Monday, April 30, 2007

Paper done...

My paper is done and turned in. It's out of my hands now and all I can do is hope for a good grade. I know it's got to at least be good enough for a C, as long as I didn't screw up on the citations in my haste and exhaustion there at the end. In any case, barring extreme mishap, I'm not worrying about it. I'm always nervous about citations.

So that's a huge weight off my shoulders.

Now, it only remains to decide what fun crafty thing (besides a certain surprise I'm working on) I should start on first. ;D ::sighs:: I love the end of the school year!

Sunday, April 29, 2007


I'm taking an extended break from fixing my term paper... I'm going to say that it's coming along well, whether it is or not... and I made myself something yummy. Currently, I'm trying to keep my cat, Dixie, out of my lap so that I can eat it and type this out. Apparently, "No, kitty, this is my pot pie!" isn't sufficient in getting the message across. She is quite insistent.

I did not make pot pie though. I made an apple tansy.

It's something I first heard of a number of years ago when I was watching Al Roker's Christmas in Williamsburg food special on the Food Network. It's kinda like a Swedish pancake, I think... This is how I make it, it's a combination of two or three different recipes, and it will probably feed at least two people (more if the people have small appetites).

- 2 good eating apples
- 4 eggs, separated
- 3 tbsp milk or cream (if you're in to that sort of thing)
- 1/2 cup sugar or Splenda
- 1/4 all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 2 tbsp butter/margarine/Smart Balance
- 2 tbsp rum (dark or light, your choice)
- confectioner's sugar or brown sugar for garnishing

Take 2 good eating apples, skin them and slice them thinly. Fry them in a large skillet over medium to medium-low heat in butter/margarine/Smart Balance for several minutes, until they begin to soften. Remove from direct heat. Beat four egg yokes with milk/cream, sugar/Splenda, flour, nutmeg. Beat egg whites until stiff and carefully fold into the egg yoke mixture (they don't have to stay fluffy, but beating the whites separately will produce a fluffier tansy in the end). Pour the egg mixture over the apples and return the pan to the medium to medium-low heat. Low heat is crucial because if the pan is too hot, the mixture will burn on the bottom and still be runny in the middle. When the mixture bubbles at the edges (probably after about 2 - 4 minutes), turn carefully. Now, I myself have only turned a tansy once without having it fall apart. If it does, don't worry - it will still taste good, even if it isn't pretty. (In the Williamsburg special, a large pie pan was used to flip the tansy, and it was finished in the pie pan on an open hearth and then cut into slices as if it were a pie.) After frying the other side for several minutes, turn out onto a plate and garnish with confectioner's sugar or brown sugar, if you wish.

Seriously yummy... Ah, well... back to work!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Officially, the last day of class!

And we had no class! Poor Prof. M got sick and had to be taken to the hospital less than a half hour before our test today, so it was canceled. We're all extremely concerned about her. We don't know exactly what happened, but if she was admitted to the hospital, several of us want to go visit her, even though I'm sure she would be horrified. She has no family in the States and she'll just have to understand that this is what people in America do, they visit people they care about when they are admitted to the hospital. And technically speaking, we're not her students right now (with the exception of the exam next Friday, which I don't expect to have to take, although I guess I will be taking my exam for her Roman Lit class... ah well... several people other than myself are not her students right now). Of the students that were in the classroom at the time this happened, they said that her major objection to any of them actually driving her to the hospital themselves was that they were her students and it would be unprofessional. Jordan said she almost didn't want to let him help her out of the building to the cab she had called. She was in a lot of pain and very sick though so it was absolutely necessary. She seemed most upset though over our grades and what we would think and what her colleges would think about her needing to leave like that. Those who were there said they assured her that their grades were the last thing they were worried about. Still, she said that she would double everyone's highest test grade to compensate for the loss of this last test, and she would contact us via e-mail later about the final exam.

Also, most disturbing, I heard through the grape vine from a few other Classics students (not in our class) that due to some thing with the fact that she has to renew a visa every year, she also has to reapply for her position at USF, and she only found out about this in the last week or so. I think that, if this is true, this is total bs and USF should be ashamed of themselves for having such a ridiculous policy. But, if it is true, this would explain why she's been so concerned with her professional performance recently. However, I've quietly told quite a few of my classmates about this possibility and every single one of them said that they are all perfectly willing to literally camp out in the Dean's office if the school thinks, even for half a second, of firing her. We will go to bat for her if we have to. She is *not* loosing her job. Most especially not for being sick at the end of the semester, if that's what she's worried about. We just won't allow it.

After the shock wore off, I walked around trying to find some of our classmates for a secret project which I won't mention on the very unlikely possibility of Prof. M reading my blog right now. And out in front of the Arts & Sciences building, the Pentecostals were back, but there were even more of them (apparently, they breed like rabbits - Tuesday there was 1, yesterday there were 6, and today there were about 10). But I had come prepared today with a copy of the exorcism ritual in Latin. As soon as I said that we needed someone to read it, Jordan grabbed it, jumped up on top of a table so he could kind of lean over them from above and began chanting in Latin. It was awesome! People were like "what is that?" "It's Latin" "But what does it mean?" I told someone it was an exorcism ritual I had found and people were giving me high-fives and shaking my hand for my clever idea, and the word went around and soon, most people were highly amused. The funniest thing was that the Pentecostals were totally dumbfounded. The looks on their faces were totally priceless. They just stood there in total shock, like a lot of other people did when Jordan first started reading. And then the one with the hunters'-camo hat on said, "You sound like a demon-possessed Pope with long hair!" That was the best he could come up with. Jordan didn't miss a beat though and continued as if he hadn't said anything at all. Did I mention that Jordan kinda looks like Jesus in traditional Christian art? All were mightily impressed. Pictures...

These were the signs the Pentecostals were carrying...

This was the guy with hunter-camo hat. Isn't he just as I described? The kid standing next to him was someone I don't know, but I am highly amused by his little impromptu sign.

And these last three are Jordan exorcising the preacher's demon:

See, doesn't he kinda look like Jesus? Also, notice the Pope-like gesture he's making with his hand as he's reading the Latin ritual. :D

So I'm done with classes for the semester. I have the final draft of my term paper to turn in by the end of the day on Monday, and then the aforementioned Roman Lit final next Friday, and that will be it. Quite excited about this...

Oh and as of today, I have an entire gallon ziplock bag full of marigolds for my dyeing project. I couldn't fit another flower head in there if I wanted to. And I also found more dyers' chamomile growing wild in the flower beds. As I think I said before, I planted it last year, not knowing what it was other than it was delightfully cheery, but they didn't do very well. But I guess they did well enough to reseed themselves or something because they are back and popping up all over the place. There are also little pokeweed plants coming up all over the place. I should have plenty if I decide to do anything more with those.

Wow! What a day!

In a good way... I think... It seems like many days all squished into one... Has this ever happened to you?

