Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

What is an Ebenezer?

It's that time of year when even the less churched among us are likely to hear that priceless, special old hymn Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. And like every other time you ever heard it, you will stumble for a tick on that enigmatic line:

"Here I raise my ebenezer"

And like every year you will say to yourself, "The hell is an ebenezer? Like Scrooge, right? I drive by five or six Ebenezer Baptist Churches on the way to work. I gotta Google that." But like every year, sugarplums and wassailing will derail your good intentions. No worries, I got you covered.

A linguistic relic far beyond the realm of archaism, "ebenezer" is almost entirely a mystery to speakers of English. The most recent study to have even made brief mention of the word was conducted in 1936. Horace Watts and Jan Derfunkel said "the word ebenezer, for example, has endured a thousand years after the last ebenezer was seen."

Watts and Derfunkel collaborated with Hebrew and Ethiopian scholars for sixteen years on the subject. Their conclusion is that an ebenezer was originally an ancient form of identification which gradually became an heirloom that evolved into a weapon, swag, party gift, and finally a horrible insult.

It is presumed that the original word was simply "ezer" and that the finest ones were made in the region of Eben, where the Jordan separates Pash from Ban'taal. If the head of a tribe or large family needed to punish someone with impunity, he would beat them across the thighs with a long flat paddle called an ezer. No examples of such punishment exist; merely the carrying of the ezer was enough to denote authority. The patriarch would pass his ezer to the oldest son. There is record of one such heir being crowned before his tribe, wherein "the whole assembly bowed with (fore)heads to the ground as he raised his mighty ezer."

Ezers were carved with the family name or, in a few extant artifacts, detailed genealogies. It is agreed by most scholars that ezers were strictly practical and that these engravings were only to show ownership, but by the time the Dunnites were exiled to Herebon, they were clearly used for identification at large gatherings of important persons. If a man wanted a servant to bring him wine, we would raise his ezer. The head servant would then send help fitting to the man's station.

As is typical, working classes eventually followed the practice of their rulers and by the time Ptarchis had penned his lengthy Customs and Rituals of All People and Also Some Women, every father carried an ezer bearing his name, even if he could not afford a shovel or hoe. He could fight with it, use it as a crutch, or even attach strings to it to make music.

In less than a century it became so that a man was known by his ezer, and men with enough money could have an ezer carved of hard wood embellished with silver and precious stones. Sanskrit tablets speak of "men to the West who are wildly fascinated by Sticks of Ostentation." In Eben, crafting an ezer became such a profitable trade that at one point 80% of the men were employed in the making of them. Men might spend their entire fortune on an Ezer from Eben. An Eben Ezer was described by one enthusiastic young recipient in Holliday's Really Old Mail: "The messenger came yesterday with my new ezer from Eban(sic). Our name is spelled now in rubies, and the spikes on the tip are shaped like the teats of grandmother. No one will refuse me in the marketplace now."

It is easy to imagine a busy street of proud men sauntering about with their Eben Ezers on their shoulders. Regional and cultural differences spawned sundry rules about the purpose of ezers. For many peoples, buying an ezer from Eben meant you were willing to fight anyone at any time, and the raisers of Eben Ezers were referred to as Wassailants, from which we get the modern word "assailant." In other cases the raising of one's Eben Ezer was a punishment; it meant the mob decided your taste was so poor and your ezer so tacky that you had shamed the custom.

The trend changed eventually from heavy, valuable Eben Ezers to lighter, cheaper versions. To try and save their considerable income, the Ezer Guilds of Eben began to promote the usage of them not only for men but women and children and slaves as well. On a parchment in Cairo one can read an ancient flyer advertising the latest models of "Eben Ezers." But with the lower standards of an acceptable ezer, competition eventually drove Eben craftsmen out of business, leading to the great evacuation of the area by 312 B.C. Desperation led to the eventual degradation of the product until it became barely a hand-held stick bedecked with bells, spangles, and bright paints. Eben-Ezers were bought in the same manner a modern person might buy a hat or mask for a special party, and it was not unusual for them to be thrown away after only one use. But it was then that the concept of raising one's Eben-Ezer took on the penultimate meaning, which was basically a metaphor for becoming drunken, rowdy, or debaucherous. If a young person wanted lots of attendees at his wedding or goat-neutering, he need only put out a basket of home-made ebenezers.

By the Reformation, ebenezers existed only in language, and not at all graciously. The Viscount of Mercane wrote to one of his tenants: "Send thy prettye sister for to paye thy debts. She will help me to raise mine ebenezer." And in St. Cauther's Third Gangrenous Sonnet we read:

Thy words be more fit for privvy than ear;
I extend thee my finger, a raised ebony-zeer(sic).

In more recent years, some have tried to make an association of the line in Come Thou Fount with the biblical Eben-Ezer, but such claims have not been the subject of much debate.

Monday, December 22, 2014

20 Days, 20 Blocks of Clay

The incredible work of the very productive Simon Lee. Below is just one of 20 made in as many days.

