Wednesday, April 24, 2013

To Be Fair...

To be fair to Savannah, the mammies were in the gift shop, but markers to African American history are growing in the landscape in Savannah.

This is a monument to the Haitian volunteers in the American Revolution. Of course, true to monument form of glossing over complications, the text on the base reminds visitors that many black men fought in the Revolution. That the majority of those men fought on the side of the British because the British offered greater opportunity for freedom makes a story that can be used to question the Americaness of African Americans and, more importantly, question the myths of the American Revolution.:

Of course, explaining those complications would result in an essay that might not fit on the base of the statue after explaining to visitors that Haiti was called San Domingue, that it was a French colony populated primarily by slaves, and that the participation of black men from the colony in the American Revolution led to their own demands for independence and freedom.
In the background, you can see one of the first black churches in Georgia.
This is a marker to the founder of another of the first black churches. Actually, I think it was one  congregation that split into two at a later date over theological issues -- I'm not really strong in either religious or Georgia history. In any case, this marker is across the street from a different church with a more recent structure. The church is about three blocks past the above church and located in a housing project which is also designated as a historic site.

Not exactly black history, but related is this marker. Sherman slept here, after invading through the rest of Georgia.:

What I find funny about the story on this marker is my own knowledge of another story associated with the invasion. As the Union Army prepared to invade Savannah but the city surrendered to prevent a repeat of the incidents in Atlanta, across the river, the white women in the household of Langdon Cheves,  Jr., fled the plantation to escape the invasion. They went to the home of Cheves's sister in Columbia, S.C.. Her very large house (now subdivided into four large apartments) sat just off the campus of South Carolina College (now University of South Carolina). When the Union Army invaded Columbia, Gen. O.O. Howard took the house as his headquarters. The city also burned, but through the usual accidents, not military torches.
Meanwhile, back in Savannah, Sherman issued Special Field Orders No. 15, which granted forty-acres of confiscated Confederate plantation property to each freedperson. This is the marker in the square across the street from Sherman's Headquarters.:
I like that they also imply that this act would pave the way for African American "economic independence," but that the Freedman's Bureau backed off of land redistribution and that Andrew Johnson -- the rat bastard and probably one of the top three worst presidents of the United States -- revoked the order. I sense an appropriate retreat from the faux neutrality that often infects historic markers while at the same time,  remaining true to the facts. As an old friend used to say, you don't have to editorialize. Just let the evidence do the work for you.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Who Buys This Stuff and Why?

Savannah's tourist tchotckes tend to focus on pirate kitsch, shying away from all of the Lost Cause nonsense that seems Charleston's specialty. Still, we were in the south, so I should not have been surprised to see this.:
Something about the rolling pin seems threatening, reminding me of stereotypes from old Tom & Jerry cartoons for some reason, although I can't think of a specific episode.

I don't want to presume about anyone's taste (o.k., not much), but the churchgoers seem to be honestly aimed at African Americans. Maybe they gave me that impression because they resemble similar angels and Santa Clauses, both black and white, that appear in Hallmark-type shops or Hobby Lobbys. I think my grandmother had white versions of these sort of miniatures. If I'm guessing correctly, rather than just showing my own prejudice, then that seems rather an odd sort of display there in the bottom picture.

Who buys these "mammy" figures? I mean that honestly,  not rhetorically. What age are they? They must be white. Are they exclusively southern? What goes through their heads as they pick up the pitcher or the mug or the salt and pepper shakers, as they pay for it at the counter? Would the people selling or buying the souvenirs in the top photo be disturbed to learn that the shop is located in a building that once housed a slave market? Would that change their minds about buying and selling these items? Would they make a connection, or would they have a ready excuse that there is no connection, that this doesn't depict slavery, and that anyone who can't just see how "cute" they are is just trying to be angry? Do they even see a juxtaposition between this artifact of racism and the very real African Americans right outside the door, tourists just like themselves?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Copyright Infringement in the Gift Shop

