Wednesday, August 16, 2017

the thing he loves

May I say ... something?

Oh it did annoy me when they called me Little Nell.

But when I told Chuckie he mustn’t—when he stopped, I found I missed it. Gruff old Chuck. And only I got to call him Chuckie. My duckie, my fellow. And just after I turnt twenty-one, he called me Missus, and I confided to him the secret, I had liked to be *his* Little Nell. He allowed then he would be my Chuckie.

Chuck had all the flattering words for me until we married, but the garrison must be obeyed, and once he'd dipped me and done me, he was off ... and I sighed relief.

My pain I could not feel.

I never let it be heard. But Charles. He frightened me. No idea the tiger I had gripped by its tail. And when his tail was limp, it was his fists grew hard. When he found he could not be hot, then he grew cold, and Regent's Park—a place *I* never saw—made itself my refuge.

He loved me little, but long enough to make me his claim to shame.

It was a lucky thing; perhaps still thinking me their Little one, mum and da opened up and let me come home. We called me Glendell.

But the claim. Twas a noose on me.

Would I have worn it without a sigh? Had I known?

Did we play only the roles playwritten for us, or was my life—was Chuckie's—such a dark disgrace? Perchance he found the honor in it, and maybe just as well. The Wilde might have meant that was redemption.

Where lies the collateral? To Chuckie's—to Charles'—propitiation?

What is the measure of his death to mine?

A ballad. And eleven inches. More than the tiger's tail.


He must have thought I might actually come. Summoned to Regent's Park, where I had not been permitted to darken the doorways an they called me Mrs. Woolridge, I sent instead the letter asking him to 

Beat my face and snap your fingers, thinking I will come for more? Not so long as there is a bolt-hole, and I will bolt under a labor of moles, if it is safe from your visitation.

Those men. They did not wish him married in the first place, and they encouraged his dissent against me in the second—she has been untrue, she is posting more than the mail, old boy—and in the third, my neck and a razor.

Monday, August 14, 2017


It is depressing how adamantly attached a certain type of person is to the idea that people of color never existed before the 1960s, except as slaves in America. Even Egypt is subject to the most bewildering whitewashing. And yet, here we are - arguing about a black person in a children's cartoon set in ancient Rome. Good Lord.

This post was begun before Saturday. I've taken out of it a more lighthearted link. These two will stand alone.

If we refuse to engage in the patient and difficult work of reconciliation ... If we sell away those with whom we disagree, what do we lose?

I love you, Mary. Thank you.

Sunday, August 6, 2017


Mmmmmmmm! Palimpsest joy. Taking us back to the sixth century, no less. Speaking as an historical novelist writing in that period (indeed, the place and the people involved in Justinian's law itself), and having struggled with the dearth of contemporary primary resources: YAY!

Also, Palimpsest Joy would make a great name either for a band ... or maybe a porn star.

Oh, hey - speaking of pornography. I was having a "hmm" about how to frame this next link, but that may do nicely ... The Caustic Cover Critic has a good laugh for anyone who wants to see book covers NOT featuring that magical body part that might make Palimpsest Joy such a big star. It's technically SFW, but click at your discretion. But do click. The CCC is always worth it!

Another BOO from the cultural zeitgeist: hey, it's perfectly okay to ask female politicians discriminatory questions which are literally illegal in, say, the context of a job interview. (Prepare for the phrase "deliberately barren" to exist well past the 19th century, because it does.) Sigh.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017


Surface tension linguistics - how cities and bubbles build dialects. This is an article about population centers and the creation of dialects; fascinating research for *most* writers, I might say.

A very cool look at developmental spelling science, because there is NO SUCH THING as too many linguistics links, and kids' brains are neato.

Can you imagine a policy that prohibits white girls, many of whom are born with straight hair, from wearing their hair straight? Absolutely not!

White readers: imagine having your hair policed. It's all but inconceivable to you, right? The politics - and systemically discriminatory policieis - of hair. For anyone who finds themselves distracted by braids - the problem is not the hair: it is your perception of the person whose hair it is. It is you.

Okay, a lighter note. Now imagine a world without windshield wipers! Well, that's messy. Score one for the woman who invented them - thank you, Mary Anderson! "She didn't have a father; she didn't have a husband and she didn't have a son. And the world was kind of run by men back then."