I went to Latin this... yesterday morning... well, early afternoon - at 1pm. We had a nice class. We have an exam tom-- today! So it was mostly going over last minutes stuff and things that will be on the final exam next week, this being the last class before the last class when we're going to be busy with a test instead of reviewing for the final... Anyway! (can you tell I'm really tired? I am... but I have to write this down first.) So at the end of class, our poor professor, Prof. M, who had all 4 of her wisdom teeth taken out last Friday and is still very doped up on Vicadin and very swollen so that her accent is even more pronounced, she said her goodbye til tomorrow and then said something about "nobody bother Jordan." Well, we turn to look, and there's Jordan, leaning against the wall, sound asleep. Poor thing had been up all night the night before working on stuff. The whole class just about died. But, not wanting to wake him, we did that quietly. We were gathering our stuff up, and he still didn't wake up. So I think it was Amber said, "Come on, everybody come outside and then we'll slam the door!" We all thought this was a great idea, so the whole class, laughing quietly at our cleverness the whole way, went out the front door, instead of the back, which would have taken us right past Jordan, which might have woken him up, and we gathered just outside the door. Some people went to stand by the back door, which was just a few feet down the hall, so that they could look in the little window and see what happened when we slammed the door. So as soon as Michael, the last left in the room, came out into the hall, Amber pulled the very heavy and notoriously loud door shut with a resounding *bang!* Which I'm sure the entire floor heard. The entire class then nearly killed ourselves laughing (I'm sure neighboring classes were very displeased). Those at the back door most especially because they got to see Jordan jump up at the noise, while the rest of us only imagined what it must have looked like. He came outside moments later, red-faced that he had fallen asleep in class without realizing it or intending to, and he took it all with very good grace, most especially considering how very tired he was.

Then I went to lunch with Stacy at the student union and we called up Mia because she had been absent from class. Turns out, she was just waking up after a late night of working on homework and other trivial things. ;D So we told her to get out of bed and join us, which she did just in time for Stacy to be leaving to go home with her boyfriend for lunch. I was the only one of us who ate lunch right then. So Mia and I went over to the Marshall Center where a (self-identified) Pentecostal preacher had set himself up, wearing a hunters'-camo baseball-type hat, a white dress shirt, nice black pants and waving a King James Bible in his hand. He also brought his wife, conservatively dressed and with hair in a long pony-tail that nearly reached her knees because she's never cut her hair, and their three children of about 5, 3, and just a few months old. He said he had brought them with him so that we, heathens though we are, would be less inclined to spew profanities at him. What-ev. I mentioned to Mia that I had translated the entire exorcism ritual from "Supernatural" the night before and that if we were braver and had some Holy Water, we could try to exorcise the demon that must be in his very disturbed head. She laughed and I have resolved to bring a copy with me tomorrow in the hopes of finding someone who is willing to try it because I am not brave that way.

By the time our Roman Lit class came around, Professor M (the same we have for Latin) was no where to be found. The class starts at 3:30, and by 3:45 she was still not there. Amanda, myself and another student whose name I don't know went to investigate and we found that Prof. M and the head of the Classics department were both gone and the one person over in the Classics part of the Arts & Sciences building had no idea where they had gone. But he decided, since our whole class was there and had been expecting to have class, he would try to teach it, just because. He tried, but didn't quite get there really, because his specialty is Ancient Greek Literature, and apparently that's different enough from Roman to make a significant difference. We were supposed to have read the Dinner Party at Trimalchio's chapter of the Satyricon (Which was highly amusing, I must say!). The professor tried to help us discuss it, but after about 15 minutes decided he really didn't know enough about it to teach a class like that spur of the moment, so he let us go. Later I found out that Prof. M was feeling very poorly and the Classics department head, who is also a very good friend of hers, drove her home because she could not continue for the rest of the day and she couldn't drive herself home. They were in such a hurry to leave that they did not even leave word that the class was canceled or why they were leaving unexpectedly. For this to have happened, I know she must have been feeling absolutely awful because she has an amazing work ethic and practically has to be on her deathbed to not teach a class. I hope she is better very soon. She's too nice a person to be under the weather.

So having class canceled like that threw off the day a bit. It was like we had had class, but we hadn't. So I went to the library where Mia was studying for our Latin test which is... today... until I had to leave to head over to the mall where my seminar class was meeting at Mr. Dunderbak's, a very interesting German "beirgarten" and restaurant. They have over 16 imported German beers on tap and pretty much anything else you can think of in a can or a bottle. I don't drink like that, so I had a diet coke, and a Reuben for dinner. It was yummy... Not the best I've ever had (that honor goes to a little place at Five Points in Columbia, SC), but it was good. After talking about the Professor's own dissertation from 6:30 - 8:30, we broke up. It was an interesting class experience in a restaurant instead of a classroom. I kind of wish that all of our seminar classes had been conducted that way.

Then I returned to the Library where I worked on Latin with Mia, Olivia, Stacy and Jordan until around 2 am, when the Library closed and Mia, Jordan and I decided a run to Denny's was in order. It was all very interesting. Jordan is a philosophy major - Neo-Platonic philosophy especially, and something else I either can't remember the name of or can't pronounce right now, and it's far too late to try - and he takes it all quite seriously, so he's got some interesting ideas about how the universe works, which he's always quite willing to share. It's nice though that he acknowledges that it's not for everyone though and that that's okay. For example, he says that trees don't have souls. I, however, like to think that trees do have souls simply because it makes me happy to think this. I love trees. He says that it's my tendency as a human being to anthropomorphize my environment, which I don't deny is exactly the case, but that's all okay. I think if he couldn't acknowledge such things that it would be very difficult talking to him... Still interesting no doubt, but probably difficult. It still is difficult in some respects because while in some ways he's quite enlightened, in others he's stodgily narrow - such as the whole what makes a Jew a Jew question and whether or not homosexuals have the ability to be Jews (that's right, the *ability*, he says, which he says they don't). He has far-out-there, "No, Jordan, you're totally wrong! And couldn't be more so! Why are you such an idiot about this!" opinions in these areas I have found (and not cause I was fishing either), but as long as I steer clear of these topics, we're good. Mia, by that time, was almost completely asleep on her feet. So I shuttled them back to their places around 3:30-ish and was home around 4 am...

Now, to sleep myself before my typing becomes so incoherent the spell checker will self-destruct!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Non Timebo Mala and other things...

I've had products on for a while now. Doesn't make all that much money. Took about three years to get it up to about $50. But that did buy me two super cute t-shirts.

Because of my recent obsession with both Supernatural and Latin, I've created a new line of products that I'm still working on. After looking around the cafepress site for swag, I was shocked to find that no one has done anything with "non timebo mala," which is engraved into the barrel of the mystical Colt revolver which has been imbued with the power to kill anything between heaven and earth. It means "I will fear no evil." 'Tis a very big deal on the show, but no one's done anything with it. So I've taken it upon myself and put up a new store. I'd like to find a public domain silhouette image of an old Colt revolver to add to the t-shirts, but I haven't been able to find anything yet. If anyone happens to know where I can get my hands on an image, please do let me know... I wish I were better with graphics programs so that I might be able to make one myself.

