Monday, August 31, 2015

Random Thoughts From Monday

"My friend Cute Shoes is having a big day today, so I wore cute shoes and am thinking of her. Got three compliments in the space of a minute and a half; never underestimate the power of cute shoes!"

"'Vapin' is possibly the lamest word in the current vernacular. It is also very likely the lamest activity."

"Seriously, please. stop. using. 2-spaces and full sentences in PowerPoint. Please. I wasn't kidding when I said I'd pay y'all a nickel. A nickel! Come on!"

"Oh, all the regional execs will be here today ... Things it would have been useful to know."

"I wonder how many hours of my life I could save on strap-yanking if I finally sat down and put little bra-strap holders in my sleeveless tops?"

One single brackish cloud, away from the white and fluffy ones; small, shrinking. Like a tumor in the sky.

"Help! Help! I am being stalked by a pair of giant green eyes lurking around on four little butter-toed nimble-paws."

"Sisko is finally Captain. Let's get this series on the road."

Friday, August 28, 2015


"Every resident, every visitor, every passing tourist sees a different Buenos Aires" ... Tom Williams' really lovely look at the city nobody ever truly leaves ...

Kate Lord Brown at The History Girls on sating her appetite for a particular rare book (to see the dreadful pun I just made there, click away!). Have you ever had the experience of finding a hard-to-find book? For me and my family, it was the full set of the Durants' histories of western civilization, via Bibliofind, which my college creative writing professor told me about at some point in our highly sporadic post-college correspondence.

A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.
--William James

I remember the post at Isis' Wardrobe about an upcoming Plastic Fantastic party, which sounded delightful to me. For pictures of the effusively ahistorical event, and some eye-poppingly creative costume ideas, enjoy her post about the festivities!

Three hundred years and a few days ago, The Sun set in France. A brief remembrance of Louis XIV - ever popular autocrat, astoundingly long-lived ruler, possessor of some truly spectacular wigs and satins.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Be a 'Vert - We Need More 'Verts!

Talking with Cute Shoes recently, she was dreading some upcoming events and saying "I am such an introvert."

Knowing what a charming and successful woman CS is, and having been friends with her now for a few years, I was drawn up short at the assertion she is an introvert; I know few people who can better handle others, and I know too how confident she is in managing them when it is called for. But, thinking about it, I understood what she meant.

It's a bit like me and math. I was good at it as a student (current status - unknown), but good lordy did I hate it.

Social situations can be the same.

And, as much as some people who know me - and don't - will smirk at the idea, I am a default introvert myself.

Put me in a situation with people, I do well; I trained at the knee of my mother, a woman with the most remarkable *memory* for other people's lives I have ever seen, but also open and eager and extremely interested in making connections with others. And yet - at bottom, my mom is not actually confident. She is at times not unlike the nervous little girl I remember being; standing before the door of a friend's house, wanting them to come out and play, yet finding the doorbell suddenly overwhelming.

But take away other people, give me no daily schedule of discipline - office, errands, and so forth - and I'd scarcely ever leave my house.

My default operational status is "Sit. Stay." I quite love people. I even enjoy being sociable.

But, given no specific motivation to be among them? I will not be. I'll be home with Penelope and Gossamer.

Being "on" with others can be strangely physically exhausting. I come home from the Conference most years with a migraine, and a major area of stress for me with The Big Meeting recently was the need to be in the front of the room so much, even if I wasn't a speaker. To work with the hotel, to field questions and issues, to confer with executives on issues and practicalities.

Extroversion is exciting, it's rewarding. It can be fun, it can be surprising.

It's invariably exhausting, for some of us.

I'm not sure whether I can identify where on the spectrum of INTROVERT <---------------------> EXTROVERT I actually lie. Perhaps it varies; a sine wave of energy versus hermit-ly resting.

Are you more one than the other? Are you both, depending upon circumstances? Or are you both, but sometimes circumstances don't quite match your level of social energy as you wish it would ... ?

