October 29th, 2006 | Uncategorized

I hate posting without pictures. My lost camera never showed up. Other kind souls have been taking photos for me, though, and when they send them to me, I’ll post them here.

Today I got up really early and took the TGV (train à grande vitesse, or very fast train) from Paris to Brussels with my editor, Jean-Luc. Brussels, home of Hergé and Tintin! What a strange and beautiful city. Before my first appointment, we checked out the marché aux puces (flea market) in the Place du Sablon. That’s where Tintin buys that ship model in Secret of the Unicorn, and the Thompson twins get their pockets picked. Who knew it was a real place? Or that it was still there?

Then I did an interview for a television station. Apparently, cartoonists are newsworthy in Belgium. We shot this on the roof of a museum, and had to stop the camera several times while the surrounding church bells tolled.

After that I had a very pleasant interview over lunch with a guy from La Libre, one of the Brussels daily newspapers. I made a brief stop at the Tintin Boutique where there was a mind-boggling array of Tintin-and-Snowy-emblazoned merchandise for sale but I didn’t have time to shop.

After that, I proceeded to Brüsel, an amazing comic book shop, where I did a little talk and booksigning. It was a small audience, but as I did my powerpoint routine, stray people in the store wandered over to watch. Like, people who were out with their kids on a Sunday afternoon. That was kind of cool. And there were some hard core DTWOF fans, which was delightful. I drew pictures in a bunch of books for people, and did another interview with two women from a Belgian lesbian magazine called SCUM Grrrls. That’s scum as in S.C.U.M. manifesto, and girls as in Riot Grrls, they explained to me—their mission is to bridge the gap between these two feminist generations.

Then we went to a café where I tried white beer, which tasted like the incense they burn in church. Then we had some excellent Thai food. Then we took the Very Fast Train back to Paris.

Three interviews, one signing, and about eight meals, counting the ones they gave us on the TGV. Quite a day.

79 Responses to “Bruxelles”

  1. Smctopia says:

    After all of this talk about Tintin, I’m really going to have to check out those books.

    And do you draw pictures in books everytime you do a signing?

  2. meg says:

    No, dammit, she doesn’t.

  3. Jaibe says:

    Why not move to Brussels! It’s a great city!!

  4. VL says:

    After the first couple of albums, Herge was very strict that he used realistic and in many cases real places. For the Calculus Affair, he spent time for a specific place in a Swiss road where the opposition could push Tintin’s car to a lake…

  5. Ng Yi-Sheng says:

    You’ve heard about his grand epiphany over Chinese culture that he describes in “Blue Lotus”, haven’t you? How it was only after research that he realised that the rivers weren’t full of unwanted female babies or that women went around with bound feet anymore?

    Sigh, I wonder if AB will ever come round to Asia. She’d definitely end up stopping over in Tokyo rather than Singapore, though. (Am envisioning manga-style DTWOF all of a sudden).

  6. Ann S in Madison says:

    What an eventful life you’re leading, Alison. I am sending lots of energy that you enjoy every moment, including the more distasteful ones (losing things). You are making a lifelong memory, right now, as I type.

    Have you ever heard of the Six Month Rule? I ask myself, how much will this matter to me in six months? If a little bit, I fret a little. If none at all, I let it go. Very rarely do I encounter something other than these two.


  7. Ann S in Madison says:


    In APPEARANCES on this site, Alison is going to be at Comic-Con in NY in Feb, 2007. So I surfed and found her at this link (scroll down to see her cute mug):

    They are calling her a “a bright new star in the graphic novel category.” I second that.

    Congrats, Al.

  8. sharon says:

    Alison, I read in an interview that you use photo references in your comics all the time. If this is still true, don’t you have to replace the camera?

    I just started reading the blog, and I love the generosity of it, especially the photos. I vote for a new camera asap.

    Your fan,

    Sharon Rosenzweig

  9. wondering says:

    Please sate my fan-ish curiousity: Does the red-hot Allison Bechdel have a girlfriend? So bookishly, butchly yummy. I saw her reading/slide show in Chicago and wished, wished, wished someone would ask the obvious question during the q-and-a session. I myself have too much pride to ask so bluntly. Plus, that would kill my chances later, if I come face to face with her at some point. Coming off like a fawning fan will not help. But knowledge is power. L’amour?

  10. Deb says:

    Ahhhhhhhhhhh Alison. What memories you are making! Sounds like a lot of fun and exhausting all at the same time. I love the idea of this blog being so generous. It’s true. Alison puts much of herself here and those of us that adore and respect her work love this aspect of the blog. I can’t speak for Alison’s personal life behind closed doors, but I believe she still has a wonderful partner that has been in her life many years. Yes, being a femme myself, she is deliciously “butchly yummy”!! But, she is spoken for. I look forward to you coming back to the states and enjoying some down time Alison, to relax and catch your breath!

