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text 2015-01-16 22:42
Autodidactic Rabbit Trails: Lingere Pins and Classics Illustrated

[Where I meander around the web, bring back links of things that are oddly interconnected in some way, and in theory we all learn interesting things. Hey look, this time the trail's shorter!]


Back in this post when I was pondering smelling salts, I also ended up looking up information on the vinaigrette - not the salad dressing, the thing ladies would sniff so's not to faint. Which led me to a book on jewelry making, which led to a book with this quote:

Jewelrymaking Through History: An Encyclopedia (2007)
by Rayner W. Hesse (Amazon US)

p 54:
Lingerie Pins
As women's fashions changed in the nineteenth century, and a woman showed more and more of her shoulders to an adoring public, the need arose for a way to hide all the thin straps of lingerie and other underclothing. A quite inventive conceit of this period were lingerie pins, narrow, small bars, usually of 14k gold, often with an imbedded pearl or small gemstone, that were designed to align the strap of the dress with the strap of the slip and the strap of the brassiere. They were sometimes worn on top of the outer garment, or underneath the dress to keep the lingerie from "peeking out." With the invention of the halter top and other new dress styles in the 1920s, the lingerie pins went out of fashion.


I'd never heard of these - and I have some random old pins like this that belonged to various no-longer-around relatives. However I think these bar like pins were used for a lot of other things as well. Check out this google image search. I'm not sure you can tell which would be for lingerie and which were purely decorative. Unfortunately my googling only led me to random ebay and pinterest listings, nothing more historical.


Random different topic! One of the best parts about visiting my grandmother was rooting through all the stuff she had stored in bureaus and chests. Once while rummaging I found an old typewriter case full of Illustrated Classics:

"...a comic book series featuring adaptations of literary classics such as Moby Dick, Hamlet, and The Iliad. Created by Albert Kanter, the series began publication in 1941 and finished its first run in 1971, producing 169 issues. Following the series' demise, various companies reprinted its titles. This series is different from the Great Illustrated Classics, which is an adaptation of the classics for young readers that includes illustrations, but is not in the comic book form."

So when I was paging through Amazon it was a fun surprise to find out that a lot of these have been digitized!

Classics Illustrated, under William B. Jones Jr (Amazon US link)


Classics Illustrated (the Regular editions, pages for each comic has links to multiple sellers)

I'm eventually going to have to try one (when there's a sale), just to see how well they've been scanned. But I'd advise being careful on Amazon - this link to the Time Machine for instance has the text version for the sample.


It's thanks to these comics that I first learned the basic plots to the works of Jules Verne, and other scifi. According to my dad, some of the boys he knew used these instead of reading the actual book for school - treated them as a sort of CliffsNotes. Note that I'm not exactly recommending these - most of them are abbreviated and emphasize the action/adventure content, and the artwork is kinda cheesy. (I never imagined the Count of Monte Cristo wearing jeans.) They never were fully accurate representations of the books.


Classics Illustrated #124: The War of the Worlds (Gilberton, 1955)

Review of the comic at War of the Worlds website


Closer view of the Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde cover

I really do like the ones with cover art that looks like old movie posters.


There used to be more images of the comics within these books online - but most have been removed. Not a horrible thing, now that they're for sale again. But I do wish more of them had the "look inside" option.


Life With Classic Comics: In Praise of an American Art Form

Life magazine photo gallery of people in the 1940s/50s reading comics.


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text 2015-01-10 23:26
I was Entirely Clueless about Modern Smelling Salts

So SilverThistle posted about smelling salts in the book she's reading - her grandmother had an old bottle which she couldn't resist smelling. (I would have done this too.) I then became interested in smelling salts, so of course you know what I did.


wikipedia: smelling salts


The definition, explaining why the smell is so awful/powerful:

Smelling salts, also known as spirit of hartshorn or sal volatile, are chemical compounds used for arousing consciousness. The usual active compound is ammonium carbonate, a colorless-to-white, crystalline solid ((NH4)2CO3). Because most modern solutions are mixed with water, they should more properly be called "aromatic spirits of ammonia." Modern solutions may also contain other products to perfume or act in conjunction with the ammonia, such as lavender oil or eucalyptus oil.

And then the part I was entirely clueless to - these are still in use today:

Smelling salts are often used on athletes (such as boxers) when they are knocked unconscious or semi-conscious to arouse consciousness and restore mental alertness.


