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.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Sonnetsday 12

You must not wonder, though you think it strange,
To see me hold my lowering head so low;
And that mine eyes take no delight to range
About the gleams which on your face do grow.
The mouse which once hath broken out of trap
Is seldom teasèd with the trustless bait,
But lies aloof for fear of more mishap,
And feedeth still in doubt of deep deceit.
The scorchèd fly which once hath 'scap'd the flame
Will hardly come to play again with fire.
Whereby I learn that grievous is the game
Which follows fancy dazzled by desire.
So that I wink or else hold down my head,
Because your blazing eyes my bale have bred.

(George Gascoigne)

George Gascoigne (1539-1578) is one of the minor Elizabethan Sonneteers, and thus not widely read in the standard university survey courses.  He was, however, a prolific sonneteer much respected in his own age, whose output also included plays, masques, and prose treatises.

Tags: Sonnets

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Saturday, April 29, 2006

"Proof" Opens

Hello folks,

"Proof" had its opening night last night, which went well.  Was a lovely audience of about 250, and there was a gala afterwards with the world's best creampuffs, mmmm.  Madeline is here with her boyfriend Nathan, and they're all coming to see it tonight.  So, not a lot of blogging this weekend ^^


Tags: Proof | Theatre

Friday, April 28, 2006

TGIF - Thank God It's Firefly Day

From now on Fridays will include "Firefly" stuff in addition to yours truly's regular ramblings.

The Firefly Theme - Ballad of Serenity
Lyrics by Joss Whedon
[.MP3 - performed by Sonny Rhodes]

Take my love, take my land,
Take me where I cannot stand;
I don't care, I'm still free
You can't take the sky from me...
Take me out to the black
Tell them I ain't comin' back;
Burn the land and boil the sea
You can't take the sky from me...
There's no place I can be
Since I found Serenity,
But you can't take the sky from me...

Tags: Firefly | Serenity | Movies

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Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Ballad of Jayne

He robbed from the rich
And he gave to the poor
Stood up to the man
And gave him what for
Our love for him now
Ain't hard to explain
The hero of Canton
The man they call Jayne

Our Jayne saw the mudders' backs breakin'
He saw the mudders' lament
And he saw the magistrate takin'
Every dollar and leavin' five cents
So he said "you can't do that to my people"
He said "you can't crush them under your heel"
So Jayne strapped on his hat
And in 5 seconds flat
Stole everythin' Boss Higgins had to steal

He robbed from the rich
And he gave to the poor
Stood up to the man
And gave him what for
Our love for him now
Ain't hard to explain
The hero of Canton
The man they call Jayne

Now here is what separates heroes
From common folk like you and I
The man they call Jayne
He turned 'round his plane
And let that money hit sky
He dropped it onto our houses
He dropped it into our yards
The man they called Jayne
He stole away our pain
And headed out for the stars

He robbed from the rich
And he gave to the poor
Stood up to the man
And gave him what for
Our love for him now
Ain't hard to explain
The hero of Canton
The man they call Jayne.
This song was in the Firefly episode "Jaynestown".

MarkA. of HyperLiterature posted the lyrics as a response to my latest "Firefly" rant. Thanks Mark! :)

Adam Baldwin (Jayne) sings this to guitar towards the end of the latest The Signal podcast (Season 2, #7).

For a fab website with hundreds of screen captures of all the Firefly episodes, visit


Tags: Firefly | Serenity | Movies

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Firefly, Firefly, Addicted to Firefly

Yes, it's that time again: time for Anniina to rave about Firefly and its followup movie, Serenity.

Now folks, if you still don't own these, that's just a damn shame.
If you haven't seen the series or the movie, at least one of them, consider this your message from the 'verse: It is TIME.
If you've seen neither, all I can say is "Damn, you're so TOTALLY missing out, and I don't know if I can associate with you further until you rent and watch one or the other. Sorry, no can do."

For those of you (who are you people??) who are going "What is Firefly/Serenity", see my posting "Firefly" Kind of Day.

Here are some links of interest to those of you who confess yourselves to be "Browncoats":

The Signal - "Firefly" news podcasts.

The Big Damned Flanvention - "Firefly" fan convention '06.

Whedonesque - A Joss Whedon Blog

A Cute video interview with "The Cap'n" - from before the show aired. Gotta love the cap'n.

More shall be added until every last person here is converted into Browncoats, or so help me :P

Seriously though, although it may seem nutty to you how much I love this universe, you might just totally love the show and the movie, so give it a shot, wontcha?


