tempestsarekind: (ghost girl)
This feels personally timely, given that I'm teaching selections from Ovid's Metamorphoses at the moment:

In which the Magpie sees wild boars as lost children
https://catapult.co/stories/in-which-the-magpie-sees-wild-boars-as-lost-children

On the aftermath of Fukushima, and people under pressure.
tempestsarekind: (queen of fairies)
I am mildly upset that no one told me about this book:

Shakespeare's Ghost - Mary Hoffman
http://www.greystonespress.com/books/shakespeares-ghost/

From A Midsummer Night’s Dream onwards, Shakespeare’s plays are often peopled by fairies, witches, ghosts and apparitions. In Shakespeare’s Ghost Mary Hoffman imagines why that might be, by giving the poet a familiar spirit who urges him to include more and more paranormal events and characters in his work.

Meanwhile, Ned Lambert, a boy player in Shakespeare’s own company, The King’s Men, has been having inexplicable experiences of his own, with a beautiful and elusive woman in green, who is not of this world.

It is 1610 and Jacobean London is full of dangers, from the plague to plots and revolutions. And Ned – now a man on and off stage – is caught between fears and temptations. The poet is his friend, as is the popular young Prince of Wales, but is Faelinn friend or foe?


And here's a review:
https://historicalnovelsociety.org/reviews/shakespeares-ghost/
tempestsarekind: (london flower of cities all)
link via Twitter:

Tower of London staff 'used magic to repel the forces of the Devil'

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/archaeology/tower-of-london-staff-used-magic-to-repel-the-forces-of-the-devil-a6697476.html

From the article:

Archaeologists, carrying out survey work in the residence of the Queen’s representative in the Tower, have found dozens of ‘ritual protection’ marks literally burnt into the timber uprights holding up the roof.

Historic Royal Palaces, which run the Tower of London, says that the discoveries are “hugely significant”. It is believed that the marks – 54 in total – were put on the timbers, mostly between the mid-16th and earlier 18th centuries, as a way of trying to magically protect the building from fire and lightning and to repel the forces of the Devil and the spells of witches.
tempestsarekind: (henry tilney would SO write fanfic)
The Oxford University Press blog delivers again:

http://blog.oup.com/2015/06/jonathan-strange-mr-norrell-magic

[Francis] Barrett gave private tuition on the magical arts, and one of his pupils was a Lincolnshire cunning-man named John Parkins. When this rural magician returned to his home near Grantham he set up a Temple of Wisdom, and began publishing a series of divinatory, herbal and magical texts. In 1812 we find Strange using his magic in the service of Lord Wellington, and that same year Parkins advertised a lamen or talisman for military and naval officers in his Cabinet of Wealth, or the Temple of Wisdom. ‘God Save the King, and Defend this Nation!’ He declared. Parkins’ lamen would ‘not only powerfully protect and defend the British Army and Navy in all those times of the greatest danger, but also give them the most complete victory over all enemies, both foreign and domestic.’

So when you watch the next episode of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, spare a thought for those very real friends of English magic: Sibly, Barrett, Denley, and Parkins."
tempestsarekind: (oh noes)
"A creature created by witches to steal milk"
http://the-toast.net/2015/03/12/creature-created-witches-steal-milk-women-can-create/

There's a photo, as well. You may want to make sure not to look at it right before bed?
tempestsarekind: (branches and fairy lights)
I went to see the animated film Song of the Sea last night - it's playing in my area, but only for a week, starting yesterday. It began with Lisa Hannigan's voice reciting "Come away, o human child," so that's possibly the most Relevant to My Interests opening of a film that I've seen in some time. It was a sweet, gentle movie with a tiny bit of Miyazaki about the owl-witch villainess of the piece, and some spare, wistful meditations on grief and loss. I enjoyed it.

what even

Jan. 30th, 2015 09:11 pm
tempestsarekind: (wtf?)
What kind of stupidheaded line is "A Midsummer Night's Dream may be a comedy, but it is a cleverly constructed one"?

It may be a comedy - but don't worry guys, we can still take it seriously! It's okay, don't be scared!

Ugh.

In less ranty remarks - seeing these Globe clips makes me sad that I didn't like this production, because I thought it started well… (Though I'm pretty sure I just don't like Pearce Quigley - who played Bottom; he's been in a couple of Globe productions, and he just says all of his lines in pretty much the exact same almost-monotone in an attempt to be funny.)

