martes, 31 de diciembre de 2013


Say farewell to 2013!!

First of all, I'd like to say it with a renowned Swedish group:

After that, I will introduce our Spanish musical New Year's greeting:

Finally, here's a card from a reformed villainess that you regular readers surely will recognize (and from her pet chickies!):



lunes, 30 de diciembre de 2013


In 2009-2010, I wrote and illustrated a remake of Wallonian Jesuit chaplain Hermann Hugo's masterpiece Pia Desideria. At the end of the school year, I presented it for the rest of the school, sporting a cravat and breeches to fit the eighteenth-century translation.

Three years later, upon leaving high school for university, I wrote "Revisiting Pia Desideria", an essay on my version in hindsight, that also reflects my historical, literary, and lexical interests.
Hereby I reproduce said essay in this blog:

By Sandra Dermark

Hermann Hugo, son of Willem and Katrine Hugo, studied Art at the University of Louvain after
getting through Jesuit boarding school. To the Hugos, like many other clans in the Habsburg
Empire, the choice of the pen or the sword was presented to their sons. And the pen was picked
for Hermann, born in 1588. He graduated the year that saw Othello’s world premiere and the
Gunpowder Plot (1604).

In 1621, while the Thirty Years War was ravaging Europe, he accompanied his master the Duke
of Aarschot to Philip IV’s court in Castile. Whether he became acquainted with Velazquez and/
or Quevedo is a mystery to me, but I do not discard the hypothesis that he met them.

Pretty soon, he was on the battlefields of Saxony as a regimental chaplain, on the Catholic
side with Descartes and Wallenstein. In winter quarters in 1624, he wrote the emblem book
Pia desideria to instruct the Jesuit order: a nifty little book that combines the pictorial skill of
the Flemish masters (van Dyck, van Eyck, Bosch and Brueghel) with Counter-Reformation
propaganda and lots of vivid baroque purple prose. In short, a forgotten pearl of illustrated
literature that displays the seventeenth century’s zeitgeist.

After the author’s death in 1629 (three years before the decisive battle of Lützen), the Pia was
published for the first time. And the Peace of Westphalia (1648) saw it become a bestseller
(though not toppling Don Quixote, that still ranked first), spread into the foremost nations of
Catholic and Protestant Europe translated into said nations’ mother tongues, and VIPs like
Christina of Sweden and Charles II have one in their libraries.

For you see, Hugo wrote in Latin, the official language of Catholic clergy.

The Charles II-era Quarles translation is less literal than the Arwaker, that saw the light decades
later in the wake of the Enlightenment. After Westphalia, religion is seen as destructive:
fanaticism has laid waste to Central Europe in the guise of “holy war”. Reason should prevail
over faith, science shall guarantee the truth through empirical evidence. Liberalism is born in
this context of new order.

England and all of the UK are recovering from the sequels of a civil war that briefly revived
in 1688, after regimes that segued from parliamentary monarchy into absolutism (Charles I),
republic (Cromwell), military dictatorship (Cromwell), absolutism (Charles II), for a final and
decisive return to parliamentary monarchy: the last ruling Stuarts. Empiricism develops within
both the Cavalier (Hume) and Puritan (Locke) sides of the conflict, and so does liberalism, and
emotivism, in stark contrast to the continent’s rational and logical thinkers (Descartes).

1702. Arwaker takes his Pia to a London printer. He is an important person and acquainted with
nobility, perchance with Queen Anne herself. The poet has chosen to English the Pia and adapt
its verses to a Protestant eighteenth-century audience.

The English language is a rather musical one, as demonstrated by the works of Shakespeare
and Carroll. A Saxon dialect peppered with Latin (font), Old Norse (thrust), French (lieutenant),
Urdu (cummerbund), Italian (pasta), Aborigine (didgeridoo), Spanish (siesta), Dutch (deck),
German (schnitzelbank), and many other influences, as well as winged words coined by
geniuses the size of Shakespeare (dauntless). The musicality of the English language, and its
eclecticism, have added to its universality.

Edmund Arwaker, an Anglican clergyman of the late Stuart / early Georgian era, smitten
with the Enlightenment. He must have worn a Charles II wig, with long curls cascading down
his shoulders. Dressed in velvet and satin, and dazzling with baroque elegance (it was the
gentlemen’s fashion of those days). At least, that’s how I imagine his appearance.

The illustrated genre was only dawning. Etchings accompanied little pocket books for the young
and the “young at heart”. A decade after Westphalia, Czech schoolteacher Jan Komensky
(otherwise known as Comenius) wrote the first children’s encyclopedia, the Orbis Pictus, in
Latin, German, Czech and Hungarian. It became another best-seller, equally diffused and
translated. Letting us see what games Stuart-era children played (stilts, swing, spinning-top),
I realized they haven’t changed much from Komensky’s days, and also how vulnerable and
endangered they have become in today’s Information Age. It shows the flora, fauna and human
anatomy known to then-living Europeans along with tradespeople at work and moral lessons.
During the Regency (Napoleonic era in the continent), German writer J.E. Gailer updated the
work with all discoveries and debunkings made during the Enlightenment as well as with the
new technologies of the nineteenth century. It also contains a more scientific approach to reality
than its predecessor.
Gailer did to the Orbis what Arwaker had done to the Pia. A modernized adaptation altering,
adding and subtracting when necessary.

Thanks to this effort, the Pia has persisted into our days.

Three years ago, while surfing the Net in Sweden, I discovered the Pia by chance. And by
curiosity, like Alice when she entered Wonderland. The year after my discovery, I was giving
a speech on my project, wearing eighteenth-century clothes and displaying my illustrations
for all middle school to view. The project, centered around the Pia and the persistence of its
literary commonplaces in the 2000s (the decade), revisited both Hugo and Arwaker, replacing
the etchings with colorful collages similar to tarot cards. I still have these illustrations enshrined
in my room, next to a graphic version of Heart of Darkness where I pay tribute to both anime
(mostly magical girl and adventure anime) and European comic series.

