Monday, April 30

Funkalicious

I simply want to remind you, my Faithful Reader, that I am truly one of a kind, unlike this sudden influx of steampunk inspired dolls such as the upcoming Steam Funk Cami Tonner Doll.

Young, hip and ultra urban, the Cami & Jon™ Collection optimizes what it is to be young in New York. Cami, a NYC caterer, and her pal Jon, a florist, traipse across the fast-paced streets of New York together, looking fabulous in an effortless sort of way. Oh, to be young!

Perfectly suited for a themed party or night out on the town, the Steam Funk Cami Tonner Doll is dressed from head to toe in true steampunk style! Not only does she come with a faux leather dress with faux gold stud details, a faux leather belt, faux leather gauntlets, dark brown faux suede black zip boots, and pantyhose with attached panties, but she also comes with, fittingly enough, a cute eye patch to match the steampunk theme.

Made from fine quality vinyl and hard plastic, she features the kind of attention to detail you've come to expect from Tonner, whether it's her medium brown center part removable saran wig with bangs or hand-painted inset green eyes. A limited edition of 300 pieces, the Steam Funk Cami Tonner Doll features a Cami head sculpt, an Antoinette body, and a lily skin tone.



Sunday, April 29

This Week in The Civil War: April 29, 1862

Union march toward Corinth, Virginia skirmish

In late April of 1862, more than 100,000 Union soldiers under the command of Maj. Gen. Henry Halleck march out from Tennessee for Corinth, Miss., intent on wresting away from Confederate forces that key railroad junction for the South. The journey into northern Mississippi means crossing thick forests and rugged country as many of Halleck's men come down with dysentery and typhoid — common diseases of that era in the South. The 22-mile route took Halleck's forces weeks to cover as they endured bad weather and as illnesses felled many. By early May of 1862, the Union army would be within 10 miles of Corinth but then Confederate rivals began unleashing sporadic, small-scale attacks. Union forces would repeatedly dig and settle into trenches as they advanced mile by mile — expecting to eventually approach Corinth. The Confederates, whose soldiers also were falling ill in large numbers, would hang on until late May before stealthily withdrawing and leaving Corinth to Union forces to occupy. Until then, more than 40 miles of earthen trenches and breastworks would be built in the area during the weeks of confrontation. Elsewhere, The Associated Press reported on May 4, 1862, that skirmishing had erupted near Williamsburg, Va. Union Gen. George B. McClellan now has a formidable fighting force arrayed in coastal Virginia and the skirmishing signals big battles soon to come. AP reports that Union forces probing the Confederate fortifications at Williamsburg fire upon approaching rebel cavalry. It adds Union troops were suddenly "opened upon by a deadly fire from the artillery posted behind the (Confederate) works." When the Confederate cavalry charged, Union forces counterattacked and "in more instances than one it was a hand to hand encounter with the enemy's cavalry."



Saturday, April 28

The Royal Society for Creative Anachronism

Aardman Features

Ahh, those pirates have it all.

(Including Me.)

Not only do they have their magnificent sailing vessel, they also use a hot air balloon and board an impressive steam ship, The Queen Victoria I.

And one or two "anachronisms" such as Post-it Notes and dental floss.

(And people say time travel is not possible.)

If you doubt Me, go see The Pirates! Band of Misfits.

You may want to take up piracy yourself.



I be jammin'


While watching Cupcake Wars the other night with Momma, I asked her to explain what roller derby was.

Momma actually blanched and hesitated before answering me.

I don't know why; it seems like my kind of sport.

The growing popularity of roller skating in the United States led to the formation of organized multi-day endurance races for cash prizes, as early as the mid-1880s. Speed and endurance races continued to be held on both flat and banked tracks in the 20th century's first three decades and spectators enjoyed the spills and falls of the skaters. The term derby was used to refer to such races by 1922.


While the sport has its origins in the banked-track roller skating marathons of the 1930s, Leo Seltzer and Damon Runyon are credited with the basic evolution of the sport to its initial competitive form. Professional roller derby quickly became popular; in 1940 more than 5 million spectators watched in about 50 U.S. cities.

Roller derby is a now a contact sport played by two teams of five members roller skating in the same direction around a track. Game play consists of a series of short matchups ("jams") in which both teams designate a scoring player (the "jammer") who scores points by lapping members of the opposing team. The teams attempt to assist their own jammer while hindering the opposing jammer — in effect, playing both offense and defense simultaneously.

Roller derby is played by more than 1,200 amateur leagues on every inhabited continent, and is under consideration for the 2020 Olympics.

