Saturday, April 30, 2011

Remaining Sane: A Stroll Down the Keep Calm Gallery

I have been stressed, a procrastinator, annoyed,
frustrated, lazy, and tired of things not working out these past few weeks. Depressing, right? Then I came across this website called the Keep
Calm Gallery. It is perfect because I needed to attend a virtual gallery that instructed me to remain calm and carry on. I highly recommend taking a stroll down the Keep Calm Gallery, so that you can find some sanity as well.

You know what, the world is my oyster. I'm going to make this damn world into a pearl if it is the last thing I do.

I will make a salad tonight. I've totally abandoned healthy eating now that I no longer have my little brother to cook for, but I will not longer neglect eating my greens.

My eyes have been bothered by my contacts lately. I wonder if this is a poignant metaphor for my life or just a sign I need to visit the optometrist. Either way, I fear
something is wrong with this beholder's eyes.

Hmmm...the damage of gossip. Yes, a very important lesson to learn. I need to stop complaining and speaking ill of the world in public blogs.

I seriously want to frame this and place it in my kitchen.

As I'm trying to move and pack up this week, I hope that I can keep all my belongings.

Thanks, Keep Calm Gallery - it's been a fruitful stroll down the gallery.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Spot of Tea

There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.
-Henry James

William and Kate's Royal Wedding reminds me of those girlish dreams of marrying a prince - not going to lie, in most of those dreams it was Prince William. This same region of my brain that is responsible for these daydreams is also responsible for the urge to have tea parties. As a little girl, I would dress up in my older sister's prom dresses that enveloped me like I was the center of a fluffy pastry. Then I would gently take out grandma's china tea set and fill the cups with hot water, the creamer with corn pops and place cheeze its on a platter (aka crumpets). All this talk about the royal wedding has awakened those adolescent dreams of becoming a princess. It's really not even nostalgia; I still believe in the possibility. Along with the re-awakened dream of living in a palace, is the urge for tea parties.

Tea parties are brilliant affairs. To begin with, I love tea. Last summer I cooled myself down with Iced Passion Tea Lemonade. Even the instruments for making and drinking tea - tea pot, sugar and creamer, and tea cups - are so delicate.

And the hats. Oh, the hats! I love trying on hats at vintage stores, and I could spend hours looking at Yestadt Millinery's inventory. (Unfortunately, I could not manage to get a picture of my favorite hat from their website, so look up the "cookie" hat. Gorgeous.) For a taste of the the style, Anthropologie has a few of there hats: the Periwinkle Plaid Boater.Another store I peruse is

Then there are the clothes. For some reason, I always think of tea parties in some chic historical setting. I wish I could have a tea party dressed like the women in the Edwardian drama, Downton Abbey.I love Mary's dress in this picture (center). There is nothing more chic than well placed lace on an article of clothing. Lace and stripes? Genius.

I also love photos that I love posted on The Sartorialist last summer. They look like they could go to a tea party.
And having tea outside? Perfection. I threw a Garden Party last summer for my engaged friend, Katie (no not that Kate).
I made the Iced Passion Tea Lemonade and decorated with bouquets of hydrangeas and sprigs of mint cut fresh from our yard atop lace tablecloths. But there was a shocking lack of vintage parasols.

Then again, it is also nice to curl up in an old chair with a good book, sipping a cup of tea. No lace. No hats. Just a good old fashioned cup of tea.
"You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me"
-C.S. Lewis

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Shakespearean Profanity

Happy Birthday Shakespeare
To celebrate the bard's birthday, I suggest you use an insult today penned by the love of my life.

