X-Men: Apocalypse and the Egyptian Mummies in the British Museum

Self took this post down for a while but then she decided to put it back up because she just went and saw X-Men: Apocalypse for the second time and — Evan Peters, hell yeah!

BTW, the movie improves on repeat viewing. But why Mystique keeps carrying a torch for Magneto is really, really frustrating. Every time she talks about him, with tears in her eyes — aaargh! That’s why it was such a breath of fresh air to have Quicksilver around: imagine, a man who feels no subliminal attraction for any of the female characters, whatsoever!

Below, her original post:

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About a week ago, in London, self walked all the way to Shaftesbury Avenue after spending three hours in the Egyptian galleries of the British Museum just to watch X-Men: Apocalypse in the Odeon in Covent Garden.

She also thought it would be a good excuse to check out the Covent Garden area. See? Like killing two birds with one stone.

That turned out to be an excellent idea. Because the movie began with — ancient Egypt! Some dude was harnessing the power of the sacred pyramids — or something — to give himself eternal life! Of course, self had no idea that Egyptian leatherface was actually the beautiful Oscar Isaac.

Anyhoo, watching the movie was like entering a zone, where everything happening had a connection to ancient Egypt (mind-blowing, right?). Of course, it also reminded her — when all the Egyptian stuff was done — that there was an actor named Evan Peters who plays Quicksilver.

Honest-to-God, how could she have forgotten this guy? She loved his scene from the earlier X-men movie, X-Men: Days of Future Past, so much. But there were just so many X-Men crowding her thoughts, not to mention James McAvoy. In almost every scene. James McAvoy. And there was Nightcrawler. And the Archangel. And Jean Grey (looking exactly like Sansa Stark; self almost expected Littlefinger or Ramsay Bolton to put in an appearance). Not to mention Fassbender emoting and singing to his daughter. And J-Law being very capricious about when she wanted to be blue or not. So, finally. EVAN PETERS! She nearly jumped out of her seat. She was so happy to see him again.

Anyhoo, the point of all this. The point of all this is that she also has a short story that involves Egyptian hieroglyphics. It appeared in a fabulous magazine called Isotope, and was edited by Chris Cokinos. Isotope was a magazine that featured both science writing and  creative writing. Self’s essay, “The Lost Language,” appeared in Isotope in 2007. A year or two later, it went defunct. And now, nobody can read that story anymore! WAAAAH! (She does have extra copies of the particular issue with her essay. It’s back in her house in Redwood City, CA. Which is a long way away — across an ocean, in fact. Across a continent, even — from where self is currently: Oxford, UK. But if anyone wants to get a copy, she can promise that, as soon as she arrives back in California, she will get her hands on those issues and mail it to whoever wants one. Because it seems such a terrible waste to keep those issues mouldering in her closet, taking up space and being useless)

Here’s how it begins:

Filipinos once had an ancient written language. If I were to show you what the marks look like on a piece of paper, they would look like a series of waves. Or like Egyptian hieroglyphics. Like the eye of the Pharaoh I saw in my old high school history books.

The rest of the essay is very digressive and is actually pretty funny. There was a time when all of self’s short stories were so filled with angst and pain that she actually rejoiced when she wrote “The Lost Language.” At last! She was capable of showing a little more range!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Sometimes You Just Gotta Have That Chocolate Milkshake

Have dear blog readers ever tasted a lukewarm chocolate milkshake?

(Self knows, right?)

It is a hot day in Oxford, UK. Everyone strolling around, including three tourists who are attracting attention for a (fake) loud quarrel — self is pretty clued-in now to what’s fake and what’s real. All you have to do, really, is look at the person’s face. The woman who is allegedly being wronged by her two male companions has a huge, shit-eating grin on her face. She has cropped, dyed-platinum-blonde hair. She has deep brown, leathery skin. She’s wearing blue jeans and a white tank top. This makes her stand out because most of the women self sees around Oxford are of two, maybe three types: young Asian women who are extremely thin, very stylish, and very low-key; young white women who wear sneakers, cigarette jeans, and muted sweaters; older white women who dress a bit eccentrically, in floppy hats, or voluminous, bright sweaters. The strange woman keeps screaming, at the top of her voice, ruining a pleasant afternoon: LEAVE ME ALONE! ASSHOLE!

Really, self hates the drama. This is on a tiny street, where everyone’s so quiet, they all jerk their heads up and look alarmed. If self were to be truly cynical about it, which she isn’t, she might hug her purse closer to her body, just in case there is a point to this loud altercation.

Demonstrative fake quarrel aside, today self got to:

  • see a couple of Shakespeare folios
  • see the Harry Potter dining room
  • see an annotated map of Tolkien’s Middle Earth
  • check out Blackwell’s Crime & Thriller section, where she jotted down the titles of a couple of mysteries she wants to add to her reading list.
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An Amazing, Almost-Summer Day in Oxford, UK

Really, if a lukewarm chocolate milkshake is the worst part of self’s day, she’s had a pretty good day.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

British Museum, Lines

Today at the British Museum: for the first time, serious security check. Everyone had to line up outside and pass through a white tent (Why a white tent? Self has no idea) and have their bags inspected. First time ever (and self has been to the Museum many times). There was a police van parked right outside the main entrance to the Museum (Also a first; last summer, security was very discreet. Now, the British are flaunting it.)

