Wednesday, 31 March 2010

The Ants Go Marching One By One...

Which I suppose is only hilarious as a title if you're me and my dad. Back in 8th or 9th grade I opened the pantry door, gasped, jumped back, and gaggingly informed my step-mum that there was an infestation of a million billion ants. Naturally, she believed me. Then she continued to believe me for several more years. Then I graduated high school and went off to college in another state. But not to worry! My dad kindly continued the tradition and it is only in the past few years that she's been wise to us, wandering around the house for days beforehand muttering 'ants....ants...' in an attempt to remember what we're about to do.

In other news, French culture for some reason invited the fish into April Fools Day- le poisson d'avril. Your guess is as good as mine as to why (and will probably be about as specific as those given for the holiday itself), but apparently the goal is to pin a picture of a fish on someone's back without their noticing. Or something like that. Now, don't you feel cultured?

World Wide Women: Part 2

And now for the last post of Women's History Month! I promise that April will have actual weekly themes again! (I hope...)

1927: Beni Sakhr Bedouin (in modern day Jordan),
taken by Willaim Seabrook for his Women of the Black Tents

1884: Kristine Andersdatter Gunnar, from Lapland

Algerian girl preparing couscous in a studio setting

1931 Estonian women wearing traditional folk costume
(not digging the hats, but swooning over the embroidered aprons
and what looks to be decorated stockings!)

1860s: Russian basket seller/weaver(?)

1868-1875: Kesarah Nutni, a "low caste Hindoo"
(I'm curious about her description as a member of a low caste
while she clearly possesses a fair quantity of (expensive looking) jewelry)

1902: Yaegiku of Shimbashi

1904: Maori Women

1924: A Cupentildeo woman
(Native American, in case you weren't sure)

1893: Indonesian woman
(and her gorgeous attire)

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

BAD COWS and Chicken Ponies - or - Percy Jackson and the Sea of Reviews

Katie was kind enough to lend me Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Sea of Monsters, by Rick Riordan, at work last week. ^_^ I read it in one day! It is also an excellent read. (Katie says it is her least favorite, but as I still have three more books to go, I really can't say too much on that matter) A series definitely worth continuing!

This time Percy makes an acquaintance at his new school (one that he has yet to cause any trouble in), named Tyson, who is the school's charity project (Tyson being homeless and all). Turns out Tyson is more than what he appears when he saves Percy during a dodgeball game gone horribly wrong. I mean monsters wielding flaming metal dodgeballs wrong. The boys end up escaping, joined by Annabeth who has been trying to get to Percy, and all three head to Camp Half-Blood (I'm not going to tell you about Tyson any more than I told you about Grover). (Also, Grover is in trouble and sending Percy help messages through his dreams. Hint- there's a wedding dress involved. Also, sheep.)

What Percy's mom was avoiding telling him was that there are major problems at Camp Half-Blood- namely that the daughter-of-Zeus-turned-pine-tree, Thalia, has been poisoned, and Chiron, remember the pen wieldig Latin teacher?, has been blamed for it and sacked. When the three campers approach, they find Clarisse, daughter of Aries, leading her siblings in a defensive attack against two large, fire breathing bronze bulls attempting (and succeeding rather well) to attack the camp.

And so we commence with the handing out of a Quest- to Clarisse... But you know Percy, somehow he'll end up on the Quest anyway! Also, there are dead Confederates, and Charybdis has braces (which made me to a double take and start laughing out loud)!

Conclusion: I think it's a marvelous continuation, and different enough that I didn't feel like I read the same book with a different title. I feel that is a very important quality in sequels. Riordan also keeps up on his wit and bizarre situations and statements- which keeps everything very lighthearted and quick moving- even when faced with life or death situations. Go read The Lightning Thief, if you have not already, and then continue on in the series.

NOTE: On top of the total tragedy that is the Wimpy Kid movie, there is a fifth book (of course there is) scheduled to be released in November (and that means at least one more movie). *sigh*

Monday, 29 March 2010

World Wide Women

Yes, most of the photographs I show here are from 'Western' culture. As I've said before, unless the situation REALLY calls for it, I'm working with what I have rather than spending endless hours searching for something in particular (I prefer to spend those endless hours being surprised by what I get from various websites). That being said, there are a vast number of cultures whose women should be remembered as well. Here are some of them:

1917: Kikuyu women from British East Africa
(I also apologize if I butcher any spellings. I'm using the labels that came with the photographs, so if you see any inaccuracies, please do alert me. Thanks!)

Woman from Southern Palestine spinning

1880s: China
(I really like the part in her hair!)

1905-1915: Catholic Armenian women


Ceylon (Sri Lanka): Dancing Girl

1894: Egyptian women on a horse drawn cart

1870s Georgia (no, not THAT Georgia, the other one!):
Kakheti women baking bread

1890 Araucanian/Mapuche women (Chile) weaving

1889 Burmese Princess in court costume

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Percy Jackson and the Review Thief Return!