  11. Tineke says:

    A selection of my pictures from the book signing in Brüsel are to be found at
    Feel free to download them, Alison. Enjoy!

  12. Macaroons says:

    Hi Alison!
    as a close reader of this blog, if you do really wish to speak French (because you gonna come back to France most certainly and Mlk is a bit thoughtless when saying that France is not the best place to practice French) I recommend the pillow-learning method for which I readily volunteer. We could make a combination of macaroons (I won’t make lengthy developments on the different variations and leave that to your imagination) and champagne (by the way, we Parisian dykes are not necessarily keen on Belgium white beer – which actually doesn’t taste like incense but more like some kind of fizzy bland light beverage). It was really very nice to catch a glimpse of you in real life, even though it would have been better to catch more of a glimpse. As a humble reader of your DTWOF AND of Fun home, I’m looking forward for the next volume. See you, most probably in Angoulême, (Colino, you’re so right about it!), love, M

  13. Tineke says:

    Re-reading your blog on Brussels again it strikes me that you/Alison think(s) of Brussels as a strange city. Why would that be?

  14. Silvio Soprani says:


    Thanks for the GREAT photos of AB in Brussels! Is that beautiful woman in the other photos YOU?

  15. Jaibe says:

    Tineke, those are *great* photos! If you wanted to donate one to the wider good, you could upload it to wikipedia & replace the old PR photo I stuck on Alison’s page! If you don’t know how, just email me (, need that second e, someone else was jaibe :-/ ) or of course there are instructions on wikipedia!

    I agree with Silvio the woman right before AB is (also) Beautiful!

  16. Jana C.H. says:

    Tineke: you’re from Vermont, Brussels is a strange city. If you’re from Brussells, Burlington, Vermont, is a strange city. Exoticism is in the eye of the beholder.

    Jana C.H.
    Exotic Seattle
    Saith JcH: Some people drink, some people gamble, some like whips and chains– I buy books.

  17. Jana C.H. says:

    Oops! The word “If” disappeared from the beginning of my last letter. New keyboard and mouse– sorry!

  18. Tera says:

    hey “wondering”…I’ve been wondering the same thing ever since I first saw a picture of allison. so she’s partnered huh? of course how could girl like that stay single. : (

  19. Sensible Shoes says:

    Alison and her girlfriend have been together for years and years now. On the old website, Alison posted an illustrated short story about their decision to get married in San Francisco, when SF was still holding queer weddings. It was a succinct and powerful exploration of the issue. Not sure if it’s on the web anymore.

    So.. y’all can stop drooling and find yourself your very own introverted artistic genius. Good luck.

  20. Deena in OR says:

    Ng Yi-Sheng,

    Manga-style DTWOF??? Wouldn’t that be yuri?

    Deena, who chaperoned her teenaged daughter at a mamga convention this year…

  21. Deena in OR says:

    OOPS! that should be MANGA, not mamga.

  22. K.B. says:

    The following is from an article in the Guardian from Oct 16:

    “[…] I have no kids, no partner. I actually just broke up with my partner of 13 years, partly because all I do is sit in my basement, drawing.”,,1923213,00.html

  23. Lydia says:


    I highly recommend eating mussels in Bruxelles.

    yr pal.

  24. Deb says:

    Oh my! Well, with fame comes exposure that sometimes is not wanted, nor true. If Alison wants to share deeply personal parts of her life so be it but I for one am not planning on believing anything in print unless she states it herself…….here.

  25. Jaibe says:

    All those of you posting about AB’s “status” should read this:

  26. DesiFemme says:

    Manga-style DTWOF… hot!

  27. Tineke says:

    Thank you for the compliments on my pictures. The girl right before Alison is not me, I’m just the photographer. 😉

    Jaibe, I’ll check out the upload at Wikipedia, although I think the picture there is quite nice as well.

  28. Elaine says:

    Aww, Alison! you have to be this side of the pond the same fortnight I get flu?
    Am gutted to have missed the London ICA event last week:(

    Sorry to hear about the camera issue in Paris.. still, Brussells must be some compensation for that downside! Am envious that you got to Brüsel as well Did you get to the Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinee on Rue des Sables? If you still in the city & have the time, a trip up the Atomium is always a bit of fun!

  29. Ann S in Madison says:

    Didn’t know what Elaine was referring to, so I looked it up. OMG! How totally cool! If Alison did get to the Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinee (The Belgian Center for Comic Strip Art), I’ll wager she had an orgasm.

