Thursday, November 25


Underlined in everyone's agenda  tonight is the grand opening of the Elphinstone Exhibition at the Arctic Academy Of Arts. Paintings and Engravings by the two Elphinstones, Samuel and his son Ebenezer, will be displayed there until January, 21, 1907 AB.  
Especially awaited is the original of the famous “Elphinstone map”, etched by Samuel in 1907 BB, and which has been kindly lent by the Regent-Doge to the Academy. The show also features less known, but equally dazzling works, such as “The Seven Sleepers dream” which represents a magnificent, if somewhat fantastic, view of Central Canal.

You're not dreaming:  it's The Seven Sleepers' Dream, by Samuel Elphinstone

From Ebenezer, there will mostly paintings, depicting scenes of the New Venetian everyday life such as his famous White Night in Frislandia:

 It is going to make your day: White Night in Frislandia,

Unfortunately, his masterpiece, the endless Myriorama of the Frozen Sea, cannot be showcased because of a lack of space to accomodate its 24 gigantic panels. 
Of course, some of our most sharp-tongued citizens have promptly remarked upon the fact that Elphinstone is the name of our current Dauphin-Doges, and that Samuel and Ebenezer are respectively their grand-grandfather and grandfather. 
These critics go as far as presuming that this "coincidence" may explain the considerable ballyhoo surrounding the exhibition. And one of them even added that he was waiting impatiently for a retrospective of the Dauphin-Doges' father, the infamous Edward “Endlessex” Elphinstone, once the unrivaled leading man of the Circus Of Carnal Knowledge. 

People can be mean sometimes.

Thursday, November 18


As our perspicacious reader had doubtlessly noticed, we are finishing our first week without any solar light, and there is, to this day, still 94 days to go before our favorite star pops up again from its hibernation.
And like every year, there is a debate about the "Black hours" during which electric and gas  lights should be turned down.
As usual, the Arctic Administration leans towards  six full hours of darkness from midnight onwards, so as to ensure a little peace for the citizens and avoid power shortages which could have dreary consequences. 
On the other hand, the Council of Customs and Commerce pleads for shorter  or no "black hours", in the name of our economical activity, for it is well known that New Venetians usually fight the Boreedom of  Wintering Weeks by throwing money all around on the Marco Polo Midway and Venustown.
Taking a step further, the Council for Customs and Commerce has even urged the Senate of the Seven Sectors to re-establish and extend the duration of the City Carnival, a tradition which the Council of Seven had practically sentenced to death two years ago when  masks were banned in the streets for “security reasons”.

 The electricity bill, having a ball

The Regent-Doge has yet to express himself on that matter, but, one of his close advisors, Gabriel d'Allier, Prime-Perceptor for the Dauphin-Doges has accepted to grant us a little interview on these topics:
Q: What about the right amount of black hours ?
A:  It is difficult to say. No human life could thrive under these latitudes without a large amount of light. But no human life could survive either without its fair share of silence, sleep and dreams.  Beyond that, we all should be aware that  city lights  are a political subject and that, throughout history, differences in urban lighting have always reflected social divides. What we want to ensure is an equal access to both light and darkness. The Regent-Doge is working on what he calls a chessboard model, alternating dark and lit  zones that would change during the "day".  
Q:What about the return of City Carnival, then?
A: I have nothing against it, but I see no reason why it should be constantly floodlit. Darkness could even make it more, shall we say... interesting. I am especially impatient to see masks legal again. Their interdiction has been a blow to the anonymity, and hence to the freedom of New Venetians. It is no secret that it was the Gentlemen of the Night who were behind that unfortunate decision. Wearing a mask is always a little like sleepwalking, like carrying a piece of personal night even in the full  glare of the city lights.  It is too part of these dreams that the citizens need  in order to live a fuller, richer, more enchanted life.
Q: Has your taste for masks something to do with the fact that you are often taking our Dauphin-Doges on secret nocturnal rambles through the city?
A: I do not know what you are talking about.  

The City Carnival: these were the err.. days.