Tags: Firefly | Serenity | Movies

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Monday, April 24, 2006

A Happy Day

Ahh, I've had a wonderful day today!

First, I woke up relatively early for me, and the sun was shining.  After the last few days' rain, it was a welcome surprise, and the world was all clean and fresh and bright.

Then, I talked to my dad on the phone, and he had just gotten hired by a "Big-3" Pharmaceutical to be the Product Manager for a migraine medicine — a huge source of joy for him and for all our family who have been steadily getting more and more discouraged (his previous medical company downsized him out last year).  He was fairly jumping up and down, and I was jumping right along!

I had plenty of time to putz around with before rehearsal, so I played a little FFXI, and left for "Proof" rehearsal at 4pm.  Now, all last week it took me 2 hrs to get to rehearsal.  Naturally, I had reserved 2 hrs for the trip tonight, so it only took me 1 hr and I had time to just hang out and relax before rehearsal.

Next, I totally *rocked* my scenes, and the director had a list a mile long of "good Claire, great Claire" comments, and we got out waaaay early.  Plus, she gave us tomorrow OFF, so I am floating - blissful.

Now I am going to watch "Elizabeth I", Part II on HBO, and play some ffxi, and gloat and float, like a stoat, in a moat, don't miss the boat, you old goat, eeek, I'm rhyming and I can't stooooooop. :P

Love you all,

Tags: Proof | Theatre


Sunday, April 23, 2006

Sonnetsday 11

Sonnet from Urania
by Lady Mary Wroth

Here all alone in silence might I mourne:
But how can silence be where sorrowes flow?
Sighs with complaints have poorer paines out-worne;
But broken hearts can only true griefe show.
Drops of my dearest bloud shall let Love know
Such teares for her I shed, yet still do burne,
As no spring can quench least part of my woe,
Till this live earth, againe to earth doe turne.
Hatefull all thought of comfort is to me,
Despised day, let me still night possesse;
Let me all torments feele in their excesse,
And but this light allow my state to see.
      Which still doth wast, and wasting as this light,
      Are my sad dayes unto eternall night.

Lady Mary Wroth (1587?-1651?) was the daughter of Sir Philip Sidney's brother, Robert.  Recognized now as one of the major 17th-century poets, her life was tumultuous to say the least, and her powerful, emotionally evocative poetry bears tangible witness to it.

Tags: Sonnets

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Friday, April 21, 2006

Cool Site: Your Political Compass

So, now that I got political I can't seem to stop. Ran into Netscape's "Cool Site of the Day" which is:

The Political Compass

Take this questionnaire and they tell you where you place politically (both socially and economically) on the scale. They use a cool triangulation method:

Here is what mine said:

And according to their charts, that puts me in the same spot as the Dalai Lama, and right near Gandhi and Mandela. Not bad company.

Cool. You try it, it's fun.

The Political Compass

Worst Personal Ads Ever

LOL, ran into this thing on the worst personal ads ever written.

Some samples:

Bitter, disillusioned SM seeks decent, honest, reliable woman, if such a thing still exists in this cruel world of hatchet-faced witches.

I am a bottle of alcohol. Some people use me; others abuse me. That's the story of my life. Tell me yours.

Patriarch of up-and-coming religion seeks altar girl.

Okay, so most likely these aren't real posts, but they are still worth a few chuckles.

The Worst Personal Ads Ever Placed

Beliefs in the Bush Era

I usually don't blog about politics, but I got this list in an email from my friend David F. and it was too good not to post:

 Saddam was a good guy when Reagan armed him,
A bad guy when Bush's daddy made war on him,
A good guy when Cheney did business with him,
And a bad guy when Bush couldn't find Bin Laden.

Trade with Cuba is wrong because the country is communist, but trade with China and Vietnam is vital to a spirit of international harmony.

A woman can't be trusted with decisions about her own body, but multinational corporations can make decisions affecting all mankind without regulation.

Jesus loves you — and shares your hatred of homosexuals and Hillary Clinton.

The best way to improve military morale is to praise the troops in speeches while slashing veterans' benefits and combat pay.

If condoms are kept out of schools, adolescents won't have sex.

Providing health care to all Iraqis is sound policy.
Providing health care to all Americans is socialism.

HMOs and insurance companies have the best interests of the public at heart.

Global warming is junk science, but Creationism should be taught in schools.

A president lying about an extramarital affair is an impeachable offense. A president lying to enlist support for a war in which thousands die is solid defense policy.

Government should limit itself to the powers named in the Constitution, which include banning gay marriages and censoring the Internet.

