annotations by Gryphon
annotations by Phil
 the Chun Tai era - Eras in Dìqiú's history are defined by the lifetimes of the Avatars (as opposed to the emperors in real-life Japan and imperial China). The Chun Tai era corresponds to the life of Avatar Korra; the preceding Ri Wu era covered the life of her predecessor, Avatar Aang; and so on.
Determining the start of a new Era is relatively straightforward - the death of an Avatar will usually be a highly-publicized event, and it can be assumed that the new Avatar's been born, just not yet found. Things became a little complex, however, after the Air Nomad Genocide, as some people assumed that the Air Avatar had been wiped out as well (and found it puzzling and/or ominous when no successor emerged from the Water Tribes), while others held out hope that he or she had escaped the extermination and was living isolated like a monk. Various calendar makers and astrologers were simultaneously relieved and annoyed when Aang turned up again a century later...
 Ryan Mathews Memorial Spaceport - New Avalon Interstellar Spaceport, the spaceport people outside the city think of when they think of going to New Avalon, handles only passenger traffic. Big freighters go to the Avalon County Freight Terminal out on Kaiser Island, so that their big-freighter engines and whatnot aren't near the city, and their cargo is then transported to the Docklands by surface vessel. Small freighters go to Mathews Memorial.
 sure to bring them all good fortune - Although Dìqiú contact with Zipang (and vice-versa) has only been present for nearly 70 years now, that's more than enough time for the existence and role of the Avatar to have become entrenched among the younger members of Zipang's society. Having The Avatar present, traveling on your ship, is considered an auspicious sign (whether positively or negatively depends on the captain in question).
 jumpsuit tied... around her waist - When I first saw a picture of Korra, I thought the fur-edged item she wears at her waist was either the top of half of a coverall (the look sported by Chell in Portal 2 promo art), or a jacket tied on by the sleeves.
 Omoshiro Maru - A fairly ironic name for a light stock freighter, since omoshiro is Japanese for interesting.
 April 14, 2372 - Not coincidentally, that date is really Korra's 100th birthday.
 seal jerky - Staple travel food for the Southern Water Tribe warrior on the go. Highly concentrated energy and protein, keeps basically forever, and though the uninitiated often find it offputtingly chewy, those who grew up with it generally consider it delicious.
 a strange and wondrous noodle dish - The hotel's Bolian desk man directed her to Tanjordan's, New Avalon's favorite shyam joint, indicating that her hotel is right on the City Center/Salutown border.
 WE'RE #1! - One expects the Knights Field concessionaires sell these items with a certain sense of irony.
 of course I can talk... - Monty Python's Flying Circus is curiously popular in Wrangelia for some reason.
 Korra had once made a marked impression... - In the very first episode of The Legend of Korra, "Welcome to Republic City". In hindsight, it's impressive how little time the producers wasted in establishing that Korra was never going to catch a break on their watch.
 Schweickart - Yes, it's a young Russ Schweickart, later to be seen as a sergeant in such 25th-century stories as Titans and Eyrie Productions Destroys the Marvel Universe.
 Octonauts - I first saw an episode of this program the morning after Zoner's wedding, when, alone and feeling something strangely akin to jet lag despite the fact that I hadn't left the Eastern time zone, I had breakfast in the food court of the Pop Century resort at Disney World. It was playing on a gigantic TV screen on a wall near my table with the sound turned off and was so utterly surreal that I briefly thought I might have imagined it.
 Ragnar Ragnarsson - It was fun to envision Ragnar, last seen as an established IPO tactical noncom in 2410, as a rookie New Avalon cop looking to make his mark. In a sense, what became An Avatar in New Avalon and its forthcoming sequels started with us kicking around the entertaining image of Korra meeting one of the Big Universe's talking polar bears on her first serious road trip beyond the Veil. I have a whole chronology of his career from this point to that one kicking around in my head, including the names and aspirations of the two children he doesn't have yet at this point.
 we do not fight because we hate... - First said in a recording left for her children early in the Exile, Miria's remarks about the WDF's ideals later became a semiformal creed for the reconstituted organization, and carried over to the culture of the IPO as well. They are also something of a personal code for a number of powerful martial artists around the galaxy (including Laura Kinney).
 to get any ink done - She's always kind of wondered, though, if she did get a tattoo, whether it would light up when she's in the Avatar State, or if that happens to airbender Avatars specifically because their ink follows chi paths.
 Friday Night Firefight - Named for the combat system in the Cyberpunk 2020 roleplaying game. The Battledrome version involves Destroids, but is much less specialized (and much less glitzy) than later televised Battledrome events like Mobile Fighter G-Gundam.
 seventy-three - Includes a number of nonhumans with names that most closely romanize thus, and at least one woman.
