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Cream of the Cool

A "Hnickar" is a water "spirit" (or monster, or demon, or creature). The word is Anglo-Saxon and is cognate with a ton of similar terms in Scandanavian and European languages. Water lilies are n√łkkeroser (Hnickar roses), in Danish, for example. They appear throughout European and world culture. Folkore and traditional culture is often mysterious and defies categories, which is part of its charm, but I'll set down a few characteristics which crop up often.


Masa is a type of puffy pancake from northern Nigeria. It is made by frying a rice paste made of:

Yeast (optional),
Sugar (optional and to taste),
Cooking potash.

I think it is the only sweet main dish in our food. And even then, it is often eaten with a savory sauce, soup or stew. Like most dishes, it can be eaten at any time of the day. When I eat it for breakfast, I like to combine it with runny fried eggs, ground pepper powder and honey.…

"Penn & Teller: Fool Us" is an hour long television show featuring magicians Penn & Teller as judges of a sort of magical competition. It has ran for seven seasons, for the first two seasons on the British network ITV, and for the last five seasons on American network The CW. For the first two seasons, the host was British comedian Jonathan Ross, and for the subsequent seasons, it was Alyson Hannigan.

The structure of the show is simple: each episode, four different acts (usually a…

Does anyone here remember Thomas B. Costain?

No? Well, we'll come back to him later.

My book received its e-launch last night, one day after its official release. I answered a lot of questions, and probably went on too long, but it's difficult to do much else when you're the one being interviewed. The audience could submit questions, but we had no way of seeing or experiencing them in any sense. I couldn't tell how they collectively might be reacting to the reading. The give and take…