If You Like It, Steal It. Seriously.

Revolutionary 20th-century painter Pablo Picasso once said, “Good artists borrow. Great artists steal.” Any art nerd knows that, right?

Actually, it was controversial 19th-century playwright Oscar Wilde who first coined the phrase, “Good writers borrow. Great writers steal.” Right? English nerds and theater geeks, you with me?

Actually, there is no evidence that points the quote in question to either of these creative giants. In fact, the quote in either of the currently popular forms does not formally exist anywhere in the English canon. It was, in fact, literary master T. S. Eliot who wrote in the 1920 biographical essay “Philip Massinger” the following quip:

Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.” ~T. S. Eliot~
*Sigh* Is there any wonder this guy was a poet? Put that on your t-shirt. 

Were Eliot to have included all artists in this maxim, it would be even more superior to either poorly attributed and oversimplified modern distortion of the quote than it already is!

“Good artists borrow”? Since when?

“Here, Miss Rowling, let me just borrow your characters, storyline, and fantastical universe for a minute and use them to write a passionate yet unlikely love story which I feel should have been included in the series partly but not entirely because I have a crush on one of the characters involved in this imagined romance.”  

This is not art. This is what we call “fan fiction.”

T. S. Eliot calls us to a higher standard as artists. Don’t just borrow the ideas of others–
Ransack them! Rape and pillage every creative element and distort them until they are barely recognizable! Make them wish they were never born in the mind of another artist!

Ah ah ah, you know Mr. Eliot wouldn’t approve. Bad poets deface what they take.” I’m convinced there is a particularly warm place in purgatory for people who do what has already been done before exactly how it was done before except worse.  

This is what we call “remixes.”

Everybody loves a good example, right?

Too bad there was nothing good about the piece of auditory abomination you just witnessed. Okay, that was a little harsh. I will grant that it was a tiny bit catchy and certainly easier to dance to than the original, but I don’t think anyone will argue with me when I say that it was not exactly a masterful work of art that will stand the test of time.

It doesn’t take a musical theorist to deduce that laying a bouncy backbeat on top of an already artistically brilliant piece of musical theater is not the sort of thing that will land you in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame or the MoMA.

Did that work for you? Was that any less offensive?

Singer David Cook, for whom I voted diligently during American Idol season 7, has a knack for re-imagining even songs that were incredibly definitive for their original creators (Mariah Carey, in this case.) Regardless of how you feel about the original bubblegum pop version of this song, you can’t accuse David of trying to recreate that original piece of art. He stole the song and made it into something completely different–something completely “him.”

What do we get when we cross-breed the two videos above? I’m glad you asked.

Well, how did you like that?

Oh, who am I kidding? THAT WAS INCREDIBLE! I’M MELTING! DID YOU SEE THAT?! I MELTED RIGHT THERE! Musical theater (favorite) crossbred with sultry indie/alternative rock (other favorite)? I’m in heaven!

In an attempt to be objective, I was merely trying to point out that truly great artists can be even better than different.

They can be themselves.

Maybe you’re thinking, “Well, if you’re going to be yourself, why not just come up with original ideas?!” Do you really believe that such a thing exists? Do you really believe that every “new” and creative idea to come into your mind is yours and solely yours? That it wasn’t inspired, informed, improved, or otherwise influenced by some great thinker to go before you?

Rather than bemoaning the fact that you can’t create something that’s never been created before or attempting to make cheap duplicates of what has been created before, why not add something knew to the melting pot that is art? You have a fresh perspective. You have unique passions and priorities. You have resources that others don’t.

Why not prove that you are capable of possessing value that no one else has? Why not be a thief? Better yet, why not be a thief who returns what was stolen better than it was before?

“There are no original ideas, only original people.” ~Jessica Thurston~ 

I have no idea who first said this, but I feel like not knowing if it was Picasso, Wilde, Eliot, Rowling, Cook, Lady Gaga, or Miss Piggy just makes the point all stronger.

For Your Inspiration: Art and Math Unite!

For people like Josh and I, the above statement is haunting to say the least. *Gasp* You really mean forever?

You see, we both have humanities-focused brains. Humanities. You know the type. We enjoy and excel at art, history, literature, languages (i.e., all of the fun stuff) and flee as though from the plague from math and science.

I have to admit, however, that between encountering the works of respective math and science nerds Nikki Graziano and Joe Hanson, I might be able to retain my belief that there is a God even in the middle of a geometric proof, which I swear I will never use in the real world unlike matrices and quadratic equations. True story.

