Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Morning Coffee (12/3/14)

I know I'm the last person in the world to find this bandwagon, but I finally started listening to Serial and it's as compelling as everyone said.

Yay: Twitter is taking steps toward better harassment reporting and blocking.

Best birth announcement ever.

Aaaaaah, information about the Life After Life sequel!

Fascinating: Inside the Weird Brains of Real-Time Translators

I love books about books and I've somehow only read two of these, so I should get on that.

Why Don't You... Rent a Llama for Your Wedding? Why don't you... NOT DO THAT?

Unhappy Families in Western Art History

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

What I Read: November 2014

Betrayal in Death by J.D. Robb (Dallas/Roarke #12): A particularly enjoyable entry in the series, thanks to an interesting mystery case, ties to Roarke's past, and the usual strong character dynamics. I love that (so far, at least) Robb is keeping Dallas and Roarke in a good place while still dealing with the differences between them, and the relationship between Peabody and McNab provides a good secondary romance plot.

Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving: I knew the basic story but had never read this one, so I figured I should read along with the Classic Alice plot! I enjoy Irving's writing, and the Arthur Rackham illustrations in this edition were gorgeous. And, you know, ghost bowling. Absolutely here for the ghost bowling.

Texts from Jane Eyre by Mallory Ortberg: Quite funny, as expected - plus it made me want to go read or reread a bunch of the books it parodies IMMEDIATELY.

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton: Read for book club. I'm not a fan of magical realism, generally, so I had trouble getting into this - when people suddenly turn into birds or are so tall they block the sun, my automatic reaction is to roll my eyes. That said, while I was never sold on those aspects of the story, Walton did a good job of making me care about the characters. And I liked her prose style; the bakery descriptions were definitely my favorite part of the book.

White Snow, Bright Now by Alvin Tresselt: This caught my eye when I walked past the picture book bins at my local library, and I'm glad I grabbed it! The narrative was charming, and I really like the illustration style.

A Demon Summer by G.M. Malliet (Max Tudor #4): I continue to really enjoy this series. While I missed the village stuff a bit in this one, the look at nunnery life was fascinating. The mystery itself was a little slow to get going, but satisfying in the end. And I'm so excited about the developments in Max's personal life.

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame: I'd read this for a history of children's lit class in college, but my memory was hazy, so I reread along with Classic Alice. As is often the case with classics, I was delighted to rediscover how FUNNY it was. It was also genuinely touching, and while I'm not always the biggest fan of animal stories, I mostly got past that here. (I did have to make myself stop trying to figure out exactly how anthropomorphic these animals were supposed to be, especially when it came to things like how large they were compared to humans - the illustrations made them human-sized - and exactly how the animal/human justice system worked.)

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas: This was delightful - hilarious and clever and compelling. I only wish I'd done more background reading first, as I fear a lot of things were going over my head because I'm not as familiar with this period of history as I should be.

Morning Coffee (12/2/14)

My Vassar College Faculty ID Makes Everything OK

Huh: Supposedly Alois Brunner died several years ago in Syria.

Winnie the Pooh banned from Polish playground for being 'inappropriate hermaphrodite'

Whoa: Online Girl Scout cookie sales are coming. I am actually not that huge a Girl Scout cookie fan, but I like things that make it easier to help faraway family/friends' kids with their fundraisers.

Ooh, need a gift book recommendation? Check out the Penguin Hotline. Penguins are standing by!

Speaking of Penguin, I desperately want their new line of Christmas classics.

Everything I need to know, I learned from 'The Holiday'

This sounds like quite an auction.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Morning Coffee (11/25/14)

Like everyone else, I've been glued to the news watching events in Ferguson; my thoughts are with Michael Brown's family and all affected. If you want to catch up on overnight developments, here are liveblogs from the Guardian and Vox.

Also from Vox: How to Survive Your Family's Thanksgiving Arguments

I haven't had a chance to read this yet, but I bookmarked it for when I have a moment over the weekend and you might want to as well: A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA

I lost track of whether anything came of this last night, with everything else going on, but someone hacked Sony.

Check this out, The Good Wife fans: LetMeChumHumThatForYou.com

Netflix's Marco Polo series looks epic and lots of fun.

Is Your Governess Really a Spy?

