Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Interview with Chris Avellone

This is an excellent interview with Chris Avellone, wherein he discusses how Fallout: New Vegas and its DLCs were created - the steps designers go through, etc., things he's learned in the industry - such as not to foreshadow future games as they did in Knights of the Old Republic 2 since 3 was never made, and how to break into the industry - example: being a modder with an extremely popular download rank is a plus.

You also learn some cool trivia, like Chris A. wrote Lanius and Rose of Sharon Cassidy, and he attended William & Mary and Virginia Tech.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Instantaneous Chocolate

I love old advertisements. It's inevitable that when I'm researching one thing, I go off on tangents because I've discovered something else. This time it's: INSTANTANEOUS CHOCOLATE - THE GREATEST INVENTION OF THE AGE.

Yes, I'd support instant cocoa as one of the wonders of the modern age, especially the "add water" kind. Warming up milk can be annoyingly difficult compared to putting the kettle on for hot water.

Sliced bread is pretty nifty, too. You know the expression "greatest thing since sliced bread"? Before you had to slice your own loaf, which can be problematic if you can't cut in a straight line both across and down.

What are some other food inventions you'd like to nominate?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Roman Intaglios

Aren't these gorgeous? They are ancient Roman intaglios -- tiny gemstones for rings or other jewelry. A person hand carved these figures into the stone. No laser. No sophisticated magnifying device.

See how tiny?
I love these. The craftsmanship amazes me.
You can see many of these intaglios at the Roman Legion Museum in Caerleon, Wales.

Photo Credits:  The top image is from @RomanCaerleon and the bottom image is from http://www.antique-rings.co.uk/roman.htm

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Roman Dice Tower

"You can just see the dice tower on the table, it has a little set of stairs for the dice to roll down." - @RomanCaerleon, http://twitpic.com/7rxa04

This device prevented cheating by providing a uniform way by which the dice were thrown.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Weird Uses for Coffee

So, wanna do other things with your coffee besides drink it?  Me neither.  But here are some theoretical uses for your coffee, from Yahoo Shine:

Reduce cellulite Pricey cellulite creams almost always have one major ingredient in common: caffeine, which supposedly enhances fat metabolism, reducing the appearance of these fatty pockets under the skin. To make your own coffee cellulite treatment at home, mix warm used coffee grounds with coconut oil and rub it onto your skin in circular motions for a few minutes before rinsing. 

Erase smells on your hands
 Garlic, salmon, cilantro - there are some things that smell delicious when cooking, but aren't so pleasant hours later when they linger on your hands. Get rid of them by rubbing a handful of used coffee grounds on your hands and rinsing with warm water. 

Get shiny hair Who doesn't want shiny, healthy-looking hair? Coffee is often recommended as a simple, natural treatment to make hair extra-glossy. Brew up an extra-strong pot, let it cool and apply it to your dry, clean hair. Leave it on for at least twenty minutes, then rinse. Keep it up once a week or so for best results. 

Secret recipe ingredient Just a little hint of coffee can be the ingredient that becomes your undisclosed "magic touch" in foods like chili, ice cream and chocolate cake. Use a little bit as a marinade for steaks and not only will it make them unbelievably tender, it'll also provide a hint of deep, smoky flavor. 

Natural dye The natural pigments in coffee make it a great natural dye for fabric, paper, Easter eggs - even your hair. Brush paper with strong brew and let it dry, or soak fabric items in hot coffee. The results won't be color-fast, and may bleed out onto other items, so it's best to use this on items that won't be washed very often if at all. Using coffee as a hair shine treatment, as previously mentioned, may temporarily lend a rich, dark tint to your hair. 

[This is my new excuse for when I spill coffee on myself. I'm just using it as a natural clothing dye.]

Fertilize plants Acid-loving plants will thank you for sprinkling your used coffee grounds around their roots. Azaleas, blueberry shrubs and rhododendrons are just a few of the plants that flourish when treated with coffee thanks to all those nutrients. You can also dilute the leftover coffee in your mug and pour it right into your potted plants (as long as you don't use cream and sugar, of course!) 