Most modern leagues share a strong "do it yourself" ethic which combines athleticism and (steam)punk, camp, and feminist elements.

Yup, my kind of sport! I'll have to add it to my Steampunk Olympics.

Friday, April 27

The surprisingly curvaceous pirate

Aardman Features


If ever you have doubted me mark upon history (and woe be unto t' person who doubts Me!) please look at this early sketch for The Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate in The Pirates! Band of Misfits.

Does she not seem familiar t' you?

Of course they had t' change me appearance though so they could include this at t' end:

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Aye. That's Me story and I'm stickin' with it.


The Pirates! In an Adventure with Me

Arrr, more pirate books t' read! And a movie, too!!

The Pirates! is a series o' four comedy books written by British author Gideon Defoe:

  • The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists 
  • The Pirates! In an Adventure with Whaling (or Ahab) 
  • The Pirates! In an Adventure with Communists 
  • The Pirates! In an Adventure with Napoleon 
  • The Pirates! In an Adventure with the Romantics* 

*coming in 2012

T' upcomin' movin' picture by Aardman (Arrrdman) Animation, t' salty seadogs that brought you Chicken Run and Wallace & Gromit, was released as The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists on March 28, 2012 in t' United Kin'dom, and as The Pirates! Band of Misfits on April 27, 2012 in t' United States.

Based upon t' first two books, t' Pirate Captain and his crew o' swashbucklin' pirates attempt t' beat his American rivals Black Bellame and Cutlass Liz in t' Pirate o' t' Year Award. On their quest they battle Queen Victoria and join forces with a young Charles Darwin.

T' first book, The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists, be set in 1837, and follows t' adventures o' "T' Pirate Captain" and his crew o' non-orthodox pirates. They meet a young Charles Darwin and Mister Bobo, a highly trained and sophisticated "man-panzee," who have been exiled from London by a rival scientist.

Havin' sunk t' Beagle, which he believed was a Bank o' England treaaye ship thanks t' a tip-off from Black Bellame, t' Pirate Captain agrees t' take Darwin home and help him defeat his enemies.

In t' second book, The Pirates! In an Adventure with Whaling, t' pirates felt that their ship was in need o' some repair. So they go t' see Cutlass Liz, t' beautiful yet ferocious pirate boat yard owner, where, after much showin' off, t' Pirate Captain buys t' most expensive boat, The Lovely Emma.

Not havin' much gold t' Pirates be unable t' pay for t' boat, so they go on an adventure t' find 6,000 doubloons.

They go t' Las Vegas, and get mixed up with Ahab, who be huntin' Moby-Dick, t' pirate Captain goes mad, and t' Prize ham plays a major part in t' whole adventure.

What perfect nonsense.



Thursday, April 26

Day and night

Have you ever felt like their were two different personalities inside you?

Ashton Drake's Delilah Noir knows just how you feel and embraces both.

By day, she's a well-behaved, straight-A student. But when the sun goes down, Delilah Noir is ready to unleash her wild side! Off with her daytime preppy look, and on with the edgy, romantic Goth fashions she really loves!

Delilah Noir Steampunk is a brand new (and apparently last!) entry in the Delilah Noir line of ball-jointed dolls. A dealer exclusive, she has red hair, pale pink lips, totally awesome outfit including the necklace, and top hat with attached goggles. Her gold and black high-heeled lace-up boots are just kicking'!



Wednesday, April 25

Happy birthday, Betsy!


Happy birthday, Betsy!

Author Maud Hart Lovelace was born on April 26, 1892, but until she was 50 years old she believed her birthday was the 25th (which coincided with the birthday of her namesake, Aunt Maud).

Her character, and My Dear Friend Betsy Ray of Betsy-Tacy fame, also celebrated her birthday on April 25.

Since I doubt Betsy wants to celebrate her 120th birthday, I think I shall join her for her 10th birthday party.


Tuesday, April 24

Oh my goth

The weather on the night of her birth was as expected. The wind was howling, the moon was full, and the doctor was unavailable.

Momma and I have become increasingly intrigued by Evangeline Ghastly and her haunting story:

I was born in the attic of Barkely Manor and it's where I continue to live today. I do live alone, well, actually Mouette, my pet skunk, lives with me, too, and now my new friend Bella - I found her hanging out in the attic rafters. Barkley Manor is the ancestral home of the Ghastly family; an ancient family whose roots date back to the early 1500s. Well, that's what the woman at the Ipswich library told me. She's one of the few people in town that speaks to me, so I'm taking her word for it. I have a wonderful collection of rocks, spiders, and dust.... I'd love to show it off someday. If you're still interested in my story, I'll continue....

