Enter: Nature’s Halloween

As I’ve been traipsing about this fine autumn, I’ve seen a lot of beauty and a lot of color, as expected of my favorite season. Yet, suddenly, this week even the most normal things have taken on a certain…quality:

It started off, predictably enough, with pumpkins:
hallpumpkins

Please Park Bikes Below and Brooms above:
hallbroom

Even nature needs some fake cobwebs:
hallweb

They’re putting on their scaring side!:
hallmenace
Don’t tell me you don’t see that frowning mouth and that glare!

And their spooky faces:
hallspook

Thanks for joining me on this tour of nature’s Halloween garb! Please exit carefully on your brooms and fly with vigilance so you don’t get caught up in any weblike limbs!

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Top Ten Best Books to Read Round Halloween!

Top 10 Tuesday by The Broke and the Bookish-top 10 books to read for Halloween! (For those of us who aren’t into horror!)

 

1. Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope

-Mysterious sightings of a woman in green believed to be the queen of the fairies, creepy goings-on round the keep…and minstrel songs of fey folk sacrificing Tam Lin on Hallow’s Eve.  “But the night is Halloween, lady,
The morn is Hallowday,
Then win me, win me, if ye will,
For well I think ye may.”

 

2. Thornyhold by Mary Stewart

-I once described this book as the modern negative (in terms of what’s dark is light and vice versa) of Jane Eyre, and I still think it’s an apt description.

 

3. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

-Demons named the Archbishop of Canterbury and other titles!  The Dance of the Macabre!  Magical ghosts!  What more do you want?

 

4. Little Witch by Anna Elizabeth Bennet  (Minikin Snickasnee really should have been in my list of favorite names!)

-It’s not easy being a wicked witch’s daughter.  It’s also not so easy dealing with the host of magical creatures on call through her magical powders…or going to school.

little witch3

 

5. The Magic Thief by Sarah Prinneas (Crows!)

-This breaks from the exact Halloween tradition a bit, but crows!  And magic!  And mystery!

 

6. Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones

-Having to dress up like the dark lord or a wizardly guide can be irritating.  Having to do it for different groups all tourist season can be murder!

Darklordofderkholmcover

 

7. Chronicles of Chrestomanci v. 2: Witch Week and Witches of Caprona by Diana Wynne Jones

-Witches, witches everywhere, with everyday horrors rubbing shoulders with magical happenings, flying statues, and of course-cats who run the household.

 

8. Hexes, Inc. by Vivian Vande Velde

-A collection of stories all about people who try ordering hexes from the company.  Naturally, everything ends well…*scoff*

 

9. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard

-Death and murder everywhere converge in two confused, comical performers.

 

10. I don’t care if it’s cheating-http://shoebox.lomara.org/ by ladyjaida and Rave.

-Wizarding ghost stories, Dumbledore pranks, and Marauders, oh my!

sbp_pdf_header1

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Fantastically Bejeweled Skeleton News!

Meet the Fantastically Bejeweled Skeletons of Catholicism’s Forgotten Martyrs | Past Imperfect.

You must read this article.  It starts with:

“Paul Koudounaris is not a man who shies away from the macabre. Though the Los Angeles-based art historian, author and photographer claims that his fascination with death is no greater than anyone else’s, he devotes his career to investigating and documenting phenomena such as church ossuaries, charnel houses and bone-adorned shrines. Which is why, when a man in a German village approached him during a 2008 research trip and asked something along the lines of, “Are you interested in seeing a dilapidated old church in the forest with a skeleton standing there covered in jewels and holding a cup of blood in his left hand like he’s offering you a toast?” Koudounaris’ answer was, “Yes, of course.”

 

Includes good historical evidence riddled with details like:

“One thing the nuns did lack, however, was formal training in anatomy. Koudounaris often found bones connected improperly, or noticed that a skeleton’s hand or foot was grossly missized. Some of the skeletons were outfitted with full wax faces, shaped into gaping grins or wise gazes. “That was done, ironically, to make them seem less creepy and more lively and appealing,” Koudounaris says. “But it has the opposite effect today. Now, those with the faces by far seem the creepiest of all.”

 

And ends with his book about these spectacular skeletons, which “Accomplishing that was no small task. Nearly all the skeletons he visited and uncovered were still in their original 400-year-old glass tombs. To disassemble those cases, Koudounaris thought, would “amount to destroying them.” Instead, a bottle of Windex and a rag became staples of his photography kit…. After examining around 250 of these skeletons, Koudounaris concluded, “They’re the finest pieces of art ever created in human bone.””

 

And there you have it: The finest pieces of art ever created in human bone!  With Vatican blunders, worshiping believers, and a whole lot of photos-I conclude: You really want to add this to your Halloween reading!

