Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Gather The Arsenic! Break Out The Cyanide!

Jennifer Garner IS... Miss Marple? WHAT?!?!? That is... Who thought... Why in the... WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE?!? All I know is whoever came up with this idea better not travel on the Orient Express or the 4:50 from Paddington any time soon. She might be dead, but Christie can still plot the perfect murder, and I don't see any spinster aunts or Belgian toffs lining up to solve this one, Mr. Hollywood Producer.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Skimpy Sunday

(Via Roids and Rants [NSFW]; Postmodernbarney; K-Troll; Witty Moniker [NSFW]; Canned Ham; Will Clark World; Big Black Cock [NSFW]; Mimziz [NSFW])

Friday, March 25, 2011

Hail Caesars!

Want to learn a little about Roman history, but just don't have the time to bury yourself in Classical scholarship? Well, then Adrian Murdoch's Emperors of Rome series of short videos is just for you! A chronological look at the Roman Emperors, it goes beyond the crazy Julio-Claudians everyone knows to, eventually, look at all those obscure figures only scholars know the names of. I personally am looking forward to the Crisis of the Third Century and all those Barracks Emperors I have no clue about.

I Watch Commercials

Have you seen that car commercial where it starts with a bunch of things labeled "Isn't," but then flashes to the car to say "It is what it isn't." WHAT?!?!? A fucking commercial is not the place for existential musings! We want gas mileage information and American jingoism from our car commercials, not goddamn Sartre!

On a more amusing, but still befuddling, note, has anyone other than me seen the commercial for the Trojan "Triphoria" vibrator thing where a bride is having a bachelorette party and she "hilariously" gets three of them because her fiancee can't sexually satisfy her or something? Did they just round up a bunch of the people at the office and call it a casting call? Because that is some of the worst acting ever committed to film. That guy at the end who plays the impotent or whatever fiance who goes "Sweeeet!" manages to fail to sell a one-word part. That's some anti-talent right there.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Help Me, Obi-Wan Kenobi...

...your hotness is our only hope! Also, PUPPY!

Don't Be Afraid Of The Ligatures

I hate it when people use "nebulas" instead of "nebulae." Yes, both are correct in English, and I'm a proud laissez-faire descriptivist, but damn hypocrisy: USE THE LATIN PLURAL! Oh, and it's "archaeology," not "archeology"! (But "encyclopedia" instead of "encyclopaedia" is fine. Hey, I'm already being inconsistent, so I might as well go with it!)

I'm A Traffic Whore And That's Okay!

Welcome all Wubtub readers! Thanks to I'm glad to see it still has the power to amuse, even if it's out of date, though I do want to let me know there are several different versions of it. I hope some of you stick around!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Bourgeois Book Club

So, in keeping with my determination to be less of a misogynist, this edition of Bourgeois Book Nerd is dedicated to the laaaaaaaaaaaaadies. But is that just another form of misogyny? Giving women a crumb of a "special edition" when they should just be naturally and seamlessly peered with male authors? Is this just a pat on the head from the patriarchy? *sigh* Combating sexism is hard, y'all!

The Lais of Marie de France

Back in my college days, when I was taking British Lit surveys, I was once thumbing through my beloved Norton anthology -- specifically the first volume of British Literature -- when I came across a long poem called "Lanval" by someone named "Marie de France." Later, I was privileged enough to have take a seminar just on the works of Marie de France (in which I wrote some really good papers, if I do say so myself). But after college, though I kept all the books, I hadn't reread any Marie. I didn't much care for the translation of the lais I used in the seminar that I have, and I just kind of forgot about it. For some reason, though, a few weeks ago something brought it back to my mind and I ordered the Penguin Classics edition of the lais.

Marie is a shadowy figure; just who she was is a mystery, though there are several theories. But there's no denying that she was a forceful, talented, independent woman writer, well-educated and well-known in her own time, all rather rare things for women of the period.

The lais are short verse (at least in the original French; some translations are prose) narratives about love and chivalry. Werewolves, fairy queens, King Arthur, Tristan and Isolde, jealous old husbands, virtuous young ladies, glorious young knights, adultery, true love, and secret babies, the lais are stories for, of, and by the high-born. Symbolically-layered, delightful little bon-bons of medieval fancy, they are eminently readable, something that few pieces of medieval literature can boast.


Something about Jane Austen/the Regency period just really goes well with mystery. I think it's because you can combine the traditional Christiean country house/village mystery with pretty dresses and Mr. Darcy. There have been a number of series in this subgenre, so let's take a look at some that I've read.