Created by designer Joe Petrollese and sculpted by renowned fashion doll artist and designer Robert Tonner, Evangeline is crafted entirely of the finest pale luminescent resin, and now available in high-quality vinyl, too. She is completely ball jointed, essential for unlimited posing possibilities. She comes with realistic, inset eyes and a designer outfit befitting any mortician’s assistant. Hand-painted features, a wig made of the highest quality fibers, and designer outfits that use only the finest of fabrics and trims are the hallmarks of this quirky girl.

Inspired by Tim Burton’s The Corpse Bride, The Addams Family, and even Barbra Streisand, Evangeline comes to you straight from the attic of Barkley Manor located in Ipswich, England, across from the local cemetery.

With a pet skunk named Mouette, a mysterious diary entry, and fashions right out of a Victorian novel, Evangeline Ghastly is definitely…a whole other story.


Monday, April 23

Who needs pixie dust?

My Big Sister is a genius!

While looking for party supplies for her upcoming birthday, she spotted this beauty and said it would be perfect for Me:

An Inflatable Pirate Ship Cooler.

Stash your party beverages in this chilling ship! Cooler is made of plastic and measures approximately 41" wide x 23" deep x 15" high. 

Now all I need is some helium or hydrogen and I'm all set to take to the skies.

Watch out Captain Hook!

Sunday, April 22

I ❤ Earth Day

You might think it's funny for a Synthetic American like me to celebrate Earth Day and all that is natural, but we only have one Earth.

Earth Day is a day early each year on which events are held worldwide to increase awareness and appreciation of the Earth's natural environment. Earth Day is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network, and is celebrated in more than 175 countries every year.

In 2009, the United Nations designated April 22 International Mother Earth Day. Earth Day is planned for April 22 in all years at least through 2015.

Earth Day was first observed in San Francisco (the City of Saint Francis, patron saint of ecology) and other cities on March 21, 1970, the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere. This day was later sanctioned in a Proclamation signed by Secretary General U Thant at the United Nations where it is observed each year.

Many communities celebrate Earth Week, an entire week of activities focused on environmental issues.


Happy birthday, Molly!

Happy birthday, Molly!

Molly is excited to learn that an English girl is coming to stay at the McIntires'--just in time for Molly's birthday on April 22!

But Emily turns out to be different from the glamorous girl Molly pictured. Emily is shy and standoffish. Then Molly discovers she and Emily have some important things in common.

The girls become fast friends and decide to celebrate Molly's birthday with an English tea party. But they can't agree on how to do it, and it takes a special birthday surprise to help them patch up their hurt feelings.


This Week in The Civil War: Sunday, April 22, 1862

Farragut captures New Orleans

In this week 150 years ago in the war, U.S. Navy Flag Officer David Farragut takes his Union fleet and runs it past two heavily armed Confederate forts on the lower Mississippi River near the Gulf of Mexico. The daring move leads Farragut onward to capture New Orleans on April 25, 1862, forcing a sullen Southern city to surrender. It's one of the most eventful months of war yet. And Farragut's daring provides the Union a key victory in its thrust to seize the main inland waterway and divide the Confederacy. New Orleans is one of the busiest Southern ports and a supply lifeline for the secessionist states. Farragut's plan involved weeks of sizing up Confederate-held Fort Jackson and Fort St. Philip several miles downriver from New Orleans. His forces spend days pounding the forts with intense fire from mortar boats while crews cut a gap in heavy chains strung across the river. Then, hours before dawn on April 24, 1862, Farragut's fleet begins moving stealthily upriver, racing a gauntlet of raking fire from the forts. The fight is intense, and The Associated Press reports in an April 24 dispatch that there was a "heavy and continuous bombardment of Fort Jackson" before Farragut's move. The Confederates reported to AP that Fort Jackson alone had been targeted by some 25,000 13-inch shells but they vowed the fort was capable of absorbing heavy fire indefinitely. Farragut chose instead to bypass the forts entirely. All told, 13 of Farragut's ships would make it upriver beyond the two forts and continue on to New Orleans to force its surrender. There are more than 1,000 casualties on both sides. And Confederates still holding the forts downriver surrender on April 28, 1862, when they realize their garrisons are cut off and isolated.


Saturday, April 21

Happy birthday, Felicity!

Happy birthday, Felicity!