Reasons Why I Would Make An Excellent Druidess And You Should Consider Me For The Position

Monday, November 24, 2014

Morning Coffee (11/24/14)

Programming note: Posts may be erratic for . . . the rest of the year, really. I'm traveling a lot, and taking random days off to do things like bake a ridiculous number of cookies, and my schedule is generally out of whack. I'll try to keep getting link posts up MOST days, but it may not be every day, and sometimes it might be later in the day than usual. Thanks for understanding!

Me elsewhere: TV news; Haven recap.

This is my new favorite thing: TV’s geek girls need to rise above being tech support

Sad: The Duchess of Alba has died.

Sigh: ESPN Suspends Keith Law From Twitter For Defending Evolution (Okay, they now say it wasn't because of his opinions [on scientific fact] so was it . . . disagreeing with a coworker?)

Your Monday would probably be helped by the Disneyland cats Instagram account.

I have been calling for 24-hour bookstores for years and I'm glad someone is finally listening.

Oh my gosh. Pumpkin Tetris.

How to Successfully Hijack Your Family's Thanksgiving

25 questions about Band Aid 30's new version of "Do They Know It's Christmas"

How are we feeling about the Peanuts movie trailer? It's . . . much better than I'd feared, really.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Morning Coffee (11/21/14)

Quick departure to the non-happy but time-sensitive: Daniel Handler, Racist Jokes, and the Disclaimer. If you want to help make good come out of this, Handler is matching donations to We Need Diverse Books today.

Now for your regularly scheduled Happy Friday links:

"Unnecessary apostrophes hurt Tiny Tim." How to Make Your Last Name Plural This Christmas Season

Author Alexandra Duncan is doing a great holiday giveaway with a prize pack that includes her book Salvage (which I LOVED) AND a $50 donation to the charity of your choice. Enter here.

15 feminist-improved pages for the computer engineer Barbie book

Study shows the media has a clear bias — in favor of dogs

What to Read if You Love Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” Video

Classic Houses In Literature Go On the Imaginary Real Estate Market (I got all these answers right and am very proud.)

Hee: Famous Author Bios

Just What You Need: Cats Sleeping in IKEA Dolls Beds

Snuggly Bookish PJs for Winter Reading Time

Friday, November 14, 2014

Morning Coffee (11/14/14)

Happy Friday!

Today in Christmas ads that made me cry: Sainsbury's. (It's set in 1914. I'm sure you can guess where this is going.)

Eeee, Netflix UK is making a giant epic drama about Elizabeth II's reign. I am beside myself.

Ooh: Clinton Library wins 'West Wing' scripts

How love and integrity made Welcome to Night Vale a massive success

My friend Laura accidentally baked 404 gingerbread men. Trust me, you want to read this.

Caveat: My parents are very good at understanding/learning about my various jobs. That said, I have run into all of these with other people in my life: 22 Things That Happen When Your Parents Don’t Understand Your Job

This is a great Q&A with Taylor Swift.

The Rise Of The 'Lumbersexual' (I am in favor.)

Video Games Set During The Protestant Wars Of Reformation That I Wish Existed

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Morning Coffee (11/13/14)

Ooh! The First Close-Up Image of Comet 67P From the Philae Lander

I love this: Taylor Swift and the Myth of the Mean Greedy Artist. I can't even decide on a line to quote. "The bottom line is that artists’ rights are workers’ rights. You are not being progressive or radical by denying artists the right to control their own work. You are not helping the underprivileged by making it impossible for anyone who isn’t already rich and privileged to take up artistic careers. Your pirated Taylor Swift song isn’t feeding the poor."

You probably already saw this, but Time's annual word-banning poll is terrible in general and includes "feminism" as an option. No. Let's not ban that.

Escape from Jonestown

This essay on Mallory Ortberg is great.

About The Time Shonda Rhimes Gave Me A Christmas Cat Intervention

21 Times Tumblr Told the Truth About Cats

Songs You’ll Never Hear On A Sufjan Stevens Album

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Morning Coffee (11/11/14)

Happy Veterans' Day, and thank you to all who have served. The Google doodle for today is cute.

And it's a good day to show you the video from the NatPro race my family participated in to benefit the Veterans' Oasis my dad is involved with at the college where he works. (Well, my brother and his fiancee participated. My parents and I volunteered.)