Down in a coastal southern city, one for which a Girl Scout cookie has been named, I came across this in the tourist gift shops.:

"Women who Behave Rarely make History." Complete with quotation marks.
I had three thoughts up on seeing this. First, if it is, in fact, a quotation, shouldn't they both attribute it and quote the person correctly?  Second, that these all appear on paraphernalia associated with drinking, my first thought was that this is associated with the "I'm liberated because I get drunk and fuck the first guy [or girl, depending on your preference] I see" brand of feminism. I'm not certain that was the original intent of the quotation. Third, I think Laurel Thatcher Ulrich may want to look  into copyright infringement on this.

Monday, February 18, 2013

"As Quoted In" Frustration

A popular, oft-repeated quote appears in a biography. The note for the quote begins, "as quoted in...." You, the researcher, track down the part that comes in the ellipsis. The note for that quote begins, "as quoted in...." You track down the part in the ellipsis again. After following a breadcrumb trail of "as quoted in..." you finally find the document.

The document is an undated letter from "Anonymous" to your subject. At least the biographer lists a repository in the note (you can't always count on that). The repository no longer exists. The collection, however, does, so you track down the online finding aid to the collection in the new repository.

That repository has an index of recipients and senders that includes "anonymous" as one of the index items. If the document that was "quoted in..." is actually in the collection (you have your doubts, given some of the features of the biography with the document citation), it has been assigned a date or a sender and has not been cross-indexed under the recipient's name. It isn't there.

You want to use the quote for all of the reasons the "as quoted in..." biographers have used the quote, but you now suspect it to be a myth, the sort of thing that someone should have said but did not. You finally settle on avoiding the quote because that trail of "as quoted ins..." have convinced you that, even if not a myth, it is certainly a cliche'. You want to be original.

At least, you want to be as original as you can when using someone else's words to make a point.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Love and Hate

Love: My nephew and his joie de vivre.

Hate: My brother and sister-in-law taking the nephew to the gun range in Texas. He is eight.

Hate more: Them posting the picture on the same day that a sniper vet was shot to death by another vet suffering from PTSD, at a gun range in Texas.


Love: Finding a heretofore unrealized bit of information in the census and using that to add new layers of possibility to my analysis.

Hate: Being hyperaware of how little such documents actually tell about the facts of the past, especially when that unrealized bit of information is based on a possible mistake by the census-taker.


Love: The snow.

Hate: Needing snow boots, but the type I want seem only available for men. Perhaps I could just buy an appropriately-sized boy's boot? (I do have smallish feet.)


Love: Running many many miles, even if I do go rather slow.

Hate: Having to remind that I run for the awesome feeling of the activity, not to lose weight, when I see that I have not lost weight.


Love: The writing vortex.

Love more: Finding that writing vortex easily and first thing in the morning.

Hate: Having to leave the vortex early to go to a meeting.

Hate more: Having to skip the vortex entirely in order to read the documents for the meeting because the documents were not made available until the last minute. The documents were not available until the last minute because the person in charge of collecting the documents failed to make the documents available to the person who heads the meeting, thereby forcing the person who heads the meeting to waste her time tracking the document-collector down, then tracking the documents down.

Glad: That I am not the person heading the meeting.


Love: Seeing my name in print as author of anything.

Hate: When I am author of a review of a bad or mediocre book. That just feels like bad karma. I'm very superstitious that way.


Love: Having a really fun audiobook for working out.

Hate: That I don't have the fitness or energy to workout longer so that I can keep listening to the audiobook.


Love: Blogging.

Hate: Finding less and less time for it.

Love: Having less and less time to blog is a direct result of having both more and more discipline in doing other things and more and more time to spend with a certain companion.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Assholes of the Week: You Cannot Make This Stuff Up

Friends in Texas alerted me to this story by telling the Book of Face that they were safe and at another campus when the incident happened.