Spring brings Felicity's 10th birthday on April 21, 1775 and a visit from Grandfather. He gives Felicity a precious gift—a guitar that had belonged to her grandmother.

Felicity is so enchanted with the guitar that she disobeys her mother and takes it out of the house to show her friend Elizabeth.

Her parents are angry when they learn what she’s done. They refuse to believe a message Felicity has overheard that means danger for the colonists. Felicity risks her parents’ anger again when she decides to alert the colonists herself!


The Lincoln Funeral Train


The only thing that could draw me from my beloved balloons would be a train.

Until I looked at the prices. Especially this beauty:

By April 1865, the Union had prevailed over the Confederacy, and the Iron Horse connected towns and cities across the nation and its territories. The Nashville, a 4-4-0 American-type locomotive built by the Cuyahoga Steam Furnace Company during the 1850s, was a stalwart on the Cleveland, Columbus & Cincinnati Railroad.

After Lincoln was shot at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., Secretary of War Edwin Stanton took charge of arranging Lincoln’s funeral, and for the body to be transported back to Springfield, Illinois. Though Mary Todd Lincoln, the president’s widow, was insisting on a simple and direct burial, Stanton’s plan evolved into a national journey involving numerous elaborate ceremonies.
 

On April 21, the remains of the president and his son Willie, who had died in 1863, were placed in the United States for a journey that roughly retraced the inaugural train trip four year earlier. Of the approximately 20 different locomotives that would carry the father and son home over 1,600 miles of track, the Nashville, which pulled the funeral consist over the CC&C’s rails in Ohio, would become the most famous.

With the assistance of Wayne Wesolowski, Retired Director of the Benedictine University Lincoln Train Project, Lionel now offers this important train with full mourning decoration in 1:48 scale as part of the Heritage Series of 19th century steam locomotives. 

All yours for a mere $799. Plus $299 for the two additional cars below.

Gulp.



Friday, April 20

I, Apple

I am so glad when I am time-traveling and can use my new Apple laptop instead of the steam-powered desktop computer I normally use.

Momma says I am a Very Lucky Doll to have my own laptop which is superior to her father's first computer.

The Osborne 1 was the first commercially successful portable microcomputer, released on April 3, 1981 by Osborne Computer Corporation.

It weighed a whopping 23.5 pounds (Momma's Macbook Pro weighs only 5.6 pounds!), cost $1,795 and shipped with software that cost almost as much as the machine itself.

Among its many problems were a tiny five-inch display screen and the use of single-sided, single-density floppy disk drives which couldn't contain sufficient data for practical use.

Heck, I think my Momma's iPhone is better than that!


Thursday, April 19

Feeling sheepish

I haven't paid too much attention to Momma's mania for Shaun the Sheep.

Until now.
Shaun the Sheep is a British stop-motion animated children's television series produced by Aardman Animations (creators of Wallace & Gromit), and first aired in the United Kingdom in March 2007. The show, which is currently on hiatus, consists of 80 episodes in two seasons. It has been broadcast in 180 countries around the world.

In the second season episode Two's Company, Shaun finally finds true love. Near the end of the show Shaun presents his lady-love with a beautiful metal flower he creates for her using his considerable smithing talents.

(Of course Shaun's metal flower doesn't compare to mine!)

On the same disc (Shear Madness) Shaun goes for a hot-air balloon adventure.

And come to think of it, Shaun was introduced in the Wallace & Gromit short A Close Shave which also featured Preston, an evil cyberdog.

Maybe Shaun has some steampunk tendencies I was unaware of?


Wednesday, April 18

So long, Dick Clark...for now

Dick Clark, best known for hosting long-running television program American Bandstand, died today at age 82.

America's Oldest Teenager was known for his youthful appearance as well as his catchphrase, "For now, Dick Clark...so long," which was delivered with a military salute.

Before Dick Clark, Alan Freed promoted live shows in 1957 in which blacks and whites danced together in the aisles. The national sponsors insisted that the network kill the show, which it did.

A week later, American Bandstand made its debut on national TV.

The Civil Rights movement made it clear that dance shows like American Bandstand could not be segregated. The key battle on this front was fought in Baltimore, where the local equivalent was the Buddy Deane Show.

Modern audiences are familiar with Deane's story which was the basis for John Water's 1988 movie Hairspray, which was later adapted as a Broadway musical and another movie by the same name.

The kids on the Deane show were white - except for once a month when they were black. This segregation brought protests from the NAACP.

Deane offered to reserve three days a week for blacks but the station took the show off the air because of continuing protests.

