October 22, 2012

Photography highlights, Paris edition

Here are a few photos from Paris.  Click on the images for larger versions.  

This first one I took from along the Seine as the sun was setting.  You can see the Eiffel Tower behind the buildings to the left.  The quay along the river is a great place.  The last time I was in Paris, I went there every morning with a croissant or a baguette to sit and hang out.  It's peaceful.  

Art Prints

The Seine can be seen in this next one, too.  The object of the photo is the Conciergerie.  This was first a palace, then a prison, and now a museum.  Marie Antoinette was kept here during her last days before she was guillotined.  The Pont Napoléon is the bridge crossing the river.  

Photography Prints

This is the Tuileries, a garden next to the Louvre.  This photo was taken in April, when the tulips were in bloom.  

Photography Prints

Here are a few photos of Notre Dame, starting with the interior of the cathedral.  

Art Prints

Sell Art Online

Sell Art Online

This next one is the Louvre Museum.  Usually photos of the Louvre show the glass pyramid in the middle of the courtyard.  The Louvre is a U-shaped building, and this is one of the ends of the U.  The Louvre is big.  Really, really big.  During my most recent trip, I went there three times and still didn't see everything.  It is said that if you spent sixty seconds looking at each object on display in the Louvre, it would take you months of looking for 24 hours each day to see it all.  Louis XIV used to ride horses through the corridors.  

Sell Art Online

I'll end with two iconic monuments of Paris, the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe.  

Art Prints

Sell Art Online

The Arc de Triomphe is located in the middle of an enormous traffic circle at the end of the Champs-Élysées.  Twelve roads meet here.  You have to cross underground to get to the monument itself, which has an unknown soldier memorial underneath the arch.  

Sell Art Online

More photos can be found at jennifer-lyon.artistwebsites.com.  

October 17, 2012

A weekend away

I had a great weekend last weekend- the best in a very long time.  I went to visit some friends who live about two hours away.  Josh and Jen are both awesome people, and their daughter Lily is a brilliant and sweet little girl.  The weekend was packed full of goodness.  I don't know where to begin.  On Friday night, we had Indian food for dinner.  I had been craving Indian food for some time, and this was delicious.  Plus, Jen scored free dessert for all of us.  Go Jen! This is just one example of how Josh hit the jackpot in the spouse lottery with Jen.  There was also a My Little Pony quiz at dinner.  I failed miserably.  Lily kicked butt, but Josh did come in a close second.  I think he might disagree with my assessment of the quiz results.  I got to see Gravity Falls for the first time that night.  This is a Disney Channel cartoon I had been told repeatedly that I would like.  Was it over-hyped?  NO.  It's fantastic.  It's about twins who go to stay with their great uncle in a town where weird things happen.  There was a lot of Gravity Falls viewing over the weekend.

On Saturday, we went to Oktoberfest at SteelStacks in Bethlehem.  SteelStacks is a neat place. Its website describes it as an arts and cultural campus.  It used to be a steel plant.  The highlight of Oktoberfest was the wiener dog races.  The dogs weren't restricted to the little area set up for the races.  There were dachshunds everywhere!  They were cute.  Adorable.  Some were dressed up.  Jen made us falafel for dinner on Saturday night.  Yum.  Lily asked for me to read her a story, which was nice.  After Lily was asleep, Josh and Jen and I played the game Taboo, which had such timely references as Linda Tripp and Mike Tyson.  I also saw Freaks & Geeks, which I had never seen before.  I tend to steer away from tv shows about kids in high school, but this one is good.

On Sunday, we went back to Bethlehem.  We checked out a cemetery and walked around the town a bit before it was time for a service at Jen's church.  Yes, yes, I know- I'm an atheist. That doesn't mean I can't attend a religious service.  When I told someone about going to church on Sunday, she was stunned.  It's not like I burst into flames if I cross the threshold or anything.  Plus, if you're going to go to church, Unitarian Universalist is the way to go.  The choir sang the Pink Panther theme.  Josh says they worship Cthulhu, but I wouldn't mind if they did.  Unitarian Universalists are cool.  AND, afterward, they feed you snacks and coffee. My church never fed me snacks and coffee.  Anyway, this was a special day for blessing animals, so people brought their pets.  Lily's fish and caterpillar made an appearance, along with several dogs, cats, and one bird.  Also, the guy sitting next to me looked like Red Sox owner John Henry.

