Sci-Fi Author (and Metafilter's own) Charlie Stross has an interesting thought experiment: Could you get to a technological society without the use of writing? And if so, what would that look like?
" Chinese emperors of the Tang Dynasty liked their ice cream a special way: Fermented buffalo or goat milk was heated, then thickened with flour and seasoned with camphor, which made it flake like snow. For good measure fragments of reptile brain were added, along with an eyeball or two." - "It Ought To Be Called Vice Cream" - Austerity Kitchen on the social and technological history of Ice Cream.
Under the name Attaboy Clarence/The Secret History Of Hollywood, Adam Roche creates very long, very in-depth podcasts about classic Hollywood how it relates to broader sociopolitical trends. Clocking in at 171 minutes, Hunting Witches With Walt Disney goes into the background, motivations, and effects of the Red Scare in Hollywood and the House Of Un-American Activities. The nearly 3 hour long podcast spans a cast of characters including Budd Schulberg, Elia Kazan, John Garfield, Dorothy Comingore, Edward Dymytryk, Dalton Trumbo, Walt Disney, Humphrey Bogart, and of course, Howard Hughes
Author and historian Bob Arnebeck writes about early American history and its Founding Fathers' "relationships with men beyond conventional propriety." Featured characters include war hero and Washington D.C planner Pierre Charles L'Enfant, the first inspector general of the US Army Baron Von Steuben , and Alexander Hamilton. Bonus: Revolutinary America's tolerance for homosexuality by Victoria A. Brownworth.
"Saada: In some ways, “inconspicuous chic” is about a perceived entitlement to money, not money itself. People who flaunt their wealth by wearing tons of brands and being flashy are not considered wealthy; more often they’re seen as nouveau riche vis-a-vis old-monied. ...Maybe if they were bulldozing low income housing to build a huge Barney's I would be concerned, but to be upset about how rich ladies shop is almost pointless." ---- Clothes & Class - An Adult Magazine roundtable discussion of the minutiae of high fashion, low budgets, the history of class signaling and inconspicuous chic. With Saada Ahmed, Katherine Bernard, Durga Chew-Bose, Fiona Duncan, Hari Nef, Steve Oklyn and Arabelle Scicardi. (NSFW main photos and related ads. Extreme fashion nerdery)
What were the food and cooking techniques of the Viking Age? you could ask The Viking Answer Lady or get pollen analysis, reconstruction tips, and recipes from The Viking Food Guy, or you could just ask Chef Jesper Lynge (Daily Mail) who is attempting to revive Viking Cusine from his cafe in an Danish Iron Age graveyard. ( Recipies and descriptions )
"The good people at Morphy Auctions gave me permission to show you these vintage (~1930s-50s) condom package designs." -- Cardhouse on historical condom packaging and design.
“If you wanted to dismiss something, you would say ‘this is horiatiki,’ to mean, this is not good,” says Kremezi. “So for a salad to succeed with that name, it must have been a great salad!” Greek The Salad - Dan Nosowitz on authenticity, history, Greek salad, and the very idea of"American Food" (plus two recipes)
"In 1979, a gay rights activist, communist and Angeleno named Harry Hay — a founder of a neo-pagan countercultural movement called the Radical Faeries — urged gay men to ‘‘throw off the ugly green frog skin of hetero-imitation.’’ Instead of fighting for the rights that straights had, like marriage and adoption, the faeries believed that to be gay was to possess a unique nature and a special destiny apart from straight people, and that this destiny would reach its full flowering in the wilds of rural America. " -- Out Of The Woods, After decades of semi-secrecy, a commune for L.G.B.T.Q. nonconformists has slowly begun to join the mainstream, by Alex Halberstadt for New York Times Magazine
With F. A. O. Schwarz's iconic 5th Avenue store closing for good last week (Gothamist photos), why not look back at the 1911 Spring And Summer catalog and the conversation effort to preserve the catalog at the Cooper Hewitt design museum..
"A selection of pages from an 18th-century demonology book comprised of more than 30 exquisite watercolours showing various demon figures, as well as magic and cabbalistic signs. The full Latin title of Compendium rarissimum totius Artis Magicae sistematisatae per celeberrimos Artis hujus Magistros, roughly translates to “A rare summary of the entire Magical Art by the most famous Masters of this Art”. With a title page adorned with skeletons and the warning of Noli me tangere (Do not touch me), one quickly gets a sense of the dark oddities lurking inside its pages." - The Public Domain Review presents illustrations from a 18th century guide to demons and demonology (NSFW illustrated nudity, snakes on bits.)