 Ditko's - The shop, and the clerk on duty in this scene, are straight from the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Beware the Creeper". "What about the boa? Too much?" "Not for you, baby."
 dressed entirely differently - Korra's clubbing clothes are based on an outfit available in The Sims 3: Into the Future. They're supposed to be futuristic there; here, they've probably been into and out of fashion three or four times by now.
 a civil engineer - By the time of the later Symphonies, people with an interest in such matters know Michael Zant as the designer of the Nieuwpoort Nordwater flood control system on the planet IJmuiden (completed 2406).
 a budding fashion designer - Rafik would later make his name with the Max Genius, a trenchcoat inspired by the field dress of 21st-century Wedge Defense Force fighter pilots (most plainly recognizable by the yellow and black stripey epaulets), which has enjoyed a steady cult following and two or three periods of mainstream fashionability since its debut in 2399.
 an industrial chemist - Gisele is destined to be famed (in some rarefied circles) as the inventor of the Töpfer Process, by which one of the compounds vital for the production of VDCs (versatile data crystals) can be produced economically in the vast quantities required by the non-volatile storage industry.
 Bridges... and such. - While Korra is no longer the "Bridge between the Worlds", in the sense of being the sole mediator between humans and spirits, she now serves a new purpose as a bridge builder, helping the two sides (and later, the peoples of Diqiu and Zipang) understand each other and come to accord.
 complimentary bottle of water - The hotel is being a bit ostentatious; the tap water in New Avalon is perfectly serviceable. Though, as Phil pointed out when I made note of this, the coffee maker is nowhere near the sink, so perhaps they simply don't expect their guests to be up for that much schlepping the carafe around.
 chrome and gold helmets - Guest-starring DAFT PUNK. Because when a fight scene is imminent, you need a pumping soundtrack.
 the Zuse Z3 - Konrad Zuse was German, so this computer's name is properly pronounced "TSU-zeh tset dry", but it's entirely possible that Mr. Dufresne himself does not know that.
 the man they call 'Zuse' - Indeed, our interpretation of the intrepid nightclub owner comes primarily from TRON: Legacy, with influences from Roman Torchwick and Junior from RWBY, and Edward Nygmia from Batman. It was quite a fun experience writing him. Flamboyant, gracious, and smug when things are going his way, yet edging towards malice or bluster when they're not.
 Crystal Alpine - This bottled snowmelt water is an import from the tiny mountain kingdom of Arendelle (a settlement on the colony world of Yinsed). The fact that Zuse had imported, at great cost, what essentially amounts to melted icewater, just goes to show how much he likes to show off his connections and resources. (Not that it would make an impression or matter one whit to Korra.)
 the five of them will go far - Yes, Zuse is talking about the pre-Cthia Illogics. Before they were even the Illogics!
 Salusian SRT-08 - This is the Salusian equivalent of our own history's TRS-80, one of our earliest mass-produced personal computers.
 Shi'Kahr Cognitive Engine - This is a proto-artificial-intelligence processing unit developed at the prestigious Shi'Kahr Academy on Vulcan.
 prehensile tendrils - Not enough liquid for the full Octopus Stance at the moment; besides, that would be ostentatious.
This technique is also a lot more useful for a waterbender on the go, as you don't have to stay anchored to one place.
 the basement floor wouldn't be structural - See, that's why she's a civil engineer. So she knows these things. (Well, technically she became interested in the field during her early adventures and decided to study it after the Gaoling Earthquake, but she soon discovered this is a handy side benefit of having that skillset.)
 concussion rifle - The Stouker concussion rifle (as seen in the Star Wars: Dark Forces games) is quite an antiquated weapon by this point in UF-universe history, having been developed early in the Wedge Defense Force's Golden Age. It was always one of Gryphon's favorites, but was never terribly popular, because it's a tricksy, unforgiving beast - more like a missile launcher than a firearm.
 counterstruck with a shockwave of her own - Airbending SLICE!
 "Last Train to Trancentral" - "OK, everybody, lie down on the floor and keep calm."
 assuming that the fire codes in New Avalon were comparable - They are.
In fact, many public areas within Republic City use dry-pipe fire sprinkler systems, in order to prevent criminal waterbenders from using the water in the pipes for nefarious purposes.
 borrowed a page ... her earliest foes - This would be Councilman Tarrlok's water-dome-ice-storm technique, used when Korra confronted him in his office in Republic City.
 don't ride the unagi - It really isn't fun.
 the Eventful Civilians file - There really is one, and that's really what it's called. Bill Batson is in there. So was Adam Savage before he started doing jobs for the IPO (and so ceased to be a "civilian", technically).
 conclave of elders - Since being elected (under protest, one expects) to the Southern Water Tribe Council of Elders many years ago, Korra has fallen asleep during approximately one annual conclave of elders per year.