At 20, having finished school and before university, I still felt the urge of re-reading that coming-of-
age trial that was the Pia Desideria Project. A tribute to the Counter-Reformation, to the
Flemish painters, to the English language, to the House of Stuart, to literature and illustration in
general, and to my own creativity.
Therefore, I couldn’t resist the urge to write this article, itself a reflection of the effort I
have made during these three academic years. An effort that started in Queen Christina’s
motherland, over the Web and through the limits of time and space, into an era of secularisation
and peace (and even love) between Catholics and Protestants, but that has not rendered the
Pia’s issues obsolete.

domingo, 29 de diciembre de 2013


To Nan, who will never more be by my side...
I beg her pardon for having offended her and thank her for teaching me.
To Mum, whom I always will love... left an orphan. May she stand strong by me and vice versa.
To classmates, newly found kindred spirits... that I seldom stand on my own.

To all of them, and to the rest of my loved ones...
may next year, though not bereft of sorrows,
prove one of the best in our lives.


These snippets are from a Finnish film:

The wonderful snippets below are from a BBC production.
The BBC film, far truer to Andersen and more baroque, features Tracey Childs as the Clever Princess and Adam Richens as the Clever Lad ( listed in the credits as "young man"):


This audiostory, in German, features the voices of:
Gudrun Thieme as the Clever Princess
Christoph Bantzer as her consort

(with a blond French Clever Lad played by Bantzer, and the bedchamber ceiling being made of Murano glass, and a highwaygirl called Katinka):
Start from 24:00, when the Fourth Story opens:

sábado, 28 de diciembre de 2013


A classic British comedy sketch with oodles of puns, homophones, and mishearings.
It all starts with the clerk mishearing the customer's request for "fork handles" as "four candles", which leads to the customer's reformulation of said request as "handles for forks":

Hilarity ensues and escalates as clerk and customer keep on exchanging homophones and ambiguous expressions that require reformulation to be understood!
PS. I hitherto challenge María Calzada to translate this sketch into Spanish!


Throw Nan a crooooooooow-bar! Crooow-bar!
Don't you get it? Well, the refrain of this Beatles song has been misheard in Russian as a sentence which means, literally, "Throw Nan/Granny a crowbar!"

Throw Nan a crooooooooow-bar! Crooow-bar!


In a previous post on "Saxon candy", I added for the first edit a partial translation of a satirical post-Breitenfeld poem:
"General Tilly's Three Virtues Turned to Vices", which puts particular emphasis on nothing less than the old Walloon's legendary three virtues: chastity, temperance, and invincibility.
 Here is my full translation of the same poem, written by Georg Gloger in Leipzig after the battle:


Until today, the Catholic Faith's sword, Count Tilly,
was defined by three virtues (they left all others be):
Never with wench or maiden had he had a good cheer.
Neither had he lost reason through liquor, wine, nor beer.
Third and most renowned: never a battle did he lose...
when born, his destiny did him for victory choose.
I believe that, through virtues so powerful three,
from threat of brains and brawn of foes he sure was free.
For a reward will always be waiting for the chaste:
those who restrain themselves overcome foes with haste.
The same for temperance: who steers clear of the cup,
in front of enemies will always win and stand up.
Since he got drunk on blood, and his reason waylaid,
                            and, thus intoxicated, raped the Saxon Maid,                                     
he couldn't make a stand upon the battlefield,
and thus, he's forced to flee, to the foeman to yield.
Those who get drunk on blood have surely got no measure,
those who rape maidens don't have good fortune nor pleasure.
They now call him what he deserves, that's old Count Tilly:
a rapist, a drunkard, and a loser forced to flee.

(Remark by the translator: the "Saxon Maid" refers to either Leipzig or Magdeburg)      

I wonder what Gustavus would say after reading this poem. I also wonder what Wallenstein would say.
PS. Nowadays I have replaced my partial translation of the poem with a full one!

jueves, 26 de diciembre de 2013


Now here's my Christmas present for all you blog readers!
A series of instructive videos made by Oxford University, of interest for any lexicologist...
1. In which the Empire falls, the Saxons arrive, and Beowulf is written in Old English, aside from the Viking raids so common in the Dark Ages:

2. In which the French (otherwise known as Normans) arrive, win a decisive battle, unify the Saxon kingdoms, and change the language forever:

3. In which a chap from the Cotswolds writes a series of tragedies and comedies at the turn of the seventeenth century, supplying the English language with oodles of winged words:

4. In which, as Shakespeare writes his plays, the Protestant Reformation urges King James to translate the Good Book into English, supplying the language with even more winged words:

5. In which the Enlightenment causes a progress in life and health sciences, which also affects the English lexicon:

6. In which imperialism and the subsequent contact with strange nations shape the lexicon of English even further:

7. In which some Enlightened lexicologists decide to put some order into the English language by means of an official dictionary:

8. In which the language develops, in the States, in parallel with its British variant:

9. N wch th lxcn of th Eng lang s rvltnzed (or rther, btchrd) by th apprnc of IT, SMS, & scl
ntwrx =" like Fcbk:

10: In which a meditation of the future of the English language ensues:


Who's there?
Mary who...?

"Mary" Christmas to all you readers!
This card is sponsored by Claus, Inc. Otherwise known
as Claus Oy and based in Rovaniemi, Finland.


Christian Clavier and Gérard Depardieu make up an awesome tandem. Nowadays, anyone versed in French film can't think of one without forgetting the other.
It may be because Christian is short and slender, while Gérard is far taller and endowed with a more impressive physique. They contrast at first sight, giving French filmmakers a clue on which part to give them.
Christian and Gérard as the renowned Gauls...
Featuring Laetitia Casta as local belle Falbala.
The Asterix and Obelix films may have been the most internationally popular ones featuring Clavier and Depardieu (because of the widespread bande dessinée by René Goscinny used as source material), but, by no means, their only tandem effort.
In 2000, both starred in Les Misérables. As it sounds. Gérard played, obviously, the burly Byronic hero Jean Valjean, while a thinner and shorter Christian got into the uniform of Sgt. Thénardier, one of the bad guys. It was somewhat ironic having them on opposing sides of the conflict.
Voilà le sergent de Waterloo!

Strawberry-blond, broad-shouldered Gérard makes a better Valjean than Jackman.

Warming up with Cosette... Compare with Jackman and the little blond girl!

Two years later, Christian honoured his physique as none other than Napoleon Bonaparte, while Gérard co-starred as his more physically imposing confidant (and resident Varys!), Joseph Fouché.
There we have our Corsican on the battlefield, on horseback,
sporting his trademark overcoat...

...and at court, in a rather elegant uniform.

And here's Fouché, excellently portrayed by Depardieu!