They are also used in competitions (such as powerlifting, strong man and ice hockey) to "wake up" competitors to perform better. Famous athletes such as Alexander Ovechkin, Tyler Seguin, Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, Carlos Boozer, Samuel Eto'o, and Tom Brady have been seen using smelling salts on the sidelines.

From one of the cited articles:

A whiff of Trouble?

By Mike Freeman, The Florida Times-Union, February 3, 2005


"...During an October game against Detroit, television cameras caught Favre raising a white capsule to his nose and taking two small, short breaths.


...The capsule, just several inches long, was clearly identifiable as an ammonia cartridge, with its ingredient of adrenaline-pumping ammonia. Favre declined comment for this story.


Neither illegal nor against the rules of the NFL or NCAA, an increasing number of professional and college players are using ammonia sniffing as a way to pep themselves up for the rigors and violence of the sport.


Hundreds of players, from the Jaguars to the Packers to the University of Florida, from high-profile pass throwers to the grunts on kickoff coverage, inhale dozens, sometimes even hundreds, of doses a week in practices and games, a season-long investigation by The Florida Times-Union has discovered.


...Strahan said he uses the capsules to clear his sinuses, "but there is no question that you get a high after doing them. It's not like you get the munchies afterwards, but they are a great pick-me-up. They help you get ready for the game."


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text 2015-01-01 20:50
Random Linkage: Not really a Theme here...



1) In Degrees of Affection's review of Interior Desecrations, I was reminded of and explained "carpet raking" in the comments. Because once upon a time in the 1970s people would both vacuum and rake their carpets. Really. (This is one of the weirder and fun bits of remembering I've had in the entire year. It probably bodes well for the new year.)


2) Some interesting articles about how landscape paintings change when there's a volcanic eruption due to artists trying to capture the effects of the amazing sunsets:


The Krakatoa Sunsets, Richard Hamblyn, Public Domain Review

"...by late October 1883 most of the world, including Britain, was being subjected to lurid evening displays, caused by the scattering of incoming light by the meandering volcanic haze. Throughout November and December, the skies flared through virulent shades of green, blue, copper and magenta, “more like inflamed flesh than the lucid reds of ordinary sunsets,” wrote Hopkins; “the glow is intense; that is what strikes everyone; it has prolonged the daylight, and optically changed the season; it bathes the whole sky, it is mistaken for the reflection of a great fire.”"


How Paintings of Sunsets Immortalize Volcanic Eruptions, Sarah Zielinski, Smithsonian Magazine website

"It may sound a bit far-fetched, but the researchers are not the first to make connections between volcanoes and art depicting sunsets. In 2004, for instance, Don Olson, an astronomer at Texas A&M University, connected the skies in Edvard Munch’s famous 1893 painting The Scream with the explosion of Krakatoa in 1883. But Munch wasn't the only artist to be inspired by volcano enhanced sunsets. There are hundreds more."


‘Krakatoa’ Author on Iceland Volcano’s Parallels With Eruptions Past, PBS Newshour (author is Simon Winchester, there's both video and transcript)

"...it had effects all over the world, principally, in those days, nothing to do with commerce, because, of course, there weren’t any aircraft, but it caused major coloration of the skies. The sunsets, particularly, were stunningly beautiful. And, immediately, artists picked up their paint brushes and their — their watercolor sets and started recording this."


3) I'm not going to admit how many of the videos in Youtube's Home Holiday Lightshow playlist I watched. The Star Wars one made me smile, as did many others. Though I did wonder about how tolerant neighbors have to be about this stuff - even with the audio broadcast over a short range radio setup (which the radio geek in me adores - outdoor speakers were once the only option here), the amount of flashing lights is, just, wow. Thankfully LEDs Christmas lights mean that lighting things up no longer costs thousands in electrical bills. Though cheaper means it's also probably a more common problem now for neighborhoods with these massive display houses.

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text 2014-11-29 21:06
Autodidactic Rabbit Trails: Susan Glaspell, Random Online Reading Recomendations, and the Pardon of a "Boy Murderer"

Autodidactic Rabbit Trails: Where I meander around the web, bring back links of things that are oddly interconnected in some way, and in theory we all learn interesting things.


I was having one of my usual online days of wandering around via google - but I'll only share a few links before getting to the murder part. Er, the murder mentioned in the title that is. Because there are two murders in this post.


