Le Weekend

Feb. 4th, 2007 07:44 pm
rebness: (Mercedes)
"So love," said the taxi driver yesterday, "heading out for a bit of retail therapy?"

Well, not really. I was looking forward to a day at the art gallery and such with my friends, though, of course, I ended up spending on random stuff. Accursed retail therapy! I paid a visit to that musty secondhand book store in the city centre and picked up an English-Russian dictionary, Abbé Prevost by Manon Lescaut, The Great Gatsby (I am so sick of being the only person in the world not to have read this book) and a Horrible Histories book on the Incas. (Yes, I know they're essentially written for children, but they're seriously fun to read!) Those books cost me £5 all told, so that was good.

I took in a gorgeous exhibition at the Walker Art Gallery with Pen and Chris, composed of random pieces of art by Frances McDonald and James Herbert McNair. I swear, it's quite galling to look back on how much effort was ploughed into promoting the arts in Liverpool at the turn of the 20th century and how even the blueprints for the simplest of posters are so fascinating and beautiful, for example:

I wish I lived in the early 1900s. Well, except for little things like the 'flu pandemic and lack of internets.

We had lunch at La Vina, a tapas bar where the food was good but the waitress was fun, honest and friendly, so we bucked the European trend and left a decent tip. We then went to see Pan's Labyrinth at FACT (a cinema where the seats are couches, with a distinct lack of chavs and beer on tap is Nirvana). It was a strange, strange film, but then I expected that. All the cast were very good, though I thought that Mercedes was a particularly good character, all strength and honour. I loved her.

However, it was awesome to see a story brought to life with such vitality. I wish that someone would adapt The Shadow of the Wind. I'd be first in line to see it.

Afterwards, we shared a bottle of wine, then escorted Pen back to the train station. Except it was the wrong one? Er, yeah. Chris and I joined one of his friends to see an indie band whose name escapes me, they were just that awesome. I think it was Blood Red something or another. Hmph.

Finally arrived home at about 1am or something with pizza, much to the delight of my dad and sister, greedy gits. Exhausted after fitting all that into one day, I've lazed around today and read fanfic. Whoo!

Hope you all had an awesome weekend, too. :D
rebness: (Red!)

 The Scissor Sisters concert was excellent. Met Ana Matronic and Jake and... the other guys. Pics and review coming soon. But first! French versions of Hamlet!

So, I quite enjoyed Marie-Antoinette. I had to try not to take it too seriously (because, really, there were too many inconsistencies to list) and, you know... the very best thing about it was being able to see cold Versailles brought to life with beautiful camerawork, and to me, that was worth the admission price alone.

rebness: (Default)

Finally, here is the first batch of my Rome pics. Enjoy! [livejournal.com profile] airiddh1, hope this is a nice teaser for Rome...

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Rome means dead gay poets, of course. )

rebness: (Libertie)

I just caught an excellent programme on the birth of Romanticism and how it affected, and was affected by, changing European society, and it’s only thanks to the squeeing of the David Tennant communities on LJ that I knew it was on. The basics of Romanticism, the documentary argued, were laid down at first by the writings of the French philosopher Diderot. He argued that freedom could not exist, nor progress be made, while Europe centred on a regime controlled by kings who insisted their authority was a divine authority. “Man can never be free until the last priest has been strangled with the entrails of the last king.” The king responded by throwing him in gaol.

The Romantics continued their assault on tradition, finding that the sentiments and wishes for freedom from the old regimes of Europe crystallised by Rousseau and Diderot found their place in a Brave New World. Literally; those Europeans who settled in America seemed to carry with them the hopes of the old world for equality, but the freedom to realise that away from oppressive European society. Their ideas apparently found root, culminating in the Declaration of Independence. This in turn was said to have inspired Blake, the libertarian who uttered, “The King of England, looking Westwards, trembles at the vision… Our Empire is no more.” Romanticism and the sentiments inspired by the perceived freedom of the Americans changed history forever—resentment built up in Europe against the old regimes courtesy of Blake and Diderot, spilling over into bloodshed with the French Revolution. Even the poet Wordsworth, for whom I had a heretofore rational irrational hatred for, got in on the act, travelling to Paris to soak up this Brave New World and falling in love with the city and a peasant woman.

Of course, there’s a different line to take with this—I’ve always taken it that the Romantics eventually tried to turn away from the tumultuous new Europe brought about by the French revolution, and it’s not hard to see how conflicted Wordsworth was when the ideals of this new world resulted in the slaughter of the priests during the Terror, slaughter Diderot had eulogised about but never expected to pass. He fled France for his life, and presumably turned to those bleedin’ daffodils to rid his mind of the sight of the guillotine—but not before giving revolution a human face and turning the bloodshed of the Terror into enduring art, not least by inspiring Coleridge to write the pertinent Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

It was a great programme, handsomely shot and always interesting. David Tennant gave life to Rousseau’s words about the corruption of society on the individual while gazing about the boulevards of Paris; the Statue of Liberty gleamed while Blake’s words were read out and the Berlin wall fell hundreds of years later. It was a visually stunning programme, giving new vigour to the Romantics.

