Re: Mikado

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Actors acceptable, poster tacky

New mouseover text.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 8:19 AM
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The response I saw linked when I first saw a thing about this.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 8:25 AM
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Did you just stomp the post I put up to fill in for you? May all the TVs in your car stop working.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 8:27 AM
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Mikado is racist top to bottom. That's no reason not to perform it, as long as everyone involved is aware that it's full of caricatures and orientalist bullshit. I feel this way about the Mikado but not about e.g. Al Jolson's The Jazz Singer, so my opinion ought to be discounted as incoherent.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 8:28 AM
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3: Aw, I'm sorry. We don't leave till this evening.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 8:33 AM
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I've sort of wondered the same thing about Kai Lung, which is in pretty much exactly the same position as the Mikado -- a combination of farce and satire of English society packaged in Orientalist fantasy (China, not Japan, but the same sort of paper thin nonsense version of China). Neither one of them sets me off as importantly racist, but on the other hand it's not my ox being gored.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 8:34 AM
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as long as everyone involved is aware that it's full of caricatures and orientalist bullshit

It sounds like the people involved are pretty clueless, given that the article includes two separate quotes defending the show on the grounds that it's not actually "yellowface," since the makeup used by the actors is pinkish in tone.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 8:42 AM
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I think you mean 19th century Japanese diplomats. There were none in the 18th.

I don't care. G & S were unrecognizably far from any historical Japan. Apparently the Mikado is performed in Japan which is now a fairly irreverent place.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 8:46 AM
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What I was thinking as I read this was that if you're going to do something like this in the classroom, you have to spend a ton of time and energy discussing context and racism and so on. Unless you somehow are couching this performance in a broader context of those things, it seems best to let it stay dead. Good thing I teach math.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 8:47 AM
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I mean, that's true, jms, but given the sad history of these things it's not inconceivable that they're getting hate mail from people who aren't just offended by the depiction of Japan as a magical Orientalist fairyland but think they're wearing prosthetic buck teeth.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 8:47 AM
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A true method actor/racist would get an orthodontist to give them real buck teeth.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 8:48 AM
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There was a surprisingly decent Metafilter thread about this.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 8:53 AM
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7: there's surely a difference in offensiveness, though, between a white person simply playing a nonwhite character and a white person actually putting on makeup to appear like a grotesque caricature of a nonwhite character - between Pavarotti singing Calaf, say, and Al Jolson being the Jazz Singer.

One thing that's striking about the Mikado is the extent to which there is virtually no reference to anything that's actually true about Japan, except for a joke that hinges on Japanese people not using pocket handkerchiefs, and the opening song which says essentially "This is trendy! Because it's vaguely Japanese!" Even the idea of an all-powerful Mikado is pretty much the exact reverse of what was really happening in Japan in the 19th century.
As Sifu's link points out, in fact.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 8:53 AM
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Relevant from Wiki:

"When Prince Fushimi Sadanaru made a state visit in 1907, the British government banned performances of The Mikado from London for six weeks, fearing that the play might offend him - a manoeuvre that backfired when the prince complained that he had hoped to see The Mikado during his stay."


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 8:59 AM
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Just change it so it's set on a distant planet. Star Wars Episode I proves that any racial stereotype is plausibly deniable if it's just used to characterize an alien race.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 9:04 AM
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OTOH, it isn't as if offensive and destructive Orientalism ever depended on an accurate and realistic depiction of its subject matter. That sorta misses the point.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 9:14 AM
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Or Game of Thrones.


Posted by: David the Unfogged Commenter | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 9:17 AM
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it isn't as if offensive and destructive Orientalism ever depended on an accurate and realistic depiction of its subject matter

But it depended on what was purported to be an accurate and realistic depiction of its subject matter. The Mikado plainly isn't even trying. In fact it lampshades the fact that it isn't even trying.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 9:32 AM
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18: There's a strain of racism/orientalism/something that depends on treating a real people or culture as an imaginary cartoon, where you don't need to even think about realism because they're not real. The way Americans talk about "gypsies", largely because they're completely unaware of the existence of Roma as an actually existing ethnic group dealing with real problems. Or the 1950's Western/summer-camp version of Native Americans -- not exactly malicious, usually, but treating them as casual fodder for a nature fantasy. And in both cases it can be really harmful because it gets in the way of awareness of real people and real problems.

That's basically going on in the Mikado, too. I mostly don't think it's a significant problem, because I don't think Japan as imaginary faraway fantasy pretend land is a mental error that a modern American audience is at all vulnerable to (other kinds of racism about Asians, but not that). But again, when I say it doesn't seem like a significant problem to me, I'm not at all in a position to speak authoritatively about it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 9:41 AM
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OT: blogcrush Maciej Ceglowski is in Yemen! (idlewords.com)

At least, worryingly, he posted about arriving there on 3 July, he finished the post with "Eight more days to go" and he hasn't posted since.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 9:52 AM
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He's been active on twitter.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 9:55 AM
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They should cancel the production and replace it with a more accurate depiction of Japanese culture, like "The Bridge over the River Kwai".


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 9:56 AM
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Oooh, those are gorgeous pictures of Yemen. (Hadn't heard of the blogger before, who's not bad himself.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 9:56 AM
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Hadn't heard of the blogger before

Wait, what?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 9:57 AM
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23: he's been mentioned a few times - I think his piece about scurvy came up. Essear liked it?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 9:59 AM
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24: I'm bad at names? Mentions at intervals often don't stick? I've been having a series of small strokes?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 10:02 AM
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The Alameda-Weehawken Burrito Tunnel? Argentina on two steaks a day? The bedbug registry? Pinboard?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 10:03 AM
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(And now that I look I remember the scurvy article, it just didn't start me reading his blog for some reason.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 10:04 AM
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Wait, he's also the burrito tunnel? Okay, now I really am embarrassed.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 10:05 AM
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27 - I like how you assume LB isn't interested in his pissing match with Paul Graham of Y Combinator, sexist.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 10:07 AM
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30: I also omitted his accidental infiltration of the Chinese space program, his adventures among the cassowaries and above the arctic circle, the anti-Kundera piece...


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 10:11 AM
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Actually, reading the response from the Gilbert and Sullivan company, it sounds like the editorial did imply that they were literally wearing yellowface: Well no, [books with racist depictions of black people] should not be banned. But a theater production of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn should be shut down if the character of Jim, an African American were played by a white actor with shoe polish smeared all over his face.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 10:12 AM
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What if Huck Finn were played by a Japanese guy?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 10:16 AM
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That kind of turns into quibbling over what 'literally' means. I'd call cartoonish geisha makeup arguably a version of yellowface even if nothing was the color yellow (and I'd assume a Mikado production would have some kind of vaguely geishaish makeup; black wigs with something intended to be 19thC Japanese hairstyles, and so on). In line with what I've been saying, I don't think that's terribly offensive in context, but I wouldn't call it obviously not literally yellowface.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 10:17 AM
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"Dating without Kundera" isn't his strongest but I really like his two (or three?) posts from when he was staying in a cabin above the Arctic Circle.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 10:18 AM
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31: So I'll read his archives. Haven't had occasion to do that with a new (to me) blog in years.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 10:18 AM
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That kind of turns into quibbling over what 'literally' means.