I always have a good time when I see Josh, Jen, and Lily.  I've been going through some stuff lately that has caused me a lot of stress and anxiety, and being able to spend time with my friends over the weekend was like lifting a huge weight off of my shoulders, at least for those three days.  I hope I get to see them again soon.

October 9, 2012


I love opera.  The opera bug is an affliction that has been with me since high school.  I've always enjoyed classical music, but I had never given opera a chance until I went to one in person.  A friend's parents had an extra ticket, so the four of us went to the opera in Philadelphia.  It was Tosca.  It was brilliant.  I was amazed.  THIS was opera?  I thought it might be boring.  I thought I might not enjoy the music.  Instead, I developed a life-long passion for opera.  It didn't matter that Tosca was sung in Italian.  The Philadelphia opera company projected a translation on the wall above the stage.  It wouldn't have mattered, anyway.  It was that good.  The music, the singing, the acting- it was all fantastic.  It doesn't bother me in the least that opera is usually sung in a language other then English.  I listen on the radio and to cds, and the music stands on its own.

I was lucky enough to be able to attend the opera twice at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. The first was La Traviata, with Renée Fleming and Matthew Polenzani in the leading roles.  The second was Roméo et Juliette, with Anna Netrebko and Roberto Alagna.  La Traviata is about a courtesan who gives up her lifestyle for the man she loves, and Roméo et Juliette is the familiar tale of star-crossed lovers.  Fleming and Netrebko are two of the biggest names in the opera world, and they did not disappoint.  (Anna Netrebko happens to be my favorite soprano.)  I was completely absorbed by each opera.  I will admit, I was tearing up at the end of La Traviata, I was so moved.  That has never happened to me at a live performance before.  The Met also translates, but they do it much better than the opera in Philadelphia did.  Each seat has access to a small screen, located on the back of the seat in front of it.  It provides translation in several languages, or the translation can be turned off altogether. The words on your screen are only visible from your seat- you can't see other people's screen's lit up- so that if you look across the audience, you aren't distracted by seeing a bunch of illuminated screens.

Anna Netrebko as Juliette
I thought about blogging about this because the Met's opening night was a few weeks ago, and Anna Netrebko and Matthew Polenzani happened to be starring together in L'Elisir d'Amore.  I listened to it on the Met's live stream.  The live stream is great.  It is a live, online stream of the opera on a given night.  During intermissions, they have hosts who give synopses, conduct interviews, and chat about opera.  The schedule is here.  There is one per week during the season, which runs from September to May.

Not every opera ends tragically.  My rule of thumb is this- if it's Verdi or Puccini, people are probably going to die; Bellini or Donizetti, they have a chance for a happy ending.  I say that, but thinking about it, Lucia di Lammermoor is pretty bleak, and that was written by Donizetti. I may have to revisit this thought.

Opera is filled with passion, tragedy, drama, and joy.  It's beautiful.  It captivates me.

October 1, 2012

Let's play rank the Doctors

There is a question every fan of Doctor Who has to answer.  Who's your favorite Doctor?  It's also something of a pastime among Whovians to rank all of the different Doctors in favorite order.  My two favorites are always the same, but the others fluctuate depending on when you ask me.  The idea to blog about this came about because I had this ranking conversation with a friend of mine last week.  There have been eleven actors to play the role.  Here we go:

1. & 2. (tie)  Tom Baker (4th Doctor) and Patrick Troughton (2nd Doctor)

Tom Baker
Patrick Troughton
It's hard for me to decide which one of these Doctors I like better.  Many American Whovians say Tom Baker is their favorite, and I think a part of that is because he's the one we grew up with.  Tom Baker's episodes were most often on PBS when Doctor Who was airing over here when we were younger.  He is also the longest tenured Doctor.  Tom Baker is a brilliant Doctor, though.  He is funny.  He had excellent companions to play off of, like Romana II.  When I think of my favorite episodes of Doctor Who, many of them are from the Tom Baker era: "Genesis of the Daleks," "City of Death," "Destiny of the Daleks," "Pyramids of Mars," "The Deadly Assassin."

Sometimes I think it's not a tie and that I like Patrick Troughton better.  Troughton plays a zany Doctor.  At times it seems like the 2nd Doctor really doesn't know what he's doing.  I love his portrayal of the Doctor.  There is something endearing about him.  He also has great companions, such as Jamie and Zoe.  The tragedy of Patrick Troughton's Doctor is that so few episodes survive.  The BBC used to wipe their tapes and reuse them, so most of the 2nd Doctor's stories and many of the 1st Doctor's are lost.  This kills me.  I need more 2nd Doctor episodes!

