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  • Totoro and Kiki: A Tribute June 17, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    Totoro and Kiki: A Tribute

      ***Dedicated to little Miss Beachcombing who makes 5 today and who Beach will be spoiling for the next hours*** Ghibli is a Japanese cartoon studio that has, in the last thirty years, created two of the greatest films for children and two of the greatest fairy/witch films ever made: Totoro (1988) and Kiki (1989). […]

    Dowry Fossil May 13, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Ancient, Medieval, Modern
    Dowry Fossil

      A wrong time post… There are few things in history as fascinating as the archaic customs that have been handed down from generation to generation and that survive in our societies like the tail-bone’s pointy edge on our spines. A particular Beachcombian favourite is the dowry. Civilisations basically fall into three categories here: those […]

    Academic Quotations from Aged Newspapers May 8, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Modern
    Academic Quotations from Aged Newspapers

    There follows what may be the most boring post ever put up here. Apologies ahead of time: I tried to make the title as tedious as possible to keep thrillseekers and glue-sniffers away. First, some background. In the last two years I have published half a dozen academic articles that include or, in two cases, […]

    Grazing Sheep, Rutting Tortoises and Academic Books May 5, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    Grazing Sheep, Rutting Tortoises and Academic Books

    Beach is presently reading an academic book that cost 105 dollars. There are 384 pages in said book, which means that purchasers will be expected to pay a little over 50 cents for each leaf of paper (front and back). Strangely, Beach is not bitter about the reading experience because (i) the book is a […]

    ‘Bloody Foreigners’ and English April 23, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Medieval, Modern
    'Bloody Foreigners' and English

    The British are often characterized as being insular, stand-offish and suspicious of outsiders.  And Beach has recently been fascinated by how this parochialism (which is at least partly based in fact) has left traces in the English language and more particularly in the words that English uses for nationality. It should be said, first of […]

    Fairies, Children of the Forest and Game of Thrones April 20, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Medieval
    Fairies, Children of the Forest and Game of Thrones

    Beach’s students this semester constrained him to read Game of Thrones and the subsequent avalanche of books which followed on. Are these books any good? Mixed feelings. However, one thing is certain, this blogger’s normal irritation at fantasy fiction wasn’t activated: perhaps because most of the novels are about humans being nasty to each other […]

    Why Isn’t Modern Fairy Fiction Frightening? April 5, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
    Why Isn't Modern Fairy Fiction Frightening?

    In appalling fevered sleeps during a recent bout of flu – an approximation of hell – Beach dreamt constantly of fairies and witches. This had nothing to do with two fairy horror books he had supplied himself with – Graham Joyce’s The Tooth Fairy (1999) and A Kind of Enchantment (2012) – and everything, instead, […]

    Review: Secret of Kells March 31, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    Review: Secret of Kells

    Part of being a twenty-first century parent involves the ability to watch cartoons repeatedly with your children (discuss). Most of these cartoons are trash. A minority are witty: Mega Mind, Toy Story… And a  handful – Shrek, Bambi, Totoro, Kiki the Witch… – make modern art house films look like third-rate romantic comedies: they really […]

    History and Teenagers March 9, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    History and Teenagers

    The majority of readers of this blog are from North America and so they might not be aware that historians in Britain are presently fighting each other. The question that is causing all the raucous is how teens should be taught about history: the battlefield is British history but there is clearly here a much […]

    The Voting Diaspora February 24, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    The Voting Diaspora

    A diaspora is, of course, the citizens of a country who live outside their homeland but who still have a strong or residual loyalty to the patria. Diasporas have long mattered in history because they end up influencing the foreign policy of their adopted countries and, all too often, the domestic agendas of their countries […]

    Love Goddess #7: The I-Love-You Wall February 23, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    Love Goddess #7: The I-Love-You Wall

    The latest in the Love Goddesses series is this wonderful shrine to carnal and spiritual soul-touching that appeared in the city of love, Paris, in Montmartre no less, in 2000. The artist, Frédéric Baron, assembled the words ‘I love you’ in 311 languages (280 by some counts) and then got a colleague and ‘oriental calligrapher’ […]

    Italy’s Weird Languages February 4, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Italy's Weird Languages

    Italy is chaotic not just in day-to-day but also in geographical terms. The Apennines that come down from the Alps dominate most of the country and separate out the peninsula into two hundred semi-independent shangrilas. The result is that Italy has always been doomed to social, cultural and linguistic division. Italian itself, the ‘dialect’ of […]

    Review: Running with the Fairies January 28, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
    Review: Running with the Fairies

    Scholarly fairy books are rare indeed: they average at about one every four years. Not many at all when you think that a score of volumes on Vietnam are published each month. This infrequency means that it is always extremely exciting when a new member of the fairy family shuffles onto the stage. So, with […]

    Love Goddess #6: All Hail Northumberlandia! January 24, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Medieval
    Love Goddess #6: All Hail Northumberlandia!

    ***Dedicated to Invisible*** Part of humanity’s long flirtation with the landscape has been the idea that a given locality is a woman. While not universal this repeats itself in many religious systems and sometimes has even made its way into the modern world through placenames. So, in Britain hill, mountain and spur names frequently refer […]

    CCSVI: The Limits of Placebo January 5, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    CCSVI: The Limits of Placebo

    CCSVI is a medical condition that may or that may not explain one of the most mysterious and debilitating illnesses on the planet, Multiple Sclerosis. We look at it here because it is yet another example of a strange-history theme, the difficulty that new knowledge has in emerging against a strong orthodoxy, something that is […]

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