The Napoleon series, which has aired on Spain's History Channel, is renowned for its detailed costumes, sceneries, battles, courtly entertainments, and all of the research needed for such an enthralling epic. 
And from its star-studded cast, not only starring Clavier and Depardieu, but also:
  • Isabella Rosellini as Josephine
  • John Malkovich (Javert in 2000 Les Mis) as Talleyrand
  • Mavie Hörbiger as Marie Louise of Habsburg (Napoleon's Austrian second wife)
  • Julian Sands as Klemens von Metternich (Austrian Chancellor)

martes, 24 de diciembre de 2013

sábado, 21 de diciembre de 2013


Mrs. Potts is played by British veteran actress Angela Lansbury. I do not own Mrs. Potts!
The teapot calling the kettle b***k... then asking for forgiveness.
Another Paint creation, inspired by a banter I had with one María Calzada.
And Mrs. Potts being so Anglo-Saxon, I imagined her being unwittingly...

I do not own Mrs. Potts. Neither have I expressed racist or otherwise ethnicist intentions of any kind by meaning of this post and its accompanying illustrations. Thank you for understanding this.


You know what it means...

Visits from time-travelling ghosts galore!
But also peace, and love, and affection, and presents, and sweets, and fun, and altruism.
Not only Christmas Carol parodies and remakes on TV.
Besides, the ghosts above are a Paint fanart I have created as a Christmas card. 
Past is excedeeingly cute and candle-like. That thing on her back is a candle extinguisher (has anyone read the book or seen the Jim Carrey 2000s film?).
Present is carrying, well, a present. Yeah, another visual pun!! He looks like saying "ho-ho-ho!" The empty scabbard for peace (it's even decorated with a peace symbol) is another nod to the book and the Carrey film.
Future looks the least human of the three, being faceless in the novel. I based her face upon a mask I wore in a film we shot in high school (I played the villainess, a bloodthirsty serial killer!).
I could also have drawn a trio of Wise Men, who deliver gifts here in Spain on Twelfth Night. But Dickens ghosts look more diverse and symbolic.

viernes, 20 de diciembre de 2013


In the midquel to my first Ever After High fic, new characters, both original and canonical, appear. Most of them are staff members who interpose themselves between Christian "One-Eye" Drosselmeyer and Polly Poppins, but there is also a sub-plot about a dangerous black widower and war profiter having broken prison and hidden on the EAH campus... In this post, I am going to introduce the OCs that have not debuted yet:

  • Blondie Lockes: A vain and blond, cute-looking gossip with fair skin and blue eyes. This ditzy and cute-looking aspiring artist is the daughter of Goldilocks, equally fond of porridge and curious. She hates Arts and Crafts classes, being sensitive and unable to take constructive criticism for her paintings. When Rainer Leutnant (even before being possessed) tells her that her pictures look wonderful to him, she feels a little more encouraged. Later on, she is substituted with Charles in drag, in a ruse de guerre that he has planned, when a posessed Rainer lures her into the Vault of Lost Tales... ROYAL. 
  • Sparrow Hood: Descendant of Robin Hood and leader of a music band. Ostensibly related to Cerise, and has a history in common with Will Scarlet and Rosi Törne. Dark-haired and aloof, like his relative in red. He has orange/red hair and green eyes, and sports a little goatee without a mustache. He dresses like a hard rocker/punk. About Laurent's size. REBEL.
  • Cerise Hood-Rouge (née Scarlet): She did appear is Series One, but she gets more relevance in the next arc... Descendant of Red Riding Hood. A dark-haired and reserved girl in the renowned scarlet cloak. Dark skin, short hair, and nutbrown eyes. Loves galettes (flapjacks or thick pancakes). Ostensibly related to Sparrow, and actually a werewolf. Her real older brother is Will Scarlet (she was attacked by werewolves and saved by peasants after the massacre). This aloof loner joins the team after Roswitha's disappearance. REBEL. 
  • Earl Grey (Earl for short): Maddie Hatter's pet dormouse. Like Cerise, he appears in the first arc, but gets much more attention in the second saga. Earl is an ostensibly normal dormouse, who hibernates and loves poisonous shrooms...


