Joy in Puns

That’s right. I said it. I love puns. Fight me.

I heard a fantastic pun this weekend during a story. A friend and her husband were at another Renaissance festival, holding beers, and he knocked hers out of her hand. Then said this beautiful line: “It’s not my fault you can’t hold your beer.”

I laughed a lot, guys.

Being the only person laughing at a pun also brings me joy. Mostly because when the other people aren’t laughing, they’re usually groaning. That’s half the fun of puns in the US: they bring pain to the vast majority of people. The more exaggerated the outrage over the joke, the more hilarious it is.

A favorite comic artist of mine, Mookie (writer of current webcomic Star Power, and writer and illustrator of completed webcomic Dominic Deegan), knew this just as much as I did. Many of his main characters enjoyed telling puns, but then would turn around and give the audience an “oh brother” look when another character would tell one. Because the element of a character not enjoying a pun was just as much fun as the pun itself, or more. Or there would be pun-tastic exchanges between characters, the best of which were when title character Dominic and his wife would flirt with puns. It was beautiful.

That’s one reason I enjoy British media so much. The British love puns, too. I’ve recently gotten into The Great British Baking Show, and the hosts Mel and Sue are wonderful about inserting puns into their announcements. The fact that they’re so prolific with them made it hysterical when they began one episode by stating they had been banned from punning off the word “buns” that week because it would be coming up all episode long and the possibilities were endless. The tortured looks on their faces when they had a great opportunity but had to let it pass due to the ban were as much fun as any joke would’ve been.

During one episode, they were making picnic pies, two contestants were modeling their pies after picnic baskets, and Sue gave this announcement with an enormous grin: “Half an hour left, bakers. Don’t let the time crunch hamper your progress.” She then paused, swung her arms awkwardly, and added, “I’ll just be out back,” in an acknowledgement of how bad that pun was.

A close friend of mine likes to share puns with me because she knows I like them. She does not. Any sharing of puns in the other direction involves accusations of being a bad person who should feel bad. I do not.

I am, however, not spectacular at puns myself, hence the lack of them in the sentences I wrote myself for this pun. I’m a write amateur at them. (See, that’s not very good, but it still makes me smile.) I think admiring the skill others have which I do not adds to my enjoyment.

Do you like puns? What are some that you’ve heard that you’ve particularly enjoyed?

Or do you hate them? Why are puns so terrible?

WIL … however many I’ve skipped

I work for the street cast of a local Renaissance festival that is preparing for our spring show now. And many of us like to keep logs of things we learned over the weekends as they go by, called a W(hat) I L(earned). I’ll often add anecdotes of fun stories or things I’d like to remember when looking back later at the end of mine.

I’ve had two half-weekends I know I didn’t do WILs for yet. I’ve been sick this entire time, my voice mostly gone the previous weekend and this last weekend mostly back. Missed Sunday of the previous weekend, and Sat of this one.

I got some feedback from Character at the end of the first weekend that I then spent over a week overanalyzing and obsessing over because of course I did. It was phrased in a way that made it sound like I was failing my fellow performers, despite getting generally positive feedback from most of my instructors during, well, all of workshops so far. I’d felt like I’d been doing a great job prior to that conversation, and that single sentence said to me made me doubt my entire assessment of how I’d been doing. So, that’s been fun.

