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velkommen

Welcome. This is my blog, and you're my most coveted guest. If I seem a bit too intense, it's only because I have so much that I want to share with you, and I can see that you're eager to begin as well. So, please...make yourself at home, sip an East India cocktail (I blended the pomegranate juice myself), and sample some of my domestic and imported Arcana: useless, but fascinating information about Victoriana, Steampunk and other favoured topics; music which evokes that dark, lost Lenore sensibility; and other pleasant or, perhaps, unsettling non sequiters whispered in a darkened room. Linger long or short, leave a comment or refrain, but remember to come back soon to play a (shhhh) parlour game.
Velkommen. Dette er min blog, og du er min mest eftertragtedegæst. Hvis jeg synes en smule for intenst, det er kunfordi jeg har så meget at jeg vil dele med jer, og jeg kanse, at du er ivrig efter at begynde så godt. kan du ...føl dig hjemme, sip et East India cocktail (jeg blandetden granatæble juice mig selv), og prøve nogle af mine indenlandske o importerede Arcana: ubrugelig, menfascinerende oplysninger om Victoriana, Steampunkog andre begunstigede emner; musik der fremkalderdenne mørke, mistede Lenore sensibilitet, og andrebehagelige eller måske foruroligende, ikke sequitershviskede i et mørkelagt rum. Linger lang eller kort,efterlade en kommentar eller afstå, men husk at komme tilbage snart til at spille en (Shhhh) selskabsleg.

ABOUT ME

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I love my grown children, miss all the dogs I ever had, and I cry at the drop of a hat, I believe in true love, destiny, fairness, and compassion. If I could be anywhere right now, it would be the ocean. My favorite city is New York, but I am always longing for London and craving more time in Copenhagen. I'm drawn to desolate places, deserted buildings, and unknown byways. I don't care how society perceives me as long as my gut tells me that what I'm doing is right. I am interested in paranormal things, spiritual things, historical things, and things that glow at night. I like to drink, I smoke when I write, I can't stand small talk, and despite my quick temper, I would rather kiss than fight. I'm selfish with my writing time, a spendthrift with my love. My heart has been broken so many times that it's held together with super glue and duct tape. The upside is that, next time, I won't be tempted to give away what I no longer have to give. But I will let you buy me a Pink Squirrel.

Fuldmane

Fuldmane
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Helvede's så Nocturne

Helvede's så Nocturne
The raw, aching sadness with which the following words were typed has been reformatted to fit your screen. No need to adjust it. All names have been expunged to protect the innocent and the willfully insane.

Nocturne in G Flat major

Chopin, darkness, light, sand and wind, starlight tread. Beethoven, love, fear, madness, redemption in the night. Liszt, waltzing widows, desperate bargains, pleasure's secret plight. Now, then, before, always, forever. Promises made on lonely beaches, celestial summer's perfect kiss, passions quenched in salty breezes, the lure of distant mist-draped heights. Bitter interlude. Final, private nocturne. Burned down like a candle. Doomed bleeding beauty. Fated sacrificial night.
To be continued...

Gentle Visitor

Gentle Visitor
And now, Gentle Visitor, won't you please lend an eye (we've worked so hard)...
STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
We love all things dark and mysterious, macabre and obscure, odd and unfathomable. Nothing is too strange or bizarre for our little blog. And although we would never presume to offer definitive answers to the great questions of life, we shall do our best to enlighten, inform and delight our visitors with our whimsical potpurri of facts, anecdotes, trivia and informational outpourings. We strive not to offend, but to edify those who wish to reach beyond their comfort zone and touch the fabric of another time and place, and of distant, but genuine worlds and lives. As Victorian-themed blogs go, ours may not be the most austere, nor the most comprehensive, but we know what we like, and if our readers like it as well, then all is as it should be in this ramshackle corner of our own personal Victorian empire.

A Musical Note

A Musical Note: We feel that our blog is best viewed when accompanied by one or more of the following musical selections. Then again, we also feel that our blog is best viewed when accompanied by a glass of absinthe, a bite of lemon cake, and a foot massage (preferably by someone you know). So, to paraphrase the otherwise completely irrelevant-to-our-blog Mr. Aleister Crowley, "Do what thou wilt...but be open to Chopin."
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And now we begin

And now we begin
"One must strive to show decorum even when scrolling." Queen Victoria, Buckingham Palace Blog, August 11,1879

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Sunday, December 16, 2012

OUR EVENING WITH MR. LINCOLN



Well, it's official. We are pleased to announce that we have finally seen "Lincoln", Steven Speilberg's much touted, and, as of last week, Golden-Globe nominated film about the hottest man to ever put on a stovepipe hat and waistcoat. And we are further pleased to announce that we loved every single sepia-drenched (at least figuratively) moment of it. After a month of devouring reviews, and listening jealously to the accounts of those friends and acquaintances who had the good fortune to see it without having to plough through the minefield of personal obstacles that for one reason or another kept us chafing on the sidelines all this time, we can at last add our own voice to those already singing its praises. In fact, we're still so heady with delight that we can't stop writing about it in psuedo-Victorian prose. But, for the sake of our readers, we'll try, because, like Lincoln, we have a strong sense of humanitarianism. And also because...well...we want you to keep reading this post.


