Chateau Versailles, or, My Favorite Place Anywhere

VerPeople say that Disney World is the happiest place in the world but I would argue that it is the Chateau Versailles. Yes, I suppose the label of “happiest place in the world” is a pretty subjective one and one that would vary depending on who you asked and when (Revolution, anyone?). Continue reading

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Folklorama

folk It’s been a really long time since I’ve posted anything on this blog and I’m determined to get back into the swing of things. With a recent move to Winnipeg and working more on my cooking blog, I’ve let things fall a little behind. The good news is that there’s tons of historical things to do in Winnipeg so I’ll do my best to fill you in. Continue reading

Book Review: The Woman Who Wasn’t There by Robin Gaby Fisher & Angelo J. Guglielmo, Jr.

tumblr_ma7o0tTihj1qznuh0o1_400I can’t remember where I first heard about Tania Head but something took me to Amazon where I purchased The Woman Who Wasn’t There by Robin Gaby Fisher & Angelo J. Guglielmo, Jr. I’ll tell you right off the bat that I’m very interested in famous liars and reading memoirs that are later revealed to be fictitious. Maybe it was the psychology minor that I attached to my history specialization during my undergrad but I’m so interested in what motivates people to tell lies on such a colossal and daring scale.

Needless to say, The Woman Who Wasn’t There tells the story of a liar, specifically Tania Head, a woman who claimed to be in the South Tower during the terrorist attacks in New York City on September 11, 2001. It wasn’t even that Head pretended to be there, she carved out a name for herself as an “ubersurvivor” (as termed by the authors) with possibly one of the most dramatic and harrowing survivor tales to come out of that infamous day. Continue reading

Book Review: Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala

waveAlthough I’m an avid book lover, I find it easy to get out of the habit of reading. However, I find it just as easy to get back into the habit which is what happened after I finished reading The Painted Girls, by Cathy Marie Buchanan. Hungry for more delicious literature, I started reading Wave on my Kobo. Partially because it was there and partially because I’d recently watched The Impossible in preparation for movie awards season.

Both The Impossible and Wave are centered around the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004. The reason why I’m finding this topic so intriguing is because it occurred in such recent history and because I can so clearly remember it happening. I don’t remember the fallout very well (which possibly had something to do with my selfish teenage self focused more on high school prom and university applications), although I do remember my history teacher, a priest named Father T, letting us throw money at him which he tried to catch in a garbage can to give as donations. Continue reading

High Heels, Femininity and International Women’s Day

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From the Bata Shoe Museum. Silk shoes with yellow silk covered heels.
Possibly French, 1760s.

In honor of this year’s International Women’s Day, I attended a lecture put on by Herstories Cafe. It happened last Wednesday night at the Bata Shoe Museum (reason enough to attend, in my opinion!) and featured senior curator Elizabeth Semmelhack speaking about the history of the high heel. To supplement her already-fascinating topic, Semmelhack had an awesome slideshow that juxtaposed historical images (paintings, photographs, advertisements) with images from shoes in museum’s collection. Continue reading

The Future of Books

8-29-10ipadI’m sort of obsessed with this topic as a book lover, historian and someone who embraces new technology. With the advent of the ebook, everyone seems to wonder what will become of the typical paper book. When I was working at a public library, it was around the time that ereaders got really big; it seemed like everyone and their grandma (literally) got one for Christmas and was eager to use it to take out library books. Continue reading

Historians: As obsolete as the VCR?

How will the role of a historian change with the abundance of information in our digital world? As hard as it will be for historians to share the growing pool of information with non-historian people, I think that the role of a historian will ultimately always be valued. Historians will still continue to publish in reputable peer reviewed, academic journals; something that would be hard for non-historians to do. Historians will also possess the academic training that amateurs lack, and most importantly, let’s not forget about all the things civilization has amassed over the centuries. We still need specially trained people to take care of artifacts and interpret old documents and letters, among countless other things. Continue reading

Film Review: Les Misérables

lesI saw Les Misérables and really enjoyed it. I haven’t seen the theatre production so I’m sure that this is one the reasons I’m probably not as critical of the film as theatre buffs seem to be. The story largely follows former criminal Jean Valjean as he evades capture from inspector Javert, merging a tale of tragedy, revolution and love into one musical. Continue reading

The Journal of Hélène Berr

As a student I spent a great deal of time focusing on Holocaust studies and in my spare time, I’ve read countless biographies and books about WWII and the Holocaust. One of my preferred genres within the larger WWII genre are war diaries, and in particular, diaries from Jews who experienced the Holocaust.Helene Berr

The funny thing is, I actually stumbled across the Journal of Hélène Berr a couple years ago when I was in Ottawa. I was browsing the sale history books (you can seriously find so many non-fiction gems in this section!) and came across the journal, purchased it, and then proceeded to let it sit on my bookshelf for two years. Flash forward to this year’s Holocaust Education Week when I recognized the name Hélène Berr in one of the programs and was inspired to do a little Google investigating. Continue reading

Minimalism 101

minI went to talk about minimalism tonight at the Centre for Social Innovation. Promoting their new book were minimalists Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, the two men behind the blog The Minimalists. They spoke for about a half hour about how minimalism changed their lives and increased their happiness and then did a really extensive Q&A with the audience. Continue reading