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Shoo, ye witches!

You might have seen this story floating around this week. They’ve been doing some work on Knole House, the enormous Grade I listed pile in Sevenoaks, Kent.

They were renovating a room that had originally been remodelled for a visit from King James I and found these crude gouges in the wood on the beams under the floorboards and around the fireplace. Specifically, they found straight lines and crosshatches and V marks cut deep in the wood. Experts say these are apotropaic marks — folk magic intended to ward off witches and other evil.

What’s interesting about them is they’ve done tree ring analysis on the wood and they reckon they can pin the beams down to 1606. That’s just after the Gunpowder Plot. So, they figure, these marks were made to keep evil away from the King at a time he had just survived an assassination attempt.

Actually, I’m lying. That’s not the most interesting thing about them. The most interesting thing is, the picture above isn’t from Knole House, it’s from this house. That carving is on an exposed ceiling beam about ten feet from where I’m sitting right now. We always assumed they were just marks the workmen made to tally something or identify the piece of wood, but they look exactly like the marks at Knole.

No wonder the witches never come to visit.

How impossibly cool is that?

Good weekend, all!

November 7, 2014 — 10:20 pm
Comments: 26

Burn the pope! Again.

Well, Bonfire Night in Lewes went off well enough, so I understand.

I’m sure I’ve explained in years past, Sussex takes bonfire night very, very seriously. But not just on November 5. Local celebrations are staggered so the various crews can march in each other’s processions. This means there are big marches and firework displays from September right through November, one village after another.

But Lewes is the big one. Biggest one in the country. Everyone saves November 5th in deference to Lewes. It’s gotten so big, they beg people to stay away because it gets out of hand sometimes, and there have been injuries. They burn multiple effigies every year, including — I’m pretty sure they’re the only one that still dares — the Pope. (Nice selection of past effigies here).

This is because Lewes not only commemorates the Gunpowder Plot on this day, but also the seventeen Protestant men of Lewes burned at the stake during the Marian Persecutions. They are serious as a heart attack about it.

This year, two of the effigies were of Alex Salmond, the Scottish First Minister who led Scotland’s attempt to break away from the UK. This caused a Twitter storm of protest and the bonfire societies who sponsored the effigies promised not to torch them. And then they blew them up anyway, or one of them at least. The Sussex police are investigating, because butthurt is a police matter here.

Oh, also thousands of unemployed trustafarian kids wearing V masks descended on London and other European cities to protest austerity, whatever that is in this context. This caused such an enormous sensation that I’ve had difficulty finding articles about it in the major papers next day, even though there were arrests and shit. That utter moron Russel Brand was there. ‘Nuff said.

Anyway, I think we’ve gone to all the main bonfires in our area at some time or other. Lately, we’ve taken to watching the displays from a distance. To be honest, I get a little freaked stuck in the middle of huge, jostling crowds. I think we’ll go to one.

November 6, 2014 — 9:38 pm
Comments: 14

Well done, everyone!

Did he ever have that stupid press conference this afternoon, or what?

November 5, 2014 — 10:52 pm
Comments: 16

Y’all get out there and make me proud

Makes me nervous, all this chest-thumping and taking of victory laps. Particularly when the legacy media starts saying how well the GOP is gonna do. They aren’t our friends; they must be up to something. I’m worried that anything less than an absolute history blowout for the right will be spun as a kinda sorta defeat.

It ain’t over until all the fraudulent ballots are counted.

So please get out an vote today. Unless you’re a lurky leftie, in which case…dude, it’s an awful lot of trouble and you guys are just going to lose anyway.

November 4, 2014 — 3:28 pm
Comments: 23

Weaselface, yourself

It’s Garbage Day, callooh callay! The happiest day of the week!

Eh. Not really. Between the two of us, we’re one saved cardboard box and a jam jar from being hoarders. Just…not tidy people. But tonight we made an effort to round up some junk and pitch it. I was most surprised when this thing fell out of an envelope.

This thing. This drawing. It’s a nice reproduction of a master drawing by Charles Le Brun (1619–1690), the dude Charles Louis XIV called the greatest French artist who ever lived.

Yeah. Some endorsements are not so good for your rep. (Ask Wagner. Or don’t; he’s dead).

Le Brun’s paintings are exactly the kind of pompous rubbish you can imagine the Sun King eating up with a spoon. But his drawings had an influence on art for a century or more — mostly his notions of conveying emotion on the human face.

This thing, though, is a part of a series of drawings — a philosophy, I suppose — known as le Brun’s Physiognomy. He’s trying to relate people faces to animal faces. With absolutely no success, if you ask me. They all look like creepy genetic experiments.