Friday, December 19, 2014


HexenKrone is inspired by the classic game Cauldron which was popular on C64 and other platforms in the 1980s.
You should find HexenKrone much easier; there is no platform jumping and you can safely land/launch in most places. There are items and powerups also.
Music adapted from sources at HexenKrone logo made with Chad Savage's font Ghoulish.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

RIP Norman Bridwell

One of my earliest and most inspiring influences. They say he was very sweet too; that's nice to know.


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sinister Fonts

In a lot of my stuff you might notice recurrence of some great fonts. Those are the work of Chad Savage of Sinister Visions. You won't find so many suitable fonts for dark art or horror design anyplace else. All he asks is that you not claim you made them, and maybe make a donation. Which really you know, you ought to do if you can.

Get your flu shot?

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Creepmas Day 13

Day 13 topic: Santa. So ends Creepmas 2014.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Creepmas Day 12: Krampus!

Man what I'd do with this if I weren't working on other projects. This doesn't do much but boy is it creepy. Show your kids what happens if they don't get off the Naughty List.

Krampus <-- click this, not the thumbnail below.

(thumbnail removed because even intelligent people tend to click it anyway)

Red Dead December

My Dad was born in December and died in December, so this time of the year my thoughts are on him. Unlike me he was a rugged outdoorsman, a master craftsman, and a cowboy in his own right. His generation was much more romantic about the Old West and he liked Westerns a lot. Since we didn't have hunting or fishing in common much, one thing we could enjoy together was a good movie.

What movies have been, games are becoming. I cannot imagine Dad playing a console game, but I just played Red Dead Redemption through to the end, and he was there with me in spirit for sure. I'm very picky with console games, and Westerns are not my favorite.

You have got to play this game.

Red Dead Redemption is rare art. The characters have hundreds of lines of dialogue; the game world is open, sprawling, and beautifully detailed; the story is long and gripping. It's fun but not easy. There is no way you will finish it in less than 15 hours unless you are an experienced gamer and avoid all tangents. For most of the rest of us, it'll take more like 40 hours. That's a long-ass Western, but you get to do pretty much everything one could want to in the genre. It's arguably less epic (in the correct usage of the word) than God of War or Skyrim, and obviously less fantastical, but it gets you inside much more than either of those.

Certain milestones in this game are emotionally intense. When you finally get to Mexico (after much struggle) and the music changes, you will get goosebumps. I don't like chick flicks or or things that make me cry. But by the time you reach the end of the game, the investment you have in the characters will be high, and as with real life, there is a cost. Not to spoil much but transition is a major theme of the game -- not just of the landscape and the country but in one's own life and ultimately from one generation to the next. I'm still reeling from the heaviness of the ending.

Dad's spirit must surely have been laughing with me at the things prostitutes say in this game, or at what happens when you place a captive in front of an oncoming train, or cussing with me when surprised by a cougar attack. When the credits rolled I could not resist applauding, though alone in the house. Then sweetly and sadly I read every name go up the screen, fondly remembering when Dad took me to the debut of Star Wars in 1977. He carefully and thoughtfully watched the names go up, telling me he always read the credits because every person involved, big or small, was vital to the end product. I carry on the tradition.

Don't know what else to say. I'm late to this one but Rockstar Games did a thing about as well as it can be done.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Creepmas 8, 9, 10, & 11!

This basically says what a lot of us hate most about Christmas Creep and the amount of energy spent on the holiday. Nothing new. Combining challenges 8, 9, 10, and 11 (nutcracker, candle, wreath, snow). Thrown together in Photoshop, probably obvs., but w/e. Was originally considering a classic propaganda poster feel but man who has the time.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Creepmas Day 5, 6, and 7

Creepmas Angel -- combining days 5, 6, and 7 (angel, holly, and reindeer).


Friday, December 5, 2014

Holiday Hit-N-Run

December blues? Feel like running over a few elves and snowmen? Try the new stress reliever at YargCade.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Creepmas Day 4

Yesterday's #makingcreepmas challenge was Snowman, and today's is Tree; so why not atone for my lateness by killing two birds with one stone.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Creepmas Day 3

I am waaay too sleepy to create anything. Instead here's a few Etsy links you really need to check out.

The one and only Zarono if you don't know is without peer when it comes to making mythos tomes. His prints are surprisingly affordable and each is uniquely weathered.

Remember these? Good luck finding them now. But a reasonable facsimile can be gotten from CoveTableCuriosities.

Stexe sells this clever variation on the classic pocket creep.

Creepmas Day 2

Creepmas 2014 Day 2 Challenge is Gingerbread Man. Have fun smashing a few with this little toy (Flash).


Monday, December 1, 2014

Creepmas Day 1

YargCade is happy to participate in the 13 Days of Creepmas this year, and to try the Making Creepmas Challenge:

Day 1 Challenge: Elf

C is for Creepmas. What is Creepmas? you ask.