Presenting the 1911 Spokane High School Yearbook! Of particular note are the "Ambitions" of each graduating student, from "To marry a single man" to " Murder the faculty." PDF link
Cooking In The Archives: recreating recipes from the Early Modern Peroid (1600s-1800s) in a modern kitchen. Not old enough? Then try some authentically medieval recipes.
"Parlors, “dining chambers,” and other spaces amenable to dining began appearing in architecture plans. Each nation seemed to have its own idea as to what constituted a proper dining room. The great Renaissance architect Leon Battista Alberti wrote that it “should be entered off the bosom of the house,” advising further that, “[a]s use demands, there should be [a dining room] for summer, one for winter, and one for middling seasons.” Some two centuries later Englishman William Sanderson would recommend that a “Dyning-Roome” be hung with pictures of kings and queens." The Austerity Kitchen presents A Short History Of The Dining Room Part 1 / Part 2.
Irish-American Dining. A history of and guide to food that is expressly Irish-American, by Mefi's own Max Sparber. Irish Egg Rolls! Early onion-based pub food! The hidden history of the Shamrock Shake! [via mefi projects]
"Don Draper lived on hard drives for half a decade before anybody paid him any notice. In 1999, Matthew Weiner, then an unfulfilled writer on CBS' Ted Danson sitcom Becker, spent his every off-hour doing research on the 1960s: what people wore, how they decorated their offices, what they ate and drank -" The story of how Mad Men went from a risky pitch to an unknown network to one of the most popular and celebrated dramas of the decade. (Hollywood Reporter) Bonus: Ten Mad Men Characters we need to see again. (Vulture)
"All in all he "shot over 1,900 hours of tape over a period of seven years, capturing himself and his friends in the glossy façade of Manhattan's downtown life... He sought to tape all of New York's citizens, including its outcasts, striving to candidly capture their lives. He taped anything and everything that interested him—outrageous performances in bars and clubs, swinging house parties, chaotic gallery openings, park and street festivals, late-night ruminations of his friends, absurd conversations with taxi drivers, prosaic sunset walks with his dog on the then-still-existing west side piers." Sullivan died of a heart attack in 1989, just as he was preparing to produce his own cable television show." -- Nelson Sullivan's New York City.
The popular and venerable Twitter account Tweets Of Old continues its seasonal tradition of posting late 19th century /early 20th century children's letters to Santa.
"Despite its youth, the section has a much longer history, one that encompasses the long effort of women in journalism to be taken seriously as reporters and as readers, the development of New Journalism, large-scale social changes that have brought gay culture into the mainstream, shifts in the way news is delivered and consumed, and economic consolidations and disruptions that the section has, sometimes in spite of itself, thoroughly documented and cataloged. The Styles section may well be pretty stupid sometimes. It’s also a richer and more complex entity than any of us would like to believe." - Bonfire Of The Inanities - Jacqui Shine writes a long, detailed history of the New York Times Style Section.
This is a tale nobody wanted to be told. It’s a cautionary tale about an obscure 1980s horror movie cobbled together from work by two separate groups of filmmakers working on the same set with two totally different casts. There’s also a savage businessman, crooked real-estate dealings, betrayal, madness, death, ex-Green Berets, ex-porn stars, and one of the founding fathers of the United States. - The Dissolve on "Spookies"
The exhaustively researched Hollywood history podcast You Must Remember This (Previously) presents a two part episode focusing on Madonna's use of classic Hollywood imagery and references as a form of conceptual art and her early attempts to trade pop idol success for movie stardom within the context of two high-profile relationships with Sean Penn and Warren Beatty. Episode One. Episode Two. Meanwhile, Todd In The Shadows creates video reviews for every movie Madonna was ever in. So far he's done Desperately Seeking Susan, Shanghai Surprise, A Certain Sacrifice, and Who's That Girl.
"The du Maurier sisters had, from their volatile, crowded childhood onward, formed this private country they could slip in and out of, where "menaces" and "Venetian tendencies" could be freely discussed. In other words, they found a way to use games of pretend to tell the absolute truth." - Carrie Frye on author Daphne du Maurier and her seminal gothic novel, Rebecca.
83 year old Chicano author John Rechy (City Of Night, The Sexual Outlaw, Rushes) talks to Lambda Literary about gay assimilation, being mistaken for white, melding truth and fiction, the post-Stonewall peroid, and hating the word 'queer.'
"Nowadays, we tend to eat biscuits with beverages like tea and coffee. But in the past they were an important element of the dessert course and were dipped into sweet wine." - Food History Jottings (previously) on the strange world of Regency biscuits. (Cookies to you US types.)