Saturday, August 22, 2015


Patrick Stewart brings Teh Funnay

The grey poobah is visiting Janet Reid again; and, in answer to her question of the day: it is wonderful how much he does to unplug me. Having a #GossamerTheEditorCat and the inimitable Penelope Pup in the house keeps me *human*. And happy. And grateful. And hugely, hugely entertained.

Ahhh, the promised land. When language columnists presume to the role of prophet. Sort of. "In layman's terms it's called being an ass." I love the Arrant Pedant, and it'd been too long since the last update! The AP's closing advice is EXCELLENT for any reader, writer, speaker, or person living in the world. Be curious ...

Family secrets and lies, enduring shame, and the reunion of a daughter with her mother after seventy years ... #1 of 3 History Blog posts ...

Of the pieces I've read on Khaled al-Asaad's murder at the hands of the so-called Islamic State, The History Blog's is, inevitably, the best (and does include good links, as always).

Janet Reid asks, "YA or adult?" and a whole community full of commenters contributes as well. As we do. "Damn the tomatoes!"

Friday, August 21, 2015

A Twit Who Writes

Over the past six months or so, I've seen the (wildly unreliable and self-contradictory, I know) stats on this blog bloat stupendously in the 'bot department, and I lulled for a long time in promoting it (mostly on Twitter). So it became a regular pattern to see 500 hits a day from Russia and like 38 from the United States. France became highly occupied with me during this period--enough that I could not consider it genuine traffic, and asked myself the occasional "So, France--new spam capitol of the world? Huh" and got so I hated seeing my daily traffic.

I also was looking at the hard times in my family, dealing with big events at work, traveling on my own, and even occasionally trying to WRITE (theoretically what I do and the core reason this blog exists). So Twitter looked like too much of a time suck, and I wasn't in a shilling mood.

Lately, logging on more regularly again, and talking with my Twitter pals, not only has my following there seen a little increase, the stats here have begun looking less discouraging. Interestingly, bots are DOWN; which, with more activity, seems to my wee and paltry brain counter-intuitive, but it's certainly gratifying. They're still around in abundance, but more and more my legitimate travel gives them a run for their money, and even wins not-rarely.

Given there was a time I never got any real hits here at all other than randomly, or the roughly three people who put up with my poorly organized word-dumps, it's comforting to see sustained actual readership, even if the particulars are still murky given Blogger's curious algorithms.

As with Blogger, so with the actual work of writing. The WIP is still early going, but it's not an inviable embryo anymore, and its development is really exciting. I may be embarking on that hushed-taboo I've never indulged: writing a frankly and in detail about sex, in a work I intend for publication.

Mom won't read the work anyway, but it's still always been my standard not to humiliate her nor anyone I loved with work much too far to the outre' side.

I know we're not supposed to write for an audience; but with Ax it was pretty easy not to peel back the sheets on a couple comprised of a Catholic saint and the guy who wielded a pretty lethal ax and so on in order to gain his domains. (One could divert, here, into a discussion of the relative moral horror of gruesome battles and executions versus the objectionability of loving sex, but that is another post, and indeed one I probably don't need to even write at all).

But I want to contemplate sex and its role in a world so very different from "our own" (as if today's world is all one nice and convenient, homogenized experience ...). I want to give full life and beating hearts to characters of more variety and differing stations than Ax required me to consider. Maybe I want to work out issues of my own; storytelling is important, but let's not pretend my heart doesn't beat, and that has no influence. Maybe I just want to be a wayward little scamp and scandalize my family; it wouldn't be my first time. My instinct is, though, this story just calls for an entirely different look at relationships (and transactions) than Ax had the room for. The shift into multiple POV and third person creates (demands?) more perspective than the first-person narrative of a single, biased voice.

And sex is an un-ignorable part of human experience. Our expectations surrounding it certainly change, our attitudes toward it are formed by amazingly powerful and multifarious influences. It's strong stuff, with or without the framework of morality; and usually with ... though morality is slippery stuff.

