Mischievous Muse

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Location: Austin, TX, United States

Scholar, Writer, Mother, Dreamer. Editor of Luminarium, an online library for English Literature of the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Grandma Better

Hi all,

The short of it is that my grandma is much better. Thank you all for your good wishes, I'm certain they helped.

I left Philadelphia on Saturday night, flew to Frankfurt, had a 5hr layover, and flew to Helsinki. I arrived around 6pm Sunday evening, and was met by my mom, dad, my sister, her husband, and of course, Ronja, one of the world's cutest dogs. My sister and brother-in-law drove me to Turku, a city 2hrs away, where most of my extended family, including my grandma, lives. The visiting hours had ended at 7pm, but we had special permission.

On Sunday, Mamma was in awful shape, didn't understand where she was, nor who these people were who were doing "terrible things" to her. What had happened was that my grandma had had internal bleeding and diarrhea for days, after which someone had finally got enough of a clue to take her to the hospital. On her arrival, her hemoglobin (amt of iron in the blood, to carry oxygen) level was 72, when the average person's is around 135; mine, for example is usually around 160. I know hemoglobin is counted differently in the US, but can't help you with any sort of comparison. Point is, it was about half of what it should have been, and the lack of oxygen, loss of blood, and dehydration had driven her into bad shape indeed.

Disorientation and hallucinations are a symptom of lack of oxygen, and she was certainly having both. We tried explaining to her that these "bad things" that were being done to her were actually infusions of blood platelets, explained to her where she was, and who we were. She finally began to calm down and agreed to stay overnight, since I said I was returning in the morning. My sister and her husband had to drive back still that night, since they were both working all week - everyone was, except for me. I'm very fortunate I could stay; I had cancelled all translating work for this week and ad infinitum, until I get back. I doubt I'll get sacked for it, and even if I did, family is more important.

Monday I had to explain to her several times who I was and where she was. I made sure she ate all her food and medicines at appointed times, took naps, and I also had to take her to the ladies' room down the hall. She was still so dizzy she couldn't walk around by herself, so basically Monday I didn't leave her side except while she napped.

Tuesday, she was much better already. I got to the hospital 2 hrs before visiting hours started, to make sure I got to talk to the doctors, who said that they didn't know what had caused the hemorrhaging, but that Mamma was scheduled for an involved test of the intestines—the thing is, she's at the back of the queue, and it might take as long as a month until she gets in for the test. I don't even want to tell you what I think of Finnish healthcare and elderly care. It seems, in this country, after you turn 70, the social sector can't wait for people to die.

Anyway, I spent another 12 hrs with her, and she was getting more lucid and less weak by the hour. She's had a steady stream of visitors, and I was able to take her downstairs to the cafeteria a few times, even. I made sure that her hair was nicely every day, and that she had her pretty day robe on top of the ugly hospital pyjamas, because looking like a lady is very important to my grandma, and much of what she has had to endure in the past week has been humiliating enough.

Wednesday she was able to get around on her own, use the ladies' on her own, and her meals and naps are pretty regular. Also, she understands now where she is, why she's there, and that she cannot up and leave. I wanted to make sure that it wasn't just passing, so I stayed Thursday as well, and since she was almost to her old self, I caught the train last night to my parents'. Tonight we're going over to my sister's for my dad's birthday celebration. We're going back to Turku to see my grandma on Sunday. Other relatives have been admonished to go visit, so I don't have to worry about Mamma being lonesome. Mamma understood I wouldn't be there for 2 days and was okay with the thought. I told her I'd ask the nurses if she hadn't eaten properly, and I'd be very cranky with her when I came back. I heard her tell one of the other grannies, "she's going to visit her mom, my daughter, but she's coming back before she goes back to America."

My relatives are all like praising me and saying thank you and this and that, but it actually makes me feel... angry? I wasn't there doing all this for some kind of merit badge. I wasn't doing it for my uncles who are too busy and too important, and blah-blah-blah, or my mom whose whole insurance company, along with half of the EU Council, would crash and burn if my mom took a day off. I wasn't there so they could rest secure in the knowledge that someone was "taking care of it."

I was there because I love my grandma. She was alone and scared out of her wits, not knowing what was happening to her, and feeling like the world had abandoned her. I couldn't let her feel that kind of panic and horror. I know if I had been in her position, she in mine, she wouldn't have left me to go through it alone either. When you love someone, being there for them takes priority.

More blogging later, peeps, I'm all wrung out. I missed you guys.

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Radio Silence on the Radar

Gentle visitors: I'll be incommunicado for a few days. I have to fly to Finland suddenly and doubt I'll have access to this here gadget until Monday. My 87 yr-old grandma, Annikki, is in the hospital in critical condition. If you would send good vibes in her direction, I sure would appreciate it.




When these people are caught, I suggest we GIVE THEM A TASTE OF THEIR OWN MEDICINE until they die a slow, painful death.

I vote Hammurabi.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Rising with the Dawn


Photo © Daniel Silfver. With Permission.

 I am all colours
Rising with the dawn
The first birds of spring
Like my heart
Filled with the thought
           Right now
My love is waking.

