I Want To Celebrate This But I Don’t Know How….

Ya’ll. THIS happened. And it is so majorly cool and I history geeked out pretty hard when I read that article and I really  want to celebrate this. I mean, they found Richard III’s body. Under a car-park. People have been parking their cars on Richard III. (Which I bet the ghost of Henry VII has been laughing his arse off about, amiright?)

Anyway, I feel the need to celebrate this discovery. But how? How does one celebrate the discovery of the body of a long-dead King of England? I assume tea is involved somehow….

Forsooth.

I wonder why we don’t say “forsooth” more often. It’s so deliciously snarky. According to Le Dictionary, it’s “used to give an ironic politeness to questions”. For real y’all. Ironic politeness. That’s a thing and that’s a thing I need to make more use of.

For example, next time one of my friends starts dating a guy I think is a douche-canoe, I can say something like “Forsooth, I think he is swell.” And they will think I’m being nice when I’m really saying he is a Jerky McJerkerson. It’s ironic politeness because social conventions dictates that I have to be cordial because my friend likes him, but my inner truth dictates that I despise the very sight of him. “Forsooth allows me to maintain my borderline socially acceptable behavior and keep my inner truth happy.   Boom! Girl on the Contrary for the win.

I feel like this “forsooth” thing is really going to work out well for me, prepare yourselves for excessive amounts of ironic politeness. Also, I may occasionally use it as a substitute curse word. For example, if I were to drop a heavy book on my toe, I would say “FORSOOTH!”, or if I found out that someone was talking mad trash about me I could say “She’s a forsoothing forsoother.” Man, this word is a gold mine!

What-Up Cinco De Mayo!

Cinco De Mayo

If you grew up in Texas, like I did, then you know all about Cinco De Mayo. Going to school in Texas on May 5th is a blast. You do fun art projects, listen to great music, usually see a folklorico performance, and eat chips and salsa in every class. So, pretty much a regular day for me. Cinco De Mayo, like Saint Patrick’s Day, is a super good excuse for grown-ups to wear things they normally wouldn’t and drink copious amounts of alcoholic beverages. Hey, we have to celebrate right?

But, did you know there are other, non-alcohol related holidays trying to encroach on Cinco De Wonderful??! Neither did I, until yesterday when I was doing some research for a Cinco De Mayo post (this one in fact….). But the awful truth is that there are other “holidays” celebrated on the 5th of May- and they have it out for Cinco De Mayo. Not on my watch. I’m going to expose and ridicule these “holidays” until the bury their heads in shame and back the hell away from the 5th of May. Actually, that would make a good slogan for my war on these “holidays”…….”Back the hell away from the 5th of May.” BOOM.

National Hoagie Day. Are you serious? Hoagies want their own day now??? Greedy little sandwiches. It’s not enough that they have like a million calories and are directly contributing to obesity (I also heard they fund terrorism but I don’t have a confirmation on that yet) now they want to try and outdo the muy delicioso food of Mexico that is served on Cinco De Mayo? Boy Hoagies, you sure have some balls to try and make Cinco De Mayo about food that isn’t even remotely Mexican. You better back off! If you don’t I’m going to start a rumor that you’re just a dressed up submarine sandwich. Oh wait, I guess that’s true. OK. New plan. I’m going to start a rumor that you’re the bastard son of a panini. That’s right. You better check yourself before you wreck yourself.

Oyster Day. Oh hell to the no! Didn’t I just go over this with the Hoagies??? Stop trying to butt-in on a day that already has delicious food. Oysters? C’mon. Seriously. C’mon. I mean, c’mon. This is absurd. I don’t know why you Oysters thought you even had a chance to trump Cinco De Mayo. As an aphrodisiac I believe you would be much better suited to Valentine’s Day. What? You think you can just get eaten on Cinco De Mayo and make everyone so lusty they are too distracted to enjoy the real holiday? Too late sucka, I’m pretty sure tequila has led to more lusty encounters and Cinco De Mayo and tequila go hand-in-hand. BOOM. You got outplayed. Lame effort.

Y’all need to be on your guard on Cinco De Mayo. Watch out for Hoagies and Oysters- they may be nothing more than food to you but don’t underestimate their power to lure you away from what you should be really celebrating.