But where do we start? By now, everyone who's seen or read anything about "Lincoln" knows that one of its most powerful components is the excellent cast led by Daniel Day Lewis, whose performance as the great man is one of the best, if not the best, ever committed to celluloid (sorry Henry Fonda). From the first moment Day, as Lincoln, appears on the screen, we were totally and completely convinced that we were watching the man himself. Never mind that we have no recorded evidence of what Lincoln's voice actually sounded like. As he has done with all of his roles, Day did his homework and then some, immersing himself in accounts written by contemporaries who were privy to Lincoln's manner of speaking and interacting with his family and associates. Those things that we do know about Lincoln's personal demeanor and attributes...i.e. that he was known for his thin, "reedy" voice, that he often laughed at his own humorous stories, and that he was compassionate to a fault, even when the object of his compassion was undeserving of it...are all there in Day's protrayal. But of course there was much more to Lincoln than how he sounded wheh he spoke or the way he laughed when he told a funny story. If that was all that Day brought to the role, it would be little more than a caricature. But somehow, in a miraculous melding of beautifully nuanced acting and his own apparent affinity and insight into what made Abraham Lincoln tick, Day manages to make us believe that we are actually seeing the ill-fated 16th president of the United States on the screen. The make-up that imbues Day's face with that famous "weight of the world" look helps, of course, as does the incredible historical accuracy of the set design, from the clothes the characters wear to the furnishings inside the White House and Capital building in which much of the drama of the movie takes place. But final credit has to go to Day, an Irishman, who assumes the character of the former Kentucky-born lawyer cum president with the seeming ease of a man buttoning himself into a new shirt. He doesn't so much "play" Lincoln as he becomes him. And for those of us who not only admire Lincoln, but feel that peculiar sense of familiarity with a man who died over one hundred and fifty years ago, it's not only a treat, it's a gift that we never dared dream we would ever receive.


Of course, Daniel Day Lewis's performance isn't the only wonderful thing about "Lincoln." Veteran character actor Tommy Lee Jones, who plays liberal Republican Thaddeus Stevens, sprinkles his own brand of special magic throughout the movie as well. Well, perhaps "sprinkle" is the wrong word. As Stevens, Jones is a veritable powerhouse of abolitonist ferocity, decimating political opponents with acerbic put-downs and withering stares that belie the deeply humanitarian ideals to which the real Thaddeus Stevens devoted his political career. Wearing a horrible black wig (an affectation for which Thad Stevens was famous) to cover his baldness and limping from one angry interaction to the next with the help of a cane (Stevens was born with a club foot), Jones comes off as Lincoln's dark cousin, committed, like the president, to the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment and the bandishment of slavery, but far less willing to make the political compromises necessary to ensure its success. In the end, of course, he does, just as the real Thaddeus Stevens did, but Jones' performance gives us a refreshing glimpse into a man who, despite his lifelong belief in equality of the races, swas still prone to bouts of bad temper and intolerance for those who held an opposing view. Jones's portrayal of Stevens is so good that we can forgive the historical license the movie takes with Stevens' personal life, when, in a scene that takes place shortly after Congress finally passes the amendment, we see him in bed with his black housekeeper, who is apparently also his mistress. Even though our research into the subject didn't turn up any evidence that Thaddeus Stevens actually had a black mistress, it seems entirely possible that he could have, or at the very least, would not have been adverse to the idea. In a movie in which the only real romance is the one between Lincoln and his feelings about the Thirteenth Amendment, it makes sense that Speilberg would include a scene that, though historically inaccurate, serves the purpose of reminding the audience that, even in an era in which blacks were considered by some to be less than human, pockets of true humanity not only existed, but characterized the everyday lives of men like Thaddeus Stevens.


And then, of course, there is Mary Todd Lincoln, played by Sally Field, who does her best to disabuse movie goers of the notion that Mrs. Lincoln was little more than a frequently hysterical, self-promoting spendthrift. Whether she was or not, as portrayed by Field, it's hard not to feel compassion for a woman who, having already lost two sons, is overcome with distress over the couple's eldest son Robert's desire to join the Union Army. Still, because so many contemporary accounts of Mary Todd Lincoln focused on her penchant for hysterics (a 19th-century forerunner of bi-polar disorder?), Field is almost obligated to show us that side of Mary, but those scenes only add to the poignancy of Abe's struggle to pass the Thirteenth Amendment. Worn out by the responsibilities of leading a country embroiled in a civil war, locked in a political battle with the Democratic members of Congress, he is also the target of Mary's vitriol as she accuses him of everything from not loving Robert (it has long been allegd that Lincoln married Mary only because she became pregnant with their first son) to wanting to put her in a mental institution (in fact, it was Robert who had her committed to one following his father's murder; she was later released). Lincoln endures his wife's accusations with the same resigned fortitude with which he endures the pressures of his office. In the end, the audience is left with the sense that perhaps it was partly because Lincoln's marriage was such a tumultuous one that he worked so hard to serve those whose names he would never know. That it was, in a way, the discomfort and unhappiness that shadowed Lincoln's personal life (not only in his marriage, but in his youth) that made him so highly attuned to the needs of others.


There is so much more that we could say about "Lincoln", and, perhaps, we will, in a future post. But for this one, we'll just end by saying that it is, without question, a movie that deserves to be seen, even by those who aren't particularly interested in Abraham Lincoln or his role in bringing about the abolishment of slavery. If nothing else, it's a movie that manages to do what very few movies about the Civil War have done. It leaves the violence and bloodshed of war in the background, and romance behind the closed doors of the bedroom, and, instead, leads audiences down the crooked corrider of the political wheeling and dealing that was every bit as dramatic as what was taking place on the battlefield. "Lincoln" may not be the first cerebral drama to win critical praise, but it's one of the best, and quite possibly the only one in recent memory that makes audiences forget that it's not an action movie.

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