Keep cats out of your garden
 To you, that little garden in your yard is a beautiful source of fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables, but to seemingly every cat in a five-mile radius, it's a giant, irresistible litter box. Just use the trick mentioned above, sprinkling used coffee grounds on the soil, and cats will want nothing to do with it. 

[One of my cats is happy to lie in ground coffee - if it spills, he'll roll over in it - so I'm not sure if that would actually work.]

For more "unusual uses" for coffee, click the Yahoo link at the start of this article.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pointing Out the Emperor's (lack of) Clothes

Say you're reading a new non-fiction book. Say you've met the author. Say the topic is a special subject of yours. Not that you, like, obsess over it.


Not enough to make your relatives worried.

You've just read every single piece of primary source material that you can find. Sat long hours in archives. Bothered librarians to fetch out dusty tomes that cannot leave the room and you really should be using gloves to handle.


You Know about this subject. And in reading this book, you realize that it's...umm.... Not Entirely Free of Errors. Yes. Let's put it like that.

Now, say you have been thinking about writing something on this very same topic. Because you have knowledge to share.

Should you address these errors in your work? In case anyone has read the other book and thinks they're true? Or should you ignore the other book's existence?

In academia, it's fine to politely disprove other people's theories, etc. Or point out sloppy research. But with popular (non-scholarly) non-fiction, would doing so seem like sour grapes?

What do you think?

Friday, November 25, 2011

History vs Historical Fiction

I've got a book idea that could be written as straight true crime historical non-fiction or mystery/romance historical fiction.

Between those two genres, which would you be more likely to read:  history (non-fiction) or historical fiction?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thoughts on Skyrim and Dragon Age

Welcome to Skyrim. This place probably needs no introduction amongst my readers, right? We're all bleary-eyed from having stayed up too late playing the latest in the Elder Scrolls franchise.

My fella asked if I was riding a draft horse and I proceeded to tell him about how Skyrim horses are sturdy and built for endurance because of the local terrain etc etc. He asked how I knew all this. I told him I'd been living in Skyrim for a while now.

So you can take it as read that I love Skyrim. Even though the giant Frostbite Spiders are entirely too realistic.
You do not want to see that thing charging at you - first person point of view, mind!

Of course, it's worse when they sneak up on you. Turn around and WHAM there's a giant spider IN YOUR FACE.

I hear there's a No-Spiders mod for PC players. I'm a PS3 player, so I'm stuck with 'em. Solution? Temporarily turn gameplay to "Novice" and hit 'em with a Dwarven Battle Axe. Results in minimum amount of spider face-time.

As realistic as Skyrim is, I must admit I felt more You Are There in Rage.

Rage feels like you're holding a video camera in front of your face. You're literally right there.

So glad that game didn't have spiders.

Some of my friends criticized Rage's role-playing aspect. I was lenient on that because it's listed as a First Person Shooter, and that's really what it is. A First Person Shooter with Talking.

Because my friends are correct, the role-playing aspect is weak - you don't get to know anyone very well considering what they want you to do for them; you risk your life on the slimmest acquaintance and you choose sides without much inquiry on your part. One of my friends diagnosed the player character as "pants-on-head-stupid."

I was reminded of this when playing one of the quests in Skyrim. My only option to get the quest moving forward again was... well, I said to my screen, "What? Am I pants-on-head-stupid?"

And it struck me that many of the criticisms that were leveled at Rage are valid against Skyrim as well. You risk your life on the slimmest acquaintance. You're asked to choose sides before knowing much about either.

But what really gets me is the lack of dialogue options. I know things. And yet there are no options to tell anyone. I know the identity of a secret Thalmor agent. Obviously I must be able to tell someone at some point. But why wouldn't I tell them now?