And what you should really be celebrating is the awesome defeat of the massive French army by Mexican soldiers in Puebla in 1862. You see, the French ruled by Napoleon III decided they were going to create a new empire in Mexico (also they totally wanted to resupply and reinforce the American Confederate Army) so they invaded Mexico. Those jerks. But Texas-born General Zaragosa wasn’t having it. He and his army defeated the French in a major way with fewer men who were less equipped. Boo-ya. You might wonder why this matters considering the French actually prevailed eventually (although not for long)? Because the defeat of the French on May 5th in Puebla prevented the French from supplying the Confederate Army in the US (keep in mind this was in the middle of the US Civil War). Had the French not been defeated, they may have been able to prolong the American Civil War by supplying and reinforcing the Confederate Army. And who’s to say what might have been if that happened??? And THAT ladies and gentlemen is why we celebrate Cinco De Mayo. Hoagies and Oysters can’t even come close to competing with that.

See how I snuck a history lesson in this post?? I’m crafty like that.

HAPPY CINCO DE MAYO!!!

Did Jane Austen Date?

Jane Austen

What are you trying to tell me Jane Austen??!!

In an effort to be better at dating, I read a book called Jane Austen’s Guide to Dating. I have a lot of respect for Jane Austen so my initial thought was, “Hey, who better to give me dating advice?” But as I read through all the book, I began to have grave doubts. I mean, did Jane Austen even date??? I don’t think so because that would have been highly uncommon during her lifetime- and by “uncommon” I mean she would have been called a whore. Sure, her novels are the epitome of romance but what does that have to do with modern dating? Nevertheless, I pressed on and finished the book in the hopes of discovering one shred of applicable advice. This is what I learned.

I am a “Jane”. There is a quiz at the back of the book that tells you which of Austen’s characters you most resemble. Apparently I am Jane Bennet. Which I think means I am super beautiful and shy. But, do they even know what I look like? I mean, what if I started walking around like I was a beautiful Jane  but in reality I was a homely Charlotte Lucas? That would be terribly embarrassing. And, if I am indeed a “Jane” does that mean I’m waiting for a Bingley? Because, I’m pretty sure all the Bingleys are dead. In which case, I’m screwed. Is that what you are trying to tell me Ms. Austen? Am I doomed? Also, this was a pretty cowardly way of telling me. You could have just haunted me until I got the message like any decent ghost with a message from beyond would do. And even if a Bingley still existed, what did he do for a living? I mean, I know he was rich but did he have a job? I need someone with a job. Is that asking too much? Is that what Jane Austen is trying to tell me??? I mean, I read this book but I have yet to discern what Jane Austen was trying to tell me- Girl on the Contrary (as I’m assuming this book was written only for me). Here are my best guesses.

1. Girl on the Contrary, your love-life is truly doomed. Accept it now and live your life as best you can.

2. Girl on the Contrary, the love of your life won’t have a job. You will have to support him. Enjoy never being able to retire.

3. Girl on the Contrary, I’m dead. What do I know about modern dating?

4. Girl on the Contrary, stop reading books and start going on dates. This is common sense. Why do I have to explain it?

5. Girl on the Contrary, there are loads of hot guys in the afterlife. I’m just sayin.

6. Girl on the Contrary, if I had dated, I would have been called a whore. Count your lucky stars. You whore.

I don’t know. This has actually made dating a lot harder because I am caught up in the mystery of what Jane Austen is trying to tell me from the beyond and don’t really have time to date with all the seances and ouija board conversations. I haven’t connected with Ms. Austen yet but I did have a lovely conversation with someone I believe to either be a kindly spirit or a demon. Time will tell.

A Year In Books.

I call all these posts, “A Year in Books” because my New Years resolution was to read one book a week for every week of the year. But after, discussing this with my family, I think a more apt title might be, “The Blog Post My Family Doesn’t Read Because They Think I’m Boring on Mondays.”

The Gangs of New York

Last week, I read The Gangs of New York by Herbert Asbury. LOVED IT. The stories of New York’s first gangs are sensational, although, probably based more on legend than fact. Nevertheless, I couldn’t put this book down. The Five Points and Bowery gangs had incredibly violent but extraordinary beginnings and had an immense impact on the city of New York that far outlasted their heyday. Asbury tells the tales of these gangs in very descriptive and compelling ways, the way that these legends were meant to be told. Sure, a lot of these stories are embellished but how much fact-checking is really possible when dealing with the secret nature of the gangs? More than anything, this book is a thrilling account of the beginnings of gangs and mobs as we know them today. I have read a lot of books on the Irish Mob and a fair few about other gangs and the Italian mafia but this book is one of the most interesting I have ever read. Maybe because it was written in 1928 when many of these first gangs still held respect in New York. Asbury’s language does seem to hold a tone of respect and nowhere in the book does he pass judgement on the gangs activities- even the most vile. And I mean, some of the things these gangs did were incredibly evil, I literally gasped several times at the description of some of the murders the gang members committed (and I’m no lightweight). Despite the gruesome details, and sad history of the gangs and their formation,  I seriously loved this book. I know I already said it but the one word I keep thinking of to describe this book is “compelling”. Also, you kind of have to love a book written by a guy named Herbert.