 Manitok - The publican of Ragnar's local was inspired by a character of the same name in Waluk, a rather charming children's book about polar bears by Emilio Ruiz and Ana Miralles.
 Sky Raiders - The Sky Raiders come to us from City of Heroes, a nicely mid-level challenge for experienced heroes.
 Garuda Trading Company - A front for a Zipang-Dìqiú shipping concern, of course. There are several; this one is the one Korra usually uses, because it's run by the Air Nomads (to them, as to real-world Tibetan Buddhists, a Garuda is a divine bird spirit).
 narwalrus - A very large walrus with spiraling tusks, not a small whale with an impressive mustache. (That's the rare and elusive Hyneman's Orca.)
 the uppermost floor - 38 actually isn't the top floor, just the highest one the main elevators go to. The 39th is reached only by the stairs or a couple of unobtrusive private elevators.
 a mysterious logo -
It's a reasonably safe bet Korra has never seen this before.
 never seen nothin' like you - Gryphon's listening to the alternate 1976 mix of the Electric Light Orchestra version of "Do Ya", originally released as part of the 2000 Flashback compilation.
 lost in her eyes - Well, he is a bit, I mean, they're kind of amazing, but he's able to focus past that to the matter at hand; a side benefit of his life experiences to date.
 Le Coq Supérieure - "The Superior Cock", the city's snootiest French restaurant, named without any evident irony. Gryphon doesn't actually like the place, but it is on the short list of places it's suitable to take a visiting head of state.
 Order of the Red Lotus - A "red lotus" is a cocktail containing vodka, cranberry juice, and lychee liqueur. (Presumably a "white lotus" would substitute milk for the cranberry juice, à la White Russian, which would frankly be revolting.)
 the Jaaag - A 1979 Jaguar XJ6 4.2. Mentioned in Kaitlyn's appearance on Top Gear, it is among her favorites from her father's car collection.
 Corvette Sting Ray - Kei's 'Vette is a 1967 Sting Ray convertible with the 400-horsepower 427-cubic-inch engine (order code L68, if you're into that kind of thing).
There are surprisingly few pictures of this car in the correct color scheme to be found in a half-hour session with Google. This one is decent if you ignore the iffy lighting and the even iffier choice of location (seriously, guys, barrels and a loading dock? This was on an auction website, you were trying to sell this car).
 he gives good consult - Kei really wanted to make a specific joke about oral consultation, but it didn't quite come together for her, mercifully.
 at least let me drive you - There is something very Kei about driving oneself to the hospital, in a Corvette, in labor. I'm 80% certain there's something the Avalon County Highway Code about don't do that, but... Kei.
 the fen dropped - A fen is 1/100 of a yuan.
 raging against the dying of the light - Paraphrased from Welsh poet Dylan Thomas's 1951 poem, "Do not go gentle into that good night":
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Gryphon recited the same poem to Skuld on the morning of the Great Battle, so it automatically comes to his mind whenever he thinks of the incident in general or Skuld's reaction in particular.
 veilbend - Regular veilbending involves special spiritual techniques to sense and skirt around the Spirit World to travel between Diqiu and Zipang, or to strengthen and widen existing Veil Nexuses. The ability has become somewhat more well-known in present-day Diqiu, but is still considered a specialized technique used by extremely skilled benders and spiritually enlightened individuals. Using veilbending to travel further into the Big Universe via skirting the other astral planes was long thought to be a pipe-dream... but with the knowledge of the workings of the Stargate, Korra, at least, will be able to master it (hence how she got to Cephiro in "Try, Try Again").
 haven't seen her that far gone in a while - Actually, he saw her that far gone the previous fall, on the eve of the Ragnarök, but besides that.
 an old friend of his mother's - Namely Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom, astronaut, among the first handful of people Skuld conducted personally to Valhalla (the very first having been Nikola Tesla).
 Hiroshi - One might expect Korra to react to this name, but then again, Hiroshi Sato belonged to another age, and besides, it's a very common Japanese/Zipangi/Fire Nation name.
 a small Japanese restaurant - The restaurant in the Boyce Memorial lobby is sort of a conflation of the Au Bon Pain in the lobby at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and a sadly long-defunct noodle shop, Sab's, that used to be in the Garage shopping center in Harvard Square, Cambridge.
 to get to Lhasa - The implied shortcut is to fall straight down the Lhotse Face, one of the features that must be crossed in order to reach the top of Everest by the southern route. (Geographically, this is not actually a way to reach Lhasa, alive or not, but the image served to make Zoner's point.)