Sunday, December 30, 2012

Anne Boleyn's Body

Sometimes I write posts for this blog, then become disgusted with them and never post them.  Then I read them a year later and decide to post them because the world really needs to know how I feel about everything, even if it is poorly executed.  That will become a pun if you read on! 

Someone asked me what I could possibly be writing about so often in this thing (sometimes blogging comes up in conversation and because I never have the presence of mind to lie, I cryptically mention this, then refuse to give the address. The last person said, What do you like talk about private girl stuff there?  If by "girl stuff" you mean Anne Boleyn then...yeah).  Get ready!

o hai!

After their beheadings, Anne Boleyn and her brother George were tossed into some graves under the floor of St. Peter ad Vincula.  I am not really sure about the status of that kind of burial.  It wasn't total dishonor (like having your head left on a bridge for your spiteful ex to sneer at from his window), but a queen in good favor naturally wouldn't have been put there. 

As they do, the church fell into some disrepair in the centuries following Anne's death.  A restoration effort was taken during the 19th century, at which time the graves beneath the floors were opened.  It had always been known that Anne and her...family were in there (not only brother George but cousin Catherine as well), so I am not exactly sure why they were disinterred and can only attribute this to Victorian morbid curiosity.  The opening of the floor led to the realization that a bunch of regular  townspeople had been placed there along with the Boleyns and various other nobles over the years. 

It was at this point that they realized they really didn't know which of the skeletons belonged to Anne, having only a 16th century map and a jumble of corpses to go by.  Since a lot of bodies had been shifted around as they added new ones (apparently they would bash up old coffins and shove bones to the side to get new ones in), it was anyone's guess whether the female skeleton in the general area of Anne's X on the map was really her.  Hm, no sixth fingers or tails in here.  Get out the Victorian forensics!  Victorian forensics: "Eh...thiiis one."  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was just a kid when this happened, so he wasn't around to help.

Couldn't they have looked for trauma to the vertebra?  Not that beheaded skeletons were in short supply at St. Peter's.  Anyway, they picked the most likely female skeleton, slapped a tag on it reading AB 1536 :/ (jk, I don't know what the tag says), put her in a nice box, and back under the floor she went.

It seems like they could settle this situation with a little DNA testing.  Anne's sister Mary had children, and surely some of their descendents are living today.  Then again, would anyone care about this other than myself and Suzannah Lipscomb?  Of course they would!  This is important.


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Party


My grandma was always a great fan of holidays and parties and decorated her entire house for Christmas.  Streamers and stockings and lights and cookies, cakes, food and crap everywhere.  This photo of her parents at Christmas on the farm helps to explain that.  I would place this picture around 1918.  Unlike other holidays, the most recognizable elements of American Christmas celebrations have changed very little. 

Crepe paper decor was such a big deal back then.  Not sure, but I think the Dennison's catalogs pretty much invented using it to decorate for parties, or at least made it popular to.  They're good for ideas when you want to decorate your Victorian palace in the most authentic way.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Jane Eyre in Film, 1

I have queued every film adaptation of Jane Eyre that Netflix has, because why wouldn't I?  It may impress you to know that there are eight, all of which I plan to watch.  No, nine if you count the one with Timothy Dalton, which I reluctantly do.

So far, my favorite is the 2006 BBC miniseries.  It's extremely loyal to the book and to the descriptions of the characters.  I cannot say the same for the 1944 Orson Welles/Joan Fontaine film, which takes obnoxious license with the story, but is ultimately still watchable.  It also stars a young Elizabeth Taylor as Jane's only school friend, who dies.  I would say spoiler alert, but this book was published 165 years ago; you're on your own.


The Welles version was done while he was still young and babely, frankly too babely to be a convincing Rochester, but he makes up for this with his gruff, barky demeanor and reluctant smile.  Joan Fontaine was also too pretty to play a believable Jane, but we make do.  Unfortunately, she portrays a totally boring Jane, who simpers around seeming weak instead of interesting and willful.  The film shows a protracted view of Jane's unfortunate childhood, and we see just how terrible Lowood was.  Almost more terrible, in fact, than is described in the book.  This movie is all about how sad Jane is and how lucky she is to be rescued by a strange yelling man, rather than how resilient she is and how she rescues him, as CB had it.


Maybe I'm being too hard on this film because I've seen it done better.  For an era that produced some intolerable period pieces and adaptations, it is not terrible.  Also, Agnes Moorehead plays Jane's bitch aunt, three years after playing the crappy abandoning mother in Citizen Kane.  At this time, she seems to have been typecast as the plain domestic failure who knows she sucks but can't seem to do anything about it.  Thank god she showed everyone what the fuck was up later on Bewitched.

In closing, I just saw this on tumblr.  The tag!  Ah, the internet is for everyone. 