The public has a right to know about Hillary's cattle trades, but George Bush's cocaine conviction is none of our business.

What Bill Clinton did in the 1960's is of vital national interest, but what Bush did in the 1980's is irrelevant.

And in case I'm too subtle in posting this, yes, I LOATHE GW and the fact that under his regime, yes, you heard me, regime, we lose the civil liberties guaranteed by the most beautiful and wise document ever created: the Constitution.
You have the right to disagree.  I have the right to consider you a moron if you do.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Roman Holiday - Guide to the Essentials, Part 1

Before I start, the most important thing I can tell you about Rome is that  pickpockets are everywhere.  Place nothing in your back pockets or your backpack that you'd hate to lose (I suggest leaving your passports and plane tickets in a safe at your hotel) and be alert at all times, especially in crowds (including churches and museums) and the subway.  Watch out for groups or individual children.  Child pickpockets are plentiful here.  If children crowd around you, you must coldly and cruelly shoo them away and yell "Via!" (i.e., "Go away!").  Sounds foreign to us in the States, but pickpocketry is a real, thriving business in Rome.

Rome is so full of history, art, and places to visit, that a quick guide is an endeavor doomed from the start.  However, if one only has a few days, here are what I consider the essentials:

Day 1.
Start at the Piazza di Spagna, and take in the Spanish Steps.

The subway station is conveniently there, as is the AMEX office, and one of the many McDonald's restaurants.  Before I piss anyone off, let me explain myself:  Rome is a hard place for a tourist to find bathrooms, and McDonald's' bathrooms are free, and usually up to snuff cleanliness-wise.

Walk up the steps to the church of Trinità dei Monti for a quick peek inside, and admire the view from the top of the steps.  Romantic, isn't it? (pun not intended). The Spanish Steps are bordered on either side by Babington's Tea Rooms, which serves delectable tea and scones in the English style (damned expensive, but yum) and the Keats-Shelley House, where Keats died in 1821.  It is now a museum for the English Romantic poets (ugh!).

Drinking from the boat-shaped fountain in front of the Spanish Steps is supposed to bring good luck, but I don't recommend it.  I did that, and suffered from "Mussolini's Revenge" my first week in Rome... 'nuff said.

Take Via Condotti, where you find another nice place to have tea or coffee: Antico Caffé Greco, Rome's oldest coffee house, which was frequented by Keats, Goethe, Liszt, Byron, and other famous people when in Rome  ($$$$).  I believe the store that sells cigars and a b'zillion different decks of cards and tarot cards is also on this street, can't remember.
Anyway, take Via Condotti all the way until you hit Via del Corso.  "The Corso" as it is affectionately known, is the shopping street, with clothing, shoe, tourist, and jewelry stores.  Make a left, that is, head south until you hit Via d. Muratte and make a left onto that to the Fontana di Trevi.

It is imperative that you toss at least one coin with your right hand over your right shoulder (your back to the fountain) into the Fontana di Trevi.  One so you can return to Rome someday, two for love, third for marriage.  The tourists around here are obnoxious, and the restaurants are sub-par and expensive, so don't eat around here.  A good thing to know, if you are ever in Rome on a Sunday (when everything everywhere is closed), the stores around Trevi are open so you are not left supply-less.

Return to the Corso and because you will be doing an insane  amount of walking during your stay in Rome, I highly recommend taking a taxi to the Colosseum.  Trust me, it's worth it. Take in the Colosseum and try getting pictures of it inside and out, although that is a near-impossibility, because the place is HUGE.  Outside, admire the Arch of Constantine, and head up the slope to the Roman Forum, and enter through the Arch of Titus. The Roman Forum is amazing, naturally.  If you visit only one place as you are passing through, it ought to be the House of the Vestal Virgins.

Once through, head up the hill to the Piazza del Campidoglio on the Capitoline Hill.  Here, you will see the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius (by Michelangelo) and the Capitoline Museums on your left and right, and the Palazzo Senatorio.  Feel free to visit the museums, but in the interest of time, I'd say save these for your next visit to Rome. Note on the left side of the Palazzo Senatorio the statue of Romulus and Remus suckling on the wolf.

From here, you could go down the steps to the Via d. Teatro di Marcello, and head left and downhill all the way down to Church of St. Mary in Cosmedin, which will be on your left as you reach Piazza Bocca della Verità, and here of course is the famed "Mouth of Truth" — if you are brave, stick your hand in and see what happens.  I was totally freaked out, but happy to say, still have my digits intact.

