Many great technological leaps were made during the Victorian period but none quite so important to American culture as the invention of toilet paper. Electricity? Whatever. The internal combustion engine? Who cares? TP changed our lives. Before toilet paper, people in the late 1800’s used all kinds of weird things to clean themselves. Corn cobs were apparently a popular option. Corn cobs! How did that work? I don’t want to know how that worked. In the public baths, the Romans used a sponge on a stick that they put back into a bucket of water for the next user. That particular fact horrified me in 8th grade Latin class. Toilet paper as we know it today was popularized in 1890 by the Scott brothers, who managed to convince the American populace that their new rolled paper was better than pages from the Sears-Roebuck catalog.
While the Scott brothers were initially embarrassed to be selling poop-paper, their advertising campaign was the first step in getting Americans to become more comfortable with the idea of purchasing an “unmentionable” product. And thank goodness for that because I am not enthusiastic about the corn cob idea.
Why is the packaging always trying to convince me that the number of rolls in the package is actually equal to some larger number of rolls?
The winner of this years “Best Halloween Costume on the Internet” is from user zacch on Reddit for their winning take on the sexy Halloween costume: “I decided to get a little creative this year. I present Edgar Allan Ho.”
Bravo, fine sir. Bravo.
EDIT: Oh sweet Lord, read the Redditor comments. I’m dying.
H: Nope, THERE’s Van Helsing. So, who is the blonde chick and the dude that looks like Christoph Waltz?
K: Mmm…I love professors with German accents. I think they are the “Order of the Dragon,” right?
H: Yeah, guess so. Still think she’s somewhat supernatural. Also LOVE the steam that came off of Drac’s hand when he had it in the light. Fantastic bit there.
H: I also get the sense that he’s trying to be a bit Tony Stark in his nonchalance.
K: We haven’t seen a single bat yet.
K: How realistic is Mina as med student in 18-whatever?
H: Also, let’s do the math on the time period. Ripper killers stopped 7 years past, so we’re in what year?
K: Yeah, that’s a question for you.
H: 1895 it seems. Might Sherlock Holmes show up as well????
K: I’m nick-naming the blonde Boobarella.
H: I’ll go with that. I also waver between being a fan of his accent and thinking that it’s awfully nasal at times.
K: Yeah, I’m not sure how I feel about it either.
H: Also, was he fingerblasting her at the opera?! I’m so confused as to their relationship. Do they know of each other? Not know?
K: Not clear to me, either. She looked a little frightened by him for a minute there. Does she not yet know that he is the vampire she was talking to Christoph Waltz about?
H: This plot might be clearer without Boobarella. Also, we need more backstory on the Order of the Dragon. It’s familiar to me, but not fresh in my mind.
K: I’m kind of over slow-mo action moves.
H: I was just about to say, I was cracking up a bit at the action scenes jumping the shark there. What is this, The Matrix, 1895? Also, the scene with Boobarella mimicked Elecktra’s training scene in DD a little bit too much for my taste. It just lacks the Evanescence soundtrack.
K: Twist! Van Helsing and Draco are working together!!
H: Secret Motivations!!! (I admit guiltily that I like this teamup.)
K: I agree about Rhys Meyers wooden-ness. And that’s not a sexy pun. I don’t think Dracula seems particularly “charismatic.”
H: He has moments of magnetism with Mina (holla alliteration) but in other moments, it’s very transparent that the people around him are out-acting him (see: Harker, van Helsing, Christoph Waltz).
H: Huh, that was it? Went by fairly quickly! The preview moments for the upcoming season look simultaneously ridiculous and good. I suspect that most of the great moments with Drac will be between him and Renfield and him and Mina. I also want to see how they show van Helsing doing his reverse face-heel turn and teaming up with his mortal enemy.
K: Yeah, the season preview is enticing. I think it’s worth another couple of weeks. There’s always gotta be the “exposition” episode.
H: Agreed. What I’m really interested in is this mentor/student relationship between VH and Drac. Is it going to be like, Pinky and the Brain? Are they more equals? One the brains one the brawn? How will that pan out? Will we get to see him be able to be more human thanks to SCIENCE!!!?
Alright, folks. We’re signing off! Thanks for sticking with us! If you watched, what grade do you give the Dracula Pilot?
Ok, Folks: Katherine and I are going to attempt to liveblog the Dracula premiere tonight at 10pm on NBC. Watch this space for our immediate (or as immediate as we can make it!) thoughts, impressions, reactions, etc. We’ll likely create the post and update it as we go, so keep refreshing!
It holds three bottles of their perfume (sold separately) and is utterly charming. I mean, come on: it’s Poe, Lovecraft, and Gaiman! They also sell perfumes based on all three of their works (I have several of the Poes, limited editions long since discontinued but you can buy Lovecraftian and Gaimanian perfumes here and here respectively and can buy perfume based on Gris Grimly’s illustrations of Poe’s stories here), which would look stunning displayed in front of their graves. Speaking of literary perfumes, here are two inspired by Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker! (I do warn you: the site is an incredible time and money-suck, both for the perfumes and their incredible art and descriptions. I’ll talk about my BPAL obsession and collection in another post.)
