London Walks: Hyde Park

The first time self read The Crimson Petal and the White, by Michael Faber, was over a decade ago. She hadn’t much experience of London. Now, however, she knows London, knows its general geography, and enjoys passages like the following:

  • Since moving to the West End, Sugar has taken to crossing Hyde Park, over the Serpentine into Knightsbridge, and paying frequent visits to the two Georgian houses in Trevor Square, which may look like high-class brothels, but are in fact a public library.

The Crimson Petal and the White, p. 35

  • Follow Sugar now into the great open space, the grandiose vacancy of Regent Street — admire those overtowering honeycombs of palatial buildings stretching into the fog of artificial infinity, those thousands of identically shaped windows tier upon tier; the glassy expanse of roadway swept clear of snow; all of it is a statement of intent: a declaration that in the bright future to come, places like St. Giles and Soho, with their narrow labyrinths and tilting hovels and clammy, crumbling nooks infested with human flotsam, will be swept away, to be replaced by a new London that looks entirely like Regent Street, airy, regular and clean.

The Crimson Petal and the White, p. 43

Her last trip to London was at the tail-end of October 2017. She dropped by Hyde Park and saw:

1) the Serpentine

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2) a fabulous Pavilion

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The 2017 Serpentine Pavilion designed by architect Francis Kéré

and 3) the Prince Albert Memorial:

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Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The End of LA BELLE SAUVAGE (Spoilers, Needless To Say)

p. 443:

  • The first boat had swung back. Now it smashed into the canoe again, a deathblow, and the brave little boat was broken open like an egg. Both Malcolm and Asta cried out with love.

The next book on self’s reading list is The Golden Compass. At least, she’ll give it a go.

So far, this year, she’s read three really good novels, the kind that make it into her “favorites” list: Moshi Moshi by Banana Yoshimoto; The Mandibles, by Lionel Shriver; and La Belle Sauvage. Actually, Conclave, by Robert Harris, was pretty good, too. Wow, the first third of 2018 has produced a rich harvest. That’s never happened to self before.

The last time she read a trilogy was way back 2015, when she began Cassandra Clare’s The Infernal Devices. That was a smashing series. She spent part of that year in London, looking for Saint Bride’s and the old Blackfriars bridge. At Saint Bride’s, she chatted with a deacon who was amused that Saint Bride’s was the setting of the Shadowhunters’ London sanctuary. She was so into Victorian Steampunk that year, and remembers being mightily impressed that York had an annual Steampunk Festival.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Tomb Raider: Just Okay

This is not a masterpiece. It’s not, even, that much fun. Alicia Vikander’s body is rippling with muscle so that’s certainly an improvement over Angelina Jolie’s (The trouble with Jolie as Lara Croft is that she’s very top-heavy and it gets in the way. Seriously). But Dominic West, poor Dominic West, is so wasted.

Here are a few positives:

  • That ripped body of Vikander’s
  • Walton Goggins having a stellar moment in every action/fantasy movie of the past few years (He was in the final Maze Runner movie, which self would rank higher than this one)
  • There is an Asian man who is kind and also has a ripped bod (Never seen this actor before. Googled. Welcome to the world, Daniel Wu!)
  • Solving puzzles is always fun. Though self did get a little lost when people were tossing all kinds of colored crystals at Lara Croft while balancing on their toes at the edges of a room with a crumbling stone floor.

Was there music? Self can’t remember. Too bad. A score can do so much for a movie.

What was that fox race through London? She doesn’t get the point, but loved that she saw a section of Tottenham Road, which she knows intimately: Hanway Alley (where her favorite London restaurant, Chez Nous, is) is just off Tottenham. Moreover, Vikander does a great job as a biker. She has that look of determination, and looks great in capris and bike helmet.

The guy who plays spoiled brat/murder suspect ‘Silver Smile’ in TNT’s The Alienist has a bit part!

Good Lord, she would never place this on the same level as The Last of the Mohicans, even if just for comparison, which critic Matt Zoller Seitz did in his review for RogerEbert.com. The Last of the Mohicans was a masterpiece! It was directed by Michael Mann, at the height of his powers! It starred Daniel Day-Lewis, at the height of his powers. (No, let’s re-phrase that: with Daniel Day-Lewis, there is no such thing as ‘height of his powers.’ Because he is still bringing it all the time! Just watch Phantom Thread!)! It introduced Wes Studi to the world!

Every time Vikander sailed through the air, self was reminded of the Fassbender move in 300. Which he executed so well that now, every action movie has to show its heroes and heroines doing the exact same move, at least once. It’s getting to be a thing! Vikander does it so many times in Tomb Raider that she even out-Fassbenders Fassbender.

Self found Tomb Raider a by-the-numbers thriller, which is to say it was not a thrill ride.

She was so excited, though, to see a preview of John Boyega’s Star Wars movie.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

More Faces in the Crowd

Love this week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge. Self has tons of “faces in the crowd” pictures. TONS.