Percy Jackson And The Olympians: The Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordan, is Brilliant. Yes, it is another book about a troubled boy who, surprise surprise, has some magical abilities. Or something like that. At the beginning, we meet Percy, juvenile delinquent living with his loving mother and his horrid and abusive step-father, Smelly Gabe. Then he's attacked by his math teacher while on a field trip (turns out she's a Fury) and is saved by his seemingly wheelchair bound Latin teacher who wields a ballpoint pen that can turn into a bronze sword!

As it turns out, Perseus Jackson is the half-blood future hero son of Poseidon! And Zeus thinks that Poseidon had Percy steal his master lightning bolt- promising war if it is not returned! *cue ominous music*

Aided by Annabeth, the Half-Blood daughter of Athena, and his best friend Grover (you'll have to read to find out just who he is!) Percy makes his way around the US (Mount Olympus is in NYC now- sounds odd, I know, but the explanation provided, that the gods are the center of Western Civilization as we know it and will re-situate themselves at the heart of that civilization, works well), battling demons and annoying relatives in search of the bolt.

I absolutely recomend this book to everyone. The main character is a boy and will therefore hopefully hold the attention of boys (clearly it already has, or it would not have become popular enough for a (really really REALLY inaccurate) movie. (MUCH better than Wimpy Kid) It also has a really strong female supporting character, which will hopefully be enough to hold the attention of girls as well! But beyond the 7-12 year old readers, I recommend that everyone gives it a try! Riordan has an amazing knack for wit, and a (mostly) accurate knowledge of Greek Mythology (one mistake so far has been found). It's a very interesting twist on Greek Mythology, and rather refreshing as far as fantasy goes. Pretty much everybody has at least heard of the Greek gods, and within the premis of the story, the use of magic makes perfect sense, rather than forcing the reader to just accept that some mystical forces exist which allow for the use of magic. Or whatever.

The point is. Go read it. It's a great break from whatever else you're reading, and not Disny-esque. Five big stars.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

John, We Mustn't Sit On The Artifacts

(said by, I believe, Katie)

So, I have a new job! Well, two, actually, but let's take things one at a time, shall we?

There's not much to say about it- It's not bad but I've not been there terribly long and have nothing to compare it to. Let's just say that we have concluded why it is absolutely essential to keep museums open (aside from it being in the State Constitution):

When nuclear winter comes and we're reduced to a society of spear wielding cave dwellers, I'll know where to find a whole case of pre-sharpened stone tools. ;)

A Woman's Work...

Forging on, and coming to week 4 of Women's History Month (well, the end of the week anyway...), let us continue with the everyday work women have done in the past! Again, I don't really have much to say on the topic- mostly due to having chosen all of these from my massive folder of unidentifiable photographs.


The Making of Butter

Working on a Tractor Engine

Washing Clothes
(Notice the Wringer- my grandmother almost lost two fingers
on an automatic wringer)

Pickle Factory!

Making Soft Soap

Army Nurses standing at attention in front of their barracks
and being inspected by staff officers,
Army Nurse training center, England


Blind Women Operating Telephone Switchboards


Continental (European) Fisher-women

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Tea of the Day!

White Teas (ratings vary):

White Peach (Harney & Sons): 4/5
White Pear (Revolution): 3/5
Tangerine White (discontinued): 2/5
Peony White (discontinued): 2/5

White tea is tough. It's few and far between that I come upon a white tea that actually tastes of anything other than oddly flavored warm water. Tangerine and Peony fall into the latter category. There is nothing bad about them, per se, I just found them tasteless.

The White Pear tea tasted a little better- in that it tasted like something, but even after 6 cups of it, I really can't be sure what. :( Rachel says she thought it had a vaguely chocolate flavor, but try as I might I could not find it. If white tea is your cup of tea, I'd give this one a shot.

The White Peach tea (which you can get at Barnes & Noble as well!) is PHENOMENAL. It ACTUALLY tastes like peach, which is one of the things I like about the lighter teas. Unless you're careful, flavored black teas (much like hibiscus based herbal teas) still end up tasting like black tea with something in it. Green teas tend to carry flavor better (except in the case of Bigelow's Constant Comment), and and this white tea is even better than that! Anyway, back to it actually tastes like peach (which I happen to love, so that helps). I find it very rare that, even in a well flavored tea, fruit teas are really rather difficult to make them taste like what you're advertising them as. (I have a great strawberry green tea that, while tasting great, really doesn't taste like strawberries...) The aroma is fantastic as well. So go snuggle up with a good book and a good cup of tea. ^_^

Extra: White tea has a delicate flavor; it is the least processed of the tea types. For centuries virtually unknown in the West - and relatively rare even today - it is grown in China's Fujian Province. Buds and leaves are plucked before they open. The tiny silver-white hairs that cover the buds give this tea its name. White tea leaves are simply sun-dried or steamed in pans to remove moisture. They are then ready to drink. Varieties include Silver Needle (named for the look of the leaves after processing), and Noble Beauty. To brew white tea, heat water until just before it boils, and steep the leaves no longer than a minute.