  1. Everyone has lapses in judgment, brain power, what-have-you. This applies to characters, too. So, however much your first instinct might be “she’s too smart to do something like that,” it’s a stronger choice to push that aside and justify why maybe she wasn’t really at that specific moment. Your audience losing their minds will reward you.
  2. Although I hadn’t put it in these terms before, Mark Follywoll is definitely a foible of Faith’s. Much like Kit Rooke, in Faith’s eyes he can do no wrong where the law is concerned. Which is even funnier because from what I understand, Mark is a bit of a doofus, as opposed to Kit Rooke’s quick wit and aggressive attitude, which matched Faith quite well. I think the pair of them doing Walkies with Faith fangirling over how smart and right he is will be quite a sight.
  3. I can’t take sitting and being an audience member for an extended period of time. All my energy leeches out, no matter how entertaining the scenes are. After a while, I can’t even be a mouthy audience member anymore. This is probably heavily influenced by how tired I am on weekends this year, but it makes a pretty stark contrast between my successful scenes during the day and my attitude when leaving.
  4. I dislike not being able to volunteer. With the decision out of my hands, I may not get a chance to participate through luck of the draw. It leaves me feeling dissatisfied with the lesson, even if it was good.
  5. As disappointing as it is to think of what would’ve made the scene work better 20 minutes after doing a scene that doesn’t go well, it’s also a good thing. Because I know what the scene needed, even if I’m slow about it. It’s far preferable to having no idea what I should’ve done that would’ve been successful.
  6. This year is giving me deja vu for my first year back after college. I knew people and was liked, but I didn’t know a lot of people as well. I had trouble finding my footing in groups, and generally felt lost and off to the side when in groups with no one I knew particularly well. I felt out of touch with current dynamics and patterns of cast, and found myself getting strange looks for some of my opinions. (Different strange looks than usual, since I have a warped idea of what people consider weird or commonplace already. I routinely get comments like “everyone does” in response to me phrasing an experience like it’s weird, or confusion in response to me phrasing an experience like it’s common. I simply don’t know sometimes.)
  7. The further the season gets along, the more comfortable I feel in the knowledge that I’ve grown in the years I’ve been away. My feedback has never been so consistently positive as it has been this year.
  8. I’m not entirely sure if my decision to return as Faith was a good one. I may change characters next year if that feeling doesn’t go away.
  9. Regardless of if it was a good decision or not, I am objectively doing pretty well with her, so I don’t think this season will go badly in terms of my performance. I’m not entirely sure it’ll go well as far as my mental health and satisfaction, though. A few too many things eat at me at the moment.
  10. It’s legitimately funny to see one of my major ways of engaging patrons during the actual run turned into a game for Character. Although the other performers don’t often catch me at it and join my conversation, like in the game, seeing patrons watching performers from afar and giving them context and a story is a favorite tool of mine. It’s a way for me to be like the exposition in a novel.
  11. However much Faith’s ambitions in herself are modeled after her mother’s independence and don’t exactly fall into the general mold of what women of Renaissance England were supposed to want, her ambitions for her family fit neatly into the times. Social advancement? Not hardly. She wants her siblings to stay in the village, find good families of their own, and be happy. Her own ambitions motivate her energy, but her happiness lives in her family. In their safety, security, and success. The way she married speaks strongly to that as well–she loves William deeply, but it also roots her in the village personally, and his profession easily provides for her profession, which advances everyone in her family which shares the job. Her travel to London only accented to herself how much she wants her future to be tied to home.

Related to #1, I had an excellent scene with a couple of foreign noble characters, where we played off their misunderstanding of English as their second (or more) language. The phrase “bone to pick” came up in relation to my bread, and it was suggested I put actual bones in the bread. Although another character spoke up with an out for me to not own up to such a thing, I decided to ignore that and say yes, I did put bones in the bread. I’d heard a rumor that it was all the rage on the Continent, and thought it was a new fashion for baking. To dive deeper into it, I suggested that my little sister Chastity had been choking on the bones in the bread lately and it still hadn’t clued me in that it was a bad idea. Everyone in the scene had a “…did she really just” moment, then the other characters gently steered me toward a better approach for my breads and what the fashion really was.

At the end, the instructor pointed at me and said, “You owned that.”

 

Not really a joy

I’ve been sick for nearly two weeks now. I was never very sick, just enough to mess up my voice and sinuses and make everything I did an exercise in annoying myself and everyone around me. My voice is still recovering, much to my continued annoyance.

Along with this, a mood settled over me that I haven’t shaken yet. I sat down trying to write my positive posts and totally blanked. Which doesn’t make sense because I have plenty of things that I love and which bring me happiness. But thinking of one and writing an interesting post about it is apparently beyond me right now. And last week because I know I missed that update.

I don’t know why I feel this bad, so I don’t know how to make it go away. I’m going to do what I can and hope it improves soon. That’s all I can think of.

Five Things About Me

This is a positivity blog, so not any old five things, but five things I like/love about myself. Because a friend asked me that the other day, and I had a hard time answering.

