Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Gesundheit!


You know that feeling when you are about to sneeze?  You inhale sharp tiny breaths, your eyes water, and you get that tickle that starts in your nose but travels all through your face... that's where I have lived lately. In that moment, right before a sneeze. I don't know if I have spring-time allergies or what. Maybe my kitties are shedding more than usual (is that even possible?!) But something is setting my nose all a flitter, and there is only one thing that can make me happy when I'm in that moment... a sneeze.

So, I have added sneezing to my happy blog. Yep, its come to that. But seriously, think about how terrible it feels to have to sneeze-- and you get all ready for it-- and then it goes away. You're left with watery eyes and stinging sinuses. Now compare that to a big ol' sneeze, one where nobody is around and you can really put your back into it! Bliss, pure bliss.

Now, if you'll excuse me...

Monday, April 25, 2011

Animal Hands

This is a complete 180 from my last post, but I am loving these animal hands! Sure, if you're ambidextrous and skilled with magic markers, you could probably just draw them on yourself, but I'll settle for these awesome temporary tattoos next time I need talking animal hands!


Buy your own set here

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Bliss from the Bard; How Shakespeare shared the happy! (Guest Post from Lilly)

One post on the Bard is never enough, so Dreams & Happy Things is delighted to share its first guest post ever! The lovely and knowledgeable Ms. Lilly is bringing some smarts to this happy blog.  Lilly has both undergraduate and graduate degrees in English Literature from two of California's leading universities. She is fashionable, silly and the biggest Shakespeare-o-phile I know! Her post continues my rudimentary praise of the works of William Shakespeare and explores why they make so many of us... so happy.


“So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee” 
-(Sonnet 18)



More than 400 years after his life, Shakespeare’s words still ring true today. His works are still a subject of criticism and study, only yielding to Homer in the volume of scholarship produced. It is safe to assume that any literate person has read Shakespeare or at least heard of him at some point in their lives. Shakespeare’s fame is probably at least partly due to the fortuitous circumstances. In the late 1500’s, the European Renaissance had finally arrived in England, and theater was at its prime.  Despite all the work dedicated to Shakespeare, there are still many periods in the life of Shakespeare that are unknown to us, such as the time and the circumstances leading up to his marriage to Anne Hathaway, eight years his senior. It is often assumed that after his marriage to Anne Hathaway in 1582, Shakespeare entered the theatrical scene as and actor, producer, and writer. The first records indicating his presence come from 1592; there is also evidence that he composed Henry IV as early as 1590. It was during this time that he joined Lord Chamberlain’s Men, the company that eventually turned into the King’s Men in 1603. Shakespeare stayed worked with the company for the duration of his career.

A study of Shakespeare’s work reveals an industrious individual, who produced at least 2 plays every year. One of my most favorite aspects of Shakespeare’s career is the fact that his creativity seems like an unstoppable force and must have an outlet. When the theaters were closed during 1593-1594 due to the plague, for example, Shakespeare wrote the poems Rape of Lucrece and Venus and Adonis. Shakespeare’s greatness, however, does not stem from the number of plays he produced; Shakespeare is Shakespeare because he has a way with words. There is only one play that does not have direct sources (what we would currently call plagiarism) and that is The Tempest. Shakespeare often took material composed by his contemporaries, and retold these stories in his plays. The fact that we only know about the original materials because of our interest in Shakespeare is a true testament to his genius.

Shakespeare’s work garnered support and recognition even during his own time. There are accounts of performances at the Globe when the audience would stop the actor and request that they perform specific lines from specific plays; Hamlet’s “To be or not to be” appears to have been a favorite. (Telling how the same lines remain just as popular today!) The Renaissance tradition of omitting the author’s name and only using the names of other plays he produced on printed copies of texts was changed for Shakespeare. This indicates that later in his career his contemporaries knew not only the plays he had written, but recognized him by name. Finally the publication of the First Folio in 1623 through collaborated efforts of his friends and fellow authors, including Ben Jonson, shows the need to put together an authoritative text to put an end to pirated versions of the plays.

