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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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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

THE GAMES VICTORIANS PLAYED



In our last post, we paid homage to the newest token on the Monopoly game board, i.e. "the cat", which voters chose as the replacement for "the iron" token, which was voted off following a month long competition on Hasbro's Facebook page. And it started us thinking (it doesn't take much, trust us) about what sort of games those fun-loving Victorians played back in the days before Monopoly, video games, and Words With Friends. Turns out they played some pretty interesting ones, some of which we can't imagine anyone playing now. Intrigued? We were hoping you would be. Well, don't just sit there, then. Start scrolling.


We don't know about you, but whenever the phrase "Victorian parlor games" comes up (which it does quite a bit..at least in the circles in which we travel), we immediately picture a group of well-appointed young ladies and gentlemen entertaining themselves with a round of charades or shadow buff. In other words, we imagine them playing adult versions of games that, today, we associate exclusively with children. But although the Victorian era was, in some ways, a more innocent time than the one in which we currently live, when it came to at-home entertainment, it wasn't always "Come on, everyone, let's start pantomiming!" Hard as it may be to believe, there were board games around long before the invention of Monopoly, some of which still exist in updated forms today, and others that could never have existed in any other period of history.


Tiddlywinks is quite possibly one of the most ridiculed in-door games in history. At one time considered primarily a children's game, it gained a degree of favor among adults in the Victorian era, including a family by the name of Fitzwilliams who used a 15th-century Donatello bronze called The Madonna and Child as the family Tiddlywinks bowl until it was appropriated by the Victoria and Albert Museum. In its original form, Tiddlywinks is a very simple game, involving the use of a "squidger" to flip flat discs (known as "winks") into a bowl and trying to prevent your opponents from taking (or "squopping" them) by covering them with more of your own winks. But as the game became more popular among adults, the rules were refined to make it more competetive (and interesting) for the players. And the game is still going strong today, with two national organizations (the ETwA and the NATwA) to its credit, both of which are overseen by the International Federation of Tiddlywinks Association (the FTwA). But of course you don't have to be a serious competitor to play Tiddlywinks. For those who want to squidge and squop without an international federation looking over their shoulder, there are still plenty of non-professional versions of the game on store shelves, just waiting for someone to buy them, take them home, and start the funfest.


You may remember "Chutes and Ladders" from your formative years, but the game that many of us know by that name is actually a modernized version of a Victorian-era game called "Snakes and Ladders." Unlike Tiddlywinks, "Snakes and Ladders" was always considered a children's game, but as with its current incarnation, it was a game that families often played together. Based on an ancient Indian board game (hence the "snakes" reference), it was introduced into Victorian England in the early 1890's and has remained popular despite the name change...or perhaps because of it.


It's hard (no, wait...impossible) to imagine a toy company producing a board game called "Seal Hunting" today, the object of which is to kill as many innocent, defenseless seals as possible. These days, we have video games for that, in which the object is to kill people or zombies, not seals. But while we moderns might frown on a game called "Seal Hunting", while ignoring ones involving virtual human bloodshed, the Victorians had no such qualms and were quite happy to let their children while away an hour or two honing their seal hunting skills by virtue of a simple board game.


Ooo, anyone up for a game of Pig-A-Back? Apparently, some people were back in the 1890s, which was when this odd little board game was first introduced in England. Like "Snakes and Ladders", it's based on an ancient Indian board game called...wait for it...Pachisi. Yes, that's right...Pachisi, another classic game played by the Victorians (who called it "Ludo") and which some people (who call it "Pachisi") still play today.


Considered the "National Game of India", Pachisi (or Ludo) was originally played on a cloth "board" with either two dice or six cowrie shells. No doubt some die-hard Victorians (especially those who had once been employed by the East India Company during the British Raj period) insisted on using the cloth for authenticity, but the game could be purchased with a conventional board as well, and no doubt was, by Victorians who hadn't been employed by the East India Company or who just liked the game and didn't give two hoots what they played it on.


And of course what sort of Victorian game board post would this be if we didn't mention the Holy Grail of Victorian board games, or as we refer to it today, the "Ouija Board"? Known to the Victorians as a "talking" or "spirit" board, the "game" that eventually became the "Ouija Board" was simply a manufactured version of what amateur and professional spirit seekers had been doing for years using a simple wooden planchette or glass over a handmade board or cloth inscribed with numerals and the letters of the alphabet. If there is one thing the Victorians are famous for, it's the interest that so many of them had in the supernatural and its accompanying rituals and artifacts. And while not every Victorian made a point of attending seances or inviting friends over for a table tipping session, there was probably always someone in the neighborhood who had a "talking board" and was willing to bring it to the party for some after-dinner parlor fun. How many Victorians does it take to screw in a light bulb? Well, it depends on whether there was electricity in the house or not, and whether they were playing with the "talking board" on that particular night. Because if they were, they probably would have wanted the parlor to stay dark anyway.

There you have it. Our little visit to the Victorian parlors of yore for a quick perusal of the games that were played in them. We hope that you found it enjoyable and perhaps even somewhat edifying. We look forward to seeing you next time. And don't forget to leave your calling card on the way out.

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