(AJ, 3-23-07)

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Need a Snow Day?

via Lady Bracknell

Need a Snow Day?

What a cool idea! You get to cut your own snowflake, proving that each snowflake is indeed unique. Then, you get to watch it float down in the forest. I love it! Here's mine:

Go make your own and post the ID# so I can go see your flake fall!

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Best of Breed

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Slain by a Book

Has it ever happened to you?

You know how I was already feeling down (cf. last post)? I thought
I'd read my book, which has been really good, the name of which I can't tell you so I don't spoil it for you—I'm about 4/5ths of the way through when the narrator, the person I've been identifying with and rooting for, DIES. You heard it, DIES! And now there's 80-some pages to go and my imaginary friend is dead.
I know she wasn't real, but I'm all weepy now.

Is it bad to let a book get to you that much? Or a sign that the author really knows what she's doing? Either way, the most coherent thing I can utter right now is "Major Bummer, Dude!"



I'm experiencing blogxiety. I feel like I should come up with something meaningful and valuable to say, a proper blog entry instead of just my random thoughts mixed in with poetry, YouTube clips, quizzes and memes. Anyone else out there feeling performance blogxiety?

I feel like my last entries that weren't comic strips and paraphernalia have just been full of "me-me-me" navel-gazing. On the other hand, I feel like I can't write about a lot of the things occurring around me due to the desire to protect others' privacy and anonymity. How do we reconcile that—talking about things that deeply affect us, which to reveal would infringe upon those we care about? Wow, that sentence was barely English. Reminds me of

When 900 years old you reach,
look as good you will not...mmm?


Which brings me to feeling old. I'm feeling like life's passed me by. Like somewhere there was a turn in the road I didn't take. I'm seriously identifying with Bridget Jones who had visions of  "dying alone and being found three weeks later half-eaten by an Alsatian."

And somehow, yours-superbly-talented has turned yet another post into whiny navel-gazing. Bravo me! I think that'll do for now. *sigh*

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MUSIC: Tori Amos - Baker Baker (Lyrics)

Baker Baker
Music and Lyrics by Tori Amos

Baker, Baker,
Baking a cake—
Make me a day,
Make me whole again;
And I wonder,
What's in a day?
What's in your cake this time?

I guess you heard,
He's gone to L.A.—
He says that behind my eyes I'm hiding
And he tells me I pushed him away,
That my hearts been hard to find.

There must be something here;
There must be
Something here...

Baker, Baker,
Can you explain,
If truly his heart
Was made of icing,
And I wonder
How mine could taste—
Maybe we could change his mind?

I know you're late
For your next parade;
You came to make sure
That I'm not running,
Well, I've run from him
In all kinds of ways...
Guess it was his turn this time.

Thought I'd make friends with Time,
Thought we'd be
Maybe not this time.

Baker, Baker,
Baking a cake—
Make me a day,
Make me whole again;
And I wonder
If he's okay...
If you see him, say

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QUIZ: What's Your Handwriting Personality?

via Golden Langours

What does your handwriting say about you?

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Vernal Equinox


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More Little Known Facts About Me

Meme of 100 continued...

Little Known Fact #11:
My favorite cartoon as a little-bitty thing (age 4 or so) was "Rosvo-Ruudolf" — well, that was its name in Finnish. In the original Czech he was the Robber "Rumcajs". The cartoon followed the adventures of a robber who lived in the woods with his pretty wife and baby boy. I don't remember much about the show, but how I loved it. I think he was also my first crush — if you've ever had a crush on a cartoon character, you'll understand.

LKF #12:
When I was 17, I moonlighted with a band as a singer. The boys all had that heavy metal hair and hearts of gold. We did covers of the Rolling Stones, Guns'n'Roses, and Bruce Springsteen. After one gig, lots of people stayed around and we sang "You Can't Always Get What You Want" and "Honkey-Tonk Women" until 4 am when none of us had voices left. I don't have a single photo of us, so you'll just have to take my word for it.

LKF #13:
I was a girl scout until age 16. Even now you could drop me in the middle of a forest and I'd know what could be eaten, which way is North, how to build a raft, and how to tie a mean knot if I had rope. But I'd rather you just dropped me on a couch with some bon-bons and a good movie.

LKF #14:
My first love wrote me a poem the summer we turned 15.
It read:

Roses are Red,
Violets are Blue,
I went to a camp
And I found you.

I thought it a most excellent and romantic poem. He is now a cancer researcher with a wife, two beautiful children, and a dog. We send each other emails a few times a year, but no poetry.

LKF #15:
In Finland your given name (the name you're called by) can be either your first or second name; Anniina is my second. My first is Kirsi. "Kirsi" can be either taken to mean the ground when it is frozen over, or short for Kirsikka, "cherry." For each day of the year, the Finnish calendar has names allocated for that day - so each person has a "name day." On the 24th of July, "Kirsinpäivä" or "Kirsi's day," my grandpa would always bring me cherries from the marketplace. I was never called Kirsi by anyone (thank goodness!) but on the 24th of July I always miss my grandpa and those Kirsinpäivä cherries.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007


              At once.
Is something
Is it
       Just the wind
       In the
              Night trees?


