You have time for one more Christmas movie: a short one, about fifteen minutes, written and directed by the lovely McGhee Monteith (who is, full disclosure, in a family of old friends of mine). Cecelia Wingate gives the most Mississippi Delta performance I have ever seen.
At Jericho, a scarab; in a grave, a scarab; in the grave of a girl, a scarab; in the grave of a wealthy foreigner’s daughter, a scarab; in the grave with the girl’s maidservant, a scarab.
It is not a good world, this one. It was a worse world in the Bronze Age. Maybe the “adult female attendant” in this grave decided it was just as well if she lay down next to this little girl forever. But perhaps she did not; and for her, I think, there ought to be just a word in the headline.
Not much of a post today either. I just wanted to take a moment with the strange, complex innocence of the world of Ratboy Genius.
The internet is a pile of garbage. But it’s everyone’s pile. And from garbage, flowers grow.
If you’re an American, do what you can to protest at battleforthenet.com.
It’s not every day you get to look at a chunk of someone from actual folklore. St. Nikolaos of Myra was not, of course, anyone who ever associated himself with the European tradition of winter gift-givers. He probably never heard of them — why should he have? he was not European — and if he had, he would no doubt have considered them pagan monstrosities. That’s only fair; they are, which is why I am so fond of them.
Still, we don’t see a lot of euhemerism these days. When I was younger, Elvis looked like he was going to make it into the pantheon; now, as more of his fans have passed away, he’s lost his gleam. But we’ll always have Santa. Except for about an hour after that difficult conversation when you are seven.
Well, I just found out what I’m reading for the next month. Villanova has an online archive of the Illustrated Police News, a proto-men’s magazine of the Victorian and early Edwardian era. It’s tough to make out, since the pulp copies were never meant to hang on as long as they did, but it’s worth the read.
Here’s an assortment of ads from a March 1895 issue.
The first ad is the first disguised ad for birth control. What the buyer might receive here — a pessary, a diaphragm, an unhelpful pamphlet — depended entirely on how strongly local Comstock laws were enforced.
The second ad, for Nox-Em-All, struck me as an ad for smut, since it promised “racy samples.” However, looking into it, I see that Nox-Em-All is a kind of card trick. Card tricks can be very old, and the word “racy” did once have a broader sense of “vivid and exciting.” Stranger still, Noxemall (sic) was once a brand of animal feed out of Detroit. And a line of shoes. It’s hard to say. Nonetheless, my guess is still smut.
The next two ads are for quack medicines for “lost power”—which is to say, boners. Offers to “enlarge shrunken or undeveloped parts” were popular then as now. The treatments, whatever they were, could have done nothing for a painful varicocele.
The next ad is, depending on the customer’s timing, either for birth control or for abortion. A pre-20th century ad for a “menstrual regulator” or an “emmenagogue” generally means just that—induction of miscarriage. To “restore their courses,” women resorted to tansy and pennyroyal tinctures; the ad tips its hand by mentioning that. They might work, or they might not, but they would certainly bring on violent illness, and possibly death. How much better Carter’s Relief was, I cannot say.
The idea of a cure for alcoholism that could be secretly slipped into food is heartbreaking. The name of Dr. Haines’ Golden Specific was no doubt meant to play on the famous gold cure for alcoholism, taken by the well-off at sanitariums. This substance, however, was neither gold nor specific. It could be slipped into food or drink without drawing notice because it did nothing.
Chivalry, as a social system, has fewer genuine advantages for women than equality does, but one that it does offer is the occasional free murder.
In 1906, Mrs. Annie Bradley shot Senator Arthur Brown of Utah, who had indeed treated her quite badly, and even put it in writing. This perhaps influenced the jury to return a verdict of “not guilty.” The above melodramatic illustration, together with the accompanying article, blames her for the 1915 murder of one of her sons by another. But Mrs. Bradley, however unhappy, did not die as a tragedy queen; she opened an antique shop and died in 1950, far from the heavy fumes of the Edwardian era.