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« May 2004 | Main | July 2004 »

w June 11, 2004

Revisionist History

Well, I don't usually get frothy about something I see on television, but this just burns my bacon to no end. Gene and I have been recording PBS'
Colonial House, and have been literally screaming at the idiots that were picked to be on this project. At first it was funny, then it was annoying, now it's just blatantly stupid. These people appear to have not read the rules of the game and we get to watch them try to force their 21st century mores and convictions on 1628.

Folks. It DOESN'T WORK THAT WAY. Your job was to live as a 17th century settler in New England. Your job was not to rewrite history. It absolutely makes me see red to watch the lack of historical knowledge be justified by "individualism" or "reality"...no, this IS your reality. Your reality is that you live in 1628. I simply don't get it...were these families picked because they so clearly had no clue what they were getting into, thus providing entertainment? Were there really no rules beyond having to wear 17th century dress and eat maggoty oatmeal? This is shoddy history. It's not living history, it's a bunch of whinging, self-absorbed, selfish, obnoxious, ignorant brats having a camping trip where no one knows how to put up the tent and everyone eats all the beef jerky the first night and then bitches about why there's no 7-11 in the middle of the Maine wildnerness.

Seriously, I almost can't watch the rest of this show, although I'm keeping my fingers crossed that they all get the plague or dysentery or something. There's 17th century realism for you. History ain't pretty, folks...no matter how hard you try to shove round pegs into square holes.

**Addendum: We attempted to watch the final two episodes. I informed Gene that either we delete them or I would be forced to go as mad as Lady Macbeth. This is the biggest travesty of social history that I have ever seen...and I don't even need to see the final episode wherein the "Colonial House Company" passes judgement on the success of the colony. I *know* that even in the face of all the insane nonsense that went on, the colony will be found "successful" and they will all go on their merry way, patting themselves on the back for having had a true time travel experience.
Except that's not even close to the truth. Deciding to not attend Sabbath services because it conflicts with your 21st century beliefs wouldn't have resulted in you being allowed to stay home and get all bitchy with everyone about how unfair they are to you. No, you probably would have been burned as a witch, or at the very least, run out of town. Maybe that's what they were angling for, I don't know. Not taking the advice of the Cape merchant and clamming on the shore wouldn't have resulted in more free time to sleep in and argue about your status in the community...it would have meant that you starved. Creating a "school" for only a select group of young men wouldn't have led to the bloody establishment of a university, it would have meant that you starved. Colonial universities sprang up where there was more money, more established communities, less need for every available hand to be out in the damn fields or forests. Case in point -- Yale University was founded in 1701. My nine thousands-great grandfather, John Cooper, arrived in New Haven, Connecticut, with the ancestors of the future founders of Yale University...in 1637. You do the math. My vitriol really knows no bounds at this point, which is probably making me look as crazy as these jokes of "colonists", but it is just maddening. I don't know why everyone says they hate history...it's apparent to me that none of them ever paid the slightest bit of attention.

by Heather Hoffman at 9:05 PM

w June 10, 2004

Shameless Product Plug

But there is a very, very good rationale behind it. My mother and sister are somewhat fanatical about a range of bath/fragrance products that go by the name L'Occitane en Provence -- I used to think they just smelled very nice and the stores and packaging were most civilized and sophisticated. That was before I ran my thumb unwittingly over one of their boxes and realized that it was Braille. Yes. There is Braille overlay on pretty much all, if not all, L'Occitane products.

The thought that my visually impaired child will have at least one option for something deliciously frivolous and fragrant without needing a translator has made me a complete shill for this company. I don't care how expensive they are (and they are actually pretty average), I am buying their soap or bath gel or whatever until the end of my days. Let's hope that their philosophy regarding accessibility starts filtering out to other companies. In the meantime, buy something. It smells very nice.

by Heather Hoffman at 7:42 PM

w June 06, 2004

East Coast Trip: Part III

Lost my steam a few days ago for recounting this trip, mostly based on the remembrance of the hellish drive from Louisville to Charlottesville...I feel somewhat recovered now, plus it's a gorgeously lazy Sunday. Time to be self-indulgent.

