The Rex Factor Podcast + Shackleton + bras
May I recommend
Few things have been as consistent in my life over these past eight years as my deep and abiding love for this profoundly geeky podcast. The premise is simple. Two British nerds, Graham and Ali (for Alistair - don’t get excited, this show is literally about the original WASPs) spend an hour rating and reviewing each king or queen of England. They start with Alfred the Great and go all the way up to Lizzie 2.
This might not sound like a particularly relevant, or even terribly politically correct recommendation given the current climate. I mean, Prince Andrew —triple gag; Charles — meh; those Ferglets and their hats — whatevs; Prince William —disappointing; Harry and Meghan — maybe not so great either… but I do feel a certain affection for Elizabeth. She’s on our money and our stamps. She’s so old and seen so much and worn so many hats… Unlike my friend Sara who hates Elizabeth with an unhealthy passion, mostly because she was forced to watch her Christmas Address every year, further delaying the opening of presents.
Anyway, this podcast is really and truly not about the current British monarchy. It’s much more about English history, which given Britain’s horrifying legacy of colonialism, is world history for big chunks of time.
Back to Rex Factor.
They’ve also reviewed all of the Scottish monarchs (just a bloodbath of confusing Donalds, Duncans and a surprising number of Constantines). They’re doing all the queens and consorts now, and it’s the best one… Everyone thinks Eleanor of Aquitaine is so great (she IS), but do you know about Isabella of France or Margaret of Anjou? Those ladies were not messing around. One of them murdered her husband — who was the REIGNING KING, the other one started the War of the Roses (kind of). Also, don’t EVEN get me started on Aelthelfled, Lady of the Mercians… Vikings attacked her en route to her wedding, so she and her party escaped and ran away, then they turned around, came BACK and killed those Ikea-loving Scandos - glorious.
Anyway, Rex Factor gives a biography of the person being reviewed, then goes through a series of factors and rates them on each - these include “Battliness”, “Subjectivity” and “Dynasty.” At the end of the hour-long episode they decide whether or not that monarch has that “certain something” - that ineffable Rex factor.
All of that history is great, super interesting. I love it because now (not to brag) I can differentiate my Edwards and my Henrys… I am hopeless with the Georges though - most of them are boring. I also have a better grasp on the 100 Year War, the Crusades (so dumb!), English-Scottish relations (so angry!) and just what an Infanta is (Spanish princess - basically).
The best thing about the podcast is the dynamic between the two hosts. Graham is the one who does the research, knows about the history and leads each episode. Ali is the listener stand-in and he’s wonderful because he forgets everything and actually isn’t that interested in all the boring things that listeners don’t care about either, so he moves Graham along to the good stuff - sex, crazy battles, bonkers stories. They’ve been recording for over ten years and they’ve gone from goofy young men to goofy husbands and fathers with jobs. The very very best part is that these are two guys who love each other and enjoy each other’s company and love teasing each other and it’s wonderful.
Sound quality is pretty lousy in the early episodes, so I’d recommend skipping them if you’re fussy about that kind of things. You could just start with the latest series - which is all about the wives (and occasional husband) of the monarchs.
Listen to this podcast and then we can talk about how crazy Kenneth II’s death was (booby trapped statue that shot a dozen arrows into his unsuspecting body); how Edward the AEtheling was the Forrest Gump of his day and about how Ali has never listened to a single episode of his own podcast.
Do you have a podcast you love? I am all ears (ha ha ha ha!) tell us about it in the comments below!
Ernest Shackleton and his recovered ship
Okay, in keeping on the nerd theme… What about the discovery of the Endurance under the Antarctic ice? I feel a personal connection with Ernest Shackleton and his bonkers incredible story of survival and humanity and courage because I am related to a Shackleton super fan (A Shack-head, as they are called — note: they are not called that).
Shackleton never made it to the pole or beyond, but his leadership in rescuing all his crew and his exploits, which included an 800-mile open-boat journey across the treacherous Southern Ocean to the island of South Georgia, made him a hero in Britain.
Anyway, if you’re not familiar with this story, start with the Wikipedia page, skip down to the bit about The Endurance, and then keep digging. It’s incredible, and now they’ve found the dang boat!
This is the tiny boat they used to cross the most dangerous water on earth to get help for the rest of the men.
Burn the bras
This article is highly relevant to my interests.
On TikTok, users hacked apart their old padded push-ups with scissors to turn them into lacy bralettes. Watching the videos felt cathartic. At long last, the cages designed to squish our breasts into unpleasant contortions were being retired in favour of something softer and less constricting.
Arcane Internet deep dives
I didn’t know that I cared about random Wikipedia photos of strangers, but this IS an adorable love story that is worth your time, as it delves into a very minute and specific corner of the Internet.
A quick search of “high five wikipedia photo” shows that the images are an object of fascination for many others besides me. People around the world have noted that the pair looks a lot like Rachel and Chandler from Friends. But not everyone is a fan. In 2020, one particularly passionate Wikipedia user named Kugihot suggested the photos be removed because they were “simply a waste of precious Wikipedia public bytes.”
Dudes, I sold you a BILL OF GOODS, because the publisher has changed the cover of my next book for various publisher reasons. So now, THIS is the new cover of THE FOULEST THINGS. Get excited! So yellow! So blue!
In the publishing realm… Things are chugging toward my book launch for THE HONEYBEE EMERALDS. March 29th! Pre-order today! Yay!
Also, exciting news for anyone in the Tonwnships… I will be having a book event at the wonderful wonderful Brome Lake Books at 2pm on April 30!! I am very excited about this and am even hoping Covid rules allow me to serve wine in there, so if you’re looking for a little mid-afternoon buzz and a chat about Paris and emeralds and all the rest, come on OUT. I’d love to see you!
When they get old…
God forgive me, but I laughed
What is a thing…
Grandmas on Facebook
This is me, pushing leftovers like a used car salesman
Mandatory hamster content
I follow all this with rosewater spray
So soothing and such fabric envy
It’s a good question
Doing an investigate
I’m a simple woman
Let me see your hands
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