Tag Archives: awkward

Life in London Part V: Silly Things and Lovely People

6 Jul

Things I’ve fallen in love with while in London…

General Sillyness

The is the last stop on the Picadilly line going North. The trains announce where they are travelling to, so in this case, you hear: "This is a Picadilly Line service to: Cockfosters". What makes this so great is that it is said by an almost robotic sounding British lady. And I take the Picadilly line about ten stops. So I hear this over and over. Does it get old? Nope.

Of course.

I'm just silly. But I don't care, I have fun.

People

I love love love Sam to death. She and I went through a lot together at the beginning of the semester and our friendship is solidified after this experience together. Our mutual love of Robert Downey Jr.'s wax figure certainly helps.

Matt and I have intellectual conversations about literature and the state of the world while enjoying a glass of wine... or two or three. We also enjoy pretending to be hipsters and having a photoshoot, lounging in the parks on sunny days and dancing the stress away at night.

Obviously I love Jack and have loved Jack for years. And next to Jack is Meggie, who is probably the funniest person I have ever met. Her angry cat noises and Wisconsin mom accent will always make me laugh uncontrollably, no matter where I am.

Natural History Museum: Let’s talk about sex

7 May

One of my favorite places in London is the Natural History Museum. I first visited this museum five years ago with a student travel group and since I first saw the building I have been in love with the architecture. It is one of the most beautiful buildings in London.

After a few visits to the Natural History Museum I finally went to the Sexual Nature exhibit. I’ll describe the exhibit first as it was both informative and hilarious.

Sexual Nature is (until October 2011) an exhibit at the Natural History Museum which aims to educate visitors about sex in the natural world. This means I spent an hour or so in a hall dedicated to how and why animals have sex. Immaturity aside it was fascinating to learn about the different mating rituals and parenting styles of animals like snails and gorillas and giraffes.

One of the best parts of the exhibit was the video series by Isabella Rosallini. This woman is insane. Her videos are hilarious. And here is proof:

I can’t begin to comment on the response this video triggers from me. And this is only one of her videos. We saw at least 10. And the gift shop sold a DVD. Kind of wish I purchased said DVD…

As for the rest of the museum, there are several permanent exhibits including (but not limited to) human biology (This is what your insides look like! This is what puberty is!), taxidermy animals of all species (So cute, yet so sad in a way), dinosaur bones, geology and meteorology.

Here is a slideshow of some of my pictures from my (3) visits to the museum…

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British Museum part deux

14 Mar

My second visit to the British Museum was this past Friday and the weather was beautiful.

Proof of the gorgeous weather

My favorite part about the design of the museum, a quote from Tennyson.

First stop, of course, was the Greek and Roman section. Unless labelled otherwise, the following art displays are Greek.

A temple dedicated to the Nereids (sea nymphs)

Vase with maenads and satyrs

Funny face in a plate

A battle helm

birdeeee

Drinking glasses

Frieze from the Partenon

A horse from the Parthenon

Lady with a pot on her head

Roman medical tools. They were all very similar to tools used today, it was unbelievable.

Another statue that reminded me of my brother.

A Roman goblet with very erotic imagery

Roman vase

Guy on a crocodile?

Peacock mosaic

Some mummies…

Little sarcophagus dolls

A preserved corpse

Boo!

Another dead guy, this time just bones in a straw coffin

Ancient world artifacts…

Om Nom Nom... An Iranian mural

British collars

Hand-carved ivory bracelet

Golden unicorn

English brooches shaped like doves

Dionysus riding a barrel of wine...

Cock-a-doodle-doo

And here are a few of my favorite new boyfriends from the British Museum:

I like his floppy hat and his pout

A lovely ruff and facial hair

A distinguished mole and glorious bald head

Best ringlets

A serious demeanor is necessary

And a few awkward statues/art pieces in general…

Cupid; is he misbehaving?

"And I said to her, 'We can't fit anything else in the nest!'"

This guy is just scary. Look at that hat. And those teeth. Yikes.

Something seems a bit disproportionate...

