Happy birthday to Rudyard Kipling! Or, no, I’m not an Imperial Apologist, I just love The Jungle Book.
So back in the day, many countries of the world, great and small, decided that it would be super cool to travel around the world stealing other peoples’ land. This obviously wasn’t the most popular decision ever, and nor was it really morally defensible when you think about it, but hey, things were crazy back then.
ANYway. There were some pretty great things to come out of the British Empire (and other empires, don’t get me wrong), and one of them was Rudyard Kipling. Born in Bombay, British India on December 30, 1865, Kipling’s innovative short stories, narrative poetry, and beloved novels make him an enduring favorite of readers of all ages. Fun fact: Kipling won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907. He was the first English-language writer to receive the award and its youngest recipient to date. (He was 42.)
Kipling is probably best known for his children’s short story collection The Jungle Book which, along with its sequel The Second Jungle Book, is one of my favorite books ever. The Jungle Books tell the story of an orphaned boy who gets raised by a kickass group of jungle creatures which, I think, is every kid’s fantasy at some point or another. Plus they have other stories like Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, about a mongoose who saves a family from a pair of cobras, and The Miracle of Purun Bhagat about an old holy man who saves a town from a mud slide.
Kipling also wrote a short story collection for younger children called Just So Stories. The stories are fanciful fables about such things as how elephants got trunks (The Elephant’s Child), How the Leopard Got His Spots, and How the Camel Got His Hump. They are the cutest ever and you should read them to your kids all the freaking time. Ok, I guess that’s it about ol’ Rudy. Read on, friends!
So here’s the thing. Some people don’t like Jane Austen. As a rule, I wouldn’t really mind that, because I’m not the kind of person who needs everyone to agree with him, but I kind of really need everyone to agree with me that Jane Austen is the best thing in the world. Mostly because of all the anti-Austen opinions I’ve ever read, the most common complaint, by far, is that her books are boring. False. Patently, hilariously, stupidly false. I’ve actually concluded that people who don’t like Jane Austen probably can’t actually read. And since December 16th is her birthday, I shall here and now school you all on the lovely Jane’s intense awesomeness.
Because if you can read, and you picked up Pride and Prejudice, how could you not be interested in Mr. Bennet’s quip, “You mistake me, my dear. I have a high respect for your nerves. They are my old friends. I have heard you mention them with consideration these twenty years at least.” That’s gold!
Who can read Emma Woodhouse’s hilariously snarky blunder, “Ah! ma’am, but there may be a difficulty. Pardon me, but you will be limited as to number–only three at once.” And not literally lol? She’s so ridiculously self-satisfied that she becomes a bitch!
And the dry wit of Sense and Sensibility, “It is not everyone,’ said Elinor, ‘who has your passion for dead leaves.” So great. Point being, Jane Austen rules, and you (if you don’t love Jane Austen) drool. Full stop.
Step 1! Buy awesome Christmas cards like these!
Step 2: There is no step 2, dummy! You did it! Christmas card mastery unlocked! Send those cards! All these and much more here at KU! Come and get ‘em!
Let’s be honest, KU is pretty much stocking stuffer central. Santa shops here for the stuff he puts in your stocking. Seriously. Also he loves us. Obviously. Anyway, here are some stocking stuffer ideas for your favorite bibliophile!
All this and much much (MUCH) more at KU this holiday season! Come down and see us! <3!
Ok, so. First of all, my parents never really had us believing in Santa. I don’t really know why, seems like a harmless enough myth to me, but it wasn’t for us. When she was in second grade, my sister apparently was telling people that Santa wasn’t real. So her teacher runs into my dad and goes, “Mr. Marthens, Rosalie is telling the other children that Santa Claus isn’t real!” and my dad goes, “Well you know he isn’t, right?”
ANYwho. St. Nicholas is a real saint from whom Santa Claus derives. He was a Greek bishop who lived in the 4th century and because of the many miracles attributed to his intercession is sometimes called Nikolaos the Wonderworker which, if I’m being honest, is a pretty B.A. moniker. He had a reputation for giving many small gifts, especially to children, hence Santa being derived from him, but his feast day (12/6) is also celebrated by the giving of small gifts in many countries.