In the midquel to my first EAH fic, new characters, both original and canonical, appear. Most of them interpose themselves between Christian "One-Eye" Drosselmeyer and Polly Poppins in the present and in their backstory, but there is also a sub-plot about a dangerous black widower and war profiter having broken prison and hidden on the EAH campus, entwining with that plot... In this post, I am going to introduce the OCs that have not debuted yet:
  • Gilles d'Azur: descendant of the latest Counts of Bluebeard. Under the influence of the magic Mirror of Reason, he dismantled Legacy Day on his year, refusing to become a black widower, and was thus court-martialled and locked in Abacab (international state prison for the most depraved). During his captivity, he learnt astral projection from a book in the fortress library and embraced his destiny as a black widower (due to the painful Inquisition-style torture he was submitted to). Three decades later, a now adult d'Azur breaks prison and finds sanctuary in the hedge of thorns that protects EAH at night, projecting astrally as the thorns conceal his wounded frame. Gilles subsequently possesses an unconscious Rainer Leutnant, who becomes more confident and a true heartbreaker... romancing Miss Poppins among others, leading to a series of serial kidnappings! The Counts d'Azur actually drink maidens' blood to stay young and healthy... He has long blue hair and a goatee, and steel-blue eyes, and dresses in seventeenth-century clothes. REBEL TURNED ROYAL.
  • Odile von Rothbart: A new dancing teacher and young prodigy (the class's age!), half-French half-German, and former Electoress of Bavaria (let her spouse remarry a clone of Odette that she had made and animated herself). Daughter of Friedrich von Rothbart (a Dark Mage, from Swan Lake) and an unknown Frenchwoman later revealed to be an Ella Stepsister (Charlotte von Rothbart, née Tremaigne-Ella, also related to the Myrthe clan). She has a past in common with veteran One-Eye and holds a grudge against him (One-Eye helped Siegfried and Odette kill her father, she wants revenge). This confident temptress was the one who opened the hedge to let Gilles in, lured by his promises, and she will remain his accomplice as long as Rainer is possessed... but will she allow to be controlled for longer and turn back against her foe? She also makes Katla jealous: both are equally confident, but Odile is more reserved and cooler, raven-haired with black eyes and pale skin, she dons a scarlet and black gown. Thekla von Wallenstein clone, down to the bun/ponytail. ROYAL TURNED REBEL.
  • (Napo)Léon Botté: a Chartreux werecat armed with a rapier and dressed in seventeenth-century clothes, with a Thirty Years' War-era doublet and boots. He is a valet of the d'Azurs, but also a trickster and a free spirit, loyal to all and to none, but with a fickle crush on Kitty. Descendant (obviously) of Puss in Boots (Chat Botté in French). ROYAL.
  • Aranyváry Katalin: Daughter of the Hungarian Princess from Swan Lake. She is red-haired, with dark blue eyes, and she wears a dress with elements of Magyar folk garb and Elizabethan court gown. A middling royal who wants to be part of Sophia's entourage and admires the Lilienstielian, she will become d'Azur's first victim... ROYAL.
  • The Tweedles (Tweedle-wun and Tweedle-woo): identical twin girls with pink hair, dressed in overalls and somewhat pudgy. Descendants of the original Wonderland Tweedles. Both are odd-eyed, with symmetric colour scheme (Wun has an amber right eye and a blue left eye, while Woo's eyes are the other way round). Roomates with each other. ROYALS.
  • Karla Rosenblad and Gerhard Ekelöf: children of Kay and Gerda, the bourgeois protagonists of The Snow Queen. They appear as minor characters, in the background. Both are blond and younger than the leading cast. Her eyes are green as leaves, while his are gray as steel. Both dress in middie (sailor) suits. Their families run a flower shop and a bookshop, respectively, in Helsingborg (southern Sweden). Gerhard has already been affected, like Bianca, by the mirror shard, that turns him into a Crownculus whiz smart enough to challenge Charles and harbour a grudge upon losing to him. While Karla is not sure of whether she could save Gerhard from the power of the shard, and also becoming jealous of Bianca (whom her beau and best friend is trying to help), becoming the third victim (Gerhard, however, winds up with Kyllikki, while Karla becomes an adventurer/explorer, renouncing to marriage...) Karla is roomates with Odile, while Gerhard is with Leon... BOTH REBELS
  • Linda Upland of the North: Daughter of the Good Witch of the North (Glinda!), and thus Crown Princess of the Quadlings. Also related to the Snow Queen and the White Royals of Wonderland. Currently a member of the Wonderland regency. As a child, she was roomates with Polly and they were frequently paired, but Linda tended to fall into scrapes caused by Polly's schemes. Pays EAH a state visit and finds herself in even direr straits. She uses a bubble wand, and she is platinum blond with violet eyes, dressed in a white empire-style frock. As a teen, she wore a puffier gown. A prissy but kindly airhead, she was the "Vivian" in Polly's team, due to her skill in white magic and destiny as a mentor. 
  • Edeltraut Gothel: Descendant of Gothel (the enchantress in Rapunzel), if not Gothel herself. Frau Gothel was Polly's and Christian's homeroom teacher, a rather harsh and stern raven-haired matron who punished rebel students. Still, she was quite the stunner.
  • Joseph Botté: Leon's father and a Chartreux werecat dressed in the attire of the Catholic League. He was another classmate of Linda's and Polly's. Killed in battle during a mercenary campaign in Wonderland... during the Lilienstiel war of independence (on the repressing side), for having slain Karl von Lilienstiel, the Queen's consort and Sophia's father... His personality and moral code are a reference to Wallenstein. He is compared by Sophia to Rosi in her own team.
  • Franz Ferdinand Kaiser: Another classmate of Polly's and a posh royal with metrosexual tendencies. Obviously queer. He is extremely vain, shallow and flashy, with platinum hair and dressed like an über-extravagant eighteenth-century fop. An Easter egg reveals that he has become the Evil Queen's weak-willed but lovable consort (like Louis XV or Adolphus Frederick...). Sophia thinks of him as the "Mireille" in Poppy's team.
  • Marie "Marion" and Jeanne Crapaud: daughters of the kind sister in Diamonds and Toads. Fraternal twins with opposing personalities: brash and raven-haired "spirited" tomboy Marie is the one with the gems, while prissy and girly ingenue Jeanne, far more reserved and a mahogany shade of nutbrown, is the one cursed with the toads and adders (because she didn't know what to tell the undine). Both have freckles and green eyes. Jeanne becomes a member of the Literature Club, but her sister is soon attacked by d'Azur and disappears, putting Jeanne in an Achilles scenario until Charles is missing. Jeanne admires Sophia deeply, and she aspires to be as well-spoken as the Lilienstielian. Roomates with each other. BOTH REBELS.
  • Bertha Holle: Frau Holle. She has been around the EAH campus for a while, and she was the one who encouraged Chris and Polly to follow their hearts. There have been lots of legends, most of them suspicious, around her. She lives in a run-down mansion at the edge of Wonderland, that can be accessed through the fountain in the woods around EAH. Historically, she was the fourth Snow Queen's daughter with a hiker called Rudi, her consort. She became an advisor at the court of Wonderland, but retired to the provinces upon seeing later rulers plan wars and spurn her advice. Bianca is revealed to be her niece, and so is Kyllikki. All three share a warm relationship. Frau Holle is one of the most powerful characters in-universe, next to the former headmaster of EAH... her archenemy, whose mirror she shattered.
  • Hermann and Adelgunde von Brakel: Children of a Prussian courtier, the Count of Brakel (in the story Das fremde Kind). Fraternal twins, their generation's "rulers of campus", who teased Polly and Chris but were recruited into the Resistance. Both wear eighteenth-century clothes: he wears a military uniform (he is a cadet) reminiscent of a hussar's, while she wears a frilly court dress like Mireille's with a blue, crown-like tricorn. Both have hazel eyes and speak gratuitous French. Hermann is a whiz at military history, knowing all the details (lives of generals, strategies, number of men slain and taken prisoner) of several battles, and is thus regarded as a military otaku. While Adelgunde is a whiz at languages and over-interested in astrology. They may represent Sophia and Laurent, respectively, in the backstory. Of course the Literary Club members plus Laurent wish to know them better and interview them. In the end, they are revealed to be the least expected: their Literature teacher is Adelgunde, while one of Sophia's own tutors, a stern veteran general who married the widowed and destitute Lady Friederike von Wintergarten and sired her daughter Lilianne... is revealed to be her brother. Yes, they did appear in Series One, but in this one, they get their guns and help Chris and Polly against the foe that threatens their relationship... In this season, they are revealed to be Polly's and Chris's respective roomates.

miércoles, 18 de diciembre de 2013


Here's another commonplace that you surely recognize.