Monday, March 19, 2007

The Little Disappointments

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NINA SIMONE - My Baby Just Cares for Me

Here's an AMAZING video someone made for this song!


Monday Meme: List of Threes

via Wulfweard the White

Three songs you've listened to today

La Vie en Rose - Edith Piaf
Leather - Tori Amos
First of a Million Kisses / Allelujah - Fairground Attraction

Three colors you love

Light Blue

Three names of pets you had as a child

♥ Roomeo - parakeet
♥ Juulia - parakeet
♥ Rhea - parakeet

Three people you miss

♥ My mom
♥ My dad
♥ My Katja

Three places you visited this week

♥ Best Buy
♥ The Diner
♥ Philadelphia

Three things you said today

♥ "Happy Birthday"
♥ "I will adore you ruthlessly"
♥ "I need to get more monkey coffee"

Three people you kissed recently

♥ Do doggies count?

Three names starting with "A" in your cellphone

♥ Alex
♥ Andy
♥ Asher

Three awards received

♥ Ballet Scholarship (on 5th grade)
♥ 3rd Place, Poetry Recital (6th grade)
♥ President's Scholar (College Graduation)

Three names for a boy

♥ Arden
♥ Perrin
♥ Dante

Three names for a girl

♥ Arinna
♥ Isabel
♥ Brontë

Three cool singers

Nina Simone
Tori Amos
Eddi Reader

Three pet peeves

♥ Language Abuse (typos, grammar, etc.)
♥ Bible-thumping
♥ Winter

If you made it this far, "TAG, you're IT!"

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QUIZ: What's Your Sixth Sense?

This test is wickedly cool—they have you guess stuff like "what's the picture behind this card?" and "at the end of the test, a number will randomly generate: which number is it?"  Sort of reminded me of that scene in Ghostbusters with Bill Murray, and how he'd zap the guy who really had it going, tehee!  I always know who's calling when the phone rings, my dreams often come true, and if I think about someone intently, they will usually contact me in a matter of hours. My sister and I almost have telepathic email that way. Weird enough for you? Well, I wasn't surprised when they told me this:

What's Your Sixth Sense?

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Sunday, March 18, 2007


Technically I should post a sonnet today, but Heo Cwaeth posted one of my favorite Yeats (pr. 'Yates') poems for St. Patty's, and I love that poem, so instead of a 14-liner, today we're serving a 12-liner :P I know it by heart because, as Heo said, it brings a stillness to the soul.

By William Butler Yeats

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a-glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear the water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.



Saturday, March 17, 2007

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Why tinker with perfection? Visit Jarod's Forge for his wonderful article, Leprechaun's with Botox: The History of St. Patrick's Day in America.

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Friday, March 16, 2007

Al Gore is right; or, what is with this weather???

Yesterday, according to the weather lady on TV, the high was 68°F (20°C). Today, we're in the midst of a friggin' blizzard!! It's coming down as ice, and accumulating fast. I'll let Snoopy tell you:

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Mark Rylance - I Am Shakespeare

This is a good year for lovers of the Divine Mark Rylance.  Boeing Boeing is playing at the West End till April 28, 2007, after which his worshippers have something new and exciting to expect. Rylance is doing a one-man web-cam show at the Chichester Festival Theatre in August, entitled I Am Shakespeare.

The play is about Frank Charlton, a schoolteacher who is obsessed with the Shakespeare authorship question, and who begins an internet show to further explore possible candidates to the mantle of Shakespeare. In his WWW broadcast, he explores the possible candidates of Sir Francis Bacon, Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, and even Lady Mary Sidney, all the while trying to restrain himself from murdering his crazy next-door neighbour.

The show runs August 14 - September 8, 2007. I haven't quite figured out how to get "tickets" for this thing, but the moment I do, I will share the details.
Oh, how I love this man!

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HAGAR The Horrible: Do Dogs Think?

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MUSIC: Tori Amos - Silent All These Years (Lyrics)

Stefanie Says her "Famous Last Words" in the latest quiz were "Nice doggy."  This made me think of the second line in Tori Amos' song "Silent All These Years." What I love about Tori most of all is that her songs mean different things to different people, and even one's own interpretations change according to time and life situation.  Her albums Little Earthquakes and Under the Pink have long been among my favorites, but the albums after them didn't strike me as much. Without further ado, here's "Silent All These Years" performed by Tori live on BBC Radio 1 in June, 1992.

Silent All These Years
Music and Lyrics by Tori Amos

Excuse me but can I be you for a while?
My dog won't bite if you sit real still
I got the anti-Christ in the kitchen yellin' at me again
Yeah I can hear that
Been saved again by the garbage truck
I got something to say you know
But nothing comes
Yes, I know what you think of me
You never shut up
Yeah I can hear that

But what if I'm a mermaid
In these jeans of his
With her name still on it
Hey but I don't care
Cause sometimes
I said sometimes
I hear my voice
And it's been here
Silent All These Years

So you found a girl
Who thinks really deep thoughts
What's so amazing about really deep thoughts?
Boy you best pray that I bleed real soon
How's that thought for you?
My scream got lost in a paper cup
You think there's a heaven
Where some screams have gone?
I got 25 bucks and a cracker,
Do you think it's enough
To get us there?