This past Tuesday, while the Texas Legislature debated a bill to allow Texan gun owners to carry their weapons unconcealed, two d00dz at a community college outside of Houston got into a fight. One pulled out a gun and shot the other, along with a couple of other people, not to mention a person who had to be hospitalized when her blood pressure shot up.

A couple of observations here: first, openly carrying a gun in public is a sign of intimidation. Sure, the person might say "no one is going to mess with me while I have old Bessie at my side," but how often has anyone "messed with" that person enough to require armed confrontation in the past? More likely, the gun intimidates anyone else, especially anyone unarmed. It's a dick move and a sign of a bully.

Second, all of the rhetoric surrounding Newtown -- and really any other mass shooting -- suggests that the people vehemently opposed to gun control imagine themselves in a similar situation, whipping out their own weapon and taking out the shooter with the accuracy of a trained and experienced sniper. Or, they imagine something cartoonish, like the shooter walking into a crowded space and everyone in the crowd pulls out their own guns with a uniform click. In my estimation, based wholly on my experience with people (mostly men, but also women) who play with guns, the Texas community college scenario more accurately predicts the consequences of an armed population.

Of the people whom I have known who like and own guns, none are actually concerned about their rights. Oh, sure, they will cry "rights" when they get paranoid and think someone might take away their gun, especially if they think that person is a black man; but not one of them knows anything about the text or the historical context of the second amendment. They also might talk a good line about personal safety, but most live in neighborhoods where the police patrol in order to protect property rather than supervise residents. If they are properly caring for their gun, (and I do hope they are because they all have children) then that gun should be stowed away in a locked box, not hanging on the headboard or over the front door. The gun does not sit at hand should they awake to an intruder. Indeed, as far as I know, none have ever been held up by a gun and even those with military training have not seen combat. Not only do none of them hunt, but more than one are involved in organizations that oppose animal cruelty.

The gun lovers that I have known only use their guns on the gun range, and they do that for no other reason than that shooting is fun. I get that. I've been on a gun range a few times, and while I found the whole experience sobering, I also found the effort to hit the bullseye challenging and stress-relieving. Indeed, boxing class serves the same function. In both cases, I had and have no intention of shooting people or beating people up. So, while I get it, I also understand that this sort of fun has little to do with rights, protection, or survival and everything to do with play. When these people I know start bitching about gun control, all I can hear are babies crying because they might loose their toys.

Incidentally, I am excepting the police officers whom I have known because their job requires them to use guns, although they otherwise fit the pattern. I am also someone saw the receiving end of a gun when I walked into a home invasion and a kid held my father's gun on me while he escaped (it's a silly story in the telling,  but wasn't in the living).

I'm glad my community college teacher friends are safe. That Texas law will probably pass. You could cynically say that at least people will know who has a gun now; but I wouldn't want to deal with a student who has both a bad grade in my class and a gun on their hip. 

In other news, this is awesome (link now fixed).

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

All Clear TMI

If you drink enough water before the ultrasound, they actually don't have to go on a Virginia spelunking expedition. The ultrasound tech told me that a full bladder pushes the intestines out of the way so that they can get a better picture of your internal ladybits. Of course, there you are, with 32 ounces of water, a soup bowl-sized cup of coffee, and half of a Diet Coke taxing the limits of your kegel muscles while a tech presses down on your abdomen. I worried that I hadn't brought a change of underpants. Still, the outer ultrasound far surpasses the inner ultrasound for comfort if not for comic potential. They also warm up the gel, too.

This tech had the screen at a convenient angle for my viewing. At various points she marked places on the image. At other points, she hit some button that made sections of the picture light up in blue and red and sometimes green and yellow. Wouldn't it be awesome if your insides really did that? Just for pretty? Or to show something wrong with a particular organ? For instance, an infected organ might light up green, or an inflamed part red. In any case, I left without being invaded by anything but sound waves.