Growing up, it wasn't so at my house. But growing up, there never was any pretense sex didn't EXIST. My mom and dad were very much into each other; my brother and I dutifully made fun of them for it. Its very undeniability underscored its dominating importance, and both mom and dad had their own clear ideas on the sanctity of Correct sexual behavior.

In a novel populated by women who facilitate birth, give birth, trade (and are traded) on marital alliances, and at one point even endure that sexy little malady, "hysteria" (go ahead, ask me what the curative was!): you cannot get the story done without a bit of sex  here and there.

For those readers I know don't get into sex scenes; maybe I'll have to put one up here, just for a test ride. I don't write erotica, though I think it's not true that what I write has no appeal. For one character, there is tragedy inextricably attached. For another ... the motives are less clear, though is many ways the connection itself is unadorned and straightforward. When it comes to marriages, sex must be had, and heirs underlie any "lying" (with) that gets done.

Fecundity is always present, too. Sex did not exist only unto itself, and this is a dynamic many today have never honestly grappled with. I knew people long ago whose "accidental" pregnancies were intentional "traps" in actuality (the success rate there was not necessarily encouraging). I knew people, too, for whom it was always recreational.

This latter dynamic? Not as easily achievable - not for women - in Late Antiquity.

Yet even that needs attention.


It is perhaps in order to apologize to my readership, that sex has so dominated my posts of late. But I find it hard to feel repentance.

Not because I'm a slut, but because: this is where the writing happens to be right now. And this blog exists because of my writing.

If it's better I lay off, don't hesitate to ask me to stifle it.

Or if you have questions about the politics and mechanics of ancient sexual practice - comment away with that. It's not merely interesting to research and consider, it's been a stimulating (har) subject, creatively. I'm both challenged and energized, and it's got me thinking - which usually gets me blogging away.

If I need to shut up, say so. Because after this, we get into all the other research (archaeology and Procopius - how I love you!). It could get less sexy, but it won't be diminished for self-indulgence as I geek out on studying.

Monday, August 17, 2015

More on Sex (or NOT)

The only thing about this article is my bemusement at the idea there are still people who don't know the chastity belt concept WAS a joke. It's been a long time since anyone took the idea seriously.

Hasn't it ... ? (Yipes.)

I would point out, though, that it's no fantasy there have been men through history who felt it necessary to control women. The final paragraph is a bit flip on this point.

Some of the theology, though, ties in nicely with the themes I've been working with on the WIP, and it's an interesting article.

When A Picture is Worth a Thousand Barfs

I'll shut up about airsickness, I swear - but, honestly, how could I not share this? Possibly the single most literally-brutal misfire in copy and graphic design, I give you:

The Delta airsick bag.

Simultaneously sympathetic and terribly threatening, complete with Terminator reference?


Also: hurl.

SEXY SEX SEX SEX (... or, "Also, I Write")

For an author’s blog, there’s been precious little word around here lately about actual writing, and work in progress. Skipping over the inevitable excuses, I’ll admit there’s been LESS going on here of late, but thank goodness it’s not nothing at all.

Early in vacation, I was struck by some thoughts on the facts of life as it were; the expectations we place upon sex – today, or “in the past” – and how immutable these feel to us. Sex has always had a pretty high importance to human beings; at a guess, even before history got onto the subject, paternity and the apparent magic of a human being coming out of another one, seemingly out of nowhere. Its intensity of pleasure has long been tied to its importance in interpersonal politics, and perhaps the development of moral expectations was inevitable, given the esteem we place on lineage across all cultures.

These days, the idea of sex as a tool is generally considered rapacious beyond all sanction, and dismissed (again, across, at the very least, quite a *few* cultures) as immoral and crude. Bargaining for position by assuming certain - *ahem* - disreputable positions is, after first being offensive and manipulative, at bottom pathetic. It hardly fails to HAPPEN; indeed, some folks I've been aware of personally prove to me the phenomenon is not limited to the dregs of society. Entire industries and reality entertainment genres (*) thrive on the commoditization of "fairy tales" and wealth-as-romantic-glue, and there has been draconian conditioning, in the past thirty years, tying distinctly to certain gender roles/expectations and material outcomes. Hooray for marketing.

