Monday, December 31, 2007



Cert here, posting on behalf of Alice, wherever and whatever she is. As you can see, I managed to make it out of the Mage Wars wastes. Took a while to get functional-shaped again. Actually, I'm not me-shaped again yet, but I can hold a pen in my beak so it could be worse. I'm not good with writing, much, but I did find some copies of Alice's songs and poems and one of them is appropriate to the season so I'm posting it here. Wishing you all a happy Hogswatch and wishing myself the good fortune to stop being a parrot. Then again, I'm going to carry on trying to find Alice, so being able to fly without a carpet has a sort of advantage. Wish me luck.

    by Weird Alice Lancrevic

    Twas Hogswatch, and the savvy youths
    Did slyly grin as sleep they feigned
    All tinselled were the icy roofs
    And the Hogfather reigned

    'Beware the pig-shaped choccy buns!
    'The drunken fights, the booze'd collapse!
    'Beware the lemon curd, and shun
    'Voluminous brandy-snaps!'

    We took our chunder-cures in hand
    Pork rinds and sausage pie we bought
    Then rested we as the clock struck three
    And had a wily thought

    And as we hid, with prying eyes
    The Hogfather (with list of names)
    Came jingling through the wintry skies
    HO. HO. HO. as he came!

    One-two, one-two! The ham's sliced through!
    Its charcoaled skin was bright as chrome
    We played Charades, then thanked the Gods
    And went galumphing home

    'And hast thou drained the scumble-pot?
    'Don't be alarmed, my wee pished bairn!'
    O scabrous daze, me head's all glazed!
    We mortals never learn...

    Twas Hogswatch, and the savvy youths
    Did slyly grin as sleep they feigned
    All tinselled were the icy roofs
    And the Hogfather reigned.

Editor's note: Hoggerwatchy is dedicated to Gytha Fiona and Wincantonbury Tales.

December 2007


by Lady Anaemia Asterisk


Greetings, O seekers of the wisdom of the stars! Blessings upon you from Anoia, my personal Goddess of the Month, and may the Cow of Heaven fall lightly upon your cusp and not trample you with her celestial hooves!

It's been recently brought to my attention that - despite my years as a well-paid, I mean, well-known practitioner of the Discly astro-illogical Arts - far too many people know far too little about the heavenly Signs that govern their lives. To ameliorate this benightedness, I have put considerable effort into putting together what the Technomancers call a "database" (although why they want to abase dates, I'm sure I don't know; I prefer sultanas myself). Hereinunder, and also possibly just under here, is an at-a-glance picture of the current Signs and the respective traits, qualities, and other vital information that makes up each Zodiacal profile... and when I say "makes up", let me assure you that hours, no, years have been spent studying the stars. Do I look like the sort of person who makes things up? Hah!

Remember, knowing your exact day of birth is very important, as A'Tuin's travels take us into the realm of different constellations. Even when the name of your Sign changes, its mystical influences remain the same. Except when they don't. Which is why you'll always need the services of a professional astrologer, see? I love it when a plan comes together...

Lady Anaemia Asterisk,
(Astrologer, letters written, light cleaning services available, leave your card with my Igor)

The Adamant Hedgehog 21 Mar - 20 Apr

Born-unders commonly known as: 'Hogs, Hoggers
fruit: pineapple
colour: flesh pink
number: 22
letter: S
matching Agatean sign: the Blowfish
known to influence: feet, ankles, elbows, fingernails
traditional Sign of: Watchmen, athletes, Regimental Sergeant-majors

Hoggers are typically short-tempered, arrogant, and prone to being spiky and dangerous. Many have a talent for prognostication. They especially enjoy shouting, mot of all at subordinates.

Gahoolie, the Vase of Tulips 21 Apr - 21 May

Born-unders commonly known as: Gahooligans
fruit: orange
colour: puce
number: 4 1/2
letter: A
matching Agatean sign: the Reciprocating Fox
known to influence: spleen, shoulders, those small fiddly island-shaped bits on the pancreas.
traditional Sign of: schoolteachers, priests, slave traders, civil servants, debt collectors, entrepreneurs.

Gahooligans are typically fresh, zesty, pithy and often rather sour; they tend to be thick-skinned and do not bruise easily. They are single-minded and simultaneously passionate and phlegmatic, and make good communicators.

Herne the Hunted 22 May - 21 Jun

Born-unders commonly known as: Hernians
fruit: strawberry
colour: burnt umber
number: 14
letter: M
matching Agatean sign: the Heavenly Tourist
known to influence: corpus callosum, sacrum, stiff upper lip, reproductive organs
traditional Sign of: headmistresses, chefs, governesses, minor government mandarins, maiden aunts

Hernians typically have a tendency to sensitive skin. They are self-indulgent but also have a strongly developed pragmatic side; this tends to make for people who are perpetually at war with their desires and cravings, though it has to be said that sometimes that war is lost on one side or the other.

The Wizard's Staff and Knob 22 Jun - 22 Jul

Born-unders commonly known as: Staffies
fruit: aubergine
colour: octarine
number: 11.3165
letter: G
matching Agatean sign: the Hoarse Whisperer
known to influence: mouth, tongue, eye muscles, index finger
traditional Sign of: soldiers, innkeepers, journalists, housekeepers and philosophers

Staffies have an inborn love of pleasure and luxury, and are prone to indulging in passing along unsupported rumours. Often far more self-indulgent than a Hernian, lacking the same balance, yet Staffies can also be very practical - even calculating.

Bilious, God of Hangovers 23 Jul - 23 Aug

Born-unders commonly known as: Bilians, or Chunderers
fruit: grape
colour: burgundy
number: 12 per cent
letter: H
matching Agatean sign: the Water Feature
known to influence: organs of the middle body, particularly the stomach, liver and gall bladder
traditional Sign of: accountants, sales managers, science teachers, hedge witches.

Bilians are typically nervous, somewhat pessimistic, and prone to digestive troubles. They also often lack assertiveness and self-confidence, though at the same time they can be very forceful if pushed too far!

Mubbo the Hyena 24 Aug - 23 Sept

Born-unders commonly known as: Mubboons, or Mubbles
fruit: pumpkin
colour: khaki
number: 31
letter: O
matching Agatean sign: One Won Ton
known to influence: nostrils, and the hand that wields a sword or a ploughshare (or dunging fork)
traditional Sign of: merchants, care workers, actors, Fools, barbarian heroes, agony aunts (though not Agony Aunts), tax assessors

Mubboons typically show honesty and the lack of artifice, and are poor at keeping secrets. They are also known for their kindness, understanding nature and gullibility.

The Small Boring Group of Faint Stars 24 Sept - 23 Oct

Born-unders commonly known as: Boring'uns
fruit: kumquat
colour: yellow
number: 3
letter: C
matching Agatean sign: the Bureaucrat
known to influence: adrenal glands, voluntary muscles, heels
traditional Sign of: church deacons, proofreaders, library assistants, researchers in safe subjects

Boring'uns are typically extremely safety-conscious and often methodical. They dislike excessive risk-taking and are frequently, shall we say, paranoid.

Androgyna Majestis 24 Oct - 22 Nov

Born-unders commonly known as: Andies
fruit: fig
colour: electric blue
number: 256
letter: P
matching Agatean sign: the Dragon's Egg
known to influence: teeth, chest, biceps
traditional Sign of: salesmen, long distance hauliers, mercenary soldiers and secret royalty

Andies typically love familiar, comfortable surroundings, and are casual to the point of, well, extreme casualness; they have a tendency to credulousness. Type 2 Andies might seem credulous types, but underneath they're as sharp as tacks and twice as likely to do you major damage if crossed!

Great T'Phon's Foot 23 Nov - 21 Dec

Born-unders commonly known as: Footies, or Footys
fruit: apple
colour: crimson
number: 1
letter: B
matching Agatean sign: the Vampire Ghost
known to influence: shoulders, neck and, erm, bottom
traditional Sign of: sailors, explorers, animal rescuers, engineers, proctologists

Footies are typically optimistic, sometimes to the point of foolishness, tending to view the world through rose-tinted spectacles. They enjoy travel, and are often happy enough in their own company to be considered "something of a loner"; also famously good with animals.

Hoki the Jokester 22 Dec - 20 Jan

Born-unders commonly known as: Hokians
fruit: cucumber
colour: melon green
number: 7/12ths
letter: F
matching Agatean sign: the Bonsai Mountain
known to influence: eyes, brain, navel, sixth sense
traditional Sign of: highwaymen, Grand Viziers, systems administrators and extremely powerful witches

Hoki is considered a "lucky" Sign; typical Hokians are brooders and deep thinkers, magically adept and sometimes shy, and can be arrogant (though less so than Hoggers...but then anyone else is less arrogant than a Hogger).

The Rather Large Gazunda 21 Jan - 18 Feb

Born-unders commonly known as: Gazundians, or sometimes Potties
fruit: banananana
colour: bone
number: 6ft 7ft 8ft bunch
letter: L
matching Agatean sign: the Barking Mad Dog
known to influence: lips, abdominal muscles, pectorals
traditional Sign of: Seamstresses, subversives, female adventurers, exotic dancers, naturists

Gazundians are typically free spirits, unfettered by the binding conventions of a repressive society; iconoclasts in general, they are also sometimes loners.

Lesser Umbrage 19 Feb - 20 Mar

Born-unders commonly known as: Umbragians
fruit: wahoonie
colour: black
number: 7+1
letter: U
matching Agatean sign: Beti, the Exotic Dancer
known to influence: heart, wrists, hindbrain
traditional Sign of: Cunning Artisans, seamstresses (note lowercase), weavers, surgeons, thieves, counterfeiters, Royal craftsmen, minstrels, troubadours

Umbragians are typically clever-fingered and artistic, with keen eyesight and a good grasp of spatial perception. They are very good at finding their way into locked rooms, and have a natural "nose" for treasure, especially in liquid forms!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Clog post 8 with One Night In Hunghung



First Clog: "All aboard the Aurient Express..."

So. Bes Pelargic. Who'd have thought it? Well, B.S. Johnson, presumably, when he designed Empirical Crescent...though it's never been very clear whether or not Johnson actually knew what the results of his various efforts at design would be. Still, as a mode of travel, multidimensional folded-space topology beats flying carpets and sprung coaches and camels hands down.

As I mentioned in my previous post, we had a surprise waiting for us when we arrived. Two surprises: the first was our unceremonious arrival in the outer kitchens of a very busy restaurant. A very busy, very delicious-smelling restaurant. Where there were unattended golden platters piled high with all manner of exotic delicacies. Oh, yes. As we hadn't eaten at this point for many hours and several continents, the first thing we did was grab the nearest platter and bolt for the nearest broom cupboard where we bolted first the door and then the food in short order. Strange food, but delicious, and only vaguely resembling the Agatean food in takeaways on the Plains and Circle Sea nations. There were dumplings in sweet sauce, odd slimy things that tasted of the sea, rice with curious black beans, weirdly wonderful vegetables, and..."Thif tashtes like Difhtreffhed Pudding," Cert said through a mouthful of something wobbly in little ornamental dishes, and offered me a spoonful. And he was right! -- except it tasted like what Distressed Pudding might dream of becoming if it's been a very good and well-behaved pudding. We were puzzled, and once we'd eaten our fill we decided to explore quietly. The first thing we encountered was also strange -- a rack of very mixed clothing hanging on hooks on the wall -- silk kimonos side by side with old-fashioned Morporkian tunics, doublets and hose, and something that looked suspiciously like an A-M Watch uniform!