As a self-proclaimed Shakespearean scholar, I am often confronted with the issue of Shakespearean authorship. My usual response to such inquiries is mere disregard of any doubt that our society tends to bring up too frequently, but recently I have learned to interpret such questioning of Shakespeare as the highest compliment that one could give to arguably the greatest author writing in English. The reasoning behind these arguments is usually a doubt that William Shakespeare, born in 1564 to John Shakespeare, a glovemaker, and never educated beyond grammar school, could have written some of the greatest plays that we have the honor of enjoying.



One of the things that I enjoy most about Shakespeare is his own thorough enjoyment of his work. The topics of Shakespeare's plays range from the very comic to the very tragic, but throughout the whole process he never fails to enjoy the work he produces. Some of the best lines that stand out to any reader involve the ones that he must have enjoyed himself. Shakespeare is always in on the joke. One of my all time favorites is “Exit pursued by a bear”—a line of directions in Winter’s Tale. The bear is never seen or heard from again, and has much as much business in the Winter’s Tale as it would in, say, Romeo and Juliet, but Shakespeare’s inclusion of the bear in the play makes for great comedy and allows the author to give a metaphorical nudge to his audience indicating his approach to his work. Tempest, the last play that Shakespeare wrote without a collaborator, can be best summarized as “Playwriting 101.” Tempest is often categorized as a “problem play” because it has elements of both a comedy as well as a tragedy, and incorporates plotlines or romance, usurpation, pastoral, and power struggles. Remarkably, it also shows Prospero, whose control in the play has led to arguments about his being a dramatization of Shakespeare himself, put together various performances and move the characters around like chess figures.

And finally Shakespeare's genius lies in his capacity to understand human nature and to interpret this more eloquently than most. His plays deal with issues that were pertinent during his time and are still pertinent now. King Lear is at its root an exploration of human relationships and problems of parents and children. Shakespeare’s understanding and interpretation of the human condition is best shown in Macbeth, “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more; it is a tale told by and idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing” (v.5).


The thing I like most about Shakespeare’s plays is that they are never fully exhausted, and that each subsequent reading reveals more and more to the reader. Once the plot and the obvious issues have been imbedded in the reader’s brain, the plays keep revealing more secrets, more interesting words, and more subplots. The bard always has another trick up his sleeve.




Thank you, Lilly, for sharing with us such insight! For more of Lilly's awesomeness, please visit her fantastic blog, http://onethousandbookproject.tumblr.com/ , where she summarizes and analyses other great works of literature. You know, the ones you have read, along with the ones you've been meaning to read...

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy Birthday Bill!

There was a star danced, and under that was I born. - William Shakespeare


Hazzah to the Bard! Today, is William Shakespeare's 447th birthday. We think. 'Tis also the 395th anniversary of his death. So, for anyone not paying close attention, that means, our most revered playwright and poet, perfector of the Sonnet, inventor of over 1700 English words,  walked this earth for 52 years... to the day. He is believed to have been born on April 23rd, 1564, and to have died April 23rd, 1616. In true poetic style, Shakespeare left his admirers with an option on this day; to celebrate his entrance into this world, or mourn his exit.  

(For anyone interested in the specifics, here is an excerpt from an article on the topic. The title links back to the original site.)

