My brother told me to write this post (so it’s sort of his fault).
A few days ago, Paul was re-reading a novel whose title I can’t tell you here because of… well, let’s say easily confused proper nouns. Yeah, the T-word. Sufficiently advanced technology or an orange-hued politician? Only context can tell you which is which. (As Grace sometimes says, “Amongst mundanes [here meaning people who don’t read sci-fi/fantasy], only bridge players can understand my pain.” And it may be true that she’s right about the results of the 2016 presidential election putting a stop — or at least a loooong delay — to the plans for a screen adaption of the Chronicles of Amber.) Anyway, Paul had just started re-reading the first book in the story of “Merle Corey,” because it had been a while since the last time he’d read it. He looked up and commented, “He has a beard. And doesn’t he say something later about wearing a flannel shirt? Dear gods, he’s a Millennial!” Of course I made the appropriate warp-quote in response: “The One True Millennial, of whom all others are merely Shadows…”(*)
I suppose the more accurate term would be hipster, not Millennial. (Also, someone who’s an adult in the 1980s is clearly not a Millennial. Proto-Millennial, perhaps. Or, y’know, the template after whom all mere human Millennial are… un, patterned. *ducks thrown objects*) I’m just reporting what was said.
(Some of this terminology confusion may be the fault of a certain actual Millennial my twin knows: the doofus little Creative Anachronist whom Paul is trying to help with making armor and fighting. “But why can’t I have Dark Ages Viking plate armor like the Rohirrim wear in the Lord of the Rings movies?” *facepalm* Doofus little Millennial Anachronist is a hipster… or would be, except he just comes across as a doofus instead. My twin recently saw him walking along a sidewalk on the university’s campus with Norse-style leg wrappings worn over his modern trousers. The winnegas clashed so badly with his hipster-uniform fedora… *rolls eyes* You really, really want to be both a hipster and a “Viking,” you wear a naalbind cap instead of the standard modern knit cap — d’uh.)
Since I know some people refuse to believe anything without proof, I tracked down the relevant quotes from the novels.
In the first book from the Second Chronicles of Amber:
I’d grown a beard, so I didn’t have to shave.
[*Types and then deletes comment about “ironic facial hair”*]
In Sign of Chaos, the third book of this half of the series:
Finally I rose, stripped, cleaned up, and put on a pair of Levi’s and a purple flannel shirt of which I am fond.
Anyway. Why is Merle Corey (a.k.a. Merlin, son of Corwin of Amber) a hipster? Because the sentence immediately after the one mentioning the flannel shirt is, To hell with swords, daggers, and cloaks for a time. Y’see, Merlin doesn’t want to wear what all the other men in his culture wear; he wants to be the most unique Amberite/Chaos Lord ever.
(I’m exaggerating for effect; to the best of my recollection, Merlin never says that’s why he occasionally chooses to wear Shadow Earth clothes, and I suspect the real reason is because jeans and a flannel shirt are simpler/more comfortable than a doublet and hose. I know I’m not looking forward to wearing a Renaissance outfit in a few weeks, but dressing in an old-fashioned interpretation of what that musician/assassin wore to that other party in a completely different author’s novel — sure, her bandmate named his firstborn after Merle’s dad, but whatever, nothing to see here, move along — is the best way I can think of to go along with the theme of irony that Paul started when he announced his intention to wear a “plague doctor” outfit to the masquerade party coming up in early November… And please, someone tell me you get the joke — possibly in very poor taste — inherent in a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism whose persona name is Corwin Grendel dressing like a plague doctor. The local SCAdians, they don’t get it, and both Lord Devon and “Lady Potatosack” — not her real or persona name, obviously, but I hate her even though I’ve never met her — have read the relevant works of fiction to get the reference. Actually, I think Devon may get the joke — ‘nother reason to compare him somewhat to Alex, even though they’re practically opposites in appearance, and it was actually Alex’s wife who was the sci-fi/fantasy fan, and her idea to give Alex both the lithograph of a lighthouse and the “lucky coffee spoon,” and if I’m babbling this much in a blog post about things only barely connected even in my own mind, I think I need to just stop now…)
(* That’s based on the tagline for the entire series: Amber, the One True World, of which all others, including our Earth, are merely Shadows. And remind me to write another bloggish tirade soon about cover art. Right now, I’m looking at the paperback of Nine Princes with what my friend Jennifer called “the Adrian Paul cover,” and damn! The artist, Jean-Pierre Target, at least got the colors right, so he did better than, say, Gray Morrow, but why the hell does Grayswandir look like the Conan movie sword? Does that look like a fencing saber to you? *sits in a corner and gibbers for several seconds*)