You rode by on your bike and when the music began, I looked up, thinking somebody had put on a CD in their car, with the window rolled. But it was you -- you were playing your accordion. It was a pretty tune and almost made me smile; I didn't, well, because I don't, not at strangers.
You had dark hair, a knit hat, and of course, your accordion. I was the girl who wanted to smile at you, and probably the only one who didn't that day.
Just one more thing ... what were you playing?
I've finally discovered my "type": funny, bearded, bespectacled men with young children and beautiful wives whom they undoubtedly love very much.
[crumpling paper] Back to the drawing board.
I would like to believe in the special Hell for people who talk ... and text ... and email ... at the theatre, because on Saturday night, there were some who deserved a one-way ticket -- including you, BB Lady, checking your email for ten freakin' minutes, then leaving it in your hand like some kind of sick security blanket with its FLASHING GREEN LIGHT IN MY EYE ARGH
Not to fucking mention the lady above us who chatted on her phone for so long that my boyfriend had to spin around and ask her to please stop talking. Her clever strategy was not to hear him and continue talking. Later, she had to get something from her plastic shopping bag. I knew, because she rustled it for a good five minutes that a normal cellophane candy wrapper would not need. I hope to God for her sake it was some kind of lifesaving medicine she had misplaced and she was fucking silently asphyxiating from the lack of oxygen that justified her noisy interlude.
And not to fucking mention the man at the right who talked so loudly on his phone that I thought he was only a seat away; turned out he was about half a dozen bodies away. When I craned my neck to look at him, the six people between us had already beat me to it.
I am swearing to myself to write again.
There's a popular legend that the V sign originated with English longbowmen at the Battle of Agincourt during the Hundred Years' War. Because of the proficiency of English archers, the French threatened to cut off their bow fingers. When the English army prevailed (spoiler!), their archers are believed to have raised their two (intact) fingers in a gesture of defiance.
(My favourite part of this story when it's retold is how often there is extensive detail lavished on the unassailable technological prowess of the English longbow. An impressive weapon, definitely, but we've moved on, haven't we? I find indoor plumbing and heating much more amazing, and those technologies still live with us and affect us every day -- hell, Claudian aqueducts still bring water to modern Rome -- while the longbow has been obsolete for centuries.)
The problem with this story is that it doesn't appear in any surviving contemporary accounts. It's a bit frustrating having to cobble a thought from various bits on the internet, but it seems to lean closer towards being a legend or myth rather than verifiable historical fact as often believed.
The closest comes from historian Jean Froissart who, according to Associated Content, did record a story of English soldiers (not necessarily archers) who used finger gestures at the French during a siege -- though he didn't specify which fingers. Without reading Froissart's firsthand account, it's hard to say, but it's possible he could have been referring to the (middle) finger gesture or a form of it, since that has been documented as far back as the 1st-2nd century CE.
There's also the question of whether the French really did threaten to cut off archers' fingers. There are doubts as there are no recorded incidents. However, according to Wiki, historian Juliet Baker quotes an Agincourt soldier as saying that Henry V included a reference to the French cutting off longbowmen's fingers in his pre-battle speech. It's worth noting this doesn't necessarily mean the French themselves actually said anything to the effect -- just that the English believed as much.
(This led me to think ... what if it Henry V made the story up for the sake of riling up his troops? I can only imagine how confused the French were as Englishmen started flashing Vs at them. "Que font-ils? Les Anglais sont si bizarres!")
A seldom-repeated addendum -- only saw it on Wiki -- is that the finger gesture was adapted into a V in honour of Henry V. Dubious. Associated Content points out that Froissart was a major source for Shakespeare, and since the sign is not mentioned in Henry V, it's probably just a coincidence. Moreover, that kind of literal visual connection is fairly rare in etymology -- "looking like" something is usually not a trustworthy qualifier.
(I don't know nearly enough about the subject, but would English archers know enough of Roman numerals -- or in the case of medieval European math, numbers -- to understand the significance of the V? Did they refer to the king as the fifth of Henrys, or merely "King Henry"?)
Although the soldier's account is a solid connection, I mostly feel that the setting of Agincourt is a red (amber?) flag.
First of all, if Froissart is indeed the source of this story, it couldn't have been at Agincourt because Froissart died before it happened. This doesn't mean the story still isn't true, mostly -- details get changed or misremembered all the time.
Second of all, the longbow had been in existence well before; why then? Agincourt was an important victory, so that may explain it.
But this carries to my third point, which is that folk etymologies tend to draw most commonly on broad knowledge -- the vague drabbles of history that everyone sort of knows. A myth or legend is more likely to pick a famous battle because it resonates easily with the most people and it's more sensational. For example, the Associated Content article also mentions the longbow's decisive edge at the lesser-known battles of Crecy and Poitiers. As I said, it's very possible that Agincourt, being the third major victory for the longbow, simply provided the greatest impetus. But it seems just a tad too convenient.
Finally, this isn't the fault of the historical story (if it is historical), but the Agincourt story has been rehashed for various purposes -- to explain the origin of the middle finger salute and to explain the origin of the phrase "fuck you." (Look it up.) Both are total nonsense and end up casting an unfortunate suspicious light upon the V sign aspect of the Agincourt tale.
Of my lady friends who dressed up for Halloween, these were costumed thusly:
- One slutty wench
- Two slutty prostitutes (redundant, perhaps)
- One Little Red Riding Hood (... slutty)
The friend/wench exclaimed over how swiftly I had identified her dress; everyone she met, upon seeing her pink-red bodice and mini-shift, thought she was Snow White (???). Hey, what can I say. I've been to a ren faire or two in my lifetime.
Me? 1950s aviator -- leather jacket, baggy trousers tucked into boots, scarf, rabbit fur hat, and kickass goggles, real artefacts from mid-century Russia.
Slutty? Sadly, not really (not until I had a few drinks, at least).
[11:54] Halcyon: when little red riding hood dresses sexy, is it for the woodcutter, or the wolf?
[11:55] G.: or her grandma?
[11:55] G.: she's going to visit her, after all
[11:55] Halcyon: good point
[11:55] G.: the wolf and woodcutter are incidentals
[11:55] Halcyon: maybe they have a very close family
So many questions.
Why are bloggers the first to denigrate themselves -- "relax, it's just a blog post" -- and then are the first to get all up in arms when they realize nobody takes them seriously? Do you want people to listen to what you have to say and respond earnestly, or do you want people to think of your writing as second-class, by definition of its medium? (Why would any writers want to wish such a horror upon themselves?) How are bloggers "just" so as opposed to writers?
"Just a blog post" ... so strange.
It struck me today what a curious phrase "the Midas' touch" is. It means a natural (or preternatural) "ability to turn any business venture one is associated with into an extremely profitable one." (dictionary.com) It is interesting that the term is invariably meant to be positive; that is, to possess the Midas touch is seen as a valued gift or stroke of good fortune.
This usage forgets that in the original tale of King Midas, Midas ends up cursing his power and beseeching the gods for delivery. Initially ecstatic that his wealth can now be limitless, he finds he cannot eat or drink, for everything he touches -- even food and water -- is turned to gold. (In a 19th century retelling, his horror is deepened with the transformation of his daughter to solid metal.) Sick with hunger and thirst, he begs the god Bacchus to take back his "gift."
The tale closes with Midas hating wealth, abandoning his kingship to live in the wild woods. Although the moral heart of the story is a lesson against foolhardiness (and maybe a touch of hubris, for good measure), that Midas is now a byword for financial success is, I think, a little ironic.
2. As "Americana" defines itself as artefacts of American culture, "Gloriana" consists of the artefacts of my culture.
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