The Phantom Coach, or Ghost Theft Auto: The Masterpost

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Hey there!  I’m blogging twice in one day, which never happens, but what better way to finish 2016 than with a good old-fashioned livetweet post?

In keeping with an old British tradition, I livetweeted a ghost story on Christmas Eve, The Phantom Coach by Amelia B. Edwards.  I know, I’d never heard of it either, but it made for a fun little read.  Here’s the lowdown:

  • the story kicks off with our first-person narrator prefacing something that apparently really happened to them twenty years ago.
  • “I want nothing explained away. I desire no arguments. My mind on this subject is quite made up” – k, wow, gosh
  • anyway, wind the clock back 20 years, and our narrator is on some desolate moor in northern England, having like the worst hunting day ever
  • it’s the (ha) tail end of grouse season, so rather fittingly, he’s… erm, grousing about the lack of grouse to be found.
  • anyway, Ye Olde Google Maps has completely failed this poor sod, so he’s stumbling about in the middle of a snowfall, looking for shelter.
  • the snowfall graduates to a snowstorm, the specter of hypothermia rears its ugly head, & meanwhile the poor sod is on about his lovely wife.
  • “We were very much in love, and, of course, very happy” – maybe rereading Lady Audley’s Secret so much lately has made me a cynic but lol.
  • sure… uh, John. sure, John.
  • “Death! I shuddered. How hard to die just now, when life lay all so bright before me!” – is everybody this extra when they have hypothermia?
  • a wild old man with a lantern appears! John is saved!*