"Thou smell of mountain goat"
"Scratching could not make it worse...such a face as yours"
"Bolting-hutch of beastliness"
"I was searching for a fool when I found you"
"Out of my sight! Thou dost infect my eyes"
"Cream faced loon"
"Thou crusty batch of nature"
"There is not ugly a friend of hell as thou shalt be"
"The tartness of his face sours ripe grapes"
"Thine face is not worth sunburning"
"You are a candle, the better burnt out"

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Régine Chassagne is a Rockstar

This blog post is way overdue. Typical. I am a notoriously talented procrastinator. Ironically, blogging helps me be a procrastinator in other facets of my life, but this time I've procrastinated blogging about the Arcade Fire concert that I went to a week ago. It's about time I saw them in concert. Two years ago,I had the opportunity to see the perform but I decided to stay home and write a paper. That is a big regret - and I don't often believe in regretting things. Now I regret that decision even more, because their concert last week was incredible.

Their use of film was genius. Some of it was disquieting: i.e. black and white film of women swimmers treading water. My favorite clips were during the song, "The Suburbs." It showed teenage kids messing around on their bikes in front of their houses. The combination of that and the song made me extremely nostalgic: I want to be a kid during the summertime again.

One of my favorite songs they performed was "Intervention." Before singing, they prefaced it with mentioning how a dollar of our ticket money was going to support Haiti. I love how they are still supporting Haiti. Years after a disaster - when everyone forgets - is the crucial rebuilding period; they need the support more than ever. That coupled with the lyrics, "Oh! Who's gonna reset the bone?" almost made me tear up.

But the highlight of the concert was Régine Chassagne.She is a rock star. My friend Kylie always says people are rock stars, but she is the real deal. These are the reasons she is a rock star:

1. She plays the accordion

2. She plays multiple instruments, which is the sign of a gifted musician.

3. Her outfits

4. She is Canadian
I love Canadians. I cannot wait for my road trip to Prince Edward Island this summer, and to see my Canadian friend Janet when she gets back from studying abroad in New Zealand.

5. Her dancing
Oh my goodness, her dancing is a revelation. It's eccentrically raw. It is refreshing to see someone not restrict and conform their emotions to movements that society views as "normal dancing."

When she was singing Sprawl II, she spun around swirling the colorful ribbons on her tambourine...sigh...there are no words for that moment.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Reader, I married him

While many movie directors’ desperate attempts to stay true to a book makes them forget they are making an adaptation, Cary Funkunaga Jane Eyre illustrates that he understands that a movie should use the unique elements as a medium to provide additional depth and insight to a novel.

One way in which Funkunaga "adapted" Jane Eyre was the liberty he took in presenting the story en media res – it proved to be an absolutely brilliant stroke. It allowed Funkunaga to condense the earlier portions of the book; as the Rivers’ question Jane about her history the camera would cut to short snippets of Jane’s memory to answer the question. When St. John asks about her school, the camera abruptly cuts to the back of a girl’s bare neck that is struck with a stick. In one shot, Funkunaga encapsulated Jane’s experience at Lowell school.

Okay, so Funkunaga knows how to work a camera, but was it really necessary to present yet another movie of Jane Eyre? Jane Eyre has been translated to the screen more than a dozen times – surely everyone has said it all. Right? Au contraire, contrare mon frère! Because so many movie adaptations simply portray the book as a love story, Funkunaga wished to illustrate that there is much more to the novel. Although this adaptation begins in the middle and cuts out large portions of the book, it is the most successful at emphasizing the bildungsroman genre. Mia Wasikowska – thank you for an actress that is not over 30 playing the role of a teenager – shows how Jane is growing up by highlighting her discovery that she has a libido. The movie highlights Jane's ground zero by Jane's conversation with Mrs. Fairfax. This reminds the audience how naive Jane is – she has not traveled or even interacted with men in years; talk about sheltered. The cure? A sexy Byronic hero played by Michael Fassebender. He is perfect – (perfectly sexy.) I mean if this scene does not awaken your libido, you might as well cloister yourself in a nunnery.