Shakespeare's Birth

The baptismal register of the Holy Trinity parish church, in Stratford, shows the following entry for April 26, 1564: Gulielmus filius Johannes Shakespeare. The actual date of Shakespeare's birth is not known, but, traditionally, April 23, St George's Day, has been Shakespeare's accepted birthday, and a house on Henley Street in Stratford, owned by William's father, John, is accepted as Shakespeare's birth place. However, the reality is that no one really knows when the great dramatist was born. According to The Book of Common Prayer, it was required that a child be baptized on the nearest Sunday or holy day following the birth, unless the parents had a legitimate excuse. As Dennis Kay proposes in his book Shakespeare:
If Shakespeare was indeed born on Sunday, April 23, the next feast day would have been St. Mark's Day on Tuesday the twenty-fifth. There might well have been some cause, both reasonable and great -- or perhaps, as has been suggested, St. Mark's Day was still held to be unlucky, as it had been before the Reformation, when altars and crucifixes used to be draped in black cloth, and when some claimed to see in the churchyard the spirits of those doomed to die in that year. . . .but that does not help to explain the christening on the twenty-sixth (54).
No doubt Shakespeare's true birthday will remain a mystery forever. But the assumption that the Bard was born on the same day of the month that he died lends an exciting esoteric highlight to the otherwise mundane details of Shakespeare's life.


But what's the point in splitting hairs? Shakespeare did not live in a time when accuracy was all that important. The man used several different spellings of his own last name! He was born, he wrote and then he died. And the world was better for having him! He has gifted his works to countless generations... and we didn't get him anything. How awkward, it is his birthday, after all. This got me to think though, what do you give to the Bard who has it all? If Shakespeare was alive today, and I was invited to his birthday party- you know, just a small gathering of a few close friends (like me) to enjoy a little food and drink general merriment-- what would I gift to the b-day boy? (Oh, I'll come up with any excuse to do unnecessary online shopping!) 


Maybe he'd fancy the First Folios iPhone app, or some snazzy hightops bespangled with his portrait?

Or maybe we could just continue to value his work-- to perform his plays on stages around the world and remake them into movies of varying quality. We can ensure that high school Freshmen read not the Sparknotes for Romeo and Juliet, but the actual text, and we can prove our cleverness at cocktail parties by discussing Sonnet 130.

Of course, we can take it farther into a realm of Bardolatry, like Thomas de Quincey whose worship of Shakespeare rings through his classic 1823 essay "On the Knocking at the Gates in Macbeth":


 "O, mighty poet! Thy works are not as those of other men, simply and merely great works of art; but are also like the phenomena of nature, like the sun and the sea, the stars and the flowers,—like frost and snow, rain and dew, hail-storm and thunder, which are to be studied with entire submission of our own faculties…".


Well Tom, I don't think I'll deify the Bard as you have, but I will carve a moment today to read his words and tonight, in his honor, raise my glass, To Bill!


For an instant good mood...

This is seriously one of the happiest things I have ever seen in my life. Thanks Mary for sharing! I will watch it any time I need to get rid of some grumpies.

A penguin getting tickled-


Friday, April 22, 2011

Emmylou


Last night, we went and saw Emmylou Harris at the El Rey. It was so good. That woman, my goodness... I think she must be part angel. Her voice is hauntingly sweet! The set up for this concert was pretty simple. Just her, dwarfed by the huge guitar she played, and two other fellas for accompaniment. The songs from her new album, Hard Bargain, were simple and heartfelt in that way that country-folk music does so well. 


I left feeling pretty darn good, but I did have one complaint. I would have loved to hear Emmylou harmonize with someone-- since she does it so well. Remember the sirens from "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?" Sure you do, we all do. 

But what the show lacked in harmony, it more than made up for when Ms. Harris told a story about the old dog that she got from the Metro (the dog pound). Then she told us about how she's got a whole slew of dogs now that she started rescue in her backyard in Nashville, called Bonaparte's Retreat. She followed up the story with a song about Bella, her big black dog.  I didn't record it to share with you all, but I found the following video online, it's of Emmylou telling the same story, and singing the same song. Listen to it-- If you're a dog lover, you'll find it 7 minutes well spent, and you'll be singing the tune in your head all day.


So, if I needed another reason to love Emmylou, she just gave me one.  ♥ 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Rainbow Style

I know, it's Spring, but with finals around the corner and graduation in the air, I'm already planning for summer. And this Summer is going to be a cheery one. I am thinking rainbows. Lots of them. All over my body.