    *probably not, given that this is a ghost story, but whatever

  • good lord, according to Lantern Guy, John is literally so lost that he’s twelve miles from the nearest village and twenty from his home
  • it’s times like this when I really see the merits of GPS tracking
  • anyway, John invites himself into Lantern Guy’s house, which in any other circumstance would be rude af, and Lantern Guy’s like lol.
  • “It ain’t o’ no use,” growled he. “He ‘ont let you in–not he.”
    “We’ll see about that,” I replied, briskly. “Who is He?”
    “The master.”
  • (anybody else hearing drumbeats?)
  • so they get to the house and there’s a dog and suddenly I’m distracted wow ANYWAY
  • “the door was heavily studded with iron nails, like the door of a prison” – okay yeah I’m sure this is TOTALLY fine
  • “my, what an assortment of nails you have on your front door, Grandma!”
    “the better to hang Christmas lights on, my dear!”
  • “In another minute he had turned the key and I had pushed past him into the house” – okay, rude
  • did he just walk into a Walmart or
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  • regarding that bell:
    “‘That’s for you,’ said my guide, with a malicious grin. ‘Yonder’s his room.'”
    dun dun dunnnnnnnn
  • “I crossed over, rapped somewhat loudly, and went in, without waiting for an invitation” – OKAY, RUDE. GOSH.
  • watch, the Master will be Irish, and this whole story will be a metaphor for British colonization
  • “‘Who are you?’ said he. ‘How came you here? What do you want?'” – k like I know this guy is old & white-haired but I’m picturing Edna Mode
  • oh and our narrator finally gets a name! James Murray. cool.
  • I can finally stop referring to him as either “John” or “poor sod” in my head
  • the master: tf is this guy doing here
    Lantern Guy (whose name is Jacob, apparently): dude don’t blame me, this guy barged in
  • the master: no seriously tf are you doing here
    James: trying not to die
    the master: ……………………………fair
  • “I placed my gun in a corner, drew a chair to the hearth, and examined my quarters at leisure” – wait when did the master give you quarters
  • James. bruh. honeybruh. literally one line ago you said he “waved [you] to a seat.” you’re still in the same room.
  • and yet you’re claiming this room as “your quarters”? jfc no wonder neither the master nor Jacob likes you
  • I swear to everything if this doesn’t end up being a metaphor for colonization…
  • an incomplete list of entitled male narrators in the books I’ve tweeted:
    -Robert Audley
    -George Talboys
    -Raoul
    -Jekyll
    -this meatbrain
  • “The whitewashed walls were in parts scrawled over with strange diagrams”
  • “shelves crowded with philosophical instruments, the uses of many of which were unknown to me” – lmao I doubt they’re actually philosophical
  • unless somebody’s invented a Platoboe and nobody thought to tell me
  • or a Voltaireinet
  • (if anyone wants to jump in here with philosophical instrument puns feel free)
  • antithesousaphone
  • I need to stop
  • BACK SORRY had to shred some things for my mom ANYWAY WHERE WERE WE
  • oh right:
    “a small organ, fantastically decorated with painted carvings of mediæval saints and devils”
    Ghostbro would be over the moon
  • idk “a long array of geological specimens, surgical preparations, crucibles, retorts, and jars of chemicals” doesn’t sound super cozy to me
  • now James is staring at the master and making it weird, because of course he is
  • “much of the ruggedness that characterises the head of Louis von Beethoven” – ok what the snot
  • I’ve been googling away for like two minutes and I can’t find a single good reason why “Louis von Beethoven” is anything other than a typo
  • “His master then closed his book, rose, and with more courtesy of manner than he had yet shown” – oh you’re a FINE one to talk about manners
  • man, I gotta hand it to the master, I would have been way too petty to give this dude ham and eggs and only eat porridge for dinner myself
  • turns out the master’s been basically a hermit for a solid 23 years and he wants James to tell him what’s up with the rest of the world
  • like…….. I love the internet, you all know this, but rn the master is honestly
  • the master is mostly interested in what new scientific discoveries have been made, and at this point I’m pretty sure he’s just Doc Brown
  • (also, like. not that it’s actually relevant at this particular juncture, but what’s with him and Jacob. are they a thing.)
  • ah yes and now he’s going on a Jekyll-like bender about how ghosts actually exist despite what science says about ’em. charming
  • exactly one Venkmanesque rant later, it’s stopped snowing! cool! James is still a good twenty miles from home, though.
  • ooooookay–here, at least, is the “coach” part of the titular “phantom coach.” the night mail coach.
  • what do they say exactly–neither sleet nor wind nor… eh, whatever, it’s something like that.
  • ahahaaaaa the master just volunteered Jacob as a tour guide for James, and Jacob’s like “dude really?”
  • “A glass of usquebaugh before you start?”
    I have no idea what that is but it sounds awful
  • HUH now this is interesting
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  • and sure enough, my main squeeze says it originated from the Irish “uisce beatha”
  • oh my god yall if I was right about this Irish invasion metaphor after all I’m going to be over the MOON
  • anyway, James drinks the usquebaugh, it’s sufficiently awful, and he and Jacob are on their not-so-merry way.
  • “My thoughts were full of my late host” – if this is a pun, I swear…
  • they reach the road James needs to take to get to the mail coach and Jacob is just like
  • in what might be an attempt to make up for his truly terrible manners earlier, James gets out his wallet to pay Jacob for his trouble.
  • and Jacob’s just like “on second thought lmao”
  • oh goody, Jacob only loosened his tongue to tell James about a nasty fatal accident the night mail coach had nine years ago.
  • that totally won’t come up later as a plot point or anything. totally.
  • at any rate, James is now left to find the way to the night mail coach on his own, and he’s trying not to think of the master’s stories.
  • “I ain’t afraid of no ghost” – James, probably
  • an admirable sentiment, James, but you should definitely be afraid of hypothermia. which is setting in once more.
  • so James looks back the way he came and sees a light… and then another light.
  • sure enough, there’s the Dwolding Express, barrelling along. James manages to get it to stop for him, hops on, and off he goes.
  • nobody on this coach takes James’s conversational bait and it’s a leeeetle bit awkward
  • in news that should probably surprise no one at this point, the coach itself smells awful and looks held together with spit and prayers
  • James, poor sod, still hasn’t realized there’s a very good reason this coach smells like death. I’ll give him a pass bc of the hypothermia.
  • ooooop, the other passengers on this coach are quite literally giving him death glares, and now the penny has dropped.
  • so I guess all these guys on this ol’ hellsmobile are………….. ghost riders?
  • it’s going down
    I’m yelling timber
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  • so like, obviously James lived to tell the tale, but the whole incident quite literally cracked his skull open a little
  • don’t mind me, I’m just having wild theories that the master and Jacob are the ghosts of the two passengers who died later
  • dag nabit, I just went back and counted the passengers on the hellsmobile. no cigar. that would have been diabolical af
  • missed opportunity, Amelia B. Edwards, missed frelling opportunity
  • anyway, James never told his wife any of that freaky business, the surgeon who patched him up thought he was off his rocker, the end.
  • not kidding, that’s the end of the story.
  • WHEW. anyway, it’s nearly 1 am here, so I think I’m going to turn in for the night. toodles, kiddos, and happy Hogswatch to all of you ❤

