Standing Out

I'm not a fan of conformity. So when I'm asked to undertake decorating a table for a women's tea, I take my job seriously and I make the most of my creative abilities. My eye is far different than most people, and my brain works in strange ways. In a group of white table cloths and huge floral center pieces, I aspire to show people what they can do when they stop conforming.

Here it is... my third year decorating a table, refusing to yield to the crowd mentality and challenging people's belief that teas have to be dull, pale and plain. My table was utterly me, a tribute to the 1940's, the military, and one of my favorite activities: letter writing. I put to use my personal collection of antiques (just what I could fit) including lipsticks, hand mirrors, brooches, handkerchiefs, threads, letters from military men to sweethearts and all sorts of things.

My Papa's first picture after joining the U.S. Army

Some V Mail, a V Loan pin, a postcard from a young soldier to his parents...

My beautiful hat made by a milliner, USMC matchbook, old stamps...

Sort of a side view of my table... I still had to include elements they wanted, but it was the best I could do with the limitations I was given.

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Few things are as unrestrainedly beautiful and joyful as William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. To properly understand the play, I suppose it would help if you've ever been in love. That's not to say it can't be read by people who haven't experienced love and loss, I first read A Midsummer Night's Dream in elementary school, and enjoyed it thoroughly (but I now see many more subtle complexities that I had before missed).

Some people claim Shakespeare had sinister intentions in writing this play, relying on magic, incantations and fantasy creatures... I am not one of that group, I adore Shakespeare's literary genius, truly at its height when he penned the ephemeral love story. Not to say that the brilliance of this story is short lived, rather, though it's brief in its entirety, it's truly a love story for the ages. He covered all aspects of love between men and women, from the turbulence of passion between Oberon and Titania to Helena's steadfast obsession with Demetrius, love is celebrated. As a side note, Shakespeare makes use of one of my favorite of his devices, the play within the play (Pyramus and Thisbe, put on by Nick Bottom and his comrades).

It's short, it's splendid, read it and give William Shakespeare another try.

"Ay me! for aught that I could ever read,
Could ever hear by tale or history,
The course of true love never did run smooth;
But either it was different in blood—"
-Lysander Act I Scene I

For an interesting take on A Midsummer Night's Dream, check out the 1999 version starring Kevin Kline, Michelle Pfeiffer and the gorgeous, sparkly Rupert Everett.


The Expedition of Humphry Clinker

Apologies to all who actually enjoy this novel. I am not a fan, and in being of such a low opinion of Mr. Smollet's so-called "finest work", this may seem harsh.

First off, if you'll notice by my previous posts, I can easily read a novel in a very short amount of time, if it appeals to me. It's nothing against the picaresque* genre (if you're not sure what a picaresque novel is, it's basically a long narrative, think The Pickwick Papers, The Adventures of Oliver Twist, The Old Curiosity Shop...) I adore Dickens' picaresque novels, but Smollet's style of writing was mind-numbing at best. Which is odd since Smollett influenced Dickens greatly.

Now, considering the fact that this is 240 years after Mr. Smollet's 'Expedition of Humphry Clinker' you'd think I'd be less shocked at the contents of this novel. Not so. At times I was nauseous by the imagery, and uncomfortable with the unabashed nature of some of the occurrences within the story. In order to make sense of some of my problems with the novel, I'll present them in list form. I'll try to keep it brief.

1. Certain parts in the book reminded me of that icky 11 year old boy humor. You know, potty jokes, spitting, nudity etc.
2. The letters from the women ranged from the vapid schoolgirl to the completely unschooled moronic utterings of an air-headed servant (not to mention the fact that they were often riddled with such illiteracy that it was difficult to make sense of what was being conveyed). I wanted so badly to skip any section written by the stupid females, but to do justice to my goal, I read on.
3. Not to be outdone, the letters written by the male characters were pompous and full of the most infernal pretentious style.
4. Stories written by one character were then reiterated by another... sometimes a stupid insignificant event was recounted several times in a row. Talk about beating a dead horse.
5. Humphry isn't even introduced until well into this novel. He's a character impossible to relate to because you never read his own words. It's like you get to know everyone except for the novel's namesake.

I need some mental stimulation after this vacuous novel. If you feel the need for a few hundred pages of torturous ramblings, don't buy it, I'll give you my copy, I'd rather not own it anymore.


John Keats - Odes

It's been a while, I haven't stopped reading, only... I don't particularly enjoy the novel I'm currently endeavoring to finish. It's not really my style as far as character and plot development go, but I'll talk about that when I finish it and have a more thorough opinion.

I turn now to John Keats and his magnificent odes, my favorite of which being "Ode On Melancholy". His odes are all beautiful, and not long at all. But reading further past the superficial, especially if you study his life, you'll find that they're resplendent. By all means, read all of his poems, and marvel at the genius of John Keats.

His "Last Sonnet" (though, admittedly, not an ode which is technically what this post is about) is so beautiful it never fails to make me cry...

Bright star! would I were steadfast as thou art—
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night,
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like Nature’s patient sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors—
No—yet still steadfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow’d upon my fair love’s ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever—or else swoon to death.