Study of a Cat

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There Is a Balm in Galahad

I find little etymological notes like this interesting. This brief post gives the background behind Sir Galahad’s name.

Aliens in This World

If you read older sources, the older name for Galahad is “Galaad.” That’s the Latin Vulgate spelling of “Gilead.” Sometimes you see people adding an extra H for their pronunciation convenience, and that probably would be where the H in Galahad came from.

Of course, Gilead probably came in as a Latin/English/Frenchification of his original name, Gwalchavad, which is super-Welsh and would be way too hard to say if you weren’t from Wales or Brittany. Defaulting to a nice Biblical name would have been a good compromise. It may have led to Galahad becoming more saintly of character, too.

Anyway, I’ve known this for a while, but it’s not something obvious or well-known, so I thought I’d throw it up there for the Internet’s sake.

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The Stinky Truth: How Clean Were the Vikings?

Author C.J. Adrien

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A skaldic verse from Egill Skallagrimson paints the picture of what once was considered the perfect Viking; created impatient from birth, presumptuous, and with a burning desire for a far-off adventure:
“My mother promised me, and soon she will buy me, a vessel and oars, to leave to distant lands with the Vikings…and to strike and fight.”

These early explorers are today remembered as brave, rustic men with long beards and flowing hair.  As historians of the 19th century would have it, the Vikings were uncivilized in their pre-Christian culture, thus making them unclean.  The notion of the Romantic Savage prevailed until well into the latter half of the 20th century, and arguably remains part of popular culture’s view of the Vikings.  What most people do not know, however, is that grooming was a central feature in Viking Age Scandinavian culture.

The Arab chronicler Ibn Fadlan, who encountered the Rus…

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100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write

Raging Biblio-holism

ruhlessaysThe Short Version: Sarah Ruhl, author of impossibly beautiful plays, brings us a collection of short essays on the theatrical experience, on motherhood, on writing, and on creativity in general.

The Review: My last performance in college was in Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice. (Incidentally, it was one of the first book reviews on this blog.)   And it was in college that I developed an abiding love for Ms. Ruhl’s plays – for their oddity, their beauty, their poignancy, and eventually for their wonderful difficulty.  As a performer, I’ve only ever been challenged so much one other time – and as a theatergoer, I can count on Ruhl to provide a theatrical experience made all the stronger by knowing just how difficult those actors are working to make the show float like a cloud across the several hours traffick of the stage.

It turns out Ruhl’s gift with language extends…

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