On the back of the book there is a note that says Martin Scorcsese was so inspired by this book that he made the movie “The Gangs of New York”. Let me tell you something, that movie was nothing like the book. And sure, I already hated this movie for two reasons.

1. Historical inaccuracy

2. Who the heck was Cameron Diaz kidding what that “Irish” accent. She should be ashamed.

But now, I really  hate this movie because it was a bastardization of the book. You  let me down Scorsese. You let me down, and you let Herbert down. I mean, after all your movies about gangs/mafioso I would have thought you had more respect for who these gangsters really were. I can forgive you, but only because Daniel Day-Lewis as Bill the Butcher (a real Five Points gangster) was crazy brilliant- even if you did set him in a time a decade after his actual death.

So what are you guys reading? Or- if you would rather, what movie based on a book do you hate?

A Year In Books: Weeks 5 & 6

I was unable to blog last week- more on that in tomorrows post- so I’m combining my “Year In Books” weeks 5 and 6 posts.

Week 5

We Band of Angels

We Band of Angels by Elizabeth M. Norman was my choice for week 5. I absolutely loved it. It tells the stories of Army and Navy nurses in World War II who were caught in the fighting and later imprisoned by the Japanese on Corregidor  and Bataan. These brilliant and resilient women were the first American women in uniform to be in a combat zone. And what a combat zone to be in. The fighting in the Pacific was brutal and these women endured it with an astounding amount of strength and grace. There was only one thing wrong with this story- I had never, in all my years of studying history, heard anything about them. And that made me mad. Like, really hopping mad. Because these women deserve to be remembered. What they did and were put through during the war deserves to be told in every classroom. These women treated horribly injured soldiers, many of whom they knew personally, and continued to treat them even when bombs were dropping all around them. They were practically abandoned by the Army and Navy and then spent 3 years in Japanese internment camps fighting tropical diseases, starvation, and the wounds and illnesses that threatened their patients lives- because even in the camps they were nurses first and prisoners second. These women were heros. For real. Read this book. Acknowledge these amazing women and tell everyone you know about them. They were extraordinary women placed in some of the most bleak and brutal circumstances. And when the war was over they were treated first as tools of propaganda and then simply ignored for the remainder of their service and lives. And that sucks. Again, read this book and learn about these women. Elizabeth Norman treats these women’s stories with dignity and respect- possibly because she too, is a nurse. I’m just so thrilled to have finally learned about these brilliant women and their brave service. READ THIS BOOK.

Week 6

Cousin Bette

Cousin Bette by Honore de Balzac was my week 6 book. Honestly? I didn’t like it. I feel so bad because I know it’s a classic but I just couldn’t get into the story. It’s like a soap opera, and I am really not into soap operas. Awww man. I just feel so badly about this. Maybe it’s better in French? I did think the characters were interesting but the story didn’t pull me in. (I’m shrugging and grimacing) Sorry.

What have you guys been reading the past two weeks??

Saying Goodbye.

My dog Hansel

This is Hansel. It was snowing. He was the best dog ever.

Yesterday, I had to say a painful and oppressively final goodbye to my dog Hansel. He was old but he was the best dog any girl on the contrary could ask for. He protected me when I felt threatened, he comforted me when I was afraid, and he soothed me when I was ill. In some ways, it felt like Hansel took care of me and not the other way around. He was an incredibly intelligent dog and had the sweetest heart. Saying goodbye was more awful than I could have ever imagined. I miss him.

So, I’ve been thinking about “goodbye”. Why do we say it? Where did it come from? And why does such a simple word hold such power. Goodbye can be liberating, sad, happy, thoughtful, kind, cruel, or confusing. Basically, choose any emotion and it can be goodbye.

Upon some light (very light) research, I discovered that the word “goodbye” is delineated from the phrase “God be with you”. Why did people say that? Well, my guess is that it’s because the plague and cholera and syphilis were ravaging the world and people were dying all over the place so it was best to part with a nice sentiment to send each other into the hereafter. Just a guess. Like I said, it was only light research.