That's a small frustration, though. I think my biggest criticism of Skyrim is that we don't get to know anyone very well. And this is important, because Skyrim IS a Role-Playing Game.

I want to know - and like - the characters I'm fighting for. For me, what differentiates a Role-Playing Game from other genres is the emotional investment. I expect there to be a story and I want to feel something because of my role in that story.

This was something Dragon Age 2 did spectacularly. I care about all the people in my party. I feel for them, and I want them to like me. Especially Fenris and Anders. (cough, cough)

Which brings up ROMANCE. Nobody does romance like the Dragon Age team. There's flirting and witty dialogue and it's genuinely fun.

Sidebar - have you seen the sexy cutscenes in Dragon Age Origins? Those were awesome!! Why don't other games do this? Why didn't Dragon Age 2 do this? I expect sexy cutscenes in Dragon Age 3!! Developers, take note!!

Back to romance in Dragon Age 2:  However you feel about romancing Anders and how that complicates your response to Anders' actions - the point is that you do feel it. Your emotions are invested in this game.

I don't feel anything about anyone in Skyrim. (Except my horse. Anyone kills my horse, I hit reload save.)

Currently there is nothing stopping this Dragonborn from saying, y'know, y'all are about as inviting as this place, which is unrelentingly snowy and cold, and Alduin actually sounded pretty intelligent so I'm having a moral crisis over slaying all these rare beasts, therefore I'm riding south in search of a beach. Good luck with whatever.

After all, I've got plenty of reading material - Cats of Skyrim, Thief of Virtue. Maybe I'll stop in Cyrodiil and see if they can find a copy of Hard in Hightown for me.

Monday, November 21, 2011

First Massachusetts Coffee License

Look! It's a piece of coffee history, one of my favorite kinds of history.
And the honor of possessing the first coffee & chocolate license in Massachusetts - possibly in the colonies - goes to a woman:  Dorothy Jones in 1670.
Yay for enterprising colonial women who know the value of providing coffee and chocolate!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Fun Coffee Facts

While I disagree with Seattle being the best coffee city solely because Starbucks started there, the rest of this graphic is pretty cool.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Bored at the Library? Don't Ruin the Floors

Yes, do please go home and masturbate if you are bored. Or over-excited by the University of St. Andrews Library collection.

I love how they add to enquire at the Library Help Desk if you have any questions. Being a librarian myself, I can imagine the Help Desk actually being prepared for such enquiries - having a binder of Places Where It Is Acceptable To Masturbate and Masturbation Etiquette and so forth.

And, of course, now I'm wondering if this is a SECRET, UNRECOGNIZED PROBLEM at American universities. Is this why tuition fees are going up? Professional cleaning for the excessive amount of semen stain on university library floors?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Ziggy's Pumpkin Pie

One of my favorite things about Autumn is pumpkin pie. Does this look delicious or what? This was the pie we bought last year from Ziggy's. (Seconds before it was devoured.) We're buying two this year. Nom nom nom...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Most Unique Use of Figural Cat Ceramic Ever

Container; Medical
ceramic: hard paste porcelain, underglaze cobalt enamel, overglaze black enamel, iron slip
Historical Deerfield

Saturday, November 12, 2011

What Happens In Freeside Available as PDF or Mobi

Yes, I have converted What Happens In Freeside Stays (the first story in the What Happens In Freeside fanfic universe) to pdf and mobi (for Kindle readers). Just scroll to the bottom of the Books page on my website and there it is. Enjoy!

For those of you who don't know, this is a male/male romance between Vulpes Inculta and Arcade Gannon of Fallout: New Vegas. It is fan fiction. It is full of derp. And fanged fluffiness. And is sorta kinky because it was inspired from a prompt on the Fallout kinkmeme. This isn't everyone's cup of tea, and I definitely recommend you avoid it if it doesn't sound fun to you.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Remembrance Day 11-11-11-11

I originally published this Veteran's Day/Remembrance Day post 2 years ago. Figure it could use a re-run, especially as this Remembrance Day is 11-11-11-11

The Red Poppy is the symbol of Remembrance Day, 11 NovemberRemembrance Day was started in 1919 as Armistice Day, to honor the end of The Great WarThe War to End Wars.

