An unnecessary 21st century makeover

As I’ve said many a time, if you’re uncomfortable with historically-accurate terminology and attitudes, hist-fic isn’t the genre for you. It’s important to separate your own views from ones which might unsettle you but were widespread. E.g., it took me years to feel comfortable using the word Negro in narrative text (beyond just dialogue), but it finally got through to me that the term African–American was really anachronistic.

That commitment to historical accuracy applies perhaps a hundredfold when adapting someone else’s story to the screen. Knock yourself out being anachronistic if you must, but show basic respect to your source material!

That’s exactly the problem with Anne with an E, adopted from Lucy Maud Montgomery’s classic Anne of Green Gables. The screenwriter has openly declared her intention was to “update” it with 21st century Woke values. Laughably, she truly believes the lines between the scant original material she retained and the stuff she invented are seamless. Nope, anyone familiar with the book knows exactly what’s out of place.

By all means, put your own spin on a story that’s already been adapted multiple times. You can draw out things which were unsaid in the original but quite painfully brewing in the background during that era, or emphasise certain themes with parallels to current worries. Fill in gaps with stories of your own creation.

However, you need to stay true to the voice, style, and spirit of the source material instead of taking it in an entirely new direction to correct what you see as unenlightened omissions or embarrassing attitudes. I’ve zero problem with hist-fic including things like racism, bullying, gay and lesbian characters, child abuse, or menarche, but none of that was in the original!

Here’s an idea: If you feel so strongly about checking every single SJW box, create your own story instead of hijacking someone else’s and giving 19th century characters 21st century Woke Stasi values.

The first book in the series was published in 1908 but set in the 1870s. It’s beyond laughable to believe anyone in that era, particularly in a small rural town, would’ve done or tolerated any of this! There are so many outright inventions, distortions, and anachronisms, such as:

1. Anne never adds Marilla and Matthew’s surname to hers with a hyphen!

2. Diana’s maiden aunt Josephine is a lesbian?

3. And hosting a freaking “queer soirée” at her mansion?

4. Teacher Mr. Phillips is a closeted gay man?

5. Rev. Allan is now a raging, heartless misogynist instead of a kindred spirit?

6. Anne never ran back to the orphanage after the misunderstanding re: the missing brooch, and thus Matthew never rode like a madman to bring her back.

7. Gilbert’s dad never dies!

8. Anne never told sex stories to her classmates!

9. The relationship between Anne and Gilbert is twisted into soap opera-esque garbage, almost nothing in common with the source material.

10. Anne was never brutally bullied, despite some early difficulties fitting in.

11. Cole is an invented character, and it goes without saying any gay character would’ve been deep in the closet instead of coming out to anyone he didn’t already know was a friend of Dorothy. Even the most radical, open-minded person wouldn’t have been so nonchalant and accepting.

12. Sebastian is a wonderful character, but he’s also invented. There aren’t any significant Black characters in the books, though The Bog is a real neighborhood in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.

13. There’s no menarche storyline either. People just didn’t openly talk about menstruation in that era!

14. Also no storylines about lost loves Matthew and Marilla had.

15. Anne never investigates her family history at the orphanage or local church.

16. Ka’kwet is also an invented character.

17. Josie not only is engaged to Mr. Phillips, but leaves him at the altar?

18. Anne was brutally abused by her prior caretakers?

I hate this SJW mindset of depicting historical characters as the worst racists, sexists, homophobes, ignoramuses, and bigots who ever lived, while making sure to give the sympathetic characters anachronistic 21st century values. Even the most radical, against the grain people operated within certain parameters.

And if you can’t accept that, do us all a favor and stick to contemporary settings.

Why I love mechanical and early electronic televisions

(This is edited down and revised from a post I wrote for my old Angelfire website, probably around 2003. The non-public domain images are used to illustrate the subjects and are consistent with fair use doctrine.)

octagon

1928 General Electric television

To the untrained eye, antique TVs look like cabinets or radios with little glass screens. Thus, it’s suspected many more mechanical TVs exist than are accounted for in personal collections and museums. To date, there are at least 100.

About 7,000 early electronic televisions (1938–41) were made in the U.S.; 19,000 were made in Britain; and 1,600 were made in Germany. A handful were made in Italy, Russia, France, and The Netherlands. Altogether, there are about 200 verified, surviving American and British sets.

If you know what to look for, you might stumble across one of these beauties in an attic, a flea market, or an antiques shop.

first_picture

There were dozens of TV stations (all classified as experimental) from 1929–33, and again after broadcasting officially resumed on 30 April 1939. (However, the DuMont 180, the first electronic television, went on sale the year before). Most stations were in New York, Chicago, or New Jersey, with a few from states including Pennsylvania, Oregon, and Missouri.

Some stations were created by avid hobbyists and not credited as official experimental stations, but the frequency travelled for hundreds of miles. Thus, someone in the middle of nowhere could pick up signals from the nearest properly-equipped city.

Decades before TV Guide appeared, there were programming guides issued. Programming tended towards sports, music, variety, plays, and public speeches. Future President Herbert Clarke Hoover and Queen Mary of England also appeared on television in the late Twenties.

30line

Sample 1930 image

There were troubleshooting manuals, instructional guides, and how-to books for building one’s own television. In my second Russian historical, The Twelfth Time, Katrin’s husband Sandro assembles a television set during the annual summer-long vacation to a rented five-story cottage on Long Island in 1928. WRNY is the closest broadcasting station. The assembled viewers see a dancing puppet, followed by moving faces.