Don't worry! It's taken care of!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 10:19 AM
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What's the current thinking on white actors playing Othello? With makeup to change their skin color? In the same kind of sense, I suppose that's blackface, but I'd expect that a reasonably thoughtful production would have a way to do it without getting themselves in too much trouble.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 10:31 AM
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Is it wrong that I thought Tropic Thunder was pretty good, except a bit too much Jack Black.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 10:37 AM
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I have trouble, in the context of an intentionally unrealistic* piece of theater, equating the wearing of unrealistic theater makeup (which is what the white powder is about; it's not about representing Japanese people, it's about representing the way Japanese theater** wears/wore makeup) with the wearing of yellow face or blackface.

IOW, I don't think you can call a production anti-Italian if there's a character dressed as Pagliacci - something else is going on. And, as the business manager points out, the play itself makes explicit, in all sorts of ways, that it's in on the joke. And the Huck Finn comparison is apt, because, although Twain obviously was writing with more knowledge and insight than G&S, the ultimate reason that he gets a pass for all of the slaps to black people is that any sort of sophisticated reading of the text reveals that those slaps were not at all the point.

*not just wrt the reality of Japan, per LB's 19, but in the sense that all of G&S is facially silly

**and, I suppose, geisha and other ceremonial situations


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 10:38 AM
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To put it another way, singing "O! Susannah" as originally written and performed is problematic even if the singer doesn't put on blackface, and if your central criticism of such a performance were the blackface that wasn't being worn, your critique might be flawed.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 10:41 AM
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38. Can you think of a major production since Olivier in 1964/6 where that happened? Plenty of local am-dram etc. productions, I'm sure, but major ones?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 10:43 AM
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38: There have been entirely race-reversed productions, so white actor but no makeup (I saw Patrick Stewart in one such production). I'm not sure where that lands in this spectrum.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 10:45 AM
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42: In high school, we saw a professional production with a white guy playing Othello. If it helps, it wasn't a very good production.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 10:47 AM
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42: Actually, I have no real idea -- it seemed within the spectrum of things that could be made acceptable by being presented properly, but I don't know if I'm right about that.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 10:47 AM
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Part of the problem is even if it's done with faithful kabuki style/makeup, that look is completely consistent with an "oo, look at these silly people" attitude on the part of the audience. Problematic regardless of intent.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 10:49 AM
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You know what's really good, speaking of race-reversed productions of Othello? Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake, with male swans.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 10:55 AM
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Long ago I saw a Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan production with Othello as a First Nations eco-warrior (the Métis actor Tom Jackson played the title role). It wasn't racist, but the concept was a stretch, so it wasn't very good either.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 10:57 AM
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I dunno about England, but in the US Gilbert and Sullivan productions are nearly invariably put on by annoying Anglophile twits who want to pretend to drink tea in Queen Victoria's living room while giggling over droll witticisms. So I'd be OK with a ban on the Mikado so long as it also included every other G&S operetta.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 10:58 AM
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47. Cob Lake? Has anybody told Moby?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 10:59 AM
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Nobody ever told me about that particular meaning of cob.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 11:00 AM
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Sometimes I wonder how much time Halford spends doing things he hates just so he can form an accurate basis for his hatred.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 11:02 AM
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60-65%.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 11:04 AM
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I guess more if you count work.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 11:04 AM
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I don't think I've been to an operetta. I was at an opera once but the only thing I remember is one woman in the audience with a gown that was practically topless and that people kept singing about somebody named Tosca.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 11:07 AM
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Othello was almost certainly envisaged by Shakespeare and his sources as Arabic or Berber, so casting him as a sub-Saharan African is a bit of a stretch too. I've never seen a North African Othello, probably because North African actors who are fluent in English are a bit thin on the ground.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 11:08 AM
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The last Gilbert & Sullivan thing I went to was put up by enthusiastic but not obviously anglophilic amateurs who, ah, struggled with it. On the other hand, the G&S superfan in my departmental cohort wears vests and was the president of his undergraduate institution's oenophile club, so.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 11:09 AM
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Be cool, racists: I have put the issue to an actual Japanese person for response and will report back forthwith.

In the meantime, this Kabuki production at Lincoln Center was quite the rollicking thrill ride, Edo-style.

Shut up, bob. No one cares.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 11:10 AM
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"put on", not "put up".

Anyhow Halford lives in a famous theatrical desert so who knows what things are like there.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 11:11 AM
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The charitable reading of "yellowface" is that it was intended as an analogy. That's fine, but it's also okay to examine where that analogy falls short.

If you're going to say "it's like blackface, but not terribly offensive," then you've got a problem, because it either lacks the single salient attribute of blackface, or it really is terribly offensive.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 11:19 AM
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but in the US Gilbert and Sullivan productions are nearly invariably put on by annoying Anglophile twits

The hardcore Anglophile twits stage fox hunts. Amateur Gilbert and Sullivan productions are for posers.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 11:25 AM
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Othello was almost certainly envisaged by Shakespeare and his sources as Arabic or Berber

I thought that was an outdated idea. Isn't the text very clear on him being dark-skinned? Europeans have always seen and known about black people, going back to Sir Morien. Just because he had come from North Africa doesn't mean he had to have the majority's complexion, too.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 11:29 AM
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60: Well, a sexy leprechaun costume, if worn by a, say, Italian, is also kind of like blackface in the same way, except getting bent out of shape about it would be idiotic because the Irish aren't oppressed and honestly who gives a damn. But still structurally similar, or at least I think so. So I think there's room for a category of 'meaningfully similar to blackface' that is not by definition automatically too offensive to exist -- you still have to look at the target and the circumstances.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 11:32 AM
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Oh, Wikipedia says the evidence on race is mixed. Still, I think portraying him as Arab/Berber-looking is something done more in theater in previous generations.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 11:32 AM
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Here's the original Seattle Times piece criticizing the production. I think it's fair to say that the author is committed to the complete applicability of the blackface analogy to this production.

If I knew anything about the Mikado, I might be able to develop an opinion on whether that analogy is fair.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 11:34 AM
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But still structurally similar, or at least I think so.

I know that discussins like this are the reason for the analogy ban, but isn't clothing a bit different than actual physical characteristics?


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 11:36 AM
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Isn't the text very clear on him being dark-skinned?

I think you may be reading descriptions of him as 'black' anachronistically -- Shakespeare uses 'black' to, e.g., describe white people with dark hair and eyes, so it wouldn't rule out an Arab. He is unambiguously African, but I don't think there's anything in the text that establishes him as sub-Saharan rather than North African.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 11:36 AM
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66 continued:I guess that actually supports your point, that there's a continuum. Painting your face a different color, putting on fake teeth would be at the too offensive to exist end, while clothing can often be at the other end.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 11:38 AM
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66: The one I linked doesn't have it, but a similar costume wouldn't be implausible with a red wig and makeup to draw yourself freckles. I really think the difference is the social history of what it means to the target group.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 11:38 AM
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Clothing is often on your butt.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 11:38 AM
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70 to 68.last.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 11:39 AM
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except getting bent out of shape about it would be idiotic

65 before reading 63. Yeah, I think we understand each other. I'm arguing that calling it "blackface" is inherently getting bent out of shape over it, and you don't think so.