 

 

Victoria and Albert: Round two and Round three

16 Feb

On Sunday the 30th of January, Jack (unionjackinlondon.wordpress.com) met me at Gloucester Road for another day of museum exploration. We took a long walk around Kensington and stopped at a bakery for breakfast. Jack enjoyed a ham and cheese sandwich on a croissant and I had an almond croissant. Now, I have become quite the consumer of croissants in the last few weeks. I’ve always loved the pastries but never have they been so readily available to me. Some days, I have two. Other days, I have more than two. Am I ashamed of this? Not in the least; they’re delicious and I’m going to enjoy every buttery, flaky, mouth-watering bite.

We enjoyed some hot chocolate and continued on our way to the Victoria and Albert Museum. I didn’t get to see everything last time and Jack had been itching to go too. We spent a lot of time in what I will now and forever refer to as the hallway of awkward statues and my new boyfriends. Here are the best of the rest from the V&A:

Awkward Statues:

Wrestling?

The minotaur strikes again!

This is an awkward statue of the Princess from the Grimm Brother's Frog Prince. The story is worth reading, but this statue is just silly.

Awkward beatings

Truth seizing the tongue of Falsehood. I'm not making this up.

Arrrrggghhhh!

Apollo skinning a man alive for losing a contest. Because that is how the gods do things.

Are they dancing?

Boyfriends:

Facial hair? check. Mole? check. Fabulous hair? check. Stylish outfit? check.

How could one possibly choose?

The crypt keeper. I hear he's single...

Love the hat.

Facial hair is very important.

This boyfriend is made of metal. Here's hoping he doesn't rust like the tin man...

My stained glass boyfriend.

This visit we tackled the medieval period, Asia, and the casts. Medieval art can also be known as “Oh hey, Jesus!” because he is literally everywhere and on everything. Celebrities complain about having their picture taken but look at Jesus, he hasn’t been left alone for two thousand years. Here’s a sample of the art from Round Two:

Oh hey, Adam, try this apple. --Nah, i'm good.

A medieval ring stand.

Notice the Tiny Tim baby Jesus. I still don't understand this painting.

Ornamental crucifixes.

A decorative "P" to start the book of Psalms in a medieval Bible

Medieval belt buckle. So chic.

I don't think this is the best interpretation of what Mary looked like...

I like to wear tunics that are similar to Link from the Zelda games.

His holiness bows his head in prayer.

Chinese tea kettle.

I would be a very happy girl if I had this fan.

My samurai boyfriend.

I like his swagger

Namaste.

Samurai swords

It's the beard. I can't resist.

These ladies are gossiping about Mulan.

I wanna see your peacock.

Ice cream party, anyone?

This is Moses. I thought it was Zeus.

Hmm... I'm not sure that painting works on that wall.

Notice the man in the middle... He must have had a rough day.

Perseus has just slain Medusa. And the details are grotesque, thus, I love this statue.

A giant cast of a cross.

Men taking naps. Typical.

And here are a few things I picked on while touring the rest of the museum with Jack…

Apparently this guy is fighting a dragon.

This woman is beautiful and I want red hair like hers.

I have no idea what this child is doing and I can only wonder where his parents are.

Museums teach me how to make faces.

A wall of gentlemen

Tea, anyone?

This face is on a fountain. This face is also terrifying.

This guy is just so bored. And he's not the only one...

Another case of boredom in a piece of art at the V&A

I didn't stop to read this my first trip but I wish I had. It amazes me that so many great places were spared during the bombings of WWII.

My third visit to the V&A was on February 7th, just before class. I felt the need to get out and do something so I walked over and toured the India wing and the Islamic wing, with a few stops at minor displays.

Here’s a brief sample of my solo venture:

An automaton of a tiger attacking a soldier. It is also a music box and as the music plays, the tiger eats the man.

Body paint...or smurf?

A card game

A chess set

A spoon made of gold and inlaid with rubies and emeralds

A wine cup; kind of reminds me of the cup from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

An ornate turban pin

A battle-helm

A compass

A bejeweled dagger

An ancient printing of the Quran

And in the case next to the Quran is an early romance novel

Tiles

This was called something like "The deranged bird"

Some weird centuar/duck man getting attacked by snakes... I think?

A butcher knife. I understand the irony in the fact that I am a vegetarian. But hey, it's well made and the carvings are incredible.