For several years the cameras on American Bandstand rarely showed blacks in the audience or dancing. It is debated how much of an active role Clark had in integrating the show's dancers, but is is credited with playing the music of black musicians instead of the covers by white musicians.

It wasn't until the mid-1960s that American Bandstand really integrated.



London Bridge was falling down

References to "selling the Brooklyn Bridge" abound in American culture. (For example, "If you believe that, I've got a bridge to sell you.") George C. Parker and William McCloundy were two early 20th-century con-men who allegedly perpetrated this scam on unwitting tourists and immigrants.

But they weren't the last to sell a bridge.

The London Bridge was sold on April 18, 1968 to Robert McCulloch, who was the founder of Lake Havasu City, Ariz., and the chairman of McCulloch Oil Corporation.

Originally, London Bridge was built in 1831 to span the River Thames, but by 1962 the bridge was not strong enough to support modern traffic and was dismantled and sold by the City of London.

McCulloch purchased the bridge to serve as a tourist attraction at his retirement real estate development at Lake Havasu City which was in the middle of nowhere.

The Arizona London Bridge is a reinforced concrete structure clad in the original masonry of the 1831 bridge. McCulloch had exterior granite blocks from the original bridge numbered and transported to the present site in Arizona. The bridge was completed in 1971 and links an island in Lake Havasu with the main part of the city.


Incidentally, McCulloch vehemently denied rumors until his death in 1977 that the London Bridge was mistakenly bought in the belief that it was the more picturesque Tower Bridge.


Tuesday, April 17

American gothic

Warner Bros.
You can now officially count me as a Johnny Depp/Tim Burton fan.

Those two wild and crazy guys have collaborated on some of my all-time favorite moving pictures:



And now Dark Shadows, which is scheduled to be released on May 11:

In the year 1752, Joshua and Naomi Collins, with young son Barnabas, set sail from Liverpool, England to start a new life in America. But even an ocean was not enough to escape the mysterious curse that has plagued their family. Two decades pass and Barnabas has the world at his feet-or at least the town of Collinsport, Maine. The master of Collinwood Manor, Barnabas is rich, powerful and an inveterate playboy...until he makes the grave mistake of breaking the heart of Angelique Bouchard. A witch, in every sense of the word, Angelique dooms him to a fate worse than death: turning him into a vampire, and then burying him alive. Two centuries later, Barnabas is inadvertently freed from his tomb and emerges into the very changed world of 1972. He returns to Collinwood Manor to find that his once-grand estate has fallen into ruin. The dysfunctional remnants of the Collins family have fared little better...

Dark Shadows was an American-produced gothic soap opera that originally aired weekdays from 1966 to 1971. The original story did not mention any supernatural elements. It was unprecedented in daytime television when ghosts were introduced about six months after it began.

The series became hugely popular when vampire Barnabas Collins appeared a year into its run. Dark Shadows also featured werewolves, zombies, man-made monsters, witches, warlocks, time travel, and a parallel universe.

I. Can't. Wait.


Monday, April 16

A stitch in time

It's a good thing Momma's a talented seamstress.

I spotted this Steampunk Dress over the weekend by Gracefaerie Designs. It's a custom dress, overskirt, and crinoline for small, 1/3 scale dolls.

As Momma delicately put it, while I am 1/3 scale, I am not small. (She even had to do some "liposuction" on me once so I could fit into my clothes.)

Sniff.

However, that being said, she thinks she can alter this to fit me.

As for the fabric, thankfully Spoonflower has lots of steampunk fabrics. Spoonflower is an online site that permits people to design, print and sell their own fabric designs.

How cool is that?


Sunday, April 15

Remember the Titanic


RMS Titanic was a British passenger liner that sank in the North Atlantic Ocean 100 years ago today on April 15, 1912 after colliding with an iceberg during her maiden voyage from Southampton, England to New York City.

One of three Olympic class ocean liners operated by the White Star Line, she was built between 1909–11 in Belfast, Ireland.

She carried 2,224 people of which 1,514 died.

The sinking of Titanic was one of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters in history. She was the largest ship afloat at the time of her maiden voyage.