Saturday, December 15, 2012

Only this.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Astrology Drama


I picked up a 1972 copy of Linda Goodman's Sun Signs at the Salvation Army recently, and in my boredom* began to peruse the truths of my personality.

According to Linda, I am basically Elizabeth Taylor's character in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, but younger.  Linda also thinks I'm blonde, or at least should be blonde, on account of the lion thing.  Be the lion.  Kill the people.  Get the attention.  Ask if you are the prettiest.  These are the things that keep Leos busy on a weekday.

As if that weren't bad enough, I also found out that I have had my rising sign wrong for approximately two decades.  Yes, two decades.  Astrology was around when I was growing up, ok?  My great-grandmother saved my horoscope from the day I was born for me to read later.  I did.  It said, "You are kind of a bitch, but it's not your fault. Also you have long flowing hair."  I wish I still had it.

Calculating your own rising sign before there were websites to do it for you involved flipping through large tomes of dates, and lining up your birth day with your birth time on a huge slanted chart.  The lines from one sign to the next are very fine in some cases, and I guess Liz made a mistake, because I just found out that I am a rising sign of Sagittarius, and not Capricorn.  That's a big deal, guys!  Your rising sign is supposed to be more personal, the "inner you," and as an angry teen, I took solace in Capricorn's weird, antisocial, uncool style.  Capricorn is measured, sensitive and real, not a name-dropping high flying bastard with frosted hair.  Finally!  I thought.  Something that sounds more like me!  Astrology is real!

So just imagine the blow to my self-identity to find out that I am not a lion-goat, but a lion-archer.  Is that cooler?  It sounds cooler.  I am ruled by Jupiter!  Jupiter is the big one that Tori Amos wrote about on Boys for Pele.  Apparently Sagittarians are jovial and merry and always say the wrong thing, too high on life to realize they've insulted people.  Also not me.  I always know, or often or usually know, when I have insulted someone.

I will continue to explore the Sagittarius in the future, but I think Linda and I are over. 

__
* I have a 25 page paper due tomorrow.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Of all the things to like.

This 90s retro explosion is just getting confusing at this point.  It seems like the window of time passage is becoming ever shorter before music and fashions return as retro.  Personally, I feel that we need to reach back much farther than this.  Skip a generation or two.  Like that moment in mid-70s fashion in which some dresses and hairstyles were looking distinctly early century. What could be better than that?  Answer: nothing.

The funny thing about 80s and early 90s fashion nostalgia is that all people looked terrible during these years.  I thought we were all on board with that fact.  I think romantics (or post-80s children) have simply un-remembered all of the wretched details that made the fashion of those eras a total blight upon human history.  Yes, yes, Madonna's jacket in Desperately Seeking Susan was totally cool, but do you remember side ponytails on grown women, or stirrup pants?  There were men in tight stonewashed jeans and net shirts, and they weren't kidding.  I feel that every school/childhood picture of me is ruined by the horrible fashions of the day.  I almost can't even enjoy how awful it is because it is actually too awful.  That's all I'm going to say about that.

Don't get me wrong, there is a lot that I enjoy from the era.  Extremely busy floral prints layered all over each other!  Dark matte lipstick!  Janeane Garafolo in Reality Bites!  Floral or glittery Doc Martens!  Bikini Kill on stage in ugly taffeta 80s prom dresses, which seemed like such a genius idea at the time.  When super short babydoll dresses and t-strap shoes seemed boundary-pushing instead of just like some kind of burlesque baby fetish costume.  Fishnets that came in every color.  I'm ok with all of that. 

What I'm trying to say is that I watched a video today and could not tell if it was a current artist or an old ass song from the early 90s.  I had to Wikipedia this person to figure it out.  It is a new song.




Obviously, I have always been more interested in the eras of dead people than I have been in my own.  When I was 12, it was Victorian everything.  Then it was the 1940s.  Then the 20s.  Then the 60s.  Now the 10s and 30s.  My dad, apparently grown weary of all the fun I was having with this, once tried to snip at me about how things only seem nice from a distance, but they actually weren't that great to experience.  To that I said, no shit.  Just because I enjoy the craftsmanship of antique furniture, bygone design styles and Glenn Miller doesn't mean I yearn for a day before civil rights, birth control and indoor toilets.  Get realllllllll

But then I find myself thinking the same thing about this 80s/90s explosion.  Do you guys even understand how unappealing this shit looked in context?  People wore jeans that were tailored more like sweatpants.  Shoulder pads.  Boxy suits.  Blue eyeshadow with abandon.  Perms.  The movie Roadhouse being an authentically cool thing instead of an ironic cable tv cult classic.  Do you understand?  As Roast Beef would say, This is not a thing to like. 

Oh whatever.  Kids can like what they want.  Like I care.