1. Bravery
I’ve been brave many times in my life, thinking on it. A high school girl, shaking so bad I would’ve spilled water all down my front, on stage auditioning for a play. Moving to Japan, twice, alone. Many smaller instances, like standing up for myself at work when I was being treated unfairly. I’m not always successful, but I can count on fear not stopping me from trying.

2. Support
Being there for my friends is important to me, and I like that I can be there for them at least some of the time. I don’t always have the right things to say, or a good enough wit to make them laugh, but it’s not always about doing the right thing. It’s about being willing to ignore how tired I am to pick someone up from the train station in the middle of the night. It’s about not simply saying “let me know if you need something” but making an effort to think about what they might need and providing it in case they didn’t want to ask. Or simply being present. All your other choices can be wrong sometimes, but if you’re present, it’s enough.

3. Intelligence
This one is easy to forget these days because I’ve so successfully made a wonderful group of brilliant friends, but I’m smart, y’all. These days, being reminded by my tea ceremony teacher–who is not quick with praise–that I pick up her criticisms within one or two times of being told, or she’s impressed that I improved something from watching her correct another student, helps me remember this fact about myself. It’s easy to lose sight of, and why it’s important to try your best not to compare yourself to others, when surrounded by people equally or more smart on a regular basis. Feeling dumb and being dumb are vastly different.

4. Organization
This one may make some of my friends laugh who have seen how well (or not, more to the point) I keep house, but it’s actually true. When working on professional things or together with a group, I’m impeccably organized. The files I kept on my schools in Japan, all my extra materials for classes, my lesson plans, all of it was organized such that I never walked into a class not knowing what I was doing that day. (I may have had too much or too little to do, but I always knew what I was doing.) I only rarely had problems with my materials being wrong or missing. I love that when it counts–to me, that means when other people rely on it–I’m organized. At home, which is personal, is a totally different story.

5. Sensitivity
This one also might sound counter-intuitive, but for a wider audience. “Sensitive” is generally thought to be kind of an insult. But as I’ve written on this blog before (get a link for this later), I’m quite proud of my emotional sensitivity. I love how easily I laugh, even though it’s a bit detrimental to my performances. I love how easily I cry, even when I wish I wasn’t. I love how deeply I feel, because as bad as the lows are, the highs are exhilirating. Most importantly, I don’t end up numbing myself off from these things. I don’t learn emotional lessons very quickly. I don’t close myself off from something after having a bad experience with it from someone else. It’s not terribly smart, and has led to wounds, but I’d rather leave myself open to the good than close myself off in fear of the bad.

What are five things you love about yourself? You don’t have to be as detailed, or you can go even more in depth. You might have to dig deep. This post was not easy for me to write. I had to think harder than I’m happy to admit. And if you need to revert to small things, go ahead. Large or small, deep or shallow, five things you love about yourself. Go.

WIL Workshops Week #1

I work for the street cast of a local Renaissance festival that is preparing for our spring show now. And many of us like to keep logs of things we learned over the weekends as they go by, called a W(hat) I L(earned). I’ll often add anecdotes of fun stories or things I’d like to remember when looking back later at the end of mine.

I’m a bit late getting started (it’s nearly week 2 already), but I have one night before the new weekend. Let’s see what I remember.

1. I can do this sleep deprivation thing. Sunday wasn’t as much of a knock out of the park as Saturday was, sure, but I was functioning and contributing to scenes.
1a. My lowered brain power is actively noticeable to the instructors, at the very least.
1b. I have an awesome ensemble to work with who can work with me even when at limited capacity.
1c. Holy hell can I sleep after these weekends.

2. My confidence has grown noticeably while I have been gone.
2a. Related but also separate, I don’t feel any need to go first, though I often volunteer first. If there is any kind of fight over it, I step back and let others.

3. I may have become a bit of a steamroller.
3a. I default to it, but I think I can still wingman. The times I was a wingman, though they were few, went fine.

4. Faith’s nemesis is Grace (her big sister).
4a. Apparently the only people who didn’t know this were the Potter kids because no one else was surprised in the least.
4b. Grace’s nemesis is not Faith, nor should it be. The whole reason Grace is Faith’s nemesis is because Faith struggles against having an irresponsible big sister who doesn’t listen to common sense. Since Grace disregards most of what Faith says, it disqualifies Faith as her nemesis automatically. Interestingly, this is a strengthening factor in Faith’s opposition to Grace.