As to why that word is so powerful….well, I think that’s because it feels final, even if it isn’t. I think that if we said “shark farts” to people in parting it would be just as powerful. Maybe even more so because now I’m wondering if sharks even fart and thinking that would actually add a deeper layer of mystery to the parting. Anyway, I think it is the act of parting or letting go that gives goodbye it’s power.

In case you were wondering why some people say “So long” it’s because it’s derived from the word “Salaam” which in Arabic is a parting phrase conveying the deepest levels of goodwill, but English people heard it and thought everyone was saying “so long” so now we say that. True story. I think that’s probably why it doesn’t have the sting of “goodbye” because we aren’t even really saying the right thing or in the right language for that matter.

Just something I’ve been thinking about since yesterday. What do you think of goodbyes?

A Year In Books: Week 3

Mary Tudor

Mary Tudor- Princess, Bastard, Queen by Anna Whitelock was my choice for last week. I think the best way for me to review/discuss this book is in the form of a letter to Queen Mary Tudor herself because I’m sure she has some Google Alerts out on her name and therefore will see this.

Dear Queen Mary,

Let me first say this- I’m very sorry for ever calling you “Bloody”. I realize now, that that moniker was the product of a very successful propaganda machine and not an accurate portrayal of your rein or life. I also would like to apologize for trying to call your ghost into this world by saying “Bloody Mary, Bloody May, Bloody Mary” and turing three times and looking in a mirror. Although, in my defense, every time I did that all I was hoping was to ask you some questions about Tudor England. Anyway, I’m sorry.

I never really had much sympathy for you and that’s because I don’t think I ever really focused on all that you had to go through. Also, I hope I’m not being too forward by saying I think your Father (Henry VIII) was a total and complete wanker. The way he treated you while he was attempting to divorce your Mother was inexcusable and I think your courage in holding out as long as you did against his bullying was immensely commendable. Well done you! I would also like to say how truly sorry I am that you were separated from your Mother during that time and weren’t able to be with her when she died. Your childhood wasn’t particularly pleasant and I think you handled it admirably. Oh yeah- even though I usually look at her as an early feminist- Anne Boleyn was an utter biatch to you, there is no denying it.

The beginning of your rein was marked by moderation and forgiveness, which I found surprising considering your nickname. But, the truth is that is was a moderate approach. You didn’t immediately execute Lady Jane Gray, and in fact, it seems you were quite reluctant to do so. Your Privy Council was made up of staunch supporters as well as those who didn’t immediately acknowledge you as monarch. Bravo! Although- I really feel that Lady Jane Gray’s execution, delayed though it may have been, was unjust. I’m just sayin. Also, I think your unwavering trust in Holy Roman Emperor Charles V was a bit  misplaced, especially considering he didn’t actually come to your aid when you most needed him. Again, I’m just sayin.

In fact, you know what Mary? Can I call you Mary? Cool. I think that all the main men in your life, you Father, cousin (Charles V), and husband (Prince Phillip) all treated  you poorly and as nothing more than a pawn in a game of chess. Of course, that was typical treatment for a women of your stature in that day so maybe it didn’t bother you as much. But I think it did.

Finally, I would like to say “Thank You” because truly, you paved the way for Elizabeth I and all female regnants of England. You were the precedent and the standard of a female ruler in England, and no matter what people think of your religious fanaticism, you did an admirable job of it. Speaking of your religious fanaticism, can I just say Mary, that I now recognize that compared to Elizabeth I or Henry VIII, you were no executioner. “Bloody Mary” wasn’t a very fair or accurate nickname- although- I  mean, you really didn’t need to have anyone executed for their religion. That was wrong. Very wrong indeed. I’m just saying that, compared to Elizabeth I and Henry VIII, you were less wrong (i.e. less of a blood-thirsty, death sentence imposing monarch) even though most people think the opposite.

All in all, you get a bum deal out of historical recollection and I’m sorry that I’m just recognizing that now. If you get a chance, you might want to try and send Anna Whitelock a gift basket or flowers or a title or a crown jewel or something like to say “Thanks” because she did a lovely job of chronicling you life. Her book about you was not only massively informative, but a truly enjoyable read. At least send her a card- I know she would appreciate it and she really deserves it (seriously, I don’t know if you’ve read it because it’s about you and you probably know the details, but you should read it because it is really really good).

All my best to your Majesty,

Xx

Girl on the Contrary.

A Year In Books. Week 1.