    From Frommers guide:

    As you’ll soon find out, Belgians are crazy for cartoons. Grown-ups will love this place as much as kids do. Called the CéBéBéDé for short, the center, on a side street not far from the Gothic spires and baroque guild houses of the Grand-Place, is dedicated to comic strips and takes a lofty view of what it calls “the Ninth Art”. As icing on the cake, it’s in a restored Art Nouveau department store from 1903, the Magasins Waucquez designed by Victor Horta, which was slated for demolition before the center took it over. The building is an attraction in itself. A model of the red-and-white checkered rocket in which Hergé’s Tintin and Snowy flew to the moon long before Armstrong and Aldrin did it in mere fact, takes pride of place at the top of the elegant staircase. Beyond is a comic-strip wonderland. All the big names appear in a library of 30,000 books and in permanent and special exhibitions, including Tintin, Asterix, Thorgal, Lucky Luke, the Smurfs, Charlie Brown, Andy Capp, Suske and Wiske — yes, even Superman, Batman, and the Green Lantern — along with many lesser heroes.

  30. anonymous-eponymous says:

    Breakup + trail of camera parts all over Europe

    Seems like the breakup could be one underlying cause for the repeated camera mishaps. Unsettling incidents generally result in impaired recall and functioning on multiple levels that can extend for quite a while. Throw in the constant stress of travelling and appearances and things can get really hairy. A lot of evidence points to some pretty basic bio-chemical causes.

    Sometimes I realize that I’m not really operating at my usual high level. If I take time to reflect I realize that it’s because something real and important has happened and I’ve decided not to give it my immediate attention but rather to focus on the things I have to get done. But the problem will continue to affect my judgement and behavior in all sorts of untoward ways.

    My advice to you, A, is: Look both ways before crossing the street. With me, that elementary precaution is one of the first things to go. And would you recognize “Watch out for the bus!” in Belgian? Likely not in time.

  31. Suzanonymous says:

    “But the problem will continue to affect my judgement and behavior in all sorts of untoward ways.” So true.

    And.. Posts with links in them go through moderation, so Alison (or her assistant or someone, her cat, maybe) approved the quote above. It was a real interview, and approved to appear here. Sad news.

  32. Suzanonymous says:

    I meant the quote about the breakup, not about messed up judgement while an issue is on one’s mind.

  33. Deb says:

    That’s true, there is a moderator and she/he/it deleted a post a while back. If the breakup is true, then I am truly saddened to hear about it after they were together for many years. How many of us have had to do the same thing Alison is doing now? Deal with the emotional agony of ending a long term relationship while at the same time working during a critical time in your career that involves travel and public appearances……….so you have to keep up the face? Been there done that just in September along with the death of my father. It’s very, very hard but with friends and family, you can get through it. Chocolate helps too along with a cat! Let us know how we can support you Alison.

  34. Lillian says:

    Interesting as this discussion may be, I feel like we should be respectful of Alison as an artist by keeping her personal life exactly that – personal. I don’t want to take advantage of Alison’s willingness to share her personal life with us by speculating on it on her own forum. It’s really about the art, after all!

  35. Deb says:

    Lillian……….I agree. If I mis-spoke…….my apologies to the blog.

  36. Silvio Soprani says:

    Well said, Lillian!

    Having said that, I must also say that the culture of this blog is for the most part quite kind and respectful. It is a sort of oasis–brilliant unexpected and funny photos and perspective from Alison, and truly classy fans.

  37. AK says:

    Thanks Lillian. You said what needed to be said. It’s no longer a small, insular dykes-only community out there. (Not that that is bad, per se, just different.) Deb, you’re probably one of the nicest people here in terms of the kindness and warmth of your posts. Allison spoke in brief about some of the issues in that UK interview (and posted above) at one of her stops on the last coastal tour. There’s apparently some negatives to all this rock-star business. It’s like pandora’s box I suppose. I myself feel a sort of guilty self-consciousness sometimes when I post here, because, well, it’s AB’s space, not mine. She’s certainly gracious, and I hope not to tred to sully that graciousness. At any rate, I hope to see future non-DTWOF stories from her pen. In hardbound.

  38. Deb says:

    Awwwwwwww Thanks AK. Your comment to me was very special and it meant alot. Thanks to you again.

  39. shadocat says:


    I second that emotion…you are a fine poster. Since this does seem to be true, I do want to say to Alison I’m so sorry-you have many fans here, and you are in our thoughts, and for those of us who pray, you’re in there too. When my last long-term relationship broke up, I went to bed for three days-I can’t imagine doing all you’ve been doing. Dammit, there I go again-I said too much. Deb said it better when she said, “Let us know how we ca support you, Alison.”

  40. Deb says:

    Gulp, now I am really choked up!

