Sunday, February 2, 2014


Have you ever heard of Jan van Rymsdyk?  An artist of the most arresting work and a most intriguing life as well.  His most famous works depict the unborn ... as drawn, not from life, but from death.  Theirs and their mothers.  Eighteenth century ethics may make this link a squick-inducer - yet the work is undeniably arresting, and poignantly skillful.

Believe it or not, murder holes and other castle defenses may make for a lighter post.  A quick study in Castles 101, from English Historical Authors - and the second link here, this week, courtesy of Maria Grace.

"Why ... do we continue to airbrush black Africans out of Tudor England?"  This is a good question, as their presence in Tudor England is undeniable and very interesting; as an American, I had no idea the population included enough for records to indicate actual complain about there being "too manie" (the implications of which are a study unto themselves, especially for an American; this inescaspably brings to mind the image below).

"Willem van Heythuysen" by Kehinde Wiley
Image:  Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

(In searching for the image above, I found this one, which is beautiful.  Completely unrelated to this post - but very much worth a peek.)

I don't always find "bloodthirsty Roman" portrayals any more persuasive, if I'm honest, than I do the portrayals typically bandied about for "barbarians" - yet, because Romans even a couple of millennia on, still seem to induce a state of breathless fandom for so many, I do give less glowing assessments of their worth equal time.  Here we have them as headhunters, courtesy science, a lot of skulls out of Londinium, and the BBC.  Charming lot, those Romans.  Still, getting past the tendency to put white or black hats on or favorite or least-favorite historical populations, the forensics are still a draw.  If I really needed to cheer complete strangers on - or revile them - I'd be watching the Super Bowl.  (Tonight at my house, Sherlock on the PBS Roku box.)

And now, BBC journalists:  may we please discuss and define such slippery terms as "headhunters" and publish further findings which might explain exactly what happened to these men?  The meat here is missing.  Literally and figuratively, yes ...

Speaking of Rome - as we who read any sort of history are wont to to - yet another book I may need to pile on my toppling tower of TBR.  It's Peter Heather, it's my period (both for Ax and for the WIP), it's some of my CHARACTERS.  *And she sighs quietly to herself, resigned to need more books*

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