I'd also like my own image of the Metallicar (so called because it's an amazing black '67 Chevy Impala, in which Dean is constantly blasting classic rock music... like Metallica... though really most often it's AC/DC and "Back In Black" has become her theme song) for a totally different line of products based on the fans' love of the Metallicar. She is the third character on the show. Dean calls her "Baby" and I would prefer to stick with his terminology, but fans will be fans and come up with their own lingo for things.

Here is a video tribute to her which I found:

And for the whole story of the Metallicar, you can just watch this:

So yeah... I want to do some of those products, but haven't done so yet...

For other things I've thrown together you can see any and/or all of these stores:


There will be more after the semester is over and I have more free time to waste creating products...

Saturday, April 21, 2007

List of crafty things to do in early Summer...

In no particular order, these are the things I need to do:

- Continue working on getting the dye plant garden going... Plant zinnias and cosmos asap! And I need to get some dyers' chamomile...

- Work on getting the koi pond actually working so we can at least think about getting fish...

- Make Dashing mitts for Zinzi's b-day/going to grad school present...

- Make another Odessa hat, this one for Susan's friend, who has been diagnosed with cancer.

- Assess how much undyed handspun I have and divide it up according to how much dyestuffs I have...

- Dye a batch of wool with marigolds...

- Set a vat of indigo to fermenting...

- Dye with indigo...

- Make soap with Maria-Carmen...

- Spin more of my wool stash!

- Make my knitted "Bene Lava" bath mat out of sisal or jute twine and a couple of dowels... It's based on this mosaic fake-mat from a bath house in Pompii:

Bene Lava means "Wash Well!" in Latin. I think it would be cute outside a shower or something...

- I need to at least *try* really hard to get paint and start on the mural in my bathroom... It's inspired by Santorini, Greece:

I have not been there, but as you can see, it looks like a lovely place to go... The sketch for this has been on the bathroom walls going on two full years and I have yet to do anything except lay down the blue base...

Gonna get a little personal...

Hope you're not squeamish about such things... I used to be, but not so much anymore... This is where my feminism really shows - I see no reason why menstruation shouldn't be dinner table conversation if one has reason to bring it up... I think not only would it empower older women, but it would also help young adult women feel more comfortable with the changes they're experiencing growing up, and encourage dialogue and exchange of knowledge, instead of rumor, shame and superstition. I acknowledge, however, that not everyone agrees with this.

Anyway, on to the topic at hand...

Cloth maxi-pads... (Who came up with the term "maxi-pad" anyway... It seems a rather odd term to me...) I'd like to make some at some point... Maybe this summer. I'm really tired of contributing to land-fills, but at the same time, I'm *so* not feeling the idea of the "Moon-Cup" and similar products, both because I'm just not a tampon kind of person and they really haven't been tested for safety, as far as things like endometriosis goes. So - cloth pads are looking like a good alternative. I found a pattern here, a site which also sells organic fabrics, which are expensive, but since it doesn't take all that much fabric to make pads, I'm thinking of buying some for this project. I really like that not only is it organic, but it's also unbleached, undyed and hasn't been exposed to all the nasty chemicals that pollute the environment and our bodies like traditional maxi-pads and fabric do. (This site, NearSea Naturals, also has organic yarns and other assorted goodies - really a very dangerous place for someone like me.)

I was talking to Olivia about all this several weeks ago, and I'm thinking I'll throw a party at some point and any of my friends who are interested can get together with fabric, the patterns, and at least my sewing machine (if not others as well) and we can work some up while watching fabulous movies, kvetching and eating pizza. Perhaps we can even save money by chipping in together for fabric? I think it will be a lot of fun.

If one gets fabric from NearSea Naturals for these pads, they do provide guidelines. You need cotton flannel and cotton batting. As it says on the pattern page: one yard of 60" wide flannel should make your choice of 9 pantyliners or 5 minipads with 5 inserts; two yards should make 6 regular holders with 7 inserts, 5 maxi holders with 7 inserts... So I figure 5 yards would be more than enough to start with to make a variaty of pads. Natural Soft Flannel is what they recommend. So for a little more than $50.00, there's the fabric. There's also organic cotton thread and in addition to that you also need snaps. So I would guess altogether you can outfit yourself for less than $70 (much less, if you don't care to go the organic route, although I encourage you to at least consider unbleached cotton fabrics - check or your local crafts stores). If you consider how much you probably spend on disposable products every year, I'd say that's a really nice savings over time.

New Knitting Books

I recently got some money for watching the neighbors dogs while they were away for a few days. I had no idea what I wanted to spend it on, but finally I discovered the need for two new knitting books. They arrived from amazon today, and I have to tell everyone: they are the most lovely and useful knitting books I've ever seen.

The first one is called Cables Untangled: An Explanation of Cable Knitting by Melissa Leapman. If you've never knit cables before or if you're so good that you're practically an Aran native, you still need this book if you're interested in knitting cables. It is so full of the most amazing cable patterns I can hardly contain myself. There are sweaters for men, women and kids, scarfs, hats, a skirt, a cute purse... But I have to say that the most amazing things are the "accents for the home." There are at least two pillow patterns, a gorgeous rug with faux cabled tassels (which is so going in my room as soon as I've made it!), and several afghan patterns. It also has an index of over 100 cable stitches with pictures of each in the back. Totally stunning! I bought it because of the pattern featured on the cover of the book, but this will quickly become my favorite book to drool over for all the other wonders hidden between its covers. I cannot wait to get started on some of these patterns. The hardest part will be deciding *where* to start.

The other book is perhaps a little more out there and odd: The Knitted Rug: 21 Fantastic Designs by Donna Druchunas. The cover of this one was also what attracted me to it, but the patterns are all equally stunning. In addition to the patterns, there is discussion of the history of knitted rugs, basic stitches, types of yarn, needle sizes, as well as tips on technique and care instructions especially for knitting rugs. Then on to the patterns...

It starts with the simple garter stitch rugs. They might be made with the simplest of knit stitches, the first thing that most knitters learn, making them appropriate for knitters of all skill levels, but they are still beautiful. There are spiral knit circular rugs, simple rectangles, mittered squares and log-cabin patchwork.

Then it's on to knit-and-purl rugs, where texture is created by juxtaposing garter stitch, reverse stockenette, and stockenette. There are more spirals, moss stitch, and basket-weave.

The next section is about something I didn't know was possible: knit rugs with pile! There's a shag rug (made with Lion Cotton!), something that looks kind of like a verticle-patterned berber, a traditional thick-piled type rug, and a rug which alternates smooth stockenette and thick shag for something very unique.

The next section is about "color work." There's an intarsia, a fair isle, a mosiac (I'm not sure what the difference is, but the distinction is made), and a color block rug (which is very bright and also very textured and is pictured in a baby's room).

