Relax! It's the Return Of Nice Things!
October has been a stressful decade, so how about we bring Nice Things off its hiatus, now that we've covered all 33 of this year's Senate elections? We could all use some adorable kittens and puppies and general weirdness right about now, so let's jump right in!
Eel Things Considered
In our continuing series of reminders that not everything on Twitter is a hellish dystopian nightmare (just most of it), we'd like to recommend you give a follow to medieval historian guy John Wyatt Greenlee, better known as "Surprised Eel Historian." I've been following him since around January, because he's a hella funny writer who knows his eels (and also because his posts about his kiddos are freaking hilarious. This is a guy who thoroughly enjoys dadding).
Unprompted, the 6 yr old just assured me that the game he & his brother ate playing “isn’t dangerous.” So...this should be fine e right?— Surprised Eel Historian, PhD (@Surprised Eel Historian, PhD)1603323075.0
The 9 yr old is sitting on the couch, reading the Hobbit & eating frozen corn out of the bag. There are worse ways to be in the world.— Surprised Eel Historian, PhD (@Surprised Eel Historian, PhD)1603473604.0
Greenlee is a recently-minted Cornell PhD in Medieval Studies whose original focus was historical maps, but who became intrigued by a weird notation on a 1647 illustration of London: "The eell schipes" in the Thames. They were pretty much a landmark in London for centuries (but not the same boats, we're pretty sure).
Intrigued, he learned that eels were a Big Damn Deal in the medieval economy; those Dutch eel ships came to London because Holland (and also the Netherlands, as it turns out) could meet the high demand in England. Also, cutting tariffs helped, AHEM. Thus he became, to his surprise, a historian of eels, but not a historian of surprised eels.
Do you want more eel trade in your city? Have you thought about cutting taxes? It's what Richard II did. In 1392 t… https://t.co/p84Y1n1iOY— Surprised Eel Historian, PhD (@Surprised Eel Historian, PhD)1601050091.0
Eventually, eels took over his academic work, and he wrote his dissertation on just how prevalent eels were as a feature of medieval English life, as a recent Time profile of Greenlee sums up:
Scholar Thomas Bradwardine's 14th century book of mnemonics likens eels to England, advising readers to imagine the King of England holding in "his right hand an eel [anguilla ] wriggling about greatly, which will give you 'England' [Anglia ]." Family crests boasted eels. In the Bayeux Tapestry, which depicts the Norman conquest of England by William the Conquerer in the 11th century, the image of Anglo-Saxon King Harold shows him above a pile of eels. An Englishman in the bottom border is holding an eel the wrong way—by the tail, rather than the head—perhaps symbolizing Harold's hold on the English throne, represented by eels, slipping away.
Greenlee's Twitter really blew up last year with a post about the practice of using eels as currency, because apparently the love of money is the root of eel.
So you're a medieval landlord, collecting property rent from your peasants in eels. How do you measure them? Eels… https://t.co/7RbR3qbHOa— Surprised Eel Historian, PhD (@Surprised Eel Historian, PhD)1576091128.0
Those eel rents also had a very practical religious side, too: monasteries would collect rents in smoked eels, and voila, the monks would have food for the Lenten season, when they couldn't eat meat.
And what's not to like about a seasoned practitioner of dad jokes, apart from perhaps all the dad jokes?
In 1250 the abbot of Tupeholm sued the nuns of Stykeswald for 3 years back eel-rents (a total of 450 eels). The abb… https://t.co/2WtWNQncX3— Surprised Eel Historian, PhD (@Surprised Eel Historian, PhD)1580503122.0
Also, his doggie is adorable. Give him a follow!
It’s a cold, wet Tuesday morning, and the spaniel is inspecting her domains. https://t.co/2G6eWvvLzE— Surprised Eel Historian, PhD (@Surprised Eel Historian, PhD)1603197200.0
Tom Lehrer Gives Everyone All The Tom Lehrer
Brilliant musical satirist Tom Lehrer last week placed a notice on his website: Effective immediately, all the lyrics to his songs will effectively be in the public domain; screw that "life plus 70 years" copyright stuff. As Techdirt explains, "under US law there is no "official" way to move things into the public domain," so instead, the notice on Lehrer's website gives blanket permission for anyone to download and use Lehrer's lyrics however they want, although there's also a note that
Some lyrics written by Tom Lehrer to copyrighted music by others are included herein, but of course such music may not be used without permission of the copyright owners.
Happily, Gilbert & Sullivan's "Major General's song" is in the public domain just about everywhere, meaning Lehrer's "The Elements" is also free to remix. Lehrer's website also notes that "Most of the music written by Tom Lehrer will be added gradually later with further disclaimers," so that's neat, too.