"Are we in a restaurant or is it someone's fancy dress party?" I mused aloud.


"You read Agatean?"

"I have a fish in my ear. But look, it's written below that in common Morporkian."

"Definitely weird. It's the first time I've ever heard Distressed Pudding described as noble cuisine."

The second surprise was the proprietor: none other than the Disc-famous Twoflower himself! First and greatest of tourists and later Venerable Father of the Revolution, Twoflower opened the Morpork Luck Teahouse during the reign of Cohen I, the Sandalled Emperor, and has been doing land-office business ever since. This explained some of the more...unexpected items on the menu, such as Sticky Rice Slumpie and Sweet and Sour Knuckle Sandwich, as well as the unexpected clothing, which is worn by staff in the main restaurant. As soon as we introduced ourselves and told him how we'd got there, he led us to a private dining room and laid on oceans of tea and mountains of desserts...also introduced us to his daughters (Pretty Butterfly, who's the general manager, and Lotus Blossom, who's at school but works part-time in the restaurant)...and after more conversation, booked me for a gig and informed us he was going to take some time off to show us around Bes Pelargic. We've definitely landed on our feet...

* * *

Spent the night in lodgings. Not as posh as the Great Pyramid Hotel, but clean and tidy. Very Auriental.

* * *

Next day: taken on a tour of Bes Pelargic. Bes P is a medium-sized city and shares that same "feel" of port cities everywhere -- a little bit rough, a little bit cultured, but mainly a place where people pass through, mostly coming to trade and rarely staying for long. There are a few settlements of foreigners, though. There's a Genuan community (apparently their Fat Tuesday parade features extra added dragons and Barking Dogs), a Hublandish community, a community of Ankh-Morpork ex-pats, a Little Klatch, and even a small Dwarf community (drawn, no doubt, by the smell of all the gold), and everyone seems to get along rather well. In fact, the current High Official (that's the local version of a Lord Mayor), So Ho Sixpot, has a distinctly Klatchian cast in his ancestry. Everyone seems to know Twoflower, so we were treated as honoured guests. I was told that's a far cry from the old days of the Empire, where even in Bes P foreigners were treated with distaste and often arrested and expelled on suspicion of being foreign. We were taken to restaurants and tea-houses and temples and then shown the Red Triangle District, and the Shu District which is where the docks are. There were ships from as far away as Howondaland there, and even a few NoThingfjord longboats in from the Long Route via Slakki and Ting Ling (we stayed away from that area, in case someone recognised us).

* * *

Day after: we were taken to Bes Eisley. Oh, my.

Bes Eisley, also known as the District of Unmended Shoji, is definitely the downmarket area of Bes P. It's down at the far end of Shu and it's where the most disreputable of the foreigners hang out, along with the local criminal element (always wondered which element is the criminal one. some isotope of narrativium, maybe?). I'd like to be able to say I've never seen a more wretched hive of scum and villainy, but a) I've been to the Shades and b) there was plenty of scum and villainy, but surprisingly little wretchedness. Especially at Threepenny's House of Tea and Poppy Products, where all the customers looked astonishingly happy. And the band -- Sammy Shen and his Sizzling Shamisens -- was brilliant! Sammy's something of a local Personality and an old friend of Twoflower's. He got Mayor So up to play the chi shells, which sound rather like Lancrastian spoons. The Mayor wasn't very good at playing the shells, but no-one in the audience seemed to mind,even though he kept dropping and breaking his instruments...not that that's a problem, as Sammy Shen also sells chi shells by the Shu shore and has a plentiful supply. I was asked up for a few songs. I already had a lot of sake in me, and by the time I finished I had a lot more sake in me because nearly everyone in the place bought me a drink...

Sake is even better than beer, once you get enough down you to get past the taste (like rice that came to a bad end after leading a disreputable life). Sake is also even better than beer for getting wandering bards into sticky situations. Like the one I found myself in with Ten Blue Ox, Sammy Shen's koto player. I mean, we would have got along well anyway -- he has some fine riffs -- but sake has a way of lowering inhibitions to somewhere below ground level, or at least below waist level. And making a person make eyes at another person. And making a person smoke something funny-tasting from Threepenny's private stock. And getting back onstage to do some more requests and taking part in a cross-cultural jam session.

The last thing I remembered clearly that night was kneeling in front of Ox and playing his koto with my teeth. The next thing I remembered was waking up next to a very happily sleeping Ox in a room that definitely wasn't mine, with a hangover and a limp...

Cert didn't speak to me for two days. Not until I introduced him to Breaking Dawn, a friend of the band's who's deeply into technomancers. When in Bes P, do as the Bes Pelargians, that's my motto. All's serene now. Plenty of sake. We still haven't dared try the Sweet and Sour Knuckle Sandwich, but I've written an advertising jungle for the Morpork Luck International Restaurant; the name is too long to use repeatedly, but it has a catchy chorus: "You can get anything you want at Twoflower's restaurant..."

* * *

Day something: we've met many interesting people with many interesting names. It seems there are regional naming conventions in different parts of Agatea; some families use single names and diminutives (usually numbers), some are named for their connection to the five Noble Clans (Fang, Tang, Hong, Sung and McSweeney), some have three-part names (usually consisting of a number, a colour or state of being, and an object), and some have names that are just plain weird. There's Three Blin'd Mice, the greengrocer; Five Spilt Sake, the barman; Lo Hung Wan and Lo Hung Fang, local nobs; Fourplates, the dentist; Zero Rabbit, who runs the apothecary shop; One Stone Dragon, who plays bass shamisen in Sammy's band and should really be called One Stoned's hard to remember them all! Girls and women usually have two names, like Beautiful Poppy and Fecund Doe. Sammy's real name is Shen Sing Ho. And they all think our names are strange!

There's so much history here! Everywhere! I've taken many, many iconographs and written loads of notes. I think I might end up writing that travel book after all...

Time to sleep. Here endeth this post.

* * *

Second Clog: "Wednesday on my mind..."

It turns out that the McSweeneys aren't the only old and noble family with an unusual name by Agatean standards: there are also the Wednesdays.

Back in the days of long-lost Ago when the ancient warlord Toijota ruled the Pelargic coast, a shipwrecked Morporkian sailor was rescued by Toijota's troops and rose to the highest rank in the warlord's service. This sailor's name was Adam Wednesday. He proved to be a valuable resource, not least because he brought actual news of the World Beyond the Walls and actual useful advice about sea-trading and Morporkian military history (read: "fighting dirty, without a crippling load of traditional rules"), and was given the sobriquet of Jinjin-san, which is Agatean for "foreign barbarian sailor who's done bloody well for himself". Wednesday served in the forecourt of Toijota, never again leaving Agatea to return to Ankh-Morpork; he became immensely rich, took a number of wives and concubines, and died old and happy within sight of the beached remains of his original ship. It's to Wednesday that Bes Pelargic owes its centuries-long history of being the only somewhat open port in the Agatean Empire, and its centuries-long willingness to entertain barbarian ways has subtly changed the local culture. If you wander around the Bes Peninsula, you can still find people with the surnames Wednesday and Jinjin; the original Mr Wednesday obviously had a lot of wives and concubines.

We've had a stroke of luck -- we arrived in time for the Samizdat Festival. It's a yearly event peculiar to Bes P and only a few other locations, and it's where those who served in, or served, or say they served, or were standing nearby looking innocent during, the Glorious Revolution gather to remember the Days of Struggle. I'd say you can't move for parades of peasants in pyjamas, but it seems that's just the normal state of Agatean cities; however, parades of peasants in pyjamas don't usually march along shouting things like "Gradual Orderly Transfer of Power to the People!" and "Shun the Evil Imperialists Whilst Using Polite Mannerliness!" It's very enthusiastic and above all, very loud. Twoflower and his family always march at the head of the parade, and afterwards there are ceremonial Campfires of Remembrance where the festivalgoers huddle around eating stale rice and meagre portions of rotten fish and reminisce about the hardships they endured before the coming of the true Red Army. For the record, the rice and fish are deliberately served that way as a reminder; believe me, the real cuisine is to die for (and not because of poisons).

During the campfire ceremony I was able to learn more about what happened in the years between Cohen's accession and the present day. Twoflower confirms that he did indeed serve as Cohen's Grand Vizier, and that they did make some sweeping legal and cultural changes together, but the old ways started creeping back as fast as changes were made and he didn't feel comfortable -- Twoflower, not Cohen, Cohen could feel comfortable anywhere he could hang his sword (preferably from the upper chest region of unrepentant court bureaucrats and nobles) -- with the constant tensions of court life. So when Cohen left, he resigned and came straight back home to open the restaurant. He says that there are changes being made deep in the Agatean culture, but that he hasn't got the necessary thousand or so years to spend hanging around waiting for them to blossom. Agatea is definitely a foreign country -- back around the Circle Sea, changes to culture take place as fast as the Clacks can carry them!

Speaking of the Clacks, they still don't have much in the way of towers here. But that will soon change: someone's had the bright idea to put towers on ships plying the Quirm coast-Bes Pelargic trade route! Transmission depends on the weather at sea, but on a clear, calm day or night the messages fly back and forth much faster than any ship can sail. It's only a matter of time before strings of towers go up all across the mainland...

* * *

We're going to Hunghung! With a native guide! V. excited. Always wanted to see the Forbidden City, and now it's...less forbidden.

* * *

We packed our belongings -- so many belongings now, between all the gifts and all the shopping in Shu and all the scrolls ("...if you can just take this to First Sister's third cousin in Hunghung...") and ornamental sake bottles -- and headed out at sunrise. Everyone turned up to give us a rousing send-off. Even Sammy's band. It was rather sweet to hear Brindisian Rhapsody played on Agatean instruments. Also, Ox gave me a beautiful koto to remember him by. I can think of rather more robust reasons to remember him by, but...also, Breaking Dawn will be giving Cert something to remember her by in about eight months' time, or so we're told. Ah well, that solves my problems nicely, and he did say he wanted to work in the Agatean technomancy industry...but for now, we're back to friendly relations. Nurr, nurr, nurr.

Agatea, for all its gold, is a simple and old-fashioned country with old-fashioned simple poverty. We passed through endless rice paddies and endless tiny villages that probably looked the same in the days of One Sun Mirror. But Red -- our guide, Seven Red Rice -- says there's a very important difference: most of the peasants in the fields no longer kowtow to mounted travellers. They also no longer need special papers to travel from village to village, but Red says most of them still stay put because old habits die hard. That's progress for you.

* * *

Pork ear stew is...interesting.

* * *

After a while, pork ear stew is...less interesting.

* * *


* * *

After a while, duck tastes like pork ear stew...