Then the last chapter: Textured Rugs (as if the earlier ones aren't textured). There are two felted rugs and two cabled rugs. My obsession with cables will continue on from the Cables Untangled rug to these and all three will eventually go into my bedroom. They might overlap, but they're going to be in there!

Several of the rug patterns have variations which are also pictured and instructions for how to make coordinating pillows and other home decor items. All kinds of yarns are used, from cheap synthetics to expensive designer yarns, homespun, natural fibers, to ambiguous generalizations of "bulky yarn" or "super-bulky" based on a rough guage recommendation. These are rugs, so guage is not a huge deal, as long as the fabric is of the desired finished consistancy.

I don't know what I'm going to do with myself this summer because I want to knit pretty much every pattern in both of these books... and that's over 40 patterns! Whatever will I do! ... Whatever it is, it's going to be a lot of fun!


Joy is a wonderful thing. Shared joy is even better. I have joy to share. It's not mine, but that's okay...

My dear friend Zinzi was notified today that she's been accepted to Yale's Epidemiology and Microbial Diseases Masters of Science program for Fall of 2007. So she will be moving to New Haven, Connecticut this summer to get settled for classes. ::claps: This is such wonderful news for her and I couldn't be happier.

Also, my dear friend Joe and his graduating Graphic Arts class had their art show this evening in Saint Petersburg. It was lovely. His piece was filmed and appeared on the local evening news advertising the show. I think it was the most wonderful thing in the show and he got many compliments. I, like many others, am very proud of all that he's accomplished.

Thursday, April 19, 2007


I got the "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy" shirt because of my long-standing love for "The Magnificent Seven" tv show... woefully canceled in 2000. Since then, though, CBS hasn't produced anything I think is worth watching. Their loss... Anyway, the second season will be on DVD at the end of May. V. excited about that.

And here's the song vid I found on myspace which precipitated the need for the shirt:

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

What a day!

Such a mess of a day! I sware...

Was a total mess in Latin... This whole perfect passive participle thing is killing me... Not how to form it. I get that... but how to translate it? Hehe... I wish! It's not coming as instinctively as all the other tenses and forms have. We're told constantly in English classes that passive voice is bad, bad, bad... Drilled to never do it, even while we aren't told precisely what it is (because grammar education in this country sucks)... Even though it isn't incorrect, strictly speaking, it's just not "the most correct." ::rolls eyes:: what ever...

But what *really* killed me today was my seminar tonight. We had to turn in our rough drafts last Monday, or I should say more precisely, my half of the class did. We did this to the other half of the class last week. So for tonight's class, those of us who turned our papers in this week had our papers ripped apart by everyone else. I guess I'm sensitive about such things... or maybe its because even after all the info I've gathered, I still don't feel I have a handle on it, or perhaps it's just because I already felt this paper sucked... I don't know, but that was damn hard. I didn't argue with people like most others did. I didn't defend it and I tried really hard to explain myself, but I think even I didn't know what I was saying most of the time. ::sighs::

And this one woman... whom I shall not name... I don't know what her issue is, but she has about as much tact as a ton of bricks that's been thrown off the top of the Empire State Building. She couldn't form her questions in a more condescending, "how could you dream of saying something like *this*!" kind of way... I sware... I refuse to take it personally (if I keep saying it, eventually, I'll believe it) because she was doing the same thing to everyone... Questioning the sources I used, questioning their validity, as if it were my mistake, as if I should know the answer or know better. Very abrassive... I don't know if they're right or wrong! I'm an undergrad with exactly 6 classes in the Medieval period! That hardly gives me the knowledge or experience I'd need to question a PhDed historian who at least thinks that they themselves are right in their interpretation!

I don't perform well verbally when under pressure, so I was quite flustered. I tell you, I don't wish the experience on anyone.

I also don't question things until I feel I have all the information. This is just my nature. I ask questions I need to ask to gain more information, but unless something conflicts with another source, I don't question it... and I certainly don't answer questions myself. And I don't form my own interpretation until I have all the info either... This is why I never speak in classes. I listen to what everyone else has to say about something and I come to my own opinion on a particular topic slowly... It develops over months, sometimes years of incubation. So being put into a position like I was this evening, I can't tell you how very flustered I was. It sucked... really hard...

For the rest of the class, I felt like I was going to be sick. I almost got up a few times to get some air outside, but I was afraid if I moved that much I'd be sick. So I just stayed in my seat and tried not to look obviously upset. That took most of my concentration... And I'm not even sure it was successful because I have one of those faces where you can see what I'm thinking by looking at me and I really can't hide it (unless I'm actively lying... I am a really good liar when I want to be...)... And even when I got home a little while ago, I still felt a little nauseous. This was why I had wanted to go last, I knew I'd have this reaction and be perfectly useless to anyone for anything for the rest of the time I was required to be there... but the prof decided that I had to go *next* to last. All I know about the last paper was that it was about the waste of fishmongers and butchers in Medieval London and the problems that it caused for the other townspeople. Even so, I really don't think that it contributed to the nausea at all...

I can't even bring myself to look seriously at the rough draft copy I got back from the prof... I just can't take it right now... I have to let it sit until at least Friday... maybe Saturday... so that I can detatch myself from taking it personally. I didn't used to have this reaction it seems to me... It seems that it is a new problem... I didn't used to get reactions like this to the papers I wrote either... I think it's because... it's almost like he grades them and considers them on a graduate scale or something. I dunno...

I'm thinking I don't want to be a historian... I'm thinking I want to look into Classics or Literature or... or folk crafts or something... something that can be open to interpretation that's not right or wrong, only opinion... or be so concrete that there is no interpretation, there's only what it is... I don't like all this conflict and derision. It seems to me that History is open to interpretation so long as the majority agrees with it, but at the same time, we're constantly told we have to come up with out own, new, never-before-seen-that-way interpretation... and then we get shot down like a USAF jet-fighter over Germany circa 1943. It stresses me out too damn much! For goodness sake, this is the kind of class I'd have all through grad school with History! I don't know if I could stand that... I'm starting to wonder what I ever liked about it 'cause it sure isn't the Academia aspect of it!

But I'll stew over it for a while, as I do with everything else, before I make a decision. My life is nothing but options at this point, which is both a blessing and a curse...

The only bright spots of the day were Latin class (because it can't be anything but, even when it's hard), Roman Lit (again for the same reason), eating lunch with Stacey, one of my friends from Latin, seeing Maria for all of 2 seconds (both she and I are *so* busy right now!), and arriving home to discover that my "Save A Horse, Ride A Cowboy" t-shirt had come in the mail and it fits! I will wear it to Latin tomorrow. :D

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Advocate Article on "Alexander Revisited"

Note before you read the article, just so no one is shocked... The Advocate, evidently, doesn't bother to delete expletives as other publications do...

February 28, 2007
Alexander revisited
Arts and entertainment editor Corey Scholibo speaks with Oliver Stone about this week's DVD release of the third and final version of his controversial film Alexander.