Certainly, though, in the case at hand, the author is specifying the grotesquely offensive type of blackface, and not the benign or harmless kind.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 11:39 AM
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67: It's funny how that works once your frame of reference shifts. When we met, my wife surprised me by saying I was blond when I considered myself to have rather dark hair compared to those around me.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 11:40 AM
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"blackface" as a term means a lot more -- historically &c. -- than "dressing up as a broad ethnic caricature", and as such I wonder if politicalfootball has a point.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 11:42 AM
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http://wonkette.com/554812/someone-reminded-idaho-tribe-who-ted-nugent-is-so-they-cancelled-his-concert?utm


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 11:48 AM
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This is exactly where it would be nice to import the analogy ban (that I completely fail to respect) out into the real world. I think 'dressing as an ethnic caricature' is an excellent analogy for blackface, by the standard of how good any analogy is ever. But it's not exactly the same as blackface, because history is particular, and racism against Asians is different from racism against blacks, and you have to look at the particular circumstances.

I mean, I kind of think 'yellowface' is a perfectly appropriate way to describe Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany's, and a kind of pointlessly inflammatory way to describe the Mikado. But I can't get there by saying that the analogy with blackface works in the first case and doesn't in the second case. Instead, I look at the first case and am offended, so I think an offensive analogy is appropriate, and I look at the second case and am not offended, so I think the offensive analogy isn't appropriate -- the quality of the analogy in either case isn't doing any of the work for me. Someone who's honestly offended by the Mikado, the analogy isn't nuts.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 11:48 AM
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Jesus, have we now talked ourselves into banning Sexy Leprechaun costumes? Because that would be wrong.

I also like how LB provided a link to the Sexy Leprechaun costume. Thank you for that.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 11:49 AM
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I think that casting Japanese-American (or Japanese) actors in The Mikado, and making it evident that you had done so on purpose, would probably make a production more racist and not less, because you'd be taking the position that The Mikado is actually about Japan, instead of being about England, with Japonaiserie wallpaper.


Posted by: Grant Somebody | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 11:51 AM
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Now I have "Tit-Willow" stuck in my head. I hope you're all happy.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 11:56 AM
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It's interesting that Chan seems to be conflating "Japanese" with "Asian." My understanding was that there are different kinds of Asians.

For example, China is a different country with a different culture, language, and ethnic stereotypes. Chinese-American immigrants came to this country at different times than Japanese-Americans, for different reasons.

Same with Indian-Americans.

Nor are any of these groups monolithic.

So the objection to the lack of "Asians" as such seems... odd.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 11:57 AM
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Update to 58: "What, really? Why? Oh jeez."


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 12:04 PM
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the quality of the analogy in either case isn't doing any of the work for me. Someone who's honestly offended by the Mikado, the analogy isn't nuts.

Analogies aren't a great analytical tool, but they're a fine descriptive tool.

Chan is both saying "this is how I experience this thing" and "this is how decent people ought regard this thing." The first is description and can't be argued. The second is an argument whose merit I'm not equipped to judge. Neither has anything to do with sexy leprechauns.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 12:08 PM
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One mitigating factor for The Mikado: none of the characters behaves according to 19th-century Orientalist stereotypes. Every one of them talks and behaves like an upper-middle class Victorian English person; the satire of the story is about Victorian-era approaches to crime and punishment, set in an exotic locale because it looks pretty. If anything, it's more problematic because of its misogyny than it is orientalist, given the treatment of the character Katisha.


Posted by: Ubu Imperator | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 12:12 PM
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Here's a story about the first production of the Mikado for a Japanese audience from 2003. The Japanese had been, at least traditionally, offended for different reasons.


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 12:13 PM
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Since The Mikado has nothing to do with Japan as it actually existed, I was going to suggest they just relocate the action to outer space and have the actors dress as klingons. Then I realized that klingons also started out at racial caricatures of (I think) the Japanese, so I suppose that doesn't work.

Maybe they should relocate the action to Ireland and have the actors dress as sexy leprechauns.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 12:17 PM
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I had no idea you reprobates found leprechauns so sexy.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 12:23 PM
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Well, sexy leprechauns, sure.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 12:25 PM
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I'm holding out for Sexy Fenian.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 12:25 PM
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Sexy maenad.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 12:28 PM
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I'm holding out for Sexy Fenian.

I'm guessing the proposal for "sexy IRA enforcer" was rejected by the costume company.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 12:28 PM
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"Head erect, eyes to front, stepping proudly together,
Freedom sits throned on each proud spirit there.
Now down the hill twining,
Their blessed steel shining,
Like rivers of beauty they flow from each glen,
From mountain and valley, tis liberty's rally,
Out and make way for the bold Fenian men!"

Can't get sexier than that, certainly.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 12:29 PM
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So forget the Japanese -- what I'm hearing is that productions of the Mikado ought to be avoided because they present an unflattering caricature of Englishmen. I don't think we really ought to encourage stereotypes of England as a land of sinecurists, predatory old ladies, and patter songs.


Posted by: Ace K | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 12:29 PM
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89: So she is.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 12:34 PM
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Seattle's Gilbert and Sullivan Society isn't the first to take on 'The Mikado' in modern times

To say the least. It's done quite a lot, because it's filled with justly beloved songs. You'll pry "The Sun Whose Rays" out of my cold dead ears.

I assume I'm being Captain Obvious here but my god, does it really need explaining that putting something onstage does not mean endorsing its worldview?

I'm watching Topsy-Turvey later just to punish anyone who disagrees with me.



Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 12:38 PM
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89: u maenad bro?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 12:44 PM
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94: when my mother introduced the kid to G&S and he promptly sussed that The Mikado is worth the rest of 'em put together, I had to firmly restrain myself from immediately showing him Topsy Turvy which is so so fabulous but uber inappropriate for an eight year old. Sometimes the pleasures of parenting require a very long game.

Re: orientalist stereotypes, there is also I think a certain amount of regional variation in offensiveness. On the West Coast there is a, well certainly rich is not the right word, but let's say robust history of highly offensive portrayals of people from, or whose families were from, east Asia. And it's not exactly dead today.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 12:48 PM
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You'll pry "The Sun Whose Rays" out of my cold dead ears.

All I ever get is wax and the occasional bug.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 12:49 PM
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it's more problematic because of its misogyny than it is orientalist

Like Turandot.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 12:50 PM
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Wiki: In Said's analysis, the West essentializes these societies as static and undeveloped--thereby fabricating a view of Oriental culture that can be studied, depicted, and reproduced. Implicit in this fabrication, writes Said, is the idea that Western society is developed, rational, flexible, and superior.[2]

1) Said's book was 1978, and there has been 35 years of work on the concept, especially using Lacan and feminism.