* * *

Today we were passed by an entire flock of carrier pigeons. Very orderly country, Agatea: they were flying in formation.

* * *

Red pointed out the Dragon Mountains, off in the distance. He says that legend has it they're the exposed scales of the Earth Dragon, and that the position of cities relative to parts of the dragon are vitally important according to the dictates of Sheng Fooey. Most Agatean traditionalists, which is to say most Agateans, believe that Ankh-Morpork is built on top of the Earth Dragon's...well, never mind. Use your imagination.


Nearly at the gates of Hunghung now. Time to sleep. Here endeth this post.

* * *

Third Clog: "Down but not out in the Heavenly City"

Right. Far, far too much to write about and no way to send it, so I'm dictating the short version in song to Gimpy and getting it carriered back to Twoflower's. He promised to post it on the next Clacks fleet...


    Hunghung...Auriental setting
    It's a city of gold full of bureaucrats fretting
    The cream of the nobles in their cute silk beanies
    Hyping every clan but McSweeney's

    Great Wall...doesn't seem a minute
    Since the famous Silver Horde stuck their broadswords in it
    Small change - don't you know a rhinu
    Buys a whole city? Well, that's something more than I knew!
    Buys Sto Lat...or Pseudopolis...or Morpork...
    Or...or someplace!

    One night in Hunghung and the world's your lobster
    Those golden temples are a sight to see
    You'll find a god in every dry ancestor
    And if you're lucky then the squishi's free
    I can feel a ninja sneaking up on me

    One coin's...very like another
    When your head's down counting your rhinu, brother
    Etiquette is a chore, it's very 'san' and 'sama'
    Though I'm getting to adore those peasants in pyjamas

    Gilded and clean -
    I've seen forbidden, enchanted, charming towns

    Cha, buns, sweet and sour
    Caffs as posh as the Emperor's bower
    - that's Cohen! You're talking 'bout a hero
    Whose 'civilised' index stands at zero
    - he got his kicks above the snowline, last time!

    One night in Hunghung makes your dwarf bread crumble
    No other empire has such history
    One night in Hunghung knocks you down like scumble
    With pretty geisha girls for company
    I can see an army made of pottery

    I am...gonna see the army
    It's the ultimate sight in a land this barmy
    It stuns me more than blowfish
    Unlike tsimo wrestling - that's too oafish
    Thank the Gods I'm only watching the Noh, not part of it!

    See old men play like lightning
    Their game's more slick than kung fu fighting
    I watch them play, and grind my molars -
    Shibo Yangcong-san's for real high rollers!
    So you better just stick with your tea, your haikus
    Your squishi vendors...

    One night in Hunghung and the world's your lobster
    Those silken eunuchs are a sight to see
    You'll find a god in every dry ancestor
    And from Dibhala's tray, some rancid tea
    I can feel a ninja sneaking up on me

    One night in Hunghung makes your stomach rumble
    To munch exotic snacks with jasmine tea
    And when their language makes me gasp and mumble
    I'll keep Twoflower close for company
    I can feel the vampire ghosts right next to me!

* * *

Fourth Clog: "Eek!"

One night in Hunghung is everything the song says, but four weeks in Hunghung is a bit too much for some. Which is to say, for me. It's so big! And so crowded! And so far from home! This is the first time I've actually felt homesick since I began my journey. Not that I want to go home yet, but there are so many more places to see and only so many sweet and sour dumplings a body can eat, and only so many frustrated bureaucrats a body can stand to be around, and not enough gigs to make the evenings interesting (although the Imperial State Gymnastic Orchestra was worth the journey all on its own). So I gathered up my ever-increasing pile of acquired stuff, gave it to Red to take back to Bes P for shipping back to Lost Wages, and went looking for Cert.

I found him in the Hall of Curiosities in the Winter Palace, deep in conversation with a wizardy sort who must have been at least 150. Cert introduced him as Four Dread Teeth (and they are), a Doctor of Thaumology and one of the few old-school Agateans to have studied at Unseen University. Doctor Teeth was quite friendly, though his Morporkian is a bit rusty -- foreign languages officially did not exist in the days of the old Empire, especially in Hunghung. He and Cert have been updating each other (though in the case of Teeth, I suppose it's backdating) about developments in technomancy. They were babbling excitedly about something called Kwan T'um, which according to Doctor Teeth was discovered by his people 3,000 years ago but never explored on the grounds of its being inadvisable magic. It looks as though Cert will definitely have a job waiting for him after he gets his degree. Always good news for someone contemplating child support...

* * *

We decided to head for Bhangbhangduc by way of Sum Dim, going Rimwards after that through the Tang Pass in the Big Dragon Mountains (same dragon, apparently). Sum Dim was both a relief and a disappointment after the mad bustle of Hunghung; it's the most isolated major city in the Empire, so in other words old-fashioned in the least pleasant ways. Nothing but paddies, pyjamaed peasants, and...well, nothing else, really. The Sum Dim cuisine is different, though. Very, very spicy and based mostly on clay-pot cooking, with a gooey gluey bubbliness that reminds me of the Ankh. Not Ankh-Morpork, just the Ankh. Occasionally things bubble up to the surface of the pot, and I swear I saw far too many legs on some of them. Cert and I managed to learn a fair bit of conversational Agatean over the weeks, but out here we might as well not have bothered because the Sum dialect is almost a different language. Luckily, they do feed musicians -- but if I hadn't had my lute and my new koto with me, things would've got awfully hungry. We only stayed for two nights, then hit the road with hope in our hearts. I think we should have tried to hire a guide...

* * *

Lost the road in the dark last night. Nothing but plains and foothills. At least foothills means mountains soon, and mountains mean mountain pass, right?

It's getting very cold at night. Almost feel nostalgic for those flying carpets.

* * *

The landscape is getting...strange. Cert got a vintage thaumometer as a gift from Doctor Teeth. I don't know much about magickal devices, but I'm sure it shouldn't be glowing octarine all the time.

* * *

Landscape even stranger. Still nothing but foothills. We seem to have wandered into old Mage Wars ground. Thaumometer exploded this morning. At least I think it was morning. Um.

* * *

Dictating shrtmth definitly Magewars wyrd trees feelin fnny gtting hrdr to spe-

-- Alc


Note for Roundworlders: the original lyrics for One Night in
can be found at or

November 2007

by Lady Anaemia Asterisk


...with the sound of music! Sweet, sweet music. Do you like... soul music? Well, here are the answers to all your questions about "Which musical instruments are the best choices to play for people born under my Sign?" With the aid of astrology, you'll soon be making joyful noises with nimble fingers, mobile mouths, tantalisingly tripping tongues, and even greased elbows and fortunately fortitudinous feet. Whether your passion is for polite chamber music, wildly cultural folkfests, emotionally deranged full-tilt orchestral mayhem, or even Music with Rocks In, knowing your predestined instrument will set you well on the path to harmonious vicissitudinal virtuosity. Let the stars make you a star!

The Adamant Hedgehog 21 Mar - 20 Apr

Your musical instruments: organ, piano, harpsichord

Hoggers are typically bombastic, and nothing says bombast quite like the wheezing, groaning, majestic thunder of a pipe organ in full throttle. Especially if it's that king of keyboard instruments, the Mighty Hurlitzer! Originally designed by B.S. Johnson for the infamous Uberwaldean ivory-thumper Herr Doktor Antonius "the Indomitable" Vybes, the Mighty Hurlitzer can achieve tones that turn bones to water, tones that can only be heard by small woodland animals, and the sort of volume usually associated with avalanches and newborn volcanoes. You'll be the life -- and possibly death -- of every party, and people certainly won't laugh when you sit down at the keyboard!

Those of you with gentler temperaments might prefer the piano (easier to move, requires less steam), the harpsichord (dramatic but reasonably quiet), the harmonium (result of a terrible accident involving a piano-accordion, a treadmill and a bicycle pump, and simultaneously providing music and good healthy exercise), or the virginal, which often isn't.

Gahoolie, the Vase of Tulips 21 Apr - 21 May

Your musical instruments: harp, dulcimer

Gahoolie rules the corpus callosum, sacrum and stiff upper lip, and you'll find all of these are vital for a good harpist, because harp playing requires superb full-brain coordination, perfect posture, and above all, the ability to never crack a smile. The harp is a stately instrument, twice the height of the average Dwarf (but much lighter than a Hogger's pipe organ); its silken strings have been known to soothe the troubled brows of kings, herald the marriages of important personages, and even, at least in the case of the legendary battle harp of Owen Mwnyy, play themselves in times of danger...although playing with yourself is not always the best course of action in times of danger.

The dulcimer is another ancient instrument, more portable than the harp and with far fewer strings, requiring the messy death of far fewer cats. There are several varieties: the Lancrastian dulcimer, related to the zither and easily adapted to folk music; the hammer dulcimer, an oblong-or-eldritch box of strings that are hammered or beaten (rather like playing the piano with mallets); and the NoThingfjord langeleik, a droning dulcimer that makes possibly the most depressing sounds ever heard, but that's appropriate for the frozen wastes of NoThingfjord. Less musically-gifted Gahooligans may prefer the Tsortean monochordon. You can't go too far wrong with only one string!

Herne the Hunted 22 May - 21 Jun

Your musical instruments: flute, tin whistle, ocarina

Flutes have been played ever since our ancestors discovered how to make holes in mammoth bones after the mammoths were done using them, and the flute - or Pan pipe - is traditionally associated with both Herne the Hunted himself and astrological Hernians. In modern times, posh flutes are made of brass, silver or even gold, but over the millennienniennia flutes have been made from such diverse materials as wood, tin, bamboo, bears, sapient pearwood, and even the shinbones of that annoying chap in the next-door cave. They can be played by blowing into one end, or by blowing across the side; they can even be blown through the nose. No, seriously, although it's recommended that one never, ever make a nose flute from sapient pearwood. You just don't want to think about what might go wrong.

The ocarina, a charming ethnic instrument from the Tezuman Empire, is a gourd-shaped clay object with a hole for blowing into and several other holes for tuning. The stone ocarina was originally used to accompany ritual sacrifices to Quetzovercoatl, but since Tezuman religion entered its blood-free phase, wandering bands of Tezumen cross the Disc to busk at markets, hangings and other colourful public gatherings and are famed for their tuneful peeping and failure to disembowel any members of the audience whatsoever. A related instrument, the Howondaland double-chambered flutarina, is made of wood. The best-known ocarina composer, Sir Oliphant Buckerchutty, even wrote a concerto for ocarina, eunuchs, garden gloves and rubber trout, and his ghost is said to haunt the further reaches of Short Street, piping mournfully on windy nights.

The Wizard's Staff and Knob 22 Jun - 22 Jul

Your musical instruments: harmonica, guitar

The Wizard's Staff and Knob rules the mouth, tongue and index finger, so what better instrument for you Staffies than one that requires fine oral dexterity? This is a relatively modern instrument, first created by Borogravian clockmaker Martin Hooter in the early Century of the Fruitbat, but its haunting tones soon spread across the Plains States and were brought to popularity by the coming of Music with Rocks In. It's an easy instrument to play, because listeners have difficulty telling whether or not it's in tune with the band. B.S. Johnson famously tried his hand at designing a chromatic harmonica; it now serves as a foghorn to warn ships straying too close to the Holy Wood coast.