The new Taylor Swift video is amazing. (And filmed at the Royal Pains house!)

Martha Stewart has some great-looking meatless Thanksgiving recipes.

Ooh, you can stream Kristin Chenoweth's new album.

I want to go to The Last Bookstore.

Whoa: Jennifer Lawrence Hunger Games cake wins gold

"Out of the Woods on a Snowy Evening"

Monday, November 10, 2014

Morning Coffee (11/10/14)

Me elsewhere: TV news roundup for the week, Haven recaps, thoughts on Bones and Elementary.

Some of the SiriusXM holiday stations start tomorrow! (But my favorite one is apparently now only December 24-26. When I won't be in my car much, if at all. Boooo.)

Today in Christmas ads that made me cry: Marks and Spencer.

Also: John Lewis. (Penguin alert!)

Also: Coca-Cola. God, I'm a mess.

NBC is staging live production of A Few Good Men. Interesting.

A Playmobil movie?!?! I'm . . . listening. Cautiously.

Hee: Mallory Ortberg summarizes classic books in 140 characters or less

Women Rejecting Marriage Proposals In Western Art History

Friday, November 7, 2014

Morning Coffee (11/7/14)

Happy Friday!

Promising news: Twitter is working with an advocacy group to investigate the harassment of women

There's a new Into the Woods trailer, and . . . fine. I'm in.

If your Friday could use twenty minutes of pure delight, I highly recommend I Ship It, a romantic comedy set in the world of wizard rock, by Yulin Kuang, who's making a good case for become The Nora Ephron of My People. It stars Mary Kate Wiles of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, Sean Persaud of Shipwrecked Comedy, and Joey Richter of StarKid. (If none of those words made any sense to you, you might not entirely get this, but it will still be funny and adorable.)

Ooh: Vlogbrothers Bring “Crash Course” Videos to PBS Digital Studios

I read this oral history of Sports Night and now I need to rewatch the entire show immediately.

OPI has Peanuts nail polish and I want "WHO ARE YOU CALLING BOSSY?!?" with every fiber of my being.

Speaking of things I want, look at this Rainbow Brite bib necklace.

20 Style Tips On How To Wear a Plaid or Flannel Shirt I didn't necessarily realize this was a difficult subject requiring 20 tips, but this is absolutely speaking my language.

Two Words: Kitten Graduation

Thursday, November 6, 2014

What I Read: October 2014

A Hero at the End of the World by Erin Claiborne: A delightful romp. An unusual take on the "chosen one" trope with hilarious British magicians, diverse characters, and swoony romance (both gay and straight). So many references to tea and scarves. So many things I love. This comes out next Tuesday (11/11) and I highly recommend it.

Burned by Sarah Morgan (Miller Sisters #2): I didn't like this as much as the first Miller Sisters story, but it was a fun, quick romance.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel: I was going to say that I am so over dystopians, but I'm not at all sure that I was, as they say, ever really under them. That said: This is a magnificent book, beautiful and terrifying, and Mandel's gorgeous writing kept me turning pages even though the subject matter usually wouldn't interest me.

All Fudged Up by Nancy Coco (Candy-Coated Mysteries #1): An entertaining cozy of my favorite flavor - a female small business owner who gets thrown into a murder investigation in a quirky small town and meets a hot detective. The townsfolk were a little too quirky at times here, but the main character was likable and had a nice edge of humor. I didn't love this, but it gave me a nice evening curled up under a blanket drinking tea, and I'll probably try the next in the series next time I'm in the mood. My main quibble was that it could have used a good copy editor.

Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando: Loved this one - sweet but real, warm and heartbreaking and funny and poignant all at once. I thought Zarr and Altebrando did a really good job of getting into the characters' heads, and though I'm long out of college, their correspondence (and their thoughts about it and the meaning of friendship) made me think about my faraway friends I text/IM/email/etc. all the time who often know more about me than the people I see every day do.

Cloche and Dagger by Jenn McKinlay (Hat Shop Mysteries #1): A decent start to a cozy series. The hat shop stuff was fun and I liked the supporting cast, though it took me a while to warm up to the main character because a lot of her thoughts and actions seemed neither rational nor particularly supported by the text. I really liked the romantic interest, so I may check out the next one at some point to see where that dynamic goes.

Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek by Maya Van Wagenen: A fascinating experiment and a charming, funny, and thoughtful memoir. Van Wagenen is clearly very talented and I can't wait to see what she does in the future.

(Disclaimers: I know A Hero at the End of the World's publicist and she gave me an advance copy; after reading and loving it I started chatting with the author on Twitter. I got Burned from NetGalley and the rest of the books this month from the library.)

Morning Coffee (11/6/14)

Me elsewhere: Haven recap

Eee, Kirkus gave The Shadow Cabinet a star and a great review I very much agree with. I love this book.

7 Brutal Literary Breakup Texts (Which is to say that Mallory Ortberg's Texts from Jane Eyre is out and I'm very excited.)

Whoa: Scotland Shut Out of World Whisky Bible Top Five in International Booze-Ranking Surprise

Finding Marlowe

For knitters: Do I really have to knit (and wash, and block) a swatch?

Ooh, trailer for the new show by the Borgen people.

How a Secret Squad Saved London From Flooding in the WWII Blitz (Do we really have to specify WWII? Do people not automatically know which blitz we mean, these days? Sad.)

Why I Think I Would Make An Excellent Vestal Virgin And You Should Consider Me For The Position

Friday, October 24, 2014

Morning Coffee (10/24/14)

Happy Friday!

Austen fans, make sure you don't miss Death Comes to Pemberley starting on PBS this weekend. I have a lot of feelings about Matthew Rhys as annoyed!Darcy.

And here's a hilarious Pride and Prejudice refresher to go with it.

Look, footage from Into the Woods with people actually singing! I remain blithely optimistic, and fairly sure that just Chris Pine singing "Agony" will be worth the price of admission anyway.

YAY: Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski have been promoted to lead figure skating broadcast team for NBC for the 2018 Olympics.

Here's a trailer for the Hallmarkiest Hallmark movie ever. Christmas! Kittens! Hot firefighters! Brandon Routh!

15 Awesome Bookish Jack O’Lanterns

Fascinating: How the Met hangs tapestries

Hee: The organic genderless gingerbread debate

"I’m sure they’re not even aware of the latest technology in the mason jar pinterest scene."

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Morning Coffee (10/22/14)

Me elsewhere: Thoughts on this week's Sleepy Hollow.

Ben Bradlee has died at 93.

Fashion designer Oscar de la Renta has also passed away, and Go Fug Yourself has a great retrospective.

And in even more death news (sorry), I'm very curious to see what happens with the Duke of Marlborough's estate.

In case you were concerned, the Hallmark Channel has named an official commissioner of the Feline Football League.

Taylor Swift Just Went to No. 1 on iTunes Canada With Eight Seconds of Static

Interesting: What we get wrong about Lord Elgin

Your day could probably use these pictures of Prince Harry.

Hee: Songs From A Decemberists Album Where Nobody Gets Murdered

Friday, October 17, 2014

Morning Coffee (10/17/14)

Happy Friday!

So many things I love: Taylor Swift. Diet Coke. KITTENS.

If this Derek Jeter sweater were sold in knitting pattern form, I would probably buy it. Not sure I would ever get around to knitting it, but I would totally buy the pattern.

I am obsessed with these Christmas village sheets from Pottery Barn, even though a) I fear they would be too distracting to actually sleep on and b) I really don't need to pay $129 for Christmas sheets.

Princess Anne is semi-secretly really awesome.

Ooh: Crime writer Agatha Christies's lost diamonds to be auctioned

I've realized that when I think "tiara," Queen Alexandra's Kokoshnik is the one I automatically picture.

Online quizzes usually have lots of questions that make me think "I don't like ANY of those answers" or "Why does everything ask about Beyonce?? I HAVE NO ANSWER." So I was super impressed with this one, because it seemed very thoughtful or maybe I just liked the questions better: Who is your TV vampire soulmate?

I just enjoy this headline: Japanese zoo fails to breed two hyenas after both turned out to be male

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Morning Coffee (10/16/14)

Me elsewhere: Pilot post on Marry Me, which I hated.

All of Friends is coming to Netflix streaming on January 1st!