2) One of the reasons I didn't care is that I knew that the discourse would be "Americanized" into a discussion of blackface and buckteeth, iow, all about unflattering or demeaning physical depictions.

3) "Orientalism" (exoticism) was/is in large part about creating a vacated other upon which the repressed and forbidden (but secretly desired and actually performed) can be projected and thereby denied in the self/subject. "Heart of Darkness" being one classic ironic expression, "Lost Horizons" being another. As Said says at the beginning, orientalism is the mask we Westerners wear to justify our own atrocities as rational and benevolent.

4) So even if the Mikado had zero relation to a real Japan, it is still an Orientalist and racist vehicle, a repository for what G & S felt uncomfortable directly addressing. Salammbo and Aida and most Orientalist and exoticist representations have very tenous connections to real places. I am also not offended, but somewhat bemused when ETs are used as metaphors and receptacles.

5) The Japanese have a somewhat complicated relation still to depictions of the Emperor and historical Emperors (and even the Shoguns, to a lesser degree)

For one thing, there isn't much to say about them, they were mostly and pointedly passive, uninvolved, invisible. Emperors became retired Emperors at 30 so they could get into politics and exercise power.

There is a sense in which the invisibility of the Emperor is the source of his legitimacy and the legitimacy derived from him and the sovereignty of the nation.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 12:50 PM
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I was so disappointed that 89 wasn't just a link to oudemia as I'd expected, but I can't complain about what it was instead.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 1:00 PM
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There should just be Robert Wilson productions of everything so there's no recognizable plot of character and everyone is alienated but there's nothing offensive in any specific way. I would go to a Robert Wilson Mikado.

Or they could do everything arranged with endless, tedious guitar solos for certain audiences. The Mikad-bro.

Here's a how-de-do!
If I ice a bro
&c.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 1:01 PM
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101.1: I dunno isn't Robert Wilson's neon thing kind of a regressive adoption of the '80s cyberpunk caricature of Japan as all rain-slicked streets and shadowy zaibatsu enforcers?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 1:14 PM
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Or they could do everything arranged with endless, tedious guitar solos for certain audiences. The Mikad-bro.

The Mik-Ad-Rock, featuring the music of the Beastie Boys.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 1:23 PM
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I'm going to break radio silence--and will no doubt be huff/duffed--to testify that Topsy Turvy is probably my favorite movie of the last 20 years, and pretty much the only one I'm always up for watching again. Greatest "Let's put on a show" movie ever.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 1:27 PM
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Sometimes I say aloud in my best imitation of the bizarre Shirley Henderson, "can this be vanity?"

But only when it's appropriate to the situation.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 1:31 PM
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Well, there's something in the Brady Bunch that appeals to everyone.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 1:40 PM
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106: Just when I think I've made the stupidest comment ever, you have to top me.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 1:45 PM
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104: miss you! Have you seen French Can-Can? If not, DO! Adds to sum of human happiness.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 2:00 PM
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You can give away Pauley Shore DVDs as an offset if you want to see it without increasing human happiness.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 2:12 PM
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At the risk of being racist/supporting The Man:

This story, crossed with that Twitter activist thing we discussed a few months ago*, makes me think that there's a tendency here. [East-]Asian-Americans unquestionably faced severe historic racism, and also face ongoing racism. It seems that there are growing efforts to spotlight this, and not to just keep heads down and rely on "model minority" cover that allows many of East Asian descent to be sort of honorary whites. Which is good and right and should make things better.

BUT, as these examples indicate, ISTM that some of these activists are modeling themselves too literally on activism around African-American and Native American issues, ignoring the fact that the issues are not directly the same: blackface, or even mild hints of minstrelsy, are problematic to a different degree than yellowface, in part for the same reason that sexy leprechauns, despite being based on a genuinely racist caricature, are simply inoffensive in this day and age. It's not that Asians in American have it made, and so nobody can be racist towards them anymore, but that their condition, now and historically, is somewhere between African-Americans and the Irish (possibly closer to the former, but between the poles), and so it's, if not counterproductive, then at least off-point to treat anti-Asian racism as identical to anti-African racism.**

And, again, the poor understanding of issues around Huck Finn tell me that this activist, at least, doesn't really understand.

*I cannot for the life of me recall the specifics, but I recall a chunk of our discussion. Ah, finally recall: CancelColbert

**I don't intend an Oppression Olympics here, but rhetoric should reflect reality. TNC's work makes it really clear that today's African-Americans are victimized by the system in a way that simply isn't matched by any non-Native minority, anywhere in America.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 2:25 PM
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(possibly closer to the former, but between the poles)

Ok first of all it's "Polish people" and secondly you could at least capitalize it.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 2:28 PM
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Stretch Polanski, tallest Pole I ever met.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 2:31 PM
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80: I think the bind that anyone writing about this gets stuck in is that although eg China and Japan are distinct cultures, American / Australian usage often buckets them together with everything else east of the Himalayas as "Asian". "Asian-American" is a real term, for instance ... I think I've seen the same point made about Latino as a term. And I guess there's some power to a identifiable political demographic there too. But you get stuck starting on the Asian playing field before it's broken down.

In the UK Asian encompasses India, Pakistan etc which is the same problem just a different bucket.


Posted by: conflated | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 3:01 PM
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I didn't realise sexy leprechauns were ever an Irish stereotype thing. Is there a whole secret history of sordid sexworker buckleface I'm missing?


Posted by: conflated | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 3:07 PM
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often buckets them together with everything else east of the Himalayas as "Asian"

Everything east of the Landstrasse in Vienna, actually.


Posted by: OPINIONATED KLEMENS VON METTERNICH | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 3:33 PM
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Why does the 3rd cir require disclosure of birth date to be admitted? That's like BEYOND classified information. No possible reason they need it, completely gratuitous.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 3:47 PM
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They send you are card with a gift certificate good for one filing.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 3:50 PM
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"a card"


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 3:51 PM
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117 would have been better if it had said "one free filing on your birthday."


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 3:57 PM
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You can go anytime that month.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 4:01 PM
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Have reached agreement with paralegal, I will fill out last and then *immediately* seal envelope.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 4:02 PM
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In semi-snark, clearly we need a troupe of mostly Cambodian or Philipin@ extraction to put on The Mikado in Downton Abbey costumes. (Especially if they managed to explicitly skewer US middlebrow Anglomania. Chorus of couch potatoes? Which song would they sing?)


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 4:05 PM
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122: "Three Little Maids From School" would seem to have squirmtastic potential there.

Plus I mainly know the songs from Pirates of Penzance anyway, like "I Am The Very Model Of A Modern Neoliberal".


Posted by: conflated | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 4:48 PM
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||
I'll be in Sacramento at loose ends Aug 16th, daytime. Mini meetup? Recommendations in lieu?
|>


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 5:04 PM
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25 I think his piece about scurvy came up. Essear liked it?

