During the Renaissance, cabinet of curiosities came into fashion as a collection of objects that would often defy classification. As a precursor to the modern museum, the cabinet referred to room(s), not actual furniture, of things that piqued the owners interest and would be collected and displayed in an aesthetically pleasing manner. Collectioun of Cunnynge Curioustes is my 21st century interpretation of that idea.
The Silver Pigs by Lindsey Davis
(Amazon | WorldCat | GoodReads | LibraryThing)
Widely recommended by historians and booksellers for its authenticity to the period, incredibly detailed research, and snappy pacing, in the end I found that while I enjoyed the book, ultimately I wasn’t in love with it. There were some inauthenticities that drove me slightly mad (like the use of the word “fuck” which while rare in the story, is not true to period. That word doesn’t show up in English until the high middle ages. I’m also fairly certain there was not a Latin equivalent of the word, which makes it a bit more annoying). I try to keep my prejudices in check knowing that if this was written true to language of the period, modern eyes would be bored so the work had to be given some leeway to make it more palatable. I couldn’t relate to or connect with any of the characters, which while not a terribly huge problem, is not exactly easy finish the work.
But I do like the concept of the series! And I did feel like not only was my brain getting entertainment, but I was also getting a bit of an education too. I’ll give this a few more books before I either fully commit or ditch them. Davis also has a new series with a female lead in the same period, which I also want to check out.
- BBC The Fairytale Castles Of King Ludwig II With Dan Cruickshank
A new spin on the mythology of Atlantis coupled with Greek mythology, this new series from the BBC is also produced by the same folks who did Merlin. Expect to see a lot of familiar actors popping in and out, slightly changed storylines, and a same kind of goofy feel. Not a bad show, but not something to absolutely love either. More of background noise than rapt attention, and more a long the lines of binge watching rather than catching it every week. Atlantis is coming to BBC America in November.
Third season has begun and I’m a bit weary after the first few episodes of their portrayal of Carrie’s bipolarism. Not everyone who goes off of lithium, automatically gets tossed into the crazy hospital. Even more importantly, while ECT is commonly still used for treatment, you don’t just “get it” just because you’re having a moment. There are some wretched side effects to ECT that aren’t even addressed in the show. I get the point is to underscore her craziness to mean her unreliability, but it’s beginning to feel slapstick rather than serious.
- Masters of Sex
A quasi-historical romp of the late 1950s, following two of the pioneers of the science of sex. Two episodes in and I’m hooked, not on the obvious (it’s sex. For science!) but by the subtle interplay of characterizations and relationships. Sure, there are some stereotypes, like the hooker with the heart of gold, but overall this is great fun to watch even when it’s attempt at being serious.
- BBC Four – A Very British Murder with Lucy Worsley, If Walls Could Talk: The History of the Home, BBC Four – Tales from the Royal Bedchamber
I realised recently that if my life was a choose your own adventure, I would have chosen a path similar to Lucy Worsley‘s. By day, a Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces in England and historian/writer at night, Worsley’s interests not only match my own but what I’ve come to adore about her is how she makes history accessible and fun, no matter what the topic. I also love the fact that she’s willing to get into a historical thing to experience it herself, whether it is dressing like a Georgian queen, sleeping in a medieval bed to find the pea, or not bathing for a week to get a sense of how they did it in ye olde tymes. Her interest in a broad range of topics makes her exploration of them fresh and compelling. She also has several books out to support her topics, which I’m hoping to check out in the near future.
- Da Vinci’s Demons
I finally got around to see the final two episodes of this season and it was much better than my previous impression. Like Atlantis in that it’s kitchy and background noisy, it’ll stay in the rotation with the hopes it will get stronger in the future.
- The Bridge (US)
Slow, slow pacing; the murder solved mid-season, the fact I couldn’t get “it puts the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again” out of my head whenever Ted Levine walked into the screen, the unbearable hotness of Demian Bichir, and the confusing actions of possibly Autistic Diane Kruger made this show hard to watch at times. It just felt utterly confusing, some main characters dropped for a few episodes with no mention, and then magically reappear, the too many sub-plots floating around, and the strange build of romantic tension (or not) between Bichir and Kruger. TheHusband really liked this show. Not not loved, but liked. This is an American take on the Danish/Swedish version, and soon there is a joint English/French version, The Tunnel, coming in a few weeks. As one critic intoned, this is a format that works. Apparently so.
Weekly watching: Elementary, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Sleepy Hollow, Survivor, Downton Abbey, Boardwalk Empire, Doc Martin, QI, Peaky Blinders, Project Runway, The Newsroom, Sons of Anarchy, The Vampire Diaries
- Interactive Map Compares the New York City of 1836 to New York City 2013
- Puritans and their weird names
- Better Out than In: Banksy in New York
- Alexander McCall Smith to rewrite Jane Austen’s Emma
- Matt Smith cast in American Psycho musical
- The Letters Page: A literary journal in letters
- Eco-couple told to pull down their ‘hobbit home’ made entirely out of natural materials
This day in Lisa-Universe in: 2003