Ah, the guitar. Descended from the noble harp via the wrong side of the sheets, this complex and daunting instrument with its rich range of chords and melody lines has spurred the rise of the one-being band! More portable than a harp, lighter than a piano, strung with finest Agatean silk and strongest Ankh-Morpork steel, this is an instrument fit for a virtuoso...sadly, its fate is more often to be attacked by an amateur, frequently the sort of amateur who wears strange baggy clothing, can't see the strings for all his hair, and fancies himself a bard. Still, it's a great way to pull the ladies. On no account EVER play Pathway to Paradise, unless you want your musical career to be short, nasty and full of angry trolls.

Bilious, God of Hangovers 23 Jul - 23 Aug

Your musical instruments: lute, balalaika

It is my unhappy lot to inform you unhappy lot that there is no musical instrument that can be made from grapes. But as the lute is traditionally paired with wine, women and song, or at least wine, song and hangovers, it's the best instrument for Bilians who wish to lament their sorry state of oenophilic servitude. The lute, with its fine Bardic history, is beloved by bards everywhere (even our own Weird Alice) and even more beloved by romantic suitors all across the multiverse; it typically has several sets of double strings and is made entirely of wood -- although the Omnian Odd, a related instrument, was historically made from the shell of a desert tortoise. Lutes are also the favoured instruments of the Monks of Cool, because one doesn't have to be any good at playing it -- just lounging louchely with a lute confers instant coolth on most lutists. The best lutes on the Disc are those made by Lex Luthier, who even produces a special Bilian model, the only lute to feature its own sick-bag.

Let me hear your balalaikas ringing out! The balalaika, famous local-colour instrument of the Hubland steppes, has only three strings and can certainly ring! The Horse People use them to play their fearsome war-songs on the hoof; the Borogravian State Orchestra considers the balalaika one of the few noisemaking devices not abominated by Nuggan; and the composers Boris Furtivov and Pavel Notsopinko collaborated on a balalaika concerto that is played to this day wherever people in gloomy trousers long for the freezing steppes...on cold nights in Ankh-Morpork, the plaintive yet stirring sounds of allcomers' balalaika competitions ring out across the city from the Hublandish ghetto up by Dolly Sisters. A perfect hangover instrument!

Mubbo the Hyena 24 Aug - 23 Sept

Your musical instruments: drums, spoons, kitchen percussion

The Sign of Mubbo rules the sword -- or plough -- hand of Mubboons and is the Sign of barbarian heroes, actors and Fools, so drumming is the surest way for you to get rid of all that astro-illogically pent-up aggression. Everyone knows a drummer is the life and soul of parties. Also, no-one will ever know when you're out of tune, and as few people can keep accurate time with their hands and feet, they'll all be dancing to whatever rhythm you set for them. What's more, you can practise your drumming anywhere, with or without drums - on cushions, on wet sheets hanging on washing lines, on the cat, even on nothing at all (see Buddy Poor's bestselling book Confessions of an Air Drummer). Every country and every culture has its own native drums, from the round, flat Llamedosian hound-skin drum (the bowwowran) to the minuscule Oi Dong temple drum (played with one hand, of course) to the majestic .99 Zlobenian martial kettledrum (which can achieve true subsonics and is also useful as an alternative to explosives in quarrying).

Spoons make an excellent alternative to drums: for a start, you can find them in every kitchen, so no purchase is necessary. Also, playing the spoons qualifies as an automatic prayer to Anoia, so you'll never have to worry about sticking drawers again! Formal spoon-playing originated in the upper reaches of Lancre, where bored shepherds would rhythmically click pairs of sheep's rib-bones together around the evening campfire (not, obviously, whilst attached to living sheep); this is why spoon-playing is referred to as "playing the bones". In fact, any kitchen can be a veritable arsenal of makeshift percussion. Serious kitchen percussionists will want to investigate the purchase of Bad Blintz bottled medicinal spring water, as the bottles have a particularly euphonic tone.

The Small Boring Group of Faint Stars 24 Sept - 23 Oct

Your musical instruments: xylophone, didgeridoo, susurrophone

As ever, Boring'uns are drawn to musical instruments that are simple, unobtrusive, or, well, boring: nothing with too many strings or too many holes or capable of producing too many exciting tones, nothing too loud, and above all, nothing too prone to inciting violence. To this end, the xylophone might as well have been invented expressly for Boring'uns. It's made of unthreatening woods, played by being struck (gently, for you lot) with rubber mallets, and prone to stay in the same place once it's assembled; it also serves as a useful table once you've decided that more than two differently-tuned bars is entirely too much like excitement.

The Fourecksian didgeridoo, on the other hand, can only play one note. One low, deep, soothing -- some might even say boring -- note. And it's played by the method known as circular breathing -- in through the nose, out through the mouth -- which promotes a calm, relaxed, meditative state. And It has no keys, bars, strings, slides or anything at all apart from a hollow tree branch and some beeswax smeared around the mouthpiece. Perfect!

The susurrophone does have keys and a double reed, but is unique among woodwinds in that it only produces a whisper no matter how hard you blow. The twelve-gauge contrabass susurrophone is the best of all instruments for the shy, excitement-hating would-be virtuous, as it whispers in such a low register that you might as well not be playing at all! Very relaxing.

Androgyna Majestis 24 Oct - 22 Nov

Your musical instruments: trumpet, triangle

Andies are infamous for often playing the strumpet, but tuneful Andies will find that removing the initial S will lead them to an exciting musical hobby! Just hie yourself to the nearest blacksmith with some brass tubing and he'll bend and hammer it into a truly distinctive instrument. The trumpet is not the easiest brass instrument to play -- because it tends to produce 'wolf tones', especially bright, loud notes that agitate any nearby werewolves and can even bring on The Change at inconvenient times -- but trumpet music is wonderfully rousing, notably for neighbours you don't much like. Trumpets, which were developed from the mediaeval wooden Shawn (not Ogg), come in a variety of keys and sizes and can play every note in the standard Morporkian scale (and a few that no composer ever anticipated). For the more adventurous -- and Andies are nothing if not adventurous! -- try the related Fluebelhorn, pride of Uberwald orchestras and winner of both the Longest Note and Loudest Note categories at the Copperhead Consolidated Mining Band Brass Competition for three years running.

Another good instrument for Andies is the triangle (your local blacksmith is going to love you). The triangle is said to be the instrument of angels, and known to be one of the instruments used by those committing folk music; nonetheless, the triangle can be surprisingly challenging to play. Orchestral composers often write rhythmically complex triangle parts -- possibly as a means of getting back at the triangle players, who get the same pay as everyone else but get to spend most of their time dozing at the back or doing the Times crossword. Some players use knitting needles for a gentler tone. This means you can make sweet music and knit your socks for next winter, at the same time.

Great T'Phon's Foot 23 Nov - 21 Dec

Your musical instruments: Quirmish horn, tuba

Cor! In fact, Cor blimey! The Quirmish horn, historically known as the Cor Ankhaise and -- interestingly -- neither Quirmish nor a horn, is just the thing to tootlingly thrill you winsomely woodwindy Footies. A long, sleek instrument, related to the Brindisian Oboe D'amore (a favourite of those of the Casanundan persuasion), the Quirmish horn will fill your days with melancholy melodies. Ambitious players might attempt the north face of Tuttifrutti's famed Rhapsodie for Cor and Catgut, or scale the heights of Horsehack's Lost World Symphony. The Cor's double reed develops good kissing technique (see Oboe D'amore), and its length, heft and general hardness are good for speedily resolving orchestral disputes.

The tuba, stately basso of the brass instruments, is played by a movement more usually known as "blowing a raspberry". This means that you can perform rich, warm passages and secretly display your contempt for the rest of the orchestra at the same time. Many famous Uberwaldean and Zlobenian composers favoured the tuba -- consider the famous tuba passages in the Ring of the Nibelungungungen -- and it is also a featured instrument in many Dwarf operas: perhaps the most famous piece known to non-dwarf music aficionados is the Gold March of Bloodaxe, popularly known as the Haul of the Mountain King. In a world of warbling sopranos and screeching piccolos, the tuba will always let you down.

Hoki the Jokester 22 Dec - 20 Jan

Your musical instruments: banjo, sukinoto

The banjo is famed throughout the Ramtops and across the Octarine Grass Country as the queen of folk instruments, although some say more honestly that a truer description would be the Seamstress of folk instruments...or at least the brazen hussy. Originally invented in Howondaland, where it was traditionally crafted out of gourds or the skulls of Omnian missionaries, the banjo was updated early in the Century of the Fruitbat by an unnamed Dwarf craftsman who saw a use for some low-grade ore tailings and smelted them down to make the familiar modern metal frame. It is played by plucking (with metal fingerpicks), strumming (with very tough fingernails), clawing (very popular with werewolf banjoists), or in the case of more lively gatherings, throwing against a wall and using the resultant twanging clang as a start-point for the Hedgehog Song. Those of a less brazen disposition might consider the Hunghung shamisen, because it has fewer strings and weighs less, although it's not nearly as useful in a pub fight.

The sukinoto (literally "wet garden ornament") is an Agatean musical device. Consisting of an buried upside-down pot with a hole at the top and a small pool of water inside, the sukinoto is placed beside an outdoor handwashing bowl; water dripping into the pot, creates a pleasant bell-like sound. Each part of the instrument-or-device must be tuned separately, and each part of the assembly requires much poetry. It is said that certain jars are born to become sukinoto, owing to their natural bell-like tones. Entire sets of scrolls have been written about the best placement of the washbasin and the correct length of time for washing the hands beside a sukinoto, and sukinosamas -- "musical handwash-masters" -- are accorded the same sort of respect as senior samurai and venerable swordmakers. Which is fairly extraordinary when you consider that what they're playing is, after all, a drainage system!

The Rather Large Gazunda 21 Jan - 18 Feb

Your musical instruments: squeezebox, clarinet

The Gazunda rules the lips, abdominal muscles and pectorals, so the squeezebox, otherwise known as the accordion (or, in some quarters, the discordion), is by far the best choice of instrument for you Gazundians. Indispensable for Morris dancers, harvest-ball bands and Bonk polkestras, the squeezebox comes in two flavours -- button and key -- utilises a membranous bellows made from leather, paper, or leftover insides of sheep, and is the only type of instrument used by strolling players to imitate the death-gasps of murdered characters on stage. Most major churches deplore the squeezebox, believing its jaunty nature lures young people into sin, but the Unreformed Church of Petulia, Goddess of Negotiable Affection, blesses it precisely for this reason. So give in to the lure of the squeezebox and go insane with the membrane!

The clarinet (Brindisian for "undersized trumpet") is favoured by snake charmers, pocket orchestras, ratcatchers, and music halls all across the Disc. A mellow-sounding woodwind that travels well and is easy to assemble, the clarinet has a wider range of tone and register than most other woodwind instruments, and an all-clarinet ensemble can challenge a vocal choir for richness and variety of timbre. That said, it's not exactly sexy; you won't find a clarinet in the hands of the world's greatest lovers, unless it's being put to some creative and not exactly musical use. Don't arsk.

