A fine day all around, if a tad chilly when the wind came up. Overcast and barren, but somehow it’s moving towards festiveness. Mandatory festiveness, this being The Season, or almost The Season. Did a four-store sweep on Monday night for groceries and items, and the dominant theme, if there is one, is sacrificial poultry. Some ornamental corn. Gourds, which straddle Halloween and Thanksgiving. No cornucopias, since we’ve given up on that one as difficult to maintain and also impossible to purchase, being mythical. The story goes thus: Zeus, as a baby, snapped off the horn of the goat who was suckling him while he was being concealed from murderous baby-eating daddy Kronos, and since he was Zeus and had Powers, food spilled from the horn. Another story says Hercules broke it off the head of a river god. Whatever its origins, it became associated with the Roman goddess Abundantia, who was wholly invented for the Roman Imperial state religion, and had no real backstory.

I wonder if they rolled out new gods like a new TV season. Coming this fall - Autumnia! Harvestia! Snowiatrix!

The story of the Roman state religion is fascinating, and if you read any of the historical novels they have to make a decision: do the characters really believe any of this? The big heavy-duty gods, probably. The minor ones who have interesting roles woven into the culture, sure. But it’s just all over the road, and the priestly jobs were handed out as political favors, and the augurs are always depicted as being theatrical hacks or harmlessly corrupt fellows who will quarter the sky and find whatever augury you wish.

You can spend all day on the wikipedia entry for the Roman religion. We worship Jupiter! Or Jove, if you wish. Also, the Sun! Yes, we’re all big fans of Sol Invictus now! The soldiers love him. They used to love Mithrias - heck, maybe some still do. Hey, have you heard of the Great Goddess? The ladies who lunch are big into her, but she’s not Jove’s wife.


Rome officially adopted her cult during the Second Punic War (218 to 201 BC), after dire prodigies, including a meteor shower, a failed harvest and famine, seemed to warn of Rome's imminent defeat.

Seems to me any imported cult might have slipped in under the wire at that time. Also:

Rome's strictures against castration and citizen participation in Magna Mater's cult limited both the number and kind of her initiates.

I’d think the castration requirement might be a self-limiting factor all by itself.








I’ve been watching the new “Jack Ryan” series on Amazon. As we always say here: NOT A REVIEW. This is about ancillary things. If it were a review, I’d say “Watch ‘Narcos.’ instead. This is as silly and predictable as the first season was solid.” But it’s not a review, so you won’t see phrases like “rote TV tripe where the CIA agents open an encrypted laptop and type a lot and get all the financial information that leads to the top, straight to the top, I tell you, with a few urgent keystrokes.”

No, it’s not a review, so we don’t have to confront the Naomi Rapace issue. She is short and fierce. Fierce! She is also a highly-trained bad-spy-type agent for hire who roams the world doing the Dark Things along with her handsome boyfriend, who is cold and SUPER CAPABLE and also does the Dark Things for money. We would note, if this was a review, that she has a heart of gold when it comes to Jack Ryan because he is Jim from The Office and hence is fundamentally decent and disarming. But I wish it was a review, because it would be an excellent time to note something, again:

It is ridiculous when 4’9” women disable 6’2” slabs of beef with their Special Ninja Kicks, especially if the beef-slab is a professional bodyguard-type guy who also takes money for doing the Dark Things and also has a big gun. It has to happen in modern dramas because yay she is a badass and has kewl lewks too yassss, but gawd please give it up. The other Strong Female is a politician who has a dead husband because it’s tragic, and young kids who do not realize that their appearance in the story means they will be in peril in episode seven.

The other female architype in the show is a Sassy! Ambassador with luscious locks. I seem to remember the previous show had female characters who were good at their jobs at the CIA and burrowed away and analyzed and concluded, if I’m not mistaking it for some other interchangeable show where people look very serious around bulletin boards pinned with mugshots of bad guys, and have a theory that’s shot down by Upstairs but thank god there’s a middle-level guy who is willing to spend some juice, if it comes to that, and lets them continue with their theory, but he’s going to need to see some results, dammit.

If this was a review it might note the stupidest line uttered on any streaming media platform in late 2019: Jack Ryan, learning that the Right-wing nationalist government of . . . VENEZUELA, okay, I’m trying to get that potato down my windpipe, well, Jack learns the assassination of a US Senator is being blamed on a group fighting the gobermen, as they say “government” down there. The group is hard left-wing, because of course that’s the sitch down in Venezuela now, and he says:

“The FLA is a small hard-left splinter group. Anti-Americanism isn’t in their DNA.”

Uh -

It might be entirely plausible to have a guerrilla group fighting Chavism because it was insufficiently murderous, and did not empty out the cities to put the soft-handed spectacle-wearing intellectual glasses in agricultural camps where they worked until they died, and it is possible this group would be so focused on removing the insufficiently collective government of Maduro, and was so localized in their concerns that they gave little thought to the United States, and it is possible that such a group might have an animus towards the US when they stopped for a smoke and tossed around fundamental ideas, but -

The idea that a CIA analysts would say “Anti-Americanism is in the DNA of the hard left guerrilla movements” suggests:

The writers are idiots

The writers are willfully obscuring a truth

Note: this is not an either-or choice.




It’s 1922.

We’ve seen ads before from the Father of Tree Surgery:.

It was a new term, I suspect, and led to vaudeville jokes about not being able to get into a real medical school, or the doctor who’s come to saw off your limb is a surgeon, sure, but a Tree Surgeon.


The Delicate Illusion gives you the sixth sense of eye-eating:


Real linens offend good taste when used for moist foods.

Doesn’t exactly look like the epitome of ventilation to me.


Also: “Self-hanging.” Speaking on behalf of everyone who’s put up shades: rrrrright.

If it’s White, it’s Sanitary:

Not mentioned in the ad, although the name suggests people might know this about the firm:

Adrian Janes (February 4, 1798 - March 2, 1869) was the owner of the iron foundry Janes, Kirtland & Co. in The Bronx, New York, the company which created iron work for the Bow Bridge in Central Park, the railings of the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Capitol dome of the United States Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.

Another reminder that the 20s was not Art Deco, but often fussy or spindly or brocaded.

This is a holdover of the Arts and Crafts movement, I think.

100 years, and not much has changed; you might find this in a porch today

The building is gone.

That stuff wouldn’t fly today. Also, flies! Put on some screens, won’t you?


Did you have trouble sleeping? Maybe it was bed-stench

Note: what was the common thread, so to speak, in most of these ads? New York as a manufacturing and retail center for furniture and home fashions. Today? No more.


The last of Briggs! Yes, we run out of Briggs before we run out of year. That's not entirely correct - I have nine weeks of updates on another feature of his, but it'll wait for some other day. What will replace him? It's an old friend. Any guesses?




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