Here are the finalists for the National Book Award. Obviously my plan to read a bunch and blog about it didn't exactly go according to . . . plan . . . but I'm still hoping to get a few in.

HBO will offer standalone streaming sometime next year, but we don't know the details yet.

Yesterday was Baby Loss Day and my friend Miryam posted a powerful essay.

This obituary of David Greenglass was fascinating.

Christmas creep, explained: Do early holiday sales really help stores?

Interesting: Headscarf ban turns France’s Muslim women towards homeworking

The Onion: Facebook Offers to Freeze Female Employee's Newborn Children

Monday, October 13, 2014

Morning Coffee (10/13/14)

Me elsewhere: weekly TV news; pilot posts on Cristela and The Affair; thoughts on last week's Bones and Haven.

Sad news: author Zilpha Keatley Snyder has died.

The main thing that surprised me about this study is how late everyone apparently goes to bed.

When it is diversity that needs to be justified

Reza Aslan is always worth reading: Bill Maher Isn’t the Only One Who Misunderstands Religion

A fascinating read about Microsoft: The Empire Reboots

I agree that hug culture is out of control.

Apparently Danica Patrick is writing for Derek Jeter's The Players' Tribune, and her first piece is interesting and thoughtful.

The funniest thing I have ever read: Commenting Comment: A Magazine Dedicated to Internet Comments

Thursday, October 9, 2014

What I Read: September 2014

(Sorry this is a little late. Reviewing all the new TV shows is eating my brain.)

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley: I read this partially because of Frankenstein M.D., and it made me very worried about what's going to happen on the show. But anyway. This was very good, which I expected, but also very different from what I expected, somehow. It's clearly an essential book in a history-of-literature contextual way, but it was also an entertaining and surprisingly quick read. Give it a try, if you haven't!

Out of the Deep I Cry by Julia Spencer-Fleming (Rev. Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne Mysteries #3): This was a strong entry in the series, with a mystery that spanned generations and yet all tied together in a satisfying way. Clare is a compelling, complex main character, and her relationship with Russ is developing in an interesting and somewhat unexpected - if excruciatingly slow - way.

Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery (Emily Byrd Starr #1): An old favorite, reread this month for book club. Still love it!

Conversion by Katherine Howe: This one enthralled me from the start, with its combination of an historical Salem witch trials story and a contemporary mystery involving an outbreak of what seems like hysteria at a girls' prep school. I was slightly surprised to find that I liked the modern sections better - the historical chapters were fine, but I was always eager to get back to the modern story, and I think that's mainly because this was one of the most realistic-feeling portrayals of high school that I've read recently. I was also extremely impressed by both the book's fluency with social media - I don't think I've ever seen the term "subtweet" casually used in a novel before - and its depiction of a New England winter; it got the constant on-and-off of boots and coats exactly right.

The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black (Magisterium #1): First of a very promising new series. Compelling, diverse characters, interesting magic system, and plenty of plot twists. Plus boarding school! I love boarding school books. Can't wait for the next one.

Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan (The Lynburn Legacy #3): A perfect end to the trilogy. Hilarious, heartbreaking, swoony. I already can't wait to reread them all. I don't want to say anything specific and risk spoiling the earlier books, because I want you all to read them. Start with Unspoken.

(Disclaimer: I know Sarah Rees Brennan, Holly Black, and Cassandra Clare. All books this month were either purchases or from the library.)

Morning Coffee (10/9/14)

Me elsewhere: Pilot post on The Flash.

An important read about women, the Internet, and harassment: Trouble at the Koolaid Point

And author Sarah Rees Brennan has some good and somewhat related thoughts about women taking credit for their work.

The culture wars are back, and this time, everyone can win

God knows I like data, but the Cancellation Bear is terrible, and make sure you read this for the amazing last line from Todd VanDerWerff.

Librarians won’t stay quiet about government surveillance

“A Woman Too Soon”: Rilla of Ingleside and World War I

I love this kind of thing, that just shows how people live: Student life in Russia – in pictures

Heh: Man Infected with Ebola Misinformation Through Casual Contact With Cable News

Friday, October 3, 2014

Morning Coffee (10/3/14)

Happy Friday!