 

Top Ten Literary Character Names

Top 10 Tuesday, a weekly book meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, this week asks for your Top Ten Literary Character Names.  Thus, I present to you, in no particular order, NAMES:

 

1.  Inigo Montoya of  “The Princess Bride”

-Just saying this name sends one off down sharp and questy roads, with an accent and a singularly determined scrappiness.

 

2. Her Serene and Royal Highness the Princess Amethyst Alexandra Augusta Araminta Adelaide Aurelia Anne, but everyone called her Amy.  And what could be more ordinary than that? of “An Ordinary Princess”

ordinary princess

-There is no way the point of this book could have been carried out better through names, which are brought up multiple times in relevance to character development.  Plus,  just take a breath and say all that at once.  It’s fun!

 

3. Wilfred Ivanhoe of “Ivanhoe”

-This is really one of the most fitting ones.  I mean, Wilfred is everything loyal and straight-laced and rather soppy, while Ivanhoe is everything intriguing, bold, and romantic adventurer.  And the character really encompasses both of these, with disguises, just like I feel that only hearing one of his names is disguising a full half of his character.   Although just saying ‘Ivanhoe’ is thrilling.

 

4.  Lynette of “King Arthur and his Knights”

-I don’t know why, really, I’m just drawn to L names for girls and I think it all started with this one.   Ls, and Red Lawns, and Ladies who lead….

 

5. Mordred of “Le Morte D’Arthur”

-Mordred is the most villainous name I know that still has room for lots of nuance in terms of romance, despair, and just pure witchery.  I love it.

 

6.  Katsa of “Graceling”

-I cannot say this name without an ! after it, not like yelling it, but it’s just got that much life, just like her.

 

7. Gwinna of “Gwinna”

Gwinna

-This heroine of Barbara Helen Berger’s gorgeous work is the daughter of the Owl Mother, making Gwinna appropriate, but also just embodies gentleness, hope, and taking off, which is what saying her name feels like in my mouth.

 

8. Tiffany Aching of “Wee Free Men”

-This combination of self-confident, assertive girl and hard-working peasants is the perfect setup for this land-based, audacious girl.

 

9.  Bilbo Baggins “The Hobbit”

-It’s just fun to say, for one.  It perfectly fits within a cozy hole in the ground, for two.  It references luggage and traveling, for three.  And it’s alliterative, for four.  I could go on.

 

10. Merriman Lyon of “The Dark is Rising”

-I love this name simply because does indeed seem like a proper version of the name “Merlin.”  It was a great comfort to me while reading this series until his identity was fully established.

 

Whereas, the total opposite of those, the worst name of all time: Albus Severus Potter

 

And now, to make it up to you, bonus my Top 10 names of real celebrities (in no particular order):

1. Benedict Cumberbatch

2. Maurice Sendak

3. Lawrence Olivier

4. Basil Rathbone

5.  Rafael Sabatini

6. Faz Fazakas

7. Vivian Vande Velde

8. Wolfgang Puck

9. Kristi Yamaguchi

10. Alexandre Dumas

 

Feel free to join in!

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Top 10 Books I was forced to read:

This is a meme from The Broke and the Bookish: http://brokeandbookish.blogspot.com/

I no particular order, these are books I was assigned to read in school and that I loved.

 

 

1. Lion of Ireland by Morgan Llewelyn (undergrad)

lionofireland

-This tale of Brian Boru is both accurate enough that I could read it for an Irish history course, and so moving and glorious that I often reread parts.

2. Idylls of the King by Sir Alfred Tennyson (high school)

-I love Arthurian lore and am a fan of Tennyson’s verse.

3. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (high school)

-This not only captured my attention for witty and romantic reasons, but was often read aloud in excerpts during class.  (Mr. Collins’ proposal was coerced out of my future fiance when he fell asleep and dropped out of his desk in class.  Although I had no interest in him at the time, I do treasure that memory now.)

4. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (undergrad)

GreenKnight

-Again-I adore Arthurian lore, and this legend in particular has a special place in my imagination as mixing decapitation and romance so colorfully.

5. Candide by Voltaire (undergrad)

-We don’t know what you’re doing with your monks, indeed!

6. Canterbury Tales by Chaucer (high school and undergrad)

canterbury

-Ah, elegance, raunchiness, and insults wrapped up with a sarcastically pious bow.  Who can resist that present?

7. Caucasia by Danzy Senna (graduate school)

-This novel really hits on so many racial and coming-of-age notes, it’s remarkable.  Plus, it’s secretly a version of “The Juniper Tree.”

8. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde (high school)

earnest

-*begins to eat muffins*

9. King Lear by Shakespeare (high school)

-This is my favorite Shakespeare tragedy.  Have you READ the jester’s insults?  They are his absolute best, which is saying a lot.  Plus, fake madness.  I love a good fake madness, and in here it beats Hamlet’s.

10. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard (high school)

rosandguil

-Now, if we came from back there, and it is morning, than the sun would be over there.  And if the sun is really over there, then…it’s the afternoon.

 

Any thoughts, additions, or objections?

Into The W…hat?

 

Anna Kendrick and musical nerds geek out on set of Into The Woods|Lainey Gossip Entertainment Update

Anna Kendrick and musical nerds geek out on set of Into The Woods|Lainey Gossip Entertainment Update.

 

The link has a lot more pictures of the upcoming movie version of the best musical of all time: Into the Woods.  They fill me with trepidation.

 

For 1) I have just never been on board with a lot of the casting for this film and seeing them in costume does nothing to allay those fears.

2) WHY is there so much dullness??  This is a story about colorful characters with colorful journeys, half of which have a lot of money and a care for their clothes.  Dullness is just nonsense.

3) Putting extreme cutouts in this style of clothing feels…sarcastic, almost.  Edgy.  Into the Woods is all about heart, and these hints of sarcasm and not-taking-it-seriously seem all wrong.  Fun differences from a historical style is one thing-musicals are fun, yes, but…this level of get-up with that level of slashing just feels wrong, like they’re going for something too off-kilter or self-aware.  Into the Woods should not be self-aware, it should be all-encompassingly absorbing and filled with truth.  It bothers me.

4) In this scene, which is clearly where they are confronting the giant….Why on Earth are there so many symbols of law and order?  There’s no law and order in the facing of the giant!  In fact, that’s all about the Exact Opposite of that.  Just no.

5) Plus, there seem to be people who should not be present there.  And lacking people who should be.  It’s disturbing.

6) In all of these pictures, there’s a lot of big scenery which is clearly carefully picked…and NOWHERE do I see anything resembling even the start of any woods.  Where are the woods, people?  Even the castle-folk are surrounded by and susceptible to the woods for this to work, why is this palace not amongst some trees?

 

*Holds onto glasses*  I’m afraid, people.  Very afraid.  Aren’t you?  They better be careful with my musical….

 

Careful the tale you tell, that is the spell….

 

 

 

The White Queen 1×6 “Love and Death”

This is the episode where we find out how peace makes every woman’s life suck (as opposed to war).  Nevertheless, we persevere.

 

SPOILERS:

– Dear George, how marvelous you are in your blatant disregard of absolutely everything not you.

 

It really interested me to see how they drew parallels between Elizabeth and Anne as women who are both out  of the loop, even though one’s guardian is a bastard and the other’s does actually care for her.  Elizabeth’s problem seems simple to me-the difference with Jane the Mistress is that she flaunts it in front of everyone, including Elizabeth.  If she at least pretended that no one else knew she was the king’s mistress, Lizzie would get over it.  Alternatively, if she could’ve gotten a really good setup to put her in her place/insult her, things could have been fine.  Also, while yes, it is funny that Edward bursts out with this is what’s been bothering you? when talking about totally transparent adultery, compared to saying goodbye to her son, losing her mother, her newborn, and nearly her life, Jane should not perhaps be the highest priority.

 

Speaking of which, I shall miss Jacquetta.  And it was sweet to see her and the baby together, at least.  Although, even with their vague quick-shots at the birth, I have to say that I do not blame husbands back in the day for generally avoiding labor.

 

As for Anne…what is with this show?  Why not show the whole rumored story of George forcing her to live like a servant to prevent her getting in touch with anyone before she could be sen to the abbey, eh?  This is a schemey TV show here, folks, we want to see these things.  I’m very glad George called out Richard on the money angle, but…I’ve gotta say, that’s not how he’s been playing it.  Speaking of Richard, whether it’s for love or money, he was not being proactive enough this episode.  The boy needs to get cracking pretty soon here.  As for Isabel, I really wish they’d given her some more time to grow into her conniving role, controlling Anne with kindness for a little longer before they actually come to blows and she freezes.  As it was, I feel the actress did the best job she could to play her two faces without losing all possible plausibility.

 

Margaret, Margaret, Margaret, this is the deathbed conversation I wish had happened between Jane Eyre and her aunt.  Jane Eyre was too nice, it made me like Margaret.  As did her cool moving-on reaction to romantic rejection.  I like to see a woman of means using them.  And as for New Husband, I like his strategic mindset.  And his lack of actually wanting her affection, which was the previous guy’s downfall, in my opinion.  Lancaster Business Partners, Kingmakers Inc. has arrived!  On top of which, it’s an excellent time.  Elizabeth is vulnerable and in need of a new confidante, and Margaret will hate George and whoever else at court Elizabeth hates with true venom.  All she needs to do is humiliate Jane the Mistress for being a whore, and voila-Margaret is in.

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