It’s not all sex though - it portrays Rochester as – dare I say it – patient. Eh, perhaps patient is a stretch. But I always hated reading the numerous conversations in which Rochester pretends he is going to marry Blanche Ingram; he is such a manipulative jerk. Yet the movie highlighted more of Rochester’s motive – which downplayed the cruelty – by presenting the context of Rochester as a mentor in Jane’s journey to personal discovery. Rochester knows she needed to discover and boldly declare her love for him, so he used jealousy as a tool to exhume these feelings that were deep inside her. (I still think it was manipulatively Machiavellian, but it was a bit more palatable in this interpretation.)

That being said, the proposal scene left me a bit miffed. I don’t know if they used up all the passion juices in the earlier almost-kiss-scene, but I did not feel the chemistry here. One friend suggested that it was because the score was not utilized enough to draw out our emotions. It could be that. Personally, I think Jane is just a bad kisser. (Granted she is better than the last Jane Eyre adaptation. I think Toby Stephens didn’t know how to handle that huge frog mouth and just decided that aiming anywhere on the lower half of her face would ensure a hit – unfortunately he still missed her mouth every time.)

Another element that Funkunaga resurrected from the novel is the Gothic roots. Yes everyone, Funkunaga has put the Gothic back in Jane Eyre. He utilizes long drawn out silences that are interrupted by rearing horses, birds shooting out of the underbrush, and smoke cascading from chimneys. I literally jumped in my seat several times. However, I do wish that Funkunaga could have played up the mad wife in the attic a bit more though. I mean, a mad wife hidden in the attic? How can you not play that up? That is straight Gothic gold sent from the Gothic Gods.

Like the movie, I'm going to end this long review with an abrupt end. While the movie had its faults, lackluster chemistry and exploitation of the lunatic upstairs, this proved to be an incredible movie. Better yet, it proved to be a brilliant adaptation.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Trying not to Trip & Douches: Adventures at the National Undergraduate Literary Conference

Last time I presented at a national literary conference, I tripped in front of all the prominent Cormac McCarthy scholars on my long walk to the podium. Luckily, I managed to stay on my feet this weekend when I presented at the National Undergraduate Literature Conference.

The NULC is held at Weber State University. Random, right? I thought it was fake - by fake I mean that I thought they were just titling it a "national" conference when in actuality, the only participants were university students studying in Utah. After meeting people that traveled from Florida, Washington, California, Idaho, and Colorado I realized that it is legit. It's always nice to realize that you are presenting at a legit conference.

Another random thing about the conference was the re-occurring topic of douches. It began with my friend Amy, who presented a brilliant paper examining different levels of violence in a play by T.S. Elliot. In her analysis she examined this particular part of the play:

SWEENEY: I knew a man once did a girl in
Any man might do a girl in ...
Once in a lifetime, do a
girl in.
Well he kept there in a bath
With a gallon of lysol in a bath

Amy argued that this image of preserving a body in Lysol functions as a violent attack at the audience for their perversion of fertility rituals. She came to this conclusion because during this time Lysol was advertised as a douche and was believed to also function as a birth control. Don't worry, they soon discovered using Lysol this way could be fatal.
I'm not going to lie, I'm jealous that Amy got to use the word douche several times at an academic conference. It has always been a goal of mine to use unsettling words in such an erudite environment.

But the douche references did not end there! A guest poet, Sharon Olds read a poem entitled "Ode to a Douche." What are the odds? The poem began with how my peers use the term Douche bag without knowing that it symbolized the suppression of women. Suffice it to say that I became a fan of her work; she combines humor, poignant thoughts and speaks about female experiences without being cliche (i.e. being a mother). Apparently other people like her too. She was invited by President George W. Bush to the National Book Festival. She published a letter to the first lady declining the invitation, and ended with:

"So many Americans who had felt pride in our country now feel anguish and shame, for the current regime of blood, wounds, and fire. I thought of the clean linens at your table, the shining knives, and the flames of the candles, and I could not stomach it."

I wish that some day I will be able can write something this powerful to someone as powerful as the first lady.

This is the reason I love literary conferences: the stimulating conversations, hearing provocative ideas, using the word douche in an academic paper, being inspired, and experiencing the deep sense of camaraderie with people who love to study literature.