Saturday, December 3, 2011

Who doesn't need love and medieval babes, really?

I have been listening to a lot of NPR at work, figuring it will make me an all-around classier person, but instead, because I'm me, here are without a doubt the two most fantastic things I have gotten out of it over the past month or so:

1. The Mediaeval Baebes, a.k.a. All Of My Nerdy Medieval Dreams Come True, Music Style

The lyrics of this song come from a 15th century Welsh poem in celebration of female genitalia, and to quote the CD booklet, "Due to the fact that this poem is a celebration of the female genitalia it has been banned from many anthologies of Welsh verse on the grounds that it is salacious." Because I am one of those dorks who is all about the study of literary ladies (both the writers and the written-about) throughout history, and female empowerment, and not slut-shaming female sexuality, I just find the existence of this awesome. Have you ever heard a lovelier song about lady parts? Actually, since I am posing this question to the whole wide internet, maybe I should just keep it rhetorical. Don't answer that, internet! Just listen to the pretty song, and if you're curious re: specifics, go look at the youtube page, and the comments section has a transcript of the poem.

Anyway: this group makes my life. Tam Lin! Scarborough Fair! The Circle of the Lustful! Dringo Bell, which is another one that gets pretty darn bawdy if you check that lyrics booklet! Really, their music is seriously the best thing to happen to my secretly Celtic fae heart since Loreena McKennitt. (Which, speaking of, you go listen to The Mystic's Dream and just try not to freak out at the awesome. You just try!) One of these days, I will get a red velvet cloak and go running through the forest in artful slow motion. It's just going to happen.


Ready yourselves, all.

2. This Sensitive Folky Irish Cover Of L.L. Cool J's I Need Love, A Song Which I Had Never Heard Before But Was Utterly Won By In The 5+ Minutes Some Genius Made The Spectacular Life Decision To Play It On NPR And Change My Life.

To those of you who do not know this: my favorite song of all time is Wuthering Heights by Kate Bush. There is something about extremely earnest, extremely weird, extremely dorky music from years past that just makes my heart soar and dance with delight. I just cannot handle all the greatness happening in my ears and brain. (Especially if it is a) rap- or b) Bronte-inspired, I guess! And if it involves dancing around a forest in red, doing moves that were clearly somewhat inspired by an atypically coordinated mummy? I am yours for LIFE!)

So this ... this is just very special to me. I heard it entirely out of context on that fateful day at work, and just spent that glorious five minutes picking out weird phrases and wondering ... what was this? Was it a joke? Was it serious? Why was he rapping -- but so sensitively, so Irishly? Why does he have to get so explicit about their ~romantic encounter~ a few minutes in? (This is still a question I have. My God so awkward! Of course, that just makes it even more delightful. I guess this is also a little hypocritical of me after praising ye olde Mediaeval Baebes up there.) So many questions, and beyond those questions, a certainty that this song was going to change my life.

THIS is what I unearthed on youtube:

First off are the magic words 'recorded from the album ACOUSTIC MOTORBIKE (1992)', so you know you're just not going to go wrong here. This one is not identical to the recording that so enraptured me, which has some vaguely Mummer's Dance-esque Irish drum beats (sidenote: oh my gosh, if we're gonna talk best songs ever, there has to be a Mummer's Dance reference, 'cause DAMN YES) going in the background, not to mention some SENSITIVE STRINGS that kind of play you out of the whole song. So clearly that version is the very best option. And maybe I bought the mp3 on Amazon last night. Do I have any regrets? What's a word that means 'no', but times about fifty with seventy-five exclamation points after it? I burned it to a CD. I am going to listen to that CD until I can rap this song like Luka Bloom raps this song. Maybe a little less Irish. Maybe a little more Irish. You never know with me.

So my current life project is committing that to memory. And also to watch all the live performances of this gem on youtube.

When I say things about my post-college existence not being fulfilling, obviously I do not mean all the time.

Let's play this entry out with a series of text messages that just occurred between my dear darling friend and kindred spirit Dana and myself. Sometimes I mentally compare us to Anne and Diana of Anne of Green Gables, most perfect book of my life, because 'Anne' and 'Hannah' share some letters, and you can't spell 'Diana' without 'Dana'! There's some Avonlea magic at work there, I just know it.