So that was fun, and I may or may not be rewriting the story in my head at the moment (honestly, the master and Jacob should have been secret ghosts or something).  Stay tuned–I may be ringing in the new year in similar fashion… 🙂  Till then, though:

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Canada, week 15/general catching up

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Good Lord.  It’s been a heck of a fortnight (and then some).  I’m writing this post, or at least starting to write it, from CHOCS in Tulsa.  It’s been a little surreal to be back.  I know it’s been about three and a half months, but it almost feels like no time at all.

I may update some more during break–tell all my Canadian readers about Tulsa and stuff–but I’ve also got a lot of catching up to do, with friends and books and research, so I may not.  We’ll see.  In the meantime, here’s a boatload of updates from my last week in Canada/the first half of my winter break.

SNOW SNOW SNOW:

The cohort holiday party:  To celebrate being done with our first semester of grad school, my class hung out at a ping-pong bar called Serve for a couple hours.  Yeah, you read that right.  There, I learned that I’m far too enthusiastic with a paddle to be much use at ping-pong, and therefore that I should probably take up tennis.

Hamilton being pretty and stuff:

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A whirl up and down Ottawa Street:  Apparently Ottawa Street is the antiques street in Hamilton, sort of comparable to Main Street in Jenks.  It was late on a Sunday afternoon when I was checking out the street, so I’ll have to return at some point and actually check out all these stores.  Will report back.

I accidentally found the first Tim Hortons.  I knew it was in Hamilton, but I had no idea where specifically till I found it on my way to the bus stop.

Also, whY DID NONE OF YOU TELL ME THE DUDE’S NAME ISN’T ACTUALLY TIM HORTON.  I FEEL CHEATED, DAG NABIT.

Christmas shopping and slushpile slaloming in Toronto:  I like this city so much that I just had to see it one more time before I left for break.  It ended up working out quite well, because I wasn’t finished with my Christmas shopping.  Blue Banana, in Kensington Market, saved my skin in that regard.

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Also, I almost fell while navigating slush at least six times.  Womp womp.

Sellers and Newel Secondhand Books, on College St.: I know, I know, as if I need more books. But I only got two this time–Palm Sunday by Kurt Vonnegut, aaaaaand whoops, for the life of me I can’t remember the second one.

Oh, also, I’m officially going to be in a musical!  Hammer Entertainment is putting on Sunset Boulevard, and I got cast in the ensemble.  I’m SUPER DUPER excited for this… 🙂

That Lady Audley’s Secret adaptation is a thing…  I wrapped up the first part of the story about a week and a half ago and archived it through Scalar, a project run out of USC that’s being used to create interactive books and expand the model of academic publishing.  Figuring out the interface was a bit of a struggle, but the cool thing about Scalar is that you can create different paths through your content.  With Lucy Audley’s Secret, you can journey through just Alicia’s side of the story or just Lucy’s, or see all their posts in context.

(For the record, I’ve been informed that Scalar doesn’t always want to work with Chrome for some reason.  So if it doesn’t load for you, that may be why.)

TFW you get punked by a yogurt company…

Some of you have heard about this, but here’s the full story.  Back in May, my melodramatic ass tweeted this.