--Just out of curiosity, are there any "fairy experts" who are not Diane Purkiss? (I just remember being so disappointed in her book At the Bottom of the Garden…so much of it seemed to be about Scottish witch trials, in ways that weren't especially helpful.)

--Wait, did Hugh Bonneville just say that Shakespeare's father was the mayor of Stratford-upon-Avon? That is not even a thing that is TRUE. How hard is it to fact-check?

--At least Julie Taymor takes Helena seriously; that is sadly rare in this poor world.

--what's this? Is Hugh Bonneville talking about verse forms and rhyme??? Actual discussion of language? Wonders never cease.
tempestsarekind: (a sort of fairytale)
Which I could totally get behind, to be honest; as you know, I have been waiting this vampire-and-werewolf thing out for a while now. First there is Song of the Sea, now this:

The Moon and the Sun (2015)
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2328678/

Plot summary: King Louis XIV's quest for immortality leads him to capture and steal a mermaid's life force, a move that is further complicated by his illegitimate daughter's discovery of the creature.

It stars Pierce Brosnan as Louis XIV, and Fan Bingbing as the mermaid.
tempestsarekind: (branches and fairy lights)
Somehow I only just found out about this film yesterday, but my first reaction was an excited cry of "Selkie movie! Selkie movie!:
http://www.cartoonsaloon.ie/2009/06/feature-films-song-of-the-sea/
https://www.facebook.com/songoftheseamovie

And it's by the director of The Secret of Kells, which I really enjoyed, so that's a plus as well. But then it turned out that Lisa Hannigan, whose music I love, is providing one of the voices, so it's like they keep adding things to look forward to!

It appears that the film has premiered in Europe and is coming to a film festival in New York City later this month, but I haven't found any details yet about a wider release. I only found out about The Secret of Kells after its Oscar nomination and watched it on DVD, but perhaps there will be a wider theatrical release for Song of the Sea.
tempestsarekind: (martha at the globe)
I tried to watch Penny Dreadful season one (library DVD), because I'd heard Rory Kinnear was in it. It turned out Billie Piper is in it as well (doing an absolutely wretched Irish accent, which is made more wretched by the fact that her character's being Irish adds just about nothing to her story as far as I can see, except that she can be named "Brona," which apparently means "sadness"), and guest actors I love kept turning up - Alex Price, Simon Russell Beale (!), Helen McCrory. And yet, I could only make it partway through episode 3; I realized that I wasn't actually enjoying anything about the show.

The Gothic is definitely not my aesthetic, and I'm not interested in vampires (the Timothy Dalton character says - or intones; nobody just "says" anything on this show - "My daughter was taken," and I snarked "by the fairies," and then thought, disappointed, "…oh. I would so much rather have that show").1 And I really hate the character of Frankenstein, just in general (despite the number of times the National Theatre has screened the Miller/Cumberbatch Frankenstein - including once more this year, for Halloween - I have not been able to muster up enough enthusiasm to try to go). Like, how did you not think this through, idiot? You brought what is basically a corpse puzzle to life, and then thought, "oh no, this is terrible, run away"? And then were not at all concerned that your animated corpse puzzle wasn't there when you went back? Like, "dum de dum, glad that's over, it's probably not out terrorizing people with its very existence or anything, on with the rest of my life!" Victor Frankenstein, you are the worst. And then the whole "Romantic bros locked in primal combat" thing is also not that interesting to me. But I think I never recovered from the fact that it looked like the creators of Penny Dreadful were going to take the Frankenstein story in a different direction (and also make Frankenstein less terrible) - and then, nope, right back in that soup. Without spoilers…I feel like the decision they made, which was to end the one part of the narrative that looked like it might have been about that rare commodity, joy, in as abrupt and bloody a way as possible, essentially summed up the show for me. Humor and joy and happiness - even the hard-won sort - don't exist in these kinds of worlds (so what are we fighting for, exactly?), and it's foolish of you, viewer, to look for it or invest in it if it seems to be there for a few scenes. Well, I learned my lesson, and that's a big part of why I stopped watching. That might be to someone else's taste, but it is emphatically not to mine.