Cause what if I'm a mermaid
In these jeans of his
With her name still on it
Hey but I don't care
Cause sometimes
I said sometimes
I hear my voice
And it's been here
Silent All These...

Years go by
Will I still be waiting
For somebody else to understand
Years go by
If I'm stripped of my beauty
And the orange clouds
Raining in my head
Years go by
Will I choke on my tears
Till finally there is nothing left
One more casualty
You know we're too easy, easy, easy

Well I love the way we communicate
Your eyes focus on my funny lip shape
Let's hear what you think of me now
But baby don't look up
The sky is falling
Your mother shows up in a nasty dress
It's your turn now to stand where I stand
Everybody lookin' at you
Here, take hold of my hand
Yeah I can hear them

But what if I'm a mermaid
In these jeans of his
With her name still on it
Hey but I don't care
Cause sometimes
I said sometimes
I hear my voice
I hear my voice
I hear my voice

And it's been here
Silent All These Years

I've been here
Silent All These Years

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Flower Dogs

via OnlyJokingLasse

Nothing is impossible for a good florist!
(My birthday is August 18. Just saying.)


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Thursday, March 15, 2007

My New Phone

My cellphone died over the weekend after serving a good, long life. My new toy is a pink Motorola Razr, the style of which is called "Cherry Blossom." It's a metallic hot pink (a color I don't usually like much) with, you guessed it, cherry blossoms. So I may not have been able to go to Japan with Katja, but I've got a little geisha phone to make me feel less upset about it. Having been a loyal Nokia user for years, I haven't quite figured out how to use all the functions, so if you call me and something weird occurs, I take no responsibility.
     Here she is:

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Unreal - Passed Yahoo, CNN, and Reuters!

[click to enlarge]

Run the search.


Jimmy Stewart - A Dog Named Beau

Via Mark at Hyperliterature.com

Jimmy Stewart reading his poem on Carson. As Mark said, "If you don't need a tissue by the end of this, then you have no heart."

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Beware the Ides of March!

Today is March 15th, also called "The Ides of March." For many, this is akin to a few "Friday the Thirteenths" rolled together. The reason for the infamy of the day goes back to 44 BC, to the day when Julius Caesar was murdered.

In the old Roman Calendar, the Ides marked the middle of the calendar month—in March, May, July, and October, the Ides fell on the 15th. The day was sacred to Jupiter, but there was no ominous connotation to the Ides of March before 44 BC. According to Plutarch's Lives, a seer had told Caesar to "Beware the Ides of March," having foreseen the attack on Caesar. According to Plutarch, the story told by many was that Caesar saw the same seer on his way to meet the Senate at Pompey's Theater. Caesar mocked him by saying, "Well, the Ides of March are come," to which the seer replied "Aye, they are come, but they are not gone." And the rest, as they say, is history.

The details of Caesar's murder, of course, are well-known and passionately studied still today. But it is thanks to Shakespeare that we all know the line "Beware the Ides of March" and suppress a shudder on March 15th.

Who is it in the press that calls on me?
I hear a tongue, shriller than all the music,
Cry 'Caesar!' Speak; Caesar is turn'd to hear.

Beware the ides of March.

What man is that?

A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.

Set him before me; let me see his face.

Fellow, come from the throng; look upon Caesar.

What say'st thou to me now? speak once again.

Beware the ides of March.

He is a dreamer; let us leave him: pass.

(Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, Act I, Scene ii.)


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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

QUIZ: What Will Be Your Famous Last Words?

My Famous Last Words Will Be:

"So, you're a cannibal."


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There is no wilderness here
        No dark, stormy night
In the midst
        Of safety
I feel
        Like a little child


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Unrequited Love

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Only in Finland: Klingon for Parliament

Courtesy of Katja. Excerpt from Reuters.

Finnish MP seeks votes in Klingon
HELSINKI (Reuters) - A Finnish member of parliament is aiming for re-election by campaigning with a translation of his Web site into Klingon, used in the TV series Star Trek.

"Some have thought it is blasphemy to mix politics and Klingon," said Jyrki Kasvi, an ardent Trekkie. "Others say it is good if politicians can laugh at themselves."

He said his politics posed some translation difficulties, since Klingon does not have words for matters such as tolerance, or for many colours, including green -- the party under whose banner he is running in the national elections on March 18.

Non-warriors can also access the site, www.kasvi.org, in English, Swedish and Finnish.

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Monday, March 12, 2007

Mei Lan

via Scrivenings

So who's going to Atlanta with me?



QUIZ: What Time of Day Are You?

via SzélsőFa

You Are Sunset

Even though you still may be young, you already feel like you've accomplished a lot in life.
And you feel free to pave your own path now, and you're not even sure where it will take you.
Maybe you'll pursue higher education in a subject you enjoy - or travel the world for a few years.
Either way, you approach life with a relaxed, open attitude. And that will take you far!