But hurry: The site also warns that it "will be shut down on December 31, 2024, so if you want to download anything, don't wait too long."
More Lehrer stuff: I'm looking forward to reading this profile from Buzzfeed a while back, and the Techdirt piece on the wrinkles of copyright is also very good. You can also find a great big load of Lehrer videos collected on YouTube at the "Tom Lehrer Wisdom Channel," with Lehrer's blessing, or at least his approving indifference to copyright.
In our deeply divided nation, it seems only right to remember that polarization was never a problem in the past, a state of harmony Lehrer celebrated in his anthem, "National Brotherhood Week."
You Need Kitties And Puppers And Silliness, Yes You Do
10 weeks in and the cat finally notices we have a baby. https://t.co/hXxGeFuziC— Dr Jacqueline Sievert Hardt (@Dr Jacqueline Sievert Hardt)1603114756.0
“What’s your name?”😂😭🤣 https://t.co/LjqrTY2xme— Rex Chapman🏇🏼 (@Rex Chapman🏇🏼)1596291906.0
Wow here is a mood: https://t.co/6BaW7Mb4ED— Kristin Goth 🔪⚰️⛓💀🎃 (@Kristin Goth 🔪⚰️⛓💀🎃)1596053743.0
Moving object meets irresistible cuteness:
We all encounter obstacles in life. It's how we gently bump into these obstacles and do our best to maneuver around… https://t.co/Y1vW7raE0E— Dick King-Smith HQ (@Dick King-Smith HQ)1603521389.0
Wonkette's own Robyn Pennacchia is definitely not out of her gourd, because she has some right here:
Release the (decorative gourd) kraken https://t.co/2s2bPlFSv2— Robyn Pennacchia (@Robyn Pennacchia)1603500977.0
Cats remind us not to get lost in work. Or to ever get any work done, at all:
Updates. Literally two minutes on my work tracking timer and... he's covering *all* work surfaces. https://t.co/6sw2XkPLPk— Justine McGreevy (@Justine McGreevy)1603479894.0
Noted political pundit Our Girlfriend has the goofiest little dog, who is waiting for the Great Pumpkin:
OK, this is political, but it's also pretty funny (and the tune, as we mentioned, is in the public domain):
Let's make this @SenSusanCollins' Last Act! #ByeByeSusan #Demcast #mepolitics Chip in to help us unseat her!… https://t.co/NsOGx5u866— Mainers for Accountable Leadership (@Mainers for Accountable Leadership)1603284260.0
https://t.co/rTqZECx9QU— cats.exe (@cats.exe)1603324837.0
Floofy belleh. That is all.
.@sportpeppercat learned early on that lap cats get all the love. What a little ham. https://t.co/58FzSzrRgJ— A Cat Named Bitches (@A Cat Named Bitches)1603063553.0
I don't generally care for live-action remakes of cartoons, but this adaptation of Chuck Jones's classic "Feed the Kitty" (1952) looks promising.
EEEEE!! 😍 https://t.co/q6YZKgCKAi— Anne Wheaton (@Anne Wheaton)1603055544.0
I told you Surprised Eel Historian's spaniel is unspeakably cute, did I not?
It’s all too much https://t.co/Qb4LOZ1r7j— Surprised Eel Historian, PhD (@Surprised Eel Historian, PhD)1602856493.0
You should follow ProPublica reporter Jessica Huseman for her insights on voting rights and practices, and for her little dog, Walter. This post sparked a whole thread of readers' dogs on the backs of couches and chairs.
Where is my dog oh he’s sitting directly behind me on top of the couch ok https://t.co/GFMMltc1AT— Jessica Huseman (@Jessica Huseman)1603414104.0
OK, one last tweet so we don't break your phones or our platform (kidding! It came broken!).
I just hate these puzzles. I can never spot all six differences.
They were being sweet, but I disturbed the bookends. https://t.co/ZfKfeUOfnI— Katherine Rye Jewell, Ph.D. 📻🎙🎧 (@Katherine Rye Jewell, Ph.D. 📻🎙🎧)1601398358.0
And if If you're in the mood for a movie tonight, join Historians at the Movies to watch Moneyball on Netflix at 8:00 Eastern, and discuss the flick on Twitter using the hashtag #HATM. It's the only acceptable way to talk during the movie!
Yr Wonkette is funded entirely by reader donations! Please send us some money if you can, so we can keep poisoning pigeons in the park. Metaphorically at least.
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.