Flaming Heart

My heart burns for you.


¡Lengua de Cerdo!

This is a fresh pig’s tongue as might be available from a specialty butcher. Not very appetizing, is it? What if I told you it was most delicious, and that I created a recipe to cook it?

Pork Tongue prepared in a pressure cooker

3 fresh pork tongues, cleaned
3 cloves garlic
2 bay leaves
1/2 medium onion, sliced thickly
3 peppercorns
Salt to taste

Place tongues in pressure cooker, any kind, and add 1 cup water or broth and all other ingredients. Put on lid and bring to a boil. Cook at medium-high for 20 minutes. Cool off under cold running water in the sink and remove. The rough skin on the outside will peel off.

Eat as is, or shred for tacos. Pork tongue has a light flavor than beef tongue, which is on the gamey side. Once it’s shredded you can feed it to guests and they won’t know what they’re eating. Imagine the surprise when you tell them!


Worldbuilding Wednesday 7/17/19:
The Best of Twittersnips I

Elric of Melniboné, by Mathew Stewart.
A pretty memorable character himself.

I’ve posted almost 1,000 randomly generated names on Twitter so far, and I thought it would be interesting to showcase my favorites. These are names up to June of 2018 that may be used for characters, either in a story or in a gaming situation.


Characters I

Queen Kapranje Liegestrud, an imaginary Scandinavian monarch

Chanphry of the Hollow Eye, an evil sorcerer

Queston, Necromancer of the Wounded Finger

Valdandis Oorf, AKA The Red Beetle, a notorious scoundrel and thief

Laird Corbrit Glengally, a Scottish highlander

Lady Taffuma Grinform (Steampunk)

Lyrilette of the Brown Kirtle

Chryserto of the Numinous Phoenix

Pirate Captain Squint-Eyed Nicholas

Satatareth, The Angel Of Good Hygiene

Outlaw Gold Tooth Pearl

Shenplen of the Violet Shoes, a mystic

Lady Khanstandia Torjanelle

Smerri Peachlake, a Hobbit

Halina of the Genteel Cloak

Whiskey Wesley, a cowboy of the old west

Sally Hawk, a cowgirl

Gosti Threeclasp, a Hobbit

Gandian Graymurgh, a wizard of Middle-Earth

Injun Dutch, a cowboy

Preacher Ford, a cowboy

Luthnox the Slippery, thief and rogue

Pellaphor the Eternally Amused, a wizard

Grantliet Moonbull, Man at Arms

Tal Avoch, a Star Wars villain



Toxic, perhaps, and firing on all cylinders.

Worldbuilding Wednesday 7/10/19: Arabian Nights Tales II

Illustration by Virginia Sterrett

It’s not only the translations of One Thousand and One Arabian Nights that have changed over the years; illustrations of the classic have changed as well. The oil painting Alnaschar’s Fortune, by William Ewart Lockhart, embodies a realistic, dramatic Victorian style, but starting in the 20th century, children’s book illustrators  showed a move towards abstraction and fancifulness  influenced by the larger art trends of their time. The above watercolor by Virginia Sterrett has a slinky 1920s Art Deco feel, halfway between the more realistic Maxfield Parrish and the later stylizations of Erté. The empty space above the princess may have been left for the book’s title, but many interior illustrations of the time showed generous amounts of unoccupied space as well, such as this illustration by Sterrett’s contemporary Kay Nielson.

As the Arabian Nights hodgepodge of Persian, Indian, Arabic, and Jewish tales is presented as belonging to a unified mythical “East” that never really was, the illustration combines elements of various Eastern cultures as well: a Chinese-style headdress on the princess, Ancient Egyptian collar, sheer North African pantaloons, Indian slippers, and Turkish minarets in the background, with the  small pursed red lips and sultry eye makeup of a 1920s It Girl.


Unwritten Arabian Nights Tales II

The Tale of the Serpent-Charmer and His Father

The Porter’s Tale of His First Brother

The Mishaps of the Concubine and the Parakeet

Queen Taryal and Her Slave-Girls

Zariq and the Swallow’s Curse

Princess Awaryet and the Amiable Miller

The Fat Serpent-Charmer and the Lazy Fakir

Garden of the Forty Mice

Kelemen the Gem Cutter

The Hyena, the Spider, and the Acrobat

The Six Lamps of Al-Ibhreen

The Wise Son and the Silent Daughter

The Gazelle, the Devil, and the Jewess

The Voyages of Zartu the Traveler

Princess Zulakka and Her Flying Coffee-Set

A Letter to the Renowned Imam of Zarrush

The Barber’s Tale of His Grandfather Six Times Removed

The Ten Cunning Pilgrims

Khefren and the Mishap of the Forty Melons

The Twelve Daughters of Rhanaziah

King Quryn and His Sons, Baraz and Sidyal

Bendaisha the Ghoul

Queen Faykhaat and the Learned Seamstress

The Sultana Who Became an Envoy

The Tale of Young Wasdul and His Grandmother

The Old Weaver and His Magical Loom

The Dillemna of Emir Quaaz and His Elephant

The Twelve Queens of El-Zarinda

The Lady Arzeena and the Ghost of the Cripple

The Journey of Queen Rubanja and Her Brother

Sharqeera the Baggar-Woman and the Talking Spider

Faldan and the Golden Orange


Naughty Arabian Nights

Some kinky, Aubrey Beardsley-like  shenanigans are going on in this
Arabian Nights illustration
by early twentieth century book
illustrator Kay Nielson. Not for kids.

