January 27th, 2011


Portuguese Aguardente

Time frame: steampunk Victorian era
Setting: run-down tavern in or near Lisbon, Portugal

In a chapter of a novel I've been working on, my main character, A, goes into a tavern, seeking shelter from a bad thunderstorm. She meets B, a seasoned sky pirate and drinker, who orders a bottle of a very strong alcohol. My basic search of traditional Portuguese drinks gave me aguardente bagaceira, which is very strong and sometimes bootlegged, which was perfect for what I needed. The bartender knows her (and is terrified of her) so he complies. Preferably, he gives her the strongest stuff possible, 160 proof. A, who is very proper and has never touched alcohol before in her life, sees B down a straight shot of it, tries to do the same, and fails horribly.

Here's where I'm stuck. The only description I can find is that aguardente is often colorless, but almost no mention of odor or flavor. All the descriptions that do exist are for the easily-purchased stuff, nothing close to 160 proof or the home-distilled liquor. Would A be able to smell the alcohol in it? Would it be a different color? Does it have a distinct flavor to it? Does it have the same 'burn' as tequila or vodka?

Search terms used: "aguardente portuguese", "aguardente portugal", "aguardente drinks", "aguardente bootleg", "aguardente bagaceira"


Victorian era names

For a roleplaying game, I'll need a longish list of names--my Mad Scientist has both lab assistants (of both genders, she's female) and household servants (mostly female). She'd be somewhere in the US, era and location not strictly determined (yet), but somewhere in the "Victorian era" range and probably east coast or midwest.

I found a site: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~poindexterfamily/OldNames.html with a long list of names ganked from actual period records, but I'm not sure what of them would/would not be used in the US, and/or could be indicative of class/wealth/status. For a modern example, you probably wouldn't find a middle-class white kid in the US named Aaliyah. I tried a little googling with things like "victorian names class", but didn't find anything likely.

As a bonus, I'd like one era-appropriate name (preferably female) belonging to a vaguely plausible Significant Minority, probably Asian. I'm aiming for a name that very clearly indicates This Is Not A White Person, but as long as the person could plausibly have been in the US and working as a lab assistant somewhere between 1840 and 1890, origin is unimportant.
(this is mostly for amusement value--my character mixes up her assistants' names, and I want to throw a One Of These Things Is Not Like The Others name into the mix)

This doesn't have to be Perfectly Accurate, it's an RPG, not a novel, but I'd like to not be glaringly anachronistic, if I can avoid it.

Diseases Causing Numbness

Hi all.  I'm back needing more diseases!

Prior Searches: numbness, diseases causing numbness, numbness as a symptom, and the tags (though I've never been a thourough searcher and I may have missed something)

The Inquiry: I need a disease that causes numbness or that has numbness as a symptom.  It doesn't matter what sense of numbness it is (physical or mental). The disease doesn't matter as long as it causes or is associated with numbness.

This is only going to be a title for a chapter, as silly as it sounds, so go nuts.