even though I’ll be the first to point out its flaws, I profoundly care about the game and its future.

Whether Fifth Edition does in fact turn out to be a better product line than Fourth Edition is not a determination that anyone can make today based on a single book.1 Bad DMs and badder players are just getting their hands on these rules. But the Player’s Handbook does show that Wizards is attempting to address many of Fourth Edition’s defects, and that at least, is a promising start.

  1. I do not count the Starter Set, as that is merely a simplified version of these rules, and I suspect, one that will quickly fall out of print.
I don’t post much about my personal life here, but the fact of the matter is that I’m getting married in October. I furnish that information not as a ploy to solicit felicitations, but as context for the main thrust of this post, namely that I’ve set out to draft an marriage contract in the Old Babylonian style.
While the operative terms and conditions of these contracts vary, there are a number of legal forms that regularly recur throughout the genre. Technical clauses I would like to use include the introductory [husband name] [wife name] ana mutūtim u aššūtim īḫuz1, along with a statement of our satisfaction with the agreement2, and the idiom that sets out remedies in the event of a default of either party3.
On the other hand, I’m probably going to avoid a number of traditional expressions, primarily because they’re inapplicable to a modern setting. These include any reference to a dowry or a bride-price, or the husband taking ownership of the wife’s property.
I have, however, always liked the flavor of the list of property found in PBS 8/2, no. 252 (shown above), even if it is otherwise unusual. Translating this tablet for the first time brought me to the realization that Old Babylonian “marriage contracts” are more analogous to modern prenuptial agreements — with their statement of property and suggestions in the event of default — than any kind of legal solemnization of the marriage.
In any case, at this point I’ve entered the research phase, reviewing VAS VIII, 4 and 5, CT VI, 37, and PBS 8/2, no. 252 among others.
Once I’ve set down the phrasings I want, the next issue I’m going to run into is one of names. Transliterating our modern names into cuneiform doesn’t exactly feel authentic to me, but nor does coming up with Akkadian-named proxy identities.
— —
“[husband] took [wife] as husband and wife.”↩
Something along the lines of libbašunu țābū, “their hearts are satisfied.”↩
Often beginning, [husband name] ana [wife name] ašštīšu ul aššatī atti iqabbī-ma…, “Should [husband] say to [wife] his wife, “You are not my wife…” and followed by some kind of remedy, anything from the payment of a fine or return of the dowry/bride-price to the offending spouse being “thrown from a tower.”↩

I don’t post much about my personal life here, but the fact of the matter is that I’m getting married in October. I furnish that information not as a ploy to solicit felicitations, but as context for the main thrust of this post, namely that I’ve set out to draft an marriage contract in the Old Babylonian style.

While the operative terms and conditions of these contracts vary, there are a number of legal forms that regularly recur throughout the genre. Technical clauses I would like to use include the introductory [husband name] [wife name] ana mutūtim u aššūtim īḫuz1, along with a statement of our satisfaction with the agreement2, and the idiom that sets out remedies in the event of a default of either party3.

On the other hand, I’m probably going to avoid a number of traditional expressions, primarily because they’re inapplicable to a modern setting. These include any reference to a dowry or a bride-price, or the husband taking ownership of the wife’s property.

I have, however, always liked the flavor of the list of property found in PBS 8/2, no. 252 (shown above), even if it is otherwise unusual. Translating this tablet for the first time brought me to the realization that Old Babylonian “marriage contracts” are more analogous to modern prenuptial agreements — with their statement of property and suggestions in the event of default — than any kind of legal solemnization of the marriage.

In any case, at this point I’ve entered the research phase, reviewing VAS VIII, 4 and 5, CT VI, 37, and PBS 8/2, no. 252 among others.

Once I’ve set down the phrasings I want, the next issue I’m going to run into is one of names. Transliterating our modern names into cuneiform doesn’t exactly feel authentic to me, but nor does coming up with Akkadian-named proxy identities.

— —

  1. [husband] took [wife] as husband and wife.”
  2. Something along the lines of libbašunu țābū, “their hearts are satisfied.”
  3. Often beginning, [husband name] ana [wife name] ašštīšu ul aššatī atti iqabbī-ma…, “Should [husband] say to [wife] his wife, “You are not my wife…” and followed by some kind of remedy, anything from the payment of a fine or return of the dowry/bride-price to the offending spouse being “thrown from a tower.”
wonderful-strange:

yolandart:
"The Alchemist" - Joseph Leopold Ratinckx - 1860/1937 

wonderful-strange:

yolandart:

"The Alchemist" - Joseph Leopold Ratinckx - 1860/1937 

My daily Amazon delivery turned out rather nice.

My daily Amazon delivery turned out rather nice.

Piana - “In Silence”

Sunday afternoon shoegaze dreampop.


Barakamon, ep. 7


Perfect episode.  Barakamon is one of the best slice-of-life anime I’ve watched.
ISP willing, I’m picking up the manga today.

Barakamon, ep. 7

Perfect episode.  Barakamon is one of the best slice-of-life anime I’ve watched.

ISP willing, I’m picking up the manga today.