Best thing to do after this church, is to again grab a taxi, and ask the driver to take you to Piazza Navona. Piazza Navona is the location of an ancient stadium for sports and theatrical performances — it was even flooded for a performance including staged sea battles in the Renaissance.  Bordered on all sides by palazzos which housed popes, cardinals, and princes the piazza has three gorgeous fountains by Bernini, the most impressive of which is the central one, Fontana dei Fiumi, or the 'fountain of rivers' with statues of the Nile, the Plate, the Ganges, and the Danube personified.  After dinner, come back here for a night time photo — amazing.  Your choices for dinner are any of the cute outdoor restaurants around the piazza, which serve touristy fare, but are worth it for the atmosphere and view.

If you're not exhausted out of your wits yet (!) you may want to walk from the Piazza Navona to the Pantheon and admire its rotunda.  Once you exit the Pantheon, you can get awesome photos of the fountain in front at night.  You're also facing another McDonalds right there, if you need to use the facilities.  Go up the street on the right side of McD's and in two blocks there is a delicious gelato place.

Now I'd say definitely call it a night, because unless you get up the crack of dawn to go to the Vatican, you will have to experience the Sistine Chapel with 5,000 tourists packed in like sardines, but if you get there early early early, you might be one of twenty people in a quiet and holy-seeming chapel, and you can actually enjoy the Sistine Chapel, instead of wanting to massacre obnoxious, loud, jostling tourists.

More on that in Rome Post 2.


Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Reminiscences of Rome

Ahh, Rome, the eternal city.  Always evokes a myriad of pictures in my head, from Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck on a scooter, to Julius Caesar entering in triumph, to the belated Pope blessing folks on the steps of St Peter's, to the corny-but-delightful 50's movie "Three Coins in the Fountain", to the wonderful "Gladiator" of late fame.

I've been really fortunate in my life.  I got to spend my last semester of college studying in Rome.  As y'all know, my degree was in English Lit, but this final semester my curriculum was comprised of 3 Art History classes, daily "Italian 101" classes, and one "Film & Literature" class.

I had never studied a word of Italian before going, except for some tourist Italian tapes I had bought for survival, and an Italian dictionary, which by the end of the semester looked like someone had lovingly chewed on it.  Our Italian teacher was wonderful in that she not only went by the book and really gave us an intense class (we basically did two semesters' worth of Italian in one semester), but she also would help us in the questions that would crop up in our day-to-day life in Rome.  For example, I needed to find out how to ask for an ash-tray in a restaurant, "Posso avere un portacenere", etc. etc. Because, as anyone visiting Rome will soon find out, few people actually do or are willing to, speak English.  This is not due to a lack of desire or dislike for Americans — in fact, of all the European nations, I'd say the Italians love us best, and everyone has a relative or knows someone who has moved to the U.S. it seems. So knowing how to get understood in even broken Italian is imperative.  And people are really nice and appreciative of anyone who tries at least to speak the native tongue.

I had never had a single art history class either, and realized to my chagrin during this semester, my last,  that I would have loved to have minored in it.  My love of those classes was due in great part to our fabulous professor, Dr. James Callaghan.  Erudite, enthusiastic, and infinitely knowledgeable, Professor Callaghan would give us lectures and take us on field trips to see the actual works of art in their respective museums, churches, and palazzos in Rome, Florence, Venice, and Sienna.  I loved him, loved his classes, and lost my soul to the works of art, and to Italy.  Prof. Callaghan is currently the head of Study Abroad Programs at Philadelphia University, and I just know   he is still passing on that love of art to his lucky students.

So, this all being said, I'm going to continue my little 'traveller's guide to Italy' (see Post 1 and Post 2 on Florence) with a section on Rome and the Vatican.  I could do several postings on the subject, but I'm going to stick to the essentials   what to not miss, if you only have a few days instead of the years Rome warrants :) See next post.


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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The "Proof" is in the Pudding

So, "Proof" has now taken over and we actually have two weeks of tech — 2!!!  This is the first time I've ever had the luxury of two weeks' time for this part of the process. Our set is well nigh finished, save for a few final touchups, and it is fabulous  — for example, when Claire (c'est moi) goes into the kitchen to grab the coffee, I really have a kitchen to go to — not just a blank backstage space.  The costumer is soooo good, and in addition to the director having a say, I  have a say, too!  I got to nix a pair of slacks today because A) I found the color (light celery green) vomitous and B)  I thought they made my butt look big,  LMAO :P  My character is a NYC professional, so the costumer went and bought a Louis Vuitton bag  because my character would certainly have one!!  I mean, OMG!  To be always so fortunate as to be on the receiving end of this kind of luxury.

