Goose Commerce

Umbrellas, Giant Melons, and Queen Victoria by goosecommerce

Or, Homely as Sin on Horseback


It’s newspaper research time! Some highlights from today’s scanning:

“Women and Umbrellas in Ireland” Southern Patriot (Charleston, SC), 31 Aug 1842, p. 2

Dr. Hagan, in one of his letters from Dublin, says that many of the ladies of Dublin are surpassingly beautiful, while some are as homely as Sin on horseback. But the impression of a stranger on seeing the ladies and gentlemen of Dublin, as they spring into their cars and dash through the streets is highly favorable to their personal beauty, sprightliness and energy.

Of the penchant of the Irish for umbrellas, he says: ‘The Irish seem to have a passion for umbrellas. I have seen men carry umbrellas, and I am certain the paper maker would not give sixpence for all the clothes on their back! I have seen some pretty girls decently clothed, with bare feet, and an umbrella over their heads to protect their faces from the sun!’

“A Mammoth Melon,” Southern Patriot (Charleston, SC), 31 Aug 1842, p. 2

The Raleigh Register says: A muskmelon weighing forty and a half pounds, measuring forty-five inches in circumference on average, was sent us a few days ago, in a very polite manner, by Mr. J. A. Barry, in whose garden on Eden’s Sound, it grew. Mr. Barry informs us that, from a piece of ground about 100 feet square, he has obtained nearly 200, several of them weighing from 20 to 31 lbs.

“Variety is the Spice of Life” [aka misc. column], Southern Patriot, 3 March 1843, p.1

The Pickayune, in giving an account of late weaver riots, says ‘Sheriff Porter was severely wounded in the rumpus.’ We had imagined that the sheriff’s wound was in the breast!

As evidence of the onward march of civilization, it is said that the French have sent a guillotine to Algiers.

Epigram on the Chinese Treaty

Our wars are ended – foreign battles cease. –
Great Britain owns an universal peace;
And Queen Victoria triumphs over all,
Still ‘Mistress of herself though China fall!’

Image cite: Special, “umbrella,” Flickr, CC License

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Time Out to Grow Some Chops by goosecommerce
September 26, 2009, 10:57 am
Filed under: And now for something completely different... | Tags:

My apologies for the extended hiatus, dear readers. The spirit of blogging has been temporarily driven out of me by travel, work, and despairing at the state of my apartment/dissertation/facebook wall. Fear not, though! I will return. (But in a more “funny archival stuff” kind of way, not like re-invading the Philippines or anything).

In the meantime, some links:

Prof. Hacker
Lifehacker meets Crooked Timber. Recommended by the Digital Campus guys (who do a great and useful podcast; as informed commentary on important issues, like the Google Book Search controversy, as you’ll find in the New Yorker, for example).

“Is There a Future for Journals in the Humanities?”
Short answer: yes, but only because of the fcuk’d economics of humanities publishing. Robert Townsend reads a Mellon Center report so you don’t have to.

“Angels and Octopodes”
Is it a coincidence that both the Great Old Ones and Ma Bell were both depicted as be-tentacled monstrosities? Rob McDougall thinks not. Also: sentient telephone networks.

Joe Kennedy and Stephen Douglas
History comics are historical. Also: before you quibble, read the alt-text.

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British Broadsheets, Brilliant! by goosecommerce
September 11, 2009, 3:52 pm
Filed under: And now for something completely different... | Tags: , ,

Totally Makes Up For The “Coffee,” “Empire”


One of the many joys of doing research in the UK is the opportunity to read, in print, some truly delightful newspapers. I don’t know if the UK newspaper industry is doing any better than the America’s (though I suspect so), I do know that their product is always, always much more fun to read.

Whether it’s doing a better job of uncovering corruption and holding political officials feet to the fire, writing grade-A bitchy snark, or printing cute, hopelessly local quirk stories, the London press has you covered.

I think they keep the old spirit of newspapers alive in a way no American publications can touch.

Take, for example, today’s Daily Telegraph. Between the usual (political and business news, tepid conservative op-eds, big pictures of the POTUS with British pols) stories, there was quite a bit on gin (today was sponsored by Gordon’s, bit of an odd choice for a paper called the DT), and even more on weird animals. To wit:

“School votes to kill pet sheep”
(“His meat will be raffled to raise funds to buy pigs, who will be in turn be slaughtered to make sausages”)

“Going strong at 20, dog that’s had most days”

“Ticked pink: Schoolboy finds rare grasshopper”
(“The insect … was discovered by Daniel Tate, 11, who thought it was a flower until he saw it jump”)

“Scamp’s tale has a happy ending”
(“pedigree dog ” returned to family)

“Long vacation over”
(“A 50-year-old tortoise has been found two years after it went missing…”)

“Curse of the parrot”
(owner of bird that appeared in Curse of the Black Pearl pulled over for driving with parrot on shoulder, arrested for driving without a license)

“Polar bears ‘extinct by 2080’ “

“Infected oysters and poor hygiene, a recipe for sickness at The Fat Duck”

“Wing beats web in South Africa”
(carrier pigeon transmits data faster than national ISP)

“Vicious fish parasite found near Jersey”
(“‘ Really quite large, really quite hideous. If you turn it over its got dozens of these really sharp nasty claws underneath and I thought ‘ that’s a bit of a nasty beast.’ ‘”)

What American broadsheet provides that kind of content? Certainly not the Gray Lady. The DT’s tv critic put his finger on the problem, I think, in a review of the final season of The Wire: “The show captured the bow-tied ponderousness and politically correct nitpicking ot the Sun as neatly as the jargon of the drug ghettos. My God, these guys take themselves seriously. No wonder their venerable newspapers are going down the tubes.”


But it didn’t used to be that way! Though most things were not better in the 1840s, at least American newspapers had a sense of humor.

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It’s no post-mortem assault with a shin-bone by goosecommerce
September 3, 2009, 4:48 pm
Filed under: Corrupting the Youth | Tags: , ,

but a loud kraken is involved


I don’t know if Mark Twain was a sci-fi fan, but given his well known feelings about Jane Austen, I bet he would be enjoying the, recent (and surprisingly durable!), mash-up ridiculousness quite a bit.

Pride and Predators, indeed.


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