This Week in The Civil War: Sunday, April 15, 1862

Lincoln's early emancipation move

On April 16, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Compensated Emancipation Act, moving to free thousands of slaves in the nation's capital. This action is an early hint of steps to come that would eventually hasten the end of slavery across the whole U.S. as a result of the conflict. It would be several more months, in September 1862, when he would sign yet another even more famous document - the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation - which declared that if the secessionists didn't cease active rebellion and return to the Union by Jan. 1, 1863, all slaves in those states would be free by that deadline. That step would effectively reframe the war as a battle against slavery - and not just make it a cause of restoring the Union as Lincoln had maintained early in the conflict. Meanwhile, The Associated Press reported in a dispatch dated April 17, 1862, near Yorktown, Va., that Confederate forces have strengthened their defenses and kept up "brisk cannonading" all night near Virginia's James River as Union forces were preparing to mount an offensive toward Richmond from the Virginia coastal region. The report from a camp near Yorktown said federal gunboats "amused themselves by shelling the woods below Gloucester" in Virginia and one of the vessels approached within two miles of Yorktown when Confederates opened fire from a battery concealed in the woods. AP reports the federal gunboats were not damaged and the firing continued afterward for long intervals. AP's dispatch added that other engagements were reported in other spots near the James River as Union Gen. George B. McClellan was mustering forces in the region for a looming spring offensive by the federal fighters intent on seizing Richmond, capital of the Confederacy.

Saturday, April 14

The Steampunk Olympics

If I was to start The Steampunk Olympics, what events do you think should be included?

Even more important, which events should I compete in?

The Ancient Games featured running events, a pentathlon (consisting of a jumping event, discus and javelin throws, a foot race and wrestling), boxing, wrestling, pankration (
a blend of boxing and wrestling), and equestrian events.

At the first Olympic Games, nine sports were contested. Since then, the number of sports contested at the Summer Olympic Games has gradually risen to 28 on the program for 2000-2008.


However, at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London the number of sports will fall back to 26 following 2005 decision to remove baseball and softball from the Olympic program. (They retain their status as Olympic sports with the possibility of a return to the Olympic program in future games.)

So far I'm thinking the Steampunk Olympics should include:
  • Aether pistol
  • Ballooning
  • Orienteering

Just remember the Olympic motto is Citius, Altius, Fortius, which is Latin for "Faster, Higher, Stronger."



Friday, April 13

The 74th Hunger Games


I can't help but wonder if the Olympic games would permit Katniss Everdeen to compete in archery?

The second Olympic games, Paris 1900, saw the first appearance of archery. Women's team archery at the Summer Olympics was first contested in St. Louis 1904 and has been regularly contested since 1988.

The Hunger Games is a young adult novel written by American television writer and novelist Suzanne Collins.

It is written from the point of view of 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives in a post-apocalyptic world in the country of Panem where the countries of North America once existed.

The Capitol, a highly advanced metropolis, holds control over the rest of the nation. The Hunger Games are an annual event in which one boy and one girl aged 12 to 18 from each of the 12 districts surrounding the Capitol are selected by lottery to compete in a televised battle in which only one person can survive.




Thursday, April 12

Let the Games begin


I think it's time for me to time travel and shake things up a bit.

The Olympic Games is a major international event featuring summer and winter sports, in which thousands of athletes participate in a variety of competitions. The Olympics have become the world’s foremost sports competition where more than 200 nations participate.

Originally, the ancient Olympic Games were held in Olympia, Greece, from the 8th century BC to the 4th century AD. Because Ancient Greece was the birthplace of the Olympic Games, Athens was perceived to be an appropriate choice to stage the inaugural modern Games.

The 1896 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the I Olympiad, was a multi-sport event celebrated in Athens, Greece from April 6-15, 1896. It was the first international Olympic Games held in the Modern era.

Women were not allowed to compete at the 1896 Summer Olympics. Women participated for the first time at the 1900 Paris Games with the inclusion of women's events in lawn tennis and golf, although there were three French women competing in croquet and there was at least one woman sailor as part of mixed crews. Women's athletics and gymnastics debuted at the 1928 Olympics.

After the success of the 1896 Games, the Olympics entered a period of stagnation that threatened their survival. The Olympic Games held at the Paris Exposition in 1900 and the World's Fair at St. Louis in 1904 were side-shows. The Games at Paris did not have a stadium; however, this was the first time women took part in the games. The St. Louis Games hosted 650 athletes, but 580 were from the United States.

The Games are currently held every two years, with Summer and Winter Olympic Games alternating, although they occur every four years within their respective seasonal games.

Hmm, where shall I start....


Holding down the forts


Since I wasn't blogging at this time last year, I thought I'd catch you up on two important events in the Civil War that occurred on April 12.
First, the Civil War began on April 12, 1861 with Confederate forces firing on Fort Sumter, in the harbor of Charleston, S.C.

