Monday, February 29, 2016

Crypte Archéologique du Parvis de Notre Dame, Paris 4th arrdt

This place was new to me, although I had obviously passed in front of the entrance (at the forecourt in front of the Notre Dame) a number of times.

The entryway turned out to lead down to Roman ruins of ancient Lutèce
A great jumble of rocks, basically, though surrounded by an air of history and numerous touchscreens displaying impressive 3D images of ancient Paris / Lutèce.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Centre Pompidou, Paris 3ème arrdt

Sightseeing in Paris, Day 2. Return to Beaubourg.
The outside escalators leading up to the top floor require a 3 euro ticket, which is a rip-off, but the ride is sort of fun. (Of course I had forgotten the cue I got a few years back...)

Also, the building's playful facade makes you want to enter, though once inside there is not that much to do, really, unless you want the museum or the research library. 
Currently, an artist named Dale Murdoch is building a sand castle on the first floor, and the shop is always worth a run-through, but otherwise the escalators are truly the best option.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Eiffel Tower, Paris 7ème arrdt

pic nicked from Thank you!
One good thing about having temporary house-guests is they make you go sightseeing in your own city.
I hadn't visited the Eiffel Tower in a couple of years, and the last time, we spent over an hour queuing in sub-zero temperature.

Water has run under the Parisian bridges since then, however! The 21st century has caught up with the Tower and you can now book tickets online! Not that we could benefit from that, as they were all sold out by the time we got around to booking, but as all the better-organised tourists took a direct entry with their printed online tickets, we sloppy plebeians were less numerous.

Apart from that, the tower itself hadn't changed much. A great heap of scrap iron seen up close, though graceful from afar, especially when lit up at night.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Zoolander - B. Stiller, 2001

Still fairly entertaining, actually! Heaps of 1990s celebs, a young and innocent Alexander Skarsgard and a David Bowie cameo. And a few laughs.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Au Coeur de l'Histoire, Les Grands Portraits (podcast)

A die-hard visual learner, I suck at focusing on radio shows. Only on long walks and lying sleepless in bed do I plug in and attempt to focus.
Ferrand's show is particularly well-suited for the second occasion. Despite my interest in history and his and his guests' intuition, this podcast is a stupendous sleeping-pill. 

Educational, but old-fashioned and stuffy.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Down and Dirty Pictures - Peter Biskind

The subtitle perfectly condenses all the subsequent 500 pages : 'Miramax, Sundance and the rise of independent film'. This is the 1990s pendant to Biskind's 'Easy Riders, Raging Bulls' which dealt with the New Hollywood cinema of the 1970s; Scorsese, Coppola, Friedkin et al.

Like the previous opus, this was complete, well-researched and finely-shaded in its opinions. Not even the bullying Weinstein brothers, occupying at least a solid 60% of the book, are depicted as all bad : True enough, you have a hard time seeing why anybody in the world would ever want to work for them (except for moviestars, who get a different treatment) yet Biskind also underlines Miramax tremendous contribution to independent film on the whole.
Nor is Golden Boy Robert Redford, founder of the not-quite-equally-but-still important Sundance Festival, defined solely as the lowkey aficionado he usually comes across as.

I very much preferred this to 'Easy Riders...', probably because I remember most of the films mentioned and actually have seen many of them.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Meliora - Ghost

This blog's tenet that Swedes are superior to most anyone in most anything is, I do belive, a given by now.
That said, not all Swedish metal bands (far from it, actually!) take me by surprise like this one did! An unusual blend of classic metal and pop influences on which I and Metallica's James Hatfield amazingly agree : This is inventive!

Here is the rub, though : If you're over 13, you probably want to steer clear of visual contact. Seeing them dead serious in their satanist outfits does their music no good. 