  41. Amy says:

    Just wanted to add my support, Alison! I’ve been reading DTWOF for 13 years now. I read many comics and I think your work really stands alone on so many levels. When Fun Home was available at A Room of One’s Own bookstore in Madison, Wisconsin, I bought four copies and read the book twice from cover to cover. I went to the book-signing at same bookstore, was the last to get her copy signed and was so flustered I couldn’t even tell you how much I love your work, or thank you for Sparrow and Stuart (who resemble me and my partner so much it’s a bit scary at times). I’m so happy for you that Fun Home has taken off like this, and I empathize about the rough accompaniments. Please know that your hard-core DTWOF fans are with you through it all!

  42. Anonymous says:

    Ann S in Madison: *grin!* la Musee Bande Desinee is definitely something! Theres just soo much in Brussells that is just way out! Belgians have full of quirks and eccentriciies, & a lot of it goes into their art and urban architecture (speaking of which, in some parts of the old working class quarter of Brussells ‘Architekt’ is an inflammatory insult, so I understand)

    With regard to the Guardian article dated 16/10/06, I’d like to exprees my condolences to Alison, on what seems to be a pretty gruelling & hard time right now. 🙁 Take care, our thoughts are with you.

  43. Jaibe says:

    Tineke — the advantage of your photos (besids being very good!) is that, if you choose to, you can give them a very liberal license. This would mean your picture could be used not only on the AB page but to illustrate some other page (e.g. cartoonists). Since I just downloaded someone else’s PR shot, by the laws of “fair use” we can use that on the page about the person it’s promoting, but not anywhere else.

    Anyway, you don’t have to replace the photo if you don’t want to, you could put two photos on the page!

  44. Julia says:

    Lillian, thanks for your post. I was trying to type up a similar response yesterday, but all I could think of went along the rather ineloquent lines of “Ummm, inappropriate much?” and then I realized I was late for an appointment again and just had to leave it at that. So yay, thanks for voicing my opinion better than I ever could!

    And thank you, Alison, for the book-signing in Brussels. We had such a great time at your presentation, and I love my drawing 🙂 Also if it hadn’t been for “Fun Home”, we wouldn’t have made the trip to Brussels, and thus missed out on a fantastic city with really friendly people – and fabulous waffles, LOL.

  45. Tineke says:

    Jaibe and others – I managed to add one of my pictures to the Alison Bechdel Wikipedia page. See
    I hope I’ve set the copyright right (creative commons).

    Julia – funny that you were there too for Alison’s presentation. There weren’t many people in the shop, so I guess we must have ‘met’.

    I live in Brussels and it’s nice to read why you people would like to visit it or why you like it (if you already did).

  46. shadocat says:


    That Wikipedia page looks really good. I can’t seem to do anything like that-another reminder for me to become more computer savvy. Also about Brussels; I had a husband once
    (really I did) who was stationed in Berlin. He visited Brussels on leave once and fell in love with the city, taking many. many trips there, and sending back many, many pictures, which his daughters and I still have. I’ve seen so much of the city, I feel like I’ve been there myself. It’s a beautifil city, and I hope to go there in person one day.

    BTW, I know this is off subject, but what do all you other beings out there in cyber space feel about the election? Do you thin Kerry’s “bleep” will affect things as much as the pundits say it will? I saw Ann Coulter on the tube blathering on and on about it–whenever I see her , I’m always reminded of a snippet of a poem that goes like this, :”a rag, a bone and a hank of hair; they called her the woman that could not care…” Does anyone out there know where that comes from?

  47. Silvio Soprani says:


    I think “a rag, a bone, and a hank of hair” is part of the lyrics from a song I used to hear on the radio back in the late 50s/early 60s! Some kind of rhythm & blues, kind of elvis-era AM-radio, for those who remember those times.
    But for the life of me, I can’t remember who or what.
    (There was a song with the refrain, “Honeycomb, won’t you be my baby, Honeycomb be my own. …she’s a walkin’ talkin’ honeycomb. ” Anyone remember if this was the same song?)

    The second part, “…the woman who could not care” does not sound familiar at all. Hmmm.

    To answer your original question (Kerry), my opinion is that the people who remember Viet Nam remember the fact that those who did not have the money or the grades to stay in college DID INDEED end up sent off to war, so even though Kerry blew his whole joke (he really should NOT quit his day job!), there was a ring of truth to it, even if a bit subconscious on his part. Also (and nobody will give him credit for this–the Republicans are too defensive and the Democrats are too desperate– his gaffe was no more than a one/billionth of all the clams (that’s musician jargon: bad notes) Mr. Bush has emoted in his last 6 years.

    On a happier note, on the way home from my job today I stopped at the library and– oh joy–checked out some Tintin books. I have heard of them for years, but never really knew what they were until all the info on this blog, inspired of course by Alison’s visit to Brussels (and earlier, that poster in front of the bookstore in London, I think.) Am eagerly awaiting a chance to sit down and read! Thanks, everyone for turning me on to something new and wonderful.