So when we were kids, my grandmother whose father came from a family of German immigrants would always remind us to leave out our shoes on the night of December 5th so that St. Nicholas could leave us presents. As with Santa, I think we knew all the time that the gifts were from her, but somehow St. Nicholas Day always seemed a little more mysterious and fun I guess because the gifts weren’t labeled.
So if you like giving your kids or grandkids cute little toys and oranges and candy, teach them about St. Nicholas and leave them some mysterious presents! It’s the best!
BONUS INFORMATION! The European traditions surrounding St. Nicholas also encompass the cautionary tales of Pere Fouettard (some crazy butcher guy who kills bad kids or something. It’s all very confusing if you’re not French) and Krampus! (The supernatural German version who’s like a hairy devil or some craziness. We have a book about him!)
OH MY GOODNESS YOU GUYS. IT’S DECEMBER AND KU IS SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO IN THE HOLIDAY SPIRIT! WE LOVE THE HOLIDAYS AS MUCH AS ANY HUMAN BEINGS CAN LOVE ANY SINGLE THING! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! CLICK READ MORE TO FIND OUT WHAT WE’RE UP TO!
Ok folks, here’s the thing. I do not go in for this New Age, wheatless nonsense. Give me carbs and give me a lot of them. I could eat nothing but bread for the rest of my life and die a happy man. This man could live by bread alone. And the best kind of bread, the very best kind, is homemade bread. Bread is one of the oldest cooked foods known to man (it’s approximately 30,000 years old!) and there’s a good reason why. Bread is freaking delicious. Also it’s a way better way to eat wheat than just as cream of wheat or whatever (ugh.)
So November 17th is Homemade Bread Day, i.e. the best day ever. So in honor of the best day ever, let me give you the recipe for my favorite homemade bread, English Muffin Bread! (From allrecipes.com which is the best website.)
2 cups milk
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons cornmeal
6 cups bread flour
2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
1 tablespoon white sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
|1.||Warm the milk and water in a small saucepan until very warm (125 degrees F/50 degrees C). Lightly grease two 8x4 inch loaf pans; sprinkle cornmeal inside pans.|
|2.||In a large bowl, mix together 3 cups flour, yeast, sugar, salt and soda. Stir milk into the flour mixture; beat well. Stir in the remaining flour, 1 cup at a time, until a stiff batter is formed. Spoon batter into prepared pans. Cover and let rise in a warm place for until nearly doubled in size, about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).|
|3.||Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Remove from pans immediately and cool.|
Yes, my dear Watson, November 7th through the 9th is a weekend of Sherlockian shenanigans in Victorian Cape May, New Jersey. But even though the actual events are happening out there (I was TOTALLY there this summer, but it wasn’t Sherlock weekend then sadface) anywhere is perfect for celebrating how awesome Sherlock Holmes is.
First of all, if you’ve never read a Sherlock Holmes story, read one right now. This blog post will still be here when you’re done. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote some pretty baller crime stories. And while they’re not exactly what you will have come to expect from other mystery writers, they have this fantastic tension and the characters of Holmes and Watson are just so great.
So now that you’re familiar with the source material, let’s talk about two of the recent adaptations of these works to the screen. The BBC’s Sherlock is probably the best show that is currently available. People are constantly complaining about how the series (which is what the BBC calls seasons, i.e. the first season of Sherlock is called the first series) are so short, but they kind of have to be considering each episode is about as long as a normal feature-length film! Featuring the acting talents of Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock and Martin Freeman as Dr. John Watson as well as an absolutely flawless supporting cast, I’m realizing that this post is starting to sound like a review/commercial for Sherlock so suffice it to say that everything about the show is perfect and you need to watch it.
The other important adaptation (IMO) is the duo (soon to be trio!) of films featuring RDJ as Holmes and Jude Law as Watson. Period pieces as opposed to the modern update presented in the TV show, RDJ and Jude Law are almost as perfect as Holmes and Watson as are Cumberbatch and Freeman. Plus the movies are a lot more star-studded and have people like Rachel McAdams and Stephen Fry in them, so that’s pretty BA.
So enjoy this weekend, my fellow Holmes lovers! And take heart! Series 4 begins filming some time in 2015… That’s not actually good news, is it. It’s ok, though. It’ll be worth the wait, I’m sure. In the mean time, enjoy these posts about Sherlock from BuzzFeed! Here’s one! Here’s another! Here’s a third!