(*This, by the way, is not intended to refer only to romance competitions, but also to huge swaths of HGTV programming, mythologizing the importance of McMansions, settings, vacation stylings, and the types of couple-dom we should aspire to emulate; but at least they've embraced diversity in that last item, somewhat.)

American culture and pop culture have a uniquely slutty-yet-judgmental thing going on, wherein the increase in sales of lives for entertainment and prizes has produced that rarest of "guilty pleasures" - the right to judge others wholesale even as we simultaneously are enjoined to wish we had something we could sell for a good price.

"In the past", though ... transactional sex represented a wholly different market.

As was still true when I was growing up, and remains so for some today, girls and virginity were a whopping big deal. Speaking fundamentally to the importance of that lineage I mentioned above (read: PATERNITY, specifically), virginity took on an aura of magic which imbued it with an almost terrible power. To this day, PURITY is still subject to the curious confluence of desire and defense which mark something which is wanted precisely for the value in its own termination. Lifelong chastity may garner the golf-clap of social approbation. But it's the virgin on the marriage market who's long been an actual *prize* - sought for, competed over; her extinction the very highest tragedy and the greatest sacrifice to the gods.

Coming alongside paternity arise the subjective motivations - virtue and submission and status and all the tantalizing stories we've told, as humans, about the power and magic and pleasure of sex.

For a while there, the completely absurd working title for the work in progress was "Matrilineage" - not because even for a moment I ever thought that was remotely good, but because the WIP is a novel of women. Three generations, their experiences and their points of view. The midwife who spools from one of their lives to another has always been a prominent force, and she has begun seriously to develop. This is a woman whose life revolves around the reproduction of others.

The one male character who has developed any voice at all is: an illicit sexual partner.

Illicit sex had, fifteen hundred years ago in an Ostrogothic court barely a generation old, what you might call Serious Consequences. Particularly for a princess to be used in the marriage market by a king already proven canny in such alliances, and still in the process of using even chronologically advanced and legitimacy-compromised offspring in it.

Virginity was quite the big deal for a princess. Its being disposed of, deals still must be made; and advantages still could be constructed by marriage.

Many of the marriages in the WIP are matters of pragmatism, and some may have been more removed from romantic concerns than is generally popular to write about without the remediation of a little bodice-ripping on the side. The Ax and the Vase touched on this, and I even alluded to the ancient practice of a small country capitulating to the Roman Empire in order to get its protection, as a similar dynamic to certain marriages. In the WIP, the analysis will be much closer to my characters' hearts - and bodies - and I am intrigued not only by the possibilities, but by the implications. The perspectives are so necessarily unfamiliar, and I enjoy getting outside my own expectations (not only in my writing).

In Ax, this practical use of marriage as a tool got quite a light touch. To really explore the unpleasantness, though - and in ways it isn't always perceived by modern authors and audiences - excites my wee and paltry brain. It's bouncing around like Colin  (if you aren't a Hitchhiker's fan, the link probably won't help, and if you are, you don't need it: so skip the click either way - it's Wikipedia anyway, and I know how people can be about the 'pedia).

Suffice to say: inspiration. It's happening.

So yay for sex!

Sunday, August 16, 2015


I'm torn between a "who needs garden *gnomes*" joke and a take on the "How does your garden grow? With cockle shells and silver bells, and MEDIEVAL BEASTIES! ROWRRR!!" here. Either way, Jeff Sypeck's garden may (astoundingly) have a cooler guardian than Mojourner Truth's.

But then, Mojourner's got directional hopping. And I've seen at least one living guardian doing a bit of a satan's caper around a fire in *his* garden, so that's pretty monstrous.