Anyway. Texty-texts:

Me: Oh definitely. There's some very Mummer's Dance style percussion and strings. Cloaks are way relevant.
Dana: I am youtubing this RIGHT NOW.

So ask yourselves, dear readers: what would Dana do?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


When we were in high school, my best friend Justine and I decided that we were going to spend college living it up crazy college kid style, which is to say ... watching Xena: Warrior Princess. (Keep your dreams of beer pong, normal teenagers!) This originated as some sort of magnificent elaborate joke, and alas, never actually got realized during our college years, because after one year frostbittenly kicking it in Anchorage, she transferred to school in California. You know, that place with warmth in it! I stayed in Anchorage, because if there's one thing I like more than frostbite, it's never knowing quite when you are going to find yourself face-to-face with a moose. I am a thrill seeker.

My buddy & former roomie Denali & I. BEING AWARE. BEING SAFE.

The years went by, as years do, and then suddenly we were both graduated from college, ready to team up and take on the world with the powers of her Psychology degree and my English Lit degree combined! And that ... is going to happen ... one of these days. When you least expect it. Count on it. Be ready. Don't be ready. You can never be ready. For that awesomeness. Yep.

So! We both moved back here, reunited huzzah!, and decided, It's probably time for us to start our lives now. Except then I found season one of Xena at Wal-Mart for $20. Ha ha! I thought. Remember our old vow? What silly fun this shall be! And for only $20!

Listening to Yanni, ready for heroics.
Somehow -- I am not precisely sure how -- we are now the co-owners of all six out-of-print deluxe edition seasons of Xena: Warrior Princess, and have been watching it devotedly for like a year and a half. We just started season six. The end is near! I might be crying a little bit on the inside!

ANYWAY. In the opening credits, which we watch Every Time (to skip the credits would be sacrilege!), there is this shot of Xena fastening her Hardcore Warrior Boots. Then it zooms up to her, I dunno, putting on her warrior belt or something, and is basically just an excuse to show off Lucy Lawless's excellent cleavage. Not that they ever really need an excuse. I have seen the image of her puttin' on those warrior boots well over a hundred times now! And while I always had an absent Damn, that's cool appreciation for it, I never really stopped to consider the mightiness of boots.

Turns out: boots are so mighty! Up 'til now, I have always had a weird bias against buying boots. Why admit that dread winter is upon us when I can just keep wearing tennis shoes and pretending that a world without snow is just around the corner? That is how I've always rolled up until now, and it's suited me fine! (It's possible my toes are perpetually like 80% frozen, but that is neither here nor there.)

But then this summer, in an act strangely rife with symbolism, I found some furry black winter boots covered in zippers and complicated laces and even some Velcro (all that and fuzzy grey fur, too! Have boots not belonging to a warrior princess ever been so mighty?) ... and I bought them. Which was a little bittersweet, because it was, in a way, saying, Yep, I'm still going to be kicking it in Alaska come winter, and this time, my feet are going to be prepared. I don't really know where I see myself triumphantly running away to, in all these fantasies where I am no longer here (Hogwarts? Downton Abbey? New Zealand? Amphipolis? Vermont? Avonlea? Stars Hollow? I get that only two of those places are real [well, my bff Wikipedia informs me that Amphipolis was real]; I swear you don't have to worry for me. Too much), but does that stop me from having them? Heavens, no!

But here I remain, and winter has settled in -- oh God, the snow! There is so much of it! Game of Thrones can suck it -- and so I finally broke the boots out of my closet and put them on.

And now, well, good luck to the fool who tries to get me to take them off. Seriously. These things are foot heaven! I brought my sneakers with me to work today, but did I ever actually change into them? No, no I did not. (I figured this was okay, because my boss was rocking her boots all day too. Ours is a museum full of kickass Alaska ladies.) And there is just something really satisfying about tromping around in boots. If a sinister warlord had found his way into the museum, I somehow felt that I could have gone all warrior princess and defeated him soundly, thanks to the power of those boots alone!

I mean, a sinister warlord did not find his way into the museum, because business gets pret-ty slow in the winter and so nobody came in at all.

But I would have so been ready.

