Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Orianthi's New Album

Orianthi, a friend from my days in Australia, has a new album, Heaven in this Hell, coming out on March 12, 2013 (just a week after What Darkness Brings for those of you counting down!). I've known Orianthi since she about ten, and she was a demon on the guitar even then. The only thing she ever wanted to do was play the guitar. Her wise mother just stood back and let her.

I honestly don't know if this song in on the new album or not, but she recently posted it to YouTube:

You can visit her Facebook page here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Sebastian's London: The Old Operating Theatre, St. Thomas's Hospital

Readers of the Sebastian St. Cyr series know that Paul Gibson serves as a surgeon at both St. Thomas's and St. Bartholomew's Hospitals in London. St. Bartholomew's still exists at Smithfield, but St. Thomas's moved from its original site in Southwark, on the south bank of the Thames near London Bridge, in the Victorian period. Most of the hospital's buildings disappeared long ago. But one of St. Thomas's old operating theatres is still there and has been turned into a fascinating, small, hard to find, and vaguely disturbing little museum.

Once the operating theater for St. Thomas's women's ward, it is rather bizarrely sited in the attic of the old church (which is why it survived, hidden away). It actually dates to slightly later than our period--1822--but the conditions here were much as they had been for hundreds of years. The concept of antiseptic surgery was still decades away. So were anesthetics. Women were blindfolded before being brought in for their operations--presumably so they wouldn't see the watching students packed in the surrounding stands like "herrings in a barrel." Light was provided by a large overhead skylight. Most surgeries were amputations; a skilled surgeon like Gibson could cut off a leg in less than a minute, but without anesthetics it would still have been a nightmare.

Note the box of sand under the table to catch the blood.

If you're interested, the museum has a small website you can visit here.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Good, the Bad, and the Funny

I stumbled across this by chance yesterday, and thought you might enjoy it. Not only are these people incredibly talented, but they have a great sense of humor.

I didn't even know there was such a thing as the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Happy Mardi Gras!

It's a cold, wet Mardi Gras here in New Orleans, although we did have some lovely parade days this year, despite Carnival falling so early.

These pictures are from the Krewe of Babylon on Friday night and Tucks on Saturday, and were simply taken with a cell phone, so I'm sorry the quality isn't the best.

Tucks was started by a bunch of Tulane students some decades ago, and has never taken itself too seriously. It's origins also help to explain the toilet theme. That's the King of Tucks, above, on his throne. They have some very original marching groups...

Happy Mardi Gras, everyone!

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Missing: One King....

If you've been watching the news, you know that archaeologists in England have just identified a skeleton uncovered beneath a Leicester city car park as the long-lost remains of King Richard III.

The timing is rather ironic, since I'm in the midst of plotting the tenth in the Sebastian St. Cyr series (tentatively entitled Who Buries the Dead) and it coincidentally involves the rediscovery of another missing king--in this instance, Charles I. Charles, who lost his head in 1649 in the midst of the English Civil War, was another unlucky royal whose mortal remains went walkabout. They were found in the spring of 1813, when workmen accidently poked a hole in the tomb of Henry VIII. Authorities peered through the opening, expecting to see only two coffins--Henry's and Jane Seymour's. Instead, there were three. Fortunately for those Regency officials--who didn't have the wonders of DNA to confirm poor Charles's identity--the coffin was labeled. Plus, there was enough of Charles left that those familiar with his portraits could identify his head (yes, it was in there, too).

Interestingly, the whereabouts of Edward IV was also lost until he was accidentally rediscovered in 1789. Which makes me wonder, just how many other post-Conquest kings and queens have gone missing?

Update: It seems four other English kings are also missing: Henry, son of William the Conqueror and Stephen were both buried in monastic institutions that were destroyed under Henry VIII. Also missing is Edward V, the nephew that Richard may or may not have murdered. Someone did away with him and stashed him supposedly under steps in the Tower. A boy's bones were found there in the 17th century, but their authenticity is problematic. The final missing king is James II, who was buried in France. During the Revolution, his body and various parts suffered the same fate as that of other royals and aristocrats entombed there. Seems there's a book, The Royal Tombs of Great Britain, that goes into all sorts of ghoulish detail, although I haven't seen it.

Images credited to the University of Leicester.