Anyway, these are the weasel faced ladies. When it turned up, Uncle B exclaimed, “I wondered where that got to! I bought that for your birthday. Or Christmas. I don’t remember; it was years ago.”

It was in the current bills-to-pay pile. Ladies and gentlemen, my housekeeping.

November 3, 2014 — 9:40 pm
Comments: 12

Dead Pool Round 71: Spooky Hallowe’en edition. Boo!

Well, well…armybrat takes dick with Thomas “Mumbles” Menino, longest serving mayor of Boston. WRKO radio personality Howie Carr (who I suspect tagged him with the Mumbles moniker) used to love playing clips of Menino’s trademark gibberish. Very surprised to see there’s nothing about Menino on his site as of this writing.

I pinched the idea of the Dead Pool from Howie Carr and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if Menino was a win for that pool, as well. Check with him tomorrow (that is, today) and see.

Housekeeping note: we’re being hammered with spam lately, and some good comments have mistakenly gone in the bit bucket. If your Dead Pool pick is swallowed up in the filter, email me and I’ll make sure you get what’s coming to you.


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.

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.

October 31, 2014 — 6:00 pm
Comments: 79

That was a short one

Armybrat wins dick with Boston’s longest-serving mayor, the chronically inarticulate Thomas “Mumbles” Menino. I’ll bet Howie Carr is having a blast with Mumbles’ Greatest Hits today.

We’ve got just enough time to nip in with a new Dead Pool. So, see you back here tomorrow.

6 WBT.

Dead Pool Round 71!

October 30, 2014 — 4:14 pm
Comments: 13

…and then there’s this…

Today was a misty, mizzly, miserable sort of day. It precipitated: something more than fog but something less than rain. We did our weekly shop then set out in search of lunch.

I’ll be honest with you, we stopped Mickey D’s first. But the school holidays are on so the place was chock full of screaming children. Um, no.

So we went on to an old pub not far away. We’ve been in this one many times, but we’re not regulars and we heard it’s under new management. When we walked in, honest to god it was like a Hammer film. You know the scene, where strangers walk into a country pub and all conversation stops and grizzly old men squint at them over pints of beer? That one.

Being the smooth social operator that I am, I gibbered, “Oh my gawd, this is like a Hammer film, where strangers walk into a country pub…”

Turns out, it’s not new management, it’s old management. The man who owns the place and has rented it to a series of wannabes has taken it on again to build the business back up. He came and sat by the fire (see crappy cellphone photo of fire) and all the old boys told us spooky stories about the pub.

He told us about a wounded smuggler being brought in to have his injuries dressed (this was — and is — a *big time* smuggling area, beginning in the 18th C. Before that, it was piracy). And a notorious and probably fictional murder on a bridge nearby. We’d heard of that one.

More recently, there was the neighbor up the hill who had 17 children. All their water came from a big rainwater butt. One day, the man next door disappeared. Three days later, they find him drowned in the water butt with his pockets full of nuts and bolts. Suicide by fresh water supply. Pretty unneighborly, if you ask me.

And the bloke who tried to kill himself with a humane killer. My advice, don’t Google it. It’s a sort of gun barrel with one round in it. Put it against an animal’s head and hit it with a hammer, bang. So he put it against his own forehead, swung, missed and smacked himself in the eye with the hammer. A sort of happy ending. Well, we laughed.

There was the inevitable pub ghost. All it did was move a chair and smell like rotten eggs, though, so I wasn’t impressed.

Also, the food wasn’t bad and the beer was excellent. All in all, a most convivial way to spend an English afternoon.

October 29, 2014 — 9:22 pm
Comments: 24

Has science gone too far?

The answer is yes. Yes, it has.

This is exactly what it looks like: a woman with a foot where her knee should be, but backwards.

This East Yorkshire woman had bone cancer, so they removed her thigh and knee. Then they moved her lower leg up to replace her thigh, but turned it around facing backwards. That way, her ankle bends in the same direction her knee used to.

It makes a certain sense. I get it. It’s not unlike having a big toe grafted to replace a thumb. But…I dunno. I could maybe, after a lot of years, get used to having a toe on my hand.

Having my foot where my knee should be but facing backwards rattles me on a deep, baseline body image level. I can’t explain it. Just, trust me…I would freak the fuck out. Every day until they took it offa me.

This lady looks happy, though, so who am I to judge? brrrrrr

October 28, 2014 — 8:12 pm
Comments: 17

We ate here today

It’s between Battle and Hastings. As in Battle of Hastings? 1066?

Oh, well. We should’ve ordered the greasy breakfast; the burgers weren’t great.

October 27, 2014 — 8:54 pm
Comments: 16