Wednesday, November 17


At last... although scheduled to be finished on November 1,  it took  fifteen days more for this year's Ice palace to be open to the public. 
Security reasons were alleged, but rumors have it that reports of ghost sightings by the building workers are the real cause behind the delay. Little has transpired as to what the sightings were (“probably the bottom of a gin bottle” as a member  of the new Boreal Beedle Brigade dismissively put it) but there has been hushed talk about a very-well dressed, monocled specter.
 Could this be linked to the discovery, last summer, of the corpse of a man with stab wounds and his back entirely skinned ? The body had remained buried under the melted remnants of the previous castle, probably since the events of the spring, and, to this day, his identity remains a mystery, or some say, a well-kept state secret.
If such rumours will attract or  scare visitors remains to be seen. Personally, I cannot imagine a New Venetian winter without a visit to the castle. And if I'm ever to see ghosts, they should be those of Christmases past.

New Ice Castle: not crystal-clear. 

Friday, November 12


We have been waiting for it, but after long negotiations, the Regent-Doge and the Council of the Seven Sectors have finally agreed on the rules regarding the election of the next Regent-Doge, which is scheduled for next spring.

Heavily inspired by ye olde Venetian constitution, the rules are meant to ensure that no amount of manipulation, bribe, or cheating could affect the outcome of the election. 

As you know, since the demise of the Council of Seven, the new  Council of Seven Sectors represent the quarters that roughly correspond to each "geographical group" of inhabitants: Americans in Maurelville; British and Canadians in Rossglasstown and Frislandia; Scandinavians and Finns in Niflheim & Ny-Christiana; French & Quebeceans in Nouvelle-Ys and Eau Grise; Germans, Austrians and Dutch in Neu Vineta; Russians in Nova-Arkhangelsk;  the Japanese in Yukiguni and, new to our poletical life, the Inuit in Inuvik.  Each sector elects by universal suffrage one Councillor-Senator  who will now name forty members of his own community to form the College of Chance and Choice.

Council or Casino ? the future is looking dim.

In this college, the 280 are reduced to 9 by a random process involving dice and alphabetical order. These 9 name - excluding themselves - 40 members, who in turn are reduced to 12 by randomization. The 12 name 25 nominees, who are once again reduced to 9 by the same random processes. Then, the 9 name 45 persons to be eventually sifted down to 11 by random selection. It is these “Eleven Electors” who  designate the 41 “Exceptional Electors” from the college. And it is these “Unforeseen Forty-Ones” who will, at last, be electing the Doge from among the candidates, with whom they are not allowed to have any contact during the whole process.

This last stage is achieved through a voting system where each elector puts a white ball (+1), a crystal ball (0) or a black ball (-1) into the ballot box of each candidate. The first candidate to reach 25 white-ball votes is elected as Regent-Doge for the City of New Venice and the Northwestalnd Commonwealth. If such a majority is not obtained after the first round, the least successful candidate is eliminated and votes are recast until the 25 “approval” threshold is reached. In case of a draw, a coin will be flipped. 

As you see, dear fellow citizens, our representatives will be busy.  Playing dice. 


This strange picture of a woman dancing on the snow has been taken from one of our new electricity-harvesting balloons, not very far from the Flagler Fjord Inuit settlement.
One more case of Oene sighting ? It seems to us that this dancer bears more than a passing ressemblance with former dancer  and polar pop star Sybil Springfield, once the eye-catching, ear-shattering leader of the Cliquot's Cub-Clubbers. As is well-known among those, well, in the know, she left the city right after the the restoration of Dauphin-Doges to follow her new lover, an Inuk hunter named Tiblit, to his Flagler Fjord igloo.

But once an artist, always an artist. It seems that she is now back in business, rehearsing for a new ballet with a strong modern flavor.

Sybil, in a trance

Unless she was just desperately calling for help...

John Blank

Wednesday, November 3


This strange photographic image below, taken last week-end near the Black Cliffs by an amateur excursionist who wishes to remain anonymous, reached our office with the following commentary: “ It is probably Oene, the fabled fallen ‘Queen of the Arctic’ who is said to mislead travellers.”

Miss Leading, in the flesh

Perhaps it is her, Dear Mr. Anon,  although we can but wonder what the pole she was doing so close to our city: is she reduced, like a vulgar bipolar bear, to scavenge her sustenance from our garbage?  Or does she suffer  from boreedom to the point that she now occupies her week-ends  by misleading innocent sunday strollers instead of brave polar explorers?

Maybe you have been misled, Mr Anon. But less by Oene, I would suggest, than by attention-seekers of the Sybil Springfield Species, or by pranksters of the Lilian Lake League. 

Or have the suffragettes mutated into naturists ? If winter wasn't on his way, I bet that they would be more “excursionists” on Black Cliffs in the week-ends to come.

John Blank