It's as old as the existance of professional armies itself: in the olden days, aristocratic teenagers were made lieutenants, while their sergeants were (either years or decades) older peasant veterans.
(Though Gustavus Adolphus made commoners who had showed their prowess on the battlefield officers and knighted them, actually!)

In Shakespeare's 1604 tragedy Othello, the first literary occurrence of this commonplace in fiction, Cassio is the naive young lieutenant, while Iago is the older and sensible sergeant... who resents not having been given an officer's commission. To Iago, Cassio appears as "a fellow almost damned in a fair life, who never set a squadron on the battlefield, nor the division of a battle knows [···] except the theory in books. Mere prattle without practice"... while the noncom states about himself that "the General's eyes have seen the proof (of Iago's prowess) on many battlegrounds, Christian and non-Christian".
Iago puts practice before theory, the scarred veteran before the learned and blue-blooded greenhorn. One of the many hypotheses for Iago's motivation is simply that he resents not having been made an officer in spite of his prowess and experience.

In the Verdian Othello opera, that premiered in the 1880s, dapper young lyricist Arrigo Boito has his awesome Iago tell crony Rod(e)rigo "the reason for his wrath" in a rather ominous tune:
"That puffed-up lieutenant
has usurped my position... my position,
which, by one hundred well-fought battles,
I have deserved!
Such was Othello's wish...
And I stay at His Moorish Lordship's service
as noncom!"

From Shakespeare's seventeenth century to our days, and even after the instauration of the French Revolution's equal-opportunity officer class, little has been done to subvert the commonplace... except by Terry Pratchett (in Monstrous Regiment, a superb travesty that does to military fiction what Monty Python's Holy Grail has done to Arthurian legends), and by the author of this blog. In The Ringstetten Saga (Arc I), Gerhard may be the posh dapper young lieutenant (he gets this rank at 16, after fighting at Breitenfeld) and Alois may be the (three years) older, realistic sergeant... but there are interesting subversions (as interesting as Pratchett's treatment of Lt. Blouse and Sgt. Jackrum): on one hand, Gerhard is not ashamed of getting his hands dirty, he drinks hard, and he complements this addiction with the rather feminine (though enforced in the Swedish ranks) hobby of lace making; while Alois was a high-ranking blue-blooded Leaguesman from the start (taken prisoner at Breitenfeld), he tends to do whatever Gerhard says without a complaint, and look at what Alois did when Lady Wallenstein and her daughter were left to die at Friedland, with the uprising, the Catholic invasion and all... he saved them from the flames, rather than leaving or harassing them!
Needless to say that The Ringstetten Saga (Arc I) takes place in the 1630s-1650s, some decades after Othello's premiere!


I have determined to start a cycle of posts about commonplaces... the events that you have seen a trillion times in fiction, but about whose origins you have presumably got no idea...

Let's take first the classic "breaking rope bridge" scenario. Alice is crossing on a rope or wooden bridge in a gully or a wild landscape, either solo or with two-three companions, either pursued or otherwise stressed, either above rapids, poison snakes, thorns, jagged rocks, or a combination of those perils.
It can also be a bridge of ice over frozen waters, in winter in a cold climate.
And the bridge breaks. Alice falls subsequently to her fate below. If the story is meant to have a happy ending,  she will get up again and cross against the odds.

Now where did that scenario come from?

Friedrich Schiller embellished an account in the Latin language Gesta for his ballad Die Bürgschaft (The Hostage), a classic of the German language:

English translation of the Gesta account ensues:
"Suddenly, a thunderstorm and downpour ensued, the river thus surged so that it could not be crossed by bridge or by swimming." The hero falls, but he manages to swim across the violent rapids to the other side.

Schiller added more drama to the scenario by having the bridge swept away by the rapids:

German original:

     Da gießt unendlicher Regen herab,
Von den Bergen stürzen die Quellen,
Und die Bäche, die Ströme schwellen.
Und er kommt an’s Ufer mit wanderndem Stab,

Da reisset die Brücke der Strudel hinab,
Und donnernd sprengen die Wogen
Des Gewölbes krachenden Bogen

     Und trostlos irrt er an Ufers Rand,
Wie weit er auch spähet und blicket

Und die Stimme, die rufende, schicket;
Da stößet kein Nachen vom sichern Strand,
Der ihn setze an das gewünschte Land,
Kein Schiffer lenket die Fähre,
Und der wilde Strom wird zum Meere.

 Doch wachsend erneut sich des Stromes Wut,
Und Welle auf Welle zerrinnet,
Und Stunde an Stunde entrinnet,

Da treibet die Angst ihn, da faßt er sich Mut
Und wirft sich hinein in die brausende Flut,
Und theilt mit gewaltigen Armen
Den Strom, und ein Gott hat Erbarmen.

(French, Régnier)
Mais voilà que la pluie tombe à flots, sans relâche ; les sources se précipitent du haut des monts ; les ruisseaux, les torrents se gonflent, et il arrive au bord du fleuve, son bâton de voyage à la main… mais soudain le pont croule, rompu par le tour­billon, et les vagues, avec le craquement du tonnerre, font sauter la voûte de l’arche.
Désespéré, il erre au bord de la rive : aussi loin que ses yeux s’étendent et cherchent, aussi loin qu’il lance l’appel de sa voix, pas une nacelle ne se détache du sûr rivage, pour le porter aux lieux désirés, pas un batelier ne manœuvre sa barque, et le torrent fougueux devient une mer.
Mais la fureur du torrent s’accroit et se renouvelle, les vagues poussent les vagues, et une heure après l’autre s’écoule. Soudain l’inquiétude l’entraîne, il prend courage et se jette dans les flots mugissants ; il fend le courant d’un bras vigoureux et un dieu a pitié de lui.

(French, Marnier)
Cependant il tombe des torrents de pluie, les sources d’eau se précipitent du sommet des montagnes, enflent les rivières, et lorsqu’il arrive, son bâton à la main, au bord d’un ruisseau, l’onde fougueuse ébranle le pont et renverse les arches qui s’écroulent avec le fracas du tonnerre.
Il erre désespéré sur le rivage, regardant de tous côtés s’il ne voit point de nacelle, et appelant à haute voix le secours d’un batelier ; mais personne ne vient à lui, et le torrent sauvage s’étend au loin comme une mer.
Mais la fureur de l’onde s’accroît sans cesse : les vagues bondissent sur les vagues : les heures rapides se succèdent. Dans son angoisse, il se décide à tout tenter ; il se jette au milieu des flots mugissants, il les fend d’un bras nerveux, et les Dieux on pitié de lui.