Lesser Umbrage 19 Feb - 20 Mar

Your musical instruments: mousepipes, viola extravaganza

The heart, wrists and hindbrain are ruled by Lesser Umbrage, and you need lashings of all three for your destined instrument: the mousepipes. Traditionally used in battle by the Nac mac Feegle to make their enemies' ears explode, mousepipes are made from mouseskin, often with the ears still attached. Properly-played mousepipes can do far more than fell enemies or clear out stubborn blockages of earwax; when attacked with sufficient vigour and emotion, they can even affect the local weather. A difficult instrument to play, mousepipes are best learnt out on open moorland, where the novice's "off" notes and wheezing stop-starts are unlikely to fell anything more than a passing stoat.

The viola extravaganza, a truly unique musical experience, was invented by Leonard of Quirm and was the first and only bowed keyboard instrument in existence. The idea of a set of steam-driven rotating bows running perpendicular to a set of push-down keys (causing the moving bow to sound the pitch of the corresponding string) came to him when he was redesigning his revolutionary coffee-making machine. Of course, he called it the Machine for Making Pleasant Musical Noises by Means of a Rotating Drum Interacting with Strings and Keys, but Brindisian piano designer Benito-Serendipito Giansoni -- the only person ever to build one of these -- gave it the rather shorter name by which it is known. However, in his first and only public demonstration, Bensoni allowed the pressure to creep up in the steam boiler, and once he hit the big crescendo in Carphammer's Illusione Chorale, things became...ballistic. He was last seen as a blur heading up the north face of Cori Celesti, followed by a large sonic boom; since then, viola extravaganza lessons are only given as musical theory.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

October 2007

by Lady Anaemia Asterisk


Well now, it's good to be back! After spending several days of last month locked in a cupboard by an esbat of young witches, the sight of my charts and sextant and orrery were welcome indeed. I should have paid more attention to my own horoscope and taken that holiday in Quirm...mind you, what's done is done, and it's best to be philosophical about it. And by coincidence, this month's Horoscope is all about philosophy. What path of wisdom is the best for you to follow when you're born under a wandering star: the wisdom of the Ancients, or the fresh newly-minted-and-sometimes-suspect wisdom of the Moderns? What is philosophy, anyway? What is the meaning of life? What is the airspeed of an unladen Pointless Albatross? Will there be custard? Only the heavens know.

The Adamant Hedgehog 21 Mar - 20 Apr

Your most suitable philosophies: Ibidism; Ridiculism

The Ephebian philosopher Ibid derived the belief that the universe is simple, basic and follows fundamental rules, and from this given comes Ibidism. He also believed in a lot of shouting, especially at other philosophers, so Ibidism is the perfect philosophy for Hoggers; you do love your shouting, don't you... The precepts of Ibidism are: remain rational, learn by observation, trust in the principle of cause and effect, and always get someone else to do your work for you, preferably a rival philosopher.

There are two schools of Ridiculism. One was founded by Ly Tin Wheedle of the Agatean Empire, an aged and rather smelly sage (more garlic than onion, and definitely a strong hint of ginger) who believed that all questions should be answered in the longest, most complex and obfuscatory manner and that a simple yes or no should never be given when a convoluted and nonsensical aphorism will do (especially when you're the sort of sage who charges by the hour); this school of philosophy is wildly popular, particularly among university students, helpdesk operators, medical practitioners and elected civic officials.

The other school of Ridiculism, which is perennially engaged in a legal battle for rights to the name, was set forth by Piotr Sodov Zupnatzi of Uberwald; according to Herr Zupnatzi, true enlightenment can only be achieved through the humility one feels after being thoroughly, vituperatively and undeservedly insulted, and he carried out a tireless one-man campaign to bring enlightenment to all until his mission was sadly cut short by the pointed end of a pitchfork wielded by a large and irate civic official. Strangely enough, this other school of philosophy is also wildly popular, particularly among middle management, sergeants, and the street traders of Ankh-Morpork.

Gahoolie, the Vase of Tulips 21 Apr - 21 May

Your most suitable philosophies: the Way of Mrs Cosmopilite; Call of the Wiled

One of the most modern schools of philosophy, the Way of Mrs Cosmopilite nonetheless resonates with ancient wisdom: this is because, as the Mrs herself would say, it's as plain as the nose on your face. Her homely sayings echo the deep thoughts of Wen the Eternally Surprised, and despite her never having travelled beyond the gates of Ankh-Morpork (well, once, but that was just for business purposes), her canny exhortations cover all eventualities and are proof that homegrown wisdom does sometimes come from far away. If you remember that Seeing is Believing, but Don't Believe Everything you Hear; if you remember that We're All Pretty Much the Same, and that the Leopard Does Not Change his Shorts; if you remember that Tomorrow is Another Day, and that the Grass is Always Greener Over the Hill; and especially if you remember that you're No Better than you Should Be, following the Way of Mrs Cosmopilite will bring you true peace and enlightenment.

The Call of the Wiled is a rather specialist discipline of philosophy. A combination of psychological torture techniques, martial arts (in the rather all-encompassing sense of the term that involves things red in tooth and claw rather than white in gi and dojo), self-motivation and supposedly clever strategy, most often cited as the "only true path to strength and purity", the Call first came to Wolf von Uberwald and his followers in the mountain fastnesses of his home country but has spread across the Disc into all manner of unfortunate places. The Call of the Wiled teaches that life is a game (and the game is War), that the strongest and most merciless will become the Master Race, and that the victor always takes the spoils and spoils the rest. Very popular with non-enlightened dictators, corporate executives and competition ice skaters.

Herne the Hunted 22 May - 21 Jun

Your most suitable philosophies: Xenoism; the Path of the Sweeper

Xeno of Ephebe believed that the world is complex, random and impossible to understand or predict, no matter what Ibid thinks. Taking their cue from the Great Thinker, Xenoists believe that true enlightenment comes only from being attuned to the basic nature of the Cosmic All, and since the Cosmic All is chaotic and whimsical, practising Xenoists dedicate themselves to irresponsibility, mood swings and never remembering to take out the rubbish. Xenoists claim that there is no good and no evil in the universe, only a series of unreliable impulses and meaningless but sometimes amusing accidents, so there's no point in trying to make sense of anything; they rarely show up on time for appointments, but they do make surprisingly good pinball players.

The Path of the Sweeper, as created by Lu-Tze of the History Monks, is a deep and complex school of thought that is nevertheless accessible to all (so long as you remember both Rule One and Rule Nineteen). Lu-Tze holds that every seeker of wisdom must first find a teacher and then find a Way. The general principles of the Path of the Sweeper (and a very clean path it is) require no special equipment and can be summed up by: never reveal the full extent of your knowledge or abilities; always obey the spirit of the law, because the letter of the law is usually laid down by people who aren't thinking ahead; always recognise the difference between an opportunity to show off and a genuine emergency; never forget to appreciate the little details; and always use short firm strokes, letting your broom do the work for you. This last precept can be applied in all sorts of surprising places, especially by little smiling wrinkly bald men who are obviously unarmed.

The Wizard's Staff and Knob 22 Jun - 22 Jul

Your most suitable philosophies: Realist Magicalism; Scienceology

The philosophy of Realist Magicalism, first developed by the research wizard Nils Gammon (who is not a dwarf, although often mistaken for one), posits that the true inner nature of things is far more important than their outer appearance. In other words, you don't need incense, ceremonial masks and dribbly candles; all you need is to learn to spell properly, as it were. Realist Magicalism recognises that magic is a fundamental natural resource and though, like any other resource, it needs to go through a sort of refining process, wrapping it up in overblown packaging with extra tinsel is both wasteful and tasteless. RMs (as they call themselves) believe in practical approaches to life -- simplicity, honesty and efficiency -- and their motto is "Do what thou will with whatever thou happen to hath handy." Realist Magicalism champions the triumph of substance over style; it is notably unpopular with tradition-bound wizards and manufacturers of incense, ceremonial masks and dribbly candles, but is considered the bee's knees by most practising rural witches.

Scienceology, sometimes known as Dementics, is perhaps the most curious school of philosophy on the Disc. The creation of one Huw Bron Allard of Pseudopolis, mad scientist and purported writer of the surrealistic Grime's Fairy Tales, Scienceology postulates that there is a logical, rational and above all non-magical explanation for the universe and everything in it. According to Allard, there is no such thing as magic: Great A'Tuin the World Turtle came into existence by a natural process of evolution, the Hub is made of common iron, the colour octarine is a fiction and doesn't exist in the spectrum, and we were all descended from an ancient race of short-lived, ordinary, non-shining terrestrial beings with no mystical agenda and no unearthly powers whatsoever. He and his followers developed a process they call "editing", which involves reprogramming the non-believer into a solid belief in science and rationality (thus becoming more like our ordinary ancestors); a reprogrammed person is known as a Muddy. Allard has not been seen for many years now; while some say he still lives, in an unknown place and by means of no potions or "magic" at all, the truth is that the Faculty of Unseen University got tired of his nonsense and turned him into a set of croquet hoops on the lawn of Wizards' Pleasaunce.

Bilious, God of Hangovers 23 Jul - 23 Aug

Your most suitable philosophies: Inebriism; Didactylic Cynicism

Inebriists never waste time worrying whether the proverbial bottle is half-full or half-empty; they believe that the world only makes sense from the bottom of the bottle, and only after its contents are firmly settled into the believer. As the great sage Ethan Aule, founder of Inebriism, declared, "The only discipline of this discipline is no discipline." A practising Inebriist knows that the answers to all questions of existence and meaning can be found at the Hour After Opening Time, and that no journeys to faraway lands or years of drinking yak-butter tea at the feet of of a wizened monk can ever bring the clarity of perception that follows the ingestion of a good claret. Re-inebriists, a specialised subset of this school of philosophy, believe higher states of enlightenment can only be attained through the consumption of reannual vintages; an astute Re-inebriist can see the meaning of life in the colours of last year's chunder, and a true Master Inebriist can infer the path of his or her life simply by browsing a reannual wine-seller's catalogue. When you get down to it, the only question that truly matters to the Inebriist is "what's yours?"

Didactylos was quite possibly the wisest of all the Ephebian philosophers and is certainly the most popular among the drinking fraternity. According to Didactylos, the world is funny and old and re-creates itself constantly ("There'll be another one along in a minute"), so there's no point in worrying about past mistakes and you might as well just go get drunk. Didactylic Cynics tend to atheism and, well, cynicism. They traditionally carry lanterns, but this is merely so they can find their way home after closing time.