Warlords of this isle: take note, and think twice.

Dun dun da dun dun dunnnnnn ...

BLAME MARIE, who would probably tether a maiden to a rock to be offered to a sea monster if she wasn't so busy eating Triscuits and being great

So, my delightful friend and coworker Marie does this thing where generally at least once per conversation, some weird wonky thing I say inspires her to exclaim, with all this conviction and earnestness and vocal italicizing, "Hannah, you have to start a blog!" (Well, okay, maybe it is not quite that emphatic, but I said the thing about 'vocal italicizing' and then I felt like I had to commit. That is not how Marie actually talks. But I'm sure she would pull it off with swagger and aplomb if she did!) This has been going on for like a year now, and while once upon a time it was a suggestion voiced so sweetly that little bluebirds would land on its pointer finger if it were a fairytale princess instead of a suggestion, now it tends to go more like, "Oh my God, Hannah, START. YOUR FRIGGIN'. BLOG." She even had a knife today. I mean, it's because she was cutting up cheese to put on Triscuits, but. I have decided to err on the side of caution. Someone has been murdered in that kitchen before, and it could so easily become a tradition. (The fun thing about working in a building that's been around since like 1808? It's got such history in its walls! Including the MURDER KITCHEN. You don't want to mess with disgruntled 1860s fur trappers. But I'm sure you knew that already.)

So here, Marie. You win! It's on! It is happening! This spot is now doomed to become a virtual cesspool of dorky literary references and dorkier television references, and other thrilling (?) chronicles (?) of my fascinating (?) existence (????).

Thanks to my current propensity toward spending hours reading about Greek myths on Wikipedia -- mostly to fact check their accuracy against episodes of Xena: Warrior Princess, which is of course the definitive authority on Greek myths, all myths, and how to be awesome -- this blog gets a title as nerdy and pretentious as I am! I am, for the record, the English major that just won't die. You can beat this horse all you like, and I will still find a way to work a Gilbert & Gubar reference into everyday conversation. I graduated, with profoundest sadness, back in 2010, but that was not enough to stop me! That was not enough to motivate me to go to grad school, either, but shhh. ONE DAY.

I do this all the time.
Basically: I live on an Alaskan rock in the sea, and God help me, I just cannot seem to move. It's almost as if ... as if I was chained there, much like mythological damsel in distress Princess Andromeda, who got offered to a sea monster as a sacrifice because her mom was being bitchy! (Greek moms often are. God, it's fabulous. See also: Medea, Clytemnestra, and Procne, who is a particular favorite of mine. Such devoted sisterhood!) So, basically, they chained Andromeda to a rock to get eaten by a sea monster, but of course Perseus shows up at the last minute and sorts that out, once he's done chopping the heads off defenseless ugly snake-haired ladies. This is clearly applicable to my current life situation -- except for the Perseus part -- wherein the rock is this island, I am Andromeda, and the sea monster is the vast looming hulk of a future that I just cannot quite seem to plan out!

Well, no, not really, I just like the name Andromeda and I really like alliteration.

Further References For the Andromeda Myth:
1. Wikipedia. Always Wikipedia.
2. That recent Clash of the Titans movie, which featured a pretty badass if rarely seen Andromeda played by that awesome chick from season four of Angel who had magic electricity powers and a very flattering red leather outfit. (Okay, her name was Gwen, but let's pretend I'm one of those people who doesn't know the name of every single character on every single television show she passionately loves, of which there are approximately six thousand. Uh! You know! That electricity chick!) I don't think anyone actually liked this movie, but it was pretty and HORSES FLEW and LOVELY ENGLISH ROSE GEMMA ARTERTON WAS THERE and THERE WAS A BIG SEA MONSTER WHO TURNED TO STONE and I'm just easy like that. Anyway, I think that Andromeda needs her own spinoff movie.
3. The critically lauded British series Downton Abbey, where a pair of distantly related, arch and attractive English cousins kick off their love-hate relationship via an exquisitely pointed round of banter over the Andromeda myth. This is pretty much the Masterpiece Classic equivalent of, say, this song.

Basically: if you want a high culture blog-reading experience, look no further, bros. This, oh this, is the blog for you.

Thank Marie.