On Roman Hairstyles

Friday’s history event at Bristol University was a lot of fun and I’ll be blogging later for them about the trans history that I learned that day. For now I want to catch up on the dinner conversation. I was sat opposite Cath Fletcher from Swansea University. She has written a book all about Alessandro de’ Medici which should nicely explode the brains of all those idiots who think that there were no people of color in Europe before colonization started.

We also talked a lot about issues of translation. Something she mentioned to me was that Roman descriptions of how to style women’s hair kept mentioning a piece of equipment that would normally be translated as a “needle”. No one understood this, so they got some hairdressers to try to recreate Roman women’s styles. They quickly discovered that the only way you could keep those elaborate updos in place was to literally sew the style together with thread. Here’s hairstyle archaeologist, Janet Stephens, explaining how one such style was created.

Yet More Linkage

Because I have spent most of today on Day Jobbery.

– Joe Gordon reports on a BBC story about a supposed real-life Glasgow vampire that caused massive moral panic and led to censoring of comics.

– Justine Larbalestier has a tribute to the brilliant and sadly missed Alexander McQueen. (Go on, click through, just look at those fabulous dresses!)

– Space Ship Two has successfully completed its maiden flight. (And Virgin Galactic reports that they have sold over 330 tickets for flights.)

– And finally, a horrific tale of a mother of five from Durban whose life has been destroyed because prison authorities mistook her for a transsexual.

Morning in Brisbane

It is a good job I leave my iPhone by my bed at night. This morning I switched it on to check Twitter and found that the Aurealis Award ceremony was in full swing in Brisbane. I got the announcements all re-tweeted over SF Awards Watch, so managed to look very professional. Watching the reaction was interesting. All of my friends were cheering for Jonathan Strahan (winning for Best Anthology for Eclipse 3) and Justin Ackroyd (the Peter McNamara Convernors’ Award), but the big reaction in the Twittersphere was for Greg Egan’s win in Best Collection (for Oceanic). That got SFAW a bunch of new followers who, I think, are Japanese. (Associated blog post here.)

I must say I’m very impressed with the show that Fantastic Queensland puts on. Unlike certain other awards I could mention, they are very much part of the 21st Century and keen to have what they are doing recognized around the world.

I was also very impressed with Scott Westerfeld (who won the YA prize for Leviathan) was kept up a running fashion commentary. It sounds like Trudi Canavan (winner of Best Fantasy Novel with Magician’s Apprentice) is going to be a contender for the Emerald City Best Dressed Award at this year’s Hugos. A note to the Aussie girls, however: you don’t all have to wear black. My dress for Melbourne is green and gold (though definitely not the right shades thereof).

The Lush Swag Bag

Yesterday I was in Bristol for a BristolCon committee meeting (all going well – expect an announcement about guests at the beginning of February). Naturally I did some shopping too, and that included going to Lush. On entering the shop I was greeted by one of the staff with the very temping news that if I spent £20 I would get a freebie bag full of left-over Christmas products worth at least £25 for free. Well it isn’t hard to spend £20 in Lush, and so I got this huge bag full of stuff. The only question was, what was in it?

Well there’s a bottle of Snow Fairy shower gel, which I shall definitely use. The rest of it looks like bath ballistics and the like. I have been able to identify some of it. There’s a Candy Cane bubble bar and a couple of Puddy Holly ballistics, but the rest of it is a bit mysterious. There are two plain white ballistics that could be several things, and two ballistics that appear to have measles. There’s a jolly fat Santa, a snowman, a pink star and a block of something black with glitter in it.

The main problem with this is that it is almost all bath stuff. I don’t have a bath here, and the one in California is, as with most US baths, child-sized. Anyone who is likely to see me in the next few weeks and likes Lush stuff, please yell. (Yes, that includes anyone going to P-Con.)

Also of interest to fellow Lushies is the new newsletter which contains some product announcements. The cover is given over to something called Turkish Delight, which allegedly contains 20,000 rose petals in every pot. It is billed as a “smoothie shower soap”, but apparently the best way to use it is to smear it all over and then go and sit in a sauna and let it soak in. I am beginning to think that a trip to Finland is in order.

Another new product is Space Girl – a Saturn-shaped ballistic. Active ingredients include grapefruit, bergamot and almond oil. I’m not sure what it will smell like, but it looks great.

Neither of these new products is in the stores yet, but they should be there soon.

Oh, and if any straight men have made it this far without fleeing in terror, please remember that in 3 weeks time you’ll be expected to provide a suitably girly present for someone special. Hint.

Update: Very important word added, with profuse apologies to my gay male friends, many of whom are Lush addicts too.

No Miracles Here

I suppose it is possible that a photograph taken by a top-flight professional can make you look stunningly gorgeous when you are not, but if so he’ll probably need plenty of time and the help of a good makeup artist. Kyle Cassidy’s fan photo shoot at Worldcon had neither. Kyle was getting through people very quickly because he had a lot of customers. So the end result is that I still look fat and craggy, because I am overweight and old. But at least I was wearing my speccy Camden market dress, which hopefully helps a bit.

Photo under the fold, and the full set (including some much more attractive people) on Flickr.
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Melbourne in the Rain

You remember all that news we’ve been getting about droughts in Australia? Well that didn’t include Melbourne. As far as rain goes, Melbourne is a bit like Manchester – if it is not raining, then it is about to do so, and it will do so even if the skies are totally clear and blue. Fortunately it will not rain very heavily, nor for very long. If you are lucky you may not even notice it.

