The Happy List

Things making me happy today:

1) My Husband!!!

Rather an obvious choice, but also the best.  Being a newlywed is ridiculously fun.  :D

2) NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour

I don’t know how I hadn’t found this podcast ages ago, but I’ve been downloading past episodes for two weeks now and feel rather like the first time I discovered “In Our Time”: blissful.

Their end-of-show round-up of happy things was also the direct inspiration for this post.

3) Snark about the World Cup

I’m a fan of hockey, ND football, the Final Four, and – especially this time of year – Wimbledon.  All this hullabaloo about football/soccer leaves me slightly cold.  I didn’t like playing soccer as a youngster.  It involved a lot of pointless running and no racquet and/or lay-ups.  The oranges brought by parents in tupperware at half-time were the only perk.

Therefore, I am very happy whenever there is an article or post or tweet or something brilliant yet subversive that tries to chip away at the FIFA juggernaut.  The best thing I’ve seen in the past seven days was this article from The Guardian.  I will definitely take Napoleonic mayhem and warfare over fake injuries any day of the week.  The fact that it centres on 1990s-era Sean Bean is pure yet delicious coincidence.

Sharpe takes on FIFA (and Bonaparte)


4)  Francis Underwood.

Machiavellian squee.

5)  Air Conditioning

It is entirely too hot in Montreal these days.  I know, I know — I just finished complaining about how cold it was for the past nine months, but I’m just difficult that way.

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My Movie Life

As inspired by Empire‘s new online series, I thought I’d kick off the new year by indulging in a moment of procrastination before finishing my next lecture.

What was the first movie you ever saw?

Continue reading

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Hello 2014!

I thought, given this will be a rather important year for a plethora of reasons, I would make a small list of resolutions/promises, if only so that I can refer back to it later on when I can’t remember anything I said on 1 January!


In 2012, Insatiable Booksluts had a wonderful challenge in case the world ended: page-counting.  I fell far short rather quickly, but this year, I’m in — even if no one else is.  Maybe it’s half-inspired by all of the new “shelfie” photos that keep showing up on Twitter, but it’s one literary competition that, somewhat belatedly and with more commitment, I want to try to own.

The Rules

– books can be non-fiction or fiction, but every page must be read

– books abandoned because of major suckage will not make the final tally

– Kindle books count, but only by going on the internet to find the REAL number of pages if I had bought a proper paper version

– the books counted must be FIRST-TIME READS — I could go back through GWTW or The Fionavar Tapestry as much as I want, but they would be for the soul only — the tally is restricted to new encounters only

Guy Gavriel Kay’s masterful trilogy — and one of my absolute favourites

2)  I always keep track of every book I read (pages now to be numbered), but I’m going to try to also make a list of all the films I watch.  This might sound simple but, given the fact that, combined, my fiance and I own the better part of 1500 movies, noting down every time something from the DVR or Blu-Ray makes noise could be a bit of a snafu.

3)  I want to write in my diary once a day.  I haven’t done it yet, so this might expire almost immediately as a year-long challenge, but I still have 5 1/2 hours to go…

4)  I want to be much better about being a consistent blogger here.  2013 somehow got away from me.  I could give a number of excuses, but wedding planning and course prep really shouldn’t take up that much of a girl’s time that there’s no chance to unwind and pontificate.  My idol in this (as in many other things) will be the Mighty Duff and her brilliant blog: Tangerine & Cinnamon.

5)  I suppose all of this comes down to the promise that I need and want to write more.  Considering what I have planned for the late summer, that sounds just about right.

I have a very good feeling about 2014.  I hope you do, too.  See you soon!
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Midatlantic Musings by Jane G. V. McGaughey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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“Kings are killed, Mr Garrison” ~ The Kennedy Craze Fifty Years On

The moment of silence has just been called for in Dealey Plaza.  The bells are ringing.  It’s been fifty years to the minute since John Fitzgerald Kennedy was shot to death.