When you last saw our intrepid Hoffmans, we had just gotten to Charlottesville, Virginia, home to Gene's sister and her family, as well as his father, newly moved from Charlotte, NC. We had a nice albeit brief reunion, as Gene and I were chomping at the bit to abandon Bean to the hands of aunt, uncle, cousins and grandpa, and get the hell down to Chapel Hill. Before I go any further, let me assure you that Bean had a WONDERFUL time being spoiled rotten, so don't anyone take me to task for hightailing it out of there!
We left around noon and of course, hit rain. Again. A lot less frustrating than the drive from Kentucky for a number of reasons, not least of which was silence in the backseat. Still, it didn't seem like an auspicious beginning to our trip; tater tots and limeades at Sonic helped somewhat.

Finally made it to Chapel Hill behind some sloooooooooow trucks, settled into our hotel and wait for it, relished the quiet and the utter lack of responsibility. I admit to being a little sniffly for the first thirty miles or so out of Charlottesville (it was the first time we had left Bean and left town ourselves), but it is amazing how the anticipation of uninterrupted sleep and meals not punctuated by howls and flung food cleared up that little issue.
I honestly can't remember a great deal of what we did in Chapel Hill, but suffice it to say, beyond looking at houses, it was pretty much in the realm of piddling. Dinner and/or drinks with friends, shopping, attempting, and failing, to feel like undergraduates again...mostly due to the fact that we were ready to hit the hay at 9 pm and coffee seemed more appealing than booze.
We did see some very interesting and diverse houses...all workable, but none perfect. It has been a while since we've done the house hunt routine, and I had forgotten how they all start looking the same after a while. Still, our patient and kind realtors did their best to keep us jazzed up about the possibilities, and like I said, there were some really interesting ones. No papers signed yet, but stay tuned for updates.

Drove back to Charlottesville at the end of the week, picked up the Bean, drove to DC and hopped a flight to New York (miserable weather, taking off in thunderstorms...Gene totally unconcerned, Bean gleeful at the bumps, me trying to keep my limbs from breaking out in undiagnosable St Vitus' Dance...I HATE FLYING), and man, was it fantastic to be in Manhattan. Actually, the weather cleared up about thirty-five minutes into the flight and landing at LaGuardia at dusk in completely clear skies was a pretty breathtaking experience. We were staying at a brand new hotel, The Alex, at 43rd and 3rd, and it was really quite nice, particularly since we yet again managed a suite AND hooked up with a babysitting service. Gene and I went out for a lovely dinner one night and saw friends at other points during the weekend; beyond that, I really didn't do anything. Except walk and walk and walk...it was glorious. I had missed the feeling of concrete beneath the stroller wheels more than I had known. As well, Bean loved Manhattan...the chaos, the noise, the smells, everything. She pretty much laughed and squealed in delight the entire time we were out of doors, but the highlight for both of us was walking up to Central Park and spending about fifteen minutes on the swings. I felt like a true Manhattan mother, and was further chuffed when more than one person asked me for directions. Somehow a stroller just makes you look like a native, I suppose.

On the 12th, Gene and I went in opposite directions, him back home to reassure the dogs we hadn't forgotten them (and, you know, go back to work), me and Bean up to Toronto for a visit to the grandparents. My parents were pretty busy the entire time we were there, but in a way, it was nice, as I could keep Bean's routine and spend some quiet hours on my own in my hometown...something that I needed but hadn't figured on. Toronto was actually sort of cold, which was too bad, as May can be a really pleasant month, but a small price to pay for even more urban time. The flights home weren't nearly as bad as I had dreaded, mostly because I got Bean to sleep on the way to Houston and was sitting next to a mother of two on the way to San Jose. I felt a little badly for her, actually, as it was her first business trip after having had her second child, and all I could imagine her thinking was "of COURSE I sit next to the 2 year old". In reality, she was actually incredibly nice and chatty and I also discovered that a 737 can feel extremely large, comfy, and non-bumpy after multiple flights aboard regional jets. It was damn fine to get off that plane in San Jose, though, and know that my own bed was only 35 minutes off.

Would I travel with Bean by myself again? Actually...I would. Not to Europe or Asia anytime soon, but I might be able to pull off another east coast jaunt. Not anytime soon, though.

by Heather Hoffman at 4:44 PM