The ladybits doctor wanted to see me right after the ultrasound. After sitting for about 45 minutes in the waiting room, trying to assess the meaning of "Every Thorn Has It's Rose" playing between "I Guess That's Why They Call it the Blues" and something by Billy Joel, the nurse finally called me back for my sentence. I always find it weird when you walk into a doctor's office and they ask, "how are you?" Not in the inquisitive way you would expect, as in "what are your symptoms?" No, just in the usual, polite way of "how are you? Oh, I am fine, and you?" "You tell me," I answered.

Turns out, the ladybits are all fine, except for a thing in there that has not grown and for which they have no identifiable name. In fact, the last ultrasound listed it as a cyst, a fibroid, and a polyp, all in the same report. They settled on calling it a fibroid this time. They can call it a "thingy" for all I care, just so long as it is not a tumor.

It is not a tumor, as far as the doctor can tell. She said they could go on a serious spelunking expedition, all the way to the center of the earth, if we wanted to get a better look at it. Since it had not grown nor seemed to be giving me any trouble, there didn't seem to be much of a need to do that. To which I say, "yea! No IV!"

Yes, I still live by the ten-year-old's code, invented with my brothers. We all ended up with one sort of a wound or another from some dumb-ass stunt or another, all of which probably should have resulted in a trip to the ER and all of which we treated with Bactine and tape."Don't tell Mom," we demanded. "She'll make us go to the doctor and then we will have to get a shot."

While I was in the examining room, I noticed something perplexing. Taped to one of those inoffensive hotel-room types of art was a printout of two quotes, attributed to Ben Stein, about everyone being required to have health care, and undocumented workers getting free health care by leeching off of people who purchase health care. At least one is verifiably not from Ben Stein. Nonetheless, here they were, taped up the doctor's office. I'm not sure if my doctor, another person working in the practice, or even another patient put it there. Since it had been taped in a place that the doctor would more likely see, rather than a patient, I don't know if was meant for other patients or for the doctor. I didn't quite know how to bring up the subject, then I wondered if it mattered. I'm still not sure exactly what to think about it.

I don't really want to know about the political leanings of my doctors if it has nothing to do with my health care. I have ascertained that this is pro-choice doctor; and I wouldn't see a ladybits doctor who was not. I suppose, based on that, I just assumed she was Democrat and had defaulted to a particular assumption about Democrats, pro-choice, pro-health care reform, and anti-nativism all going together. Still, this being a ladybits doctor, and the regulation of ladybits being of great concern to Republicans these days, however, I could get a little nervous if the ladybits doctor supported the ladybits regulators (even if she, herself, doesn't support ladybits regulation).

You'd think I would be used to right-wing idiocy, what with my family and all.

Anyway, finding the nether regions in good working order, I moved to a less nether region and went to the optometrist, making a fun-filled day of medical attention. The optometrist visit paid off because I couldn't decide between two different pairs of glasses so they sold me the second pair for half price just because "it's a slow day," with 5% discount on both for being an employee of my college.  Both will be ready next week. Getting new glasses is almost like getting a new face. Not that I don't want my face, since it is my face -- although I wouldn't mind the skin of Anne Hathaway or Cate Blanchet -- but it is something new, which is always good in these doldrums of the year.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Inauguration Day TMI

Four years ago, I braved the coldest damn weather I had ever experienced to go stand out on the Mall and witness the inauguration of the first African American president of the United States. I was glad that I did, but not sure that I would bear frostbitten toes and no liquids for 8 hours again. Little did I know that I would be living in the Burned Over District for the next inauguration.

This inauguration, I will not be out in the freezing cold. I will also not be watching it from the comfort of my own cozy couch by a nice warm fire. No, no. Remember the emergency room incident of the summer? Remember that that gave me one of those Virginia ultrasounds? Well, the Virginia ultrasound found some things that, in the words of one of the doctors, "just go with having a uterus." They wanted me to follow up with another ultrasound to make sure that those uterus-related things have not taken on a life of their own. Guess when the follow-up takes place? Yep, just as the president gets sworn in.