Reading Challenge 2019 Update

All the books I’ve read for my 2019 Reading Challenge up to July, with ratings and links.

4. What you will read to your grandchildren: A children’s book (middle grade or younger).
A Swiftly Tilting Planet, by Madeleine L’engle.

5. East meets West: A book taking place in Asia (Turkey to Japan, Siberia to Vietnam)
The Last Samurai, the Life and Battles of Saigo Takamori, by Mark Ravina.

9. Best friend: A book with a dog on the cover.
Being a Dog, by Alexandra Horowitz.

14. Crossing the (color) lines: A book about a person of color (PoC), any variety, written by an author of the same variety.
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, by N.K. Jemison.

25. Flights of fancy: A book in which airplanes figure prominently.
Jet Age, by Sam Howe Verhovek.

39. Tuesdays with Balaam’s Ass: A book with a non-human (animal or fantastic creature) main character.
Tales from Watership Down, by Richard Adams.

49. What you read: A book you loved as a child.
A Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula K. LeGuin

Tales from La Vida, a LatinX Comics Anthology edited by Frederick Luis Aldama

Worldbuilding Wednesday 7/3/19: Arabian Nights Tales I

Alnaschars Fortune, by William Ewart Lockhart,1879

Alnaschar’s Fortune, by William Ewart Lockhart,1879

One Thousand and One Arabian Nights is a treasure trove of literature of the fantastic. I’ve randomized its pseudo-Arabic names and places here, and the titles of the stories themselves also make for an interesting randomization stew. They stick to a simple formula of “Tale of the Something” or “Something of Something” repeating elements such as relatives preceded by a numerical designation (e.g. second sister) and characters referred to by adjective and an occupation ( the wise washer-woman.) Animals are frequently used in titles as well: peacocks, monkeys, fleas. Often they are given human attributes, Aesop’s Fables-style. Randomizing these titles for me was fun and quick.


Unwritten Arabian Nights Tales I

The Unseemly Harem of Sultan Muzhein

The Strange Voyage of Zedefren and his Parrot

The Adventures of Nevanja the Slave Girl

The Wise Hashish Eater

The Young Queen’s Story of the Pigeon and the Ogre

The Three Devout Barbers

The Tale of the Seventh Youth, Faraed, and the Apple of Darkness

The Romance of Turmash and Kishranja

The Dream of Queen Simyel

The Emir’s Grandfather and the Raucous She-Goat

The Tale of Bishera and Her Grandmother

The Pomegranate Slave Boy

The Goat, the Fish, and Sultan of Falga

The Princess Zoyana and the Young Doctors

The Tale of the She-Ghoul and Her Child

An Entry in the Journals of Sharhan the Fortune-Teller

The Sheik’s Aunt, Zariyah, and the Sparrow

The Three Tailors of El-Hahmut

Badzar and His Marvelous Palace

The Young Wife’s Trials

The Unwise Boy and the Ghoul

Adventures of a One-Legged Pilgrim

The Story of the Spinster and the Senmurv

The Lady of Haraaz and the Three Honey Jars

The Tale of King Waszrin and His Daughter

Zhuphena the Prophetess and the Invisible City of Yediz

The Lady Dirun and the Strange Pilgrim

The Devout Gem Cutter and the Clever Tray-Maker

The Mare, the Sparrow, and the Efreet

The Voyage of Sahmira the Slave Girl

Princess Esmrilla and the Cripple

The Beggar and His Pet Scorpion

The Curious Asp King

Princess Therina and the Aspiration of the Three Onions


The Last Samurai [Reading Challenge 2019]

The Last Samurai

by Mark Ravina
Wiley, 2005

[Challenge # 5: A book taking place in Asia (Turkey to Japan, Siberia to Vietnam.)]

I really wanted to like this book. It’s a biography of Saigo Takamori, a Japanese historical hero who might be compared to Abraham Lincoln in American history, a down-home politician who embodied national values and perhaps died for them. Saigo was a politician of the Samurai class towards the end of the 1800s, a time when Japan was experiencing rapid change. The bulk of the change was regarding its struggle to move from a feudal state of disparate kingdoms only loosely united by an emperor to a true, cohesive national state. Envoys from Western Europe and the superior technology they offered exacerbated this change. In Saigo’s lifetime steamships replaced sailing ships and the first railroad lines were constructed. (Before that, everyone walked everywhere.) In the reading the book, I can see how this period of rapid industrialization was directly responsible for Japan’s involvement in WWII and everything that happened after.

I did learn a fair bit about the guy, which was good, and I’d like to know more, so in that sense the author, who was a professor of Japanese History at Columbia, did his job. But it was oh so dry. A fine book with lots of scholarly information, but it’s more of what a biographer would read for background material  — it did not act as a biography itself. Not knowing much about Japanese history I got frustrated with all the names, places, and dates with nothing about them that made them come to life and engagement. The book had no glossary either — you had to look up the glossary on the book’s website. I would have liked a chapter on the samurai and the ruling system of the time as an introduction so things would have made sense.

So, I can’t recommend this unless you have a solid ground in Asian history.


Black Queen VIII

Oliver Ledriot’s sneering Black Queen is all a Faerie villainess should be.