Bellfield Hall by Anna Dean

Miss Dido Kent is that most English of characters: a spinster aunt. When her niece's fiance disappears and a dead woman's body is found on his family's estate, it's up to Dido to find out what's going on at Bellfield and save her niece's future happiness from scandal and disappointment. As it turns out that just about everyone there has a secret, her investigation quickly grows considerably more complicated than she had anticipated .

A "satiric" tone and lovely Regency costumery make this a fun read. It's particularly amusing how Dido is totally oblivious to something that's blazingly obvious to us in the 21st century, but quite realistically would have been quite beyond the knowledge of a well-brought-up Regency lady. Dean manages to keep the identity of the killer and the motive mysterious and misdirected, but still come up with a plausible conclusion. A sequel is forthcoming, and I look forward to reading the future adventures of Miss Dido Kent.

Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mysteries (Pride and Prescience, North By Northanger, The Matters at Mansfield, The Intrigue at Highbury) by Carrie Bebris

What if Elizabeth Darcy, nee Bennet, were a sleuth with a hint of mystical insight? That's the premise of this series, where the Darcys, joined by characters from the whole of the Austen oeuvre, solve mysteries, sometimes with the help of a bit of magic.

This is a pleasant, though not great, series. The magic thing is a bit incongruous, I think, but it doesn't appear in all the books. Fans of Austen will particularly enjoy the character mash-ups.

The Jane Austen Mysteries (Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor, Jane and the Man of the Cloth, Jane and the Wandering Eye, Jane and the Genius of the Place, Jane and the Stillroom Maid, Jane and the Prisoner of Wool House, Jane and the Ghosts of Netley, Jane and His Lordship's Legacy, Jane and the Barque of Frailty, Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron) by Stephanie Barron

Conceited to be the rediscovered diaries of Jane Austen revealing her hitherto unknown penchant for solving murders, Stephanie Barron is, in this reviewers oh-so-humble opinion, the ne plus ultra of Austenean mysteries. She brings Jane, her family, her circle, and her world fully to life. It even has footnotes, which we all know I'm a sucker for. (Sadly, they've dried up a bit as the series has gone on.) Barron's love for Austen and Regency England is palpable and her research extensive. Her use of period language and style is particularly brilliant. She really fools you into thinking these might actually be the diaries of Jane Austen.

Many of the mysteries feature Harold Trowbridge, the Gentleman Rogue, a secret agent for the Crown and the love of Jane's life. Sadly, their love is not able to fully bloom (since, you know, the real Jane Austen never married and Trowbridge is fictional), but it's a sweet, wonderful relationship between intellectual equals. Its end, particularly in Jane and His Lordship's Legacy, is some of the most beautifully heartbreaking stuff I've ever read. That's one of the things that makes this such a great series: it isn't just about pretty Regency dresses, but gives Jane a full interior and emotional life. You grow to love her, not because she's "Jane Austen" but because she's "real."

So, that's the ladies done. Sexism in book reviewing is solved! Next time, then, back to real books. You know, the ones by men.

Store It In a Balloon!

I wonder if anti-helium deepens your voice.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Gee, I Never Thought Of It That Way...

Is Tosh.0 the fratty nephew of Mystery Science Theater 3000? As an avid MST3K fan (I just got the new DVDs this weekend), and someone who does occasionally watch and laugh at Tosh.0 (if you're in the mood for a crude dick joke, it does its job well, and Daniel Tosh's smarm can be strangely charming when it doesn't make you want to punch him), I'd never thought about it, but the post writer does make a good point. MST3K is indubitably better, but the connection is there.

Oh God, It's Jessica Fletcher! Run For Your Lives!

I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one who has many fond memories of Murder, She Wrote. Ah, Cabot Cove: all the charm of a picturesque New England fishing village with the murder rate of Camden.

And yes, it was my grandmother's favorite show (besides The Golden Girls). All the seasons are out now on DVD, and I've often contemplated buying them for her, but A) she doesn't have a DVD player, and B) even if she did, she wouldn't know how to use it.

Chinese Reaction To The Japanese Tsunami

Two very interesting posts about the complicated relationship between China and Japan, and how the Chinese people have, so far, reacted to the recent tragedies of their eastern neighbor.

They're Playing My Song

At last, a song about me! (Not at all, really.)

HOW Much Is That Doggie In The Window?!

Hong Dong the Red Tibetan Mastiff is the world's most expensive puppy at $1.5 million. His name? Priceless, if you're an immature twelve-year-old.

Monday, March 14, 2011


I think that Batman porn parody I've seen is less erotic than this. If I were clever, I'd do a "Holy [Pun]" joke, but I'm not feeling particularly punnish today. Also, someone alert Chris Sims.

(Via Choire Sicha)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Monday, March 07, 2011

Sunday, March 06, 2011