Category Archives: Illustration

Potato Crisp Magic System

I do like an over elaborate fantasy magic system where powers (and the characters of the people deploying them) are tied to some other phenomenon or system of classification. Of course elements and colours and everything has been done but what about…potato crisp (aka chip) flavours? No, I thought not.

I’ve found many articles on crisps and crisp flavours but not a good one that is simple timeline of the classic UK flavours of potato crisps specifically (i.e. not including flavours of other related snack foods like pickled onion monster munch). The emphasis is either the early history or on novelty flavours.

In the UK the colour coding of packet to flavour is an issue also. There are canonical colours but infamously one of the biggest manufacturers of crisps in the UK, Walkers, use non-standard colours. The colours in Australia are different as well and in some cases I can no longer remember.

So I’m going off my shaky recall of what I think is canon circa late 1970s England.

Salted (or to be precise “Ready Salted”) is the ur-flavour and the basis of all other variants. Historically, the flavour approach had an immediate schism. Cheese & Onion was devised by Taytos in Ireland and Smiths responded with Salt & Vinegar. The names indicate the two approaches to crisp flavours (and related snacks in general:

  • Condiment themed: the flavour is named after a substance, sauce or ingredient that you might add to cooked potatoes. The name should be read literally. “Salt & Vinegar” are crisps with salt & vinegar added to their surface.
  • Meal themed: the flavour is named after some other food that is typically eaten as a core part of a meal or is the actual name of a dish. The progenitor “cheese & onion” implies a sandwich filling. The more exotic “prawn cocktail” is a specific dish.

Beef flavour and BBQ flavour represent a subset of flavours that include other variants such as “Oxo” and “Bovril” flavours. The core flavour is pretty much the same but it crosses the condiment/meal boundary and hence is more ecumenical in this scheme.

What powers go with which?

  • Meal themed powers relate to powers of illusion, deception and control. There is an emphasis on controlling farm animals (hence chicken) or even wild animals (such as the long running hedgehog flavour crisps)
  • Condiment themed powers relate to elemental and alchemic actions. There is an emphasis on single or paired core flavours that are stated directly. Heat (chillies, pepper), acid (lime, vinegar), mineral (salt) are key elemental aspects.
  • Liminal flavours cross boundaries. The BBQ/Beef subset is a clear one but “sour cream” style flavours present a similar taste to cheese & onion but are closer in theme to adding condiments.

As can be seen from reality, the system allows for infinite variation without ever actually doing anything very different…just like lots of fantasy magic systems!

An anthology map

This is a second attempt at something. I’ve playing with Gephi, a tool for visualising network topology such as social networks. I’d originally attempted a kind of social network of authors in the wider Hugo related kefuffles based on book collaborations, writing in the same series and anthologies (e.g. John Scalzi has written with John Ringo who has written with Larry Correia who has written with Sarah Hoyt etc). However, I hadn’t thought through how to get the data together in a sensible way or in a way that would help me keep track.

With some lessons learned, I’ve started a more sustainable mapping. This time I’ve stuck with anthologies and kept the anthologies as nodes along with authors. For data this time, I’ve used some anthologies connected with recent discussion about 20booksto50K and related authors. I should add this is NOT a map of authors in that group! It is just a few anthologies that either some of the works we discussed appeared or had some authors in common. There’s no deeper message here as it’s just a bunch of anthologies I picked out without any real methodology. I also didn’t distinguish between authors of a story, editors of an anthology, illustrators or other contributors. The names are just what Amazon gave me with a bit of tidying up for name variations. Just proof of concept stuff but I thought people might be interested.

Elite commentary provides an Elite style star map

Todays Infographic: Marvel/DC versus Australian Soaps

There are many great rivalries: love versus death, left versus right, the Guelphs & the Ghibellines but few can match the rivalries between DC and Marvel companies or Sydney versus Melbourne or the ongoing battle of Australian soap operas.

But what if we put them altogether?

The chart shows actors who have appeared at least once in one of three Aussie soaps. I’ve added the now defunct Blue Heelers — less famous outside of Australia but once one of the most popular dramas on Australian TV. Technically it was a police drama but fairly soapy.

The most surprising name is Dave Bautista who made a guest appearance as himself on Neighbours in 2009.