On April 10, 1861, Confederate Brigadier General P.G.T. Beauregard demanded the surrender of the Union garrison of Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor. Garrison commander Robert Anderson refused. On April 12, Confederate batteries opened fire on the fort, which was unable to reply effectively.

Anderson surrendered Fort Sumter at 2:30 p.m. on April 13, evacuating the garrison the next day. Amazingly, there were no casualties during the bombardment, but one Union artillerist was killed and three wounded (one mortally) when a cannon exploded prematurely while firing a 100-gun salute during the April 14 evacuation.

On April 15, Lincoln called for 75,000 troops from the states to recapture the fort and other federal property.

Fort Sumter created an overwhelming demand for war and hundreds of thousands of young men in both the North and South rushed to enlist.

Three years later the Battle of Fort Pillow, also known as the Fort Pillow Massacre, was fought on April 12, 1864, at Fort Pillow in Henning, Tenn.

Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest was accused of war crimes at the Battle of Fort Pillow for allowing forces under his command to massacre hundreds of surrendered black Union Army and white Southern Unionist prisoners.

Forrest later served as the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.


Wednesday, April 11

The Parasol Protectorate

Ahh, I have discovered yet another use for my Unusually Stout Parasol.

Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. 
First, she has no soul. Second, she's a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire -- and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London's high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?


To find out the new use for my Unusually Stout Parasol, read Soulless by Gail Carriger. Set in Victorian London, it's full of werewolves, vampires, dirigibles, and tea-drinking.


Our whole school for Christ

While telling my Big Sister about the importance of education this morning, I got to thinking about higher education for women and remembered that Spelman College, the oldest college for African-American women in the United States, was founded on April 11, 1881 in Atlanta, Ga.

Spelman College, originally known as The Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary, was established in the basement of Atlanta's Friendship Baptist Church by Harriet E. Giles and Sophia B. Packard and was sponsored by the American Baptist Women's Home Mission Society.

Giles and Packard began the school with 11 African-American women and $100 given to them by a church congregation in Medford, Mass. In 1882 the two women returned to Massachusetts to solicit more money and were introduced to John D. Rockefeller at a church conference in Ohio.

The school relocated in 1883 to a nine-acre site 
in Atlanta which only had five buildings left from a Union Civil War encampment. The school was able to survive on generous donations by the black community in Atlanta, the efforts of volunteer teachers, and gifts of supplies.

In April 1884, Rockefeller visited the school and was so impressed that he settled the debt on the property. The name of the school was changed to the Spelman Seminary in honor of Rockefeller's wife, Laura Spelman, and her parents who were longtime abolitionists. Rockefeller's gift precipitated interest from other benefactors.

Spelman was the first historically black female institution of higher education to receive its collegiate charter in 1924 and is now part of the Atlanta University Center academic consortium.

A four-year liberal arts women's college, Spelman is now ranked among the nation's top colleges by U.S. News and World ReportsForbes Magazine, and Princeton Review.


Tuesday, April 10

Captain hook

Today I want to show off the two lovely birthday presents that I received yesterday from Darling Dolly.

For my birthday she sent me a lovely crocheted snood made with copper yarn and a metallic copper thread crocheted together. She even made it big enough for my hose clamp to fit through the openings!

Crochet (from the French word crochet, meaning hook) is a process of creating fabric from yarn, thread, or other material strands using a crochet hook.

Crocheting first became popular in the 19th century when machine-spun cotton thread became widely available and inexpensive in Europe and North America after the invention of the cotton gin. Crocheting consumes more thread and cotton is well suited to crochet.


Darling Dolly also sent me a fully-lined reticule!A reticule (French réticule, from Latin reticulum meaning net) was a small handbag that could be hung from the wrist. It might also be called an indispensable.

Reticules became an indispensable accessory in the early 19th century because the line of the newly fashionable high-waisted Empire gowns would be ruined by a pocket. A reticule might contain a scented handkerchief, a calling card case, a small leather coin purse, smelling salts, and paper and pencil.

Knitting, netting, tatting, crocheting, et cetera were considered suitable pastimes for young ladies.

I guess that means you won't find me with a hook in hand.

At least not a crochet hook.

(Thanks Mama Lisa!)


Monday, April 9

Happy birthday to us!

Addy and her parents have moved to a boarding house. There Addy meets an inspiring friend, M'dear. Like many people who grew up enslaved, Addy doesn't know when she was born, so M'dear urges Addy to claim a day for her birthday. Then M'dear falls ill. When Addy goes out to get medicine, she faces prejudice--and danger. M'dear helps Addy overcome her anger and gives her a deeper understanding of freedom. When Addy finally claims a birthday, it is a special day indeed, and the whole city celebrates.