(And then Frankenstein's creature tells this backstory about how he fell in with a bunch of theater people and became a stagehand, and that sounded so much more interesting to me than the whole "I hate my dad creator, but I will hound him to the death to force him to make me a mate" thing, which sort of only works if the creature hasn't…just made friends who still live around the corner? And also just basically looks like Rory Kinnear with some scars and a partially shaved head? The theater guy he meets actually says to him when they meet, "Oh, was it an industrial accident?" not, you know, "Vile thing, avaunt and quit my sight!" So it feels really dumb, this whole "I can never join the humans" line that they've taken with him. I…guess the creature is immortal? But it feels like he hasn't been around long enough to have a) figured this out; and b) have exhausted the possibilities of connecting to other humans, since he meets theater guy on his very first night alone in London, and has been working at the theater just long enough to have tracked Victor down? I don't know; time is mushy on this show. Anyway, the point is, the creature learning to be human from a bunch of actors and through art was suddenly so much more interesting to me than this "Time to make the donuts lurk in alleys and stalk my creator" narrative that I was pretty much over it before it had even begun. Also, he had this terribly clunky line about how Victor likes Keats and Wordsworth, but poetry is Over because of the Industrial Age or something - "did you think we would find eternity in a daffodil? Who's the child now, Victor Frankenstein?" and it just bounced off my head entirely and made me giggle for several minutes, because daffodils are still a thing, you can have flowers and steam engines, it's not like they cancel each other out; and also it's just so "You so don't get it, dad!" that I couldn't take it seriously.) (Also, it's weird that Victor, fictional character created by the wife of a Romantic poet, can read Keats and Wordsworth…but not Shelley, I guess? - Wait, no, the creature totally mentions Adonais, what the hell.)

Also, Dorian Gray is…there? For…reasons? Maybe he gets something to do other than random uncomfortable Sexytimes at some point, but I won't be finding out.

In sum: If you are going to throw all the 19th-century monster tales into a blender, you should actually do something more interesting than the usual "everything is grim, there were no colors in Victorian London / look there are opium dens so it's not your grandma's period drama / let's go hunt the creatures of the night / guess we'll enlist some shady dudes without giving them enough information to properly protect themselves on a bloody vampire hunt, that's totally responsible of us and not at all done just so we can seem Mysterious / ha ha, coherent mythology, that's not a thing, silly" world that they've set up.


1Seriously, where are my fairy shows??? Even aside from the fact that I love that mythology and never get to see it onscreen except for Pan's Labyrinth a billion years ago, at least it would be different. Penny Dreadful basically exists in the same murky, blood-drenched, scabrous, consumptive world of Copper and Ripper Street and The Crimson Petal and the White, and you can't throw a vial of holy water without hitting vampires and werewolves and End Times and Creatures of the Night Set to Blot Out the Sun and Destroy the Age of Man, and bleh. I can't even think of a supernatural show that has had much to do with fairies; I guess they don't mix especially well with the Apocalypse?
tempestsarekind: (ofelia reading)
(Is the New Yorker's new stance "no one should like reading anything unless it is approved by us"? Didn't they just publish one of these finger-wagging pieces for adults? Did they feel like they weren't scolding enough readers with that last one? Thought they'd cast their net a little wider, did they?)

"What if the strenuous accessibility of 'Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods' proves so alluring to young readers that it seduces them in the opposite direction from that which Gaiman’s words presuppose—away from an engagement with more immediately difficult incarnations of the classics, Greek and otherwise? What if instead of urging them on to more challenging adventures on other, potentially perilous literary shores, it makes young readers hungry only for more of the palatable same?"

"The Percy Jackson Problem," Rebecca Mead
http://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/percy-jackson-problem

(link via Neil Gaiman's Tumblr.)

Won't somebody please think of the children??? (What if the books are so enjoyable that children can't help themselves? What if they're like drugs?)

…I sometimes wonder if people would be less odd and panicky about this if we didn't live in a culture that was so concerned with precocity and early development. Let's say children don't pick up difficult incarnations of the classics - let's say they don't read them until high school or even, god forbid, college. (I'm assuming for the sake of this argument that reading the classics is a good thing that we would like people to do at some point, but it is not the only way to build a life.) Is that so bad? And let's say - brazen thought, but humor me for a second - that when they do read those classics in high school or college or even (gasp) when they're not in school at all (because I hear tell that people do still develop interests once they graduate), they feel more comfortable with them because they remember some of the stories from reading Rick Riordan's books: where, exactly, is the problem?