First I really wanted to run down a copy of Susan Glaspell's novel, Fugitive's Return (1929). If you've heard of Glaspell (and her wikipedia page makes for interesting reading itself - more bio here) it's possibly from the excellent short story Jury of Her Peers, about a murder and the accused, and how the women see things differently than the men. The story was rediscovered by various literary historians/authors and is now often used in anthologies and women's studies classes. If you haven't read it before here're some links:


Wikipedia page: Jury of Her Peers

Full text of story: Jury of Her Peers (and also here)


It's a fairly quick read, and I remember enjoying Glaspell's style. So when I bumped into a reference to her online, I found myself wanting to read Fugitive's Return, which is a novel that's somewhat autobiographical in covering the time when Glaspell and her husband left the US to go live in Greece. (Details on this bio page, where it's called "what many consider to be her greatest novel.") (Also, scroll down on this page for, randomly, a photo of Glaspell and her husband in Greece, with him wearing traditional Greek garb for some reason.) But nope, it's out of print. Sad reader moment. But this happens a lot when I'm looking up old books.


Then I spent a bit more time reading about Glaspell - and specifically the murder in Jury of Her Peers. I had no idea that it was based on a real murder (see the above wikipedia link for the short story), or that Glaspell had covered it in a series of articles for the Des Moines Daily News:


Glaspell articles on the Hossack Case


That particular page is part of a website for the book Midnight Assassin (by Patricia Bryan and Thomas Wolf), which chronicles the murder. (And I've had it on my wish list but has yet to go on sale, sigh.) Because I'm a greedy reader, I did peek at the "what the authors are up to next" page (I can never resist those), and Patricia Bryan has a few paragraphs on her research of the case of John Wesley Elkins, "an eleven-year old boy who was arrested for the murder of his father and stepmother in an isolated Iowa farmhouse in 1889." And of course I had to know more.


Bryan doesn't have a book out about it yet, but there's the next best thing - a 48 page long article she authored, and that's the meat of this recommendation post, because it's a good read:


John Wesley Elkins, Boy Murderer, and His Struggle for Pardon
Patricia L. Bryan, University of North Carolina
State Historical Society of Iowa: The Annals of Iowa, Vol 69 No 3 (Summer 2010), pps 261-307


Most of the footnotes are to primary source documents too, so this is not material you'd bump into elsewhere. Warning, I'm now going to launch into book review mode, even if it is 48 pages, because it's interesting history.

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text 2014-09-23 23:17
Autodidactic Rabbit Trails: Not Your Grandmother's Porcelain Figurine - Tiger Mauling and Art Weirdness

Autodidactic Rabbit Trails: In which I meander around the net picking up all sorts of tidbits and share them, and we all pretend this is intensely educational. Whereas a lot is gleefully "ew gross" or "whoa, really?!" depending on your preference for weirdness. Strange history - it's still history! Note, I do quote wikipedia frequently, but be aware they're not to be entirely relied upon for all facts. (Do correct me where needed.)


In this episode: pottery figures of tiger mauling and murder, the story of Lt. Hugh Munro and the tiger, a musical tiger mauling a human, and a freaky Greek myth about breast feeding I'd somehow missed in classics studies.


If your grandmother (or grandfather, or other relative) has this kind of china figurine I REALLY want photos and stories, because seriously, share that stuff. Specifically Staffordshire pottery figurines showing pop cultural topics like boxing, bull baiting and mermaids - and deeper strangeness like the scandal of eloping to Scotland, the 1823 Marriage Act, being attacked by a tiger, and a historic murder or two.


I'm now about to link to Collectors Weekly, which I should possibly warn you is indeed a rabbit trail you can follow for many an hour, if you simply like looking at collections.


I was going to post an image from the article (to lure you in) but 1) copyright, so you really should visit the link below (even if not to read, just to scroll through all the images) and 2) I can NOT choose just one, too much delightful weirdness on display. Here's brief quote and link before I go into more detail:


Murder and Mayhem in Miniature: The Lurid Side of Staffordshire Figurines
Hunter Oatman-Stanford, Collectors Weekly, August 22nd, 2013


"...The subjects that graced Staffordshire pottery more than 200 years ago weren’t for the fainthearted: Imagine giving grandma a figurine that mocked discriminatory marriage laws or portrayed a gruesome series of animal attacks. Welcome to the world of Staffordshire miniatures.

Long before people had Us Weekly or 49ers t-shirts, they bought Staffordshire figurines to celebrate pop culture. During the late 1700s, potteries in the Staffordshire region of England created these figures to commemorate everything from classical artwork to sport heroes, from political movements to tabloid headlines."

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