Tuesday, August 03, 2010

hands and faces, earth and sky

In class today we talked about Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, and Katherine of Aragon. This was in preparation for a performance of Henry VIII we're seeing on Saturday. Luckily it was also good preparation for the National Portrait Gallery, which we hit today on a whim. But I'll get to that in a second.

The students climbed St. Paul's cathedral today, and I was happy for them. I'm on a strict "every other year" policy for St. Paul's, and this is an off year. There would be no 590 stairs for me today. I would love to say I spent the time sitting on the steps of the cathedral feeding the birds, tuppence a bag, but I thought I'd jaunt down to the South Bank to find the Menier Chocolate Factory. The Menier was once a chocolate factory, but now it's a theatre. It's also the location for the show we saw tonight. I wanted to scout it out since I had never been there, and i'm glad I did - it's tricky to find. The neighborhood feels very south bank; if you know London you know what I'm talking about. Lots of pubs, lots of overhead trains, and lots of working class folk. Not a lot of tourists. So I like that, even though I basically am one. I have been known to affect an English accent so no one treats me like a tourist - and I generally get away with it. Generally. One time this lady thought I was Dutch.

We were hoping to hit Westminster after St Paul's, but it was too tight a squeeze with the time we had, so we went to Trafalgar Square where da action iz. Actually they have installed a giant hedge maze in the middle of the square, which sounds fun and irritating at the same time. I didn't go in, but Daniel and Becca did and they got pins that said it was "A MAZE ING!" I opted for the National Portrait Gallery. I always love the Portrait Gallery because it's like a giant yearbook for famous people. Here are some of my favorite faces:

Anne Boleyn, who in real life three breasts, six fingers on one hand, and a google-eye.

Elizabeth, the "virgin" Queen

This fat baby. What is this strange obsession I have with fat babies?

This rosy faced gentleman. I don't remember who he was. But nice wig, bro.

There was also a portrait contest going on, just like last year. This was the winner:
Spooky! That's a dead lady! Like three days dead. It's the painter's mother - she gave her permission to paint her after she died. What is that blob on her stomach? Stop looking at it!!!!

My favorite was this portrait, done by Michael Gaskell who did my favorite portrait last year. I think it's fantastic. You forget that it's a painting:
I also liked this one. This guy looks snappy and reminds me of my cousin Ryan:

Tonight we saw Aspects of Love at the aforementioned Menier Chocolate Factory. Aspects of Love is another Andrew Lloyd Webber show, and this is the first professional revival of the show since it opened in 1990. I remember this show well. I had the sheet music and my sister Page and I used to play and sing songs from it on the piano. We had no idea what the songs were about; and that's probably for the best. As it turns out, Aspects of Love has some fantastic music but a crazypants plot about people who change lovers every thirty seconds, or so it feels. There's this actress who has a French accent (sometimes) and she loves this young guy, but also his uncle; and it's this big sexy love triangle until the two men decide in about 15 seconds they don't actually love her anymore and basically sing a "you have her!" " No, YOU have her!" song. And then the young guy shoots her, but just grazes her arm so she gets to sing a few songs in a sling. And then someone has a baby, and then the baby goes behind a bush and comes out 10 years older, and then she falls in love with a 40 year old man who was 19 a few scenes earlier but hasn't visibly aged. And then this old guy has a heart attack and this other guy gives him CPR while some other people belt out a big ballad. I thought it was the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen. And the actors had beautiful voices and there was some wonderful staging, but man that story stank up the joint.

Anyway, it was fun fodder for discussion on the tube home. That, and these really really drunk German guys who kept trying to talk to us and wanted to know how many wives I had.