It is well known that, after midnight, Cinderella's spell breaks and her couch turns into a pumpkin. But pumpkins, apparently, are mysterious props that fascinate fiction crafters and myth tellers beyond the fairy tale genre. As it turns out, pumpkins are also at the roots of Vampire stories.
"[T]he gathered pumpkins stir all by themselves and make a sound like 'brrrl, brrrl, brrrl!' and begin to shake themselves (...) sometimes a trace of blood can be seen on the pumpkins [then they ] go round the houses, stables, and rooms at night, all by themselves, and do harm to people."
Of course, this is not quite the idea we have of Vampires today. But then again, what's the idea we really have of them? After all, there are Vampire stories for all tastes and sensibilites. Probably you know by now the existence of Gayracula and Lust for Dracula two pronographic films all-male and all-female respectively (if you do, I wonder why...). But my favorite--if only for its weirdness--is Deafula, a film of a deaf vampire, performed entirely in American Sign Language for the hearing-impaired.
With this variety of identities, no doubt philosophers go mad trying to give an account of how to individuate the referents of fictional names.
Anyway, for more on Vampires, The New Yorker publishes this week a comprehensive article on the topic. Interestigly enough, it is written by Joan Acocella, the magazine's dance critic. Who knows, perhaps she was going to write about Cinderella (the ballet) but she was driven by the path of the pumpkins.
*with this name he couldn't have had another profession, I guess
Children (if it Please God)
Constant companion, (& friend in old age) who will feel interested in one,
Object to be beloved & played with. Better than a dog anyhow.
Home, & someone to take care of house — Charms of music & female chit-chat. — These things for one's health. —
Compare this vision with the dingy reality of Grt. Marlbro' St.
No children, (no second life), no one to care for one in old age.
What is the use of working '
Freedom to go where one liked — choice of Society & little of it. — Conversation of clever men at clubs — Not forced to visit relatives, & to bend in every trifle.
To have the expense & anxiety of children — perhaps quarelling — Loss of time. — cannot read in the Evenings.
Fatness & idleness
Anxiety & responsibility
Less money for books &c — if many children forced to gain one's bread. — (But then it is very bad for ones health to work too much)
Perhaps my wife wont like
This is Charles Darwin's checklist about the pros and cons of marriage. Finally Darwin got married one year after and had... 10 children (seems that he wasn't very persuaded by the right side of the list. Although it is a bit longer. Or who knows, with powerful and convincing reasons pro marriage as "Object to be beloved & played with. Better than a dog anyhow", no surprise he went for marriage).
* Darwin's notes on marriage are transcribed and annotated in Correspondence vol. 2, appendix iv.
James Gillray - Fashionable Contrasts
Sometimes one finds surprising that the Monarchy in Britain still survives . Particularly, after all the public ridicule to which they have been subjected by the media (and which they undoubtedly provoke)*. But of course, a good explanation is that the British are pretty used to. The tradition of making (public) fun of the royal family is probably as old as the Monarchy itself. A good example are the satiric prints and drawings by the "golden age" British caricaturists, such as James Gillray, Thomas Rowlandson, and George Cruikshank (XVII-XIX century).
Here Gillray portrays George, Prince of Wales, later Prince Regent and George IV (reigned 1820-1830), picking his teeth with a table fork, having demolished a heavy meal and a considerable quantity of wine. The Prince was notoriously dissolute and spendthrift. His room is littered with empty bottles, pills and unpaid bills. His passion for gambling is indicated by dice, lists of forthcoming horse races at Newmarket and accounts of his losses at cards.
True, making fun of the monarchy is nothing new, and the questionable reputation of royals hasn't changed. Unfortunatelly, though, the images of the media nowadays are far less refined and subtle than these prints. It would have been good if we were also used to being exposed to good taste.
*This is specially puzzling if one comes from a country like Spain, where the press treatment of the royal family is tremendously controlled and paternalistic.
Try to manufacture your own God. Choose the features that you think a God that deserves to be called as such must have. Then, the methaphysical engineers will tell you how plausible she is.
Also, you may also want to test how consistent your beliefs about religion are, trying The Battleground God. This game is a bit more complicated, yet more entertaining.
Scientific labs as museums and art galleries, are places where things are not always exactly what they look like. This means that in these contexts certain rules that you have learnt by heart as a good citizen (as the one illustrated above) may not be applicable, at the risk of getting you or others into serious trouble.
"Whether it was the largest collection of lizard shit in the world is uncertain, but it certainly contained the only dietary sample from that little-known species Varanus olivaceus, and probably the most complete dietary record of any single population of animals in South East Asia. Its loss left me reeling and altered the course of my life forever."The University offered Daniel £500 as compensation, which he obviously refused.
Another well known tragic story of confussion: when John Stuart Mill's maid mistook the only available manuscript of an unpublished work of Thomas Carlyle for trash and lit the fire with it.
Some months ago I read about a software that could guess the age of a person just by analysing her/his picture. I was puzzled among other things, because I thought that's something not even me--supposedly a human being--could do accurately. Since then, I usually find myself walking and watching people trying to guess their age. But of course, there's no way I can check whether I am wrong or right.
These days, though, I found a game in which you have to look at pictures of some people and try to guess their ages. Then, the program lets you know your level of accuracy (the best part). To my surprise, I'm not so bad at it (except for that poor 17 year old I took for a woman of 56)... oh well.
Oh. And you can also send your picture if curiosity kills you or you're trying to kill your cat.
More interesting links related to age:
- Look at what your age would be in other planets (I haven't been born in some of them)
- If you didn't know about Goldberg family, look at their interesting project.