One of my new years resolutions was to read a book every week for the entire year. Last night, I decided as a part of that resolution, every week I would write about the book I finished reading the previous week. This way, you can learn about books you want to read and I have all my Monday posts for a year planned. Huzzah! I believe they call this a win-win. Unless you completely abhor my taste in reading material. Then you lose. But life is tough and it’s time you learned you can’t always win. So, I’ve taught you a lesson. You do win. Huzzah!

(FYI- because of my charming quirks, I alternate between reading non-fiction and fiction so if you aren’t a fan of one or the other then just wait a week and you will be more pleased with my selection. Although, you should like both because I think it hurts the books feelings if you don’t.)

The first weeks book was Notorious Royal Marriages by Leslie Carroll

Notorious Royal Marriages

I really enjoyed this book. It was like reading historical tabloids. I mean, if there had been an E! channel back in the day, then these would have been the marriages they would be talking about. And honestly, Angelina and Brad got nothin on Napoleon and Josephine (or “Rose” as she was called before she married him- little known fact). And Taylor Swift and her many beaus just can’t compete with Henry VIII and his many wives. (Although, to be fair, she uses music to cut whereas he favored the chopping block) And I don’t care how explosive a celebrity divorce is- the divorces chronicled in this book literally changed nations. Top that Charlie Sheen. (Actually don’t. Just chill out for a while maybe.)  Also, some of the true love stories, which were quite rare, are so beautiful that they make every romance movie I’ve seen in the last ten years seem gray and dull. And you want to talk scandal? The language some of these “gentlemen” used in their love letters left me shocked. Gentlemen, indeed. (I’m pointing at you Napoleon- you should be ashamed. For a lot of things really, but specifically for your use of some very colorful and offensive language. No wonder it took Josephine a while to warm up to you. Trust me, using that word is no way to win a woman’s heart. Just a tip in case you have some sort of reincarnation. You’re welcome.) This book isn’t meant to be biographical but it does give you some very interesting and little known facts about these monarchs. And actually, learning some of these personal details made some of their political decisions a little bit clearer to me. Of course, I didn’t always agree with how they are portrayed (especially the authors take on the formidable personalities of Katharine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn) but there wasn’t anything that I viewed as out of the realm of possibility (I mean, it’s a bit difficult to know what portrayal is closest to the truth because we can’t actually know any of these royals personally. Unless you have a time machine, in which case, I want in. I want in bad.)

Basically, if you have any interest in European history then this book is certainly worth a read. Also, if you have any interest in scandalous affairs, courtly gossip, and slightly pornographic love letters, then this book is worth a read. If you only crave happy endings, then you might want to pass on this- because many of these marriages ended not-so-happily ever after (I’m talking execution people). Enjoy!

*I would love some great reading recommendations so please comment and let me know what I should be reading this year.

Resolution:2011

Fireworks

It’s that time of year (you know, the beginning) when people make resolutions. So far, in life, I have a pretty poor resolution keeping record. But, I’m pretty sure that’s because those resolutions were always about losing weight or working out. Basically, I’ve always gone with the cliche resolutions. Lame-o. So, in the interest of not being lame-o, I actually put a lot of thought into my resolutions this year. They are as follows…

1. Read one new book every week of the year. (So, like, 52) Not only does this resolution play to my strengths but I think I will get a lot out of it and hopefully learn some new things- also, I think this will really motivate my writing. Yay reading! (Take a note kids)

2. Successfully become a hip grown-up. What I mean by this, is that I want to be a grown-up but not lose any of my hipness. Or maybe what I mean is that it would be awesome if I got some hipness and also acted more like a grown-up. Wait no, what I mean is that I want to get some hipness and live like a grown-up (as opposed to acting like one). I’m still working this one out a bit.

3. I want to start a peaceful and musically driven revolution with my blog. The point of this revolution is to get everyone to think of their lives in terms of music. So, it’s a pretty cool revolution. Basically I am going to encourage everyone to add a soundtrack to their lives. As such, every Friday, I will post a song that describes my week the best (please let me know what yours are as well) and then at the end of the month I will have a post dedicated to the all the songs (yours and mine). Also, instead of weapons, we will use dance moves. And I strongly encourage you to narrate your emotions throughout the day in song. When people ask you why, please direct them to this blog. Sure, we are starting out grassroots but I really believe we can change the world. Or at least be considered like a counter-culture or cult.

So, what are your resolutions? Also, if you have a problem with making New Year’s resolutions, please take it up with the ancient Babylonians- they started it.