5. I default to negative emotions with Faith. Particularly anger/indignation/etc.
5a. When trying to go outside of that, using a happier emotion, while sleep deprived, I was without a doubt still acting, but I was not acting as Faith for that scene, which disturbs me. When choosing a positive emotion, the reasoning for said emotion that I reach for should not be out of character. Being tired is a good excuse for plenty of things, but finding a reason Faith is happy with a current situation should not require large amounts of concentration.

6. I don’t just throw myself under buses, I hand the wheel over to my partner and lie down in front of them.
6a. And then attempt to insist, in the scene, that they run me over if they refuse to.

7. I am not a flat-out ridiculous performer. I like for what I do in scenes to make some kind of logical sense and be relatively believable. My way of imparting magic is to seem as real as possible, so that my game of make-believe that we’re in Renaissance England is harder to deny. Real people with real problems lived there, and I prefer to impart real empathy to the patrons whenever possible.
7a. This does not invalidate anyone else’s way of playing in the lanes. I am only saying out-and-out ridiculous scenes that give the patrons “okay, just smile and play along” expressions make me, personally, feel uncomfortable, and I’m not good at them. I can support them until the cows come home to our pasture, but I do not enjoy driving them, and don’t see the point in driving scenes I don’t enjoy.
7b. I may be wrong, but I don’t see this as a weakness, only a personal preference. As long as I don’t deny other performers’ scenes because they’re not what I would’ve done, I feel comfortable with my performing style.

My two favorite moments this weekend happened with the same performer, both on Sunday.

The first was meant to be a “three-line scene,” with only three lines of dialogue to form a miniature story that told the audience all the essential things they needed to know about us, the conflict, and the setting. I stepped out with a veteran performer who is a good friend of mine, and both of us sort of forgot the technical rules of the scene and telepathically decided that once we were finished speaking, that was “one line.”

She plays a professional mourner, so I started the scene by explosively telling her to stay away from my father’s funeral, despite being paid by another character (and good friend of the family). She got affronted at my reaction, then flipped to upset and informed me she would be doing it for free, and stormed off. I went after her, telling her she could come.

The icing on the cake was that the instructor overseeing that group is the actor playing the friend of the family I name-dropped, and he threw a minor tantrum at being called into scenes he can’t join because he’s teaching.

The second was a regular scene, no special rules. The same actress stomped toward me, so I ran away, and we argued over whether or not she had been intending to hit me. But instead of being aggressive about it, she got all sniffly and upset at the accusation. I was on the defensive the entire time, and gathered her up in the middle of the stage, apologized, and asked her what she had been mad about. She proceeded to hit me and demanded I “stop burning the bread!”

Jerk.

Joy in Kimono

During the three years I lived in Japan, I studied tea ceremony. In the process, I started collecting two things: tea ceremony tools and kimono.

pinkkimono

The first time I wore a kimono, busting with happiness because I figured it was a once-in-a-lifetime thing. Wrong~

I actually have a good collection of them now, many of which were gifts. I spent a year or so with only one:

goldkimono

Photo of a physical photo. One day I’ll have a good digital picture of this kimono.

I went to Kyoto on my first spring break in Japan, and stumbled on a flea market. Without having the first clue what I was doing, I bought that kimono, that obi (the blue belt), and the nagajihan (the under robe, that little bit of red you see in the sleeve), all while only intending to buy a fan. Which the shopkeepers then gave to me for free because they didn’t know I was intending to buy it all along.

Because I had no idea how to put on this beautiful piece of clothing, and my first attempt at putting on a yukata (festival garb, much simpler than the clothing I’d just bought) via internet instruction didn’t go well, I brought it to my tea ceremony teacher and asked, eloquently, for help.

askingforhelp

“So, Sensei, I kind of impulse-bought this last week, but I have no clue how to put it on. Help?” 

While no dictionary or phrase book will list “help” under translations for “yoroshiku” or any of its variants, that phrase truly doesn’t get enough credit for its versatility in translations much of the time.

Both of us knew I meant “help.”