Lines-wise we're solid, having been off-book for two weeks, and since we're already doing costume changes, we'll have the hang of all of our "business" before the addition of lights and sound on Thursday.  Hal and Catherine are great at their parts, and I'm dancing as fast as I can to give them an adequate supporting performance.

The play runs April 27-May 27, which will include 5 weekends, the longest run I've had to date, I think, but cannot rightly remember.  I think the longest I've done before this was 4 weeks.  Will be interesting.  The theatre is a real-sized theatre, not the usual 'little theatre' venues one generally works at in this area.  The stage is humongous, and they have a gazillion seats, and apparently, on a bad night they get 300 people in the audience.  Fascinating to actually be able to use the "RADA-voice" instead of worrying that one will sound strangely overloud.  The theatre is an old vaudeville house, complete with frescoes and greek columns and gilding. Unfortunately, the ceiling has been covered with the ugly modern popcorn panels, presumably for acoustics (but if you ask me, I'd take the original ceiling anyday).  I don't know if the original ceiling is longer extant above the faux drop ceiling or no, and in what state of damage it might be.

My friend Mark A. of HyperLiterature is still in Europe with his loverly wife, Leigh, and they've now moved from Venice to Florence, my favorite city on this podunk planet, and I'm happy for them, living vicariously, and wishing I were there as well.  Mark and Leigh also met and got a photo with Neil Gaiman in London, which made me turn various vivacious shades of green.  For more on their adventures in Europe, see Mark's Blog.

That is about all the news from here tonight, as your zombified author has had too much to do and too little sleep.  Those of you (hi mom and dad!) who wish I would A) call them B) visit them C) blog more often — loves, I promise things will improve once this baby goes to show.  And in June I will once again be a starving actor, gloriously thriftless and unemployed, so comfort yourselves in the knowledge that you'll soon be sick of me again.

Until then
    I remain
        Yours Truly


Sunday, April 16, 2006

Sonnetsday 10


I d e a.

by Michael Drayton


An Allusion to the Phoenix

'MONGST all the creatures in this spacious round
Of the birds' kind, the Phoenix is alone,
Which best by you of living things is known ;
None like to that, none like to you is found.
Your beauty is the hot and splend'rous sun,
The precious spices be your chaste desire,
Which being kindled by that heavenly fire,
Your life so like the Phoenix's begun ;
Yourself thus burnèd in that sacred flame,
With so rare sweetness all the heavens perfuming,
Again increasing as you are consuming,
Only by dying born the very same ;
    And, winged by fame, you to the stars ascend,
    So you of time shall live beyond the end.

Michael Drayton was wildly popular around the same time as Samuel Daniel, and Drayton's poetry was prized by Queen Elizabeth. I was drawn to this particular sonnet for the allusion to the phoenix.

Here is a sonnet I wrote last year alluding to the Phoenix, not remembering having ever encountered Drayton's poem back then.

The Flight of the Phoenix
by Anniina Jokinen

Like as the ancient red and golden bird
Of Egypt's Kings and Lords of Araby,
Whose songs Apollo on Olympus heard
And Emperors of Rome gave revery;
So my heart burns with ever-rising flame,
The fiery tendrils licking at their prize;
Th' inferno soon incinerates the same,
And then, scorched through, my heart in ashes lies.
And like the Phoenix' death comes at its birth,
So my poor heart is generated 'new;
Its fledgling voice doth rise to sing your worth,
And it takes wing to fly back home to you.
     And, like unto these never-dying wings,
     So my heart ever loves and ever sings.

(June, 2005)

Tags: Sonnets | Anniina's Poetry

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Macbeth Closes

And tonight 'Macbeth' had its closing performance.  I am equal parts relieved and saddened.  Relieved, because my schedule has been beyond hectic, and it will be nice to regain a small measure of sanity (although "Proof" will now go in full force), saddened because I will miss my beloved Lady Macbeth, and the wonderful group of girls with whom we had so much fun.  Yet, this is exactly what an actor's life is about — changes.  After each show closes, there is a short (sometimes longer) mourning period, and then we let go, and move on to other projects.  I do hope there will be something special beyond the horizon.


Tags: Macbeth | Shakespeare | Theatre


Friday, April 14, 2006


Alright, I've done it, I've cut myself off (Fine, I confess, I did do the "What Superhero Are You?" Quiz and turns out, I'm Buffy. There's a surprise :P Damn, I do get stuck into those things. No more quizzes for me... at least tonight.