"In reconsidering the metrosexual, we must first distinguish between the metrosexual’s imagined and actual properties. Like hipsterism, metrosexuality is an insult more readily slung than substantiated. According to canon, David Beckham is the ur-metro. Although Beckham initially goes unmentioned in the word’s first printing (in 1994), the word’s progenitor, Mark Simpson, introduced American readers to metrosexuality through the British football star in 2002, when he called Beckham a "screaming, shrieking, flaming, freaking metrosexual…famous for wearing sarongs and pink nail polish and panties…and posing naked and oiled up on the cover of Esquire." " - Johannah King-Slutzky for The Awl on the 'Metrosexual' situation a decade later
Are you trying to write a period-correct Captain America story or just have questions about NYC in the 1930s-40s in general? The tumblr Steve Rogers Is Historically Accurate is here to help.
Without You I'm Nothing: The Believer looks at the memoirs of the wives and girlfriends of rock stars.
"If the phone rang and you were in another room, you had to come running: in that immediate sense, and in a way that now seems comical, your phone controlled you. And before the ‘90s, there was no caller ID, an inconvenience which ensured, for that benighted first century-plus of the instrument’s analog existence, the first premise of phone horror—that you could never know for certain whose voice, or what sound, would issue from the other end of that raised receiver." - HiLoBrow is in the middle of a series exploring the tropes and history of Phone Horror. Of particular note is the brief historical connection between the telephone and the world of occult crypto-science - The Atlantic explains further.
Bloodletters and Bad Actors Mefi's Own Max Sparber looks at the early days of Omaha theater, back when it was a frontier town, its amusements were questionable, and vice was rampant, with occasional forays into more recent performing arts misbehavior. [via mefi projects]
This indignant map exposes the seamy underbelly of 1890s Washington, D.C., naming and locating “saloons” and “bawdy-houses” in the so-called Murder Bay neighborhood, located east of the White House. The Library of Congress, which holds the map, tells us that it’s a newspaper clipping from the 1890s, without a known author or publisher. (Slate.com)
The uncommonly well-moderated and researched Ask Historians subreddit answers the question: What common medieval fantasy tropes have little-to-no basis in real medieval European history?
Deviates, Inc is a tumblr devoted to exploring the visual culture of LGBT history ranging from Gilded Age drag queens, classic Hollywood lesbians, to militant gay activism.
His recipe calls for a bustard stuffed with a turkey stuffed with a goose stuffed with a pheasant stuffed with a chicken stuffed with a duck stuffed with a guinea fowl stuffed with a teal stuffed with a woodcock stuffed with a partridge stuffed with a plover stuffed with a lapwing stuffed with a quail stuffed with a thrush stuffed with a lark stuffed with an ortolan bunting stuffed with a garden warbler stuffed with an olive stuffed with an anchovy stuffed with a single caper - The Roti Sans Pareil or Roast Without Equal.
Thank Goodness We Don't Have To Do That Anymore: a selection of US social customs and rituals that have mercifully passed on. Spinster Etiquette! Paying Calls! Hand Kissing! Bathing Machines! Wedding Gift Displays!
The infamous, sprawling Winchester Mystery House has plans to allow overnight stays and full onsite alcohol consumption
After a year of production, John Green's Crash Course US History has come to an end, traveling from the conflicts between the native Americans and the Spanish to the Affordable Care Act.
Celebrate author Laura Ingalls Wilder's 147th birthday with a recipe for Laura's Wedding Cake, taken from Little House Cookbook, Frontier Foods from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Classic Stories. (The Hairpin)
The Trickster Prince is academic and historian Matt Houlbrook's blog about the ephemera and little-known stories of the English inter-war period (and before) with a focus on class-jumping, queer narratives, "faking it", and urban society in the 20s and 30s.
"....many a tragic episode in family life is superinduced by the baleful influence of a tortured stomach. Mighty is the hand that holds the ballot-box, but mightier is the hand that wields to advantage the pepper-box, the salt-spoon, and the sugar-shaker." read the entirely of Maud C. Cooke's, Breakfast, Dinner and Supper; or, What To Eat and How To Prepare It (1897) online and enter a world of home remedies, large scale recipes, sound advice, leftover wizardry, squirrel stews, scientific digestion, and horrible things done to vegetables.
"If there is an assassination planned for the meal, then it is seemliest that the assassin should be seated next to he who is to become the subject of his craft" - Leonardo da Vinci: head of the kitchen, designer of horse-pulled nut-crushers, inventor of napkins, and assassination etiquette expert.