Elizabeth Chadwick hosts a guest post from Katrin Kania, on hip huggers, mass production, and medieval clothes making the man. When "one of a kind" was likelier than not! (I would pick only one thread here; historical and quasi-historical clothing is very MUCH mass-produced these days. It may not be accurate, but it's definitely a "thing". Otherwise, American Duchess's beautiful - and, to be sure, customizable - shoes would never sell.)

Carolynn with 2 Ns (one of those reef-ers or Reiders I go on about from time to time, though I've been horribly neglectful of the community and its blogs of late) has some thoughts on ages that are called "certain" (heh - love that phrase!), publishing's slow pace, and prioritization. Those of us beyond the prodigy years can wear ourselves ragged worrying about being too old ...

Finally, Jeff Sypeck again - on how very much more engaging it is to actually read and recite poetry, as opposed to analyzing it. I will refrain from ANY profundities about Michelle Pfeiffer and Black students.

But I have to admit, I never could resist Coolio (and MP's would-be badassery pooch problem in this clip is as hilarious as ever).

Saturday, August 15, 2015

How Could I Not?

Yesterday was the 50th birthday of the man I love. He's still very far away, and the relationship we have is one that many of those who love me feel isn't good enough for me.

I deserve better.

What those in my life lose sight of is: he deserves better too.

Who do you know who has what they deserve?

Who gives what their loved ones have the right to expect of them, or gets it?

It is a constant loss to me, that my life is lived without the simplest touches, without laughing in the same room, without a partner to pump the gas and empty the litter and go out to eat with and just hear, breathing. This isn't the choice I would have made.

But to gain these things by substituting someone else - somehow, over the years (and I still look around at my options), has not been a viable choice. And that *is* the choice I definitely have made.

He has said to me:

You have a heart so strong and so fine, I am honored for you to have found me a place in it. That you want to give, and give, and give-- I'm humbled at times by your generosity. If I'm hurting you want to soothe, even if it is just to be near... your need to fix my hurts is so powerful.
The way you revel in my appearance. Call me beautiful. The way you mean it. No one has ever found me so fine.

How you have labored to be with a man so far away... putting off the idea of a more convenient partner so you can be with me.

You use your wit and your intelligence as if your appearance had no power, and the effect is devastating.

There is no generosity in me. I just don't know what else I could do, but as I have done.

To someone who has endured it, I said: to abandon someone suffering depression would be immoral.

And I've never found the man yet who could distract me from this one.

It's not what I deserve. But nothing else is, either. All I can do is hope the day will come that - even for a moment - I can give him the blessing he deserves.


Mary-Louise Jensen at The History Girls on the church that was buried and the sandy lands of Jutland. Some really nice photos here. There is a lesson about building on solid rock, but mine is not to judge. :)

Lauren at American Duchess shows a great step-by-step on vintage-izing a hat and dress. I used to wear hats sometimes; hats are such fun.

Nyki Blatchley on authorial agenda, invented secondary worlds, and EastEnders. Is his fantasy work less "real" than my own recreation of the worlds of characters whose lives lie utterly beyond my experience? It may be closer to the realities we like to understand as such; yet each of us is writing some expression of truth ...

We found a HUGE number of beached jellyfish on an outing while I was on vacation not long ago. Here, the hugest single one of all ... Strangely beautiful photos.

Finally, the Caustic Cover Critic has another eclectic post of both regrettably and (of course!) hilariously poor cover designs. Proving once again, the wilds of the public domain can be a scary territory to broach.

Saturday, August 8, 2015


Buzz Aldrin's moon-walking papers. I know this has been making the rounds - every now and then my being a late-adopter of The Latest Thing does, I know, make me late to good parties. But this was too neato-spedito to let go by without linking it.

Babies are the tiniest basic scientists - as if we could not tell by watching the little experimental geniuses. Little physics experiments, in the littlest hands of all!