A cookie tin shaped like books

A cookie tin shaped like the globe

There was a display of instruments that travelers carried, including this ornate flute

A flask shaped like a shoe

I love this museum. I know I will be making a few more trips here in the next couple months.

Paris Part Three: Versailles

16 Feb

On Sunday (the 6th) we woke up early and hopped a train to Versailles to see the Chateau where Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI (among other French royalty) lived. The last time I went to Versailles my camera died, so this time I made sure to have a charged battery.

A tip if you are ever in Paris: The first Sunday of each month the museums are free. Versailles costs 25 Euro. Free is a better price if you ask me.

The thing to know about Versailles is that it is less of a house and more of a small town. We didn’t have a tour guide so this post is mostly photos…

This is just the Chateau; there is also a mini Chateau for Marie Antoinette, several carriage houses, gardens, fountains, etc...

It was funny to see where restorations had taken place on the exterior because the gold leaf was so bright in comparison to the last paint job.

See how shiny and new the clock looks? And the sculptures around the clock...

The chapel. A man was sitting at the organ but he didn't play anything.

I thought this lady looked a lot like Meryl Streep.

One of hundreds of painted and gilded ceilings

Me being all artistic in the hall of mirrors.

A crystal chandelier. Some of them had purple crystals. This one was in the hall of mirrors.

Artemis, Goddess of the Hunt

What a view to wake up to everyday.

The ceiling in the Queen's bedchamber, so Marie Antoinette's bedroom.

Marie Antoinette loved feathers so much she had them put in her canopy.

Her bedroom was flowery and girly and I loved it.

There's even peacock feathers embroidered on the cushions of her sofa.

They had a table set for dinner. And I got excited because I can make these napkin folds! It's an origami lotus flower.

One of the most famous portraits of Marie Antoinette and her children.

This was an entire wing of portraits and busts of French guys. And there's a skylight the whole way.

One of the many paintings in the hall

Some French man of importance. Possibly a pirate, by the looks of him. Perhaps he knows Captain Jack Sparrow…

An interesting jar of sorts...

Quite the backyard…

A fountain in the gardens.

A close-up shows that the men have the heads of frogs... super creepy!

The view from the back

No trip to a historic place would be complete without a few new boyfriends…

Winner of the best Shakespearean ruff award

Best mutton chops

Best hat and cape combo

Best stache and runner up for best Shakespearean ruff

Most luscious locks and most distinguished mole

On the way back from Versailles I got a snack…

Macaroons...From McDonald's. And they were delicious.

We got off the Metro near the Louvre and walked around the tourist shops before following the Seine back to our hotel. All along the Seine are these green boxes which open as stalls for used book sellers. It was fun to check out the literature on the way back. And before I knew it, I had to say, “Au revoir!” to Paris.

Paris Part Two (continued): Who goes to the Louvre and skips the Mona Lisa? That would be me.

15 Feb

After leaving the Tower we had lunch at a little café and walked to the Louvre. Now, chances are if you are reading this you now know that I love my museums. I spend hours in them, wandering around and taking pictures of just about everything. The last time I was in Paris our Louvre tour guide told us that if you were to spend just one minute at each piece of art in the Louvre you would be there for about three years. So you can imagine how time constraints in a museum that large would affect my plans.

Hello, giant museum... I will gladly spend days wandering your labyrinthine halls.

Not as large as the Arc de Triomphe, but the different-colored stones and copper horses make it an outdoor work of art. The carvings are unbelievably detailed.

The famous glass pyramid entrance. To get into the museum you ride an escalator through it. It's pretty darn cool.

Like I said I have been to the Louvre before (in 2005) and on our tour we hit what’s known as the “Big Three”: Mona Lisa, Winged Victory, and Aphrodite. Here’s the thing: The Mona Lisa is cool and all, but you only need to see it once. It’s smaller than the average magazine and –spoiler alert!—it looks exactly like it does in all the pictures and recreations of it. She’s got that smug look on her face just like you expect. No eyebrows. Eyes glancing at something to the left. Even she knows there are more interesting things to look at…

See? This is her in 2005. I'm guessing she looks the same now. She hasn't aged a day since da Vinci put the brush down.

