Bonnets & Sonnets: Reviews for June 25th


Music Review

Bardcore: Where have you been all my life?

Sara Krasne

There’s a new genre of music evolving on YouTube these days. It’s called Bardcore (or Medieval Style), and I am HERE for it! Bardcore is the soundtrack I didn’t know I needed as a historian and genealogist, I spend many days and nights steeped in the past, lost amongst the long (and sometimes not so long) dead trying to piece together their lives and connect them through the ages to the now.

Connected to both the present and the past as I am, hearing Progressive Rock (an occasional Hard Rock), Grunge, and modern Popular songs played out on harpsichord, lute-guitar, the bass notes thudding on hand drums and sometimes accompanied by the hammered dulcimer, melodies singing out on tin whistles makes perfect sense to me. Listening to this music, my inner band geek squeals in excitement and my nerdy heart soars.

The user names of the talented individuals who have pioneered this new and exciting genre may be lost in favor of their ‘real’ names one day, but for now I salute them. Graywyk, Cornelius Link, Algal the Bard, Constantine, Hildegard von Blingin’, Samus Ordicus and a host of others are joining the genre it seems daily now. Some of my favorites are those who have adapted the lyrics to a medieval (ish) style as well. Hildegard von Blingin’ has a cover of “Pumped up Kicks” by Foster the People that retains the catchy tune of the original song, but beseeches the “bully-rooks with your buskin boots” to “outrun my bow” of yew. And councils the rooks further to run “faster than mine arrow.” If you love music and are unapologetically nerdy, head over to YouTube, search “Bardcore” and fall into the past with a bit of anachronistic good humor. You won’t be sorry that you did! I’m off to the 1800s now, but I’m taking System of a Down’s “Toxicity” (Medieval version by Algal the Bard) with me!

YouTube Review


Ramin Ganeshram

If you are a fan of re-enactment sites and living history museums like Sturbridge Village or Colonial Williamsburg Foundation then you have likely seen the goods produced by Townsends (formerly Jas Townsend & Son) a manufacturer and retailer of reproduction 18th and early 19th Century clothing, cookware, and accessories. Not only do Townsend’s proprietors provide material for re-enactors, they walk the walk and are re-enactors themselves producing YouTube videos on everything from era-specific carpentry, camping and, my personal favorite, cooking. Billed as “a channel dedicated to exploring the 18th century lifestyle”, Townsends features proprietor Jonathan Townsend cooking recipes from both American and European cookbooks. Cooking both in a reproduction kitchen as well as campfire-side, Townsend prepares both long-gone recipes like Swanky & Gruit, Bison Soup and Corn & Eel Succotash along with those that are still familiar today like chocolate cream pie, fried chicken and pancakes. Clearly a skilled cook who enjoys the history of the dishes he prepares, the videos are both entertaining and educational. Lovers of the foodways of the Colonies and the Early Republic will enjoy this channel with can be found below.

Hold Still, My Dearest: Reviews for June 18th


TV Review: “Dead Still”

Sara Krasne

I will start by saying that this show is for mature audiences only as there are sexually explicit scenes as well as images of a graphic and sometimes gory nature. Set in Victorian-era Ireland, this show follows the exploits of photographer, Brock Blennerhasset (Michael Smiley), along with his niece, Nancy Vickers (Eileen O’Higgins) and his assistant, former grave digger Conall Malloy (Kerr Logan). Mr. Blennerhasset is a memorial photographer, meaning he takes pictures of the recently dearly departed, usually alongside their very much alive family. This type of photography was popular with the wealthy and elite of the Victorian era who had a somewhat morbid fascination with death and art surrounding it. Seances to commune with the dead were also popular in that time period and occur in the show. During the course of their adventures, a police detective, Frederick Regan (Aidan O’Hare), catches wind of an illicit photograph ring which deals in photos of a risqué nature. As his investigations go deeper into this seedy world, he seeks the advice of the renowned Mr. Blennerhasset. 

Dead Still is almost equal parts murder mystery and mad-cap detective story with a healthy smattering of macabre wit and humor thrown in for good measure. If you aren’t good at listening to Irish accents, you may have trouble following some of the conversations, but I love the accents and the delightful Irish-ness of it all. Most of the show takes place in Dublin and the surrounding country estates where it was, in-fact, filmed. This was particularly delightful as true-to-the story location filming is unusual these days. In a May 2020 interview with The New York Post Actor Michael Smiley spoke about filming in a huge mansion which only had one occupant who lived in a handful of the 40 or so rooms in the house. The crew filmed amongst the old relics left in the upper floors because who needs props when you’ve got the real thing collecting dust and creating just the right atmosphere? If you like dark humor blending with a bit of the ridiculous, you’ll love this show. The costuming is fantastic and mostly period accurate (there are a few discrepancies, but it’s a great show, so I turned a blind eye) I have found myself waiting between episodes with giddy anticipation and re-watching the previous week before the new one becomes available—in order to be in the thick of the story when the next installment  drops. The show’s tagline is: When death is in the picture, mysteries are sure to develop. And I think that when those mysteries develop, so too does an addictive show. Dead Still is available to stream through AcornTV, which is both a stand-alone service as well as a channel available through Amazon Prime. 

Film Review: “The Favourite”

Nicole Carpenter

Set during the reign of Queen Anne, spanning the years 1702 to 1707, The Favourite is the comedic tale of two women vying for the close friendship—along with the perks—of the English monarch. While complete fiction from the perspective of period costume and historic events, the film weaves an entertaining narrative lead by three strong female actresses portraying three actual historic figures. Olivia Coleman won an academy award for her portrayal of Queen Anne as a childlike monarch controlled by her lover. While Coleman gave a masterful performance, the historical record shows us that, as a ruler, Anne was highly involved in matters of state.

The love triangle shown in the picture is also fiction—Anne by all accounts was devoted to her husband, and enjoyed his mutual affection and respect. Some events shown in the film are based on history such as the political shift from the Tories over the Whigs, as well as Anne’s stroke; but little else of historic fact shines through this humorous depiction of the early eighteenth century.

Viewers will enjoy the imaginative story woven by the 2018 film, not for the depiction of the past but for the fanciful narrative.

Watching Men in Hollywood: Reviews for June 11th

Rowan & Romans: Reviews for June 5th

Two True Stories *Sort of: Reviews for May 28th