Support the Irish Arts

As I was writing this blog post, the Gilmore Girls episode currently playing on my iPad, season 3 episode 7, referenced Riverdance. That is the best possible sign that today is a great day to support the Irish arts! Former Riverdance dancer Kincaid Stringer & his mother Shannon Kincaid, a painter, have teamed up for a great cause. They’re selling seven of Shannon’s paintings through Indiegogo for a COVID-19 relief fund; all proceeds will support Irish actors, artists, backstage workers & crews, clubs, concerts, cultural & event spaces, dancers, dance schools, festivals, musicians, performers, singers, theaters, & writers. I grew up dancing & singing so the arts are very important to me. Riverdance is the reason I asked my mom to sign me up for dance classes at the age of four so the Irish arts are also very important to me. Let’s not forget my Irish ancestors! 🇮🇪 The arts have done a lot for us in quarantine so it’s only right that we give back. You can choose to only donate money or receive a painting or two or seven in exchange for your donation. If it’s not already obvious, I’m buying “The Dancer.” Can’t wait to have a gorgeous Irish dancing queen above my bed! 👑 Please consider setting aside $25, or more, to support a great cause & get a piece of Ireland for your home. 💚🤍🧡

*NOTE: The Indiegogo campaign ends on September 17th, & the paintings will ship in November. Because of COVID-19, please consider that shipping could be delayed.

➡️ ➡️ ➡️ ➡️ ➡️ ➡️   S U P P O R T   T H E   C A M P A I G N   H E R E   ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️

Irish people’s love of dancing has been well documented throughout their written history. In fact, one of the earliest references to dancing details a visit between the Mayor of Waterford and Mayor of Baltimore in 1413. The modern Irish dancing of today is no longer merely a processional combination of singing and dancing as an act of celebrating, but a sport that produces athletes that are physically strong, as well as creative and artistic. What was once a tradition specific to Ireland (as well as England, Scotland, and some parts of America) caught like wildfire in 1994 with the debut of Riverdance. The theatrical show consisting mainly of traditional Irish music and dance took the world by storm and has been a global phenomenon ever since. Now, twenty-five years later, the Irish dancing community consists of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people around the world today. Teachers from around the world have committed themselves to spreading their love and passion for Ireland’s traditional form of expression. Regardless of how far a dancer progresses competitively or professionally, being an Irish dancer is something that is inextricably bound to their identity forevermore. In this piece entitled “The Dancer,” you feel the excitement, the confidence, and the artistry that comes from expressing a centuries-old tradition that has touched the hearts of many.  – Kincaid & Shannon

Ireland and Scotland combined have a rich culture within the performing arts, which has resulted in a thriving gig scene. Musicians are constantly pushing the boundaries in order to create new and fresh work that is often steeped in tradition. Many are staunch believers that musical traditions must be preserved as they always have been – the “play it like my father used to” kind of sentimentality. Yet, every generation brings a new wave of talent that feels that this attitude discourages progress and evolution. This debate between tradition and innovation is a tale as old as time. Still, many feel it is possible to honour your origins while also exploring and adapting to the future; they are not mutually exclusive. Irish music legend, Míchéal Ó Súilleabháinn, believed that traditions are never frozen, but rather are fluid. He believed that the idea of authenticity originating from a pure source located in antiquity was bogus! This painting is for the new wave of artists and musicians who are creating some of the most incredible new-age folk / Trad music in the world. Project Smok, Beoga, Talisk, Ímar and the like are leading the way for the future of Irish music. – Kincaid & Shannon

Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”  – George Bernard Shaw

Ériu is the goddess of sovereignty and the mythological mother of Ireland. She is often interpreted as the modern-day personification of Ireland. Along with her two sisters, Banba and Fódhla, Ériu was a part of a triumvirate of goddesses. Before their final defeat, each goddess requested that the island be named for her. This was granted to all of them, but Ériu became the chief name in use. The old Irish name Ériu evolved into Éire in modern Irish and depending on the case is spelled Éireann or Éirinn. This is how we finally arrived with the English name for the country, Erin. The painting has been imbued with symbols to depict all that Ériu embodied within pre-Christian Irish culture. Ériu represents the sacred feminine, as illustrated in the column capitals, or the decorative element at the top of a column, that represent the three phases of a woman’s life cycle – the maid, mother and crone. The stars behind her and the lunala around her neck evoke her role as a lunar goddess. Her hair bleeds into the trees, depicting her connection to the earth and its bounty. She holds this bounty in her hand as a glass of mead, which was served at the feast of Goibhniu, and offered immortality to those that drank it. Around her head is a ring of knot work encasing the land, which is topped by the stone of divisions from the hill of Uisneach, the symbolic and sacred centre of the island in Irish mythology. Ériu’s bones are said to have been laid to rest on this hill and serves as a gateway between the Underworld and the world above. – Kincaid & Shannon

There is much more to an Irish pub than just having a drink. In Ireland, pubs are central to the way of life. Similar to a church, they represent a pillar of Irish social life and community. A place where pints, comfort food, live music, and sport can be always be found; somewhere you can meet friends, neighbors, or even complete strangers, in an inviting atmosphere. It’s for these reasons that recreations of Irish pubs can be found in any city around the world. O’Connor’s was opened as a pub in Galway in 1942 by Thomas O’Connor, and is currently operated by third generation O’Connors. Every inch of it decorated in eclectic memorabilia, the pub has become famous for its hospitality and world-class live music. So much so that Ed Sheeran used it as the location of his music video “Galway Girl” in 2017 featuring actress Saoirse Ronan, furthering the pub’s world-wide recognition. – Kincaid & Shannon

Ireland has a rich tradition of various festivals taking place throughout each year. The Rose of Tralee was first held in 1959 and has since been held every August in Tralee, County Kerry, to select a young woman to be crowned the Rose. Cities all over the world host their own selection balls to determine who will represent them in Ireland. The festival bills itself as a celebration of the “aspirations, ambitions, intellect, social responsibility, and Irish heritage” of modern young women. Bursting with music and dancing, this festival celebrates the very best of Irish culture and the future of Irish relations worldwide. The winner and their family become a part of a global network, showcasing how Irish culture is thriving amongst the Irish Diaspora. They say, “Once a Rose, always a Rose.” – Kincaid & Shannon

A session is a casual gathering of musicians playing traditional Irish music, usually taking place in a pub, but has also been known to take place on street corners or even in someone’s kitchen. Irish “trad” music has garnered a deep appreciation, not just in Ireland, but also around the world. It’s important to note that a session is more than just a casual jam between musicians – the focus is on the instrumental tunes found within the Irish tradition – reels, jigs, hornpipes, polkas, slip jigs, and the like. Whether it be in a pub or someone’s home, sessions are times of brilliant music and ever-flowing drink that have a certain habit of continuing late into the night, if not into the wee hours of the morning! – Kincaid & Shannon

Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.

To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.

These are just two quotes from one of the biggest literary personalities in Ireland’s history, Oscar Wilde. A literary treasure, Wilde was a hugely popular playwright and poet in the late 1800s. Besides well-known works such as The Picture of Dorian Gray and Lady Windermere’s Fan, his biting wit and flamboyant style gained him notoriety as well. As a people, the Irish are known for their good sense of humour, which has bolstered them during periods of great hardship throughout history. Wilde embodied this intrinsically Irish trait to the very end. Even as he faced death, he was cracking jokes and reportedly said, “This wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. Either it goes or I do.” A collection of art in support of Irish culture would be incomplete without paying homage to Oscar Wilde. – Kincaid & Shannon

➡️ ➡️ ➡️ ➡️ ➡️ ➡️   S U P P O R T   T H E   C A M P A I G N   H E R E   ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHAx8IE3PTk&feature=youtu.be

➡️ ➡️ ➡️ ➡️ ➡️ ➡️   S U P P O R T   T H E   C A M P A I G N   H E R E   ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️

D.N.A.