So while the gaggle of girls I was with wanted to “hit the Mona Lisa and then leave” I knew I wouldn’t be okay with tagging along to do that. I’m a nerd. This is a well-known fact. I love museums. I love Greek and Roman sculpture. That is what I wanted to see. So I went off on my own in hopes of finding some interesting statues…

Here are a few of my favorites…

Hermes is one of my favorite Gods in terms of sculpture. I love his helmet and winged ankles. They're always a tremendous amount of detail in the wings.

Lemme tell you a secret!

Hercules fighting the Hydra

Oh no I forgot to get dressed again...

Winged Victory. I will say, it's quite majestic. There's reason for it to be a part of the "Big Three"

Zeus cradling baby Hercules

An angel and a maiden in an embrace.

A woman crying over her lost love.

Early boxing match, my money's on the guy on the left. He looks burlier.

This statue looks just like my brother. Seriously. When he doesn't shave for a few weeks, he looks identical to this guy.

Aphrodite, the last of the "Big Three." I love the scene in Hercules where he skips the rock and it wrecks a statue... and it's this one.

As much as I liked the crown jewels, this diadem is more my style.

Hermes and Psyche, twirling around.

Hercules fighting a mini-hydra.

A room full of statues, just waiting to be opened... Sadly, I couldn't find the door. And I'm sure the guards would have loved to arrest the nerdy American who tried to break into a closed exhibit.

Artemis, Goddess of the Hunt. This is probably my favorite depiction of her. It's elegant and yet she is poised, ready to fire off some arrows.

Where Lady GaGa got her inspiration...

Quite similar if you ask me... Plus, I love GaGa. And I love statues. So I will find ways for the two to correlate.

One of two sculpture rooms lit almost entirely by natural light. I swear they knew I was coming.

A warrior resting before battle.

Battle helmet with a seashell on it, must belong to Poseidon.

Drug dealer? Homeless person? Hades? Source of laughter?

The Frisky Satyr?

A baby wrestling a duck. Or perhaps it is a goose. Either way... Uhm... What?

And I'm thinking... Where is she gettin' the money from?

I really hope that portrait is of her husband. She must like playing "My New Boyfriend" as much as I do.

So many babies! It's like the Angelina of Ancient Greece.

 

 

And here’s what you were waiting for, the most awkward of the bunch:

#5: "Wrestling"

#4: Om nom nom...

#3: After a long day being an immortal god, sometimes you just need to lounge around.

#2: I think he might be a little old for breast-feeding...

#1: A circle of men staring at their manhood. There are four of them. Men I mean. Well, and I guess manhood (menhood? manhoods?), too.

And a close-up is necessary.

 

 

And how can I forget all of my new boyfriends?

A strong nose always melts my heart.

This guy comes with room for an herb garden.

A dead ringer for Zach Galifianakis, aka Alan from The Hangover.

He has wavy locks and a fabulous stache, plus his pose is worthy of Fabio himself.

The facial expression... The facial hair... Who wouldn't want to come home to this fellow every night?

And for the days when I just can't decide, we have the Wheel of Eligible Bachelors.

 

 

Even though I only had about two hours in the Louvre, I made the most of it. There’s nothing like walking around a museum alone. Even on a Saturday, when the place is packed full of tourists and people with small children who clearly were just dying to go to a museum for the day. Without worrying about other people you can fully appreciate every aspect of the museum: the art, the layout, the displays, the building itself, and your fellow nerds, the ones who stroll through the halls with Nikon cameras attached to sniper lenses, taking expert photographs. I was sad when I had to leave but I know that the next time I’m in Paris it will be on my own time and on my own terms, and I can damn well spend two full days at the Louvre. Let’s hope I learn French by then so I can read all the signs. (Audio guides are your friend in foreign museums; unfortunately I didn’t have enough time)

The last section of my tour was in the garden:

Oof.

The Minotaur (and Theseus slaying it) is never not awkward and giggle-inducing.

A centaur carrying some girl off to who knows where....

More Lord of the Rings ghost army warriors! (To me at least)

 

 

I left the Louvre and, using my city girl street smarts, consulted my map to find the nearest Metro station. The nearest station was the Musee de Orsay stop. Musee means museum. I was sad to see it was closing in five minutes. The Musee de Orsay is the impressionist museum; it is home to quite a lot of van Gogh and there were some interesting statues outside:

A majestic horse

I headed into the station and from there I successfully approached the ticket booth where I had this conversation:

Me: Bonjour! (SMILE!) Parlez-vous Anglais, sil-vous-plait?