Happy Dracula Friday, lovelies! We’ll see you on the blog tonight!
Ok, folks. Lots of crazy stuff is happening in the “19th Century Literature Makes for Good/Popular TV” world. First off, we have my absolute favorite new TV series, Sleepy Hollow (Mondays at 9pm on Fox). I’ll dedicate an entire post to my new obsession here, but suffice to say, it started out as a hate-watch because I was curious and turned into a true love match. It’s a perfect blend of humor, camp, procedural, horror, mythology/demonology, history, and buddy cop story. Even better, it has a hugely diverse cast and a super strong WOC as the lead. Also, Orlando Jones. For all the reasons (including that he’s a huge supporter of the fandom, even down to providing fic suggestions and reblogging fanworks).
Meet Ichabod Crane and Lieutenant Abbie Mills. They’re here to save the world.
Also, period clothing. I mean, come on, we can all get down with that, right? Some of you might recognize Tom Mison as the ridiculous Potty Perowne from Parade’s End. You can seriously forget all about that foppish git and get down with the rest of us Craniacs (yes, that’s what we’re called; the rest of the fandom are called SleepyHeads) with his version of Ichabod Crane. I’ll save the rest of my gushing for another post since we also have to deal with this:
In addition to this modern retelling of Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”, we have YET ANOTHER Dracula to preview, this one on NBC starting this Friday. Jonathan Rhys Meyers is the titular Count and it certainly looks promising.
Thoughts? After the glitterbomb of Twilight the past few years, I’m desperately hoping for a return to old-school vampire lore to cleanse the pop cultural palate. Here’s hoping this new Dracula doesn’t….suck? (Ahem.)
Aaaanyway, how do you all feel about these new imaginings, dear Readers? Hit the polls and the comments!
I saw a lovely German movie (auf Deutsch, aber mit subtitles) last week called “Ludwig II.” I have since discovered that there have been a bunch of German movies about this particular king, so this one may have been a bit of a bore for those who have seen the other ones, but this was my first movie about the “Mad” King of Bavaria, and I quite liked it.
The movie spends a lot of time on one particularly interesting aspect of Ludwig’s life, and that was his patronage of the composer Wagner. Later in Wagner’s life, he was living in hiding, on the run from creditors and the authorities for failing to pay his debts and having revolutionary and otherwise scandalous political connections. When Ludwig II became king, he immediately summoned Wagner to Munich and took him in, paying off his debts and encouraging him to continue to compose. It was under Ludwig’s patronage that Wagner composed his later works Tristan and Isolde, Die Meistersinger, and the Ring.
Young King Ludwig, only 18 at the time of his coronation, was deeply enamored of Wagner and his music. Ludwig was a passionate and sensitive man who deeply loved music and the arts. During their relationship as composer and patron, Ludwig wrote a series of heartfelt letters to Wagner, expressing his love and devotion to the composer.
My one Friend, my ardently beloved!
This afternoon, at 3.30, I returned from a glorious tour in Switzerland! How this land delighted me! – There I found your dear letter; deepest warmest thanks for the same. With new and burning enthusiasm has it filled me; I see that the beloved marches boldly and confidently forward, towards our great and eternal goal.
All hindrances I will victoriously overcome like a hero. I am entirely at thy disposal; let me now dutifully prove it. – Yes, we must meet and speak together. I will banish all evil clouds; Love has strength for all. You are the star that shines upon my life, and the sight of you ever wonderfully strengthens me. – Ardently I long for you, O my presiding Saint, to whom I pray! I should be immensely pleased to see my friend here in about a week; oh, we have plenty to say! If only I could quite banish from me the curse of which you speak, and send it back to the deeps of night from whence it sprang! – How I love, how I love you, my one, my highest good! . . .
My enthusiasm and love for you are boundless. Once more I swear you faith till death!
Ever, ever your devoted
From what I’ve read, modern historians generally concur that Ludwig was a homosexual, though this seems to remain somewhat controversial. Whether he had romantic affections for Wagner is unclear simply from his letters, but it is obvious he felt a very close connection to the composer. The movie portrays them as having more of a father/son relationship, which seems more reasonable to me based on their significant age difference.
Wagner, 1871. Dude was old.
Another enjoyable thing about the movie was the serious man candy. Deutschland is seriously bringing the hotties.
My favorite had to be Friedrich Muecke, the actor playing Richard Hornig, Ludwig’s Master of the Horse and one of his lovers. I’ve never seen this guy before, but I’ll take two, please! Do any of our German readers know of any other well-known movies this gentleman has been in that might be available in the US? Staring at this picture is making me hornig.