I was so happy to get sunset, since twilight not only is my favorite word in the English language, but is also my favorite time of day—
dusk, the purpling hour, the magic hour.


SNOOPY: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night

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Dead Tired, or Zombification Sets In

I'm officially a zombie. I had a Quality Control translating gig, the deadline for which is tomorrow at 6pm, but since I want them to LOVE me, I thought I'd have it back to them early. My friend Ahren has the best work ethic of anyone I've ever met, and it consists of always being early, always being superbly prepared, and always giving your employer more than he could possibly have expected. I'm striving to be like that too.

The downside is that my eyes crossed a long time ago, and I have to be up in 2 hrs. Tehee! I know myself. If I go to bed now, an 8-foot troll hanging me upside down by my feet over a blazing fire and a troll cookpot, while occasionally lambasting me with a spiked troll club, would not wake me up. Although I sometimes have trouble falling asleep, once I reach oblivion my powers of sleep are truly remarkable.

So... no sleep for me tonight. I dare not go anywhere near my bed, and the couch is also too comfy, so I guess I'll just sit here and try to think of things to entertain myself. A game of Literati, anyone?


Sunday, March 11, 2007

Sonnetsday 34


MINE eye hath play'd the painter and hath stell'd*
       Thy beauty's form in table of my heart;
   My body is the frame wherein 'tis held,
       And perspective it is the painter's art.
For through the painter must you see his skill,
To find where your true image pictured lies;
Which in my bosom's shop is hanging still,
That hath his windows glazèd with thine eyes.
Now see what good turns eyes for eyes have done:
Mine eyes have drawn thy shape, and thine for me
Are windows to my breast, where-through the sun
Delights to peep, to gaze therein on thee;
       Yet eyes this cunning want to grace their art; ±
       They draw but what they see, know not the heart.

AJ Notes:
* stell'd, fixed firmly.
table, canvas.
shop, workshop, as of a painter.
± Yet... art,  Yet even eyes as skillful (cunning) as mine
lack (want) something to give the painting the final grace notes.


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GIRLS ONLY: Black Lace by BCBG

Boys, skip this post as it will only involve girl-stuff.

Okay, now that they're gone, let's dish. I love BCBG clothes. The name is an acronym for "Bon Chic, Bon Genre," which is French and means "very chic, great attitude" — although my Parisian brother-in-law likes to say it stands for "beau cul, belle gueule", which means "great ass, pretty face."

 Aaannyway... since it seems to be my week of talking about men I worship, the label's creator, designer Max Azria, certainly deserves mention. Let me tell you, this man knows a woman's body and what looks good on it. I can buy anything he makes without trying it on and know it'll be a dream. He also designs with a lot of Old Hollywood flair, an aesthetic I share since who can have too much glamour in their lives, I mean really?

This week I splurged on two BCBG dresses via eBay (or as I know it, AnninaBay). For all my late behavior of playing a hermit crab at home in my pajamas, I love wearing dresses — even better, gowns. I used to have a lot of places to wear eveningwear, but nowadays with the 'casualization' of both society at large and my own lifestyle, I only get the rare opportunity to really glam it up. I digress, sorry.

Both of the dresses I bought are black lace over lighter-colored silk. The first is a little less formal, and will be perfect for weddings and cat-christenings which are sure to pop up May-Sept; the second more formal, which will be perfect for cocktail parties and fancier do's. I have the perfect hat as well, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed I'll get invited to Ascot :P

Okay, so that all sounds grand, but I got a bargain on them both, and even if I just sit at home on the couch in them drinking champagne and feeling ravishing, they're worth it. I just wanted them, and that's that. Call me crazy, you might not be wrong, tehee! I rarely spend money on myself, and this week I needed to "medicate," if y'all know what I mean.

Including shipping, less than ¼ of their ticket price. Whee! Go eBay!


Saturday, March 10, 2007

MUSIC: Ella Fitzgerald

Oh, how I love Ella! Here's Ella live:

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Fairytale Poetry: The Tree Nymph

I wrote the following poem a few years ago, inspired by two events which occurred at roughly the same time. The first event was that I saw a documentary on J. R. R. Tolkien, which talked in depth about Tolkien's grief at seeing the English country-side destroyed. The theme of man's destruction of natural, living beauty runs through The Lord of the Rings; think, for example, of the war of the Ents, and the ravaging of the Shire. The second event was that the house a few houses down was sold to a couple who decided not only to level the existing building, but to kill every single tree on their lot — more than twenty beautiful 80 yr-old trees! The lot looked raped and pillaged afterwards, with the corpses of the once-noble trees ignobly strewn by the roadside. I grieved, and if the thought of prison hadn't deterred me, I would have beaten those people up, I was so angry. Needless to say, I never made any effort to befriend those treekillers.

What made me think of that poem today and to decide to post it despite it not being very good, was a lovely post by SzélsőFa on the very same subject. This is the only fairytale poem that I've written in the present tense, an exercise I found quite difficult. My only regrets are that the poem is not better and that I never found an artist to illustrate it, as I had some other poems illustrated. Perhaps one day.