Good times.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

My Brains on Boxing

On and off, for many years, I've taking "kickboxing" classes at gyms. In fact, I still remember fondly the kickboxing class followed by the class that combined yoga and Tai chi that I would take at my gym in Texas, a decade and a half ago. Any kind of group workout class has fallen out of my exercise routines because the workouts have become too fast and complicated for my deteriorating coordination. The music is also usually well above my level of tolerance, despite my increasing deafness. Running fits me better, especially with a good audiobook (the qualifications for a good audiobook are the subject for another story at another time).

Still, hope springs eternal that the trends have changed and a girl likes an occasional diversion from the usual workout, which led me to investigate the group classes when I finally joined a gym here. Zumba, unfortunately, still seems to be a thing, as does spinning. People in both classes look like they have a great time and, at least in spinning, get a good workout. Zumba, however, falls into that too fast and complicated for my abilities category. Spinning involves a stationary bike. I hate stationary bikes. Kickboxing, however, also still seems to have adherents. A single class later, not nearly sweating enough, I decided that it too suffers from the same problem as Zumba and I really have no interest in it any longer. In fact, now that I think about it, that was the same reason that I abandoned it after two classes at my last gym. That, and the instructor who got in your face and demanded that you kick higher thereby triggering flashbacks my time on the high school dance team. I do not have the energy to drag that baggage out.

On the other hand, the description of the plain, ole boxing class suggested that it might be something a little less like the instructor's workout and a little more like the release of aggression that I would prefer. So, I went.

Oh, hell yes!

First of all, it was not a Zumba class masquerading as a marital arts workout. It was an actual martial arts workout, with gloves and hitting and all. The instructors do not get a workout. They wear these padded mitts and run you through a series of patterns. You, with your gloves, slug the mitts. Bam! It takes a bit of getting used to, making contact with something, as does leading with your weaker arm -- left, if you are right handed -- after decades of starting with the stronger side. The searing burn in my shoulders was also a revelation. Finally, a workout that I like that uses my arms more than my legs, and I was dripping sweat almost immediately.

Still, the best part of the workout has to be that you cannot think while you hit. Seriously. You cannot think about anything at all. You have to put the pattern, the form, everything that goes into the movement, into your body. You can't let your mind think about either what you are doing or anything else or you will trip up and end up punching your own hands.

At the same time, you have to preoccupy your brain, but preoccupy it close to your body. For instance, I wasn't getting much power into my punch because I was too worried about hurting the trainer's hand, too unused to making contact. So, I aimed the stereo speaker in the upper corner of the room, which I could see just beyond the trainer's mitt. Pow! My next punch was like Batman's. I also remembered Annie's suggestion that Crash breath through his eyelids in Bull Durham, a remembrance triggered by a passage in my most recent audiobook in which a sword-master taught his little girl charge to breath from her sides or her ears. The image is ridiculous yet very effective. I tried to breath with my ribs or my spine, and my form improved.

I spent forty-five minutes breathing with my back, punching at speakers, and otherwise turning my brain off while feeling every muscle in my arm scream. Not once did I let my head begin building up scheduled, scold me for not doing this or that, think about classes, syllabi, chapters, deadlines, or anything else. Not once did my head do a damn thing. I go to the gym to workout my body, which sits relatively idle all day. My head, however, spends the whole day spinning its wheels and needs a little time to idle. Boxing may be the perfect workout for it, even if only once a week.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Still Unlearning Bad Ideas