I did? I mean, I did, but I don't think I was the person who linked it here or that I made much of a fuss about it.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 5:10 PM
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Anyway, thank god we have an expert on Japanese culture of bob mcmanus's stature to tell us what we should think about The Mikado.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 5:10 PM
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126: Better than nothing.

Anyway the story is more about America and its peculiar and exotic culture than about Japan or even Victorian Britain.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 5:27 PM
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Hell "18th century Japanese diplomats" is still up there at the top attesting to quality of scholarship and attentive reading.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 5:52 PM
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I think I'm the person who was raving about Maciej's scurvy essay. (Arrrr, 'tis a scurvy essay!)


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 6:02 PM
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I don't think it's true that in late Victorian Britons would have know little about Japan (as the linked article claims). I think it's the reverse: late Victorian Britons were fascinated with Japan, and would have known a fair bit about Japan. Also Japan was often seen as a kind of Asian Britain, which would have been part of what made the satire work.

In general tho' I have to say "amateur G&S society stages all white Mikado" does sound like racist-land, even if I don't know if yellow face is a coherent accusation there.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 6:03 PM
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And the Huck Finn comparison is apt, because, although Twain obviously was writing with more knowledge and insight than G&S, the ultimate reason that he gets a pass for all of the slaps to black people is that any sort of sophisticated reading of the text reveals that those slaps were not at all the point.

Twain hasn't actually gotten a pass. Huckleberry Finn hasn't been permanently banned anywhere so far as I know, but it's not like it doesn't get attacked. On the other hand, this is the first time I've ever heard anyone criticizing The Mikado on these grounds*, although my knowledge of G&S doesn't extend past what's gotten into Simpsons episodes, which has not left me wanting to know more.

*As opposed to Halford's comments in 49.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 6:55 PM
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It has been thrilling to read the expressions in this thread of the feelings I have about Topsy-Turvy; thank you. 104 gets it exactly right.


Posted by: Mr. F | Link to this comment | 07-23-14 8:00 PM
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And I will add my endorsement of the admiration for Topsy-Turvy. I also saw a production of Mikado which used the sets and costumes from the movie, and it was brilliant. It was impossible, while watching it, to suppose there was any real reference to Japan or to Japanese people. It was about the town of Titipu, which was geographically located in the head of W.S.Gilbert.

Gilbert was undoubtedly a racist (unsurprising, he was a c.19 UMC Englishman), but his racism, which is clearest in the Bab Ballads, mostly took the form of reluctant admiration of the other, as also often in Kipling, which is a phenomenon we don't seem to have to deal with these days.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-24-14 1:59 AM
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89. I'm guessing the picture is from an early production of Firebird. Which reminds me, do we get to condemn Rite of Spring for its objective othering of the Kalmyks(?)* and its suggestion that they engage in ritual murder?

*Pedia thing says the opening bassoon solo comes from a Lithuanian folk song. Can one orientalise people who are full members of the European Union?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-24-14 2:12 AM
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Can one orientalise people who are full members of the European Union?

Oh, definitely. I'm pretty sure you can orientalise people who are actual UK citizens. What else do you call "Brigadoon"?

(Not to mention Ian Buruma's thesis of "Occidentalism".)


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-24-14 2:47 AM
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Incidentally, the wiki for The Mikado suggests a number of more potentially questionable adaptations; the Swing Mikado, the Hot Mikado and the Black Mikado (all of them all-black productions, respectively Swing, Jazz and Calypso-styled).


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-24-14 2:51 AM
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||

Big news in the regional discount grocery chain labor struggle-that's-not-a-labor-struggle ownership battle. Arthur Demoulas has offered to buy out the Arthur Demoulas faction outright, which would allow Arthur Demoulas to return to his job as President of the company and end the participation of Arthur Demoulas for good.

|>


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-24-14 4:13 AM
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||

137 cont'd: and in case you missed it, check out the Globe's ickiest headline perhaps ever on their story explaining the situation.

|>


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-24-14 4:17 AM
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The Demoulas family has been feuding for about thirty years. It's just a good thing they don't have rockets and fighter jets.

I was talking to someone last night who shops at Market Basket but hadn't paid attention to the latest outbreak of fighting. She reported "there was nothing in the produce section but anise."


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 07-24-14 4:42 AM
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What should I be but a prophet and a liar,
Whose mother was a leprechaun, whose father was a friar?
Teethed on a crucifix and cradled under water,
What should I be but the fiend's god-daughter?

...

After all's said and after all's done,
What should I be but a harlot and a nun?

Edna St. Vincent Millay claiming some ground for the sexy leprechaun position (or at least the priest-oppositional leprechaun position).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-24-14 5:38 AM
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140: Nice catch.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-24-14 5:48 AM
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137 and 138: I have been bereft over this. I hate the Shaws in me so much that I've been driving to Chestnut Hill to the Wegmans. I am eagerly anticipating the arrival of a Wegmans in Burlington.

I may have to turn into a Trader Joe's, Wegman's, Russo's shopper. Unfortunately, for a lot of things, Wegmans is more expensive than Market Basket, but it's way better than Stop & Shop and Shaws/Star Market.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 07-24-14 5:52 AM
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the Shaws in me

The world's most intrusive shopping experience.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-24-14 5:54 AM
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Can one orientalise people who are full members of the European Union?

We'll know if Cadbury's continues to sell Turkish Delight chocolate bars after Turkey joins.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07-24-14 5:56 AM
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meant "the Shaws in my area".


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 07-24-14 5:56 AM
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re: 144

I give you:

http://www.britishshopabroad.com/product_images/w/934/0__47644_zoom.jpg


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-24-14 5:57 AM
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143 to 145.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-24-14 5:59 AM
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146: I assume that is somehow the fault of Sir Walter Scott.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07-24-14 5:59 AM
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146: the best thing about that is that the man's facial expression makes it look like he is less hurling the shot than listening to it whisper in his ear.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-24-14 6:01 AM
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147: "Tell me again about the lochs, shot."


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07-24-14 6:02 AM
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Mel Gipson cleans up nicely.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-24-14 6:09 AM
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151: I guess?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-24-14 6:12 AM
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The b is upside-down as a sign of my disapproval of his politics, you hater!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-24-14 6:14 AM
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The classic response was when Vijaya Pandit, wearing a sari, got in a lift at the UN, and some British diplomat, in a pin striped suit with a carefully rolled umbrella, thought it wise to say, "You look very smart in your national dress, madam." She looked him in the eye and replied, "And so do you, sir."


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-24-14 6:15 AM
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Like spelling "America" "Amerika".


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-24-14 6:15 AM
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153: in other news the actual Mel Gipson looks pretty well adjusted given what an unending hellscape of identical mishearings of his name it must be.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-24-14 6:18 AM
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146: l like that it's the "true taste of Scotland". Only 'true Scotsmen' need apply. (I assume it self-destructs messily if you sugar it.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-24-14 6:29 AM
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You can deep fry it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-24-14 6:29 AM
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Oats mon.