  48. Maggie Jochild says:

    The original quote is from Kipling’s 1897 poem “The Vampire”:
    A fool there was and he made his prayer
    (Even as you and I!)
    To a rag and a bone and a hank of hair
    (We called her the woman who did not care),
    But the fool he called her his lady fair
    (Even as you and I!)

    I grew up hearing this phrase as a perjorative — i.e., objectification or reduction of womanhood.

    It was also the title of a song by Nat King Cole, in the 1960’s, I believe. “Honeycomb” was the great hit by Jimmy Rodgers. Its chorus goes:
    Oh, Honeycomb, won’t you be my baby
    Well, Honeycomb, be my own
    Got a hank o’ hair and a piece o’ bone
    And made a walkin’ talkin’ Honeycomb
    Well, Honeycomb, won’t you be my baby
    Well, Honeycomb, be my own
    What a darn good life
    When you got a wife like Honeycomb

    Again — woman as “parts.” Not critizing you, posters, just giving you the backroom info.

  49. shadocat says:


    That’s it! My dad used to read to us from a book of Kipling’s short stories and poems (Riki Tiki Tavi, stuff like that), I unearthed it from a carton of stuff from my parents’ house, opened the book, and there it was!Funny, I hadn’t heard it for about forty years, but that bit stuck in my brain. I remember “Honeycomb” too, but I always knew that phrase came from something else-just couldn’t quite remember what.Thank you! (But despite the “woman as parts”-thing-which I agree with- I still think the poem is pretty descriptive of Ann Coulter!)

    And Silvio- I agree with you about the “who went to war first” back in those Viet Nam days, and here’s why. My late husband and his brother joined up only a couple of months apart (to get away from home, mostly). My spouse was a high school grad with a couple of years of college under his belt. His brother was a high school drop-out. Hubby went to Germany, bro.-in-law went to VietNam. The family concensus (hope I spelled that right)has always been that Uncle Sam simply thought Jack’s life just wasn’t worth saving.

  50. Deb says:

    I remember the days during the Viet Nam war when my college friends and I would sit, pretty stoned, in front of the TV to watch the lottery. It was horrifying to see who would go and who would stay. If you had above a 2.5 gpa in college, some sort of impairment like bad feet or a palininal cyst or your parent/parents could pay off the senator in your district, you stayed out of the war. If you couldn’t do any of those things, you went no matter what……into the Army, 2 weeks of combat training and then you were then shipped into the jungle. Now 2 of my friends were able to get C.O.’s. Concientious Objector status, but they worked their asses off in community service. It was a horrible time back then. Kerry was referring to those times but the message tripped over his tongue and got lost amid the DC spin so to spead as well.

    I never got into country music, so I only remember the Honeycomb song on those weird Honeycomb cereal commercials. LOL……….sorry!

  51. Jaibe says:

    I like Brussels because even though it looks grey and rainy there are so many wonderful cafes and galleries and restaurants and you always feel like it would be a wonderful, arty home. Also, because it has two languages, if you are a native English speaker you have twice the chance to guess what a sign means! I almost accepted an EU job there just a few months ago, but then I found out I couldn’t still have students and do research so I didn’t take it 🙁 I keep hoping they will change their mind and let me have an affliliation with a university too.

    Now I feel obligated to think of another Wikipedia page to illustrate with Alison signing her book! But I have to go to work…

    shadocat, wikipedia is easy — just click “edit page” on a page you like and see how it is done, then go do that same thing on some other page. To upload a picture, copy the code from some other picture you like but change the name for the picture file to something that doesn’t already exist, then there will be a red link, and if you click it it will ask you to upload something! I usually edit fancy wikipedia stuff with two browser tabs open — one to a page I am copying the fanciness from and one on the page I am actually working on. Sometimes I even read the instructions (easier to find from google than directly from wikipedia, in my experience!)

  52. Tineke says:

    About the bookshop Brüsel. There weren’t many people at Alison’s presentation, since the shop/publisher didn’t make much publicity. The lesbian community only found out a couple of days before, only the day before the news was spread via ‘holebitext’, a daily mail & teletext communication from the (flemish) lesbigay federation.
    Anyway: arriving in the shop there were only French versions of Alison’s book. I know the tour was organized by the French publisher, but you would expect from a self-respecting book-shop they would have her book in English as well. Certainly because they have a rather large English department. In Brussels it’s not just French, but also Dutch (Flemish) and many more languages are spoken. Then I went looking for some copies of DTWOF, but sadly: none were there. I guess they’re hard to get everywhere?
    I had to go to an English bookshop (Waterstones) to get my English copy of Fun Home (I’m Dutch speaking so I prefer the English version – Dutch is, like English, a germanic language), and get back to Brüsel to have Alison sign it!
    Can authors put pressure on book shops? I hope Alison would.