I have but one criticism, and that was the choosing of a man whose delivery was eerily reminiscent of Elmer Fudd. “Thousands of ships had cawwied immigwants to its shaws,” he said with as much gravitas as he could muster, “it was called amewica.” Very off-putting.

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rebness: (Audrey)

I missed the pilot for the new series of Dr. Who last week because I was in Blackpool, so was ecstatic to switch the television on this afternoon to hear familiar sounds of the dahn-dah-dahn-da-dahn whoo-ooh theme tune as if they had never left.

Well. I bloody love Russell T. Davies. The series is just... Dr. Who and more. You can really see the affection he has for the character and his universe, as well as his little geeky asides for fans of the series.

Today's episode dealt with the inevitable end of the world. It was funny, clever and the actors-- even pop minx Billie-- were great. And at the end, I found myself kind of choked when he detailed the relative brevity of man's existence on the earth... indeed, the ethereal earth itself. Raw emotion in Dr. Who? Brilliant.

Next on the TV schedule was a brilliant programme that takes a masterpiece and analyses it in full detail. This week, they picked Eugene Delacroix's raw and bloody Liberty Leading the People, one of my very favourite paintings ever. Liberty was described as "vulgar" and a "poissarde" (fish wife) by critics of the time, but she has stood the test of time to become Marianne, the symbol of France, and of revolutionaries everywhere.

Liberty Leading the People – Eugene Delacroix

Eugene Delacroix sounded rather dislikable, though. He abhorred revolutions (well, by the time of the 1848 uprising) and was described by Alexandre Dumas (snarky git) as a "coward" who looked out of place amongst the genuine revolutionaries. Ah, well.

Everything was sobered up a little by the news that the Pope has died. You know, I had a lot of issues with some of his views-- abortion, the direction of Europe and especially the absurd "gay conspiracy" that was going to turn Europe into hell, or some such nonsense. (Actually, I very much wonder if he even came out with these words, or if they were attributed to the ill man by others seeking their own anti-gay agenda.) On the other hand, he was against the Iraq war, and told Dubya and Blair that their policies went against the Church, no matter their feeble excuses. He himself is remembered fondly in Liverpool for his visit to the city in the eighties. But no matter. In the end, his death was sad and the sight of Catholics crowding the Vatican and churches worldwide, united (for once) in prayer... it really touched me.

I just hope that his successor will be moderate and not that twatty Pinochet-sympathiser some are championing. And please, please counteract his views on abortion and homosexuality. Because really, your excellence, there are bigger things to think about than worrying about who loves whom. Requiescat in Pace.

rebness: (L'Homme Blesse)

Went into Liverpool yesterday to get a couple of things. I ended up (finally) with the first part of Les Miserables, some fresh mint and okra, and beer brewed by some trappist monks in the French Alps, or something.

Chris and I went to see the William Blake exhibition at one of the galleries in Liverpool, because Becky + Blake = OTP. Actually, that's a lie, because Yeats would totally make it a menage a trois.

Anyway, we ended up at the Tate on the docks, and were completely side-tracked. There was an excellent exhibition of Cubist works on. I absolutely love that movement, and though [livejournal.com profile] jaffacakequeen and I weren't too impressed with some of Picasso's works at the museum in Barcelona, there were some excellent paintings there. One was a Cubist-style work whereby a woman was reduced to a collage of geometric shapes. It was incredibly eerie.

Seated Nude

Now, museums in Britain are, for the main part, free, right? This is a very good thing, but it also means that they're funded by the taxpayer. I am very happy for my money to go towards art rather than war, but dude... there were two pieces of canvas, right? This was a work by an Iranian artist living in London, and she will have received thousands of pounds for her work.

There was a large piece of white canvas, and a large piece of black canvas, adjacent to one another. That was her entire piece. The notice said that it was "an indictement of Western culture and Western materialsim...a scathing look at religious intolerance."

The hell? I'm all for reading between the lines, but it was two pieces of canvas...arrgh. This means that Ikea must be a veritable mecca for religious expression.

I ranted about it to mum today. She said that the idea is probably to laugh at the well-meaning people and their Emperor's New Clothes who would be so decadent as to pay thousands for such a thing.

I have a sneaking feeling that she's right.

rebness: (Default)

[livejournal.com profile] avariecaita has been spending the week in my Favouritest City Ever, Paris. I think she's really enjoyed herself in the French capital, and if only I had been able to get some time off work or book a little in advance, I would have gladly flown over to see her there.

(Thank god for budget UK airlines).

On one of her posts, I wrote that Paris makes my heart ache. It really does-- when I'm in that city, I feel alive like at no other time. I feel I know it better than any city in England, but also that I can never really know it.

Don't get me wrong; I adore New York, other French cities, and even that jaded London, but Paris just...gets me.

Anyhow, I thought I may as well make a whimsical post of three sort-of vignettes about why I love Paris )


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