Met an American pathologist from Seattle who, having wrapped up her conference, was sightseeing. This was her third visit to the museum in a week. Self told her about the “Sunken Cities” special exhibit, and the woman asked if self had seen the Rosetta Stone. Do you know, in how many visits to the British Museum, self has never actually laid eyes on the Rosetta Stone? Go figure. As soon as we got inside the museum, the woman led self straight to it. (There’s a 20-minute Rosetta Stone tour, free, every Friday)

Self was in London last July. All those weeks, and she never set foot inside the British Museum. Not once. Instead, she remembers just holing up in her room and writing. And writing. And writing. London was full of pigeons and tourists and ice cream trucks. It was incredibly hot and muggy. She went on a Jack the Ripper tour of Whitechapel.

Part of the reason she bought her ticket so far in advance this year is because she realizes she needs that push. The British Museum is overwhelming. In the last gallery of the “Sunken Cities” exhibit, a woman about self’s age seated herself on a bench and lowered her face in her hands. Self knew just how she felt.

The gallery of Greek antiquities has these colossal statues. They are completely stunning. A rider at full gallop on a gigantic horse. A running leopard. A mastiff. She hasn’t seen such massive things since the Olmec exhibit at the de Young, several years ago. You talk about Greek sculpture and you think: classical. You think: refinement. But these were from only one period (Hellenistic? 350 AD?) After that, Greek sculptural representations no longer have that gigantic, absolutely in-your-face, larger-than-life ethos (Why?)

There is a piece showing Aphrodite being surprised during a bath. Seeing the statue from the front, self walked right by. As she was leaving the gallery, she saw that same Aphrodite statue from the back. And, gosh, from the back, it is beautiful. Look at the dimples of her lower back! And the hips! OMG the hips!

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Aphrodite, Surprised at Her Bath: British Museum, Friday, 20 May

Self thinks she’ll walk around a bit more. Stay tuned.

Brutal

The more self reads of Anjelica Huston’s Watch Me, the more her respect for Huston grows. The book is called Watch Me for a reason. It reminds her of the saying: “A person who has something to prove can move mountains.” That quote might have come from Robert Greene, in his 48 Laws of Power.

Quoting directly from the book, “no talent agency wanted to take me on prior to Prizzi’s Honor. Most didn’t even bother to return my phone calls. Eventually, I joined the Yvette Bikoff Agency. It was a small agency, but Yvette seemed to have more confidence in me than the others.”

Huston wants Yvette to try and get her paid more for her part in Prizzi’s Honor. Yvette tells Huston that she tried, but the producers “refuse to even discuss it.” Huston keeps pressing, until finally, with Huston in her office, Yvette places a call to a producer and puts him on speaker phone:

An irritated voice came on the line. “You want more money for Anjelica Huston? You must be kidding . . . go ahead, ask me!” said the voice. “We’d like nothing more than to see her dropped from the film. She has no talent. Her boyfriend is the star and her father is the director, that’s the only reason we are even having this conversation.”

If you’ve never heard of Prizzi’s Honor, go rent it from Netflix. Self only saw it once, but she can still remember the last minutes of the film so clearly. Anjelica Huston was absolutely right for that role. She is so physically imposing, which is why, when she projects vulnerability, it just breaks your heart.

Anyhoo, it’s almost midnight in London. Self had a grueling day. Swore she’d never take a cab from Heathrow, got lost at least three times looking for the Heathrow Express, carting her heavy, overweight luggage. She didn’t ask for help and no one offered any. (Good). She made it to Paddington. She was so famished she ate two meals sitting on a bench. She got into a taxi. She hauled luggage up four flights of stairs.

This is definitely a city. By that she means people are largely indifferent. But it’s a great city. She knew when the cab got near to Bloomsbury. Great Russell Street is her own little patch of London.

Self loves the parks: Regency Park, Hyde Park, Kensington. If all she does while in London is visit one park after another, and look at the Serpentine, and drop by Battersea and gawk at the huge Tate Modern, and then pay a visit to the exquisite Wallace Collection, she’ll be happy. Oh no, wait. No visit to London is complete without Chez Mamie. She even made a reservation because the place is always full now. And to think when she met Emily there last year, we were even wondering whether it would last a year! It’s still only got six tables, but for some reason, the last few times self has been in there, there seem to be a lot of Americans. All in suits. Conducting who knows what kind of negotiations.

Tomorrow she’s going to the British Museum to see an exhibit called “Sunken Egypt.” It’ll help her finish a story she started at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, a story called “Residents of the Deep.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Admiration 4: A List (Far From Complete)

OH NO! SELF ACCIDENTALLY DELETED HER OWN POST.