  53. Julia says:

    Tineke, I did wonder about that. I’ve only been to book-signings in Germany so far, but they always had both the original version of the book as well as the German translation. I would have brought my English copy of “Fun Home” if I had known that Brüsel is so Franco-centric – their website should have been a giveaway, but I guess I chose to ignore the not-so-subtle hints 😉

    It doesn’t matter though, the French edition is really pretty. I don’t speak any French due to my anachronistic education which made me take Latin lessons for eight years (yeah, so useful!). However, between Alison’s incredibly expressive and beautiful art, having read the English version, and the Latin language foundation, I managed to understand more than I thought I would.

    I didn’t know Brussels had a Waterstone’s – one of the many reasons to go again soon! Oh, and I sent you a message via FlickrMail.

  54. Ian says:

    OK, this is slightly off-topic, but as the election’s been mentioned … There’s an article in today’s Guardian newspaper about Bernie Sanders, the current rep for Vermont.,,1937064,00.html

    For us Brits (and everyone else) could those readers from the States clarify if it’s a Senator who sits in Congress and a Representative who sits in the House of Representatives? It gets a little confusing for the rest of us! Yes, the world is watching your elections!

    Anyway, I’m not sure where Alison is now, but I hope things are going well and she’s enjoying herself.

  55. espiritdecorps says:

    My son learned to read from Tintin books. I always felt a twing of guilt since Herge had his racist moments. But I adore Tintin and now I feel validated.

  56. Monica says:


    A Senator sits in the Senate and a Representative sits in the House of Representatives. Both the Senate and the House of Representatives make up Congress (it’s a bicameral – 2 chamber – system). I should be watching my own elections, thanks for the reminder! ; P

    Actually, I have tried to get involved with the Deval Patrick campaign here in Massachussetts. Apparently, the other side has been targeting Latinos with scare tactics (if you vote for Deval, you will be liable for anything he may have done in the past). Since I am Latina and Spanish is my first language, I am hoping to help out at the polls. I couldn’t make the training yesterday (they teach you what to do and ask if you think people have been turned away from polls or have been pressured to vote a certain way), but I hope to still be of service. They may still be looking for people to help on election day . . .

  57. Alison says:

    Thanks for the link to the article about Bernie Sanders. Yeah, he’s Vermont’s awesome state rep, now running for the senate. His opponent is a most noxious businessman who’s been pouring millions of his own money into a mind-bogglingly offensive, fear-mongering campaign. I just hope he spends millions more before he gets trounced next week.

  58. anonymous-eponymous says:

    Kipling’s poem “The Vampire” could more easily be interpreted as an indictment of Queen Victoria (or rather the carelessness with which old soldiers and civil servants were treated by the government once they were no longer usefull).

    It is certainly a matter of record that he felt strongly about the inadequate provisions made for soldiers who had been invalided out of the service. And in the poem itself its is always “we”, i.e., a whole group of people, who have devoted themselves to a single woman. It was quite common in Victorian England for people, especially in literature, to express a personal devotion to Queen Victoria. And the poem was written at the very end of her reign when her popularity might have been waning and cynicism about some of the consequences of Britiish Imperialism to Britain itself would be on the rise.

    So, if Billy Bragg had written a song about how Margaret Thatcher didn’t care at all about the soldiers who came back from the Falkland islands (500 or so of whom have killed themselves since, apparently) it might be similar, but a whole lot less Victorian and metaphorical.

    I’m not saying that Kipling was not sexist (he certainly was) but this particular poem might not be an outstanding example of his sexism.

    Kipling also frequently took on the voice of some different character in his novels, short stories, and poems; this makes interpreting his works just that little bit more difficult.

  59. --MC says:

    Vote Republican or God kills a kitten!

    Re: Jimmie Rodgers .. not the Singing Brakeman, but a guy who had several hits in the late 50s. “Honeycomb” was one, but he also had another hit song, “Secretly” — read into it what you want:

    Why must I meet you in a secret rendezvous?
    Why must we steal away to steal a kiss or two?
    Why must we wait to do the things we want to do?
    Why, oh, why, oh, why, oh, why, oh why?

    Wish we didn’t have to meet secretly
    Wish we didn’t have to kiss secretly
    Wish we didn’t have to be afraid
    To show the world that we’re in love

    Till we have the right to meet openly
    Till we have the right to kiss openly
    We’ll just have to be content to be in love secretly…

  60. shadocat says:

    Wooo, MC- I’m gonna have to find that song! The guy that wrote “Honeycomb” wrote that?

  61. K.B. says:

    Sorry, I need to set the record straight, after “Suzanonymous” elevated my post to an official announcement.