(that last bit might be what I'm doing wrong and thus not experiencing the flavor correctly. on the other hand, I regularly leave the peach teabag in the hot water (it's difficult to juggle half used tea bags when I'm already not 'really' supposed to have drinks at work in the first place...) and it's just Peachy! ;)

Monday, 22 March 2010

Artsy Gals

To continue with Women's History Month (as we've not actually done anything else...), for the third week of March (yes, I know, I'm still trying to catch up) let us look at some of the so called Free Spirited Women who gave their creations to the world:

1865 Jane Morris
Model and Muse to Pre-Raphaelites William Morris and Dante Gabriel Rossetti
(neither of which I favor very much, but what can you do?)

Martha Graham- the mother of Modern Dance

1870s: Louisa May Alcott: Author of the Little Women series
(yes, there's more than one)

Christina Rossetti and her Mother
Sister of Dante and a poet in her own write! (haha...)

Frieda Kahlo
(the woman with her looks disturbingly like a statue!)

Clara Schumann, a lauded German pianist and composer
(a really rather interesting lady!)

(The Super Tiny) Bonnie Parker

1919 Georgia O'Keefe (photographby ALfred Stieglitz)
(She looks like a lot of fun!)

Mary Anne Evans, also known as George Eliot

Harriet Beecher Stowe
'So you're the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war!' (Lincoln)

Sunday, 21 March 2010

The Review For Shakespeare

Could you tell I up and moved and, more importantly, haven't worked at the bookstore for a few weeks? Well, fear not, I've had a little time to do some bit of reading since I've been here (and the Percy Jackson Time Paradox should be ending soon as well, now that I'm back at a bookstore!).

This new review features the guy on your left: William Shakespeare himself (assuming that the assumption that the miniature featured on the cover is correct and it is indeed a portrait of The Bard) in The Quest for Shakespeare: The Bard of Avon and the Church of Rome, by Joseph Pearce. I'd never really given much thought toward Billy's religious leanings. (I also spent most of my life (up until about 5 years ago) believing the children's biography of Bess that I have that says that she really didn't mind what religion people personally subscribed to, as long as they attended Anglican services from time to time) I mean, if you asked, I probably would have assumed that Bill was indeed an Anglican, given his high status and favor by the Queen. Then I read this book.

To begin with, because most of you probably shied away thinking 'oh, there the Catholics go again, trying to be important and claim everything for themselves', even if you go into and come out of reading this book convinced that Shakespeare was not a Catholic, this book is VERY WELL WRITTEN. Pearce is a literature man, not a history man and (sorry history) therefore is not dry like most historian writers tend to be, and is actually quite punny! The writing itself makes this book definitely worth the read!

Secondly, being a literature man, Pearce knows all about the "historicists, feminists, Marxists, new historicists, post-feminists, deconstructionists, anti-deconstructionsists, post-modernists, cultural imperialists, and post-colonialists", also, I'm fairy certain, the queer theorists and eco-critics (which is apparently the up and coming literary discipline. And people wonder why I prefer the history side of research.) He also chooses to ignore that in favor of a -ism/-ist/theory which is near and dear to my heart- examining the life of the author in order to find out what he wrote into his plays. (It is only the appendices that Pearce really picks through the lines of a play (King Lear) in order to make an argument.)

Pearce goes through bits of the evidence that we know about Billy's life finding evidence of his popery. Because there is so little evidence about his life, there is still much conjecture, but, as he quotes in one of the final chapters, "There are, in this life, some certanties, some probabilities and some possibilities." Pearce goes through the certanties to draw some (really quite convincing) probabilites, and mostly avoids the realm of possibilites unless he has at least three bits of evidence that point in the affirmative.

In conclusion, go read this book. Even if you don't care if Shakespeare was a papist, and especially if you firmly believe that he wasn't. I'm not arguing for the Pope. I'm arguing for history. And finally, read it because it's a good read. And you might even learn something!

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Leading Ladies!

So, as it's already the third week of March, we have a bit of catching up to do for Women's History Month. So, to charge forth, we'll move on to some Leading Ladies, both in office, and on the stage! (Partially I didn't want to choose between more Queens, and partially I liked the double meaning of the phrase).

HRM Queen Victoria, Working Mom

Mary Todd Lincoln

Ballerina Anna Pavlova

Alice Roosevelt at the White House
(I'm sorry I'm not giving you all kinds of fun tidbits today like I did in my last post. I just feel kind of blegh tonight)

The Girl With The Curls: Mary Pickford
Actress, Director, Co-Founder of United Artists (in its original incarnation)

1929 Eleanor Roosevelt with schoolchildren at the Brooklyn Museum

1947 HRM Queen Elizabeth II when she was still a Princess, shortly before her 21st birthday

1848 Dolley Madison, the 4th First Lady of the US!
I imagine that's a wig she's wearing, as she'd be about 80 years old there!

Empress Eugenie of France
Tinted Pretty Pink!

1910 Czarina Alexandra Feodorovna