Kind of.

History! Now that we've had time to cool off about the U.S. election (or not), how about a look at another electoral upset that was so profound it ended an entire type of democratic process? The fact that ostracism is still practiced - just not with pottery - doesn't lessen the interest of this story! Courtesy of Gary Corby.

And a click beyond worth a little blurb all its own here in Collection-post town, a little further reading in Gary Corby's blog took me to the Met's FREE ONLINE DIGITAL BOOK COLLECTION. Holy drooling reading/history/art nerd Heaven! FREE BOOKS, y'all! Available to read online (Google Books), for download to PDF, or print-on-demand. A look at the very first title displays a good, clear digital copy, too. So: free and clear. Literally. (So many puns...)

Friday, July 21, 2017


Kenneth Jay Lane was a jewelry designer. I can't say I love his work across the board - I can't say I seek his pieces when I am browsing jewelry on eBay (which I do a LOT, just for fun). But his line in the article here struck me: "Our jewelry is designed for people who want to be noticed."

On my first day at my previous job, I wore a necklace my mom had given me at some point. I didn't know who'd made it, and never wore it often (I still don't; it's a heavy piece), but I always thought it was special. I wear it when I want something even a little more profound than a Pop of Color.

My friend Cute Shoes took a look at the new admin, and the way I was dressed (simple navy dress, big bold necklace) and decided there might be something to this chick.

Never trivialize fashion, clothes, style. And never forget that you are always visible - but you can punch up your visibility, without a doubt.

She told me about that first impression early in our friendship, and a few years later she even found the necklace herself, trolling eBay in the same way I do. Hers even had the original box, and earrings! I think that was when I even learned who designed the piece at all.

The other association I have with KJL is one of those elusive things I saw once, looking at a particularly large search result on eBay - a big, chunky necklace which wasn't even really my style ... but which had the single best copy of one of Childeric's Bees that I have ever seen. I recall being tempted to buy it, and kicking myself when I didn't. So, ever since, whenever I'm bored and happen to do a KJL search, that is what I am looking for. The bee that got away.

There is plenty of bee jewelry to be had on the 'Bay. Joan Rivers had a big line in bees, and I own at least one - a gift from Cute Shoes, one I just love. But KJL's bee was more like the stylized, possibly fleur-de-lys-prototype bee so famously excavated in 1653. And he has done s-necklaces that recall royal collars of office, and clearly he enjoyed playing with history in his designs, not merely shape - but story. And that is what attracts me in true couture fashion - the way it harks, intentionally, to history. Fashion and design are at their pinnacle when they are SMART - not just "smart".

And I could care less that Jackie O wore his work.

I care that Cute Shoes noticed when I did.

Thursday, July 20, 2017


A drag queen('s) ... identity is created, but no more so than the identity that each and every one of us have created for ourselves.

Nietzschean realness, y'all.


I have a question. Do I TELL my mom, who still clings to the last very few pills she has of Darvoset N (not available on the American market - or, possibly, anywhere at all - for decades now), that she was right all along? I made her throw out my 1986 Rx for Percodan at least a dozen years ago, when she was getting rid of things before marrying my stepfather and moving to his home. Did we destroy precious relics?

I think maybe no. I won't tell her. But still, pretty interesting science (and worth the clicks beyond for a wider view of the expense of medical waste). Maybe mom and I should have invited some researchers over when we threw out those painkillers. TEO's father, a pharmacist, may be spinning in his grave ...


Something of a different kind of archaeology here:

The Museum of Modern Art on somewhat less-modern art installations. Oh my gosh, this is such a cool confluence of several of my pet obsessions. Art, conservation/preservation, technology, the questions of relevance and impermanence, and - for me perhaps the most absorbing part - a detailed look at the process of resurrecting art by way of old tech. One of the most interesting aspects of this is that the installation in question isn't completely being brought out of its old medium by reproducing it digitally, and the driving force in reinvigorating the pieces is reversibility. The guts of the original computer code take us into a rather wonderful and tense procedural - "the elegant motions of the robotics". A lesson in writing - how to build tension! Stay tuned for the payoff.

(There is a small amount of male nudity at the link, in case that is an issue.)