It happened while she was trying to expand on her reasons for assembling this particular mosaic of images to represent the week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge: ADMIRATION.

And she couldn’t find a previous saved version. Gaaaah! And in re-selecting images, she decided to stop at six instead of the eight she originally had. And she also substituted some images. Sorry for the confusion!

  1. Lady in Red: Ger, chef of Cork’s pre-eminent restaurant, Café Paradiso. Such a great chef, and also very direct and witty! Self loves Ger.
  2. Katniss Everdeen: Self-explanatory, really.
  3. Allison Joseph, co-editor with Jon Tribble of Crab Orchard Review. Fabulousness.
  4. The mother-daughter team who cook and manage Chez Mamie, 22 Hanway Street, London. They make London feel like home.
  5. SeaCity Museum, Southampton, England: Thank you to Joan McGavin, who took her here last year. What a great exhibit on the Titanic. While other cities lay claim to having the best exhibits on the tragedy, Southampton’s is so poignant because it focuses on the crew, most of whom were from this city. And therefore, the focus of the displays is on working-class people. Which makes this a much more layered story. In one gallery, there’s a map on the floor with red dots representing the houses of each of the victims. The dots are clustered around the poorer sections of the city.
  6. Last but not least: Nutschell Ann Windsor, Program Administrator for UCLA Extension’s on-line Writers Program. She is the best. She not only handles all requests with Zen calmness, she is a writer herself. And an editor. She’s holding an anthology she edited.

And now self will post before she accidentally deletes something again.

Stay tuned.

Last Year, The Wallace Collection

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Because last summer, she was reading Howard Jacobson’s The Act of Love, which is set mostly on London’s Great Russell Street (an antiquarian book dealer’s! Just across from the British Museum!) and The Wallace Collection, in July 2015 self went to see The Wallace Collection for the first time.

She asked a museum staffer if she knew where Fragonnard’s famous painting was.

“I know exactly,” said the staffer, without missing a beat (very much like the taxi driver who said, when self inquired if he knew St. Bride’s: “Of course! I’m a London cabbie!”). “She’s in the parlor, swinging away.”

LOL!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Sylvain Landry Week 40 Photo Challenge: Panorama

The Sylvain Landry Photo Challenge this week is PANORAMA.

Here is one from London, a few weeks ago:

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The Portrait Café, British National Portrait Gallery

Joan met self the day she arrived in London! We had lunch at St. Martin’s in the Crypt (Yes, really a crypt), then went to the British National Portrait Gallery.

This was the day before her camera became half-broke, so as you can see, no black slashes across the image.

Hallelujah! So one can really appreciate the view.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Life Imitates Art: Rothko and Sunset, Mendocino Village

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Every painting by Rothko is about boundaries. Self forgets where she heard that.

Below, sunset in Mendocino Village: orange sky and dark horizon, earth and sky. It did remind self of a Rothko:

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Sunset, Mendocino, February 2016

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Life Imitates (Modern) Art at the Zurich Airport

Still working off the Daily Post Photo Challenge this week: LIFE IMITATES ART.

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On the 6th Floor of the New Whitney Museum, Gansevoort Street, New York City (Didn’t take down the name of the artist, boo)

Self thinks the above fits with the below, which she took during a stop-over in Zurich on her way home from Florence, Italy:

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Sunset: Zurich International Airport, early November 2015

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Vibrant 4: 2016 Daily Post Photo Challenge # 5

The past week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge is VIBRANT. Self has been having so much fun with it. In the past week, she’s posted pictures of Mendocino and Venice. Now, she’s posting photographs she took during an exhibit of Chinese artists that she and her niece, Irene, saw when we were in Florence, November 2015.

The weather was glorious: it never rained. And Florence, self doesn’t need to tell dear blog readers, is enchanting.

We got ourselves a Museum Card (Would you believe, there are 64 museums in Florence?).

As we were walking towards the Duomo on one of our earliest days in Florence, we noticed this museum and went inside.

Now, self can no longer remember which museum it was, but there was an exhibition of Chinese paintings which totally blew self away: International Tour of the Works of the Twelfth China National Exhibition of Fine Arts.

The oil painting below is called “Scenery with Six-Tusked Elephant.” The artist is Lin Jianfeng.

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Lin Jianfeng, Artist From China: Seen on the International Tour of Chinese National Artists, November 2015, Florence

The second painting, self has featured on this blog before. It is by Liu Kongxi: “Hello, Birch Forest: The Records of Youth (No. 18):

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“Hello, Birch Forest: The Records of Youth (No. 18)” by Liu Kongxi

And the last painting: Wang Ke’s “Passing on Lamp”

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Wang Ke’s “Passing on Lamp”

As Jen H. says on The Daily Post, “Let’s wash the web with a rainbow of colors to keep the winter gloom at bay.”

Self thinks these three paintings do fit the bill.

Stay tuned.

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