The 58th Grammy Awards Ceremony

...A bit lame, this year, wasn't it? Except for Kendrick Lamar and the Chris Stapleton/Bonnie Raitt/Gary Clark Jr B.B. King-tribute.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Sapiens, A Brief History of Humankind - Yuval Noah Harari

Oh, but this was brilliant! It was even more brilliant than everyone says, though I wouldn't have thought that possible considering the praise that has already been heaped upon it.

Harari dauntlessly broaches major issues from a scientific point of view, retracing human history from Neanderthals onward. 
He is not, of course, the first to do so. Yet the perspective was so new to me that reading this felt like entering a familiar room from a hitherto unknown door : Mindboggling!

Numerous examples from various periods in world history (and Harry Potter) forwarded in an entertaining, knowledgeable still lightweight and accessible style obviously added to the reading experience. 

Brilliant, then! Brilliant!

Plus : A very ambitious website containing a MOOC (massive open online course) in broken English.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Victoires de la Musique 2016

The Victoires de la Musique award is the French equivalent to the Grammies and the Brit awards, delivered by the French Ministère de la Culture. Most of the awards are selected by a jury of professionals of the music industry.

There is of course some sens, therefore, to the fact that it is a sort of anti-NRJ Awards, rather high-brow and more than a tad conceited. (And that's despite the numerous references by the host & hostess to "social media". Displaying laudatory tweets on the TV screen is actually more pathetic than hip.) 

That I myself have quite a different conception of for instance what makes a rock band may be due to the fact that I spent my formative first 20 years in another country. (It doesn't account for my husband's similar opinion, but...) For all Lou Douillon's and The Innocents' qualities, there is no way I would call either of them rock artists.

The fact that to me 90% of the music performed sounded pretty much the same (from William Sheller to Vianney to Louanne to Kendji Girac) may also be explained in the same way.

However, there is no smoothing over the blatant and constant overlookings of talented artists repeatedly snobbed by the Victoires jury. Mylène Farmer is the major casualty, but among my personal favourites I also want to mention Shaka Ponk (THAT is rock to me) and this year's excellent Caribbean Dandee.

La-di-da, in a nutshell.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Anti - Rihanna

Not quite what I had expected, I'll say that much! 

I suspect it's not very runner-friendly - which is generally a prerequisite for my downloading any kind of music and yes, I know that's sort of pathetic - yet I can't stop listening to it. 
It's dark, thoughtful and intimate, and still it somehow feels very Prince-inspired. 
For the first time I recognize on record the live artist who did two excellent Prince-covers on stage at Bercy a couple of years ago..!


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Beyoncé at the Superbowl, 2106

Despite my issues both with Beyoncé's music and her kind of feminism, I still very much appreciate how she fearlessly refers to herself with the much vilified F-word.

And now, after meekly promoting winsome and politically correct Obama, she goes all controversial on us! What an unexpected and pleasant surprise!


Saturday, February 6, 2016

Filthy Shakespeare - Pauline Kiernan

A Shakespeare play - any Shakespeare play! - is a palimpsest, which also just happens to be my favourite aspect of his work. Therefore, any critical work pertaining to the multiple layers of subtext - peeling off meaning and finding new meaning beneath - is always interesting, to my mind.

Moreover, the ribald aspect of Elizabethan humour, and the Bard in particular, is often overlooked by contemporary criticism. As a consequence, some of Kiernan's analyses feel a bit overwrought, but it's hard to determine whether that's because we are not used to seeing allusions to fucking, genitalia or venereal disease in great literature, or because she actually does take it a bit far.

Fascinating, at any rate, to have her demonstrate how the bawdy undermeaning in, for instance, Hamlet's ramblings add meaning to his actions while reflecting his confused and dismal thoughts. For indeed not all his sexual innuendo served as a comic device - and even when it did, it still contributed to an impressive insight into the human condition, which is why his work still feels so modern.

A rich index with frequent pun words, a number of extracts from plays analysed and pertinent information on 17th century London! 
Wicked, in every sense of the word!