Mubbo the Hyena 24 Aug - 23 Sept

Your most suitable philosophies: Luddism; Feeglosity

Luddism is not about hatred of machinery, not at all -- it's about the love of clockwork. Named in honour of Lobsang Ludd, who famously makes time for everything, the philosophy of Luddism encompasses a belief that an understanding of the true nature of Time leads to understanding -- and control -- of all things. Luddites tend to be quietly arrogant (their favourite aphorism is Tempus non fugit nisi sic dico, "Time doesn't fly unless I say it does"); they move very slowly (except when they move so fast that you can't see them at all), and they always seem to have time for long holidays, afternoon siestas and that extra round down the pub. They believe that Time reveals all secrets, heals all wounds, explains all mysteries and makes all possibilities possible. The ability to manipulate Time means that while everyone else is slaving away in the fields or at the forge, your Luddite is lazing on the front lawn in a deckchair, cool drink in hand, enjoying a perfect summer afternoon (oddly enough, in the middle of a winter snowstorm; even more oddly, at what other people think is three o'clock of a dark and moonless night). For an advanced Luddite, one man's minute is another's gap-year backpacking holiday. Luddites would make brilliant office managers and civic planners, but for some reason, none of them ever find the time for jobs like those...

Crivens! What we have here is another plain and simple philosophy, taken from the lifestyle and beliefs of the Nac mac Feegle clans. It's what you might call the non-thinking man's philosophy; the emphasis is on action, on acting rather than reacting, and on looking at Big Questions such as "why are we here?" and "what's it all about, anyway?" and giving them a clean miss in favour of drinkin', stealin', fightin', and generally having a good time without disturbing those pesky higher brain functions. Feegles believe that they are already dead and that this is the afterlife, so from the Feegle point of view it's one big non-stop party. Of course, there is also a tradition of dreeing one's weird, which in ordinary language means facing up to your (possibly horrible) fate, but as you're already dead your fate has happened anyway, and there's no point in worrying about how it turned, would have turned, or was meant to have turned out, because that would only distract you from your next round of drinkin', stealin' and fightin'.

The Small Boring Group of Faint Stars 24 Sept - 23 Oct

Your most suitable philosophies: Code of the Igors; Noworis

The Code of the Igors may be the personal family philosophy of that Uberwaldean tribe, but you Boring'uns can learn much from it. The Igors learned long ago that the world is indeed full of uncertainty, stormy weather, mad doctors, insane noblemen, loopy scientists and angry villagers with sharp pitchforks, and to deal with these vagaries they developed the Code. Its main precepts are: Never Contradict; Never Complain; Never Make Personal Remarks; and never, ever Ask Big Questions. Also, the lesser but equally important points: be loyal, dependable, and discreet (although, with Igors, there is also a basic precept of being...discrete), smile often in a harmless way, never oil doors, always have a bag of personal possessions packed and ready where it can be grabbed at short notice, and always know where the back door is. All in all, a very sensible philosophy for Boring'uns to live by!

From the faraway land of Fourecks comes the philosophical discipline of Noworis, as propounded by Ecksians of all walks of life. The ideals of Noworis are egalitarianism ("You can spit on the mat and call the cat a galah"), optimism ("She'll be right, mate"), reverence for Nature ("It's a beaut arvo, so let's knock off work and hit the pub and she'll be right, mate"), appreciation of the nuances of language ("Garn mate, you don't half pong like a dingo's armpit"), and the seeking of the simplest and most harmonious solutions to all problems ("Giss'another tinnie and throw some more snags on the barbie and she'll be right, mate"). Masters of the higher intricacies of Noworis are always called Bruce, as a term of respect and to avoid confusion.

Androgyna Majestis 24 Oct - 22 Nov

Your most suitable philosophies: the Wisdom of Cohen; Chil-mon-chil

The Wisdom of Cohen is one of the simpler philosophies. It teaches us that life is nasty, brutish and short but also contains wine, women, song and rare jewels just begging to be stolen, and can be summed up by "want, take, get distracted by the next shiny thing". The Wisdom of Cohen also shows us that the best things in life are minor pleasures -- in the words of the Master himself, "Hot water, good dentishtry and shoft lavatory paper" -- and that most really difficult questions can be answered with the swing of a good broadsword. A simple philosophy indeed, yet strangely tricksome to master as it requires good reflexes, mighty thews, the morals of a randy tomcat and a sense of self-confidence you could plate a siege engine with.

Chil-mon-chil, the venerable and almost inexpressibly uber-fashionable philosophy of the Monks of Cool (as delineated by Ben Zodi-Asa P'aam, who was seriously relaxed, and Zanax, who was too cool to have more than one name), assures its disciples that the meaning of everything lies in whatever cool people decide it means and that the only state of enlightenment worth striving for is the one that looks flashiest and most effortlessly nonchalant. Advanced Chil-mon-chilists, also known as Dudes, might consider the lesser known sect of Neo Chil-mon, which involves kung fu, dark glasses and a really stylish leather coat.

Great T'Phon's Foot 23 Nov - 21 Dec

Your most suitable philosophies: Objectionalism; Lex Subterranis

Objectionableism, the strictly individualist, anti-collectivist philosophy created by Anya Moribunda Cisterna Avaricia Randova (from Uberwald, obviously), teaches that everything Randova says is the epitome of excellence and anything everybody else says is objectionable -- especially governments, trade guilds, churches and other collectivist groups who disagree with her. Nevertheless, Randova believes that government has an essential role in safeguarding the ability of Objectionableists to make as much money as they are capable of making in as short a period as possible. Objectionalism is not open to debate (for more information, consult her best-selling books We the Unliving, The Showerhead, and Berilia Shook).

Lex Subterranis, also known as the Precepts of Mining, has been handed down from Dwarf to Dwarf on the pointy end of a pick and shovel. It shares some concepts with Ibidism, but the Dwarfs believe that the world is simple, basic and ordered not due to any fundamental nature of things but because Laws make it so. There's a course of action for everything, and a Law to answer every question (for example, the answer to "Why am I on tailings duty while Bors Cleverdiksson gets to play with the nuggets?" is "Book of Mining, Volume 239, page 627: the King always knows what duty best suits each worker."), and this teaches us to accept our lot in life and function well within our society. The Lex Subterranis also reveres the power of the written word. This philosophy makes for a simple and satisfying life, as all those difficult questions are covered: it's easy to sleep well at night when, for example, the answer to "Why are we here?" is "To tease the last bits of good ore out of Seam 22 while the price of gold is up thruppence in the dollar."

Hoki the Jokester 22 Dec - 20 Jan

Your most suitable philosophies: Commercialism; the Way of Ogg

Commercialism, as propounded by the great sage (and onion) C.M.O.T. Dibbler, informs us that life is all about seizing opportunity and offering it to others at a discount. This philosophy, based on one of lifekind's oldest activities, can be deeply humanistic and altruistic if properly practised in the manner of its founder; his understanding of the fundamentally intertwined nature of both sausage and sizzle promotes uncrushable optimism and the realisation that, even if contents are disappointing compared to their packaging and sales pitch, there is always another package and always a chance that the Great Pie of Life will eventually contain Named Meat. Practising Commercialists may appear to be selling shoddy goods in a dishonest manner, but their modest profits facilitate a subtextual payback of bringing the community closer together -- strangers and even enemies commiserating over the wobbly green bits -- and helping people count their blessings -- "thank gods my wife/mother/apprentice can cook better than that". And Commercialist Masters can always get it for you wholesale, which certainly beats the sound of one hand clapping.

The Way of Ogg is the oldest philosophy known to Mankind, yet it is the only one ever to address the questions and practices of Womankind and provide specific answers. A practising Oggist, or Oggess, knows that what the world is really all about is a vast appetite for living and loving (especially the latter), a vast capacity for good food and drink (especially the latter), a vast openness of mind, and the power of a low-cut bodice. The wisdom of Ogg teaches us that all creatures great and small (especially men) are open to suggestion, and that suggestive suggestion is the quickest path to getting all sorts of things open (especially low-cut bodices). Oggists believe in family values (especially the value of having a large family, as that guarantees an eventual army of interchangeable nameless daughters-in-law to take care of your housework) and forgiveness (as long as it doesn't involve family squabbles), and firmly believe that when faced with any of life's Big Questions, the best position to take is always the horizontal.

The Rather Large Gazunda 21 Jan - 18 Feb

Your most suitable philosophies: the Word of Wen; Sumtin Zen

The Word of Wen was first brought into the world by Wen the Eternally Surprised after a very interesting one-night stand with Time (the anthropomorphic personification, that is, and since they produced offspring, it must have been Mother Time, which just goes to show that some stories do get the details awfully skewed). The Word itself is probably "quantum", but what his message means is that the universe is re-created in every instant, that memory is the only Past, and that if you get the hang of mutable realities you can change history, save the world and do some seriously nifty moves on the karate mat. Followers of Wen seek enlightenment through seeing things as they really are but testing the probable truth of all information, remembering that there is more sameness than contrast in the history of the sentient races, cherishing the constant newness of everything around them, recognising that appearances can deceive, and respecting those who have a greater and longer store of memories -- in other words, just like the Way of Mrs Cosmopilite but offering more dojo mojo.

The philosophy of Sumtin is existentialist, surrealist, perceptionist, transcendentalist, postmodernist, absurdist, nontheist, ultra-humanist, pre-prescriptivist and quite possibly plain daft, and its sub-school of Sumtin Zen is all that with extra added funny mushrooms. A famous schism, during the battle (or debate, or probably debattle) to determine whether Sumtin Zen was a philosophy or a religion, caused three major subsects to split off into separate disciplines: the Tea'ites believe that all the profound secrets of the universe can be found by staring into a good hot cuppa; the Goofis believe staunchly in the transcendental power of funny-looking desert fungi; and the Munni, who are pretty much indistinguishable from Yen Buddhists, believe that the only way to satisfy the long night of the soul is to count coins. Lots of coins. And then keep them in your bank account.

Lesser Umbrage 19 Feb - 20 Mar

Your most suitable philosophies: Postvitalism; Pedantophilism

Postvitalism is perhaps the most fervent and proactive of all philosophies and stems from the First Principle, "that which does kill us makes us stronger." As first taught by Reg Shoe at the Fresh Start Club, 668 Elm Street, Ankh-Morpork, Postvitalism posits that the confusing nature of life is caused by overexcited (that is to say, living) glands, and that therefore life can be truly understood and lived to its fullest (so to speak) only by the Undead. Adherents of Postvitalism tend to be strangely excitable for the glandless, but they are nonviolent and love nothing more than a good debate. However, there are not many followers, and none who deliberately died to find such enlightenment; this is one philosophy that only successfully preaches to those already in the choir.

Pedantophilism, which does not mean what you think it means, is the school of philosophy that seeks enlightenment in, well, enlightenment. Pedantophiles, also known as Bibliophiles (which also does not mean what you think it means) and Didacts (sometimes Peripatetic Didacts), believe that a little learning is a dangerous thing but a lot of learning leads to enlightenment (and, sometimes, tenure). The followers of Pedantophilism lead a life of simplicity, penury and assiduous work (though with no heavy lifting, except when a consignment of textbooks has to be hoicked into the cart). Their motto is "Libertis via Logos", which means "browse through the contents of a library and you'll end up much smarter than a short plank", and the ultimate goal of a Pedantophile is to achieve wisdom through memorising at least one complete edition of the Uncyclopaedia Morporkia.