…C’mon, it looks like him, doesn’t it? Will the Real Slim Shady, ESQ please stand up? It also sounds like an Agatha Christie mystery. “The Physician and the Case of the Stack of Skulls”.
In all seriousness, this is a daguerreotype called Man with Skulls, ca. 1850, from the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. I rather love it, but the screaming skull in the center is creeping me out a little. Does our mystery man have a special sense of humor?
It’s been a hell of an 11 or so days here in the States. If any of our readers have been affected by the Shutdown via furloughs, our sincere sympathies and hopes that all this stupidity will come to an end soon. Too bad Oscar isn’t around to provide commentary on all of this; I could see him acting in a role much like Lewis Black does when he pops up on the Daily Show. “Back in Black” becomes “Wilde Times” or something similar.
To start this week off on the right foot (haHA crappy Monday jokes), here’s Vaslav Nijinsky (March 12, 1898 – April 8, 1950), a Russian ballet dancer and choreographer of Polish descent wildly considered the greatest dancer of the 20th century. He was one of the few male dancers who could dance en pointe and he apparently had ups to rival Michael Jordan (citation needed).
He was introduced to dance by his parents, who were also dancers, and he entered the Imperial Ballet School in Russia before he was 10. In 1909, he joined the Ballets Russes (founded by Sergei Diaghilev who eventually became Nijinsky’s lover…more on that later) and rose in popularity and acclaim as the star dancer of the company.
Along the lines of Lisztomania, the public went insane when they watched him perform (and even went on panty raids backstage): “An electric shock passed through the entire audience. Intoxicated, entranced, gasping for breath, we followed this superhuman being… the power, the featherweight lightness, the steel-like strength, the suppleness of his movements…” I’m not even sure how one would execute a panty raid on a member of the corps de ballet. Are there panties to raid? Anyhoo…
We also have to spend some time here talking about how he married his fangirl stalker. No, really. (For more ridiculous details, see #3 on this Cracked article here. “Romola de Pulszky Shared Her Sexy, Schizophrenic Husband With His Male Boss” sums it up pretty darn well.) Her name was Romola de Pulszky and apparently, she saw him perform once and then made a determined effort to get to know him (i.e., broke off her previous engagement, followed his touring company across Europe, convinced Diaghilev that she was a rich benefactress to get his attention and secure ballet lessons with one of the troupes dance-masters, AND, despite his continual ignoring of her, booked train compartments and hotel rooms next to him and told people she wanted to have his child. YIKES.).
Even MORE strangely, he randomly proposed to her (through halting French and mime, since neither spoke the others’ language. No, I am not making this up.). I mean, look at this crap:
“On board ship, Romola had a cabin in first class, which allowed her to keep a watch on Nijinsky’s door, while most of the company were exiled to second class. She befriended his masseur and was rewarded with a rundown on his musculature. Determined to take every opportunity, she succeeded in spending more and more time in his company. The unexpected friendliness was noticed by Baron de Gunsbourg, an investor in the Ballets Russes, who had been tasked with keeping an eye on the company. Instead of reporting back to Diaghilev on what was occurring, Gunsbourg agreed to act on Nijinsky’s behalf in presenting a proposal of marriage to Romola. Romola thought a cruel joke was being played on her, and ran off to her cabin crying. However, Nijinsky asked her again, in broken French and mime, and she accepted. Although Gunsbourg had a financial interest in Ballets Russes, he was also interested in forming his own company, and a split between Diaghilev and his star dancer might have presented him with an opportunity. … Back in Europe, Diaghilev “gave himself to a wild orgy of dissipation…Sobbing shamelessly in Russian despair, he bellowed accusations and recriminations; he cursed Nijinsky’s ingratitude, Romola’s treachery, and his own stupidity”.
…BUT THE CRAZY CONTINUES.
“As the company was due to start performing immediately, there was no honeymoon. A few days after the marriage, Nijinsky tried to teach Romola some ballet, but she was not interested. “I asked her to learn dancing because for me dancing was the highest thing in the world”, “I realized that I had made a mistake, but the mistake was irreparable. I had put myself in the hands of someone who did not love me.” Romola and Nijinsky did not share accommodation until after the season was safely underway, when she was eventually invited to join him in separate bedrooms in his hotel suite. She “almost cried with thankfulness” that he showed no interest in making love on their wedding night.”
I’ve got nothing, folks. If you want even more of the crazy, check out that Cracked article that I linked; it includes bisexual affairs, more crazy letter writing, revisionist history, attempts to pray away Nijinsky’s homosexuality, bouts of schizophrenia, and an eventual committal to an asylum. He died in a London clinic in 1950 and his body is buried at Montmartre Cemetery in Paris. Despite his Jerry Springeresque marital dysfunction, he’ll forever be known as one of the most outstanding and sensual performers to ever grace the stage.