At any rate, math and photography major (what a combo, huh?) Nikki Graziano hails from my home city of Rochester, NY. At Rochester Institute of Technology, she is severely shaking up the stigma that all intelligent humans can be easily divided into neat little categories of “right-brained” and “left brained.” 
Right-brainers are supposedly imaginative, focused on the big picture, emotional, artistic, outside-of-the-box, fantastical, and impetuous.

Left-brainers are supposedly logical, detail-oriented, scientific, factual, reality-based, strategic, practical, and safe.

I’m not even sure (probably because I’m not a science person) if there is scientific evidence supporting the fact that a personality can be affected in this way depending on the person’s dominant half of the brain, but I am positive that lumping beautifully dynamic minds into these two narrow categories is a mistake.

Why can’t a person be logical and fantastical? Some of the most spell-binding fantasy stories are the ones that are logically possible in reality. A Wrinkle in Time, anyone?

Why can’t someone be emotional and practical? This is the only explanation for all of the head vs. heart debates everyone goes through when trying to make a decision.

Why can’t he or she be artistic and detail-oriented? If Nikki Graziano wasn’t both of these things, she never could have created the beautiful photo/collage series “Found Functions.”  

While the artist in Nikki is able to spot what will translate into a beautiful photograph, the mathematician in her can spot the functions that best describe the shapes she sees. This synthesis creates beautiful and quirky images uniting the artistic and scientific mind. These photos are some of the most endearing depictions of inanimate objects I have ever seen.

As for Joe Hanson, he is responsible for my discovery of Miss Graziano. Her work was featured on Hanson’s blog It’s Okay to Be Smart which offers a refreshing take on both the practical and just plain fun elements of being involved in math and the sciences.
This aspiring PhD is an absolutely hysterical and charming author. Do you know what an author is? It’s an artist! Joe Hanson is an artist and a scientist!
Don’t feel bad. I’m just as surprised that they exist as you are.
Of course, I’m kidding :-). I can, however, seriously recommend if you think of yourself as proudly and exclusively right-brained that you open your mind (or at least the left half of it) and peruse the blogs of these two youths who are doing amazing jobs of uniting these seemingly dissimilar disciplines.

Playlist for a Chilly Winter Day

I don’t know how you feel today . . .

But this playlist is filled with songs that feel cold. The melodies and/or lyrics have a certain lifeless air to them, but even in the “deadness” that they capture so well, they stir up feelings of wonderment about the crisp air, biting breeze, bright sky, and sparkling snow.

Even though I complained about the serious snowfall Avila experienced the other week, I have to admit that I’m grateful that God blessed me with a taste of winter chill. As much as I enjoy being warm and dry, there’s nothing like winter to help you appreciate the promised coming of spring.

I’m so sorry that my holiday playlist didn’t work out last month. It turns out that holiday music is much more heavily copyrighted than any other type of music. I could hardly put any of them into a playlist and have them play on the blog.

I’m having similar problems this month. I really need to find a new platform (besides YouTube) to use for sharing playlists. Boy, if it’s this hard to share music already, how much worse will it be with SOPA?

The best I can recommend is to play Chilly Winter Day on YouTube. So sorry!

  1. “Vanilla Twilight” by Owl City
  2. “Canvas” by Imogen Heap
  3. “Winter Winds” by Mumford and Sons
  4. “Missing You” by White River Music Company
  5. “Cold” by the Cure
  6. “River Shiver” by Pomplamoose
  7. “Wintertime Love” by The Doors
  8. “Frozen Lake” by Buffalo Tom
  9. “Snowblind” by Black Sabbath
  10. “Winter” by Tori Amos
  11. “Bare Trees” by Fleetwood Mac
  12. “Boy With a Coin” by Iron & Wine
  13. “Misty Mountains Cold” by The Hobbit Cast
  14. “Don’t Fear the Reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult
  15. “A Hazy Shade of Winter” by Simon and Garfunkel
  16. “Winterbells” by Ferry Halim
  17. “The Red Shoes” by Kate Bush
  18. “Doledrums” by The Chills
  19. “Winter Song” by Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson
  20. “Love Like Winter” by AFI

"Because of Toledo"

Boy, if there was any doubt in my mind about not bringing my camera to Madrid, the millions of pictures from the Toledo trip have assured me that I made the right decision.

I decided (hopefully wisely) to post only the most interesting images from last weekend. The rest will all be available on Facebook for those of you who are friends with me, and those of you who aren’t . . . well, fix it! Haha.

Post title is the title of a Kenny Rogers song that’s actually about Toledo, Ohio. Don’t judge! Nobody makes notable quotes about Toledo, Spain apparently.

This is a high school. In the words of Josh, “Just like Hogwarts!”

Flower power tower!

These guys all matched, so I took a stalker photo of them from the window
I like birds. I want one.

Rio Tajo

These birds stood still for so long, I thought they were fake
We rode seven outdoor escalators from the top of the city to the bottom . . . just to ride back up
A church we passed was having some sort of scary festival that involved an enormous bonfire


Hacked! Okay, let me explain myself. For all of you faithful followers and those of you seeing this blog for the first time, this is not Jessica Thurston. This is her husband, Josh:) For some time I’ve been wanting to write an article on this wonderful blog but for one reason or another I haven’t. But today was different. Jessica went to Madrid with some friends and I stayed in good, old Avila. Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t have anything against Madrid and I certainly don’t have anything against my awesome wife; I just needed a day to chill, you know, relax for a day. So here it is:
Yesterday, I decided I would spend some time outside taking pictures of Avila, what could be better, right. Fun. Relaxing. Cold?  
First off, today was probably one of the worst days ever to be outside in Avila: wet, cold, bone-chilling, and downright nasty, everything you don’t imagine Spain being! I was reluctant to get out of bed today let alone go outside. When I finally stepped outside with my camera, the fog was only a stone’s throw away. I couldn’t go back now. As difficult as it was, the pictures were worth the cold fingers and numbed face🙂 I hope that you can see how cold it was in these pictures. Enjoy!

Looking out over the city…it’s quite the view minus the fog

This way to town center.

This was one of the city’s structures used for defense during attacks. Now is it defended by, yes, storks. Ciguenas, as they are called here, are basically anywhere there is a high point to nest.

La Catedral de Avila

sweet Medieval gutters!

The only clock with hands I have seen in Avila…and it doesn’t work. Figures.

Iglesia de San Tomas

There are so many of these random, jutting rocks all over town. Pretty cool!

Around the back of San Tomas…hope he doesn’t mind.

Old Glory. Can you see it?

Perhaps there are some X-Men fans in Spain.

Broken wall with cool color contrast:)
Well, there you have it. That is my show and tell for today. Hopefully I will be joining you in the future with some more pictures/ cultural differences/ other things I find interesting that I think might interest you:) I guess you guys/girls will just have stick around. Thanks for joining me in hacking Jessica’s blog. 
Until next timestay awesome and tell your friends to come and join us; we would love to have even more people share in our wild and crazy life from Nine to Phive.

What I Wore: Blazin’!

Forever 21 shirt, JC Penny blazer, Payless shoes, thrifted scarff, random jeans I’ve had since high school

Me hating the fact that I don’t have more blazers!!!! Jaja 😀

I love blazers a little bit.

Translation: I love blazers A LOT!

Further Translation: Me gustan mucho las chaquetas!

I was trying to figure out why I wasn’t smiling in the above pictures, and suddenly it hit me. It’s so obvious! I was so bubbling forth with love and adoration for this new blazer my grandma got me for my birthday that, not wanting to look silly, I put on my best serious face and over-compensated a little bit.

I’m kidding. I have no idea why I’m so obviously peeved in today’s outfit pics. My apologies.

In other news, I’m in Madrid today! Going to more free museums and otherwise spending zero money. Well, I guess I’ll have to eat at some point, but no money besides that. Sadly, I shan’t be taking photos. I might appear in some of my ladies’ pictures on Facebook, but compulsive touristing is a habit I’m trying to break . . .

P.S. Yes, I totally just lol’d in Spanish up there in the caption^

Awkward and Awesome Thursday: Unda Presha!

 Hey, guys, sorry for not posting for the past two days. I hate to say it, but it was quite intentional. I didn’t forget. I didn’t suddenly become overwhelmingly busy. I merely decided that I needed a break from the pressure of blogging, and guess what?

I needed a break from the pressure of blogging!

If for no reason besides the fact that blogging is something I often feel like I have to do every single day, it is one of the most stressful aspects of my life. Add the fact that I have to take and edit photos, come up with tantalizing things to say, and dress nicely so that i can take pictures of myself and talk about why I chose to dress that way . . . and it becomes the most stressful thing on the planet!

Of course, it’s only stressful because I take it so seriously. I take everything too seriously. Therefore everything is stressful.

When I keep everything in perspective, blogging is relaxing, creative, exciting, and an incredibly rewarding way of sharing my daily trudging through stresses with the world.

How awkward and awesome is that???

  • Thinking that Toledo taxi-drivers were policemen. What? They had matching cars and uniforms. Obviously cops.
  • Discussing personal religion in conversation class. Try defending your beliefs to a professor in a foreign language!
  • Being called “a little weird” by my Spanish prof because some girls and I went out for drinks at 6:00pm. Come on, it was only because I’m too baby to stay out late! I like sleep.
  • Planning travel for upcoming breaks. We still have no money . . .
  • The unfood things in my food. Bones, pits, shells, cartilage, exoskeletons, etc.
  • Carmen (our host mom) bought me chocolate cereal. She speaks my love language ❤
  • Every single one of the credit cards my friends and I tried to use getting declined at the bar. We had to go find an ATM. The guy was so surprised that we actually came back.
  • Josh’s new Spanish nickname is officially . . . Coco. Thanks, Nuria (one of our profs). Not only is this the name of a certain Spanish TV character, it also has an unfortunate double meaning here in Spain.


  • My husband :-). Gosh, I love him.
  • Um, hello? I’m still in Spain.
  • Birthday trip to Toledo. We visited beautiful cathedrals, cozy cafes, and free museums! Yeah, free museums.
  • Black-Eyed Peas concert on MTV. Engliiiiiiiiiiiisssshhhh!!!
  • The bartender who only took a year of English in high school and still tried to speak English with us.
  • My new drink! Malibu rum and coke! The good thing about it is that you can’t taste the alcohol, but the cad thing about it is that you can’t taste the alcohol . . .
  • Hot croissant every morning at the hostal.
  • A bird choking on a bug. I love birds, so this was very sad for me.
  • Daytrip to Madrid tomorrow with my chicas 🙂
  • This song. It is our class song. I don’t know how it happened, but it brings us together magically :-). Hurray for Kristen who says she can’t sing and still belts it with all she’s got!

My Big 2-0!

This picture is terrible, but I love it!

I know several readers were wondering why I didn’t publish a themed post about memories, resolutions, epiphanies, etc. pertaining to the celebration of New Year’s Day. I know many if not most bloggers take advantage of this annual occasion to write rather pensive “deep” posts reflecting on the past year.

Well, here are two things that were going through my head:

1) I tend to sneak “deep” thoughts into many of my posts. I didn’t think followers would mind a carefree break. (I seem to remember posting about Jo-Ann Fabrics or something deliciously trivial like that on the first?)

2) I prefer to save my major yearly reflection period for my birthday. It is reasonably close to the festivities of January 1st, and it provides a much more personal time of “starting over.” It’s my own personal new beginning.

The spoils of my cereal party

And it’s today! Woo-hoo! I am 20 years old and riding a train back from a lovely birthday weekend in Toledo. There will be many more pics from said trip, by the way.

What I Learned When I Was 19

  • My friends are few but fabulous.
  • I have Interstitial Cystitis.
  • I am happier when I am working.
  • People write books (good books!) in continents other than Europe.
  • I love food (good food!) even more than I thought I did. Thank you, Spain!
  • Hormones in all of their medicinal uses (birth control pills, antidepressants, etc.) will make you crazy before they actually work.
  • Yes, you can get high off of antidepressants.
  • 18 credits plus a part-time job is crazy but doable.
  • Every time you want to say something unkind, think of 5 kind things to say instead. 
The lovely Allie and her birthday ukelele

  • I miss the theater.
  • Human bodies function very differently at high altitudes.
  • I am very grateful for my sisters.
  • Packing up and moving always takes at least three hours longer than you expect it will.
  • Flash drives can go through the wash and still function perfectly well.
  • Phones cannot.
  • History can be beautiful and fun.
  • I love modeling.
  • Sometimes flying is cheaper than taking the train.
  • How to make Christmas dinner.
  • Lots of the cliches and stereotypes about Spain are true.
Kristen and Ariana. Breana is the yellow splotch in the picture of me with the cereal

  • “My drink” is coconut rum and Coke, or as I like to call it, a Malibu Libre. (NOTE: The drinking age is 18 in Spain)
  • I can survive without Wikipedia.
  • I cannot survive without Google Translate.
  • I need to do my devotions every morning.
  • Stephen Colbert is a genius.
  • Forgiving is the hardest and most rewarding thing you will ever do.
  • I like octopi for pets and squids for food.
  • I will own a parrot someday.
  • Denny’s is open all night.
  • Taco Bell is not.
  • Cowboys and Aliens was not as bad as the critics made it sound.
  • I am a much better driver than my reputation would suggest.
  • I am great with maps.
  • Fabric dye is the best $2.50 I will ever spend.
  • I will never stop wanting children, but I can wait.
  • In a lot of ways, Macs and PCs are exactly the same.
  • It is possible to be content without being happy.
  • Josh and I can survive and thrive in a surprisingly small amount of space.
  • I can dress creatively and uniquely with a surprisingly small wardrobe.
  • Love is stronger than hate.
  • I am lucky ❤