Monday, December 16, 2013

AEther Salon: Clausology! (Edited transcript)

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach : Is everyone ready for the Boiler Elf?
Myrtil Igaly: Yes, bring him on!
Baron Klaus Wulfenbach cups a hand around his ear
Professor Parx: Is he ready for us?
Jon Chen: I am, to be sure!
Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: A little enthusiasm, bitte!
Jon Chen applauds!!!

Bookworm Hienrichs: I believe we'll get started. *smile*

Welcome to this month's Aether Salon, in which we celebrate the season with the Boiler Elf!  Before we proceed, some housekeeping reminders:
1) To ensure you can hear the speaker, stand or sit on the patterned carpet.
2) If you do not have a wearable chair and wish one, please contact Baron Wulfenbach.
3) Please remove all lag-feeding whatevers you might be wearing.
4) A tip jar is out for our speaker, to my right by the group sign. Do please show your appreciation!
5) Any tips to help support the establishment will also be welcome - just click on one of the support signs!
6) If you're not a member of the AEther Salon group, there are signs that will let you sign up. You'll be most heartily welcome!
7) Edited and unedited transcripts of these proceedings will be posted at

And now, to introduce our speaker, here is Baron Klaus Wulfenbach!

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: The Boiler Elf comes every year to help Steam Santa work through a line of Urchins and adults, determining by his steely gaze if they are naughty or nice.  He has an uncanny knowledge of all the citizens of this city!  Today, he has taken time out of his busy schedule with Santa to tell us of some of the workings of the Christmas season. The Boiler Elf presents - Clausology!

Mosseveno Tenk: Merry Christmas everyone!
Gabrielle Riel: Bah Humbug
Rebecca Skytower: Merry Christmas
Jimmy Branagh: Merry Christmas Mr. Elf!
Bookworm Hienrichs: Merry Christmas!
Jon Chen : Merry Christmas!!!!
Beryl Strifeclaw nods
Miss Suzanne Super Sweet: Happy Holidays to one and all.

Mosseveno Tenk: All merry christmas, eh? interesting
not one happy holiday. good for you
if there's one thing i can't stand its using state mandated greetings at a time when we should be most sincere
i say merry christma becuase it is my traditon
and i've got a bit of a pet peeve about this....
i would prefer that everyone use the greeting of their own tradition. and have the grace to accept one different than your own
now i know you are not allllllll christians in here
so lets' try this again
and show some spine this time!

Annechen Lowey: Crăciun fericit!
Jon Chen: Happy Yule!!
Solace Fairlady: Merry Yule, Mr Elf:)
Gabrielle Riel: Joyeux Noel!
Breezy Carver: Merry Merry :-)
Jimmy Branagh: shouts: MERRY CHRISTMAS MR.ELF!
Flea: Happy Jul.
Bloodfang TS Clawtooth: Namaste

Mosseveno Tenk: there we go!
much better!
now this is the time of year where i get about 50 thousand facebook memes from my pagan friends tellign me about the real meanings of christmas symbols
some reasonable, some just make me want to send up a flame
then i think
wait a minute
part o what's realy cool about this time of year
is we are allowed to set aside our skepticism
and believe
and even further
make stuff up
and believe it!
after all
we were programmed as children that if we wouod believe in a big fat man that would break into our house on christmas eve, we'd get nice presents!
so why not

now i got a whole stack of mail this year asking me
is santa claus really odin?
as a noted clausologist, i think this needs examining
beause while we can believe whatver we want
its also good to do some research, eh?

Beryl Strifeclaw: I thought Thor had the girth and the goats

Mosseveno Tenk: ah yes, thor did ride a goat cart
but odin rode sleipnir, a horse with 8 legs
which somoene told me was where the 8 reindeer came from

lets look at some european versions of santa claus
here is the english father christmas
the dutch sinterklaas
and someone that is close to the german wienachtsman (christmas man)
hmm, lets see if we can find odin, eh?
yes, i would say weihnachts man is much like odin
he comes out of the forest an peeks in the windows to see how you are doing, much like odin would come down to midgard to see how things were going
but no sleipnier or reindeer
father christmas is much like bacchus, or the holly king of celtic tradtion
he is usually shown with a crown of holly
and sinterklaas, wears the robes of a bishop, his is most like the catholic st. nicholas
but we do have the great horse which runs arcross the rooftops
so maybe he is a bit like odin
and he does have a long white beard flowing in the wind, as hwere nicholas would wear a short bishop's beard. so maybe there's more odin to him then we expect at first look
but still no reindeer

then we have the american santa claus
now i will maintain
that santa claus has very little to do with thise three characterrs before me
you may think that he migratd to the new world with the dutch in new amsterdam
but that's not likely....
becuase that happned during the protestant reformation
and fi there's one thing those guys were good at, was purging all things pagan and catholic from thier lifestyles!