Down the great rains unending bore,
Down from the hills the torrents rushed,
In one broad stream the brooklets gushed
The wanderer halts beside the shore,

The bridge was swept the tides before -
The shattered arches o'er and under
Went the tumultuous waves in thunder.
Dismayed he takes his idle stand -
Dismayed, he strays and shouts around,
His voice awakes no answering sound.
No boat will leave the sheltering strand,
To bear him to the wished-for land;
No boatman will Death's pilot be,
The wild stream gathers to a sea!

More fierce it runs, more broad it flows,
And wave on wave succeeds and dies
And hour on hour remorseless tries,
Despair at last to daring grows -
Amidst the flood his form he throws,
With vigorous arms the roaring waves
Cleaves - and a God that pities, saves.

De vihar jön, ég és hegymeredély
árvízzel zúdul a síkra:
felhőszakadás!... S amint a
vándor, – botján, – a partra ér,
roppantva rántja alá a mély
a hidat, a tört boltjai ívét
a habok mennydörgve verik szét.

Vigasztalanúl bolyong föl-alá
az utas: keze int, szeme, szája
kutat és kiált, de hiába –
nincs  csónak, amely bárhová
túlpartra szállítaná;
sehol rév s komp, amely átvisz.
S közben már tenger az árviz.

Comparing the account of the broken bridge in the original and translations:
  • Original: Da reisset die Brücke der Strudel hinab : "Then the rapids tear the bridge apart"
  • French 1 (Régnier): mais soudain le pont croule, rompu par le tour­billon: "but suddenly the bridge collapses, broken by the rapids".
  • French 2 (Marnier): l’onde fougueuse ébranle le pont: "The violent wave shakes/undermines the bridge"
  • English: The bridge was swept the tides before
Twentieth-century Japanese writer Ozamu Dasai retold Die Bürgschaft as a novella entitled Run, Melos! The difficult crossing is also present in this version:
"The muddy rapids had gathered strength and knocked the bridge out: now the stream roared past, smashing the fallen girders to pieces".
Another translation of the passage ("Translation?" "Passage?" No puns intended!) reads:
"The heavy rains of the day before had caused the brooks and streams to swell, their dark, turbid waters to rush down the slopes and fill the riverbed, where, with one powerful, roaring surge, they had swept away the bridge, smashing its beams to pieces."
In film versions of this novella, the bridge has been but weakened by the rapids and it breaks as the hero crosses, leaving him to swim across... then to confront some highwaymen, also present in Die Bürgschaft, on the other shore.

 A German essayist's point of view on the Schiller version:

Zudem wird in Strophe sechs, Vers fünf von einer Brücke gesprochen. Diese Brücke steht für Verbundenheit. In der Ballade zerreist diese Brücke. Somit wird der Eindruck geweckt, dass auch die Verbindung zwischen Damon und seinem Freund für immer verloren ist, doch Damon findet einen Weg das Hindernis zu überqueren und kann im Gegensatz zu der Brücke, die Freundschaft erhalten.
[···] er wird von einem Regenschauer überrascht, der die Quellen, Bäche und Ströme schwellen und überlaufen lässt und die Brücke, die er überqueren muss, von dem Strudel herab gerissen wird. 
der zu überquerende Fluß schwillt binnen kurzem so an, daß die einzige Brücke weggerissen wird.
Plötzlich wird die Brücke, die Damon überqueren will, weggerissen. 
Es bricht ein großes Unwetter aus und das Wasser reißt die Brücke in den Fluss, so dass eine Überquerung unmöglich ist. 
Doch gestaltet sich der Rückweg schwierig, da sintflutartiger Regen den Bach den er überqueren muß zum reißenden Strom anschwellen lässt und auch die einzige Brücke die darüberhinweg führt wegreist.
Zuerst zieht ein Unwetter auf, welches den Fluss weit über die Ufer treten lässt und welches auch die Brücke zum Einsturz bringt.
Durch starken Regen schwillt ein Fluss so stark an, dass die Brücke weggerissen wird und er keine andere Möglichkeit sieht, als ihn zu durchschwimmen...
Als er an das Ufer eines Flusses gekommen war, den er überqueren wollte, musste er zu allem Übel auch noch mit großem Entsetzen feststellen, dass keine Brücke mehr da war. Dass Sie kurz vorher mit laut donnerndem Getöse in den reißenden Fluss gestürzt war. 
Er beschreibt, dass der Regen zu einer Flut führt, die die Brücke wegreißt. 
 Sintflutartige Regenfälle verzögern die Wanderung zurück. Und in dem Augenblick, als er an einen Fluß gerät, bricht die Brücke zusammen.

As a shout-out to the fortieth (40th) verse (verse V in stanza Six) in Die Bürgschaft Da reisset die Brücke der Strudel hinab ("Then the rapids tear the bridge apart"), the leading cast on the Swedish side of The Ringstetten Saga (Arc I) are left to wonder whether the springtime surge or the Leaguesmen have broken the bridge across the Lech on their arrival. Then we learn in the next chapter, written from a Catholic POW, that it had been already weakened by the surge upon the League's arrival, and was thus easy to dismount and recycle (the girders for the Catholic encampment's palisade).

lunes, 16 de diciembre de 2013


We have been told how Valdis got over her heartbreak... but Katla, in my EAH fandom?
The spell she had cast on a drugged Charles Liddell broke when he was deprived of the drug he was wired on: Gustav Leutnant drank it to quench his thirst...
As for Katla, she was punished with turning into full-dragon mode and being collared for the rest of the year. The bond betweeh her and Gustav, both lost souls condemned to suffer, strengthens and unites them, as Charles breaks free from the influence and embraces Sophia.
Afterboth lost souls get to suffer each a heartbreak, Katla goes so far as to find to whisk away Gustav's corpse at dusk on the battlefield...
The palace where Katla lives is also on a rock, overlooking Lake Vänern. The court is equally sumptuous, yet slightly austere fitting a warrior nation. The warrior king/former commander of the guards is actually her stepfather (she is a lovechild, conceived by her mother's human beau).
Speaking of being golden blond and blue-eyed, Katla transforms after healing/resurrecting the one she actually loved, Rainer Leutnant. She loses her dragon wings and special powers, the scales on her cheeks become freckles, her talons are reduced to normal nails, her flaming hair turns a lighter shade (golden blond), and her green eyes turn bluish-green. This whole "mugglification" also tears at her state of health. She had been warned not to take such a chance: the resurrection/extreme healing spell (a bullet lodged in a young lieutenant's heart was the wound to be healed!) would at worst cost her her life, but having lost Charles was a lesson harsh enough not to be that shallow and to tell true love from mere infatuation. The one who wished for anything beautiful or exciting her sight was set on sacrifices her powers for the life of the one she truly loved...