    No, my above quote from the Guardian interview plus link did NOT go through any moderation, nor was it approved by anybody. It appeared on the blog the instant I posted it.

    I believe the Guardian is a respected newspaper, and I assume they would not publish (excerpts from) an interview without the interviewee’s explicit approval.

  62. --MC says:

    Shadocat, a quick search of the ASCAP ACE database reveals that the song was written by four writers or at least credited to four — Hugo and Luigi probably just put their names on it to get some of the publishing, so it was probably written by Hoffman and Manning. Now I want to find out what else they wrote, but it’s lunchtime.

  63. Maggie Jochild says:

    Wow, great information available on this blog. Now I know where to come with a research question I need answered for my novel-in-progress and Google fails…

    THANK you Anonymous-Eponymous for the Kipling analysis. Here’s a question for you — I know that Benjamin Franklin seems to be the originator of the (sexist) “All cats are grey in the dark” — but didn’t Kipling somehow give that more common currency? And if so, where?

    And MC, the song lyrics put me in mind of my favorite of the 50’s “what does this really mean” songs, “Secret Love” as sung by Doris Day. A hard-core lesbian-feminist revolutionary anti-police group I was a member of in the late 1970’s used to take song breaks during meetings (to diffuse the tension) and “Secret Love” was one of our favorites. Must’ve been hilarious to watch.

  64. --MC says:

    There were a lot of those songs around in those days, yes? (Incidentally, I went back to the ASCAP database, and discovered that the team of Hoffman and Manning wrote hundreds of songs together, including “Benny The Magic Bunny”.) There was “Secret Love” and Leroy Van Dyke’s “Walk On By” (“I love you but we’re strangers when we meet..”); later there was “Dark End Of The Street”, covered by everybody (my favorite version is by Percy Sledge, but Gram Parsons does a kickass cover of it). Secret love songs, a mini genre.

  65. Ian says:

    Thanks for cearing that up Monica. I was vaguely on the right track but am very glad you gave me the answer.

  66. shadocat says:


    Did some more research on the poem and I think your theory about Queen Victoria is dead-on! The poem was written in 1897, the year of her Diamond Jubilee, and England was busy empire building and making war during her long reign. And of course she withdrew considerably from public life after Prince Albert’s death, which would certainly cause the public to see her as “the woman who did not care”.

    BTW. the poem also inspired a play called “A FoolThere Was”
    which was made into a movie starring the late great, Theda Bara. The movie seems to be about a woman who drains the life out of men by having a lot of sex with them and wearing lots of mascara. At least, that’s my take on it. Here’s the Wikipedia link:

    Check out that Cleopatra costume!

    And Maggie J.–Regarding the song “Secret Love”. I remember that from the movie “Calamity Jane” which is painful to watch as an adult, but as a kid I loved it! Rememeber when Katie the singer, moved in with Calamity, and cleaned up her cabin, making it all nice and cozy? And THEN they hung a wooden sign on the door, which was in the shape of two hearts together and said “Katie & Calamity”. God, I was fascinated by that movie as a little girl. and now I know why…

  67. Maggie Jochild says:

    Shadocat, I’ll confess here — I have a total Doris Day fixation. I’ve actually driven by her house countless times on visits to L.A. hoping to catch a glimpse of her, believing she was a closeted lesbian. (After four husbands, I’m now willing to concede she isn’t. Probably.) Anyhow, I own and frequently watch “Please Don’t Eat The Daisies” which I think is not only the best of her comedies but I’m also fascinated with how much of the cast were closeted queer/bi actors. Excluding Doris, I mean. Or maybe… Whip crack-away?

  68. shadocat says:

    This may be a better link to the Theda Bara page

  69. Maggie Jochild says:

    Holy moly, Shadocat — just went to that link because I hadn’t really known much about Theda Bara, and that Cleopatra costume is smokin’! I then followed the link to her rumored lover, Alla Nazimova — is there any woman in Hollywood she didn’t sleep with? A whole subculture of hot Jewish babes getting happy with each other. Thanks for the new dish.

  70. shadocat says:


    Me too! Dontcha just love a blonde butch in buckskins? You know, I watched that movie the first time at age eight with my best friend, Janet, who was nine, and thought if she prayed hard enough, God would turn her into a boy. After we saw the “Katie and Calamity” scene, we somehow took that as meaning two girls could get married, so when we grew up…well my mother tried her best to convince me that would never be possible (but I guess she never really did!

  71. Maggie Jochild says:

    A blonde butch in buckskins…You’ve now ruined my chances for dropping peacefully off to sleep.