I guess they went with the shot because a caber wouldn't fit on the package. IYKWIM AITYD.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 07-24-14 6:39 AM
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157: I recall that if the novels of Nigel Tranter are to be believed, and Nigel Tranter certainly wanted us to think so, true Scotsmen eat their oats mixed with fresh cows' blood.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07-24-14 6:46 AM
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re: 158

Make skirlie:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skirlie


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-24-14 7:09 AM
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Or, for that matter, white pudding:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_pudding


I've never had skirlie, but white pudding is fucking delicious.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-24-14 7:10 AM
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The classic response was when Vijaya Pandit, wearing a sari, got in a lift at the UN, and some British diplomat, in a pin striped suit with a carefully rolled umbrella, thought it wise to say, "You look very smart in your national dress, madam." She looked him in the eye and replied, "And so do you, sir."

I attended a Hindu wedding (in Britain) wearing the kilt, and three separate guests came up to me and asked to have their photo taken with me. "It's so wonderful you're wearing your national dress!" one grandmother enthused, speaking from inside a saffron-coloured, gold-trimmed silk sari.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-24-14 8:40 AM
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Skirlie actually looks really good. I may try that.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-24-14 9:03 AM
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I don't even have a national dress.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-24-14 9:05 AM
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140: What should I be but a harlot and a nun?

Here's hoping I get the half that eats.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 07-24-14 9:06 AM
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160. That would be black pudding. Also delicious, but seldom made at home.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-24-14 9:33 AM
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Damn black pudding is delicious.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-24-14 9:34 AM
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168. I'm fortunate enough to have married a woman who doesn't like it. I think she's mad, but it means that when we stay in hotels/b&bs that serve the stuff for breakfast, I get to eat hers.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-24-14 10:02 AM
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This sounds like a much lower-key version of Jane Eyre:

"You say he's married a madwoman. Does he keep her locked in the attic?"

"No, he travels with her to get additional portions of black pudding."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-24-14 10:28 AM
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Black pudding, to the tune of "White Wedding."


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 07-24-14 10:29 AM
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"Hey little sister, OATMEAL!"


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-24-14 11:03 AM
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I think I tried black pudding once, but it was neither tasty enough to seek out again, nor gross enough that I remember it clearly.

Wasn't in Scotland, though.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-24-14 1:20 PM
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"Hey little sister, OATMEAL!"

I may have ruptured something.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07-24-14 1:28 PM
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I don't think I've ever had black pudding. How similar is it to the various other kinds of blood+starch products around the world?


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 07-24-14 2:53 PM
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170 - As a Jamaican madwoman, Mrs. Y would presumably be more interested in Christmas pudding and setting houses on fire.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07-24-14 2:58 PM
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Re: 175

It's nicer than Spanish morcilla, definitely. But I suspect, googling images of morcilla, that maybe the morcilla I had was some sort of substandard poncy version.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-24-14 3:04 PM
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How similar is it to the various other kinds of blood+starch products around the world?

Much better than matzo!


Posted by: Opinionated Libelist | Link to this comment | 07-24-14 4:02 PM
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Blood in all its many variants can be fabuloso, have had excellent morcilla and indifferent blood pudding. Mmmmmm, blood, now peckish!


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 07-24-14 5:18 PM
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What's the dish that layers oatmeal and herring and soaks it in whisky to lower the freezing temperature? useful in a small barrel lashed to the mast?


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 12:14 AM
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There are traditional dress ?movements? or ?fashions? for England (they want the big knife back) and a complicated Chinese hanfu one.

I found them when looking for patterns for Welsh more-or-less traditional dress (lacing moderate, layers appropriate for the PNW, and I adore the hats).


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 12:23 AM
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they want the big knife back

They don't call it "Knifecrime Island" for nothing.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 12:29 AM
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TraDITion!


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 12:35 AM
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Just think how many crimes you could commit with knives like those.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 12:36 AM
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FREEDOM!


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 12:59 AM
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Also.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 1:02 AM
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179 sums it up, I think.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 1:33 AM
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I'm taken with the English traditional dress. It looks practical and attractive. If you're male and you don't want to get arrested, you could use the knife scabbard to keep your phone in.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 1:39 AM
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I have a memory of some NPR story 10+ years ago about banning sales of large cleavers in Scotland. I feel like I must be remembering wrong, because how else would people buy kitchen knives? But doesn't Scotland have one of the highest knifing rates in the world?


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 2:26 AM
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Also, aren't like 90% of romance novels Scottish orientalist porn for women?


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 2:27 AM
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182 to 189.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 2:28 AM
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190: yeah, but we don't really mind.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 2:50 AM
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re: 189

The UK in general has various restrictions on sales of knives. You can buy them, more or less anywhere [cookshops, supermarkets, etc] but you need to be over 18, and there are various banned blade types.*

And there are restrictions on carrying knives in public.**

https://www.gov.uk/find-out-if-i-can-buy-or-carry-a-knife

But in practice, it's not that restrictive. I could go into my local supermarket and buy pretty hefty cleavers or 12" or bigger cook's knives.

* almost all 'martial-arts' knives.
** basically, if you have a good professional or religious reason, fine. If not, you could be in trouble.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 3:22 AM
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re: 188

It seems a bit odd, to me. I know Scottish national dress is essentially a Victorian confection,* but it's a Victorian confection based on what certain Scots were wearing in the pretty recent past. The English national dress is clearly intended to be pre-Norman. Which is quite a long way back to go for your 'tradition'. Especially given the relative shortness of the pre-Norman 'Saxon' period.


* like almost all 'traditional' things, as we've discussed in the past.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 3:24 AM
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195

194: agreed. There is a pretty close connection between the modern "Scottish national dress", the uniforms worn 200 years ago by Highland troops, and the clothes worn 300 years ago by actual Highlanders.
This neo-Saxon stuff may be intended to avoid having to wear doublet and hose, for which very few people have the legs these days. They should have just gone back 200 years or so and announced that English national dress was Regency clothing. Cutaway coats, breeches, stocks. Possibly powdered wigs. That would look rather smart.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 3:31 AM
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re: 195

Or maybe red Boden trousers? Deck shoes?* Polo shirt? Accessorised with an annoying bray?**

* my wife keeps trying to get me to buy those. 'Fuck off!', quoth I.
** with apologies to the fine upstanding and decent English denizens of unfogged.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 3:41 AM
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194. Not that short - four or five hundred years according to taste. But of course the costume is meaningless, I doubt it would even be generic in the 9/10th century. Did a slave dress the same as an eolderman? I just thought it was quite pretty*.

The point about Scottish national dress is that, for all its various historic references, it was invented at a single point in time, which puts a brake on its evolution over time, whereas what people wear day to day can change out of recognition in the course of a century.

*The knife scabbard should technically be a seax scabbard, I suppose, but the risk of typographical error is too great.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 3:42 AM
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193. Are Sots allowed to carry a sgian dubh with a serious edge or point when they're wearing national dress?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 3:45 AM
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re: 197

Yeah, the fixed in time thing is fairly standard everywhere. I assume lederhosen and dirndls aren't the daily thing in central Europe and southern Germany.