Normally I steer clear of discussions involving ethnicity, but I saw a video the other day that frustrated me and can keep my mouth shut no longer.  The whole point of talking about prejudice is promoting appreciation and respect for people from every corner of the world.  No one ethnicity is better than the others.  This world is so large and diverse and intriguing.  I constantly find myself searching the internet for hours learning about different countries.  Cultures are fascinating to me, especially those that make up my own heritage.  I’m proud of who God made me to be therefore I physically hurt when I see people ashamed of and unhappy with who they are.  I was watching a group of people take DNA tests on YouTube the other day, and one man was upset with his results.  He wasn’t upset in an explosive way, just disappointed.  His results showed that the majority of his ancestors came from different parts of Europe.  His exact words were “I’m just a… basically just a white guy.  I’m a little disappointed.  I thought I might be something cool.”  Of course he has the right to be disappointed, and it’s not like he flipped out or overreacted.  I don’t want to blame him directly because he didn’t do anything wrong, but I do want to make a point.  Europe consists of more than 40 countries and shares a land border with Asia.  It is anything but boring, and labeling European as “white” is a disservice.  Aside from my Sephardic heritage, I am European (as far as I know).  I am Jewish and Spanish on my mom’s side and English, Irish, and Scottish on my dad’s side; additionally, there is a possibility of Arab ancestry on my mom’s side and French on my dad’s side.  I have no problem identifying as Caucasian, but it isn’t a label I use often because my heritage deserves much more than a shallow adjective.  I encourage each and every one of you to dig beneath the surface and learn as much as you can about your heritage.  If you feel pressure to be ashamed and not care, don’t give in to the pettiness.  Set a good example by appreciating where you come from and respecting where others come from.  If your attitude and heart are in the right place, that is the best you can do.

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– Lauren Michele <3

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Dresses and Llamas

February 26th, 2015(Source: http://www.buzzfeed.com/danmeth/a-tribute-to-the-memes-of-february-26-2015)

February 26th, 2015, a day made famous by llamas on the loose and a dress of many colors.  Congratulations America!  You have finally cracked.  In all seriousness though, the social media frenzy was amusing.  If you have no idea what I am talking about, allow me to explain starting with the llamas.  Three llamas were scheduled to make a therapy visit to an assisted living facility in Sun City, Florida.  They did indeed arrive and provided company for over an hour.  The handlers took the trio outside for a bathroom break, and that is when the hijinks commenced.  One llama got spooked and successfully attempted to break loose, followed by a partner in crime.  The pair ran around the city for an hour before being corralled.

All of my information came from this article by Fox News: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2015/02/27/llama-drama-2-loose-llamas-lassoed-after-running-amok-in-phoenix-area/

For more amusement, here is Fox 10 Phoenix video footage of the last 34 minutes of the llama chase: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIFZQlhg-SQ

Time for The Dress!!!  The following story originated in Scotland and resulted in a social media frenzy and worldwide debate.  A bride-to-be’s mother sent her a picture of the dress she intended to wear to the wedding.  The bride and fiance found themselves arguing over what color the dress was.  The bride posted the picture on Facebook to get outside opinions.  No one could agree on what color it was.  A friend of the bride saw the online debate and decided to take it one step further by posting the image on Tumblr.  The debate took over the internet!  Here is the dress:

The Dress(Source: http://cdn.abclocal.go.com/content/ktrk/images/cms/536706_1280x720.jpg)

What color duo did you immediately see??  If you saw white and gold, you are part of the majority.  If you saw blue and black, you are part of the minority.  Sorry majority!  It has been confirmed that the dress is blue and black.  I saw blue and black the first time I saw the dress, and I still see blue and black.  The only time I saw white and gold is when I looked at a white and gold dress first.