By Corey Scholibo

Few directors have been accused of letting down fans so spectacularly as Oliver Stone for his epic box office flop Alexander. And the disappointment was made all the greater for our initial high hopes. In November 2004, when the theatrical release of Alexander was announced, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation issued a statement praising the film: “For a big-budget Hollywood movie about historical figures, Alexander breaks new ground. Not only are there sexually charged moments between Alexander [Colin Farrell] and Bagoas [Francisco Bosch], but Hephaistion [Jared Leto] is clearly portrayed as the true love of Alexander’s life—and their romance is one of the central themes of the movie.”

In concept, yes, it was great. But in reality, there were problems. First, the accents—Jared Leto's Irish brogue; Angelina Jolie's nasal Romanian, which sounded like an ancient precursor to Natasha from Rocky and Bullwinkle. They seemed out of place and confounded audiences who expect the King’s English from their epics. There was Colin Farrell’s hated blond locks that apparently no one bought. And of course there was that whole gay thing. It is widely believed that Warner Bros. blamed the film’s poor domestic box office—roughly $34 million for a film that cost $155 million to make—on Stone’s inclusion of Alexander’s much-debated homosexuality.

Facing the biggest disappointment of his career, Stone retreated in his 2005 DVD Alexander: The Director's Cut, paring the film down from 176 minutes to an apparently more digestible 167 and specifically cutting some of the few references to Alexander’s sexual relationships with men. GLAAD and LGBTs turned on Stone for what amounted to nine minutes of footage and for describing his new version as an attempt to make the film “more accessible.” The blogosphere erupted in outrage that such a champion of the truth (JFK, Nixon, Born on the Fourth of July) had found the one truth he was not willing to stand behind. That was pretty much it: Stone had lost, the studio had won, and the movie would forever be a blight on his career and a sore spot for his gay and lesbian fans. That is, until this week, when Stone and Warner Bros. release yet another version of the belabored epic, Alexander Revisited: The Final Cut.

I must admit that I have been a champion of the film since the beginning. It’s not his best effort technically or otherwise, but I have always applauded such audacity. After all, how can one film capture the life and legend of history’s most influential leader? We are talking about a man who united the world for the first time, bringing together disparate cultures across continents. And for us, capturing the world's most famous homosexual, bisexual, or queer (call him what you may) sets the bar even higher. No matter what you might think of the film, Stone proves his similarity to Alexander: “His failures tower over other men’s successes,” as Ptolemy says.

I reached Stone on the phone as he was driving from one appointment to another and gave him an opportunity to put the Alexander outcry to rest. He sounded enthusiastic to talk about a film that most of the country, and surely the film industry, would just as soon forget. In the beginning of the third and final version of the film, Stone tells the viewer that this is the film (all 220 minutes of it) that he intended to make all along. And still, Stone is not completely at peace. In our interview he laments the limitations of the American film audience and our inability to accept the story.

[The Advocate] So have you been doing a lot of interviews for this DVD yet?
[Oliver Stone] No, you’re the first one. I’m surprised you saw it so quickly.

[The Advocate] I’ve been tracking it for a while, trying to get my hands on it. I got it on Saturday and watched it on Sunday.
[Oliver Stone] I think [The Advocate] is an important publication.

[The Advocate] Did the original theatrical release of Alexander turn out the way you wanted it?
[Oliver Stone] The first version that [audiences] saw was the theatrical cut of two hours and 57 minutes, which was the best that I could do. I was held to the limitation of it being handled in two hours or less. That was sort of the unwritten rule, it was in the contract to some degree…people won’t tolerate the 3:20 or 3:30 movies anymore, and certainly they don’t encourage intermissions anymore.

[The Advocate] When it came to Alexander’s sexuality, do you feel that some of that had to be sacrificed for the run time in order to get everything you wanted in?
[Oliver Stone] I cut the movie I wanted. I blame nobody, but there was tremendous negativity toward the Bagoas character from people.

[The Advocate] What kind of people?
[Oliver Stone] American people, not European people.

[The Advocate] In this version there’s a lot more screen time with Bagoas added.
[Oliver Stone] The story that we shot is allowed to play out, and it shows, to me, a more tender side of Alexander. He really liked Bagoas, and I think there was a class difference. But there was a different relationship between Alexander and Hephaistion…I never felt that he and Alexander were lovers after youth. I felt that they had a bond created from their youth that was indestructible, but I don’t think they continued that relationship.

[The Advocate] Not a sexual relationship like Bagoas?
[Oliver Stone] Bagoas was the main one in Alexander’s life.

[The Advocate] So in the scene where Hephaistion asks, “I could spend the night?” was that—
[Oliver Stone] It was more of “Spend the night with me; I miss you.” Like friendship. “I want you to be here, and I have problems that I want to talk about with you."

[The Advocate] Right, but do you view theirs as a love story? I really felt that, when I saw your first construction of Alexander, theirs was the love story of the movie, more than any other person in his life.
[Oliver Stone] It was the love of his life in that sense of the word. When [Greeks] made love they kept very straight about it [in terms of its sacredness]. With the passing of sperm was the passing of wisdom, literally, so that’s why the older man always took on the younger man, to pass on his wisdom. And what happened between Alexander and Bagoas, it wasn't old men, it was equal. It was different. It was more like a modern version. But [Alexander and Hephaistion] had a profound love. They had a…what’s the word in Greek? It’s not eros, it’s…agape. It was love of wisdom too. And they had a relationship, and when Hephaistion died, Alexander had the greatest funeral ever seen that we know of in the Greek world up until that moment.

It is very complicated to make a movie completely from the Greek paradigm of homosexuality, where there is no "gay," and then try and make a modern audience who live in very rigid ideas of sexual identity accept it.

[The Advocate] Did you anticipate any of the problems of a modern take on an ancient idea?
[Oliver Stone] I was hoping that people would move on and be sophisticated about it. I was surprised by the degree of loudness over the homosexuality…I think it’s shocking, especially when it’s tied to military men. And I felt that on many levels in this country. Not in Europe, we didn't feel it there. But I’m really proud of [Alexander Revisted]. I think it’s the right version because it wasn't truncated for theatrical releases. I know the fact that we can't do 3 1/2 hours anymore in theaters.

[The Advocate] I know. I loved that in this version you put in an intermission.
[Oliver Stone] I spent a long time writing and researching it, and the material value was worth [an intermission], like an epic. In the epics that I grew up on, you had an intermission at the two-hour mark and an hour-and-a-half second part, and it worked. It wasn’t just Lawrence of Arabia; there were dozens and dozens of films like that. I don’t know when you grew up, but in the 1950s—

[The Advocate] Even Giant had an intermission originally.
[Oliver Stone] Many, many, many. Bad ones and good ones, but it was an experience, and it was understood. It’s not like the theater is today. People have accepted it. I think they need a little time to think about it, talk about the picture, give it time. Then they go back after 20 minutes, after having a little rest, and then you watch the second part, which is the resolution, and usually that would be faster.