English national dress, everyone could dress like an archer from the 100 Years War.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 3:46 AM
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re: 198

I believe they are legal, yeah. Although I think most are actually under the size limit, anyway, and as far as I know, the majority don't really have a proper edge.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 3:48 AM
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201

Sorry +c


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 3:48 AM
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Also, nix the red trousers. There's a whole website dedicated to them.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 3:49 AM
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re: 202

Yeah, I know. It was meant to be a joke.

I've viewed that whole ensemble as the hall-mark of the twat since long before the website, but I did find the website pretty amusing when someone linked it.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 3:55 AM
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English national dress, everyone could dress like an archer from the 100 Years War.

Doublet and assless hose, then. (According to John Keegan in "The Face of Battle", the English archers at Agincourt were so riven with dysentery that most of them had cut the backsides out of their hose, to save time.)

198: I certainly do. Nothing more futile than a blunt knife. (I almost wrote "pointless".) So far it hasn't been used in any stabbing, but it's come in handy in other ways.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 4:07 AM
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English national dress

Wool trousers, a tweed flat cap, and a green waxed cotton Barbour jacket, surely.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 4:37 AM
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I thought hose were innately assless at that time -- two separate tubes of cloth attached to some kind of loincloth arrangement ('smallclothes', but I don't have a sense of the construction) with laces.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 4:52 AM
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Or maybe red Boden trousers? Deck shoes?* Polo shirt? Accessorised with an annoying bray?

Or, at the other end of the spectrum, a tracksuit.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 5:12 AM
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206: hmm, not sure. I thought they were basically baggy tights? (googles) it seems they existed in both forms, with the separate hose a bit earlier than the joined one.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 5:24 AM
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English national dress

Wool trousers, a tweed flat cap, and a green waxed cotton Barbour jacket, surely.

Tweed cap - tweed made in Scotland.
Barbour jacket - made by the firm of J. Barbour and Sons; J. Barbour was himself from Galloway.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 5:26 AM
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Yeah, I just did the same. I hadn't realized joined hose existed as early as they did (I think I'd been told sometime that in the absence of knitted fabric or elastic, a garment that fit the legs and crotch reasonably snugly was an intractable tailoring problem. This appears to not be the case.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 5:28 AM
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209: What's more quintessentially English than imperialism and unacknowledged appropriation?


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 5:32 AM
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210, wait, in the absence of knitted fabric? Hose wasn't knitted?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 5:32 AM
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211: my point exactly. This is a nation whose official national dish is now chicken tikka masala.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 5:35 AM
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Pronounced "Chumley".


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 5:45 AM
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212: No, knitting's surprisingly modern. Some things were knitted in the Middle Ages, but not much -- I think mostly gloves? For socks and stockings, I'm fairly sure they don't show up as knitted until the early modern period.

If you wanted stretch before that, you were stuck with bias-cut woven fabric, which gives you a little but not all that much.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 5:54 AM
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The wikipedia history of knitting starts talking about socks and stockings in Europe in the sixteenth century. A little earlier in Egypt.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 5:59 AM
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Wiki says that it spread fairly rapidly through the 14th century.

"Archaeological finds from medieval cities all over Europe, such as London,[7] Newcastle,[8] Oslo,[9] Amsterdam,[10] and Lübeck,[11] as well as tax lists, prove the spread of knitted goods for everyday use from the 14th century onwards."

And has its European origins in 13th c. Muslim Spain.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 6:00 AM
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Enpwnéd.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 6:01 AM
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219

Alas for the lost knitting methods of the Vikings.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 6:03 AM
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219: Not lost, though, right? It's that weird one-needle stuff. I've always been intrigued, but haven't fallen into that particular abyss yet. (Possibly because I'm too busy hand-sewing clothes in my spare time. What is wrong with me?)


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 6:12 AM
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Thorn has foolishly revealed that she knows the secrets of Authentically Pure Aryan Viking Knitting. Expect visitors from the Ahnenerbe-SS or similar Strossian organisations. (Knitting is quite Strossian really. Topologically incredibly complex and lends itself to cellular-automaton type designs.)


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 6:16 AM
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Topologically incredibly complex

Indeed.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 6:20 AM
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223

Nailbinding. Reading the description, it sounds miserable to do -- you're sort of sewing the whole length of your yarn through each loop?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 6:22 AM
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Oh, hey, you know what it sounds like? Sort of like Kitchener stitch, except instead of grafting two live rows together, you're grafting into one live row and leaving loose loops hanging in space, which turn into the next live row that you then graft into in turn.

But I can't be understanding that right -- it'd unravel if you looked at it crosseyed, right up until you finished it off. What I'm describing couldn't have been a practical way to make fabric.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 6:25 AM
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Egyptians have some strange feet.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 6:26 AM
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223 is right about both the name I couldn't remember and why it sounds miserable but/and thus appealing.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 6:26 AM
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225: I have looked at those socks, and considering where they're from, wondered if they were intended for baby camels.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 6:29 AM
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219, 220

It's called nålebinding, and still sometimes used to make mittens and socks, since it's much warmer than normal knitting. The extra warm mittens were Finland's secret to winning the Winter War (along with the gasoline-filled vodka bottles).

http://www.metafilter.com/88696/The-White-Death


Growing up, we weren't allowed to wear gloves as a kid, because my grandmother thought children's fingers were too small and they'd freeze. Until age 12 or so it was wool mittens only. We were in the PNW and it was about 38 degrees F all winter and all the other kids were in acrylic stretchy gloves. But anyways, is this culturally specific advice? Or did other people experience the no gloves thing.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 6:35 AM
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Egyptians have some strange feet.

Triangular and at right angles to their torsos.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 6:35 AM
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I have looked at those socks, and considering where they're from, wondered if they were intended for baby camels.

No, this is what you use to cover a little camel toe.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 6:36 AM
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We didn't even have acrylic stretchy gloves when I was a kid. But we did have regular gloves even for kids.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 6:37 AM
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More on the lost knitting methods of the Vikings with SS tie-in.

http://bloodandtreasure.typepad.com/blood_treasure/2011/05/but-by-god-they-frighten-me.html

With links in comments.

and

http://bloodandtreasure.typepad.com/blood_treasure/2011/06/ss-knitting.html


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 7:57 AM
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Tying fascist-related knitwear to national costume, Nordic sweaters are somewhat akin to tartans, in that patterns are tied to specific regions, and they were worn as a covert way to display anti-Nazi Norwegian nationalism during the war. According to my grandmother but unverified by outside research, people would also knit secret anti-Nazi signals in the sweaters.

Also, apparently my aunt (b. 1939) had this anti-fascist bib my grandmother's cousin made for her. It was lost at some point, but I am extremely curious as to what made it anti-fascist. In my imagination it's a swastika with a red circle and slash through it, ala a no smoking sign.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 8:34 AM
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I believe there are surviving knitted objects from 13 c. Spain. Did the Hansa trade in knitwear in addition to cloth?