Golden leaves on the water fall
So still and dark and deep,
While underneath an old oak tall
A tree nymph small doth weep.

The woods are quiet with the night,
No crickets can be heard;
The purple fading of the light
Is greeted by not a bird.

With each spiralling oak tree leaf
The sorrowed sylph glows dimmer;
Such is the bounty of her grief
She sees not the new stars glimmer.

A grave gray owl alights nearby
To the sylph and her waning tree;
Being oldest and wisest, with a sigh
He questions the tree maid wee.

"What ails you, little sylvan lass,
Why is your heart so sore?"
She lifts her eyes as green as grass
And whispers, "Nevermore."

"Never again shall my eyes behold
The sight of my love so dear—
Never again on winter nights cold
Shall his treesongs reach my ear.

"He loved each tree in this verdant wood,
He tended each acorn with care—
There never was a soul so good,
Nor ever a sylphman so fair.

"On sunny days we gamboled wild
Amidst the alder trees;
On rainy days the winds grew mild
When we sang under the leaves.

"The humans for their greedy gain
Have chopped and hewn down his home;
And with his tree, he too was slain,
I buried him in the loam.

"And, mourning, I now say goodbye
To the forest and my tree,
For without my love, I wish to die
And join Eternity."

The sylvan maid had wept bitter tears
While telling her heartlorn tale;
Firmly confirming the owl's fears,
She begins to grow further pale.

"Sylvan lass, this you must not do!
You must live on and persever—
Your tree and your sylvan kin need you,
It is wrong to forsake them, ever.

"Your love would have wished you to carry on
And to guard your forest green—
For in these woods your love lives on
In his spirit, though never seen.

"These trees are the children you have raised
From nut and seed to full growth;
If you but look, you will be amazed
At what's sprung from your true-love's oath."

At the owl's words, the sylph looks around
And sees, what he says is true—
For everywhere the woods abound
With oak, and elm, and yew.

The trees they had planted in elder days
Reach high into the skies,
And all around her the forest sways
In testament to their lives.

A smile like dewdrops in the spring
Spreads slowly over her face,
And sweetly the sylph begins to sing
And from tree to tree to pace.

She knows her love is ever there,
In her heart and in their trees—
For true love such as they did share
Simply could not ever cease.

And the owl, seeing her shine once more,
Relieved and elated takes flight,
And feeling his own owl spirits soar,
He hoots down "Goodbye and Goodnight."

(©2004 Anniina Jokinen. All rights reserved.)

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Friday, March 09, 2007

Mark Rylance - Rave Reviews in Boeing, Boeing

As most of you know by now, I am a devout fan of the Divine Mark Rylance. He is currently starring in a Marc Camoletti (Don't Dress for Dinner) farce in London's West End. The play is called Boeing Boeing and focuses on a man who is engaged to three different flight attendants at the same time, until the arrival of a new Boeing jet messes up his "triple-life" and he has to juggle the women around so they don't find out about each other and his deception. Mark Rylance plays the faithful friend who gets pulled into the soup.

I love Camoletti's bedroom farces—I played Suzanne in a production of DDD a few years ago, and it was as much fun for the actors as it was for the roaring audiences. From the sounds of it, Boeing Boeing is tickling London audiences pink. Now I need to rob a bank and get my hiney to London to see it.

First, here's The Guardian Interview with the Divine Mark Rylance. Second, here's what the critics are saying about his performance:

The Evening Standard, Feb 20, 2007:
"Allam's sexual deceiver is abetted by Robert, his sexually famished friend, whom Mark Rylance brings to timid life in the comic performance of a lifetime."

The Independent, Feb 19, 2007:
"It is Rylance, as his Welsh-accented innocent chum, who steals the show. From the moment he arrives, fresh-faced, from the provinces, blinking with disbelief at Bernard's real-life erotic fantasy, he is the comic heart of the play. By the end, festooned with airline handbags, his mouth smeared with the lipstick of various hostesses, he is clearly having the time of his life, as is a whooping audience in the stalls. It is a joy to behold."

BBC - London, Feb 19, 2007:
In an evening of (im)pure, adulterous pleasures, Allam and Mark Rylance, playing his friend from the provinces who is unwittingly thrown into the sexual maelstrom, demonstrate a propulsive comic energy that is carried on tidal waves of panic.

The Independent on Sunday, Feb 18, 2007:
"Rylance is a joy as Robert, blinking like a bewildered dolt but with a sneaky habit of getting snogged."

The Observer on Sunday, Feb 18, 2007:
"Mark Rylance - one of the greatest actors of the last 50 years - moves to a separate rhythm, while hitting the beat of the farce. As the bumpkin friend let loose in the city, he's most interior. His face - with small currant eyes - doesn't work, it thinks; his body doesn't gesture, it responds (he enters weighed down by the weight of his metropolitan hat). He lets thoughts swim out of him. Look at him and Frances de la Tour trying to outface each other: it's like watching an ant and a cobra going head to head."

Whatsonstage.com, Feb 18, 2007:
"Allam and Rylance show that the best of our classical actors are capable of conquering the most difficult of all acting challenges, farce... easily the funniest evening in London."