The date Addy Walker and I chose? April 9 - the end of the Civil War.

Now that was a day to celebrate, even if no one sang "Happy Birthday to You" to either of us.

"Happy Birthday to You," also known more simply as "Happy Birthday," is a song that is traditionally sung to celebrate the anniversary of a person's birth.


According to the 1998 Guinness Book of World Records, "Happy Birthday to You" is the most recognized song in the English language, followed by "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow." The song's base lyrics have been translated into at least 18 languages.

The melody of "Happy Birthday to You" comes from the song "Good Morning to All," which was written and composed by American siblings Patty Hill and Mildred J. Hill in 1893. The combination of melody and lyrics in "Happy Birthday to You" first appeared in print in 1912, and probably existed even earlier. None of these early appearances included credits or copyright notices.



The Summy Company registered for copyright in 1935, crediting authors Preston Ware Orem and Mrs. R.R. Forman. In 1990, Warner Chappell purchased the company owning the copyright for $15 million, with the value of "Happy Birthday" estimated at $5 million. Based on the 1935 copyright registration, Warner claims that the United States copyright will not expire until 2030, and that unauthorized public performances of the song are technically illegal unless royalties are paid to it.


Sunday, April 8

The tomb is empty


Alleluia! The Lord is risen!

Easter is a Christian feast and holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day after his crucifixion at Calvary as described in the New Testament.

Easter is preceded by Lent, a 40-day period of fasting, prayer, and penance. The last week of Lent is called Holy Week, and it contains Maundy Thursday, commemorating Maundy and the Last Supper, as well as Good Friday, commemorating the crucifixion and death of Jesus.

Easter occurs on different Sundays each spring. The First Council of Nicaea (A.D. 325) established the date of Easter as the first Sunday after the full moon following the northern hemisphere's vernal equinox. The date of Easter therefore varies between March 22 and April 25.

Easter customs vary across the Christian world, but decorating Easter eggs is a common motif. In the Western world, customs such as egg hunting and the Easter Bunny extend from the church, and are often secular.

In the United States, Easter Sunday is a flag day but has not been a federal and state holiday due to falling on a Sunday, which is already a non working day for federal and state employees.

Historically, schools have given extended spring breaks of one to two weeks around the Easter holiday, but this practice has been declining in favor of fixed one-week recesses around Washington's Birthday and in late April.

Many Americans follow the tradition of coloring hard-boiled eggs and giving baskets of candy. The Easter Bunny is popular in American culture. On Easter Monday, the President of the United States holds an annual Easter egg roll on the White House lawn for young children. New York City holds an annual Easter parade on Easter Sunday.

The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia! 


This Week in The Civil War: Sunday, April 8, 1862

Shiloh’s fallout, First year of war. Lincoln’s early emancipation move

Union Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant sends troops in pursuit of Confederate fighters retreating after the battle at Shiloh, or Pittsburgh Landing, in Tennessee. But a feisty Confederates rearguard led by Nathan Bedford Force thwarts the Union pursuit, allowing the secessionists to slip away. It is a difficult week for the Confederacy as word of their loss at Shiloh reaches Richmond. The news for the secessonists stands in glum contrast to celebrations one year ago this week in the South. The first shots of war were fired April 12, 1861, at Fort Sumter in South Carolina. That Confederate bombardment — and the subsequent Union surrender of that federal garrison at Fort Sumter — kicked off wild celebrations on April 14, 1861 in Charleston. A year later, euphoria has given way to the grim reality of the deadly grind of war. Shiloh’s two days of pitched fighting end with more than 23,000 men killed, wounded or missing on both sides — the bloodiest battle in U.S. history at the time and a portent of big battles to come. The Associated Press reports Shiloh’s outcome in an April 13 dispatch, reporting “the beginning of the fight on that day was a total surprise’’ for the Union as Confederates attacked — “many officers and soldiers being overtaken in their tents and slaughtered or taken prisoners.’’ The dispatch notes the Union attacked back the second day of Shiloh “and the rebels soon gave way.’’ It adds one captured Confederate prisoner told officers the Southern fighters were told a Confederate victory “was a sure thing’’ and that “they could not fail to capture Grant’s army.’’ On April 16, 1862, Abraham Lincoln signed the Compensated Emancipation Act freeing thousands of slaves in the nation’s capital. It is an early step during the war that would lead to the formal end of slavery across the U.S. as a result of the conflict.