Clog post 7 with Tsort's the Place


Post 7. TSORTED!

First Clog: "You Cloggers are all alike..."

I hadn't realised it was so long since my last Clogpost! Will try to be more conscientious, because I want to remember all these journeys when I'm too old to remember them without special equipment. I've been told about "Clog ennui" -- that's what happens to about fifty-five per cent of Cloggers -- at first it's all enthusiasm and long, rambling posts, and then after a few months their posts get shorter and they post less often, and then they find themselves going "Ooh, I must make a post about that because it's so interesting" and really mean to but seem to keep forgetting, and then a few more months go by and they realise they haven't posted anything at all and they've forgotten whatever was so interesting that they wanted to post about. So I'll do my best. I've told Gimpy to give me a bingly-bingly-beep reminder every two or three days. He offered to just make a note of everything I do so I can "edit it later", but I'm quite sure that some of the things I've been doing do NOT want to be noted, and imps aren't exactly strong in the "a certain discretion" department...

We had a fantastic time in Djelibeybi, weeks and weeks of it. Great gigs out under the desert moon! I had a number of interesting chats with the Queen, and she introduced me to her friend Chidder of Chidders Merchant Venturers U'ltd who sold me a new non-sapient pearwood fretboard for my lute at less than cost price. He also gave me a Recording Device, which is a sort of box with a sort of wire in it that remembers sounds better than Gimpy doe-, um, better than one would think possible (he tapped his nose and said I have to keep it to myself because they've been banned in Ankh-Morpork and are considered contraband; I'd say they're pro-band, myself). And as I mentioned in my song DJEL STAR'S PYRAMID, Queen Ptraci has moved her country kicking and screaming into the Century of the Anchovy and has turned most of the old pyramids into hotels; room service is still a bit heavy on the honeyed locusts, but the best thing about sleeping in a pyramid is that you wake up a little younger every morning. I know where I'm going to spend my retirement.

But all good things end eventually, and it was time to move on before we wore out our welcome. I booked passage on a camel train, and none of the camels broke down (though camel travel is rather like a series of mobile breakdowns; take it from me, camels do not give a smooth ride).

And now here we are in Tsort, having a less fantastic time.

Tsort has never been the same since the Siege of Ago -- the Ephebian conquerors put their retsina-flavoured stamp on the place so thoroughly that it's pretty much been a sort of Turnwise Ephebe ever since. Everything is quiet and dusty and bucolic, relentlessly picturesque locals dozing in the relentlessly picturesque sunshine, flies buzzing quietly around the street markets...until opening time, that is. Whatever glorious history Tsort had back in the days when History was glorious, what it mostly is these days is a tourist trap. Of course, the place is still full of Ephebians, but they don't come here with pointy spears and siege engines now; they come here for their holidays because the architecture is familiar and the food is familiar and the music is familiar but they can walk down the street without tripping over philosophers.

So instead of not being able to move for all the drunken philosophers, you can't move for all the drunken holidaymakers. It's all pubs and hotels and cafes and restaurants and retsina bars and markets and more pubs and, most of all, nightclubs -- which makes it one of the most popular destinations for all the Clubbe Circlesea thirtysomethings. They say they come for the ambience and the mind-broadening aspects of travel, but what they really come for is the boozeries. There's the Fair Elenor, the Inferno (supposedly built on the supposed spot of the supposed Fire of Tsort), the Wooden Horse, the Lavaeolus, the King Mausoleum's Head and Artichoke, the Uninvolved Civilian, the Siege of Tsort, the Sea God's Revenge, the Legged Box (which lists itself as "Tsort's Oldest Inne", although curiously enough no-one seems to know where its name came from), the Soldier's get the idea. And then there are the nightclubs. Oh gods, the nightclubs. The ceaseless wailing of bouzoukis, the ceaseless barking of Bourzoukis, the ceaseless single-entendre lyrics, the unavoidable Plate Breaking Dance, the ubiquitous sleazily-named cocktails (not to be confused with the Ephebian philosopher Ubiquitus, although it's said that he invented a few sleazily-named cocktails in his day)...I feel like I need a holiday to recover from my holiday...

The twentysomethings from Clubbe 18-29-and-3/4, on the other hand, stop in Tsort for a few cocktails and then go straight to Heliodeliphilodelphiboschromenos. It's popularly known as Heliodeli, but what it should really be called is Heliodeliphilodelphishaggarama! Why this crowd chose a sleepy, past-it city in the middle of nowhere for their rampant, um, mating rituals is a mystery; maybe it's because Heliodeli is a sleepy, past-it city in the middle of nowhere? At any rate, not much sleeping goes on there. We decided, Cert and I, to pass on that particular tourist attraction. When one's (or two's) already been At It like Oggs over half the Disc, including on a flying carpet, having a designated spot for At It hasn't much appeal. We opted instead for doing touristy things. We saw the River Tsort -- very muddy and big on crocodiles -- and the Silent Marshes -- very silent and big on mosquitoes -- and the Siege Market -- big on leather wine bottles and garlic and souvenirs of the Top(ple)less Towers -- and spent the rest of the time getting drunk with the Ephebian tourists.

Well, most of the rest of the time. Speaking of being At It Like Oggs, things have reached the point where Cert can barely raise a damp spark from his fingers [magic-wise, that is]. I think we may have ruined his entire career future! Which is a shame because, while he's a nice lad and I'm fond of him, I can't quite picture him staying home and doing the washing-up while I goo off on concert tours. Still, I won't be going home for a while yet...

Oh, we also visited the Great Pyramid of Tsort. After seeing what Queen Ptraci did with the pyramids in Djelibeybi and after what Tsort has done with alcoholic tourism, I was expecting something slick and modern with hot and cold running kebabs. But it was not to be. The great Pyramid is what you might call a working pyramid -- very, you know, industrial, with scaffolding everywhere because it's so old and they don't want bits falling on the sightseers. There was some very interesting ancient graffiti, though. Very colourful graffiti. I don't know much Old Tsortean, just enough to translate a few simple phrases, but these were definitely simple. And simply definite. The most repeated graffito translates as THYS JOBBE SUXX, and there were other popular ones that I oughtn't repeat. Looks as if the lot of the working man, or working slave, never changes.

It's opening time! Here endeth this post.

* * *

Second Clog: "Do a little dance, buy a little round, get drunk tonight..."

About things musical, and things...less musical: I haven't written any new songs since I've been here. This is mostly to do with someone else's song that's insanely popular here -- it's got into my head and I can't get it out. Cert says it's a "wyrm of the ear", and that's pretty accurate since it seems to be chewing its way through my brain. I'm reproducing it here so you can share my pain! It goes like this:

    Tsort's the place, uh huh, uh huh
    I like it, uh huh, uh huh
    Tsort's the place, uh huh, uh huh
    I like it, uh huh, uh huh
    Tsort's the place, uh huh, uh huh
    I like it, uh huh, uh huh
    Tsort's the place, uh huh, uh huh
    I like it, uh huh, uh huh

    When you take me to the pub
    Tell me I'm a round ahead
    When you give me all your change
    And booze away, until we're nearly dead

    Tsort's the place, uh huh, uh huh
    I like it, uh huh, uh huh
    Tsort's the place, uh huh, uh huh
    I like it, uh huh, uh huh
    Tsort's the place, uh huh, uh huh
    I like it, uh huh, uh huh
    Tsort's the place, uh huh, uh huh
    I like it, uh huh, uh huh

    When we get to dance on the floor
    And when we're all close in pairs
    When you're dripping sweat in my ear
    Widdershins, Turn-, who cares?

    Tsort's the place, uh huh, uh huh
    I like it, uh huh, uh huh
    Tsort's the place, uh huh, uh huh
    I like it, uh huh, uh huh
    Tsort's the place, uh huh, uh huh
    I like it, uh huh, uh huh
    Tsort's the place, uh huh, uh huh
    I like it, uh huh, uh huh

    Booze, booze, booze, booze, booze, booze, booze, booze, booze
    Booze, booze, booze, booze, booze, booze, booze, booze, booze

    Tsort's the place, uh huh, uh huh
    I like it, uh huh, uh huh...

...and repeat ad chunderam. See? Brain-eating. Whatever it was we just barely escaped from in the Lost City of Ee couldn't have been as soul-destroying as that!

On the other hand, they have some interesting musical instruments here. There's the cythara, which is rather like a lyre; the forminx, which is rather like a lyre that's been left out in the rain for 500 years and isn't as saucy as its name suggests; and the barbito, which is a sort of bass-pitched sort-of lute completely lacking in barbs. The latter, I'm told, was the favourite instrument of the poet and philosopher Anachronistes, who was summoned by the then-Tyrant Hipphoppus to compose drinking songs for his household. Anachronistes was noted for his long life as well as his Bardic skills; unfortunately, he choked to death on a grape at the age of 105, and none of his songs survive today, more's the pity as I'm sure they had to be better than the Tsort song. But I bought a barbito in the market, to send home. It sounds good with drums, and I think I might even be able to start a new style of accompaniment that way. Wish me luck.

Time to feed the imp, and then I have a gig tonight. I wonder how my former travelling companions are getting on.

* * *

Third Clog: "Untitled"

I'm sure I heard Cert say the M word in his sleep last night. Not the one you can't say in the UU library, the other M word. Oh dear. I know he's tall and dark and nice and I hope he doesn't remember his dreams.

* * *

Fourth Clog: "Home is where the harp is"

I got a clacks from home! It was waiting at the Genuan clacks office for weeks, and then someone noticed that I'd clacksed from Djelibeybi and sent it on and it ended up somehow at the Clacks Restante office in Tsort, how excellent is that? It's from Mr Kakhand at The Sore Loser: he says that the harp I ordered from Llamedos by post seven years ago has finally arrived. Huzzah! I've replied asking him to store it in the back room, not too close to the scumble barrels, until I get back. He also says he reads all my Clogs out to the regular customers -- I hope he leaves out the really personal parts -- and that they're very well received, and that I can have a pay rise when I come back if I'm still willing to sing in a sleepy little local tavern. Oh, and Semolina is working full-time now at the Lost Wages branch of the Seamstresses' Guild and doing very well, and no-one interesting has died in the town recently. It's good to get news from home.

Cert and I have decided that we're all Tsorted out now and ready to move on to somewhere else. There's a Chidders ship leaving for the Ell Kinte coast and points Rimwards tomorrow night, so we'll take passage and see what turns up next. But we can't leave Tsort without seeing the Labyrinth yet, even if it's completely touristy now and all the death-traps have been replaced with papier mache models, so we're joining the early tour first thing tomorrow morning.

The night is young. Time to get drunk and look for earplugs.

* * *

This should be an interesting morning. Everyone has a hangover, even
the six tour guides. At least we'll be underground...


Note to Gimpy in shortmouth: Split off from main tour party. Found mysterious door in unmarked tunnel. Very old door. Curious. Trying to open -- open now, going to see where it goes --

* * *

It seems we've ended up in Ankh-Morpork. In Empirical Crescent. Number 17, according to the front door. Amazing! Going out to explore now...