So, I'm exhausted and I am totally and immediately on my way to bed. Thanks to those of you who've been commenting lately — it's such a lovely surprise each time. Alright, I'm going to bed. Now. I promise.

Macbeth show tonight was brilliant — even though I'll be relieved to have more time for a personal life (I hear those can be nice) I will miss the show, and my beloved Lady Macbeth, and speaking those beautiful words. There just isn't enough Shakespeare in the world, IMHO. Now I just need to become über wealthy so I can have my own theatre with year-round Shakes.

Night night, my gorgeous loves :)


The Keys to my Heart

Heh, once I started on the quizzes, I couldn't stop. So, here are the keys to my heart according to this quiz:

The Keys to Your Heart

You are attracted to those who are unbridled, untrammeled, and free.

In love, you feel the most alive when things are straight-forward, and you're told that you're loved.

You'd like your lover to think you are loyal and faithful... that you'll never change.

You would be forced to break up with someone who was emotional, moody, and difficult to please.

Your ideal relationship is open. Both of you can talk about everything... no secrets.

Your risk of cheating is high. You can't resist desire and lust.

You think of marriage as something you've always wanted... though you haven't really thought about it.

In this moment, you think of love as something you thirst for. You'll do anything for love, but you won't fall for it easily.

Hmm... not exactly on the money, 'cause I do fall in and for love quite fast. Gah. Am I the only one who thinks Love Stinks? ~A

What Sign is Your True Love?

Heh, so I myself am a Leo. It appears that my "True Love" is also a Leo, according to this quiz I found on David's blog. Yes, I'm a quiz-whore, I admit :P

Your True Love Is a Leo

Why you'll love a Leo:

A Leo has a presence and power that you find intoxicating.
Sensual and playful, you'll be thrilled to have your Leo pick you as a playmate!

Why a Leo will love you:

You're willing to let your Leo be the center of attention (both at home and in public)
And you're able to tiptoe around your lion - and put up with the occasional fit.

Since I'm a Leo too, that would describe me as well... What do they mean "put up with the occasional fit?" What fit, I don't throw fits >.> *throws a first-class fit*

*Purrrrr* ~A

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Insomnia Poetry

Yes. The insomnia is back. I seem to suffer it annually around the equinoxes — I suppose it takes my system its own time to adjust to the seasons changing. I usually am at my most prolific, writing-wise, when I go through these bouts. Thought I'd share one of my insomnia poems. And be gentle, please, I'm fragile :)

 I want to sleep.
      My soul is not quiet.
The night wind
      Waits outside my door
Whispering secrets
      In an unknown tongue.
I wish
      For fairies in my garden.
They could
      Sing me to sleep,
Silence for a while
      This everworking mind.

(AJ, 1-2004)

Tags: Insomnia | Anniina's Poetry

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"Hello, Lover!"

Doubtless, the women reading the blog instantly recognized the title quote.  It is what Carrie in "Sex and the City" says to a gorgeous Manolo Blahnik shoe in a store window.  Straight men and non-shoe-loving women (do they exist?), feel free to pass up this post.

What is it about shoes that make so many of us feel an instant flush of attraction? The sensual shape, the feel of the fabric or leather, the visual delight of color? Or does it happen when we put on a pair of shoes that fit perfectly, knowing we could "walk five hundred miles" in them? Maybe not, since we even lust after shoes which are cripplingly uncomfortable, destined to maim our appendages worse than the most notorious ballet shoes ever could. It's not even the fact that some shoes can make us look like we have the insurable gams of Marlene Dietrich, the height of a few glamazons, and pert buttocks of steel (although these will immediately raise the shoes' rating by several notches). I don't know what it is — but there are shoes that have that 'Come Hither'-look no mere mortal can resist.

I realized once again what a love affair I have with shoes when, after a performance of Macbeth I looked around the dressing room and saw that I had six pairs of shoes there... and since I only wear one pair on stage, one pair home, that made for four extra pairs; four deliciously needless pairs. "I love you, shoes!" I cooed to the pair of black suede and mock croc Nine West platform heel Mary Janes which Lady Macbeth wears — sturdy, so I don't fall on my face on stage, yet delicate-looking, which make Lady Macbeth's legs look just-so, and ever so comfortable, so that I can wear them for two hours without ever having to spare a thought for aching feet. One of my cast mates, who plays one of the witches, started laughing at my fervent declaration of passion, but the look on her face was not mocking — she knew exactly what I meant.