The Times, Feb 16, 2007:
"In many ways it's Rylance's evening. Tell me: is there a subtler comic actor in London? ...His wary, flustered wonder is a delight to behold."

The Guardian, Feb 16, 2007:
"The plum part is that of Robert, whom Mark Rylance invests with a Welsh accent and poll-scratching air of bemusement that reminds one of Stan Laurel at his best. Rylance, with his tenative gestures and secretive smiles, works in a different rhythm from everyone else, as befits a rural visitor. But what he dazzlingly shows is how the outsider gets caught up in the wicked Parisian game. At one point Rylance, overcompensating for the compromising undergarments found in his bag, essays a macho toughness which leads him to point his fingers like pistols and kick open a door in the manner of John Wayne. It typifies a great farce performance in which innocence is corrupted by experience."

GAWW, I need to get to London TOMORROW! I worship this man!
Performances until April 28, 2007.

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Stake Through the Heart : Milosevic Will Not Retun

In the news: Associated Press (AP) reports that a Serbian man has run a wooden stake through the grave of Serbian former President and War Criminal Slobodan Milosevic, in an attempt to run a stake through his heart. As you see, vampire beliefs still run strong in Serbia. The Socialist party is screaming for revenge. My feeling on this is A) no harm done and B) better safe than sorry....

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

8 Posts Today

I don't know what got into me, but somehow I ended up full of writing energy today. Please forgive me for the blogorrhea. Now, I will go play some FFXI, so y'all can have some peace from me.

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Monkeys in Mythology, Folklore, and Religion

By Anniina Jokinen.
This essay is permalinked at Luminarium.

I have received a constant "Sign of the Monkey" in the past few weeks (See previous post), so I thought I'd do my research. Here are my gatherings so far. Any and all additions and helpful suggestions appreciated.

Monkey lore in India dates from before 500 BC.1 One of the most popular Hindu gods is Hanuman the Monkey, in some tales said to be an incarnation of Shiva. He is revered for his bravery, strength, loyalty, devotion, and dedication to justice. His tale and heroic exploits are told in both the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. It is common to chant the name of Hanuman when one needs heavenly intervention. Every year, his birthday is celebrated "on the full-moon day of Chaitra (April) at sunrise."2 Monkeys in general are revered in several parts of India, for bearing the likeness of Hanuman. He is connected to the sun, the wind, and thunder.

Monkey lore in China predates Buddhism, for the Monkey appears in the Chinese Zodiacal beliefs, believed by scholars to date to around 1100BC. In some parts of China, the Monkey (申) is worshipped as the "Great Sage Equal to Heaven."3 Of interest is also that the rough Western equivalent for the Chinese astrological sign of Monkey is the sign of Leo (which I am). In Chinese mythology, the monkey god was Sun-Wukong, the Monkey King, a trickster god. He is the hero of the 16th-century Chinese book Journey To The West (Xiyou Ji).4 The Monkey God Festival is still celebrated in China and Hong Kong.

Monkey lore in Japan took hold after the arrival of Buddhism (mid-6th century AD) and is tied to Japanese Shinto-Buddhism.5 The monkey was alternately a messenger to the gods or a physical manifestation of a god. The origin of the three monkeys, "Speak No Evil, Hear No Evil, See No Evil," is also thought to have originated at the Hiei Shrine at Mt. Hiei.6 In folklore and geomancy beliefs, the Monkey was thought to protect against demons as well as disease and is a patron of fertility, safe childbirth, and harmonious marriages.

Before moving away from the Far East, I'd like to quote Shumacher's summary of the monkey gods:

Monkey mythology is an important part of both Hindu / Buddhist lore (India) and Zodiac / Taoist / Buddhist lore (China). In the various tales... the monkey is portrayed initially as foolish, vain, and mischievous. Yet, in each tradition, the monkey learns valuable lessons along the way, makes changes, and eventually gains redemption. The monkey thus embodies the themes of repentance, responsibility, devotion, and the promise of salvation to all who sincerely seek it.7

In the Americas, the Mayans of Guatemala and Mexico worshiped a howler monkey god ( sometimes depicted as twin-gods), who was the patron of the arts; music, scribes and sculptors.8 In the Mayan Calendar, the Howler Monkey corresponds to knowledge of history and rituals, as well as prophecy.9 There is a fabled "Ciudad Blanca" in Honduras, dedicated to the Monkey God, but so far its location is unknown—it is mentioned in pre-Columbian Toltec and Maya texts as "The ancient place where the aurora originates."10 In Aztec mythology of Mexico, the monkey was connected to the sun, and was guarded by Cochipilli (Kokopelli), the god of flower, fun, and fertility.

I was unable to find out anything about monkey beliefs in Africa. It is quite hard to imagine that a whole continent filled with monkeys would yield no monkey beliefs? Perhaps this just goes to show how disinterested the western world is in Africa in this as well as other areas. Please contribute if you possess any monkey information relating to Africa.

To wit, I don't quite know what to do with all of this. What is the universe trying to tell me? To stop being restless, to stop being fooled by appearances, and to devote myself to meditation and the seeking of wisdom? Does anybody have any ideas here?