I snap clothes before I fold them. I hold them up as they should hang, flick out the wrinkles and twists with a pop, then smooth them flat and fold, nice and neat. Back in That Place, so many years ago, I spent weekends with a boyfriend and did my laundry at his house. His washer and drier satin a nook off of his dining room, where he spent most of his time in the evenings. He hated that I snapped my clothes.  “It gives me a headache,” he said. “It’s too loud.” My theory was that the headache and sound sensitivity came from the half-gallon of cheap scotch that he drank every evening from the handy, economy-sized growler, but that sort of observation led nowhere pleasant and I was using his large appliances. I put up with that for nearly two years that ended a little over five years ago. Since then, I’ve had my own washer and drier and no one around to complain about my folding methods.
This minor bit of trivia comes up now because I help fold the clothes here. I still hold up the pants or shirt and flick out the wrinkles, but then I apologize to the Gentleman Companion. “Why?” he asks. “What are you apologizing for?” Good question. The apology is for my inability to stop cracking the clothes as I fold them and giving him a headache with the noise. Except the Gentleman Companion does not mind the snap and fold technique. He thanks me for folding his clothes, in fact, and he put all of the clothes in the washer and drier. The apology is actually to that last dude, who I thought would be the last dude for just such nonsense.
That same last dude also begrudged me my time away from him. Understand, first, that our time was only on the weekends because I lived three hours away, and he kept an accounting of all of the times that he visited me and all of the times that I visited him and I was always somehow in arrears despite the exchange rate being roughly one of his visits to every ten of mine. Understand, also, that our time together was also compromised by that half gallon of cheap scotch and hangover.
But I digress. 
The point being that, if I wanted to do something in my town on a Friday evening or Saturday or Sunday, if class or work or other activity kept me from being on the phone with him for as long as he wanted during the week, then I ended up with nasty messages on voice mail, sullen attacks on my manners or my commitment to the relationship, and mournful criticisms of my failings as a companion, a woman, and a person.
God, but he could be an ass. But, again, I digress.
This, too, comes up now because I’ve taken a liking to a boxing class at my gym (more on that at another time, perhaps). Usually, I go on Saturday mornings, but they also have classes on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. I plan to roll out of bed and into writing on the weekends once the semester starts, but going to the Tuesday or Thursday class means getting home late. Thus, I found myself not only asking for permission, but also presenting a list of reasons that this is a good idea for both me and the Companion.  “Of course you can go to your boxing class!” he said, a bit shocked that would even ask. “Why wouldn’t you just assume that you could do what you want? Who would have a problem with you doing something you like?” Well, actually, the last dude. The one before him, too, in fact. A couple of the others before that would have just made fun of me for taking a boxing class in the first place.
Indeed, just moments ago, the Companion came into my office to ask me something, and my hackles went up when he glanced in the direction of my screen. I snapped at him, and then apologized because I was not actually miffed at him. My reaction was a reflex that goes back to using the family computer in the dining room in the 1980s. The whole family would look over my shoulder as they passed through the room, which was often. I felt my privacy violated. I felt monitored. Privacy was such an ungainly thing in our house. When it was violated, mockery always followed. Since then, I try always to keep my computer screen and my back turned to a wall, so no one can sneak up on me and judge. I respond the same way to the question, “what are you doing?” That question carries the association that, whatever it is that I’m doing, I should be doing something else.
Of late, I keep having these revelations, discovering assumptions that I have about interactions, about marital types of partnerships, and about myself. Most of those assumptions are really bad ideas. They all have their own internal logic based on experience, but in reality, they are not very productive to live. They take up a lot of my time and energy, actually. Who knew that cowering was so exhausting?
I was raised with disrespect and abuse, taught to be both a bully and a coward, to cringe and bend toward power, and to know myself as both self-important and abjectly worthless. Disrespect and abuse were normal. I did not like them, but they were the way of my world, and I became twisted in response, unable to avoid disrespectful and abusive connections and attempting to fully retreat from all sorts of intimacies.  That is the reason that I am so weird about maintaining connections.
About four, maybe five years ago, I made the conscious decision to discover and unlearn all of these very bad ideas. Sometimes, the whole process is so demoralizing. I get sick of my own recurring crap. In therapy, I think, “GAWD! This? Again? How many times have I trod this territory?” I think it right now, as I write this post. Those brain ruts run pretty deep. Then, I have these revelatory moments, these epiphanies. I’m not sure that I had the ability to have them even as late as five years ago. I had a vague awareness that something was not right, that I was neither being treated well nor responding appropriately. Now, I am amazed that I put up with so much from so many for so long.
The key difference, now, is that someone does treat me with great respect and affection. No, that is actually more the key chain, the key is that I trust that respect and affection. I never find myself thinking with resignation, “well, this is about as good as I can expect.” I think, “this is what I wanted and never thought actually existed except as an act.” These revelations are the unlearning of those bad ideas.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Reviewing Writing Style

I wish I were deft enough of a mimic to write a book review in the style of the author. Such a method might give the readers a better idea of the experience of reading the book, should they venture forth. Alas, I seem unable to command the bits of style that I absorb from reading.