3.  Jon Pertwee (3rd Doctor)

Pertwee, with a Sea Devil lurking behind
Jon Pertwee's episodes also aired a lot when I was watching Doctor Who on PBS as a kid.  The 3rd Doctor was confined to Earth by the Time Lords for most of his episodes, so Pertwee's Doctor has a strong association with UNIT.  This is the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce, headed by Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart.  (UNIT stands for something else in new Who, but it's still around.)  Simply put, UNIT is awesome, and so is the Brigadier.  The Brigadier is a stuffy military type.  The Doctor is a pacifist, and he's grumpy because he's stuck on Earth.  This makes for an interesting friendship.  The Pertwee era has one of my absolute favorite episodes, "The Three Doctors."  The Doctors are all arrogant know-it-alls, so when they get together, it's fantastic.

4.  Peter Davison (5th Doctor)

I like the 5th Doctor.  A lot of fans don't.  The Davison era suffers from two things- he was bogged down by some of the worst companions the series has ever seen, and he followed a wildly popular Doctor.  There is a gentleness to his Doctor, and he lacks the overt condescension of the other Doctors.  I think he's friendly in a way the others aren't, too.  My favorite Doctor Who episode of all time, "The Five Doctors," takes place during the 5th Doctor's run.  I like multiple-Doctor episodes, and this one has FIVE of them, plus Gallifrey, which is always fun.

5.  Matt Smith (11th Doctor)

The first Doctor of new Who to make the list is Matt Smith.  I think he's a great Doctor.  He reminds me very much of Patrick Troughton's 2nd Doctor.  He's funny and crazy and sometimes out of control.  His relationship with Amy and Rory, their friendship, is similar to that of Tom Baker's 4th Doctor and Romana II.  There's an equality there.  There's genuine feeling.  Matt Smith is the current Doctor, so only Steven Moffat, the showrunner, knows what's in store for him in the future.

6.  David Tennant (10th Doctor)

David Tennant was an outstanding Doctor.  Six seems too low on the list.  Yet here he is.  He started off with the dreaded Rose as a companion, but after the show got rid of her, he really grew into his own.  Tennant is the reason new Who is as popular as it is.  The 10th Doctor is friendly and enthusiastic.  He is also the only Doctor I've ever thought was attractive, which is just weird.  The Doctor isn't supposed to be cute.  Oh, but David Tennant is so cute.  And those glasses...Enough of that.  He had some great companions in Martha and Donna.  Some of my favorite episodes of new Who are 10th Doctor episodes: "The Girl in the Fireplace," "Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead," "The Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lords," "The Waters of Mars."

7.  Sylvester McCoy (7th Doctor)

McCoy has the stigma of being the actor who presided over the end of the regular airing of Doctor Who on television.  I like the 7th Doctor enough.  He is manic and nutty.  I didn't like any of his companions, really.  Sylvester McCoy is an entertaining guy.  He has joked in interviews that the BBC brought him in because at that point in his career he was three-season McCoy.  The BBC wanted to kill off Doctor Who, and no show he had been on had ever lasted more than three seasons.  And so Doctor Who ended.

8.  William Hartnell (1st Doctor)

Here's the Doctor who started it all, almost fifty years ago.  I like the 1st Doctor.  He's your bad-tempered grandfather.  He's crabby and annoyed.  He's good fun.

9.  Paul McGann (8th Doctor)

It's hard to know where to put McGann.  His only appearance on television was that awful Fox tv movie.  The 8th Doctor has had new life in audio dramas, and he is very popular now.  I've only heard one of those, and McGann was good.  I'd like to see a multiple-Doctor 50th anniversary story next year with McGann in it.

10.  Christopher Eccleston (9th Doctor)

Eccleston is okay.  I don't find him particularly likeable, and he was stuck with Rose, who I can't stand.  I did like the episode "Dalek" a lot.

11.  Colin Baker (6th Doctor)

I don't really like the 6th Doctor.  It has been years since I've seen a Colin Baker episode.  One day I will give him another chance.

That's it for the list!  The rundown all in one place:
1. & 2. (tie)  Tom Baker (4th) and Patrick Troughton (2nd)
3.  Jon Pertwee (3rd)
4.  Peter Davison (5th)
5.  Matt Smith (11th)
6.  David Tennant (10th)
7.  Sylvester McCoy (7th)
8.  William Hartnell (1st)
9.  Paul McGann (8th)
10.  Christopher Eccleston (9th)
11.  Colin Baker (6th)
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...