Jimmy Branagh: ((Wasn't American Santa Claus a commercial invention?))

Mosseveno Tenk: aha!
mr branagh is also a clausologist!

lets go back to our grim forebearers
here we are in merry old england
but wait, who is that fellow in the black suit?
why,... its one of those fun busting protestants!
at this time, the saturnalia was still in full effect.
if you were of orthodox tradtions, you would be fasting for advent
but the rest of us, were having a fine roman holiday!
but... these grim men in black succeeded
in banning
this was merry old england
and it didn't take long for the english to to want to put the merry back in england
so someone said
hey... remember those guys we sent to virginia and roanoake half a centry ago?
maybe we can get thise idiots to go to america too'
and they'll all die
so we can be merry old england again
and that's what happened.
but by this time the dutch had got there too, and the swedes, and the french, and enough eirupean diseases had got loose on the natives to thin the herd
they survived
and became the first grumpy new england liberals
and gues what
they still didn't like christams
look at that guy
chastising th musicians for makeing merry at the tavern....
for the sake of his religious freedom

well, things moved on,
we had a revolution
and everyone startes speaking english
and the cities got bigger as folks started moving in
consider new york city
just the very tip of lower manhatton was popuated in 1778
that's when thomas clement moore lived there at his chelsea country estate
but by 1831, with all the irish and italians coming in (both catholic, btw)
the entire island had been put in street grid

so lets fast forward to 1810
the saturnalia is back in force
people love christmas
and they are all over the streets, al night long
loveing christmas
and letting evryone know about it

now you have to know
that back then
what we could call carolers
were much more obnoxious
if you didn't open the door to them
they would break the windows and let tehmslves in
and when you did let them in
they would help themslves to the best you had
because this is how it worked.
and after they'd drunk all your brandy
you'd have to pay them to leave!
because it was that bad

so there's this guy in NYC named John Pinter
its new years eve
the most obnoxious party night of the year
and he's thining abotu the nice quiet family holiday he was going to have the next day
he can't sleep!
becuase these street bands won't quit.. and it went on all night
so he thinks to himself
maybe the catholics and the pagans were smarter than we thought
we need to give the rabble some festivals
so they can let off some steam
so he starts writing a whole bunch of letters and broadsides, moaning about the christmas celebrations of his youth
and how we all needed to go back to having a nice old fashioned christmas like it used to be
and this is one of his tracks

being new york city used to be new amsterdam
there was asome antiquarian wealthy men
who set about to reclaim there 'dutchness'
becuase they believed that during dutch colonial times,
it was serene, and quiet,
and everyone had nice filial christmas celebrations at home
now when pinter was a lad,
he could have gone visiting eveyrone in new york for christmas and drank on the doorsteps of each house
becuase there wre not very many people there
but by 1810
not a chance
too many people

remember i said Moore lived here too?
one day the city declared eminient domain and dug 9th avenue right through the middle of his country estate!!!
which realy pissed him off, eh?
he went on to write A visit from st nicholas
which we know as the night before christmas

but before that
we need to look at another writere
washington iriving
who was working with the NY historical society to "create" a pseudo-dutchness
which was desireable to the elite
in 1809 he wrote the Knickerbocker History of New York
which mad no less than 25 references to the dutch Saint Claas
which definatley had not made it across the atlantic with protesant colonists!
Irving also wrote the Bracebridge Hall stories in 1819
which created the image of the dutch family christmas...
and like any good author
he was making it up
but it was so good
this chrisms that never happened
it was soo soo good

now in 1821
we Pinter is stil writing his letters
urging for a sober at home christmas
in 1821 we get our first look at Santa CLaus
and there he is
and we also get our first reference to the reindeer here
"Olde Santa Claas with much delight
"His reindeer drives this frosty night
"O'er chimney tops and tracks of snow
"And brings his gifts”
one reindeer
which does fly!
but i'm not seeing odin or sleipnir here...
this was still a bishop character
at the end of the poem he warns that he will bring the birchen rod to punish the naughty

now a year later
Moore, who was also one of these knickbockers
who had 9th avene dug across his estate
joined the fray by writing A visit form St nicholas
this changed everything
8 reindeer
no birchen rod
no punishment