You might think its dorky, and you might be right, but I'm ready to greet my favorite season in a really bright way. I've got lots to be happy about, so why not share the joy by wearing pieces like the ones below? Hell, on a really good day, I might just wear it all at once.  ;) 

Vintage rainbow dress from Pineapple Mint

Rainbow Flats from Sheikh

Rainbow sun hat from Lacoste

Rainbow raffia clutch from Mar y Sol



Wednesday, April 20, 2011

ROW 80 Check-in 4-20


Change of plans...

Even though my goals were modest, they were too much for me to stick to. I am undergoing my last round of finals in law school, and my classes are like 4 screaming babies demand all my attention. Luckily, it will be over soon, and I can adjust my RoW 80 goals again- and hopefully meet them! For now, I hope to write a page a week of my plotting. One page per week until mid-May. Simple.

I did accomplish something though. This last weekend I completed a 30 page excerpt. A descriptive scene that introduces three new characters. It needs to be edited, as I tend to over explain, but overall I feel good about it.

Thats all for now...

New Stitches

It's been a while since I have posted about knitting... actually, it has been a while since I have completed a new knitting project (and it feels like cheating to share anything before it's finished). And now that my knitting circle has disbanded, I am left holding the needles all alone... nobody to encourage me, nobody to fix my slipped stitches, nobody to suggest the next stitch to learn. *picture one solitary tear rolling down my cheek as I write this-

But the row must go on! I don't wish to remain a beginning knitter forever, so I push forwards. A couple of instructive manuals and bookmarked YouTube tutorials guide me through new challenges. This, paired with my very low expectations that I will get any new stitch right on the first try, has left me pleasantly surprised. I can learn new stitches on my own! Sure, they come out looking crooked and inconsistent, but they also look a lot like what I was going for, and that makes me happy. In fact, the best feeling in knitting, other than having completed a project, is that moment that happens a dozen or so rows into a new stitch, when you stretch out your work and can clearly see the pattern emerging. Nice.


 Close ups: First attempts of my new stitches, in all their wonky glory.  
basketweave stitch

mesh stitch

ribbed

butterfly

Double seed stitch

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I call them Frogberry, Turtleope and Dave

Ah! The wonders of Photoshop! I loved this site's collection of animal photos doctored up to look like fruits (or fruits made to look like animals?) Check it out to see dandelions and bananafish and spideronions! 

These three were my favorites!





Saturday, April 16, 2011

Got it!

Last night- let the watching and rewatching begin!


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Urban Outfitters

I thought I was over Urban Outfitters. I thought I was too old for their mainstream hipster style-- too mature to shop with kids donning cigarette jeans and faux-hawks. But I was wrong. I recently realized that I still want to be outfitted, urbanly.

So what caused the attitude adjustment? A quick browse on their website. It was full of lovelies, and not a faux-hawk in sight (not that I have anything against them, really!). It's true, I no longer wish to wear made-to-look-vintage CareBear tees, but Urban Outfitters has a whole lot more than that. I could see myself in a couple of their 'one-of-a-kind' dresses, and my wardrobe is in need of one of their 'boyfriend cardigans'. But the clothing isn't where I went berzerk and decided to write this post/advertisement... I fell in love with loads of stuff in their 'apartment' department. (Gotta love a place that appeals to those of us who don't live in 'homes'.) The decor is funky and fun but not in a tweeny sort of way, and it pulls inspiration from some of my favorite styles: French county, industrial modern, world eclectic, boho, shabby chic, and a touch of Hollywood glam.

So, here's a lot of what I want for my apartment. I'm not actually shopping and buying this stuff, though, because even though I am so mature, I am still broker than a 15 year-old without an allowance.

Beautiful bedding!


Super seating!




other offbeat offerings


  

sweet side tables!


lavish lamps!



wonderful for windows



Rad rugs!



Wows for the walls 




Table top treasures




Everything above is from the Urban Outfitters website, which is (surprisingly) http://www.urbanoutfitters.com/