And then I completely forgot about it, till about two weeks ago when my mom and I came home from a day of eating Asian food and chilling at CHOCS (and in my case, working on the 20-page paper I had due the next morning).  I’d been warned told that we were going to have a family picture taken that afternoon, so I figured we were just meeting my dad and sister at home and going to the photographer’s in one car.

I could see my sister sitting on the couch as I walked up to the front door.  When I got inside, she was really happy to see me.  In retrospect, that’s the point at which I really should have gotten suspicious–we have literally never been that demonstrative, ever–but hey, I hadn’t seen my little sister in three months, so I was pretty jazzed myself.  “So I’m really impatient,” Claire said after the initial hellos were over.  “Your Christmas present is upstairs in your room.”

“Oh, okay, cool.”  I walked to the bottom of the stairs and saw this hanging on my door:

“Oh, that’s so nice!”

(Claire:  “No, look on your bed.”)

Then I got to the top of the stairs and saw this, on an easel beside my door:

Yep, it was that tweet I’d forgotten about.

“cLAIRE WHAT DID YOU DO HOW DID YOU PRINT THAT OUT WHAT THE–”

And then I opened my bedroom door.

Turns out Yoplait is bringing back Custard Style yogurt, and as part of their PR push, they’d found people who tweeted about Custard Style and organized surprises for them.  In my case, since I tweeted about my childhood, their idea for me was to recreate, in spirit if not entirely in substance, my childhood bedroom.  They initially DMed my sister on Twitter to ask if they could do this thing, and apparently the conversation went about like this:

YOPLAIT:  Hey, did you know back in May your sister tweeted about how her childhood died when Custard Style yogurt disappeared?

CLAIRE:  That does not surprise me at all.

So the people at Yoplait colluded for two weeks with my parents and sister, behind my back, and I suspected nothing, not even when they followed me on Twitter.

All this to say, when I walked into my bedroom that afternoon… Jesus Herbert Hoover Christ.

My room looked completely different.  It was like my childhood had exploded in there.  I’m talking dinosaurs, dogs, stuffed animals, ballet (including some old dance pictures, and my god, did I ever have stick arms when I was a kid), drawings I barely remembered doing, a harvest of fake sunflowers, and SO MANY YOGURT CUPS.  SO MANY.  But that’s not even what weirded me out the most.  No, no, what really made my brain short-circuit was that there was a dude in the corner with a camera, filming.

MY POOR OVERLOADED INTJ BRAIN:  Man in bedroom.  This never happens.  Does not compute.

ME:  Hi, uh …not to make this weird or anything, but who are you?

And he wasn’t the only one there either.  I heard laughter or something from the next room, backpedaled, and lo and behold, I saw two other people in the room next door.  A couple minutes later, I turned around for some reason and there were about six of them, and I was like “WHERE DID YOU ALL COME FROM?”

So yeah, for the next thirty minutes or so, they filmed me walking around my glo’d-up bedroom, looking at all the stuff in it.  My brain was pretty much a fizzling mess of circuits at this point, but apparently I’m quippy under pressure:

  • “Oh look, a Protoceratops!  Mom, how did you remember that was my favorite dinosaur?… how do I still remember that name?”
  • “Ooh, an Ankylosaurus!  I have no idea how I remember that name, either.”
  • MOM:  Are you surprised I could deceive you this much?
    ME:  Yeah.  I mean, I knew about the eyes in the back of your head, but this is new.
  • *examining a group dance picture* “Oh yeah, we had to make our own masks for this dance, and everybody else had really well-designed masks, and I just put on whatever I found at Hobby Lobby that I thought was cool, and it looked terrible.”
  • And then the perfect encapsulation of my life:  “This is not the first time I’ve been embarrassing on camera.”

At one point, they wanted to get footage of me eating some of the yogurt they’d brought.  So for about five solid minutes, they filmed me sitting cross-legged on my bed, eating yogurt, and then smiling into the camera.  I felt like a stock photo.  “Woman Laughing Alone With Yogurt.”