Santa starts out as a we fellow
here he is in 1848
the knickerbockers had hit paydirt.
in 1821, Pinter's dutch St Claas had produced reactions among the children
they went crazy for the gifting
he wrote more letters
about how seeing the joy of children with thier gifts
was like returing to the goldenn age of yore
and this is important
because previously, christams was a time when the weathly gifted their servants
the emphasis from now on
was to the children
Moores poem was huge
in 1870's santa started showing up at department stores

lets look at how he changes over time
Nast is the most famous of the santa illustrators
here is his first santa, a civil war satire
and here he is again, in moores poem
still a small fellow
with a long dutch pipe
1867, another nast, in harper's weekly
1881, teh most famous of the Nast images
santa is definaltey getting bigger
now noice the pipe from 1848 to 1881
teh short pipe was used by the working class, like those irish immigrants in the slums
while the long pipe, is a dutch relic, a symbol of the old money

lets move on
still a small elf
he looks a lot like belznikle,or santa in furs, who still is seen in the parts of the upper midwest that still speak german
by the turn of the centry, the red suit is becoming a standard image
this is an australian image, so he was getting around
how did he get there?

Norman Rockwell, the famous illustrato of the Saturday Evening Post, started doing santas in 1922
now somewhere along the way he's become a human
Rockwell was a very humanizing painter,i'm sure he added a lot to that
and look, now we have elves
its hard to say where the elves come in
but somehow, santa moves out of the ranks of the elves, and has become something more

1931, the coca cola ads
now he's full size!
and a bit disturbing..
to think somethign that big is sneaking around my house at night

ah, for got this one.
here's father christmas in 1686 during the christma ban
where he survived as a character in the street mummers
until christmas was restored

looks like i'm out of time
perhaps i would be invited back next year, and we can continue with th elves
and teh characters that survived from pagan times intact
like this guy..
this is one of the yule lads
who is really disturbing.. but perahps, with the barons' indulgence, we can save that for next year?

now under the couch i have placed my collection of postcards
some are from my real life collection
do help yourself

and i'ld like to finish with a thought
how does one define a god?
consider this man
for the past 140 years, we have built him a shrine in our markets
we present our children to him
we tell lies
there are men who devote the latter part of thier lives to his image.
some years ago i was working as a mascot whiel i was in university
i got a call to go play the easter bunny at a country club up on the eastern shor of virgina
now if anyone has ever had to play a revered character
you miht know what is coming
as i was coming home
i stopped at a litter folk art gallery to get some food
there was an older man in there, white hair, but clean shaven
and he looked at me
and he said
'yo're the Easter bunny!’
you've just been there!
and i looked at him
and knew he was a santa
and he was
and we both were sharing a rare experience that canont be described in workds
i probably ever wil be able to expalin it
what is
a god?
thank you
i inow wer are over time, but if any one has quiestion, fire away

Professor Parx: With the globalization of "Santa" within the English speaking world (him now having merged with Father Christmas
Do you think there's a chance he will displace the non-English "Santas?
Mosseveno Tenk: i would say that fathe christmas and weinachtsman and the rest are at risk for being assimilated, even the yule lads of iceland now wear santa suits rather than tradtional attire
Cutea Benelli: (Weihnachtsmann)
Mosseveno Tenk: in iceland? i'l tell you next year. its just too horrble.
that's sheep sucker up there...
and he has 11 brothers
Cutea Benelli thinks one way of furherin assimilation is misspelling Weihnachtsmann and omitting Christkind;)
Mosseveno Tenk: Hee, i type sloppy!
I had to omit CHristkindl for time. i can't talk a ong time on this subject,
so i had to narrow it down as mch as i could
Cutea Benelli: gotta admit that christkind is a separate chapter. just wanted to sound dramatic :D

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: Excellent and timely. Vielen dank for offering to do this Salon.

Mosseveno Tenk: then i will see you all on christmas eve!
btw... anyone know where this background image is?
this is korvatunturi, which is gaining crediblity over the north pole as santa's home
Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: Interesting.
Flea: I just see lots of fresh snow that needs to be rolled in and muddled up.
Rebecca Skytower: aa, so thats where he passably lives.
Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: I believe I heard some Canadians claiming his home as well, due to a post code of H0H 0H0?
Mosseveno Tenk: the danes claim he live in greenland, so he can be danish
Rebecca Skytower: a few years back Rusha was calming the north pole.
Mosseveno Tenk: true, but the north pole is not stationalry
so it will change nationality as it drifts around the arctic
i believe its still russian
Bloodfang TS Clawtooth: In fact Canada, Russia and a few others are trying to claim the North Pole
Rebecca Skytower: thats right, it moves. at lest the magnetic north pole does
Mosseveno Tenk: has too
that's hwo the factory is powered
need optimal power, so there's a navigation room too
they show that in the tim allen movies.