More of my new show reviews: Happyland (cute!), A to Z (very good with one big caveat), Stalker (NO NO NO DO NOT WATCH).

I have never seen Murder, She Wrote, but this makes me want to watch it all.

Likewise, I don't have a waffle iron, but these latke waffles make me want to get one.

This is quite the combination of things I like: The creator of Foyle's War is writing a new authorized James Bond novel about Formula One.

They found a lost Sherlock Holmes film!

Would an excerpt from a Christmas historical romance by a writer I like improve your Friday? Of course it would.

Have they discovered "Dracula's Dungeon"?

This was a great read: Who Killed Bugsy Siegel?

The Reclusive, Doll-Collecting Copper Queen of Fifth Avenue

Secret societies are fascinating, even ones that sound terrible.

what if a duck was sad
i don’t know
what if a pine tree were lonely

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Vampire Legal Issues, Season Five: The Mystic Falls Exists in a Legal Black Hole Edition

NOTE FROM KATE: From time to time, I make/let my friend Christine, who is a real life lawyer, go on about vampires and the law. Season six starts tonight, so let's legally recap season five!

Vampire Legal Issues, Season Five: The Mystic Falls Exists in a Legal Black Hole Edition

So Season Five was a season of The Vampire Diaries that was on TV! I have to be honest, it wasn’t my favorite season (too many villains, too many doppelgangers). But there were legal issues! These are kind of picked at random from what I remember and some recaps I skimmed over the summer, so this isn’t at all comprehensive but is rather a table of light refreshments, if by “refreshments” you mean “1,500 words of Christine complaining about the imaginary undead.”

I Guess It Depends on What You Mean By the Word “Move”

In the finale, the Travelers decide to change the boundaries of Mystic Falls by MOVING THE SIGN. Oh, says Markos, “we’ve reset the official boundary of Mystic Falls” so that it’s the same as the boundary of the spell. Um, no you haven’t. Have you EVER worked with a planning board? THAT WOULD TAKE YEARS. I suppose the Travelers could have inhabited the Mystic Falls planning board, but what about the other towns’ boards? Mystic Falls certainly ACTS like it exists in a vacuum, but surely it has bordering towns. So sorry, Markos, no dice. You did nothing to the official boundary, and you're going to have a dickens of a time sorting out your tax base.

Clearly Markos is not a details man and has just had his minions mark his desired boundary by moving the sign. This is obviously an excellent plan, because all you have to do to make a new town is mark the boundary in some way- signs, a chalk line, breadcrumbs- and it will WORK and no other towns will be annoyed or even notice (though I suppose if Mystic Falls’s neighbors were going to be annoyed they’d have popped up by now, and on second thought maybe vampires have killed most of central Virginia).

Also, if they did the spell to extend to the boundaries of Mystic Falls, how does that work? Does MAGIC just KNOW what the boundaries are, or do they have to do something like, “[magic talky-talk] and this extends to the boundaries of Mystic Falls as recorded in Book 2, Page 2894, Mystic Falls County Registry of Deeds”? Hee. I’d love to see them translate THAT into whatever the hell language they’re babbling.

You Think Coming Back From the Dead is Complicated for Our Beloved Characters? What about for their LAWYERS?

I feel really bad for the lawyers of Mystic Falls, because the precedent on people coming back to life after their estates have been probated is pretty light. I mean, YOU try to draft an estate plan for someone who could come back from the dead over a year after they died. It’s happening ALL OVER!  Assuming that your client will stay dead is basically malpractice at this point and there are probably no sample wills that contemplate that situation. Someone go to the boardinghouse and give the lawyers all of Damon’s bourbon.
Imagine:

LAWYER: *Sits in office, reconciling client trust accounts and wondering why she didn’t become a marine biologist.*
PHONE: *rings*
ELENA: Hi, this is Elena Gil-
LAWYER: *opens office supplies cabinet, takes out bourbon*
ELENA: -bert, and Alaric has come back to life. Can he have all his stuff back?
LAWYER: *CHUGS*

Seriously: when someone dies, their estate has to go through a process called probate- that is, the court-supervised process of re-titling assets in the name of the deceased person’s beneficiaries. (This can also be done by trust, but let’s not complicate issues.) So Alaric dies, or Bonnie (and her dad!), and hypothetically their heirs should be probating their estates- you know, selling the house, getting rid of furniture, changing the names on their bank accounts. That stuff wouldn’t belong to the dead person anymore, because there’s no dead hand control in property law. DEAD PEOPLE CAN’T OWN THINGS. (See: all my former Vampire Legal Issues columns, in which I complain about this at length.)