1 Monkey Deities. Mark Shumacher.
2 Hanuman, Simian symbol of strength. About.com
3 Monkey (Zodiac). Wikipedia entry.
4 Monkey. "Chinese Mythology." Godchecker.com.
5 Shumacher.
6 Ibid.
7 Ibid.
8 Howler Monkey Gods. Wikipedia entry.
9 Ibid.
10 Madrid, Ricardo. "White City legend has curious history."
    Honduras This Week. 4 Sep 2001. 8 Mar 2007.

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Everything's Coming Up Monkeys

The weirdest thing. In the past few weeks, everywhere I turn, I run into monkeys. No, not real live ones, but the universe is sending me a constant sign, and I don't really know what it's trying to tell me. Here's a recap of the events so far:
  1. I discovered a new coffee, which is absolutely divine, and environmentally friendly to boot. It's called "Brown Gold" - the Colombian, which I drink, has a woodcut of a monkey on the front. I began to call it "my gold monkey coffee" to anyone who would listen.
  2. I bought a bottle of white wine from New Zealand, which turned out to be delicious; I only noticed later it was called "Monkey Bay" and has a picture of (you guessed it!) a monkey on the front.
  3. My favorite jammies are purple with monkeys on them.
  4. Katja posted a song on her blog, which she wanted me to listen to. It was by a band called "Arctic Monkeys."
  5. While I was wondering about all this monkey business to Katja while we were chatting on Skype, she said: "Hey, go to this Japanese name generator I just found." I did, and wouldn't you know, it made my name mean "A monkey on a crossing bridge, fine in Autumn." (See previous post) I was stunned, and the Finn that I am, could only utter a powerful Finnish curseword (aka voimasana, "Word of Power"), "Perkele" — when I told her what I got, we both got freaked out. To make matters worse, this site she had found was also called Rum & Monkey.
Needless to say, Katja set me to task to figure out what all this means. I don't know if I'll be able to, but if anything should happen to me, look for a monkey as a prime suspect.

Monkey research to follow in another post presently.

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QUIZ: The Real Japanese Name Generator

Katja just returned from Kyoto, where she had an amazing time and took over 300 photos. She has a few of them on her blog so far, with promises of more. She found this quiz, and you know I'm helpless.

My japanese name is:

猿渡 Saruwatari (monkey on a crossing bridge)
千秋 Chiaki (very fine in autumn)

Take your real japanese name generator! today!

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The World of Brian Froud

I just read a post by SzélsőFa who has posted more fabulous images on the Pálvölgyi caves in Hungary. The middle image in particular gave me a Jungian tug of the Collective Subconscious — these were dream visions I "remembered," if you know what I mean. The more I gazed at them, I realized the pictures reminded me of something else, of more recent memory.

Do you remember the film "Dark Crystal" (1982)?  Jim Henson, of The Muppets fame, hired the British fantasy artist Brian Froud to do the art direction and conceptual design for the film; his wife Wendy, a sculptor and puppet maker, created the physical representations of the characters. They further teamed up with Henson on The Labyrinth (1986).  It was in the news last year, that a sequel, "The Power of the Dark Crystal," is forthcoming, with a scheduled release of 2008.

The Book of Habidabab site has more images from the film. For more art by Brian and Wendy Froud, who have focused their work on Faeries and Goblins of late, visit The World of Froud.

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Peanuts: Coffee Break


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Happy International Women's Day 2007

Today is International Women's Day. So here's a cheer for all the women. *CHEER!*

International Women's Day was first officially celebrated by the United Nations on March 8, 1975. The date was chosen to commemorate a protest by the women workers of a clothing factory in New York against low wagers and dismal working conditions. On March 8, 1908, fifteen thousand women marched in New York City to demand more pay, better working conditions, and the right to vote. The protesters were attacked by the police, but a few years later they created created the first women's labor union.

The socialist party of America first observed IWD in 1909. The first International Women's Conference was held in Denmark in 1910, and International Women's Day was commemorated in Western Europe in the following years. In 1917 Russia, women protesters demonstrated during the first stages of the Russian Revolution. Lenin made International Women's Day official, but it wasn't made a non-working holiday until May 8, 1965.

Ending Impunity for Violence against Women and Girls

According to the United Nations, International Women's Day is "a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities." It is also a time to take stock of the abuses and oppression of women around the world; legal, economical, physical, psychological and, perhaps most egregiously, spiritual. Those of us living in countries where the position of women has come a long way, often forget there are women less fortunate; women, whose governments and societies condone (or at least turn a blind eye to) physical abuse, rape, slavery, and female genital mutilation, not to even mention systematically lower wages, lack of a right to vote, and the inability to have any say over their bodies, persons, or dreams.

While we may feel that we personally can do little, there are several organizations we can assist with either time or money — at the least, we can spread the word. We can celebrate the brave women who came before us, who sacrificed much to make sure that women after them would have an easier path. We should also celebrate the women in our own lives, who make us who we are; our grandmothers, mothers, sisters and friends. Let's tell them how much we appreciate them and say, even to the strangers on the street, "Happy Women's Day."

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