I feel like these articles all seem to operate under the impression that if you're not reading it (whatever it is) by the time you're ten, it's all over for you, and you're intellectually stunted forever. But I can never take these handwringing pieces seriously, because my own experience was so different. I was a pretty precocious reader as a child, in some ways: I started reading when I was two, I read well above my grade level, and I had a pretty well-stocked vocabulary. And Rebecca Mead would probably have approved of me, because for some odd reason I was obsessed with Bullfinch's Mythology (I…appropriated my mother's copy without actually thinking about it, to the extent that she found it on one of my bookshelves a couple of years ago and commented, "I used to have this book…"), and my first encounters with a lot of Greek and Roman myths happened in that book (although I have a very strong memory of first reading the story of Pandora's box in Virginia Hamilton's collection In the Beginning). (I didn't really latch on to the D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths - mentioned in Mead's piece - but oh, how I loved their version of East of the Sun and West of the Moon. I wish it would come back into print.)

But I didn't "graduate" to reading "serious" adult fiction when I was a child, or even very much when I was a teen. I was quite happy in the children's section, for a long time. I read and loved Matilda, and thought wistfully about how nice it would be to have been a prodigy, to impress somebody like Miss Honey because I loved Dickens - but I never went out and tried to read any Dickens. Even in high school, I liked most of what we read in school, and I understood it pretty easily - but even after reading and loving Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion for class, I didn't run to seek out any other Austen novels. I was far too busy at the time reading Robin McKinley and Patricia McKillip and Josepha Sherman, and trying to find all the Gillian Bradshaw novels I could get my hands on. I knew Fortinbras as the Murry family's dog in A Wrinkle in Time well before I knew he was a character in Hamlet.

And you know, I think I turned out okay. I read the rest of Austen's novels in college, and fell as ardently in love as anyone could wish. It turns out that I really liked Bleak House, once I got around to reading it. Shakespeare pretty much knocked me over the head and dragged me off to grad school, where I don't seem to have done any worse because I didn't read all the plays when I was twelve. And if I still haven't read Tolstoy or a bunch of other things yet - well, I've still got time. Because I haven't stopped reading, and changing, and learning that things I heard about when I was younger actually come from other sources that I can choose to explore even though I didn't then. (Baby Me would not have been ready for Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, even though she had read a retelling of it. Baby Me was not ready for Twelfth Night, even though she could understand it perfectly well in her seventh-grade English class, because she hit backspace, appalled and embarrassed, at the first joke about venereal disease. Who knows what other riches Baby Me has left for Grownup Me to explore?)

The books that made me love reading - that turned me into the kind of person who could love Austen and Shakespeare as entirely as I do - were unabashedly children's books, populated with Moomins and dragons and children who ran away to hide in museums, and girls who traveled through time. The books that kept me in love with reading were the sorts of genre books that critics often sneer at (books that still have a purchase on my heart). Certainly the books that made me want to be a writer when I was younger, that made me think about how words worked together, were those kinds of books. (I literally started writing about writing because I wanted to figure out how McKillip's Riddlemaster books worked.) My reading abilities didn't atrophy and desiccate just because it took me a little longer to get around to the kinds of books that Rebecca Mead would consider important. So I bet those kids reading the Percy Jackson series are going to be fine.

...okay.

Jul. 4th, 2012 01:21 am
tempestsarekind: (ofelia reading)
Reading folklore about a farmer whose cows start getting all thin and sickly, and when he wakes up in the morning his fireplace is full of ashes even though no one had been using it, so he stays up and discovers that the fairies come at night, kill and roast and eat one of his cows, then collect all the bones and revivify the cow. Also one of the bones rolls away, so the farmer hides it so the fairies don't notice him, and then the cow is left with a limp.

...Going to go have nightmares about ZOMBIE COWS now, thanks.

perseus

Jul. 9th, 2010 06:30 pm
tempestsarekind: (books and flowers)
Poking around on the internets for images led me to the V&A website, which led me to a sketch model of the head of Medusa for Cellini's statue of Perseus:
http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O85845/statuette-head-of-medusa/

I love Cellini's Perseus, and its odd sense of menace, so I was interested to see this.

Not sure what to make of this one, though:
"Rosary bead, Memento mori," ca. 1525-1550
http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O92557/rosary-bead-memento/

perseus

Jul. 9th, 2010 06:30 pm
tempestsarekind: (books and flowers)
Poking around on the internets for images led me to the V&A website, which led me to a sketch model of the head of Medusa for Cellini's statue of Perseus:
http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O85845/statuette-head-of-medusa/

I love Cellini's Perseus, and its odd sense of menace, so I was interested to see this.

