the monday inspiration.

I love a game of Would You Rather. If you had to choose, would you pick smelling terrible for the rest of your life or having both your legs amputated? Would you rather have the main character in every movie replaced by Nicholas Cage or every song sung by Nickelback? Would you rather have 12 kids or zero? Would you rather have the ugliest house in a fancy neighborhood or the most beautiful one in an average one? Would you rather a year of travel or a $100,000 check?

One of the fallback prompts that I’ve found to be a telling insight into a person is the following: Would you rather live an average life, die, and be largely forgotten, or would you rather be Van Gogh’d– ridiculed and impoverished during your earthly days and then remembered as a genius forever forward? I think I’d go with the tame and average life (and look at how dutifully I’m walking that talk, ha), but the idea of having people refer to others who have been influenced by HRCK the Herald and its lasting legacy is pretty tempting.

I was reminded of that would you rather when I came across this post– 11 Early Scathing Reviews of Works Now Considered Masterpieces. Here are a few from the list:

Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen (1813)

Early Reaction: …Charlotte Brontë (of Jane Eyre fame) wasn’t buying the hype: “Anything like warmth or enthusiasm, anything energetic, poignant, heartfelt, is utterly out of place in commending these works: all such demonstrations the authoress would have met with a well-bred sneer, would have calmly scorned as outré or extravagant…”

Fred Astaire (1899 – 1987)

Early Reaction: “Can’t act. Can’t sing. Slightly bald. Can dance a little.” –MGM Testing Director’s response to Astaire’s first screen test

Ulysses, by James Joyce (1918)

Early Reaction: “In Ireland they try to make a cat clean by rubbing its nose in its own filth. Mr. Joyce has tried the same treatment on the human subject” –George Bernard Shaw

Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman (first pub. 1855)

Early Reaction: Upon reading the newly published Leaves, Whitman’s boss at the Department of the Interior took offense—and gave his underling the axe.

*Fellow poet John Greenleaf Whittier supposedly hurled his 1855 edition into the fire.
*“A mass of stupid filth” -Rufus Wilmot Griswold, The Criterion, November 10, 1855
*“It is no discredit to Walt Whitman that he wrote Leaves of Grass, only that he did not burn it afterwards.” –Thomas Wentworth Higginson, The Atlantic, “Literature as an Art,” 1867
*“… the book cannot attain to any very wide influence.” –The Atlantic, January 1882

So, to reduce all this to a nice little message,

Go do your thang.

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the dessert freak.

Today’s post title refers to me. I confidently believe that I could live off a diet of sweets for the rest of my life and be very, very happy. I have never craved a potato chip or a french fry or a cheese plate in my life. If those foods are around, I eat them, but if they disappeared from my life forever more, no tears would be shed. If dessert went AWOL, I would struggle to get through the day.

I have a print of this painting hanging in my room. I have never deemed anything to be “too sweet” or “too rich.” Those words don’t make sense together in my head.

Considering this confectionery compulsion, imagine my giddy delight when I saw these prints by John Holcomb. Holcomb draws desserts (and some other, less exciting foods) in the shape of states, and I’d like to have each place I’ve ever lived join the Wayne Thiebaud above on my walls.

A darling cherry poptart (Wish it were in one of the better flavors, but I like how it ties in with DC’s cherry blossoms):

Cherry pie for North Carolina:

This is the first time I’ve ever wished to have some tie to Wisconsin. Oreo Cupcakes:

Can I hang these cinnamon rolls with icing up even if I have no aspirations to move to the lovely Garden State?

Find your state and its depiction here— they’re really fun! I’m off to find a cookie.

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the brainy sartorialist.

In Bossypants, Tina Fey calls her marriage borderline boring. She says, “I don’t enjoy any kind of danger or volatility. I don’t have that kind of ‘I love the bad guys thing.’ No, no thank you. I like nice people.” Me too! The bad boy holds negative appeal for me. My sister’s neighbor once called her husband a “rugged nerd” in passing, and that categorization has become the buzzword in my family for the ideal guy. Rugged so that they’re athletic, handy, masculine, and nerd so that they’re smart, analytical, curious, etc. According to this chart that I came across a few days ago, these are the characteristics of a Geek instead of a Nerd, but I definitely would have flipped the titles if I’d made this little diagram.

Feel free to disagree with me in the comments, but I’ve got a pretty big dog on my side in the geek/nerd fight in the blog, The Nerd Boyfriend. On the site, Roxana Altamirano takes iconic men from real life, history, movies, and TV, and she tells you where you can buy specific items of clothing to recreate their looks. Her site is an online style guide, and it shows the chic in the geek (had to do it).

Here are some examples. If you don’t recognize all these people, their names are under the picture, and then the clothing items are collected below. If you’re on the site, you can click the item and the link will direct you to a store.

Clearly, “nerd” has a wide definition, which means there should be plenty of rugged ones running around too. Perfect!

(1, the rest)

the prettier airplane catalog.

When I fly, I like to have absolute minimal conversation with those sitting around me. I think you can be a perfectly pleasant seatmate without uttering a word. Really– a smile when you sit down/get settled, an apologetic face and half-stand to show that you’ve got to climb over him/her to get to the restroom, maybe a commiserating grimace if there’s turbulence or an unhappy baby in the row behind– that’s all you need. I follow this protocol pretty dutifully, and I can shut down a well-meaning, kindly soul pretty fast. A sweetie, I am!