So, alongside learning tea ceremony, I learned how to put on and function in a kimono. How to walk naturally when your feet only make it a foot and a half apart, how to avoid knocking things over with the sleeves, but those were only the obvious ones. How to stand elegantly, particularly how to place your feet (with your toes pointed in, and one foot slightly behind the other). How to store small items in your sleeves (women insert things in their sleeves from the side closest to their body, men insert them on the side closest to their hand, clean items go in the right sleeve, dirty items in the left sleeve). How to sit so you didn’t end up tripping over your own kimono when you stand up (mostly practice, but also make sure to keep a fist-sized gap between your knees when sitting down, so your legs can move).

After a while, I finally started collecting more. Some of them, I bought myself:

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I still brag about getting this for 5000 yen (~$50), marked down 90% from its actual list price.

Many of them, I got from my host family back when I studied abroad. I went kimono shopping while visiting them one year, and while gushing about the kimono I’d bought, my host mother asked if I wanted their kimono.

homer

Actual photo of Lucia in that moment.

None of them knew how to wear them, she said, or had any interest in them, even. They had them sitting in storage, taking up space.

I thought she was kidding.

Spoiler: she was not kidding.

I got three boxes of kimono and kimono-related clothing that I had to ship home because it wouldn’t fit in my luggage back to Shimane. The fact that I’d also bought several on my own, even after she gave me all of those is not evidence that I have a problem.

No, the evidence that I have a problem came when Sensei, helping me sort through them and telling me about them, mentioned that I have so many, and my response wasn’t, “you’re totally right, I do,” it was, “man, and I still want more.”

Her response, after laughing, was to offer to give me some of hers that she didn’t need anymore.

And she fucking did.

I still haven’t had an opportunity to wear most of the kimono I have. I might be approaching about half of them having been worn at least once.

Quite aside from all the amazing things that happened to me to lead to having this collection of happiness, the items themselves inspire joy. Whenever going through my kimono, I can’t help but smile. I admire even the ones I’ve seen a hundred times, like that gold one I bought first, every time I pull them out. Most of them feel positively amazing to the touch. The one with maple-leaves in particular is pettable in the extreme.

Here are a few other favorites of mine:

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Gift from Sensei, a dancing kimono, and it feels like water woven into fabric. 

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Another gift from Sensei, one of the fanciest kimono I have. I have another of this type as well, but the phoenix on here takes my breath away.

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Gift from Host Mom, this one’s made of wool, and I simply love the colors on it. 

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For some reason a tiny picture, but these I purchased myself, gorgeous blue hakama. 

 

What do you collect that brings you joy?

What Kind of Blog is This?

I’ve struggled with this blog for a while. Trying to find a topic I can write about regularly that I had anything real to say about. I have plenty of opinions, but I’m not much of an expert on really anything. Amateur at everything I like.

It’s supposed to be my “author” blog, but I’m not an author yet. Plus, I’d honestly much rather people learn about writing from those who know a lot more about it than I do.

In thinking about what people might want to read, I thought the best option would be something interactive. It would help me get to know my audience, too, and provide more topics to discuss on the blog. I’m a critical person, so I could try critiquing old favorites of mine, or new hits, or latest releases, or or or. The idea being to bond with my audience over tearing something apart for its flaws.

But my whole country is tearing itself apart over its flaws right now. People arguing we don’t have flaws, people arguing what our flaws are, how to deal with them, how they’re being dealt with. I saw a Daily Show with Trevor Noah episode where they were talking about post-election recovery, and one of the men they interviewed ripped my heart out. He cried on camera about how awful everyone is to each other right now. Friends and family, tearing each other and themselves apart over differences in opinion.* He hugged someone from the opposing party, and possibly dribbled snot on the guy’s jacket.

This hatred and shit-flinging has been getting under my skin for a while now, as I’m sure it has most of the country and whatever parts of the world are watching it consistently.

I’m not turning this into a political blog. To the contrary, I’m turning it into a positivity blog. Things that make me happy, make me laugh, improved my day or my life. I could use more of that myself. I should spend more of my time being grateful and laughing than I do complaining and frowning.

I’m not sure yet how frequent it will be. Hopefully, I can turn it into a daily thing, but it’ll have to become a routine so I remember first.

 

*I’m not minimizing these issues. However, not all of them are as serious as others are. Yet all of them are causing these arguments. I’m not taking a political stance here, either. I’m calling people’s political stances opinions. That’s all.