[The Advocate] That’s the beauty of DVD, though. You can make it as long as you want. And maybe it is all necessary. So many people had problems with Colin Farrell in the movie, but in this version he gets all these additional great scenes, like the scene with Bagoas at the end, when he is dying and you really see his affection for him. And the scene in the tent with Hephaistion and Bagoas, when he has just killed Cleitus and he is at his weakest, and you see they are the only ones he can trust and rely on. Both those scenes add an amazing amount of depth to Colin's performance.
[Oliver Stone] And I cut both of them. I had to really cut them down, and I think that I hurt the perception of Colin. I think he did a really great job, I really do. I think it’s a career-defying role, and I’m sorry that he was looked poorly at because of his partygoing behavior…I think he was unfairly and harshly treated.

[The Advocate] So you had your original version in the theater, and then you did a director’s cut DVD, and there was a lot of controversy about you toning down his sexuality.
[Oliver Stone] There was, but I think that it was misunderstood. I said to myself, Well, you have to cut this movie down anyway, and [the studio] is a major factor in this release. [They] control America plus several major territories, so I said, Look, if it makes them happy if there’s no transsexual in this movie... [laughs].

But frankly, the Bagoas story is a beautiful story. I love it. It tells the story of Alexander, but is it really essential to the plot? I suppose not. That’s part of the fidgeting that goes behind the theatrical release. You have to get to the point.

[The Advocate] And even when you put Bagoas back in, there really isn't any explicit sexuality—it’s more of an intense kiss in bed. There isn't a sex scene per se, like there is one with Rosario Dawson’s character. What’s the thinking behind that?
[Oliver Stone] It was a dramatic choice, because I felt that if he had been with [inaudible], then he had been with Bagoas in’s a question of timing, it’s a question of pace. At the point in the movie when [inaudible] and I hear a cut, Alexander’s continuing journey with his conspiracy of overthrowing Parmenion and you see the new cut where he’s [inaudible] Bagoas. It’s the function of pace. It didn't call for a sex scene at that point. The pacing was not such that it was cost-cutting, but I wanted to make it tender, and I find it sexy in a way. Some people are horrified by Bagoas—he’s strong-looking, but frankly, it's very strong-looking. But frankly, it’s quite tender. Francesco, who was a dancer, Spanish dancer, was amazingly sensitive, and I just thought it was not only sexy, but the way that he kisses Alexander, the way they kiss, they tongue each other, whatever you want, there’s a tenderness there that you feel, and that’s what matters to me. And in a way, I thought that [scene when Bagaos dances for Alexander] in India was a carnal scene between them.

[The Advocate] Rosario Dawson’s knife dance is lengthened too, isn't it?
[Oliver Stone] Yes, it is. The dancing is important. Dancing is crucial in that period. Dancing is what attracted Alexander to [Dawson’s character] Roxane in the first place. The first time he saw her, she was dancing. At the same time, who knows what really went on behind closed doors in their relationship? He did not have a child with her until later on. She did not get pregnant for a while. If there was a question in the movie that remains one of the key questions I don't see historians asking at all, [it] was “Why was he married to this woman?” This was a huge moment, because, of course, he’s not marrying a Macedonian, which is the right thing to do for his people.

[The Advocate] He was looking way beyond what anyone else would see. He saw the future. That’s really what I thought you did effectively in the film.
[Oliver Stone] That he was blending the races?

[The Advocate] Yeah, that he could see beyond the politics. But what I have always loved is the way you move around in your stories to give the politics a character almost, and you go with the evolution of an idea rather than plot.What you have now is much more linear than the original version.
[Oliver Stone] It just gives you more time to absorb it because the battle is first. I think it’s crucial because it sets up a stronger Alexander in the beginning, and he goes to the dark side later.

[The Advocate] Some of the flack I’ve seen was over the accents, like Colin speaking in an Irish accent, and I was curious about the logic behind that.
[Oliver Stone] Well, I don't get [the criticism], frankly, because [Macedonians] are usually known as rough, and they have a very strong Celtic strain. The Celts were all over Europe before they came to Ireland. I don't have actors speaking the way they spoke in ancient Greece. When I went to cast, it was nice that Colin was a fellow Irishman, because there’s a certain Macedonian in their spirit. The Irish were always a little bit rustic over the British. I always thought the British would be more like the Athenians than the Greeks. And that the Macedonians would be Irish and Scottish too, so I put some Scots in too. And I like the brogue, so I put that in. I don't know. I love it personally. I love the way the Irish speak—there’s poetry in their voices.

[The Advocate] Angelina’s kind of a Romanian?
[Oliver Stone] You could call her that, but I don't know...she comes from this fucking district which is where Romania is, or Albania. It’s a really dark and strange place where they had mystery cults. She was definitely an outsider, so it wouldn't have hurt her to have an English accent or some kind of Bulgarian shit. Maybe it sounds too much like Natasha the Spy. I did like it.

[The Advocate] I thought you were trying to create that idea, that sort of bringing together of all cultures.
[Oliver Stone] I did. And you see, [Jolie’s character] never could be trusted. The big part of the story is that she feels not welcome. She was always doubtful. And whether she was conspiring the assassination of the father, we don't know. At the end, Ptolemy said she did. The fact is, I don't know if it’s true, but Ptolemy himself was accused. He was a chief bodyguard of Alexander. And I emphasize those looks between them in the end. They’re very subtle, but they're there. In the end, Ptolemy himself on the balcony says, “We did kill him.” And then he backs off, but I wanted to leave it deliberately mysterious, but there’s a strong motive. I mean, look at the motive. These guys were carving up their wealth, they were [inaudible] by Easterners. What reason would they have to go on? They’re fucking campaigning in Saudi Arabia, for chrissake, while most of them were dying. The guy’s a lunatic, they had to get rid of him and take the money while they could. They were material people. Alexander was of the spirit. That was sort of the idea.

Scholibo is the arts and entertainment editor of The Advocate.


I liked the accents... People complain no matter what. I've heard people complain that everyone always has English accents in period epics, and now, also they complain when they don't. It's silly really. I've said it once and I'll say it again - I thought and still think that the accents they use are appropriate and right for the characters they are portraying... And I didn't think that Angelina's accent was "nasal" at all. I quite liked her accent in particular. It made her lines roll off her tongue in quite a pretty way. There are certain lines that when she says them, I can't help but say them with her in her accent because they are kinda fun to say that way. "... one more meaningless battle over cattle" for instance. The alliteration + Bulgarian accent = fun to say. Angelina Jolie was perfect as Olympias. Olympias was a scary woman period, and even more so when it came to her son. The things she was willing to do held no bounds, and it wasn't always the healthiest thing for Alexander either. Angie has the fire and the ferocity necessary to pull that off properly without going over the top. I, honestly, cannot imagine any other actress playing Olympias now. Angie has ruined the role for me, she is so good.