The only time that I ever, ever want to talk on a plane is when I’ve exhausted my book, determined dozing off is impossible, rifled through the airline magazine, and have got nothing to do but gawk at the oddities in the SkyMall catalog. In those moments, I feel a slight urge to tap the person next to me to get him/her to weigh in on how many “Hanging Henriettas” have sold in the past calendar year,

or if he/she thinks the Sit Fit is the cure for our country’s obesity epidemic.

In some ways, I almost find the SkyMall offerings to be inspiring. You know that the inventor of the Sit and Fit heard “no, we’re not interested” a million times before someone believed in the product enough to put it on these glossy pages. Persistence paid off.

Anyway, it turns out that the SkyMall catalog is not the only place that collects such strange things. Pinterest, the curator of pretty and whimsy and “love that” and “heart this” wedding inspiration boards and fudgy desserts and messy buns and color blocked outfits, also has some really weird stuff. Here’s what’s made me cock my head recently.

I’m not sure what the official name is, but someone on Pinterest called this the “Bad Mood Couch.” I guess you’re supposed to nestle in there when you want to get away from the world.

Book blankets! I wonder how one would organize a library of these things.

I don’t know how this was determined to be the optimal design, but this thing is supposed to be great for a quick cat nap at work.

To instill both family togetherness and a love of literature at a young age?

I’d definitely consider purchasing this one.

What a wacky world in which we live.

(Images from SkyMall and here)

the bittersweet.

I got today’s site off of this one (she and I emailed earlier this week– I plan to print off the correspondence and frame it on my wall), and it’s such a great find. Old Love posts pictures of celebrity pairs in their happier days, and I’ve had a lot of “omg, THEY dated?,” “gah, I wish they were still together,” and “girl, get out NOW!” moments while looking through it. Here are some examples:

Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder.

Luke Wilson and Drew Barrymore. The site also gives a little record of how tumultuous relationships are– there’s a TON of pictures of Drew with Justin Long, one of the biggest are they/aren’t they couples out there.

Ashton Kutcher and January Jones. No idea this one happened.

Christie Brinkley and Billy Joel.

Reese and Ryan. The site also shows how fashion has changed a bit. 🙂

Brandy and Usher. So cute.

Old Love is cool for a picture of history through the lens of famous relationships, and it manages not to be depressing, leaving that weepy stuff to the very similarly named Dear Old Love. 🙂

(Pictures via Old Love)

the thoughtful tunes.

Today’s site would have come in very handy between the years of 1999 and 2005 when I invested great time and effort in crafting the perfect AIM profile. Which quotes/snippets of inside jokes/sports team shout-outs/fonts would make me seem like an appealing instant messenger? I remember combing different quote websites at great length to find something profound but not stuffy: a quote that encompassed my life ideology (as a complex 13 year old) but one that was not yet tired or trite (“Dance like no one is watching, love like you’ll never be hurt” was not an option. Neither was “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” The worst one? “A good friend will come bail you out of jail, but a true friend will be sitting next to you saying ‘Damn…that was fun'” I hate that message. <—further evidence of me being prim and unfun).

Not only did the quote’s content have to be good, but its origin also mattered (guess the popularity of Chinese character tattoos further supports this). The coolest place to get your quote? From the lyric of a song by a band whose general message also reflected your personal vibe. It was hard. This site could have helped.

Lyrics To Live By is a Tumblr that posts every few days with an inspirational/cool lyric. Here’s a collection.

Don’t particularly love this quote below, but I saw Noah and the Whale a couple weeks ago (and they were great!), and I wanted to include it:

The site also goes to show that a pretty cliche quote only needs a bit of celebrity endorsement to seem cool. Kanye as example:

The Tumblr isn’t huge, so I can’t guarantee that your favorite artist will be featured on it, but it’s fun to poke around, and hopefully you can find your personality defining lyric on it.

(images via Lyrics To Live By)

the neat-nik.

I consider myself moderately organized. I have to click “I forgot my password” fairly frequently, but I make my bed every morning. My handwriting is frequently illegible, but even in my most frustrated “UGH I have NOTHING to wear” moments, I’ll still hang the discarded/unsatisfactory items back up in the closet. I love doing laundry, but I can put off cleaning the bathroom for a long, long time (and unfortunately I no longer live with a girl who enjoys doing that). For scheduling, I scribble and scratch out events in a paper calendar rather than coordinate with a color-coded, tidy gcal. Despite these CLEAR instances of relaxed and reasonable standards, I have been told that I should heighten my threshold for mess. To those silly people, I give you today’s post. It could be much worse. 🙂

Before:

After:

Before:

After:

Before:

After:

For more of these images, click here.

The man behind these orderly images is Swiss (duh) Ursus Wehrli. He’s made a book of befores and afters like this, and that book comes hot on the heels of another one of his that looks very funny– Tidying Up Art. In that one, Wehrli takes famous paintings and either performs a quick clean (meaning everything gets pushed under the bed), or he’ll organize the paintings like he does in the images above. Here are a few.

Hope you enjoy!

(Photos via Jeannie Jeannie and Amazon)