On the experience of the numinous, with History Girl Caroline Lawrence. Numen is one of those words I've always loved, both for its concept and its sound and the way it feels to speak. This is a nice look at it, and the experience of it.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Happy Fun Times on the Job

Pretty much everyone who knows me is aware how happy I am at my now-not-so-new job, after having left a team I loved a bit over a year and a half ago. My professional loyalties run pretty deep, and only once in the past decade have I left a position with pleasure; though even then it took a long time for the realization to dawn on me, that I was a poor fit at that employer, and really unhappy with them. These days, though – having left a job I was proud to hold and coworkers who meant the world to me – it may be I am happier than I’ve ever been at work. And that says a GREAT deal.

This past week, I went on vacation. Planned back in May, it was a trip to see my brother and nieces, in a city I have come to enjoy very much. NEXT week, I travel for work. Planned much more recently: the business trip I have to go on *next* week. Yes, I have to travel for work.

You think being a secretary means making other people do meetings, and planning *their* travel. But every so often, the tables turn on you.

We’ve covered how much trouble I have with flying. (I almost typed flaying there, though the latter may be preferable to airsickness.) It’s not a matter of fear, nor even annoyance at the crammed-in anti-glamor of air travel. It’s the inescapable physical wretchedness of the experience; the trip out to my family was a 4-bagger. Coming home, things were significantly better, and I think I have acupuncture to thank for the relief … but, even with that, the physical experience of flying is still flat-out awful.

See also: I have caught a cold. Of course. (I intend to blame the shriek-voiced women behind me on the red-eye home, who talked for an hour and a half on in a blacked-out cabin filled with people trying to sleep, splashed water on my next-seat neighbor, and generally kicked and jostled my seat in for the four-hour night we had together.)

So I hab a code.

In its way, the timing could not be better, all inconveniences considered. I wasn’t ill while I was with my family. I was able to work from home today and not expose my coworkers to the crud. And, given a few days between now and the next flight, hopefully the worst of the bug will be over before I fly again. It’s my plan to believe the acupuncture that helped so recently may still have an effect for this next trip. And also to re-up the Dramamine, Bonine, and/or Sea Bands.

Please don’t advise ginger on me. The first person who tries to tell me how to manage airsickness I’ve been dealing with for 37 years gets the airsickness bag I once filled with ginger-flavored goodness as a thank-you gift, and a no-expense-paid flight – just a flight, doesn’t matter where to – because, GAH. FLIGHT.

As all this is going on, my boss has had his hair set alight for him just at a point things had gotten civilized with his own travel schedule. And his hair is at a premium.

It’s all exciting, actually; I enjoy being able to SEE the people I work with every day, many of whom are at distant locations. It’s especially gratifying that things seem to be going well – and, not for nothing, I’m getting exposure and earning up brownie points (and, one hopes, a bit of comp time perhaps, once this event is in the bag). For the first time, I’ll be in front of the CEO, too; not just my own guys.

We’ll be in a city known for great food, and our company has a certain amount to do with great food; we’ll eat very well, on an outing together and even during our meetings.

Even better, this will all be over a week from now, and I'll be able to get out and enjoy myself for the first time in a while. Yay! I like a good August night out, on my own or with pals.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Vintage Theory

I have a theory and it is mine, but you can have it - indeed, you can comment on it and all those lovely things we can do in blog-land. So go to it!

Today, I wore a soft jersey shirt with a raw-edged asymmetrical cut. It's a flattering top, very very soft, and several years old. The jersey has held up very well, and the raw edge is still perfect, no strings coming loose nor runs trying to open up in the weave. It's wonderfully comfortable, washable, and has a unique style. It is also the first top I bought in what has become a trend: the long-line asymmetrical sleeveless knit top with curious draping/ruching/mixed textiles, and at the time I bought it, it was daring and forward thinking. It's still an excellent design, still not widely imitated to effect as good as its own.

But it is several years old. And it is made of a very light, delicate jersey knit.

This got me thinking.

