Andare, Partire, Tornare


Frontier House Madness!

Ok, it seems like everybody is talking about "Frontier House" now, but I want to point out that I had intended to write about it ever since last night when the show was over. So I am *not* a copycat. Nyyyah.

Let's face it, only on PBS can you get a video diary of a man on a toilet complaining about how all the beans are giving him the screaming mimis. Try to find any of those glossy folk on "Real World" confessing to something so gross.

Apparently men on the prarie bitched endlessly in 1883. My boss pointed out that even while doing the video diaries, the women are churning butter or washing clothes, while the men's video diaries show them either on the pot (see above) or parking it in the prarie grass while they talk. Not to say they don't work hard - but it seems like the women are much better at always having a task to hand.

Our costume curator is totally irate about the clothing situation. She's upset that the women apparently were only given the formal corsets, which are very stiff, and which were only worn under a good dress, when they should have also been given the more light-weight ones that would act more like an ordinary bra. The scene of the woman washing clothes wearing a corset and no chemise under it nearly sent her through the roof - firstly, it would be vastly uncomfortable, because it would chafe the skin horribly, secondly the corset would be ruined by sweat and dirt. You wash the chemise easily, and the corset stays clean, plus there's no unsightly bulging out as was happening. She also mumbled darkly about "Peter Pan collars" on some of the dresses. Very "Little House on the Prarie," apparently. And the big hats on the people at the wedding - hats at that point were little, and sat at the back of the head. None of the Holly GoLightly stuff that you saw on some of the wedding guests. I'm not even going to mention Robinson Creuso, running around in cutoffs, or the young girl who is wearing her skirt as a low-rider and her chemise up high, so she gets the full prarie "Brittney Spears" look working.

Now, of course, none of these people know that they're not even close to wearing their clothes as they normally would be, but the curator's point was that surely this is part of the whole experience - a woman who walked into a general store dressed as the women did would have been assumed to be far worse than whores - they would have been considered demented to boot. Middle class values, out on the prarie, are part of what the show is trying to replicate.

Note that none of this prevents any of us from enjoying the whole thing immensely, even though the whining is ridiculous. But the women on "1900 House" was far more irritating. As our curator said, "She got totally up my nose!" And the whole stealing off to barter with the modern neighbors - not fair, but then as my boss pointed out, they aren't given any guns to go off and take down any critters, which would have been done to supplement their diet, so maybe bartering for some elkburgers isn't such a big deal.

Reading _Linden Hills_, an excellent book I first read for AP English my senior year of high school. It's a resetting of Dante's _Inferno_ in a wealthy black neighborhood, with a very sinister Satan figure and two boys wandering through the various levels, witnessing the descent of the people trapped inside it. It's by Gloria Naylor, who wrote _The Women of Brewster Place_, which I haven't read yet, and it's just a very good book. Interesting but very readable - not weirdly pretentious like some literature tends to be.

Also reading Juvenal's _Satires_ - a very fun translation from 1958. I'm going to have to poke around and see how other translations fare, because this one keeps the fun but sacrifices some of the authenticity in favor of translating the joke, I think. For crying out loud, it mentions Elvis...

Juvenal is awesome. Very bitter, very scathingly funny, against everything and always longing for the good old days.

From Satire XIV: moral education by example

"The greatest reverence is due to a child! If you are contemplating a disgraceful act, despise not your child's tender years, but let your infant son act as a check upon your purpose of sinning. For if, at some future time, he shall have done anything to deserve the censor's wrath, and show himself like you, not in person only and in face, but also the true son of your morals, and one who, by following your footsteps, adds deeper guilt to your crimes -- then, forsooth! you will reprove and chastise him with clamorous bitterness, and then set about altering your will. Yet how dare you assume the front severe, and license of a parent's speech; you, who yourself, though old, do worse than this..."

2:30 p.m. - 2002-05-01


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