    Here’s the scoop on “Please Don’t Eat the Daisies” —
    Spring Byington (who plays Doris’s mother) — Supposedly lovers with Marjorie Main (Ma Kettle)
    Patsy Kelly (who plays the housekeeper) — Bulldyke more or less, lovers with, among other, Tallulah Bankhead — who also was lovers with Alla Nazimova (see above post) and Agnes Moorehead (Endora on “Bewitched”)
    David Niven (Doris’s husband) — bi
    Richard Haydn (Doris’s husband’s friend) — flamer

    For me as a girl, watching the scene in “Please Don’t Eat The Daisies” where Doris dances with another kinda butchy looking woman, Doris wearing pedal-pushers with a nominal string skirt over it to indicate “femininity” — I thought the two women were clearly dancing together, singling that song with the chorus “Up, down, in, out, any way the wind blows, goes love”. To me, it was all extremely suggestive and a hope of things to come.

  72. anonymous-eponymous says:

    Maggie Jochild:

    Gosh, I’m not really a Kipling expert.

    I had always thought “At night all cats are grey” was some obscure English folk saying, principally because something similar appears in the Cure song “All Cats Are Grey”. I think the Cure admire cats; or they wouldn’t write lyrics like “as perfect as cats”. I have always thought of the saying as being about how the world we experience gets changed by the context in which we experience it; cats in the saying are used simply as an example of things that are changed by being seen in the night rather than the day. I had assumed that cats were chosen because they are really nocturnal animals; they belong to the night in a way that humans don’t.

    I just read a letter of Benjamin Franklin’s in which the saying appears. He didn’t coin the phrase, though, a similar phrase appears in a book of proverbs published in the 1500s. People’s minds being frequently on sex then as always, the saying was probably used pretty often in the same context that “beer goggles” are used today.

  73. Suzanonymous says:

    K.B., maybe my posts with links go through moderation? Maybe I have been singled by TPTB out as a bad link-poster? 🙁

  74. Maggie Jochild says:

    anonymous-eponymous, maybe i’m pointing out the obvious here, but the way it was explained to me by my great reader of a mother (who got into kipling when we lived in calcutta during my babyhood): “All cats are grey in the dark” referred to the notion that — how to word this for public consumption — the sexual receptables of women, assuming you think of them as receptacles, all feel the same when the lights are off — i.e., once you get down to business, it doesn’t matter who they are or even what they look like, all that matters is the container for the thing contained, so to speak. and cat is something of a play on another word for feline which has female connotations. which makes even more sense if it goes back to the 1500s. so, anybody — does this have a link to Kipling? anybody? buehler? buehler?

  75. shadocat says:

    I have gotta watch “Please Don’t Eat The Daisies” again…

    Here’s my Patsy Kelly story;

    I was down and out one rainy afternoon, channel surfing, when I happened upon an old movie called “There Goes My Heart”. It was one of those 1930’s movies where a runaway heiress-type tries to live life with the common people. She is befriended by a young, cute, spunky Patsy Kelly, who lets the heiress move in with her. They share a tiny coldwater flat, sleep together in a Murphy bed (lots of jokes about that) and do a lot of suggestive things like peeling off their stockings in front of each other. The next day, Patsy getts her a job in a department store, where the heiress sells housewares. Meanwhile Patsy’s in another department selling VIBRATORS! (and making jokes all the way) It was great!

    Here’s Patsy’s Wikipedia link

    BTW-I am convinced Tallulah Bakhead has got to be the inspiration for Karen Walker on “Will and Grace”. Not only was she known for her substance abuse, she often asked her lover (Patsy) to dress up and act as her maid at parties! I also read somewhere she hit another maid over the head with a rolled up newspaper because she couldn’t roll a joint right (can we say Rosario?)

  76. Maggie Jochild says:

    You and I need to make a movie date, Shadocat. I went to Patsy’s Wikipedia page — great read. Then read the synopsis of “There Goes My Heart” at IMDB, and then began trying in earnest to track down a copy for myself. Not at Netflix, Ebay, or (shudder) Dang.

    The IMDB description of the vibrator Patsy is selling calls it the “Vibrato, a Sapphic device”.

    I think you are dead on about Tallulah being Karen Walker. I was fascinated by her in old movies as a girl. How did we “know” about certain actresses? What were we picking up on? I mean, Patsy Kelly is kinda stompin’, but — Kim Novak used to make me so worked up, at age nine, I was afraid it would show on my face. And years later, I find out, yep. Pearldiver.

  77. AK says:

    Kim Novak from “Vertigo”?? Really? Wasn’t she married a few times? (Not that marriage and homosexuality don’t often share a bed.) Wow, I should go back and watch that movie again.

  78. Maggie Jochild says:

    Okay, for the obsessed: If you go to the Doris Day page for “Please Don’t Eat The Daisies” and scroll to the very bottom, there is a photograph of Patsy Kelly and Doris on the set working a crossword puzzle together.

  79. [3!]mento says:

    Very interesting.