Which came to be known as World War I.

After World War II, the name was changed to Remembrance Day to honor the dead of all wars.

This year is the 91st (2011 = 93rd) anniversary of the end of World War I. Did you realize that? I only know because last year - the 90th anniversary - was covered extensively by the BBC. They put up amazing content on the BBC website. Why don't US news organizations have similar content?

Possibly because in the US this is known as Veterans' Day, when we honor living veterans of war. The US has Memorial Day to honor its war dead.

Personally, I think we should nominate another day as Veterans' Day and return November 11 to Remembrance Day. Why? I am so glad you asked.....

We are traveling back in time to the final days of The Great War (this is "great" as in BIG HUGE GINORMOUS, not great as in cool). No one is winning and the cost in human lives has been enormous. It is agreed between the warring nations that an armistice should be called. An armistice is when countries just stop fighting. No one is the winner. No one is the loser. They just stop.  This cease-fire is signed at 5:00am on the 11th day of November, 1918.

But the war didn't end.

Because this had been The War To End All Wars. Millions of people had died.

Quoting from the 
Imperial War Museum:

"One in three families in Britain had a loved one killed, wounded or taken prisoner. In other warring nations, the figures were even higher; France lost nearly a million and a half men – double that of Britain – while nearly two million Germans and a similar number of Russians died."

They couldn't just end the war and walk away - not with all those dead. Their deaths had to mean something. There had to be something, something memorable, that people could point to and say, "This is when the last war ended."

They chose 11-11-11. War would end at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month

So they KEPT THE WAR GOING until 11:00 amMEN DIED so that we would have the symbol 11-11-11

Of course, we all know war didn't end. But what is even more tragic is the fact that soldiers died for a symbol that is no longer remembered in the US.

Quoting from the BBC

"The respected American author Joseph E Persico has calculated a shocking figure that the final day of WWI would produce nearly 11,000 casualtiesmore than those killed, wounded or missing on D-Day, when Allied forces landed en masse on the shores of occupied France almost 27 years later."

Wrap your mind around that, if you can.

And if that didn't blow your mind, this will: Again quoting the same BBC article

"What is worse is that hundreds of these soldiers would lose their lives thrown into action by generals who knew that the Armistice had already been signed."


For example, the 89th American Division was sent to take the town of Stenay by a general who knew the Armistice had been signed, but he'd heard that Stenay had bathing facilities. And apparently he couldn't wait until 11am.

"That lunatic decision cost something like 300 casualties, many of them battle deaths, for an inconceivable reason," says Mr Persico.

Those were American casualties, did you notice? They died because of a "lunatic decision" and for a symbol of which most Americans aren't even aware.

In fact, the last soldier killed in action in World War I was an American boy from Baltimore. He was shot at 10:59am. His name was Henry Gunther.

Does he get a mention over here? Not that I'm aware of. We don't even have a moment of silence at 11:00am. Because it isn't Remembrance Day for us. It's Veteran's Day.

"No man surely has so short a memory as the American." - Rebecca H. Davis

Prove her wrong. Today, remember poor Henry and all the others who died for 11-11-11.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Dick's Swell Coffee

Eight O'Clock Coffee is still sold in grocery stores in the US, I think. I am going to have to go buy some JUST BECAUSE of this ad. In fact, I want to believe that men secretly gather together and drink coffee from full china/silver serving sets and the one who pours gets to wear the apron. I WANT TO BELIEVE.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Urban Dictionary Definition of Susanne

Whoever wrote this, you clearly have perfectly correct insight into the Susannes of the world and, on our behalf, I would like to offer you a bouquet of virtual cupcakes.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Song from The Coffee House

Who hasn't wanted to sing a song about coffee?