Of course, a good mimic would have to cultivate an audience for such a stunt. Otherwise, readers might mistake the copied style for the reviewer's own style. Depending on the book, the method might backfire.

By the way, if a writer must review an author with alienating prose, should an assessment of the prose be part of the review? It will, of course, in this case, but should it?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


The last post had to go poof. It was too hurtful. Unintentionally so, but that doesn't really matter when someone gets hurt. It also wasn't the whole truth, just a part of the truth. A hard part, and one I have no idea how to resolve, but still only part.

I don't know how to write this blog anymore. It was always about me, but now I'm not just me and that makes writing about me more complicated. I also have a tendency to react oddly to things that should be good, and trying to figure out myself in public when someone else is involved has become counterproductive if not outright destructive. I'm sorry for that.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Plus ca Change

"One reason that partisanship was so divisive was that neither side recognized the legitimacy of the other's existence. Each party considered itself to be the rightful heir of the American Revolution and the sole possessor of the true method of governance." -- Rosemary Zagarri, Revolutionary Backlash: Women and Politics in the Early American Republic (Philadelphia, 2007), 120.

That seems to hold true for at least one party today. The one that wants to "take our country back," as if women, LGBTQI people, African Americans, immigrants, Hispanics, Asian-Americans, and pretty much everyone were not part of "our country," as if the country itself had been invaded by aliens.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

More Fabulous Sherlock Nerdiness

In Edinburgh we HAD to have a drink here:

This was a pub across an intersection from Arthur Conan Doyle's birthplace. The menu was exactly the same as in two restaurant in which we had dined in York. Still, the interior decor was lovely, and we were there for the drinks.

Signs and fliers insisted that a statue of Doyle stood in front of the location of his birthplace. We wandered around, up and down all streets in all directions, but only found this:

A marker near his birthplace: "ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE. Creator of Sherlock Holmes was born at No. 11 Picardy Place formerly opposite here on 22nd May 1859." Alas, there were no houses opposite, only a parking lot. No statue of Doyle anywhere to be seen, either.

Instead, in a little square next door to the pub, we found this statue:

If a grasshopper is supposed to be good luck, I suppose two grasshoppers means double the luck; and, if those two grasshoppers engage in activities that produce more grasshoppers, then your good fortune must be astounding!

Monday, September 03, 2012

Not Belgian Beer

Strolling down a street in old York last spring, we passed an off-license, as one does in England. An "off-license" is a liquor store, but I wanted to sound pretentious. Imagine I said it with a slight British accent, just to get the full-of-myself effect. Anyway, we passed the store and this caught my eye.:

No, not the chocolate stout. Hercule Poirot beer! With the David Suchet version of the character on the label. I just adore David Suchet's Poirot! He's so precise, with his toes pointed forward and his matching gloves and his little vase pin for posies on his lapel and the cord for his pince-nez tucked neatly around his vest button. Then his exasperated rolls of the eyes and his French syntax and his polite manner that draws out all sorts of information. What's not to love?

Well, Agatha Christie said she eventually found lots not to love, but I squeal with delight every time a Poirot episode appears in my mailbox.

Alas, this was not a Belgian beer. Not that the nationality would matter to me, since I must be the only marginal drunk in the western world who does not like beer. Poirot was with me on that. If you pay attention, you will see that he prefers wine and good wine at that.

Nevertheless, a fabulous nerd, one who brews beer, paid tribute to the little Belgian!


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