Lady Valdis has finally surrendered. She seems to have got over being jilted by Markus pretty quickly, without chasing after them or committing suicide. Seems that the chickadees have won the place in her heart that once was meant for Markus. Look at her smiling and having mercy on the heroes:

And everyone lives happy ever after. Svetla with Markus and Valdis with her chickadees. Now she's got real pets, true love, and an honest smile on her face!


Because this part of the Handless Maiden story usually shows the use of ethanol as a narcotic (though Homer had done it centuries before in the Odyssey). Which is as true as the Pope is Catholic.
"Patient Helen", the Victorian retelling by Sabine Baring-Gould, calls the young royals Constant and Helen of England. He goes forth to fight the infidels on an unspecified battlefield on the Continent, and chaos is come again.
The Queen Stepmother lives near Dover...
But what struck me most was how the author has bowdlerised the story, having the messenger drugged instead of plunged into an ethylic coma (this was an age of temperance, but the story is for young children!):
She bade a feast be made for him, and she spiced his wine 
with something that would make him sleep. So he ate and drank, and 
then felt drowsy, and went to sleep with his head on the table. 
When the messenger awoke, he was rather ashamed at having slept;
and he had no idea as to what had been done while he was sleeping. 

Now by her orders the servants of the queen- 
mother were on the watch for the return of the 
messenger, and when he reached Dover they in- 
vited him to sup at the house of their lady, whilst 
his horses were being got ready. He agreed, and 
was well entertained, and again the queen-mother 
spiced his cup so that he fell asleep. 
This reminds me, in turn, of a 1980s Othello production, 
(the "Victorian" one by Trevor Nunn, with McKellen as Iago)
in which Iago spikes Cassio's first drink with brandy behind the 
young lieutenant's back. 
Said detail has inspired me to include it in most of my Othello fiction, 
most notably The Countess of Toggenburg,
 a novella that retells the supposed real events behind 
the Shakespearean tragedy in Reformation-era Central Europe. 

sábado, 14 de diciembre de 2013


Laura Athena, in January 2013, has consecrated a shrine to the female cast of "The Snow Queen", devoting one of the altars to my favourite supporting character, whom she defines as: "a princess of surpassing cleverness and beauty":

The princess is a supplementary character who only appears in one of the chapters of the Snow Queen story - but she is nonetheless an admirable and inspirational female character, whose story hints at a much longer and grander untold narrative.
"In this kingdom in which we are now sitting, lives a Princess, who is so immoderately clever; but then she has read all the newspapers that are in the world, read and forgotten them again, so clever is she. Lately she was sitting on her throne, when she began to sing, and the theme of her song was "Why should I not marry?" "Well there is something in that, she said, and so she determined to get married; but she must have a husband who knew how to answer when spoken to, not one who could only stand there and look grand, for that is too stupid."

What a fantastic introduction to a character! And what a refreshing change from the fairytale standard of princesses being first and foremost beautiful! The Princess decides on her own that she wants to get married, and she then goes on to specify what kind of a husband she is looking for - one who is intelligent, unabashed by royalty, unafraid of her power and one who "feels at home" with her.

Andersen then goes on to describe the meeting of the princess and her husband-to-be:

"He was merry and well behaved, but had not come at all to pay court to the Princess, but only to hear how clever she was. He had every reason to be satisfied with her, and she no less so with him."

Again, what a refreshing subversion of the princess trope! The princess' chosen husband is bright-eyed and merry; a poorly dressed "little person" - a wanderer with creaking boots and a knapsack on his back. No dragonslayer he - but one who can match the princess' intellect, rather than impress her with feats of arms.

As well as being clever, the Princess is later shown to be generous and sympathetic, willing to help Gerda into her new golden carriage herself without formality. Though her part is small in the overall story, and she and the Prince go away to "live in foreign places", one feels sure that such a great character must be the heroine of her own legend. "

And I identify with her for being "clever" (erudite, learned), confident, and kindly like me. Thus I make Sophia Eleonora the heroine of my Ever After High fanverse, and her beau Charles, a male Alice, the one she'll wed in the end. Charles and Sophia had already met at EAH before she returned to her palace of Lilienstengel and he took the plunge into Wonderland, where he received the announcement of Sophia's engagement challenge after that Lizzie had surrendered and proposed to him... A rather emotive re-encounter, in which they finish each other's sentences and switch language a couple of times, ensues. He doesn't look down or kneel before her... and, finally, they kiss and embrace! ("Get the cannons!" "Get the fireworks!")
Though they've had to earn their happy ending: after Charles is freed from Katla's spell, a couple of threats more separate them and endanger especially his life...


Ever told you about the versions of Beauty and the Beast in which Belle is no only child?
The French Rococo one where she has three brothers who "sont partis pour l'armée (have joined the army)"?
Well, that version has been recently filmed, to premiere in France and Germany in February 2013...

  • Pathé is the company behind it.
  • Christophe Gans has directed.

Our three dapper young warriors are:

  • Jean-Baptiste, played by Jonathan Demurger
  • Maxime, played by Nicolas Gob
  • Tristan, played by Louka Meliava

The story is set in between Paris and the Northern countryside in the early eighteenth century. So I expect to see the brothers, after having enlisted, in tricorns and light blue riding coats.

As soon as I have got snapshots of JB, Max, and Tristan in uniform, I will post them.
Why should I like supporting characters in uniform so wildly?

PS. Claude, in the webcomic... will he enlist? If so, I'll post pics of him in uniform. If not...

jueves, 12 de diciembre de 2013


A compilation of eighteenth-century tales about naughty children who die violent deaths (hoist by their own petards) to be reincarnated as pets with their flaws.
The kids have such meaningful names as:
  • Dick Lackwit (the leader of the class truants, who persuades weak-willed Jack Idle to skip classes and go fishing with them, which makes Jack drown in the river by accident),
  • Dorothy Chatterfast (loves conversation, and is thus branded an outsider in a world where ladies are supposed to be demure. A tattletale who can't keep a single secret, but not discouraged at all when it comes to social life. She dies upon attending a fête in spite of a fever she had got),
  • Polly Giddybrains (an absent-minded classmate of Dorothy's, with a penchant for constantly losing things),
  • Patty Sweetlips (a rather cute but shy girl, who blushes after a stolen kiss),
Which reminds me of another eighteenth-century moral tale: Tom Jones, in which Reverend Thwackum, for instance, is exactly what his surname says...