I was delighted when my friend Madeline sent me a picture of the to-die-for shoes she just bought on eBay, and at once chagrined and envious, because I desire her shoes now as well, LOL!  They would have been perfect for my Lady M, and I would love to wear them in 'real life' as well. These shoes are graceful, bold, tarty and tastefully sexy at once —
me WANT!  Kudos to Madeline, for finding these beauties.  If you want to die of envy, she bought them for less than $30 including shipping!!!!  Madeline, you saucy minx!

So. If you don't have this love affair with shoes, you'll likely consider me (and perhaps rightly so) entirely bonkers by now.  If, however, you know the lure of the perfect shoe intimately, you're ready to join me in saying "Hello, Lover" to a yet-unmet pair of siren shoes in the very near future.  Admit it :P


Wednesday, April 12, 2006

2 Days in Florence: Day 2

Alrighty, I did warn you in DAY 1, that Day 2, Uffizi Day, starts at an UNGODLY hour. I'll explain why in a sec.

Have breakfast, or grab a cappuccino and croissant really fast, and make sure that you get to the Piazzale degli Uffizi (the courtyard you went through on Day 1) no later than 7:15 am, 7 is better. The reason for this is that the Uffizi tickets are reserved months ahead of time, and the remainder of the tickets go on sale at 8:15 am. They let people into the ticket office in groups of 15 or so, and by 7 am there is already a line. If you get there by 7:15, chances are you'll actually get into the ticket office and Uffizi itself by 9:30ish. If you get there later than 7:15 the line stretches all around the courtyard, and chances are you'll be standing till noon, and then being told they have no more tickets for the day. I know. Stinks. But they make the rules, and you want to get there before the tour buses full of tourists get there (around 7:15) because then you'll have hundreds of people ahead of you in line. And the Uffizi cannot be missed. That is where the greatest treasures of Western Art reside — 90% of the paintings whose names you've ever heard of are in this museum. It's a pilgrimage, so the suffering of waiting in the chill is a rite of passage almost.

No guidelines for once you get inside the Uffizi — there is only one way through it really.  For me, the most amazing part of it was the Botticelli Room. You enter, and right there are Botticelli's Birth of Venus and Primavera, each the size of a wall, and so unearthly beautiful. "Whiles I stood rapt in the wonder of it", to quote Macbeth, an overwhelming flood of emotion swept over me and tears just poured down my face. I'll never forget it.

My other delights in there were Leonardo's Annunciation, Michelangelo's Doni Tondo and Titian's Venus of Urbino, once called the "foulest, the vilest, the obscenest picture the world possesses" by Mark Twain. It also houses my all-time favorite, Fra Filippo Lippi's Madonna and Child with Angels, which I have on my wall at home. But these are only scratching the surface — everywhere you look, famous and incredible art stares back at you.
The paintings were in the Medici family collection, and the last of the Medici, Anna Maria Lodovica, donated the collection to the City of Florence with the caveat that the paintings should always reside in Florence, for its citizens to enjoy.

The Uffizi, once you get in there, will take you a few hours. Afterwards, have some lunch, and head north to the Galleria dell'Accademia, to visit Michelangelo's David and the Captives. If you're not 'arted out', you may want to stop by the Convento di San Marco a block away, and take in the beautiful Fra Angelico frescos on the walls of the monks' cells there. After all this art, it's probably a good idea to just stroll around the streets of Florence and take it all in.

There are numerous other worthwhile places to visit in Florence, but the must-sees are now satisfied. If you have more time to stay in Florence, great places to visit are the Brancacci Chapel in the church of Santa Maria del Carmine with the Masolino and Masaccio frescoes, the church of San Lorenzo with Michelangelo's Medici tombs, and the market place right outside San Lorenzo, specializing in Florentian tooled leather and other leather goods, and the Bargello Museum with its sculptures, including Donatello's David and Michelangelo's Bacchus.

You can't go wrong in Florence — it is all wonderful and worthwhile, so enjoy your stay.


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Monday, April 10, 2006

2 Days in Florence: Day 1

My friend Mark of HyperLiterature is going on a whirlwind tour of Europe with his wife, Leigh.  I promised a few suggestions, and I thought I would start with my favorite city, Florence.

First things first, the only guidebook worth buying for Florence is the Eyewitness Travel Guides: Italy. (Or alternately, you may buy the same for Florence and Rome separately, but for a short trip, the Italy one is more than sufficient for both).

Firenze is a city where one could spend an eternity, and still not have seen everything — so full of history, art, and ambience is the city, that one day my dream is to live there.

If, however, one has two days to visit it, these are the "must-do" items in my book:

Day 1.