There is a scientific theory that explains why different people see different colors.  I honestly do not care because I see blue and black, and those are the actual colors.  However, if you want to know, here is a New York Times article on the science: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/02/28/science/white-or-blue-dress.html?_r=0

The Original Story: http://www.businessinsider.com/origin-of-white-gold-or-black-blue-dress-2015-2

As if the color debate was not amusing enough, the dress was found on amazon.co.uk, and gag reviews were posted.  This sounds ridiculous, but some of the reviews are actually hilarious.  Here are some of my favorites:

“As an eye doctor, I placed this dress on display outside my office, and business went through the roof!”  (Anonymous)

“The good: Works equally well as formal or business casual attire.  The bad: Carves a crooked path through perceptual reality and leaves behind it a wake of confusion and existential crises. Also unforgiving on the hips. ”  (Credit to Daniel Wallace)

“I was going to a fancy white and gold party. (It’s a thing) so I bought this dress because clearly, despite the item description, it was the perfect color combination of white and gold. How disappointed I was when half the people attending told me I looked crazy in what they said was a “black and blue” dress. To make a long story short, I am now scared, depressed, friendless, back on my psych meds, questioning my entire existence and filing for divorce tomorrow. I gave it 3 stars Bc the fit is fantastic!”  (Credit to Joli Fine)

 

If you would like to read more gag reviews, here is the link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Roman-Womens-Detail-Bodycon-Dress/dp/B00SJEUIME/ref=sr_1_1?s=clothing&ie=UTF8&qid=1425096246&sr=1-1&keywords=Roman+Women%27s+Lace+Detail+Bodycon+Dress+Royal+Blue

I hope that rather than boring you this post gave you a good laugh.  Have a great day/afternoon/evening readers!

“A day without laughter is a day wasted.”  – Charlie Chaplin

– Lauren Michele :)

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Happy Endings and Midnight Madness

Once Upon a HolidayEvans, Lisa. Nordstrom – Once Upon A Holiday. 2013. Web. 10 Feb. 2015. <https://www.flickr.com/photos/29318404@N08/2736221227/&gt;.

(Technically the contents of this post took place after midnight, but “Midnight Madness” sounds much more poetic than  “After Midnight Madness” or “Post-Midnight Madness.”)

Last night was one of those magical nights that I have every once in awhile as a writer.  It is an experience that produces both positive and negative results.  I was in the mood for a movie, specifically a murder mystery.  Unfortunately, I had already finished the Miss Marple DVD recently checked out from the library.  I did the next best thing and checked Youtube for any free episodes that had slipped under the radar of the copyright police.  Nada.  I moved on to Hulu, and this is where the magic began.  I did not find a Miss Marple murder mystery, but I did discover a British romance film entitled “Not Another Happy Ending.”  I was not particularly in the mood for a romance flick, but I was bored and decided to give it a chance since it was already past midnight.

The  basic synopsis is as follows: After discovering that his top-selling author Jane Lockhart writes best when unhappy, publisher Tom Duvall secretly plots to make her miserable.  Sometime during the process, he discovers that he is in love with her.

Jane’s character reminded me so much of myself.  Unless something extremely emotional in my life has happened, I do not feel inspired to write.  This is my creative process, and I love it.  Writing has become my therapy.; I do not turn to my journals unless I need to vent or have something meaningful to say.  When I force myself to write, which includes blogging, I find no joy or meaning in what I write.  During the creative process of Jane’s novel in the film, I found myself desiring to write.  When the movie was finished, nothing but book ideas were floating around in my brain.  Naturally I could not sleep because my brain would not shut off.  I sprayed my pillow with lavender and inhaled the scent of my Eucalyptus Spearmint lotion; that probably sounds weird, but those two products have helped relieve my insomnia therefore I remain a religious consumer.  I finally started to feel sleepy, but my mind was still producing thoughts at top speed.  I realized my eyes weren’t shutting because a beam of light was shining down directly onto my pillow.  I should now mention that I sleep best in complete darkness, which is ironic considering the irrational fears I feel in the dark.  I looked up and saw that a beautiful 3/4 moon was the source of the light.  I laid down and stared up at the moon.  In that moment, I felt like God was confirming that all the ideas being produced by my imagination were good ideas.  Sleep came soon after my revelation.  I now have five book ideas in my head and hope I live long enough to complete each and every one of them.

I bid you all a good night.  Follow your dreams readers!

-Lauren Michele :)

“I’ve never seen a moon in the sky that, if it didn’t take my breath away, at least misplaced it for a moment.”  – Colin Farrell

If you wish to watch “Not Another Happy Ending”, here is the link: http://www.hulu.com/watch/727435

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