Here are three more:

  • Waterloo Bridge, June 2017

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  • The Louvre, May 2017

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  • The Crowd in Front of the Mona Lisa, May 2017: This has to be seen to be believed. As you probably can guess, the Mona Lisa is on the left.

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Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: BIRDS

Self loves participating in Cee’s Fun Foto Challenges. This week’s challenge is BIRDS.

Since self is a writer, she has a lot of books. When she travels, there are more books in her suitcase than clothes.

Two years ago, in London, self was trying to heft a suitcase onto a double decker. The bus driver actually left the wheel to help her (This would never happen in San Francisco. Or Redwood City, that’s for sure!). Self tried to warn him. He took one tug at self’s bag, gave her a sharp look, and said: “I tell you, it must make you feel really good leaving home, knowing you’ve brought all your books along with you.”

When she’s in London, she always stays in Bloomsbury. Which means, of course, frequent trips to the London Review Bookshop. She was so good, this last trip. She only bought four books. One of them was a book of Amazing Rare Things: The Art of Natural History in the Age of Discovery, by David Attenborough and Susan Owens.

Here’s one of the illustrations: Frigate Pelican, by John James Audubon, from his groundbreaking collection The Birds of America (published 1822):

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Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

A FACE IN THE CROWD: The Daily Post Photo Challenge, 21 February 2018

This week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge is “a face in the crowd.”

Self has a lot of pictures of anonymous people, because she travels a lot by herself.

In December 2017, self visited London’s Barbican for the first time. She went to see the Basquiat: Boom for Real exhibit. Life-changing.

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Before that, she was in Paris:

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Cinema Mac Mahon, on the Avenue of the same name in Paris, December 2017

Christmas Day 2017  in the Tuileries, Paris:

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Paris, December 25, 2017

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

DARKEST HOUR: What’s Up With Joe Wright

2nd full day back in America, 2nd movie: Darkest Hour.

So dull.

Self has seen Atonement, which made her cry buckets.

Not that she expects every Joe Wright to make her cry buckets, just that she likes movies to engage her emotions and this one didn’t.

Well, self did feel bad for the 4,000 British troops at Calais who were ordered to attack the advancing Germans, all to enable the main body of the British army to be evacuated from Dunkirk (almost 300,000 men)

Perhaps self was in a mood because she did not get to see I, Tonya.

Instead she got to watch Gary Oldman do Winston Churchill and his portrayal was rather baffling. Self had no idea that Churchill was such a bumbling, distracted man, whose only skill apparently was a penchant for rousing words and an ability to get the pulse of the British people.

He was a populist! Who would have thought!

The scene in the underground was very, very contrived.

Two stars, maybe?

Kudos nevertheless to Stephen Dillane for making her completely forget Stannis Baratheon in his portrayal of Churchill antagonist Viscount Halifax, and to Samuel West for still being Samuel West, and to Lily James for performing the role of ingenue/typist so flawlessly.

Someone started coughing loud in the last half hour or so of the movie, and a young woman yelled, from way across the theatre: Hey, would you do your coughing outside?

Which surprised self exceedingly because she didn’t notice any young people in the audience before the lights went down. But it is a very good thing to know that young people are interested in watching this movie that has absolutely no battle scenes (i.e.,  more spittle than blood).

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: 6 Letters Starts With the Letter ‘V’

Happy to participate in another of Cee Neuner’s Fun Foto Challenges.

This week’s is: A SIX-LETTER WORD THAT STARTS WITH THE LETTER ‘V’

Self’s word is VOLUMES.

Self visited the British Library for the first time on 31 December 2017. There was a Harry Potter exhibit, but that was sold out. She was able to get on another tour, however, and had a very stimulating introduction to the library holdings.

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George V donated his entire library to the British Library. Here’s how the volumes are displayed.

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Self’s silhouette can be seen in this picture. It was Dec. 31, 2017, around noon.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Two Ts Anywhere in the Word

So much fun to do Cee Neuner’s Fun Foto Challenges!

Self’s Letter T:  The Tate Modern, in London’s former Bankside Power Station

On the last day of 2017, self was in London. She took a walk. It was okay until it started to rain. Luckily, she’d already crossed the Millenium Bridge by the time it started coming down hard. She was able to take shelter across the street from St. Paul’s Cathedral.

This was one of the pictures she took that day:

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London’s Tate Modern, 31 December 2017: In a truly thrilling transformation, the former Bankside Power Station became a great world-class museum.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

Still More 2017 Favorites

Self spent the last day of 2017 in London, a city dear to her heart.

She took an iconic walk. It was a cloudy day.

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The Millenium Bridge, London: Dec. 31, 2017

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More Millenium Bridge: Dec. 31, 2017

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The Crouching Man in Front of the British Library: Dec. 31, 2017

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