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.


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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.


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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)...
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."

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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Tuesday, January 29, 2013


What made the Victorians laugh? Lots of things, probably. After all, it's not as though Laurel and Hardy invented the banana peel, is it? On the other hand, humor, like just about everything else in western culture, has gone through a few changes since the days when corsets and waistcoats made the woman and her man. And because we are personally in the mood for a good laugh right now, we thought it might behoove us to examine some extant examples of the jokes, puns, and pithy anecdotes that evoked chuckles from audiences and readers in Victorian times. The following two examples come from Lee Jackson's collection, which can be found in its entirety on his "Dictionary of Victorian London" website. To wit:

Man: See here, wait, there's a button in my salad.

Waiter: That's all right, sir. It's part of the dressing.

Q: Who is the greatest chicken-killer in Shakespeare?

A: Macbeth, because he did murder most foul.

Not laughing yet? That's all right. We have more. A 19th century "joke book" once owned by Thomas Lawrence, who performed as a circus clown for Victorian audiences, was recently discovered and re-published by Ann Featherstone, a historian and expert on Victorian humor. According to Featherstone, in his role as a circus clown, Lawrence would have had to deliver his jokes at a rapid pace, either between acts or, sometimes, during them, in an effort to keep the audience's attention. And so what sort of jokes did a 19th century clown keep in his notebook? Well, the following for one.

Q: What's the difference between Joan of Arc and a canoe?

A: One is Maid of Orleans, and the other is made of wood.

It's worth a chuckle, at least, don't you think? Then again, these days, the average person (especially one attending a circus) might not actually know who Joan of Arc was, or, even if they did, might have no idea that she was also known as "the maid of Orleans." Fortunately for Thomas Lawrence and all the other 19th century clowns and comedians, Victorians were well versed in history. They apparently found much to laugh at in the institution of marriage as well, as evidenced by the following jokes from The Morticum Shop website.

A lady speaking to her maid: "Bridget, where did you get that dreadful eye?"

Bridget: "My brother gave it to me, mum, and what will the neighbors say? Me with an eye like that, and no husband."

And this...

A miserable man was left outside a shop on Oxford Street by his wife. He waited for an hour, and then approached a policeman. "For the lord's sake," he said, "order me to move on, loudly and sternly."

Yes...we know. Not exactly cutting-edge humor. But to the Victorians, who were used to a different, much slower cadence of speech and a more genteel manner of expression, jokes like those above might have been considered absolutely side-splitting. As hard as it is for some people to believe, there was actually a time when jokes didn't need to include profanity in order to be found funny. Not that the Victorians didn't have a more ribald side as well. There are a slew of websites on which you can sift through "smutty" Victorian songs and limericks which, while not considered appropriate for Victorian audiences of mixed gender, were probably big hits at the local pub or dance hall.

But we'll leave you to make such forays on your own. For now, our work is done. And while we are quite certain we have not elicited what one might call an actual "guffaw" from anyone reading this post, we, personally, feel somewhat uplifted. Thank you for the opportunity. And please take care not to slip on the banana peel on your way out.


Ann Featherstone said...

Thanks for mentioning Tom Lawrence and his wheeze about Joan of Arc. But the laugh (always supposing that it raised one) was that she was "Maid of Orleans" (not New Orleans) not "made of wood." I wonder if Tom, being a British Midlander and not well educated, would have heard of New Orleans! Probably not. Oddly, the pun works as well on the page as it does in performance. Most of the wheezes in the gag-book must have been better in the ring than they are written down, otherwise Tom would not have been so successful. Best wishes and congratulations on an interesting blog.

Greta Sproul said...

Thank you, Ann...and for pointing out my typo. The brain knew it was "Orleans" but the hand typed the "New" anyway...and the eyes failed to see it. I suppose that's a joke in itself!