Not sure what to make of this one, though:
"Rosary bead, Memento mori," ca. 1525-1550
http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O92557/rosary-bead-memento/
tempestsarekind: (viola reading)
So I was actually looking for some other book on Shakespeare, but came across Elizabethan Demonology: An Essay by Thomas Alfred Spalding (London: Chatto and Windus, 1880) along the way. This book was dedicated to Robert Browning, so you can file that in your random trivia bank, I guess. At any rate, instead of a table of contents, the book has an "Analysis" listing the sections of the book and a brief description of each. The descriptions are things like this:

38. Names of greater devils. Horribly uncouth.

......

45. Catholic belief in devil's power to create bodies. 46. Reformers
deny this, but admit that he deceives people into believing that he
can do so: either by getting a hold of a dead body, and restoring
animation. 47. Or by means of illusion. 48. The common people stuck to
the Catholic tradition. Devils appear in likeness of an ordinary human
being. 49. Even a living one, which was sometimes awkward.


But, you know, only sometimes.
tempestsarekind: (viola reading)
So I was actually looking for some other book on Shakespeare, but came across Elizabethan Demonology: An Essay by Thomas Alfred Spalding (London: Chatto and Windus, 1880) along the way. This book was dedicated to Robert Browning, so you can file that in your random trivia bank, I guess. At any rate, instead of a table of contents, the book has an "Analysis" listing the sections of the book and a brief description of each. The descriptions are things like this:

38. Names of greater devils. Horribly uncouth.

......

45. Catholic belief in devil's power to create bodies. 46. Reformers
deny this, but admit that he deceives people into believing that he
can do so: either by getting a hold of a dead body, and restoring
animation. 47. Or by means of illusion. 48. The common people stuck to
the Catholic tradition. Devils appear in likeness of an ordinary human
being. 49. Even a living one, which was sometimes awkward.


But, you know, only sometimes.
tempestsarekind: (queen of fairies)
(It was either going to be that or "but we are spirits of another sort." But I liked the pun on "rate" better.)

Anyway. From Keith Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic: Studies in Popular Beliefs in Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century England (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1971):

"The late Elizabethan and Jacobean periods witnessed a series of episodes in which professional tricksters extracted money from their victims under the pretence of investing it with the fairies. Judith Philips, a London cunning woman, was whipped through the City in 1595 after being convicted for extracting large sums of money from gullible clients prepared to pay for the privilege of meeting the Queen of the Fairies. The nefarious couple, Alice and John West, were shown in 1614 to have squeezed forty pounds out of one client on the promise of forthcoming fairy gold. An even closer approximation to the fraud portrayed in Ben Jonson's The Alchemist occurred a few years earlier, when Sir Anthony Ashley and his brother were involved in a Chancery suit arising from their efforts to extract money from a dupe in return for their promise to marry him to the Queen of Fairies." (613)


The problem with this book is that I always want the rest of the story. Why on earth were these people so desirous to see the fairies (forty pounds is a huge sum during this period! Shakespeare bought the second-largest house in Stratford for sixty pounds), and why did they believe that these tricksters had access to them? How embarrassing must it have been to go to court because you got fleeced by someone who told you that you were going to marry the Queen of the Fairies? Why were Alice and John West so nefarious? (Aside from conning people out of money with the promise of fairy gold, I mean.)
tempestsarekind: (queen of fairies)
(It was either going to be that or "but we are spirits of another sort." But I liked the pun on "rate" better.)

Anyway. From Keith Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic: Studies in Popular Beliefs in Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century England (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1971):

"The late Elizabethan and Jacobean periods witnessed a series of episodes in which professional tricksters extracted money from their victims under the pretence of investing it with the fairies. Judith Philips, a London cunning woman, was whipped through the City in 1595 after being convicted for extracting large sums of money from gullible clients prepared to pay for the privilege of meeting the Queen of the Fairies. The nefarious couple, Alice and John West, were shown in 1614 to have squeezed forty pounds out of one client on the promise of forthcoming fairy gold. An even closer approximation to the fraud portrayed in Ben Jonson's The Alchemist occurred a few years earlier, when Sir Anthony Ashley and his brother were involved in a Chancery suit arising from their efforts to extract money from a dupe in return for their promise to marry him to the Queen of Fairies." (613)


The problem with this book is that I always want the rest of the story. Why on earth were these people so desirous to see the fairies (forty pounds is a huge sum during this period! Shakespeare bought the second-largest house in Stratford for sixty pounds), and why did they believe that these tricksters had access to them? How embarrassing must it have been to go to court because you got fleeced by someone who told you that you were going to marry the Queen of the Fairies? Why were Alice and John West so nefarious? (Aside from conning people out of money with the promise of fairy gold, I mean.)

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