It's hard to take leave of Valdis.
She has become part of us for good.
We hardly knew her...
But perchance she'll pop up in the end...

miércoles, 11 de diciembre de 2013


To be honest, Swedes have also had their dark side, though it rarely surfaces.
On the 6th of November 1632 (as you Swedes, Germans and/or blog readers know) the great Gustavus Adolphus lost his life on the blood-stained and foggy battlefield of Lützen.
The Swedish Army changed drastically, as defeat followed after defeat, for its guiding star had been put out.
Axel Oxenstierna, Chancellor and Regent of the Realm, was more of a statesman than of a commander. He even struck deals with Wallenstein himself to overthrow the German Empire and put an end to the war... just to put an end to decades of armed conflict. Yet the officers saw him as an opportunistic and weak-willed turncoat.
Mutinies broke out within the officer class, as subalterns were denied their pay and refused to switch over to Wallensten's ranks. Rebel officers deserted or were executed. Not only enemy prisoners, but even civilians were tortured by the Swedish military.
And the Swedes even created (or resurrected) revolutionary torture methods, some of which were as outré as they were effective. Other nations soon adopted the Oxenstierna Regency methods as enthusiastically as they had adopted Gustavus Adolphus's tactics and strategies.
The Spanish Inquisition's rack and rat methods (among others) became as obsolete as Tilly's tercios at Breitenfeld: Swedish innovation had just replaced Spanish tradition in another field of human smiting after warfare.
Nowadays, Schwedentrank may seem a rather uncanny punishment, but in the olden days it was dreaded by nobles and commoners alike.
"What is Schwedentrank?" I may hear some readers wonder...
French author Léon Gozlan gives an account of a Schwedentrank victim (Don't try this at home with your annoying relatives, in-laws, Maths teachers, superiors at work and other people on your blacklist!).
The governor of a chateau in the Alps, sometime across the eighteenth century, witnesses its fall and is taken prisoner by the new enemy garrison. To subjugate him, he is subject to as notorious a treatment as Schwedentrank, due to his physical constitution ostensibly the ideal punishment (French text ahead):

C'était un homme maigre, sec, grand et droit; si 
maigre et si sec, qu'il était presque transparent. Ses longs 
cheveux gris, ses longs bras d'orang-outan, ses longues 
jambes, son long cou, ses longues mains, lui donnaient
l'air d'une araignée colossale. Son costume, entièrement 
noir, contribuait beaucoup à cette ressemblance. Il n'était 
ni sot ni ignorant, il éût seulement privé de volonté. Il
savait suffisemment pour enseigner, mais on n'exigeait 
pas qu'il enseignât. A cette époque déjà loin de nous, les 
gentilshommes n'étaient pas tenus de briller par l'instruc- 
tion. L'usage les autorisait & se passer de toutes ces 
sciences qu'ils ont acquises depuis, et dans lesquelles 
beaucoup d'entre eux se sont fait une grande célébrité. 

Il achevait sa réflexion, lorsqu'un soldat entra, et lui 
dit, le sabre à la main : -- Goûte cette eau !
— Oui, mon ami, répondit le gouverneur en remplissant un 
verre qu'il vida d'un seul trait, quoique l'eau ne 
fût pas sa boisson favorite. 
— C'est bien, dit le soldat,  qui se retira en fermant la 
porte sur le gouverneur. 

" Qu' attendent-ils encore de moi, pensa le gouverneur, 
puisque l'épreuve est faite ? Pourquoi me laisser ici?... 
c'est sans doute par erreur... " 
Un second soldat paraît. 
-- Goûte cette eau ! s'écria-t-il en brandissant une lance 
sur la tète du gouverneur. 
— Mais j'ai déjà bu... 
— Goûte cette eau ! te dis-je. 
Le gouverneur ne résiste pas à un ordre si poliment 
exprimé; il boit un second verre d'eau. 
-- A merveille! a fût le soldat, qui s'en va comme le pré- 
mier, après avoir eu soin de fermer la porte de la cave. 

" Qu'est-ce à dire?" murmure le gouverneur; "celui-ci 
aussi m'enferme! Quand m'en irai-je donc?"
Un troisième soldat survient, armé d'un pistolet. 
Même ordre impératif. 
-- Goûte cette eau! 
— Mais infailliblement j'étoufferai, si cela continue. 
— Veux-tu y goûter!?
Le gouverneur Infailliblemsnt avala avec mille gri- 
maces et mille contorsions le troisième verre d'eau. 
Cette eau était horriblement glacée. 

Arrive un quatrième, arrive un cinquième, un 
sixième, arrive un douzième soldat!

Douze verres d'eau ont déjà passé par le gosier et 
clapotent dans l'estomac de l'infortuné gouverneur. 
Il n'en peut plus; il souffle, 
son ventre est tendu et rond comme un ballon. 
Pourtant il faut qu'il boive encore! Il le faut! 
Toujours ce même commandement gronde à ses oreilles 
entre des piques de fer, des bâtons rugueux, des épées et 
des mousquets gorgés de balles. 

-- Goûte cette eau ! ou bien... mille morts ! 

Enfin, au dis-huitième verre, écrasé par cet excès d'eau 
froide, le gouverneur tombe par terre, à la joyeuse et 
brutale satisfaction des soldats qui l'avaient abreuvé. 
Nous saurons plus tard s'il en mourut. 

Luckily, he survives. He is alive and kicking and back where he should be at the happy ending, as the enemy has been routed. But not before switching sides upon coming to: the enemy leader threatened him with death by strangulation if he didn't change loyalties, and as long as he didn't betray his new master. Having nowhere to go, the thwarted governor becomes the usurper's orderly and blackboot. 
But then he realizes what he had done and surprises the readers by turning coat for the second time, after realizing how they have used him, as a plaything due to his lack of willpower!
And he lives to a ripe old age, beside that!

Now is fresh fruit not good 'nough for you, lads? Schwedentrank is far worse!