Spirits of Malice and Other Undeadness.

New book!

The Penguin Book of the Undead: Fifteen Hundred Years of Supernatural Encounters, by Scott G. Bruce.

Just got this downloaded, really looking forward to it. Came across this at Medievalists, in a short article about how Medieval people dealt with those pesky dead people who refused to stay dead and buried. The cover art, which I think is fabulous, is by Anton Semenov, check out more of their work here.

This will make lovely nighttime reading.

Bird Gods.

A fascinating little book published in 1898, by Charles DeKay, it travels all over the world in pursuit of Bird Gods and myths about birds. There are many stories from Finland, I’d love to know if they are at all still known. (Hint, hint to Ice Swimmer & Lumipuna).

Speaking fluent German, French, and Italian, as well as studying Latin, Greek, and Sanskrit, DeKay’s linguistic background is apparent in the book as he traces the various cultures and mythologies that the different birds appear in. He presents the idea that, rather than the more distant celestial objects, it is the animals that have surrounded us which have been the root of religious ideas. Each chapter in the book presents a different bird, from the owl and peacock to the woodpecker and the dove, as well as the gods these birds represented. In his preface, DeKay writes of how humans have shared their belief in nature and that this still exists in us no matter of religion, language, or ethnicity, urging his readers to respect nature and not destroy it without reason. He writes:

[…] recollection of what our ancestors thought of birds and beasts, of how at one time they prized and idealized them, may induce in us, their descendants, some shame at the extermination to which we are consigning these lovable but helpless creatures, for temporary gains or sheer brutal love of slaughter. The sordid men who swept from North America the buffalo, the gentlemen who brag of moose and elephants slain, the ladies who demand birds for their hats and will not be denied, the boys who torture poor feathered singers and destroy their nests, are more ruthless than the primeval barbarians. […] The marvellous tale of the share birds have had in the making of myth, religion, poetry and legend may do somewhat to soften these flinty hearts and induce men to establish and carry out laws to protect especially the birds.

The illustrations by George Wharton Edwards are gorgeous. You can read or download Bird Gods here. Via The Public Domain Review.

Fancy Dresses Described;

The Hornet.

Fancy Dresses Described; or What to Wear at Fancy Balls is an 1887 costume guide, and it is amazing and wonderful. Some of the ideas would be best avoided in this century, but the costumes run the gamut from Five O’Clock Tea to Gold Mines to Backgammon to whole countries, and everything in between. Fascinating. The lists of illustrated costumes does not even come close to all the costume guides:

A sample of one page of descriptions:

The costumes are amazing and beautiful:

Magpie.

Oh, the Magpie! Who needs an excuse to wear that?

I haven’t even come close to perusing the whole book, but this caught my eye, and now I want this outfit:

Masherette. Black satin tail coat and skirt, with white waistcoat; black embroidered stockings; crimson silk handkerchief; opera hat and crutch stick; high Wellington boots; shirt front, high collar; eyeglass in eye; buttonhole.

Monte Carlo.

The book is a tremendous amount of fun, just on reading alone, and it’s a great resource and imagination spark for all the costume makers and wearers out there. Fuck, I really wish I could sew.  It’s as well to remember that this book did cater to the rich, just look at the entry for Night. Diamonds scattered in the hair, and much more. Of course, there’s no need for them to be real.

Word Wednesday.

Brumal

Adjective.

Indicative of or occurring in the winter.

[Origin: Latin brumalis, from bruma winter (see brume).]

(1513)

“More – he is curious. He twists the handle, the metal’s coldness leaping along his arm like ice energy released from a brumal host.” – Haunted, James Herbert.

Brume

Noun.

Mist, fog.

Brumous, adjective.

[Origin: French, mist, winter from Old Occitan bruma, from Latin, winter solstice, winter; akin to Latin brevis short.]

(1800)

“Roger peered forward; he could discern nothing in the torchlit brume.” – The Demon, Douglas Nicholas.

Word Wednesday.

Subvert

Transitive verb.

1: to overturn or overthrow from the foundation: Ruin.

2: to pervert or corrupt by an undermining of morals, allegiance, or faith.

– subverter, noun.

[Origin: Middle English, from Anglo-French subvertir, from Latin subvertere, literally, to turn from beneath, from sub– + vertere to turn.]

(14th Century)

It was “an evil of such magnitude as to threaten the moral, social and national life of our country,” the handiwork of publishers with “diabolical intent” to “weaken morality and thereby destroy religion and subvert the social order.” – The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America, David Hadju.

Word Wednesday.

Hubris

Noun.

Exaggerated pride or self-confidence.

Hubristic, adjective.

[Origin: Greek, possibly a back-formation from hubristic or else from Greek hybris “wanton violence, insolence, outrage,” originally “presumption toward the gods”.]