And to be fair, most of the time I didn’t notice it. I was either in shops, or indoor shopping malls. I collected maybe 20-30 drops of rain dashing across Bourke Street and that was about it. And I don’t mind that at all because I have had a lovely day shopping in one of my favorite cities. I have the gloves I was looking for; and I have a lovely new coat that I wasn’t looking for at all but I am delighted with, and which cost me all of US$54. I also got to catch up with my friend Kim who I used to work with when I lived here, and thereby caught up on all of the extended gossip about former work colleagues. It has been a good day, at least as far as Australia goes.

New Zealand is another matter. While I was having coffee with Kim I got a txt message from my friends in Auckland whom I was supposed to be staying with tomorrow and Monday. They have been hit with work issues, and so I have just been on the phone to the convention hotel to book another two nights. I don’t know what I have done to New Zealand, but clearly the place doesn’t like me because it keeps doing bad things to my friends.

I now have a couple of hours to kill before having to go and meet Terry and Sally for dinner. I am tempted to have a nap.

Dress Shopping Report

I have bought a Dress. I must admit I wasn’t expecting to find one in Darkest Somerset, but maybe we are coming up in the world. It’s not the best quality ever, but it fits and it will be noticeable, and at £25 in the sale it was too good an opportunity to miss.

When I say “fits”, of course, I mean it fits in just about every place but one. Having small tits has its advantages, and its disadvantages. So the next thing on my Worldcon shopping list will probably be some sort of scaffolding. And accessories, of course. But hopefully the main problem is solved. I shall take it to Montreal with me next weekend to get a second opinion from Kevin.

Comics for Girls

I found this at Tia Nevitt’s excellent Fantasy Debut blog. Traditionalists are presumably going to hate it, but I just love what Marvel has done with the packaging.

Personally, of course, I’d prefer Austen spiced with zombies. A generous helping of habanero zombies, in fact. But I can still appreciate a bit of marketing genius when I see it.

Heck, I might even be attracted by 17 secrets about summer dresses if I didn’t know that Regency fashions are unremittingly hideous. The cover, I think, does an excellent job of picking themes while still leaving the poor girl looking reasonably stylish.

Interview with the writer here. Preview artwork here.

About Next Week

One of the reasons I decided to go for Twitter is that next week I will have an ideal excuse to test it – I am off to N’Awlins for a business conference. That means I’ll be detached from my laptop for a fair amount of time Wednesday thru Saturday, but I will have my phone. Therefore, if I feel the need to say something like, “You are at SMOFcon in Columbus where it is probably snowing, but I am in Cafe du Mode eating beignets” then I can do so.

Not that the actual conference I’m at will be any more entertaining than SMOFcon, but it is in N’Awlins and it does have a couple of evening functions. Having not been to one of these things before, I inquired of a colleague about the dress code. This is what he said:

my suggestion is to err on the side of being over-dressed and not the other way around

He’s clearly never seen my wardrobe. 🙂

But I might just take something utterly speccy. I shall explain why later.

Stade Francais Calendar 2009

OK, so I know most of you won’t have bothered to read a post about rugby laws, but this one might be a little more popular. A new European rugby season means a new Stade Francais calendar. For the benefit of my straight female and gay male readers, I present cover of that calendar. And the totally awesome Warhol-inspired third strip that Stade has produced for this season. (The first strip is still pink and the second strip still blue with pink orchids, though the designs have changed). Click through from the pictures to the Stade web site to see these things in all of their glory.

Stade Francais Calendar 2009 Stade Francais Third Strip

Emotibomb Test Redux

The original test of the Lush emotibomb fizzled rather because it Kevin developed his eye problem, which kind of put a dampner on the whole “sex in the shower” thing. However, yesterday we found the local Lush shop, and this morning we tested the “up you gets” emotibomb. Despite our having spent a very busy weekend in New Orleans, it managed to revive us. So we went back and bought several more. I figure we’ll need one tomorrow after the flight home.

Weather Update

The wind is howling around outside, but we continue to be very lucky with the rain. I did remember to bring an umbrella, but it would be totally useless in this wind so I’m leaving it in the hotel room. The biggest problem with the wind is that my hair, being very fine, turns into a rats nest in minutes. It doesn’t really matter how much gunk I put on it – wind makes it look a mess. Furthermore, because it is so fine, most fancy hair clips don’t work. Fortunately I have some scrunchies with me, and they will have to do.

Babylon AD Update

Kim Newman has posted a review of Babylon AD on Facebook (which I probably can’t link to, sorry). Two things of note from the review. Firstly Charlotte Rampling looks that good at her age because of what Kim calls “cgi botox”. Not that she isn’t still amazing, but I feel less envious now. Also the short version of Kim’s review would be “it sucks”. That’s a shame, but I’m not surprised as Babylon Babies is a long and complex novel and therefore not well suited to movie adaption.

Shopping Discovery

OK, time to start catching up on things I did yesterday, starting with the shopping.

So, there I was in Lush yesterday, and I got offered a free sample of something called a “sex in the shower emotibomb”. These appear to be so new that they are not in the US catalog or web site yet, but they are available back in the UK. I quote from the UK web site:

Here’s what you do. Put it on the floor of your shower and as the warm water hits your Emotibomb, it fizzes up into the atmosphere, surrounding you in a cloud of fragrant steam.

This sounds great. And there are four varieties:

We’re starting with four Emotibombs, one to wake you up, one to get you ready to sleep, one hangover cure and one that is called Sex in the Shower. You can guess what that one’s. Probably.

I haven’t tried it yet. I’m thinking maybe next weekend. I shall report back. Probably. But perhaps only in overview.