Ever since Blogger inexplicably chose to redesign the dashboard so as to hide the Reading List of blogs I follow and reduce the view of information that used to be easily available, I've been poor about, you know, FOLLOWING the blogs I follow. One of the least-posted ones is also a very good one, Madame Isis' Toilette, which posts detailed beauty tricks and recipes, as well as sewing, mostly for the 18th century. Recently, several of Madame's 2013 posts have popped up on my Reading List ... here is a SPLENDID one:

The recipe for Queen's Royal - and, far more interestingly, a varied consideration of what the stuff was for! Her first positing post on the matter is here. One point worth noting in the first link I point to (her second post) is that she questions a clove-and-cinnamon heavy recipe's use as a lice repellant. But y'all regular readers here know - American Duchess has actually noted the specific use of clove for this very purpose, and even today, it is suggested as a natural mosquito repellant (please note: research is inconclusive on any uses noted at this last link; I include it as a demonstration of known USAGE, not as any kind of recommendation).

Critical reading, folks. It's a good idea, and I'm not excepting this blog from that standard.


And here is some critical Googling. I did an image search on Kamala Harris, because though I've heard her testimony of late, and know WHO she is, I wasn't sure I had a face to put to her name, and ... this is what I found:

Image: Google screen-grab
PLEASE embiggen this.

Yes, folks, the most important aspect of an image of a United States Senator is: her body. After that, because she is after all a woman, it's mostly family relationships. "Senator" is not among the categories Google has seen fit to choose for her. Not even "Politics" or her home state, constituency. Nothing but traditional feminine roles.

First and foremost comes her body. (And let us not even get started on the latest news in assessing women's bodies. Again.)

For comparison, a Google image search for John McCain falls thusly: Family, POW, Arms, Wife, ISIS. His body and his family do come into play, but then John McCain's body is very much in the news this morning, and the attention to it is largely born of his status as a former POW - not his sexual charms as a man. Possibly his cancer will change the labels above. And that is not ALL there is to see about him. On the other side of the aisle, Bernie Sanders yields: Quotes, Family, 2016, Socialist, and Bird. His body is clearly a source of amusement, but it comes in last, and again nobody's concerned with his physical appeal.

I would say this qualifies as Nietzschean UNrealness.


The final point made, I should also add that in fact my prayers are with Sen. McCain and his friends and family.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Voice Crush

A man's voice has always been one of those things I find deeply attractive. Many people these days go for Benedict Cumberbatch, and I will say, I understand how he's become the thinking person's crumpet. But when he speaks, frankly, I just hear a smoker's voice. It's got more fry than a man his age perhaps ought to have, and is so dry there are times I wonder about the quality of his breath.

For my idea of a classic Englishman's voice: Tim Curry. Much more velvet there. And who ever had a finer sneer? American? Frank Langella, of course. He doesn't even bother sneering.

But the voice I love most is Peter Egan. Perhaps not so well known by many Americans, I first "met" this actor in the BBC historicals I grew up with (introduced by Alistair Cooke). The first one was "Lillie" - and his performance here still all but makes me cry (minute 41). Yes, it's a claustrophobic costume showcase, yes it's basically only the story of a popular girl getting by on her looks. (Francesca Annis, though, is splendid in it.) But Egan's turn as Oscar Wilde is THE best Wilde I have ever seen - and, indeed, I do include Stephen Fry's go at the role.

There is something about Peter Egan's use of his breath that creates some sort of sympathetic response, and I find myself squeezing at oxygen when he plays intense emotion, precisely because he does it so quietly ... but his breath is attenuated and silent and desperate, and it brings me to the place he is portraying. No bombast, no effort. He just has that Thing.

And that Thing, he emanates in his breath. His voice.

Watching him read aloud, I suddenly recognize something else - something itself pretty resonant with me.

Without resembling him, without sounding like him really at all - Peter Egan's cadence, even the way he moves, looking at the book and looking up, making some small gesture - reminds me powerfully of my dad.

Dad was a teacher. As much as any actor in the world, the great job of a teacher is to communicate. To build the sympathy of *understanding*.

Without, perhaps, admitting I have for decades been a bit in love with Peter Egan: I would say, at least, that he is a consummate builder of sympathy.

And seriously: that voice. You could NUZZLE with that voice.