With the various vogues for vintage style - and this dates well back before Mad Men, Downton Abbey, or even the fashion, beginning in my own much-molded youth, for rockabilly styles - it's always been a mix of re-created ... and ORIGINAL ... vintage clothes. Inspiration for big-shouldered 80s styles lay in an interest in 40s fashion silhouettes, and we resurrect and imitate Victorian, New Look, Flapper, even 18th-century clothes.

Okay, we're not wearing 18th-century, but I've seen people who wear original 19th-century coats in my day. And certainly much of the 20th century is represented in vintage shops and so on.

Here is the thing I realized:

When the first whiffs of 80s retro came  along, I waited for the vintage to come out. And it never did.

Beginning almost alarmingly soon after the decade died, by 1990, Madonna was playing around in giant bellbottoms, and cork plats came into style all too quickly, ushering in the still-extant-to-some-extent 70s fashion rehash. The 60s have been in style since the 80s; plastic-fantastic colors and shapes and Carnaby cute replaying almost without let all along - winklepickers, granny purses, big hair and long hair and staid, nubby boucle knits and Flower Power.

We have pieces of these original decades. I have a 1940s grosgrain purse of my great-grandmothers, which is in spectacular, strong condition, and which I can carry on special occasions. I have a hat nearly as old, a straw hat of my grandmother's. I've seen American Duchess's Lauren modeling dresses she plans to WEAR, not just collect. I myself own a magenta moire' New Look dress made in the UK and very definitely original (that rare original large enough to fit a modern woman's body).

The reason these things can be recycled/reused is this: they were made well enough to survive.

The 80s retro never took off in the way previous decades did because there really isn't as much in the way of surviving originals. They are definitely still *around* - but the quality of clothes made in the 1980s does not stand up to the standards of previous manufacture or hand-making. Even the 70s still used more natural (resilient) fiber and tailoring made to be altered and some expectation that garments should be built to last.

In the 80s, earlier synthetics were perfected ("") and proliferated. In the 80s, seam allowances disappeared, never to be seen since. In the 80s, commerce overcame design, and fashion overcame style to a great extent. In the 80s, the concept of perennial pieces began to be depressed, if not actually opressed or repressed, and short attention spans for fads were built into an industry whose market influence discouraged classic must-have pieces and began heavily to emphasize label uber-alles.

There hasn't even been much whiff of 90s retro, and 15 years on I hear people occasionally actually talking about what they miss in 90s fashion. But the skater-skirts-with-tights and chunky Mary Janes are going to have to be rebuilt this time, because the ones we had bit the rayon-shrinkage or Payless-poorly-constructed dust, or at least are thinner on the ground (and, yeah, in textile) than better made clothes have been for those interested in older decades used to be.

All of it's getting thinner on the ground, of course. With profligates like me WEARING sixty-year-old dresses, they're not going to last the way furniture or architecture might. With others DIY'ing pieces already perhaps compromised - or NOT - even what survives intact is deliberately deconstructed (if not actually destroyed, at least by some lights).

With actual construction being the crap that it mostly is, there won't be many Members Only (or L'Autre Mode ... heh) jackets to go with prefabricated fake DIY Chucks or stirrup pants or Benetton slouches in United candy colors.

No wonder 80s retro didn't take off the way 70s and 60s and so on did before. It'd have to be remade altogether.

And who wants to do that ... ???

Monday, August 3, 2015


On "performing" the seven deadly sins (without actual commission!). One should be "sharp when expounding, stern when correcting and kindly when exhorting." (For those who are uber-nerdy on this subject, the full paper is here.)

An interesting essay contest - in which a farm is the prize ...

Cue Mission Impossible theme music: the intel in monkey feces - or "Why Primatologists Love to Collect Poo" - best headline I've seen today.

Primary sources are the best. Medieval Jews' writings on Christianity and Christians, from the Eucharist to money lending.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Traveling Thoughts

This has been on my mind the past week or so. It seems a long time ago; and yet, everything I described then, I recall with such acute clarity now.

People change, time changes places. But memory is strong stuff. For which I am ever grateful.