Check into your hotel.  You may have a hotel booked already, but my favorite in Florence is the Hotel Roma, which is near the railway station, overlooking the church of Santa Maria Novella. A four-star hotel in a historical palazzo, it has courteous service and nice amenities, and was not back-breakingly expensive when I last visited.  If you ask nicely, they may even give you the key to go up to the rooftop, from which you can take great pictures of Florence rooftops.

Walk to the Duomo through the narrow streets and take time to admire its beautiful white, pink, and green marble, the gorgeous Baptistry doors by Ghiberti (called "Gates of Paradise" by Michelangelo), and Giotto's tower, the Campanile.

Inside the Duomo, take note of Brunelleschi's dome, the first and greatest of its kind ever built, and take in the frescos by Vasari (author of the Lives of the Artists). If you have time, go to the top of the dome for great city views. It was here at the altar on Easter Sunday, 1478, that Lorenzo de Medici's brother, Giuliano, was murdered by the Pazzi conspirators during the service. Inside the cathedral is also Domenico di Michelino's painting "Dante Illuminating Florence with his Poem" (1465).

After the Duomo, go make a reservation for the evening at
my favorite Florentine restaurant, Sasso di Dante (Dante's Seat).  Legend has it that the restaurant was built on the spot where Dante used to sit on a tree stump, gazing at the construction of the cathedral, while writing his Divine Commedia. It is just south of the Duomo - if you are facing the front of the cathedral, walk on the right side of the cathedral, and look to your right at about half-way down the cathedral wall. It is moderately priced, and does not serve the less-than-good touristy fare of many of the other places, but classic Florentine cuisine.  Without a doubt, for appetizer, have the Florentine lasagne which come in a tiny hot iron skillet/pot.

    Sasso di Dante
    Piazza delle Pallottole 6/r (Duomo)
    Tel. 055 28 21 13
    (Closed on Thurday and Friday)

Come back to the front of the Duomo, and walk south down Via dei Calzaiuoli, past the church of Orsanmichele, and note the niche carvings on the side of the church, including Donatello's St. George and St. Mark and Verrocchio's Doubting Thomas.

Via dei Calzaiuoli ends at the Piazza della Signoria, where a replica of the original statue of Michelangelo's David stands. The Piazza is bordered by the Uffizi and the Palazzo Vecchio.

The Uffizi itself is for Day 2, but you cantake a quick look-through the Vasari courtyard with Pinturicchio's Putto fountain at the Palazzo — I always pictured the room where Romeo and Juliet first meet during the dance to look just like this.

Walk through the Piazzale degli Uffizi noting the statues of great florentines set into the niches on the wall, including Michelangelo, Da Vinci, and Macchiavelli.  Through the archway you reach the bank of the Arno river. This is a great spot for taking a photo of Ponte Vecchio. Walk to the right, towards Ponte Vecchio, stopping by the gelato stand (yum!) and the darling little paper goods store, where you can buy Florentine paper goods, including gorgeous watercolor miniatures on handmade paper, stamps and wax, and other writing and paper goods, for which Florence has been famous for centuries.

Cross the Ponte Vecchio, stopping by the open center part for a photo-op with your sweetheart. This is the only Florentine bridge to have survived World War II intact — the story goes, that when the Axis were pulling out, the soldiers who had the orders to blow up all the bridges crossing the Arno could not make themselves destroy this beautiful Medieval bridge. —Thank goodness.  This bridge, bordered on both sides by jewelry stores, from which the heroine in Puccini's aria "O Mio Babbino Caro" says she will drown herself if her father does not give her permission to marry her sweetheart. For me, this is the most beautiful and most romantic bridge in Italy.

Keep walking until you reach the Palazzo Pitti.  This was one of the Medici palaces, and houses an enormous number of the treasures in the Medici collections not at the Uffizi. The treasures include several Raphael paintings, e.g. Madonna della Seggiola or Madonna of the Chair (1515) and the Donna Velata (1516), Titian's Portrait of a Gentleman (1540), Artemisia Gentileschi's Judith, Caravaggio's Sleeping Cupid, and my favorite, Fra Filippo Lippi's Madonna col Bambino (c.1450).

Make sure to visit the Boboli Gardens at Palazzo Pitti and visit the cafe there — amazing city views while you drink the best hot chocolate in the world (and trust me, I have had hot chocolate all over, so am somewhat of an expert). [Optional: Buy a bakery item and on your way back down from the gardens, feed the birds by the fountains].

Now, get back to your hotel and get ready for dinner and an early night, because DAY 2, the Uffizi day, starts UNGODLY EARLY (no choice in the matter, I fear).

Click on map to see full size:


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