The original scan was blurry, so this is the best I could do, but those of you who can read sheet music can at least hum or play the melody even if the words are difficult to decipher.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Remember the Fifth of November

If you think of Guy Fawkes, you probably think of this mask.

You might think of a man "who died for what he believed in." (per Fawkes from Fallout 3)

You might not realize his fame comes from, as Wikipedia puts it, "a failed conspiracy by a group of provincial English Catholics to assassinate the Protestant King James I of England (James VI of Scotland) and replace him with a Catholic head of state."

This scheme, known as the Gunpowder Plot, was discovered 5 November 1605 when Guy Fawkes was caught with explosives underneath the House of Lords.

In celebration of the Plot's failure, the citizenry lit bonfires, leading to the popular name of this British holiday - Bonfire Night. Fireworks are also on prominent display.

It used to be that Bonfire Night was Britain's big autumn celebration. Halloween was not an important holiday in the UK until very recently, when Americanization finally conquered the indigenous customs. (But hey, who can hold out long against the idea of free candy, right?)

Of course, if you participated in Bonfire Night, you could get free money. Children would build effigies of Guy Fawkes (to burn on November 5th) and, in the days running up to the holiday, ask for donations toward funding their firework purchases. The traditional phrase to employ for this is: "Penny for the Guy?"

By paddy patterson from Ayr, Scotland (penny for the guy) [CC-BY-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Back when Britain was the one doing the conquering, the American colonies celebrated Bonfire Night, too. In fact, it was celebrated in Salem Massachusetts as late as 1817. That's after two wars against the British, mind. Salem likes its parties.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Hugh Laurie and Pug

I don't know where this is from, but it's Hugh Laurie and a PUG
What could be better?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Dogs of Fallout: New Vegas' Playing Cards

I love how Lupa gets her own card.
Queen, no less!
Although since women aren't allowed to have positions of power in the legion, I guess it's pretty telling that they have to go to a dog for the Queen card. Gives you some insight into that faction.

Also - Rex!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

All Hallows and Halloween

Okay. You may or may not be aware of this movement to replace Halloween with JesusWeen.

What is particularly laughable about this campaign, other than the rather unfortunate-sounding name, is the fact that clearly the organizers have no idea what the Hallo in Halloween means: It's from hallows. As in saints.

Because today, November 1st, is All Saints' Day.

All Saints' Day is a religious feast day in honor of all saints, "known and unknown." All Souls' Day follows it on November 2nd and, just like it sounds, is a commemoration of those who have departed. This is a very spiritually positive series of days.

So why do we associate the night before All Hallows' (Saints')---which would be All Hallows' Eve (Hallow'een)---with tricks and the devil and whatnot?

Traditionally this night was regarded as the best time for divination games, possibly as hold-over from the pagan holiday of Samhain, when the veil between this and the Otherworld was thinnest. These games often revolved around predicting the occupation of your future husband, something of vital importance to girls in the past, when they could not hold occupations themselves and their status in life would rely upon their husband's. (Such divination games led to the witch hysteria in Salem, by the way.)
It was also thought that spirits roamed the land during Samhain---not bad spirits, all spirits. But since the day was for saints, it is easy to see how the night might come to be associated with bad spirits.

In 20th century America, children would take the role of bad spirits and get up to mischief (Mischief Night) by playing tricks and pranks on their neighbors. The whole "bribe those children with candy" idea wasn't a nation-wide movement until the 1950s, when the night's emphasis was deliberately shifted from tricks to treats to make Halloween a more family-friendly (and less destructive) event.

So it's kinda funny that now there are people who think Halloween isn't family-friendly at all.

But what could be more wholesome than the traditional Halloween game of bobbing for apples, right?

