Wednesday, August 01, 2007

fairies, mummies, and witches

This morning I was at the Kensington Palace gift shop buying a fairy book for Phoebe, and the clerk was a really helpful young man from Turkey. He was extremely polite, and I could tell that he was pushing himself to make conversation at the register.

" are learning about fairies?" he says.

I laughed. "Actually, I'm buying this for my daughter."

"Oh." Long pause. Money quietly exchanged. Then: "I don't know anything about fairies."

"Well, they are mean." I said, which is true - at least the Elizabethan ones.

His eyes got large. "They are MEAN?"

"Yeah, supposedly. They look beautiful, but they do terrible things."

At that moment some snooty women behind us hisses "Excuuuuuuse me, but could we hurry this up?"

"Look! There's one right behind me!" I said. And he nervously laughed. I'm not making many new friends this year.

I was, however, reunited with some old friends today, and by old I mean a couple of thousand years. No trip to London for me is complete without stopping by to see the mummies at the British Museum. They look really dead and gross like always, so it's good to see that not everything's changing in our fast-paced world. It's good to know you can count on dead Egyptians when the chips are down.

Oddly, my favorite part of the museum today was, of all things, a Japanese art show! We saw an actual Hokusai, though not The Wave, which was in storage. But we did see Tametomo and His Son Rescued By the Tengu:

I also enjoyed the Turquoise Mosaic of a Double Headed Sepent, which looks like this:

And, of course, the Parthenon Galleries:

Tonight we saw Wicked, the big smash hit of the West End. Despite being about 10% as clever or as well written as The Drowsy Chaperone, and despite every song sounding exactly the same, Wicked is packing in seats every night while The Drowsy Chaperone is closing next month. I don't understand it. My taste must really be off. Wicked is the 'prequel' to The Wizard of Oz, and it's pretty spectacular; it's got more green light bulbs and flying monkeys than you could shake a stick at. Everybody gets to sing a big power ballad while they stand and look at another character. It's guaranteed to please teen-age girls and gay men worldwide. I guess I'm a snob. I was captivated by the spectacle, but the rest of it was rated N for NERDY. Most of my students disagreed, and I was happy they enjoyed it. But jeez, Louise, that show was a big emerald headache.