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Lookee what I found on eBay. It’s a…well, look at it. It’s kind of a…hm. It’s a…SWEET FANCY MOSES, WHAT IS THAT THING?

It’s a coin, issued by a real government. Or, at any rate, the government of New Zealand. It has Liz on the other side and everything. It’s a proof coin, so it was only ever intended for collectors. But I have to ask myself…collectors of what?

I’ve been watching the quality of coin designs slide for years but — in all seriousness — there is no excuse for modeling this shitty ever to escape into the wild. Even for the notoriously unfussy collectors’ market. Certainly not with the imprimatur of a real government mint.

Dude’s face fails even the basic properties of bilateral symmetry common to all terrestrial mammals. I wouldn’t accept this level of drawing from a middle school student, not without some pretty stern critique.

Oh, it’s a 2003 proof coin celebrating the coronation of Aragorn from the Lord of the Rings flicks. See the whole thing.

September 30, 2015 — 9:31 pm
Comments: 18

Funny feller


Ah. This is where I went today. I went to see a Richard Dadd exhibition.

Do you know him? I think the picture above is the only one of him; it’s the only one I’ve ever seen, anyway.

He was born in 1817, the son of a chemist. He showed early promise in art, so he was sent off for a proper art education. It stressed him out. When he was 26, he was walking in the park with his father and, without much warning, turned on the old man and murdered him. Cut his throat.

Dadd spent the rest of his life in the loony bin, first in Bedlam, then in Broadmoor. He never really got better. He had lots and lots of time to paint.

Now, I don’t hold with worshipping artists just because they’re crazy. There are plenty of nutcakes of very indifferent talent. But Dadd really was a very good artist. Highly technically accomplished, though the crazy shines through, even in his early work.

By far his most famous painting is The Fairy Feller’s Master Stroke, which is, like, two feet by two feet and so crammed full of beautifully rendered crazy that it is almost always exhibited next to some kind of huge blowup (today, it was next to a slide show of extreme closeups).

I had seen some of his oils before, but this was the first time I’d ever seen his watercolors. Holy shit, they were uniquely beautiful but, well…bugfuck crazy. Made of tiny, tiny, tiny flecks of very pale color. Not at all like pointillism, though. Can’t describe it. Can’t find an example online.

Didn’t buy the show catalogue because it wasn’t a show catalogue, it was just a book about Dadd. Will have to search harder.

September 29, 2015 — 9:00 pm
Comments: 13

If it’s Monday, this must be Camelot


For reasons I ain’t quite sure, I have been to five ancient piles in the last week, and I’m up early tomorrow for another. (For those following along at home, they are: the Clergy House, the Priest House, Michelham Priory, Smallhythe Place, Penshurst Place and…erm…I have no idea where I’m going tomorrow. It’s work).

The picture above is Penshurst Place. It’s not my picture. They wouldn’t let us take pictures. We almost snuck and took pictures anyway and I kind of wish we had; the ones online don’t do justice to…well, any of it, but particularly this room. This is the baron’s hall and photos don’t give any sense of the scale and amazingness of it.

Probably the most gobsmacking room I’ve ever been in, ever. It made me whisper bad words in wonder and appreciation.

They filmed chunks of Wolf Hall here. If you haven’t seen it, make an effort.

As for last night’s No Kidding Apocalyptic Death Moon of Plague and Blood and Other Bad Things…meh. It was a clear, cold night here — perfect for viewing. We went out at 1:30 and the moon was impressively big, with a bite out of it. I woke up at 3:00 and discovered it hovering outside the bedroom window, still big, with an even bigger bite out of it. I woke up again at 4:00 (what bad night I had) — supposedly the peak of the phenomenon — and it was pitch black.

Maybe it had moved away from the window. Maybe it was only red for a little while as the shadow passes. I don’t know. Not impressed.

Dear Celestial Doodah: must try harder.

September 28, 2015 — 7:26 pm
Comments: 10

Don’t forget

Blood moon in 45 minutes…!