But what happens when the dead COME BACK? Do their heirs just give their stuff back voluntarily? Even if they did, surely at some point all that re-gifting would trigger the gift tax.
Anyway, the closest situation I could think of was people who have been presumed dead (sailors who disappeared at sea, prisoners taken captive and never heard from again). However, in Virginia you have to be missing for seven consecutive years (cite) to be presumed dead, and I have no idea what TVD's timeline is but it hasn't been that long since any of these people died.

I looked for cases of people returning from the dead and wanting their stuff back, but had a hard time finding anything really relevant (especially with a search limited to Virginia). There is, of course, The Return of Martin Guerre (and Sommersby!), but that’s more identity theft than a return from the dead. Of course, people are kidnapped or run away and return, but I didn’t find anything recent involving someone who had a lot of assets; in those cases, people can go to court to be declared alive again, but I didn’t find anything about the property complications, and presumably many of them had no property. There is Guillaume le Gentil, an 18th-century French scientist who was gone so long in his attempt to chart eclipses that, when he returned to France eleven years after leaving, his family had had him declared dead, his wife had remarried, and all his property had been claimed by others. It took tons of litigation and even the king to restore him, and I have doubt he was completely made whole.

The problem with all of those situations is that there was never a body, as there has been on TVD. So honestly, I have no idea how that would play out because I have never heard of a single case of actual resurrection (er, barring the religious). My best guess is that there would a LOT of litigation. Or, you know, that Damon would take care of it in some non-legal way. (I know he’s dead but whatever, we all know he’s coming back.)

EXHIBIT:

Yay Alaric! He’s charming and also has been dead long enough for his estate to be probated. Didn’t he at one point give Elena the numbers for all his accounts and contact information for his family? Is his family dead? Who did he leave his property to? Does Elena just keep the loft for storage purposes? Did he own or rent the loft? What’s he living on now? Did someone save his license and passport or does he need new ones? Can you IMAGINE the paperwork?

Who the F*&$ Even Owns Those Houses Now?

I suppose this question is academic, since the gang can’t go back to Mystic Falls right now, but who owns the Salvatore house NOW? Did Damon have a will? Does Elena still own it?  Who’s managing his investments? (You KNOW he has some.) Matt invites Katherine into the Lockwood House! So he still owns it, then? I wonder if Tyler will want it back now that he’s human.

Man, the chains of title on these places must be INSANE.
Aaron Whitmore, Beneficiary of All the Trusts, Apparently

Remember Aaron Whitmore? Blond, Elena seemed to like him until her boyfriend killed him and she shrugged it off? What was his deal?
His guardian, Wes, ran the Augustine Society (which: vampires seriously couldn't escape some rural doctors? really??) and Aaron, once he finds out, pulls the funding by saying this spectacularly opaque thing: “My family’s trust came through.” Um, did it? What the hell does that mean? Was he going to get control over the trust at, say, 21, and he just happened to turn 21 in time to cut off Augustine’s funding? Was the Whitmore family PERSONALLY funding Augustine, or was it through the college? SURELY Aaron must have had a personal trust, entirely separate from the college’s funding.

I suppose that Aaron could have had Wes removed as trustee, but that process would depend on the terms of the trust. Perhaps he went to probate court, but I’d like to see him explaining that Wes was mismanaging the funds by spending money on vampire experimentation. Ha!

Furthermore, was Aaron living off the same money that funded Augustine? How does Whitmore College work? Did Aaron just own it, or did he control its funding? It was all very confusing. Anyway, I hope there was a residual beneficiary for that trust (trusts?)! It would be SUCH a shame for it to escheat to the state.


So that’s it for now. Season 6 starts tonight and I’m quite sure I’ll be back soon with more irrelevant questions about the legal arrangements of the imaginary undead. Find me on Twitter @twtrlessfriend or on my new blog, Reign of Terrible, where complain about TV, share history links, and generally babble.

Christine