On the bright side, I’m getting far more out of this than yet another source of public embarrassment and a probable wealth of new reaction images of my face!  A year’s worth of free yogurt, for one thing, which is about the best Christmas present I could have asked for.  I also got a gift card, a picnic blanket, and whatever I wanted to keep from the stuff they got for my room.  Hey, it’s the first time I’ve ever actually made money from being melodramatic on Twitter, so I count it as a win.

(Oh, also, I finished the paper in time.  Just for the record.)

Coffee:  CHOCS is the love of my life and I missed it a lot k bai

Food:  I hit up Smoke’s Poutinerie on Spadina when I was in Toronto.  The cheese curds weren’t quiiiiite melted enough for my taste, but regardless, I’m drooling just from typing this.  Overall, I’m still ridiculously addicted to poutine.  Literally, I got poutine again from the student union the very next day.  It’s a problem.

Music:  Technically I missed my window for posting Vince Guaraldi Christmas music, but see if I care.

See y’all in a little over a week, when I return to Canada!

Canada, week 14

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Hello again!  This will be the penultimate post from Canada for this year, because I’m heading back to Oklahoma on December 14.  I plan to cram as much fun as I can manage into the week between the end of classes and my flight back (in addition to, y’know, actually doing my schoolwork and grading papers and stuff), and all of that will be in next week’s post.  For now, let’s recap the last week:

York University, again:  My research team went to York last Thursday for another archive dive.  The public computer terminals in the library were largely occupied, which meant we got to see even more of the on-occasion-literal concrete jungle that is York.  Unfortunately, my phone battery petered out before I could take more pictures (thanks to all my snapchatting, oops), but I did manage to get this shot of their engineering building…

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Yeah, I’ll admit it, that’s pretty cool.

Whitney Snapchats the Proquest Entertainment Industry Magazine Archive:

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More pretty Hamilton architecture:

Bryan Prince Bookseller:  I finally got around to checking out this place, right on the edge of Westdale Village.  It’s a super small bookstore, but the high ceilings and giant shelves make it feel imposing nonetheless.

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The spoils.

And an announcement:  Some of you may know already that I’ve been working on a modern-day retelling of Lady Audley’s Secret for my new media methods class.  I’m telling the story through Alicia Audley’s mostly anonymous Tumblr and her stepmother Lucy Audley’s very much public Instagram.  If you want, you can review my livetweet of the book here (though it’s not strictly necessary), and the posts Alicia makes that directly pertain to the plot are here.  However, I’d encourage you to browse through the rest of her blog–see what sorts of pictures she reblogs, get a better sense of her as a person.  Happy browsing. 🙂

(Side note, I’m still trying to figure out how to archive the story posts so that they form some sort of coherent narrative after the fact.  If anybody has any suggestions on that front, hit me up.  I’ve tried Storify and it’s absolutely not going to work.)

Coffee:  Ark + Anchor Espresso Bar is blessedly close to my apartment, just a few bus stops and a nice scenic walk past the Freemasons house away.  The bulk of the tables are upstairs, in a lovely high-ceilinged place with a lot of natural light.  This place is a lot like Durand in that their bookshelf is chock-full of stuff I’d love to read if I weren’t, well, a horrifically busy grad student.  The mocha I got there was absolutely killer.

Food:  I’ve been walking past Basilique, right across the street from Bryan Prince Bookseller, for the whole semester now, and tonight I finally decided to stop by there for dinner.  I got the beef shawerma, and yes, that’s how the menu spelled it.  I’m not sure if it’s a misspelling or some sort of regional difference.

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Turns out the last shawarma I had, at the now-sadly-closed Al Sultan Grill and Bakery in Tulsa, misled me a little bit.  Imagine my surprise when the shawarma I was served had lettuce in it rather than French fries.  It was still great, though–very gyro-like, and I actually found the meat easier to chew than gyro meat for some reason.  I definitely want to go back and try their falafel and pizza.

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Music:  WE’RE SO CLOSE TO THE END OF THE SEMESTER I CAN TASTE IT

That’s all for this week.  Next week’s post should be jam-packed, so… till then!