For once, we have a clear sky. Next time we have an
eclipse plus supermoon, we shall be old, the lot of us.

September 27, 2015 — 11:26 pm
Comments: 6

Dead Pool Round 77: Autumn leaves

Xul makes a third run at the dick with Yogi Berra. Honest, I didn’t realize Yogi Berra was still alive. I suspect I had him confused with Sam Goldwyn. Yeah, I know, but they were both famous for saying unintentionally funny stuff and I’m not much of a sports person, me.

Anyway, they’re both dead now, so that’s okay.


0. Rule Zero (AKA Steve’s Rule): your pick has to be living when picked. Also, nobody whose execution date is circled on the calendar. Also, please don’t kill anybody. Plus (Pupster’s Rule) no picking someone who’s only famous for being the oldest person alive.

1. Pick a celebrity. Any celebrity — though I reserve the right to nix picks I never heard of (I don’t generally follow the Dead Pool threads carefully, so if you’re unsure of your pick, call it to my attention).

2. We start from scratch every time. No matter who you had last time, or who you may have called between rounds, you have to turn up on this very thread and stake your claim.

3. Poaching and other dirty tricks positively encouraged.

4. Your first choice sticks. Don’t just blurt something out, m’kay? Also, make sure you have a correct spelling of your choice somewhere in your comment. These threads get longish and I use search to figure out if we have a winner.

5. It’s up to you to search the thread and make sure your choice is unique. I’m waayyyy too lazy to catch the dupes. Popular picks go fast.

6. The pool stays open until somebody on the list dies. Feel free to jump in any time. Noobs, strangers, drive-bys and one-comment-wonders — all are welcome.

7. If you want your fabulous prize, you have to entrust me with a mailing address. If you’ve won before, send me your address again. I don’t keep good records.

8. The new DeadPool will begin 6pm WBT (Weasel’s Blog Time) the Friday after the last round is concluded.

The winner, if the winner chooses to entrust me with a mailing address, will receive an Official Certificate of Dick Winning and a small original drawing on paper suffused with elephant shit particles. Because I’m fresh out of fairy shit particles.

September 25, 2015 — 6:00 pm
Comments: 74

Old bones


This is what we went to see in Alfriston: the Clergy House. We’ve been several times before; it’s one of my favorites.

The house is a perfect transition from Medieval to Tudor. It was built in the 13th C. The original floor (hard-packed and white, made of sour milk and chalk) had a firepit in the center. It was one big open room, with the master’s table at one end and the servants at the other, just like a Medieval hall (or Viking longhouse). The smoke rose up to the high pitched roof and escaped out the…well, thatch or stone. They’re not sure of the original.

One big smokey, sweaty communal living area, just like Wayland intended.

Then the Tudors got hold of it and installed all sorts of wacky newfangled conveniences, like a fireplace and an upstairs with stairs and rooms.

The picture shows what it looked like in the late 19th, when it had damn near crumbled back into the earth. It was so far gone, it was more easily returned to its original Medieval condition, with the outline of the later innovations still showing.

It’s not one of those so-rebuilt-it’s-practically-Disney sorts of places, though (I’m looking at you, Great Dixter). It’s all original, down to the funky floors and wattle-and-daub construction.

I could spend a lot of time staring at those walls, if the steward hadn’t been such a loquacious and excitable young man.

Remember, now: Dead Pool Round 77. Tomorrow. 6WBT. Be here, or be somewhere else! Or go somewhere else and then come back here!

September 24, 2015 — 9:03 pm
Comments: 6

Like the first morning…


After much rain, last weekend was supposed to be beautiful (spoiler: it was). We took ourselves to Alfriston, one of our favorite Sussex villages, inspiration for the hymn Morning is Broken.

I’ve posted about Alfriston before — a little town, but beautiful and much to see (if you want a better look a that mine, mash here; hard to believe it would have taken out the whole bidness).

There are an improbable number of ancient pubs for such a tiny place (perhaps because it was a market town). We settled on The Star. Legend has it the original name was the Bethlehem Star, when it was built in the 13th Century as a pilgrims’ hostel for the use of travelers between Chichester and Canterbury.