Also, I liked Bagoas and I'm glad that he got more screen time and *lines* in the Final Cut. Even if his accent is rather odd *and* nasal. I think it's just the way Fran Bosch speaks. And that's okay. He's lovely. Once again, people are silly [re: "there was tremendous negativity toward the Bagoas character from people"]. So what that Bagoas was a eunuch. That wasn't nearly as uncommon back then as I'm sure most 10 year old Persian slave boys would have wished it were. And Bagoas was one of those unfortunates. Should we shun him from history and the screen because of the abuse he suffered as a child? No... Should he be considered less of a human being because he was castrated? Certainly not. (In my opinion, he shouldn't be considered less of man for it either. It wasn't something he chose.) It was an exceptionally barbaric practice, which was why the Romans eventually outlawed it. According to Renault, only 1 in 5 of boys who were castrated lived long enough to heal and be sold into harems and rich households, but I doubt that the survival rate was even that high given the risk of shock and infection in an age with no sure medical care. The people who carried out and supported the practice of castrating boys knew these statistics going into it; it was their business to know. And still they did it because it was profitable to them and those four out of five, or more, children who would die long-suffering and painful deaths were acceptable losses to them because the one boy who did live would bring in enough money to make up for the loss of the other four in monetary terms. This was how they saw human life, and not only human life, but the lives of young children. It's difficult to wrap one's mind around that. That is what should repulse people about Bagoas' life - that he was made to suffer such a thing. I'm repulsed by those who are repulsed by Bagoas himself. I don't understand how you can't do anything but love Bagoas. He survived so much, so much cruelty, on a level and extremity that I think few people alive today can imagine, let alone comprehend, and still by all accounts, he was a kind and compassionate human being. That's amazing to me. This aspect of his character from historic accounts is what Oliver has captured here and I appreciate it greatly. I do disagree, however, with Oliver on the point that Bagoas was "the main one"...

One point that Oliver (and probably most historians) and I disagree on is the matter of Alexander and Hephaistion. The truth is, after a certain point anything is a guess with them because even the historical accounts we do have were written so long after the events and in such a way that one of the only things that is clear is that even those historians were using a fair bit of imagination about them. I say, Hephaistion was the true love Alexander's life and the main one in his heart, and in his bed too as often as was practical. I am a romantic. And I love how their relationship comes through in the Final Cut... the way I read the situation anyway... Because from interviews with Oliver such as this one above, I can see that I take it in a way that Oliver didn't really intend. Agape, sure, I can see that. But I can't imagine that two people who loved each other so much would bow to social convention, when in all other ways they so consistently acted above it (not marrying Macedonian, not marrying Greek even, not marrying Darius' daughter right after Gaugamela, going against the army's wishes by continuing East for so long, proskenisis, the Susa weddings, blending cultures, etc, etc), and stop sleeping with each other just because they suddenly found themselves 20 years old and not 19 anymore... How does that compute in a real life situation? Really? I mean, if you loved someone that much, would you be able to stop engaging in a sexual relationship with them just because the rest of society said that was what was appropiate for someone your age? Honestly...? Perhaps this is one way in which I just can't get into the ancient Greek mindset. That's entirely possible and more than a bit likely... But still, I just don't see it as having happened that way... I almost want to say that it is our modern tendency toward monogomy that makes people want to see their relationship as having evolved to a "higher, non-sexual level" in their early 20s because that's when Bagoas, Barsine and others started to come into the picture. Alexander was sleeping with other people, so there must have been something that was reserved just for them, and this "higher" form of love was it. But since neither the Greeks nor the Persians understood male monogamy like this, if they had a concept of it at all (which I doubt), this interpretation - that they had a strictly agapic relationship going on - reads to me as just as much of a modern retroactively applied idea as my inability to buy into this theory just because it's the prevailing theory and my tendency toward the romantic. That the idea of their relationship having been platonic (according to the modern understanding of the term) tends to be championed by heterosexual males of modern Western culture (which is so unfriendly to ideas of fluidic sexual identity, rigidly defined as we are) does not add credence to its possible validity in my eyes. If anything, it casts greater doubt on it. They want to see Alexander and Hephaistion's relationship as having been that of close friends during their adult years because of their own cultural identity, it makes them more comfortable with it.

In short, (I know, too late, right?) I just don't get that, but whatever... and I can't wait for Laura and I to write the script for Fire From Heaven the mini series brought to us by HBO or Showtime or one of those progessive and fearless networks. We really want to... don't have the rights to... but we want to...

Friday, April 06, 2007


So Passover is this week... It started on Monday evening... We forgot... We're bad Jews... We have had matzoh in the house though and I've had some. That's, sadly, the best I've managed. Very, very bad Jew = Me, indeed.

While continuing to put off research for my term paper, I've been looking stuff up about reenacting... Found a very interesting article about the recreation of a Seder held by 20 Jewish soldiers from Ohio in 1862 in Fayette, West Virginia.

Article can be found here...

I think it's pretty cool that they did this...

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Reenacting Personas

I've had a lazy couple of hours and I'm disgusted that it's after 1 o'clock already... My Latin class was canceled due to Prof M being what must be very under the weather, so I've been sitting at my computer since 11am, doing nothing of any particular importance. I somehow got side-tracked from checking my e-mail at some point and started looking for info about Jewish women's names in the 18th and 19th centuries.

I was looking for information so that I could at least construct names for my reenacting personas... I don't even know how necessary that is, but I've thought to do it anyway. Susan has reenacting personas, so I figured "why not?" I do know that until about mid-19th century, most Jews in the US were of Sephardic descent, so I needed Sephardic names... This was more significant for the surnames I chose rather than the first names. I couldn't find all that much about first names for girls in an historical context, so I chose Biblical names - they always work, no matter what! So I thought Sephardic names for Rev War and early 19th century, and a more Anglo-Ashkenazic (or really, from what I chose, it's rather ambivalent) for Civil War.

So I'm thinking "Sarah Abrams" for Rev War, "Rebecca Katz" for early 19th century and "Eleanor Levy" for Civil War... Eleanor Levy is the only name that is in any way based on a real person.

Eleanor Cohen Seixas (I would not be mean and pick "Seixas" for non-Jewish people to try to pronounce, although it was quite tempting - it's pronounced "Say-zacks" as far as I know.) of Columbia, SC. She was around my age during the Civil War and was married very soon after the War ended to a Mr. Seixas, a very successful merchant of Charleston and New York, and moved to NYC with him sometime around 1866 - 1867. Excerpts from her diary are available online here. I will excerpt a few paragraphs here myself, for I think some people may find them quite interesting:

August 6th, 1865: Yes, I am a bride, a wife, four days married, but I must start at the beginning. The sun shone clearly, brightly, while I was married. All said I looked better than I ever did before, and I feel I did look well. I was very plainly dressed. White Swiss muslin, high neck and long sleeves, trimmed with Valienciene lace, lace barbe at my throat, my hair beautifully braided, a white illusion that enveloped me, and a few natural flowers. All passed off well. The glass broke; the ring was on my finger, and from every side I received kisses and congratulations for Mrs. Seixas. Mr. S. was very nicely dressed. He wore a suit of black, except a very handsome, white vest. He looked remarkably well. He was serious and felt fully the responsibility of his position. My cake was splendid, and, after eating it and drinking my health, I hastened to my room and donned my travelling dress.