* * *

It seems the front door leads to Howondaland.

* * *

Got back through the front door just ahead of a tiger. Trying the back door now.

* * *

It seems the back door leads to Cori Celesti. Leaving RIGHT NOW before the Gods notice they have unauthorised visitors!

* * *

Dark now. Getting hungry and thirsty. Decided to try the front door again, just in case it's changed. Fingers crossed...

* * *

We're in Bes Pelargic!

And you'll never guess who else is here...

-- Alice.

Note for Roundworlders: the original lyrics for That's the Way (I Like It), by KC & the Sunshine Band, can be found at the band's official website:

Be warned, it's no less brain-melting in Roundworldese. Fun song, though!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

September 2007 Witchstrology


by Lucy Tockley
with assistance from Various Wytches


...ask what you can do for your local witch! Hello, Lucy Tockley here, Diamanda as was. As you probably know, Mistress Weatherwax banned me from witching after the Royal Wedding, and now that we have our own Witch Queen in Lancre and the biggest coven in generations and even young witches coming to visit from foreign places like the Chalk, I suppose things are getting too crowded for the elder witches to keep an eye on me. So I've been banned from witching and from going up on the moors and especially from dancing (especially dancing in the altogether, although I have to say that I still have the figure for it), and these days I have to do what Her Highness -- Queen Magrat, I mean, not Mistress Weatherwax -- calls "community service" and that witchfinder Miss Tick from foreign parts calls "sublimation of unseemly impulses". So here I am, having to collect horoscopes from the coven and, you know, edit them. And I'm not even allowed to wear special clothing or occult jewellery until I'm at least 30. I think that's especially unfair because I have learnt a few things, you know, but Mrs Ogg says that Mistress Weatherwax has learnt rather a few more things than I have and knows what's best and that if I'd known what was best I wouldn't have caused all that trouble in the first place.

But that's all water through the Gorge now. Anyway, I've been studying the history of witching in the Ramtops and compared to Olde Tymes we have a very viable and admirable crop of young witches now. Valuable enough to be considered as a national resource (some of us here do have enough education to know what a national resource is). So I urge you to consider the value of your local witch, and how you can repay her for her services. In goods, of course. Witches don't do money, unless they're Mrs Earwig.

Enjoy your horoscope. By witches, for witches. Blessed be.

The Adamant Hedgehog 21 Mar - 20 Apr
by Lucy Warbeck

As the Adamant Hedgehog approaches the cusp of Ramjambalam again, this is a good month for, like, practising your swimming whilst fully clothed. Octedays are an auspicious time for working on escaping from those tricky knots, the ones tied by villagers who haven't, like, read their Magavenatio. The stars also favour attempts to achieve a personal best at holding one's breath underwater.

Recommended gifts: good quality string, unspoilt feathers, old buttons, assorted cheap trinkets, and eggs, for, like, shamble-making; dried field rations; small scissors; waterproof boots.

Gahoolie, the Vase of Tulips 21 Apr - 21 May
by Dimity Hubbub

At mid-month any experimental cure mixtures are unlikely to explode. Tuesdays favour Wow-Wow Sauce making, but be very careful of the amount of sulphur you use and employ only silver tongs during the second quarter of the moon. When Euno Hu, major star of Gahoolie, is brightest (around the 21st), use clear days for rock collecting. Avoid salad greens when the moon is dark. If romance is in the air, be sure to ask for diamonds, as they have many practical uses around the home and are good for grinding things for pastes. The 11th is a good day for hat maintenance, but avoid fires.

Recommended gifts: interesting minerals; silver tongs; family herbal recipes (for testing); turnips; hatpins, because a good strong hatpin can avert so many embarrassing pyrotic accidents.

Herne the Hunted 22 May - 21 Jun
by Tiffany Aching

This is a good month for making difficult cheeses, especially during the new moon. Herne's Horns shine favourably on clotted cream, though you should be sure to save your best cream for a limited run of Sto Lat Runny. The third week of the month is a good time to pointedly avoid romantic entanglements, although really there is never any good time for romantic entanglements if you want to get things done. On the 13th, 27th and all Octedays, learn a new word. The stars actually neither know nor care about new words, but these days are best for stimulating the memory. Practise balance in all things this month; you never know when it might come in handy.

Recommended gifts: felt, calico and willow branches, for hatmaking; sheep shears; turpentine.

The Wizard's Staff and Knob 22 Jun - 22 Jul
by Petulia Gristle

A good month for trotter and hoof cures. Medicinal pig-scrubbing should take place only at moonset to avoid unfavourable influences. The 10th, 14th, 19th, 22nd and 25th are good for tail examinations. Reserve mid-month for porcine contraceptive activities. To avoid Spavined Knuckle, Ear Wriggle, Ruddy Farrow and Rumpstiff, do not dose your pigs in the last week of the month. The Knob shines favourably on udders during the three-quarter moon. The 21st is good for romance, but only if you've tagged your piglets first.

Recommended gifts: ointment and jollop bases; old leather trousers, the thicker the better; carbolic soap; old chain mail vests.

Bilious, God of Hangovers 23 Jul - 23 Aug
by Agnes Nitt, with interruptions

No matter how many foolish people claim the stars govern your love life, romance is in the heart, not in the skies. "So says the girl who has a bedroom full of fluffy soft toys and always casts apple-peeling spells to find the name of her potential boyfriend, as if." Use your horoscopes to plan practical chores, for example, the second Thursday of this month is best for preparing pain-relieving medicines. "Practical chores are boring. Deep down, you haven't a practical bone in your body! Mind you, one would have to dig really deep to find your bones." Three-quarter moon is the best time for broom repairs. "We all know what's going through your mind when you get a bit of wind up your skirts." Midwives should prepare birth-encouraging charms between the 12th and 20th, and you can just shut up, Perdita, thank you very much.

Recommended gifts: preserving jars, especially if they're full of preserves; throat pastilles; knicker elastic; chocolate, no matter what Perdita says about the calories.

Mubbo the Hyena 24 Aug - 23 Sept
by Gertruder Tiring

Cookery magic is in your stars this month! Genuan witches favour gumbo magic, but I always say you can see the future best in a good rabbit and onion pie. For learning of possible future romance, try a thick root vegetable stew at quarter-moon. To learn the best time for early planting, make turnip and broad bean soup on the 15th or 30th. A lightly fried egg at new moon can tell you when money will cross your path. Avoid reading tea leaves until Mubbo is on the cusp of Boring, but rose-hip tea gives good results all month. On the 9th, try eels. It's amazing what you can learn from examining a bowl of boiled eels.

Recommended gifts: small cauldrons; casserole dishes; ramekins; egg whisks; seeds, particularly savoury potherb seeds.

The Small Boring Group of Faint Stars 24 Sept - 23 Oct
by Caramella Bottlethwaite

The stars shine on lettuce this month for all Boring'uns. Lettuce will bring you luck, but most importantly for those born under this meek Sign, lettuce asks nothing of those who eat it. It's easy to chew, unthreatening in flavour, and never ever attacks you when you try to pick it, unlike the Herbs of a certain elder witch I could mention but won't. If you feel adventurous at mid-month, try a mild vinegar dressing on your lettuce. Avoid peas. That's all I have time for because I have to plant my winter lettuces now.

Recommended gifts: shovels and other garden implements; thick woolly socks; boots. With hobnails, for preference.

Androgyna Majestis 24 Oct - 22 Nov
by Amanita de Vice

Woe, oh woe! Your stars are terrible this month! All is blackness and despair, and not only should you not get out of bed, you should paint everything black and wear extra mascara and eyeliner and hang your head and wail and moan because life is so awful and nobody understands the inner pain you feel because you're so sensitive and artistic and not like anyone else at all, no, really. Yours is a life of anguish and misunderstoodness and even the very stars conspire to make your existence an endless desert of misery. I know how you feel. Blessed be.

Recommended gifts: black ink; long black underwear; black nail polish; black mascara; washable black tattoo patterns.

Great T'Phon's Foot 23 Nov - 21 Dec
by Harrieta Bilk

D'Jum-Boh, the Grand Trunk star of Great T'Phon's Foot, exerts a favourable influence this month on clothing and personal adornment. This is the best time to try out those bold new fashion statements you were always afraid to make. The second week of the month, and also the 18th and 22nd, look kindly on puce and carmine. After all, there's only so much you can do with black, and puce is this month's black, at least until the 23rd. Decorate your boots at half-moon, in fact, half-moon decorations would be a good idea. In the second quarter of the moon, try bat-shaped buttons and unusual hatpins. It's up to witches to set trends now!

Recommended gifts: dresses, secondhand, in wearable condition. Remember, it's always a good idea to size your local witch (by comparison with an approachable non-witch), as garments too large or too small could result in your being convinced you've become a frog.

Hoki the Jokester 22 Dec - 20 Jan
by Annagramma Hawkin

Fortunate stars shine upon you this month! The Sign of Hoki is particularly empowering, and if you cast your runes in local ruins you will become as empowered as the leopard, and I'm telling you that leopards are very empowered. The stars are very emphatic about the proper Opening of the Circle at esbat time. The Turnwise winds carry secrets, and learning secrets is essential for all young witches; some say witching is best learnt from books, but a witch who seeks true wisdom will find it in the simple ways of simple peasant folk, who have plenty of simple peasant wisdom so long as they have a witch to tell them which bits of their wisdom is wise. Pay more attention than usual this month to the advice of your local witch, and don't make her angry. You wouldn't like her when she's angry. Warts happen.

Recommended gifts: cloaks. Any good spare cloaks in excellent condition. A Zakzak Stronginthearm Zephyr Billow, for preference.

The Rather Large Gazunda 21 Jan - 18 Feb
by Magenta Frottidge

The Gazunda is back in the House of Hedbangur until the 16th and moves to the House of Hoose on the 20th, and what better time to practise your potions? Well, no better time, as it happens. Early moonlight favours the making of jollops. The second night of the full moon is good for lotions this month. Charms will work best on alternate Wednesdays and the third Octeday. Collect herbs and plants of the woodland during three-quarter moon. Do not make any curatives that require scumble; best to wait until next month. Avoid ylang-ylang; replace with Klatchian Migratory Bog Truffle essence or distillate of suckrose and akwa.

Recommended gifts: candles; dried flowers; essential oils; denatured alcohol; rare essences of the Aurient.

Lesser Umbrage 19 Feb - 20 Mar
by Lulu Darling

This is an excellent month for magnetism. The special sort of magnetism that women can practise best and witches don't practise often enough: forget octiron, we're talking about the magnetism of romance. Check your stars closely for the best dates for dates - let's see, this month that would be the 2nd through the 17th and the 24th through the 30th. Hitch your skirts up higher than usual at new moon, and with luck you'll be able to hitch them higher still. And never underestimate the power of a low-cut bodice, especially if your parents gave you the kind of name that just reeks of low-cut bodices anyway. After all "witch" is fifty per cent of the word "bewitching", so make the most of what you've got.

Recommended gifts: china and crockery; interesting ornaments; oysters; red boots; Sonky preventatives.