Others sniff that it’s only Fifteenth Century (do follow that link; lots of piccies of the carving out front).

If I were psychic, my lunch might have been oppressed by the weight of all the thousands of bodies who had sat just exactly where I was sitting to eat a meal. I am not psychic; I enjoyed my beer and pea soup very much.

Beer and pea soup. Better than it sounds.

More pictures later, but first: Xul has won dick (again) with Yogi Berra. Poor old bastard; I didn’t know he was still alive. You know what that means, of course: Dead Pool Round 77.

Be here Friday or forever hold your peace.

September 23, 2015 — 9:23 pm
Comments: 4



It occurred to me this weekend (as we were slinking through yet another Medieval relic) that I live in a complete cocoon. I wake up in the morning in my 16th Century farmhouse. I have a short, pleasant trip into town across unspoiled farmland. I get paid to shuffle ancient objects around in a scheduled monument. Then home to watch episodes of Antiques Roadshow or the Hidden History of Archaeology.

Weekends is all village fetes, church flower festivals and historic buildings.

My life. England porn. Week in, week out.

I probably shouldn’t say this bit, but I never see a Face of Color, except on advertisements, or if the chef from the local tandoori steps out for a cigarette. The South of England is Whitemanistan.

I didn’t plan it this way. I wasn’t, like, working toward this place my whole life. It was just a supremely happy accident.

The idea of repopulating this lovely corner of the world with ululating splodey-dopes fills me with rage.

September 22, 2015 — 8:49 pm
Comments: 18

Recognize this jar?


Uncle B is a charter member of the Doctor Haterz Club. He goes to a qualified medical herbalist, who manages to keep his blood pressure and other complaints well under control. Has done for years.

Actually, he’s been to several. It’s a thing here. Alternate therapies in general; I think it’s partly a side effect of the uselessness of the NHS (but I won’t go into ‘whiny immigrant’ mode).

No comment on some of the alternative therapies, but the medical herbalist thing is a proper specialty with, like, real qualifications in actual medical schools and advanced degrees and shit.

I’ve been messing about with herbal remedies lately. Not the prepared things. I’ve been buying herbs and making teas. Like, I have insomnia. I went to a herb supplier, ordered 250 grams of everything that’s supposed to make you sleepy, and I make a big ass jar of tea with it every night. Like, five or six infusions.

Hells yes, it’s working. I’ve been sleeping like a baby. A drunken baby with serious neurological deficiencies who pulled an all-nighter studying for a baby exam. Seriously, I have to cut back on this shit.

So Uncle B made me confess what I was doing to the herbalist today (in case I was poisoning myself. You can buy some pretty heavy herbs by mail order). Not only did she approve my ingredients, my quantities and my methods (I did look it up on the internet first — honest), but she made some further suggestions and offered to add my requests to her next order. I don’t suppose her suppliers are necessarily any purer, but they are sure as shit cheaper.

Anyway, I’ve been making herbal teas in this jar since forever. It’s nice and heavy, it has a handle (!), it’s just perfect. I’d like another. I’m quite sure I bought this whateveritwas entirely for the jar in a supermarket in New England. I believe it was something in the ethnic Italian (or perhaps Spanish or Portuguese) section. And it was something like olives or pimientos or something.

Anybody recognize?

Oh, and happy Equinox. Technically, it’s Wednesday, but the 21st is the thing. Autumn is upon us!

September 21, 2015 — 10:46 pm
Comments: 15

Those bubbles worry me


Now, that’s serious manspreading. Geralt of Rivia has got hisself some awful babysoft feet, don’t he? My tootsies are gnarlier than that and I’m not a 100-year-old professional monster slayer.

That’s how you know it’s fantasy. That, and the multicolored enchanted lobster that’s just about to crawl into the tub.

Have a good weekend! Y’all know what I’ll be doing.

September 18, 2015 — 10:15 pm
Comments: 9