We left at four, in a Confederate wagon drawn by four mules. Fred was driving. I was in a gale of spirits, laughing, gossiping, and teasing Mr. S.'s life out of him. I felt the parting and had to show my excitement either in tears or smiles; so, as I bride, I preferred smiles. I made Mr. S. laugh until he was weak. He was kind, gentle, tender, and loving. We arrived at White Oaks in time to take the cart. We met there a Mr. Stockton and lady, a newly married couple. It was very pleasant to have them for travelling companions. Mr. Goodwin of Columbia was with us and gave us no peace, telling everybody we were bride and groom.

August 30th: I feel quite ashamed of my neglect of my dear old friend, but for four weeks I have lived in such a whirl that it was impossible to write. We had a delightful time coming on. Memory will ever rest joyfully on my bridal tour. We stopped Friday night in Raleigh, then in Peterburg, Richmond, Philadelphia, Washington. I saw all the battlefields, and cannot describe my feeling in leaving Richmond, for then I felt I left the sunny South, home of my birth, my choice, and my heart. We stopped at the best hotels everywhere; each one was better than the other, until we reached Philadelphia. The Continental there surpassed anything I ever dreamed of. We had two rooms, parlor and bedroom, furnished with green velvet, meuble mantle, étagère mirrors, and in superb style.

We arrived after six days' travel in New York City...

My experience of married life is that there is no true happiness in single life, yet marriage without love must be intolerable. Only deep, pure, holy love can ever fit a woman for what she has to undergo. My dear husband is kind and affectionate. Of course he has faults, as have I, but I will try to cure mine, and bear with his. His greatest fault is that he never thinks seriously. He is always lighthearted, and life is not made of sunshine alone, as we all know.

He has determined to stay in New York, and this has pained me much, for I don't like this place to live in. It is too grand, too large, too gay and fashionable to suit poor me, and I wanted to live with my beloved family. The separation from them is too hard, but as a true wife I try to reconcile myself to my husband's will. I have visited theatres, ice cream saloons, etc., and I am forcibly struck by the contrast between the prosperous North and our poor, desolate South, yet is she dearer to me in her desolation than this gay, heartless country.

I have not been well and have yearned for home and ma...

I think it's quite interesting how her feelings of living in New York and her attachment to the South so closely mirror my own... Not that I'm *ever* going to live in New York City... I'm not even sure I really want to visit New York (I have once, for 5 hours, and I don't have any particular urge to return), and certainly not for more than a few days. The only thing that would draw me there are the museums and galleries... and perhaps the Carnegie Deli... lean pastrami on rye with dijon mustard, piled so thick you can't bit all the way through in one go... yum-yum!

As for what I shall do, well... most Jews in the US during the 18th and 19th centuries - stereotypically enough - were merchants and lived in commercial centers. At least early on in the 18th century, they did not live outside of major port cities, most especially Charleston (which had the highest Jewish population in North America until 1830), New York, Philadelphia, and Boston (among a few others). In 1776, there were only about 2,000 Jews in the newly declared United States, but by the Civil War there were upwards of 40,000 (still very few compared to the overall population). From what I've been able to find, their wives and daughters often were seamstresses or helped in the family store if they had one, if they took on any work at all, although they did not work outside of the home or family business. So I expect that I would do basically the same thing that Susan's persona does... This occupational trend is even reflected in my own family record, although that is from the late 19th - early 20th centuries, in the lives of my grandmother's parents. Miriam Bernstein, who immigrated to the US in 1889 when she was 18 years old, married Simon Rudy sometime after 1889 (I have the date somewhere, but that would take some serious searching). He was a merchant in a smallish town in Indiana and after my grandmother was born (the youngest of five children and the last of 8 pregnancies), they moved to Indianapolis, where Simon prospered and the family lived in a very nice brownstone townhouse until he died suddenly of a heart attack, I think, around 1920 when my grandmother was 14. Before they married, Miriam worked as a seamstress in a shirtwaist factory. During their marriage, she, of course, did the family mending and made clothes. After his death, Miriam supported her younger children (because the older boys were, by that time, out on their own or in college) by taking in work as a seamstress out of her house. Her eldest unmarried daughter, Sophie, was also a milliner's apprentice, and, according to my grandmother, made beautiful hats.

I was also tempted just to use my own name, both first and surname, for simplicity, but I canned that when I came to the realization that before somewhere around 1880-ish there were very few to absolutely no "Stern"s in North America. It's a very Polish-German name, so until there was a significant influx of Jewish immigrants from those German-speaking regions, the name does not appear in the US, and even then, only in the extreme North (New York, Cleveland - where my grandfather was born - Detroit) for the first decade at least, far after the Civil War, as far as I can tell from the US Census records from that time. So c'est la vie...

Found out another interesting fact before I have to go and start getting ready to head over to school, just in case my second class isn't canceled... Shoshannah, which means "rose," is the Hebrew equivalent of the English name Susannah. Fun fact... TTFN!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Random stuff

So I decided what I want for my b-day from my parents... My birthday was almost 4 full months ago, but it's taken me a long time to narrow it down... It was down to a laptop or the Hitchhiker from the Merlin Tree. I'm going with the spinning wheel because I figure that while a laptop might be mighty convenient through the end of the year when I graduate, what would I really *need* it for after that? Whereas the Hitchhiker will mean I can spin pretty much wherever and whenever I want to... I can take it to school, to the movies, on car trips, to the beach (although not outside at the beach, it would stay safe in the hotel/beach-house... sand gets everywhere and in everything = not good!). And it will ::crosses fingers:: last years and years and not become obsolete. A laptop will have to wait until grad school...

Also, was looking over my birthday tarot reading again. I was talking about it today with some of my Latin class friends. We were talking about how great she is and possibly planning end of the year pranks, and also tarot somehow. And I mentioned how I'd done a reading at the beginning of the year and Prof. M is very clearly my Queen of Swords in that reading. It's very true... She's a powerhouse!

John Bolton is a moron...

John Bolton is a moron... I know, I know... those of us who paid attention knew this before, but... He's reached a whole new level in my book... Here is why... He was on The Daily Show yesterday evening. John was contrasting Bush and the people he's chosen for his cabinet positions (all people who agree or seem to agree with everything he says, no matter how wrong or nutz it is) with Lincoln and his cabinet (comprised of men who were supposedly competent, but did not necessarily agree with him and weren't afraid to say so - documented ever so nicely in Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin). John Bolton said an I quote: "I think you're historically wrong on Lincoln." John questioned him on this point, and Bolton said... Well, really it's just better to hear it come out of the idiot's mouth himself:

I'm surprised Bolton is now without a real job... He looks like a "Loyal Bushie" to me...

I also must share this brilliant video of the Daily Show's report about cloned animals for meat: