And Now, Another From CLOCKWORK PRINCE

If self had been able to get to blogging a little earlier, she would have written a fine analysis of the chapter in The Third Reich at War which focuses on Reich Protector Reinhard Heydrich, the man who the SS called the “Blonde Beast.” Less affectionately known by the Czechs as the “Butcher of Prague.”

Not a gullible believer in Nazi ideology, Heydrich nevertheless crushed the heart of the Czech resistance movement. Also, was passionate about music and played the violin.

Stop right there, self. You intimated this post was going to be about CLOCKWORK PRINCE. Luckily for dear blog readers, she’s going to make good on her introduction and turn to the CLOCKWORK PRINCE. Because just imagine how quickly your fine Sundays would be ruined if you read about Reich Protector Heydrich’s many successes in eliminating the Jewish population of Prague!

Okey-dokey, self will backtrack.

Cassandra Clare has a great sense of humor and Will Herondale is soooo entertaining a character.

FOR THE 5% OF THE POPULATION WHO HAVE NOT READ THE INFERNAL DEVICES: SPOILER ALERT!

His death anniversary passed a week or so ago (Stop! Can it really be? Forsooth, Cassie Clare called attention to it on her author website: Will Herondale died on June 19, 1937. Self was so addled that she actually heaved a sigh of relief that he was not around to witness World War II. Until she remembered that of course he wouldn’t be around to witness World War II:  because Will Herondale is a fictional character!!! DUH!!!)

Here’s the scene where Jem and Tessa find Will in an opium den. All these years of procuring the drug for beloved Jem (Sissy!) and Will never tried it once. Not once. Until, distraught over the discovery that his family in Wales has been moved by Mortmain to a house in of all places Yorkshire, and unable to tell Tessa Gray that he loves her while watching Jem’s flirtations intensify right before his very eyes (i.e. the train back to London. See also: the carriage ride to London’s East End, where Jem’s hot breath stays in Tessa’s ear. That is, until she lays sight of Will Herondale’s “six feet of bone and muscle” lying supine in a yin fen den run by warlocks — DUN DUN DUN!), he succumbs.

No one at the London Institute, not even Jem (What’s that parabatai rune over your heart doing, Jem? Hasn’t it been bothering you greatly during Will’s disappearance?), bother to go looking for him. Until Tessa Gray receives a confidential note from Warlock Magnus Bane (Methinks the warlock doth care for that whelp Herondale, despite his protestations!) that Will is in trouble, and she waits six hours to tell Jem, and then Jem finally decides that why, yes, as the parabatai he must go and search for Will, and they ride in a carriage and hot breath on Tessa’s ear and all that, and arrive at scummy London’s East End, which is absolutely crawling with Shivering Jemmies and infants whose skin is the color of curdled milk, and they find Will in a den of iniquity, and Tessa knows they have to get him out of there, but Jem is frozen, unable to move (As if thinking: Oh no! Why did we have to find him? I was looking forward to having Tessa Gray all to myself!). And then Tessa Gray says:

If you do not help me, I swear, I will Change into you, and I will lift him myself. And then everyone here will see what you look like in a dress. Do you understand?

God, JEM CARSTAIRS WILL YOU JUST GET A MOVE ON???

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Reading Dionne Brand

from her poetry collection, Thirsty (McClelland & Stewart):

would I have had a different life
failing this embrace with broken things,
iridescent veins, ecstatic bullets, small cracks
in the brain, would I know these particular facts,
how a phrase scars a cheek, how water
dries love out, this, a thought as casual
as any second eviscerates a breath

and this, we meet in careless intervals,
in coffee bars, gas stations, in prosthetic
conversations, lotteries, untranslatable
mouths, in versions of what we may be,
a tremor of the hand in the realization
of endings, a glancing blow of tears
on skin, the keen dismissal in speed

Self met Dionne Brand in Banff, just this past April.

Life-changing encounter. Forevermore.

Writing can change people.

Another excerpt from Thirsty. By the way, it’s Sunday in Ireland:

There was a Sunday morning scent,
an early morning air, then the unarranged light
that hovers on a street before a city wakes
unrelieved to the war fumes of fuel exhaust

Stay tuned.

Women in Heels

Self is short.

Short. Short. Short. Short.

Granted, short is not a disease.

Nevertheless.

On the question of heels. Last week, went to the Victoria & Albert Museum, lined up to pay 12 GBP to see exhibit on footwear called, if self remembers correctly: Shoes:  Pleasure & Pain.

Fabulous Chihuly: In the Lobby of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Fabulous Chihuly: In the Lobby of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London

The torture aspect was, in self’s humble opinion, very de-emphasized. Self has seen more torturous shoes (including one fabulous pair with moss growing on the heels) in Greenwich Village in New York City.

And now to “Jurassic World,” which self has not seen, but which seems to have triggered some very strong audience reaction to Bryce Dallas Howard’s choice of footwear. It seems she keeps the heels on, throughout the movie.

Now, let self ponder this a moment.

Self has seen, in Italy, women running flat out for a bus in the highest, stiletto-heeled shoes imaginable. They look great. Also, super-powerful.

She has watched episodes of “Sex and the City” in which Sarah Jessica Parker, post-baby, runs flat out down a New York avenue in Jimmy Choos.

Let’s not forget Jodie Foster in Spike Lee’s Inside Man, the one where she plays an oh-so-smooth New York lawyer representing the Rich Bad Guy who profited from the theft of Jewish assets during World War II. Self thinks that if she had a lawyer who wore four-inch heels as confidently as Jodie Foster’s character does (and Jodie’s legs are the best legs self has seen on film since — since — the woman in Brian De Palma’s Dressed To Kill), she would rest easy in the conviction that she would win all her cases.

Then there is Paula Patton, who in the most memorable scene in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (one of the sequels, the one shot in Dubai), kicks off her heels, leaves on the powder-blue shift dress, and FIGHTS. Really FIGHTS. Afterwards, she sits chatting with her group, all men. She remains barefoot, but still wearing that fabulous dress. The only indication that she’s been IN a fight (because, ya know, she’s as cool as a cucumber. Or at least her character is. She has antagonists like Lea Seydoux for breakfast. Honestly) are her bare feet.

And now we arrive at Bryce Dallas Howard, who in side-note self must say is one of the most unusually interesting-looking actresses working today.  Because her character, Clare, never takes off her shoes, we are left to debate the fine points of female fashion choices. Self means: Is it rational to keep on the heels when one is being chased by a velociraptor?

Self can think of many reasons why Clare would choose to keep wearing her shoes: (1) Jungle floors are slimy; (2) She does not have hiking boots in her closet, or even in her desk drawer at work, or even under her desk in her office at work.

A guest post by Lesley Holmes on clothesonfilm makes the point: “I think the makers of Jurassic world believed that showing a woman capable of running in heels was the same as showing us a capable woman . . . ” Of course! This is a very old Hollywood trope, just about as old as the idea of the director auteur (born with Citizen Kane, which means — a long long time ago). If you want to know how powerful a woman character is, just look at what she’s wearing on her feet, for God’s sake!

Self would just like to say that while she was in line in the women’s restroom at the Gielgud Theatre, during the intermission for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, self engaged a young woman in conversation, and then expressed admiration for her shoes. They looked just like the Sam Edelmans self bought last year in California, but this woman’s shoes were flats. The young woman looked at self regretfully and said, “They’re super-painful. See?” She slipped her right foot out of her shoe and there, plain as day, was the beginning of a blister. Aaargh! The things self sees in women’s restrooms! Which is neither here nor there. But it brought home the lesson that flats are just as capable of giving a woman blisters as are Manolo Blahniks or Jimmy Choos.

Self realizes that she herself has very little to say about the wearing of high heels, but in Hollywood, the woman who wears the highest heels is the most powerful woman on the block. She’s just saying.

Stay tuned.

London After Hours, Great Russell Street: Off-Season 3

Self is finding “Off-Season” to be a very interesting Photo Challenge.

She isn’t sure that these series of shots she took last night are really “off-season” — except when viewed in one sense. But she’ll post anyway.

She took these pictures last night, when she was hunting for a cheap place to have dinner.  She was on Great Russell Street. The British Museum, and all the shops along that street, were closed. So she peered in through the iron gates and the barred windows:

The British Museum After Hours

The British Museum After Hours

A Closer Look Through the Barred Gates of the British Museum

A Closer Look Through the Barred Gates of the British Museum

Across the street is an Antiquarian Bookseller named Jarndyce (How very Dickens). When self peered through the barred windows, this caught her attention:

Jarndyce Antiquarian Booksellers, Directly Across from the British Museum

Jarndyce Antiquarian Booksellers, Directly Across from the British Museum

It was a Sunday evening. She happened to be reading (in addition to the ever-present Clockwork Prince, ha ha ha!) a copy of Dionne Brand’s poetry collection, Thirsty. And here is an excerpt from Poem II:

The city was empty, except for the three,
they seemed therefore poised, as when you are alone
anywhere all movement is arrested, light, dun,
except, their hearts, scintillant as darkness

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Off-Season 2: Dandelions at the Victoria & Albert Museum

Self loves London. Absolutely loves, loves, loves. If she were to spend her last farthing, she’d want to do it in this city.

It’s not the most beautiful (although there’s plenty of beauty around). It’s not even the most affable. It rains a lot. But it has a hold on her heart (all the more so now because — hello, Victorian Steampunk! The London Institute of the Clave! Shadowhunters! The Infernal Devices! Will Herondale!)

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is OFF-SEASON.

OFF-SEASON as in: Umbrellas in winter? Balaclavas in July?

The Hunger Games has been very much on self’s mind.

Why? Because yesterday, in Cambridge, friend Dodo told self that another former classmate had visited Cambridge, and she and Dodo had gone to the Harry Potter museum just outside London.

And self wondered when that much-ballyhooed Hunger Games theme park was ever going to open?

Anyhoo, today self went across London to the Victoria and Albert Museum. It was crowded, of course, but not off-putting.

Self decided to go see the WHAT IS LUXURY exhibit.

The exhibit includes a fabulous artwork made out of real dandelion seeds, embedded with LED lights to make a chandelier.

Self associates dandelions with The Hunger Games because of Peeta Mellark (one of her all-time favorite literary characters). Katniss, for those who are completely out of the zeitgeist, ends up with Peeta in the end because he is her “dandelion in the spring.”

And, hello, it is summer. Or, anyway, past the season for dandelions.

So here’s a shot of a fabulous chandelier at the Victoria and Albert:

At the Victoria and Albert Museum: Real dandelion seeds were harvested before opening into

At the Victoria and Albert Museum: Real dandelion seeds were harvested before opening into “clocks” and then were individually applied to LED lights to make this chandelier.

In keeping with the rather soggy weather, here’s the London Eye ferris wheel. Ferris wheels symbolize summer (at least they do for self), but because of London’s grey skies, the symbolism today (Self took this picture while meandering across the Waterloo Bridge) felt rather muted. So, here’s a most somber-looking ferris wheel:

The London Eye Viewed from Waterloo Bridge

The London Eye Viewed from Waterloo Bridge

Anyhoo, yesterday in Cambridge, it was rainy. Dodo took self on a punt ride on the river Cam. It was so wet that we had to bring umbrellas and hide under blankets. Self even had to buy a raincoat for the occasion. Here’s a shot of the inside of our punt. A great time was had by all:

Dodo (who lives in Cambridge) and Self in a Punt! On a Rainy Afternoon in Cambridge, UK.

Dodo (who lives in Cambridge) and Self in a Punt! On a Rainy Afternoon in Cambridge, UK.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

“Spy”

Can self just tell you how much she loved Melissa McCarthy in “Spy”?

When she thinks back to “Bridesmaids,” she is amazed at how McCarthy has flowered.

And self does mean flowered.

“Spy” is a most hilarious movie, BTW. Self was laughing almost continuously throughout.

Casting Jude Law? Priceless, simply priceless. The movie had lots of satiric fun with him (and he’s looking pretty fine in this film). He is the perfect foil to Melissa McCarthy. The moment when he hands her a cupcake gew-gaw — OMG, he’s such an ass! Such an unbelievable ass! Self can’t even.

Rose Byrne does reprise of “Bridesmaids” role — this time, saying things like:

What a stupid fucking retarded toast. You’re delightful.”

As always, her sense of timing is absolutely impeccable.

Melissa McCarthy gets to employ maximum sarcasm during their exchanges:

“Oh, God, Rayna, thank God your hair broke your fall.”

Not to mention the rest of the supporting cast: Jason Statham, Rose Byrne, Bobby Canavale, Allison Janey.

Especially Allison Janey.

Please, please God let there be a “Spy 2.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Vivid 2: 28 Chinese Artists at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is VIVID.

To self, “vivid” is all about color. Or warmth. Or illumination.

Self spent yesterday afternoon at the Asian Art Museum (The traffic heading into San Francisco is just horrible, UGH) and saw many vivid pieces of art from the current show, “28 Chinese Artists From the Ruddell Family Collection” :

Tattoo 11, 1994 by Qiu Zhije (b. 1969, Fujian China)

Tattoo 11, 1994 by Qiu Zhijie (b. 1969, Fujian China)

“Darkness Illuminates Me” by Qiu Zhijie, 2009

The artist Zhang Huan covered his body with honey and oil and sat in a public toilet (Size: 12 square meters) and waited for the flies to land, then had someone take his picture:

“12 Square Meters” by Zhang Huan (b. 1965, Henan, China)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

A Poem Written for Self

You are courageous.

You are bright.

You have so much to pursue —

Best wishes for your grand adventures ahead!

DSCN9868

Will Herondale to the Rescue! pp. 428 – 429 of CLOCKWORK ANGEL (Naturally, Spoilers Galore)

Self would definitely like to be consulted when the movie adaptation finally gets under way. Because she has a thought or two about who should play Will Herondale. This may sound weird but she totally thinks an American could play him. That guy who plays the Penguin in Gotham could (Naturally, without the Penguin make-up). Also, Ben Foster if he were 10 years younger. She considered Logan Lerman — for about 1 minute. No.

No hunks need apply. Now to the excerpt from Clockwork Angel:

Thank the Angel for glamours, Will thought. The sight of a boy riding bareback on a charging black horse down Farrington Road would normally be enough to raise eyebrows even in a metropolis as jaded as London. But as Will went by — the horse kicking up great puffs of London dust as it reared and snorted its way through the streets — no one turned a hair or batted the lash of an eye. Yet even as they seemed not to see him, they found reason to move out of his way — a dropped pair of eyeglasses, a step to the side to avoid a puddle in the road — and avoid being trampled.

It was almost five miles from Highgate to the Institute; it had taken them three-quarters of an hour to cover the distance in a carriage. It took Will and Balios only twenty minutes to make the return trip, though the horse was panting and lathered with sweat by the time Will pounded through the Institute gates and drew up in front of the steps.

Heavens to Mergatroid! Not only that, it appears Will’s feelings are not as hidden from everyone as he thinks. Conversation between Will and faithful servant Thomas ensues:

“She’s alive,” Thomas said, not opening his eyes.

“What?” Will was caught off guard.

“The one you came back for. Her. Tessa.”

!##@@!! (Pause) ##@@@**!!!!!!!

Back to reading.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Enveloped 4: Icy Lake Louise

Lake Louise, View From a Hotel

Lake Louise, View From a Hotel

Lake Louise, Still Encased In Ice

Lake Louise, Still Encased In Ice

Stones Beneath the Ice

Stones Beneath the Ice

Canada, at least here in Banff, is still cold. When oh when will summer arrive?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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