Smooth lillies and gilt rainbows

The Toronto Star Stylebook has more to teach me.

It seems that “gilding the lily” is a broken telephone excerpt from Shakespeare’s King John. The actual and perpetually misquoted passage is: “To gild refined gold, to paint the lily“.

As the Stylebook puts it:

gilding the lily is not only overworked, it’s wrong. The quote, from King John, is, ‘To gild refined gold, to paint the lily‘ cited by Shakespeare as examples of wretched excess.”

Here is the full thought on “double pomp” from King John:

To guard a title that was rich before,
To gild refined gold, to paint the lily,
To throw a perfume on the violet,
To smooth the ice, or add another hue
Unto the rainbow, or with taper-light
To seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish,
Is wasteful and ridiculous excess.

I think The Bard might agree though, that to explore rainbows, and discover they contain colours beyond easy counting — and beyond us — now that may be a noble and humbling pursuit. See: Radiolab on Colors, and Why the Sky Isn’t Blue

mantis_shrimpMantis shrimp, photo by ursanate/flickr-CC-BY-2.0. This little guy has 16 color receptors. I bet he could write a heck of a poem about rainbows.

“It can be hard to remember what one’s anticipatory image of something was once you’re on the other side. I’m no longer sure exactly what it was I was waiting for, but I do know that it was something wholly unfamiliar and thrilling. Like a new color. Not a mixture, no trace of blue or yellow or red. What would that look like? I have some basic understanding about light — how it can only be broken down and refracted into its seven constituent hues — and even though I know that the physical world makes the existence of such a thing basically impossible, I’d still really like to see that.”

~David Rakoff, in Don’t Get Too Comfortable

Me too David. Me too. Though I am happy with violets unperfumed and lillies unpainted. And when it comes to colour, I’m deferring to the shrimp.

Dear Pixar…

Remembering (though I often forget) that Pixar is a subsidiary of Disney…

From NPR:

Dear Pixar, From All The Girls With Band-Aids On Their Knees

by Linda Holmes

Dear Pixar,

This is not an angry letter. It is especially not an angry letter about Up, which I adored. I could have sat in the theater and watched it two more times in a row. I cried, but I also laughed so hard in places that it wore me out.

So I’m not complaining; I’m asking. I’m asking because I think so highly of you.

Please make a movie about a girl who is not a princess.

Of the ten movies you’ve released so far, ten of them have central characters who are boys or men, or who are anthropomorphized animals or robots or bugs who are voiced by and imagined as boys or men. These movies feature women and girls to varying degrees — The Incredibles, in particular — but the story is never “a girl and the things that happen to her,” the way it’s “a boy and what happens to him.”

I want so much for girls to have a movie like Up that is about someone they can dress up as for Halloween, as Anika Noni Rose said about starring as the voice in The Princess And The Frog. Not a girl who’s a side dish, but a girl who’s the big draw.

And I’d really, really like it not to be a princess.


Yes, I am.

“…It is about saying that you are a feminist and just letting the statement sit there, instead of feeling a compulsion to modify it immediately with “but not, you know, that kind of feminist” because you don’t want to come off all Angry Girl. It is about understanding that liking Oprah and Chanel doesn’t make you a “bad” feminist — that only “liking” the wage gap makes you a “bad” feminist, because “bad” does not enter into the definition of feminism. It is about knowing that, if folks can’t grab a dictionary and see for themselves that the entry for “feminism” doesn’t say anything about hating men or chick flicks or any of that crap, it’s their problem.”

~ Yes, You Are