When the Konevs are quarantined on account of their children’s whooping cough some months later, Sandro sends over the materials for Ivan to assemble a television set for his own family. My Atlantic City characters, many of whom are rich, also have television sets during this era.

1931_Picture_goes_Blooey

The 1932 Jenkins Universal Receiver (which needed a TV set to go along with it) cost $79.50, and came with a set of eight matched DeForest tubes. It only provided “the sound and electrical signal to drive a separate R-400 display unit,” which “housed a motor-driven pinhole scanning disc and neon lamp.”

1932_Jenkins_Ad

A second universal television receiver from Jenkins was billed at $69.50 for the tubes and $13.45 for the tube equipment. Another 1932 television, from Hollis Baird, cost $39.50 for the entire get-up.

baird_ad

Early electronic televisions tended to be much more expensive, such as the $595 top-of-the-line model from Andrea. This beauty featured a phonograph and radio. Andrea’s cheapest sets started at $80.

andrea

DuMont models were $395 and $435. RCA went from $199.50–$600. Chicago’s Western Television Co.’s gorgeous 1929 model, with a 17-inch scanning disc (pictured below), cost $88.25 for the basic kit, another $20 for the actual cabinet, $85 for the companion receiver, and $20 for the consolette table. Also known as an echophone, between 250–300 were made, “probably more than any other mechanical set in the U.S.” At least 20 have been accounted for.

visionette-hd

Mechanical television ultimately failed because of the poor picture quality. Often the reception suffered from fading and ghosting, and only hobbyists and the rich had time for it. With early electronic TV, it was both the high price and the abrupt halt to the television industry caused by the war. However, injured GIs had TV in their hospitals.

rawls

Some other beautiful models I’d love to have:

dumont_180-hd

1939 DuMont 180. At least six are verified.

rca_60_line-hd

RCA 60-line, early Thirties. At least five are accounted for.

dumont_183-hd

1941, DuMont 183. At least five have been verified.

jenkins_jd30-hd

1932 Jenkins receiver kit. At least two have survived.

Baird_Televisior-hd

Model 26 Televisor, Baird receiver (1929–32, England). At least three have been accounted for.

Early Television Foundation and Museum
Television History
The Dawn of TV

Do you like antique TVs? Do you own any? Have you seen any in person? If you had one, would you attempt to restore it, or just use it for decoration?

Heroes and Villains Blogfest

Heroes and Villains

Jackie Felger and Dani Betrand are hosting another of their blogfests. This one focuses on our favorite heroes and villains.

As I’ve said previously, I spent many years of my life, from about age 11 on, watching soaps. CBS was my network, and my two favorite soaps were Guiding Light and As the World Turns. After GL jumped the shark in a number of ways, ATWT took over as my favoritest soap. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that some of my favorite villains are from soaps.

My favorite GL character was always Roger Thorpe, played by the late Michael Zaslow. (The callous way he got the boot when he was sick is one of many reasons GL gradually stopped being my favorite soap.) From the time I began watching the soap in secret in the mornings during summer vacation in around 1991, he was just my absolute favorite.

Sure he was a villain, but he was an interesting type of evil, not some psychopath without sound motivations and backstory leading him to this life. He faked two deaths, stalked people, blackmailed enemies, used dirty money, stole affidavits, bugged people’s houses, kidnapped and shot people, engaged in bribery, stole money, you name it. And yet he had a heart underneath all that villainry. His love for his daughter Blake and some of the other important people in his life was so obvious and genuine.

James Stenbeck of ATWT, mostly played by the late Anthony Herrera, was another awesome daytime villain. He also faked several deaths, used women for their money and connections, kidnapped people, attempted a number of murders in very creative ways (and was suspected of several other murders), actually did murder people, smuggled drugs and jewelry, embezzled, committed arson, pretended to be a ghost haunting a castle, ordered hits, orchestrated explosions and gassings, you name it, he did it.

James was just so awesomely, deliciously evil. Sometimes it’s more interesting to see what makes the dark side tick than follow a character who’s too moral and saintly to be real.

Draupadi and Pandavas

Some of my favorite heroes are the five Pandava brothers of ancient Indian mythohistory—Yudhisthira, Bhima, Arjuna, and the twins Nakula and Sahadeva. The three oldest brothers are the sons of Kunti, and the twins are the sons of Madri, the two wives of Pandu. Because of a curse, it’s mortally dangerous for Pandu to have sex, so Kunti conceived through a special blessing/invocation and later taught this trick to Madri so she too could have children. Before she was married, Kunti used this blessing for the wrong reason and had her secret first child Karna, who was raised by the Pandavas’ enemy cousins the Kauravas.

The Pandavas are just the epitome of righteousness, holiness, brotherly love, honor in battle, goodness, so many positive virtues. At the end of their epic days, near the beginning of the current age of Kali Yuga, the brothers and their wife Draupadi are taken on an arduous trek to Paradise, and a dog began following them. The younger brothers and Draupadi all die, and only Yudhisthira is left.

Yudhisthira refuses to part from the stray dog, and when asked why he cares so much for some strange animal yet didn’t react when his own brothers and wife died, he retorts that it’s important to show kindness to all living creatures, and that it was their time to pass on anyway. It turns out that the dog is his father Yama, the sun god, and he’s rewarded for his great kindness to even non-human life.

Yudhishthira is shown into Paradise and given a look at his brothers and Draupadi. They’re in agony and being tortured in Hell, while the wicked Kauravas are in Paradise. Yudhisthira insists on joining his brothers and wife, feeling it’s all part of a plan. The next thing he knows, all six of them are in the real Paradise, and Hell was just an illusion, one final test to demonstrate their magnanimous character. The good guys win in this story.