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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Witches of Salem

Witches have become an intrinsic part of Salem, Massachusetts.
You don't see ads like the above anymore, of course. Although that sort of positive, Witches Can Help philosophy is much present. Very unlike the ad I describe in HIDDEN HISTORY OF SALEM (an ad that uses the hanging of Salem witches to sell a product and can be found if you search my website - it's hidden).
You can't find the famous Witch Spoon at Daniel Low anymore (the building currently houses Rockafella's) but you can find all sorts of authentic experiences, such as at the Witch House
where witch trials' Judge Jonathan Corwin lived. 
Or you can sit in the Salem Witch Trials Memorial and commune with the spirits of those who died.
Each of the stones jutting from the walls represents a person, and is inscribed with their name and the date they were hanged (or in one case, crushed). We don't know where their actual bodies are, or even where they were executed (something I address in HIDDEN HISTORY).

You can also learn to be a witch from the Official Witch of Salem herself

No, not like that.

Witchcraft involves studying and classes and workshops. Not near Salem? Check out Laurie Cabot, our Official Witch on YouTube.

Of course, some would rather Salem not focus on the witch aspect so much, but when your local police department's official patch looks like this:
You should really just accept that witches and Salem go together and are here to stay.


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Solving Bioshock Cats on National Cat Day

Today, October 29, is National Cat Day and to celebrate I shall share with you a partial SOLUTION to the BIOSHOCK Cats Mystery.

Including cats for the player to discover actually IS a game-within-the-game.

While it is still unknown who originally designed the black-and-white cat and put him/her in the original Bioshock, all the level designers of Bioshock 2 participated in finding fun places to stash kitties. And...

We have Steve Gaynor to thank for putting NAMED cats in Minerva's Cave.
All Hail Steve!!

There are THREE cats - one for each level of Minerva's Cave. The names of each feline honor someone important to the development of computing - which is of course very important in the Cave storyline. I found Babbage and Turing, you may remember.

Armed with this information, I set about to find the third kitty on my second playthrough - and discovered:

According to Wikipedia, Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace is recognized as the World’s First Computer Programmer, having written the first algorithm intended to be processed by a machine.
For whose computer did she write this? Charles Babbage’s.

Babbage called her the Enchantress of Numbers and wrote of her in his Passages from the Life of a Philosopher (1864):
I then suggested that she add some notes to Menabrea's memoir, an idea which was immediately adopted. We discussed together the various illustrations that might be introduced: I suggested several but the selection was entirely her own. So also was the algebraic working out of the different problems, except, indeed, that relating to the numbers of Bernoulli, which I had offered to do to save Lady Lovelace the trouble. This she sent back to me for an amendment, having detected a grave mistake which I had made in the process.
Fun facts:
 - Ada was the only legitimate child of the poet Lord Byron.
 - The computer language Ada created by the US Department of Defense is named after her.
 - The British Computer Society awards a medal in her name.
 - There is a movement to have an Ada Lovelace Day (which this year was October 7).

I didn't know any of that, so I am now a better informed person because of Bioshock's dead cats.  :)

Many thanks and virtual cupcakes to Steve for allowing me to interview him on the subject of virtual kitties. He's a wonderful fellow and you can follow his tumblr and his twitter.


Friday, October 28, 2011

Vulpes + Veronica = ?

A while back I saw a prompt on the Fallout kmeme to write Vulpes/Veronica and took it as a challenge to see if it could be done and still stay true to the characters' motives and persuasions.

The result was THIS.

In the ensuing discussion of the fic on the kmeme, I hypothesized how the child of a union between Vulpes and Veronica would look.

And a gloriously wonderful anonymous artist drew me this.

I shared it elsewhere already, and - as part of my realization that I've missed posting a bunch of Fallout artwork - I'm posting it here too.

If the artist would like to identify him/herself, I would be more than glad to post credits and links.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Set Sail For Horror

I commissioned Francesco Francavilla for something Lovecraftian with cats
and this is the fabulous, wickedly brilliant picture he created for me!!!