Fair Isle patterns were definitely influenced by increased contact with Norway during the Nazi occupation. All over and star motifs became much more popular, but I don't know if they incorporated code...


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 9:37 AM
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THIS CHUNKY SWEATER KILLS FASCISTS.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 9:41 AM
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But seriously, what genius to make the wearing of big sweaters anti-Nazi in Norway.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 9:42 AM
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236. Not least because it would cause all the Quislings to die of cold in winter.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 9:43 AM
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235-237: Like


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 10:18 AM
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Handwoven, woolen-spun wool on the bias is pretty damn stretchy. (Also, if you cut plaid that way, you get the diagonal pattern we still knit into socks as argyle.)

They should have just gone back 200 years or so and announced that English national dress was Regency clothing. Cutaway coats, breeches, stocks. Possibly powdered wigs. That would look rather smart.

There are lots of exceptions, but one of the practical differences between indubitably traditional clothing and mmmm fashionable clothing is whether you have to cut and fit it. Clothes made of rectangles with the occasional gusset are easier to loan and grow into and make and remake and mend and etc etc etc.

I am, of course, entirely in favor of high-waisted trousers back into frequent wear, under whatever name. Hair-chalking is *already* back.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 2:17 PM
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I linked to possible ancient Roman knitting on one of the other places. I'm not convinced, but it's clever. (None of the other explanations are convincing either. Great puzzle.)


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 2:19 PM
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Hair-chalking is *already* back.

That explains why my hair is turning white in places.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 2:30 PM
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136: don't forget the version in which Japanese stereotypes are traded in for Latino ones: Mikado es Su Kado.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 2:41 PM
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That was great.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 2:44 PM
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I should try argyle socks sometime, if I ever make it out of the lace shawl I'm fighting with now alive.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 2:54 PM
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I've worn them before. It's not difficult.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 3:06 PM
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242 made me bust out laughing.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 3:06 PM
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Ha!


Posted by: lourdes kayak | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 3:29 PM
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242 - love.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 3:52 PM
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Kinda feels like one blow job too many at this point but 242 really is very good.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 3:55 PM
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Aw, I'll take all the blowjobs good will I can get.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 4:15 PM
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I nominate 235 for new hovertext.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 4:20 PM
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I'm still humming `Hey, little sister -- OATMEAL!' (Dwarf Lord bought me a box of that porage despite our having Bob's Red Mill oats by the fifty pound sack. I gave it to my mother to tide her over until the next Outlander novel.)


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 4:30 PM
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140 is not only great, but I'd never read that poem before. Not enough poems end in unrubbish question marks.


Posted by: conflated | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 5:18 PM
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Millay is underrated, or so I used to think when I had opinions about such things.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 6:24 PM
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I concur!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 6:29 PM
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Ah my friends! me three.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 7:17 PM
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I've touted her (and that poem) previously on this here very blog.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 7:25 PM
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Say, Oudemia, what's your anthem?


Posted by: David the Unfogged Commenter | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 7:30 PM
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The world stands out on either side
No wider than the heart is wide.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 7:30 PM
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233: Maybe some sort of charity product? I remember learning in the Dutch Resistance Museum that many of the hundreds of thousands of people in hiding toward the end of the occupation took up crafts, like making postcards, that could be sold for solidarity in workplaces and so forth.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 7:44 PM
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Didn't we used to have a Dutch commenter? I remember once passing on the standard modern Canadian opinion, that the Canadian Army's long struggle to clear the Germans from the Scheldt estuary was a stupid, unneccesary waste. One of my uncles had been killed, another damaged, inside and out, beyond full recovery.

He rebuked my opinion, saying that that campaign had saved thousands of Dutch lives from starvation. I was duly chastened.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 8:12 PM
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Was looking for something else and ran across this:

"After six months held by the Nazis in a prisoner of war camp, Major Alexis Casdagli was handed a piece of canvas by a fellow inmate. Pinching red and blue thread from a disintegrating pullover belonging to an elderly Cretan general, Casdagli passed the long hours in captivity by painstakingly creating a sampler in cross-stitch. Around decorative swastikas and a banal inscription saying he completed his work in December 1941, the British officer stitched a border of irregular dots and dashes. Over the next four years his work was displayed at the four camps in Germany where he was imprisoned, and his Nazi captors never once deciphered the messages threaded in Morse code: "God Save the King" and "Fuck Hitler"."

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2011/sep/03/tony-casdagli-father-stitching-nazis

May be in one of the links above.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 07-25-14 9:23 PM
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belatedly back to the Mikado, a righteous jeremiad against the Seattle G&S society on the grounds that they're missing the point of The Mikado itself. Illustrated with damningly incompetent looking stills from the current G&S production. Also, clips of a production done in Edwardian English style.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 12:57 AM
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THIS CHUNKY SWEATER KILLS FASCISTS.

I...now really want a sweater that says this.

260

That could be. I should have asked more about it when I was younger. I do know my grandmother got some pushback from this cousin for reproducing when she did, in part because of a "who can bring a child into a world like this" attitude and in part I think because her cousin thought "Aryan" women should abstain from reproducing as long as Hitler was promoting a pro-natalist message.

261

My other grandmother had a cousin who married a hero of the Dutch resistance, and they immigrated to the US some time after the War. Shortly after, he drowned in a tragic ice skating accident. I always figured some deity had a very black sense of humor. Imagine surviving in the Dutch resistance only to be killed ice skating.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 2:51 AM
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257: "She seems to have caught more flak from the literary critics for supporting democracy than Ezra Pound did for championing fascism."


Posted by: conflated | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 2:52 AM
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261. That would be Martin Wisse. Still swings by from time to time, though less frequently.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 2:53 AM
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The link in 263 actually makes me interested in seeing The Mikado.


Posted by: torrey pine | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 8:12 AM
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I love that Three Little Maids scene from TT so very much. It is surely one of the best movies about theater.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 8:56 AM
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Yeah, still here.

The Schelde campaign, apart from of course clearing the approach to Antwerpen and therefore securing the quicker transfer of supplies to the Allied forces indeed made a huge difference to the liberated part of the Netherlands, including the paternal branch of my family, considering the famine that happened in the non-occupied part.



Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 07-26-14 9:20 AM
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I remember once passing on the standard modern Canadian opinion, that the Canadian Army's long struggle to clear the Germans from the Scheldt estuary was a stupid, unneccesary waste. One of my uncles had been killed, another damaged, inside and out, beyond full recovery.

One of my grandfathers was MO for a British infantry battalion in the Canadian Army during the Scheldt campaign. Pretty nasty stuff - we have the letters he wrote to his parents ("All fine here, saw someone from the next village the other day, weather a bit driech, I hope the church choir is going well") and to his friends ("halfway through that bit of emergency throat surgery someone with an 88mm started to shell the other end of the barn which I was using as a dressing station, which was tiresome. Fortunately the holes in the walls let in enough light from the burning village that I was able to continue even after my hurricane lantern had been smashed").


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-28-14 4:40 AM
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