(1884)

“There was a pertness to my tone that I regretted the moment it was out of my mouth for, to my ear, it spoke far too plainly of my intent. It was fortunate for me that the hubris of prideful men swells about them like a rising sea and fills their ears with nothing but the roaring of the ovations that await them. I might have told the apothecary every detail of the plot then, I think, and he would have heard nothing. If he had observed the opening and closing of my lips, doubtless he would have taken it for applause.” – The Nature of Monsters, Clare Clark.

Happy Indigenous Peoples Day.

In celebration of Indigenous Peoples Day, have a book! Nothing like some good reading. Give As We Have Always Done by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson a read, you won’t be sorry! Ms. Simpson’s site is here, Peter d’Errico reviewed here, and the book can be purchased direct from UMN press.

Word Wednesday.

Poxy

Adjective.

1: rotten; lousy.

2: having little value, importance, or influence.

From Pox (noun):

1: a virus disease

2: a disastrous evil: plague, curse.

[Origin: alteration of pocks, plural of pock.]

(Circa 1530)

“Plus he’s a land stealer,” adds Red Coyote. “Suckin’ old white guy. He should be called Prospero Corp. Next thing he’ll discover oil on it, develop it, machine-gun everyone to keep them off it.” “You’re such a poxy communist,” says SnakeEye. – Hag-Seed, Margaret Atwood.

Book Note!

Akata Warrior, the long awaited sequel to

is out tomorrow (Oct. 3rd)! I’m happy dance all over, I adore Nnedi Okorafor’s books, and I loved Akata Witch*. All the characters are wonderful, as is their bond of friendship and their often prickly relationship with their mentors. When Akata Witch ended, Sunny was left with a direct communication from her grandmother, Ozoemena, and both she and Orlu decided they weren’t quite ready for second level. It left me wanting, very much, to follow along with the four friends, and now I’ll be able to do so.

*Some highly unimaginative people have called this book the Nigerian version of Harry Potter, or somesuch idiocy. Frankly, I think that’s an insult to Ms. Okorafor, who has one of the most splendid imaginations, and weaves real history and beliefs seamlessly into her worlds, and they bring Nigerian culture into a beautiful blossom, one that would be familiar to many, and a grand learning experience for others, like myself. Akata Witch is brimming with sly humour, intelligence, and heart.

Word Wednesday.

Bane

Noun.

1a: obsolete: Killer, Slayer b: Poison c: Death, Destruction d: Woe.

2: A source of harm or ruin: Curse.

[Origin: Middle English, from Old English bana; akin to Old High German bano death.]

(Before 12th Century.)

3: Bane

Transitive verb baned; baning: obsolete: to kill especially with poison. (1578)

“People” – Geralt turned his head – “like to invent monsters and monstrosities. Then they seem less monstrous themselves. When they get blind-drunk, cheat, steal, beat their wives, starve an old woman, when they kill a trapped fox with an axe or riddle the last existing unicorn with arrows, they like to think that the Bane entering cottages at daybreak is more monstrous than they are. They feel better then. They find it easier to live.” – The Last Wish, Andrzej Sapkowski.

Word Wednesday.

Batrachian

Noun.

Amphibian; especially: Frog, Toad.

– batrachian adjective.

[Origin: ultimately from Greek batrachos frog.]

(Circa 1828.)

“When the migraine began to fade a little, Marc looked at Merlin, now pinioned by two policemen and moving his batrachian lips in an incoherent automatic way.” – The Accordionist, Fred Vargas.

Word Wednesday.

Frizzling

Verb.

1: Frizzle

Verb: Frizzled; frizzling: Frizz, Curl.

[Origin: probably akin to Old Frisian frīsle curl]

(1573)

2: Frizzle

Noun: A crisp curl. (1613)

3: Frizzle

Verb: Frizzled; Frizzling

Transitive verb

1: to fry until crisp and curled.

2: Burn, Scorch.

Intransitive verb: to cook with a sizzling noise.

[Origin: fry + sizzle]

(1839)

“The sun was high in the heavens when my companion woke me from a heavy sleep and announced that the porridge was cooked and there was just time to bathe. The grateful smell of frizzling bacon entered the tent door.” – The Willows, Algernon Blackwood.

Word Wednesday.

Zeugma

Noun.

The use of a word to modify or govern two or more words usually in such a manner that it applies to each in a different sense or makes sense with only one (as in “opened the door and her heart to the homeless boy”).

[Origin: Middle English zeuma, from Medieval Latin, from Latin zeugma, from Greek, literally, joining, from zeugnynai to join; akin to Latin jungere to join.]

(15th Century)

“Elinor smiled. ‘Ooh, extended metaphors.’ ‘It’ll be zeugma next.’ ‘I love it when you talk dirty to me.’ – Splinter the Silence, Val McDermid.