So I thought I'd share it with you, since it is Halloween-time.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Taliesin Murders

This is the story of how an ACTUAL CRAZY AXE MURDERER killed seven people - Wisconsin's worst act of mass murder until 2005, inspired a Thomas Wolfe story - as well as many an urban legend, and completely changed a style of architecture - yet most of us have probably never even heard of it. 

In fact, parts of what happened that day are still clouded with uncertainties. The author does a wonderful job of sifting through the various accounts, coming up with what seems to be the most reasonable reconstruction, and presenting you with all the evidence for you to make up your own mind. 

I'm giving five stars because I actually cried at the end. Whatever your opinions about Frank Lloyd Wright, this book will make you feel for him. 

As an aside, just because I think this is interesting, the murderer would not be subject to the death penalty through the justice system even back then. According to the author, "Wisconsin enjoys the nation's longest uninterrupted history of an out-right ban on capital punishment."

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Abducting Heiresses

Abduction is a popular storytelling device when it comes to historical romance, which isn't surprising since you can trace its place in romance literature right back to the Abduction of Persephone.

When you're talking historical romance set in England or Wales, abductors - and elopers, for that matter - are usually racing to Gretna Green in Scotland to take their vows.

Gretna Green was the Vegas of its day, in terms of quickie marriages. The marriage laws of England and Wales, requiring amongst other things parental consent for marriages of those under 21 years of age, did not apply in Scotland and Gretna Green was right across the border.

Photo by Niki Odolphie from Frome, England

But things that can seem romantic in fiction are often far from it in real life.

Edward Gibbon Wakefield, who is apparently something of a hero to New Zealand, tried his hand at heiress abduction in 1826.

He happened to hear of Ellen Turner, a beautiful 16 year old heiress, from an acquaintance who mentioned her as being a neighbor. So Wakefield moved to her neighborhood, learned the family's circumstances and habits, and then appeared at Ellen's school with a letter informing the headmistress that Ellen's ill father had taken a turn for the worse and the girl must accompany him at once.

This was entirely plausible - her father was sick, in an age of primitive medicine sudden deterioration was not uncommon, and a friend or servant would often be asked to carry an important letter (there being no FedEx service or the like).

So Ellen was packed off in Wakefield's carriage.

Which headed north to Scotland.

Now alone with her, Wakefield told the teen her father's business had collapsed, sheriff's officers were in pursuit of her family (for debt), and only through marrying him could she hope to save her father from jail and her family from the poor house. He said he would use his (nonexistent) fortune to save them, but only once he and she were wed.

Remembering that she was a sheltered 16 year old, in an age when women of her class were not taught anything about business and economics, trapped in a small space with a stranger - and Wakefield was known for being a smooth talker, it's pretty easy to see how she would come to believe him over the many hours to Gretna Green.

This is Wakefield & Ellen's marriage license:

Successfully married, Wakefield informed the Turners where to send his checks and promptly took his new wife off to France, where he thought he would be safe from any repercussions. He was wrong. Ellen's family contacted the French police.

Extradited, Wakefield stood trial at Lancaster Assizes, was convicted of abduction and sentenced to three years imprisonment.

This had no affect on his marriage, which was still valid.

An Act of Parliament was obtained to annul the marriage, so Ellen finally could be free.

(Yes, an Act of Parliament. You couldn't get out of a marriage without one. So those Regency romances you read with divorce treated as if it were nothing? Yeah. Not happening.)

Just so you know, some time after his release from prison, Wakefield relocated to the Australian colonies and did something more honorable with his life.

So why is today's post about heiress abductions?

Because today in Salem Massachusetts history:  October 25 1736 a Mr. McIntosh is bound at Salem court for trial, charged with attempting to abduct his two nieces, who are heiresses, and carry them off to England.

Heiress abductions happened in America, too.

Isn’t it cool when truth and fiction converge?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Roman Chariot Pug

Copyright ClaireLynn

This wonderful Roman chariot pug was part of Portland Oregon's PUGLANDIA event, which was held May 22, 2011 and raised funds for the Oregon Humane Society.