I was born eighteen years after the Kennedy Assassination.  Having two historians as parents meant that I grew up with a lot of “extra fairy tales” told at bedtime: the discovery of King Tut’s tomb, the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, the fall of Anne Boleyn…  I don’t remember Dallas in November 1963 as one of the ones I continually asked for, but I do know that I learned the “facts” very early on.  I know where my parents were when they found out the news; I know where my godfather was; I’ve seen the clips of Walter Cronkite and remember my grandmother (who was the same age as JFK) telling me how eerie and silent the weekend was, with everyone unable to stop watching the coverage, both before and after Oswald was shot on live TV.

This morning, I watched my generation’s version of 22 November 1963: Oliver Stone’s JFK from 1991. Continue reading

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The Orangeman in Winter: Ogle Gowan, Masculine Frailties, and the Rise of the Orange Order

After many, many months of silence, I’m posting again.  The time since March has been slightly mad with conferences and research on the new book.  The next half-dozen or so posts will be versions of these papers that I gave at conferences in Boston, Montreal, Belfast, Galway, Vancouver, and Ottawa.  This first, “The Orangeman in Winter”, was first given at the Northeast Victorian Studies Association meeting at Boston University in April.  The subject of the conference was one specific year of the Victorian era: 1874.

*** *** ***

Picture Toronto in the cold spring of 1874.  There’s still frost and snow on the ground.  Your breath shows in the air.  In the lanes off Yonge Street in North York, a slightly haunted figure walks ahead of you.  In a kinder, more literary world, he could almost be Scrooge on Christmas morning, out in the snow in bed-slippers – if only he was smiling.  The man’s hair is grey, as are his sideburns and unshaven cheeks.  Seeing him, one can’t help but think that this is a broken man, an old man, someone who, perhaps, has lost something precious.  The man slips into a public house and makes his way inside.  Maybe the publican or a few boys at the bar recognize him; maybe not.  The old man looks up, checks that the liquor license for the premises is plainly visible, nods, and then heads out into the cold again until he comes across the next pub (and, this being Toronto, it’s not that far away).

1874 was a cruel year for Ogle Robert Gowan.  Forty-five years before in 1829, he had arrived in Upper Canada from Co. Wexford, Ireland; within one year, he had become one of the most important men in the colony.  As the founder and first Canadian Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of British North America, Ogle Gowan might not have walked with kings, but he certainly came close.  He received commendations for bravery from Queen Victoria, was a personal friend and professional asset for John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first prime minister, helped to crush the oligarchical power of the Family Compact after the 1837 Rebellion, and was the centre of the Orange Order, the most influential fraternity in British North America and, later, Canada, for over a century.  And yet, during his own lifetime, he became a forgotten relic of the past.  In 1874, he was forced to retire as the liquor inspector for North York, a job given to him by the Toronto municipal council out of pity rather than respect, at the same time that Orangeism was defining itself as one of the most powerful aspects of the Irish Diaspora, not only in English Canada, but worldwide.  So, what happened?

Continue reading

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Family History Ghosts

A brief plug before I return to a regular season of weekly posts.  I’ll be speaking at the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa Conference on 22 September.  This is an interview I did earlier today about it…


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Irish Green Season (aka “A Little Bit of Shameless Self-Promotion”)

Things at the School of Canadian Irish Studies are getting crazy these days (in a fun way), as we await the climax of Montreal’s Irish “Green Season”.  There have been balls, luncheons, poetry readings, film screenings… and now we’re all getting ready for Sunday’s 190th St Patrick’s Day Parade down Rue Ste-Catherine.

I got into the spirit as well — in both official languages (mostly).  Click here to read my op-ed piece in The Montreal Gazette this morning about the new faces of the Irish Diaspora.  Click here to read Prof. Michael Kenneally’s op-ed on the changing landscape of Irish Montreal.  And click here to hear me discuss the diaspora since 2008 en français on Radio-Canada Toronto’s “Y a pas deux matins pareils”.  

See you on the other side of the shamrock!


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