May 13th, 2006

  • lizbee

Islington, London

I have a character who has spent the better part of the twentieth century living in one street. I spent a lot of time looking for the appropriate place to keep her, since the area needs to be economically and racially diverse, but affluent enough to have an antique store and a watchmaker's. I also need for my character to be living above a shop.

So I looked around at property guides and the London phone directory, and noticed a bunch of watchmakers in Islington. Wikipedia tells me that this is an economically diverse kind of area, gentrified in the 1990s and trendy, but the property guides and so forth only talk about the affluence and fashionability. I worry that real British people will laugh at me, so if anyone has any thoughts or advice, I'd be very grateful.

Wine: "blood of the virgin"?

I was watching, believe it or not, Mystery Science Theater (The Devil Doll), when something came up that I was instantly curious about. The creepy ventriloquist served a wine he called "blood of the/a virgin" in some Romance language - it sounded like Italian. Something like "sanguine" was definitely involved. The problem is, I have no idea how to spell it, and google "wine blood virgin" hasn't gotten me anywhere. So:

1) Does anyone know if such a wine really exists? (The ventriloquist describes it as being "very sweet.") Is it a name of an actual wine, or a generic term?

2) More importantly, what language is it, and how is it spelled?

x-posted with edits to mst3k.

"yeah" and Broad Street Station Pics

Hey there helpful folks. Two quick questions--

-When did 'yeah' become a normal part of american speech? Is it a fairly recent addition? I'm just not sure, and searching for 'yeah' gets you a lot of Usher.

-I know, this is more of an image question (sorry! I do comics, I can't help it!) but I desperately, desperately need a decent picture of the inside of the old Broad Street Station in Philadelphia. All my google-image fu is exhausted. I have some exterior shots, but none of the actual platform and inside, which is where the scene is taking place! Help?
  • lzz

Mainly linguistic questions for Americans

Hi! I hope it's OK to ask a few questions in one post - they're all fairly small. Ideally I could do with knowing by Monday...

* Is the word 'wretched' fairly common in the US, as in the sentence, "And who's paying for this wretched garage?"? There are instances on Google, but it's difficult to tell from that how common it is. The character using the word is middle-aged and a bit snobby.

* Does the abbreviation 'vet' always mean 'veteran'? Would you always say veterinarian if you meant an animal doctor?

* Would a young person ever address a friend's mother as 'ma'am'? If not, what would he call her? (This is a bit tricky because it's a translation, not an original piece of writing, and we are never told her last name.) Similarly, would a young person call a police officer 'sir'? (He is being excessively polite.)

* Finally, a slightly odd one: what would be the term for the local health authority responsible for the disposal of sick dogs? And are local authorities generally referred to as 'councils' or something completely different? (Again, it's a translation, and it is definitely the local health authority rather than some other body that's having the dogs put down.)

Thank you very very much in advance!

Edit: What would you say instead of wretched? (Assuming you were middle-aged and slightly snobby.)

Avalanche starting

This is more confirmation than anything.

I'm trying to start an avalanche.

I have two hikers --and one wolf-- on a mountain side, walking over what has been called "unstable snow". There have been avalanches in the area in the past. Now, what I'm planning on doing, is sending the character that has to die across this patch of snow (he's rather thick and after the wolf refuses to cross, he goes anyways).

The snow is heavy, and it's bitter cold. The wind flowing down the mountain has dusted the top layer of snow over a crack in the snow crust. Would it be feasible for this man to walk across this crust, near the crack, and start an avalanche, hence getting buried in it? I can have him stumble if I need to.

I just want to bury him in an avalanche so that he shuts up.

Juggling and Knife Throwing, Medieval-ish Setting

I have searched the web and found some fantastic sites on the general subject of juggling and knife throwing, but I also have some rather specific questions that hopefully someone here can answer.

a) Is the following scenario at all possible: Someone (very gifted at juggling, and with a lot of experience) juggles random objects, among them an apple, sitting at a table in front of a wooden wall. Another person (just as experienced and gifted) throws a knife that goes through the apple and pins it into the wall. (I have seen Geena Davis do a similar thing with a tomato in a very stupid movie, but that's hardly a reliable source, and she threw the tomato herself..)

b) Would medieval knives be balanced enough for throwing? I keep reading that they need to be balanced very well and am not sure about the mechanical skills required (I'm probably discriminating medieval armourers, though.) Was knife-throwing at all usual as a form of medieval entertainment? (People watching a "professional" thrower, not people passing their time throwing knives...)I know it is now on many medieval fairs, but again, not a very reliable source.

Thank you very much in advance!