Attendent: (Unintelligible mumble).

Me: …Anglais?

Attendent: (yelling) Lee-tall!

Me: Ah! Yes! (points at map) Gare Austerlitz?

Attendent: Platform two.

Me: Ticket?

Single-word conversations are often the most effective. And when in Paris, the more you smile the better. No one smiles in Paris. If you smile at someone, they become confused, and then they are less rude.

Ads for Euro Disney make me smile

So I successfully made my way from the museum to a Metro station, from the Metro to the station across the river from my hotel to my hotel.

And I made a stop at a market, because I was in serious need of a baguette and over-priced beverage.

I finished the day with a half a baguette, dinner at an Italian restaurant (yes, I had a margarita pizza in Paris. I’m ok with it, it was delicious), and an early night’s sleep in preparation of visiting Versailles in the morning.

Bloomsbury: an African adventure and good company

31 Jan

On Saturday I travelled to Russell Square to meet up with Jack (unionjackinlondon.wordpress.com) for a lovely afternoon of strolling, museum exhibitioning, pub fooding, and conversing. Russell Square is in the Bloomsbury area of London. It’s different from Kensington in that it is older and more urban feeling but still classic.

One of the first things that caught my eye was a hotel, the Hotel Russell, because of the beautiful architecture.

The details in the archways and the columns, the red brick, the Gothic peaks... A truly majestic building.

Jack and I walked through the Russell Square garden and even though it was cold, we were able to admire the grounds and the locals.

A fountain in Russell Square; I made a joke to Jack about running through it, but we both just cringed and said, "Too cold!"

From the garden we walked towards the British Museum. Along the way we stopped to admire a few things…

Another street name for me to fall in love with, this time because it is a Shakespearean reference (from Romeo and Juliet). Jack joked about finding Capulet Street and asking if they don't like each other. We had a nice intellectual guffaw and embraced our nerdiness.

The Scotch Shop

It's All Greek... more on this store later.

We found a photo opportunity. I am a small child. And that's okay.

Because I made Jack do it too!

We ventured inside It’s All Greek, which was essentially a museum artifact store, and we found this fabulous awkward statue…

This statue replica was called the Frisky Satyr. A satyr is half man, half goat. They were thought to be lustful creatures who chased after wood nymphs and played reed pipes. The god of shepherds and the wild, Pan, was a satyr.

After laughing at it for several minutes, we admired the rest of the shop and chatted about Greek myth before heading across the street to the museum.

This is just the front of the museum. It is seriously the biggest museum I have ever been to. And I have been to a lot of museums.

Because Jack had already been to the museum (twice) and still hadn’t seen all the exhibits, we decided to limit our trip to the Enlightenment wing and the Africa exhibits. If you have been reading my blog, you know that I love museums for many reasons. Specifically, you know that I am a bit immature at times and I enjoy awkward statues and sculptures and I like to pick out new boyfriends among the busts of men. The best exhibits to look at for these games are usually the sculpture halls or any that showcase Greek myth or famous poets, scholars, doctors, lords, etc. The Africa wing didn’t offer too much in terms of satisfying my immaturity but the Enlightenment wing provided enough to make me happy.

Here is a small sample of artwork from the Africa wing:

If you look closely, you will notice the image of a man hidden among the symbols.

A fabulous beaded hat

A variety of cloths

I love beadwork as much as the next girl, but my patience would not carry through something this intricate.

Wooden panels, each depicting a person or family.

A stylish dress, perfect for a breezy summer day.

A giant, woven creature word during parades. I thought it looked like a Dr. Seuss creature.

Another hat, this one worn for parades and shaped like a flying fish. (Speaking of Dr. Seuss: One fish, two fish...)

Another parade costume, this one is a hippo. According to the info card, the hippo-costumed paraders can attack spectators. Hippos are the most dangerous creatures in Africa.

The Throne of Weapons. This was made in a sort of commemoration to the one million plus people who died during war in the Congo.

A tapestry that is almost like The Last Supper but with animals, which is always good fun.

The Tree of Life, made entirely of forged metal. This was my favorite piece in the Africa galleries.

This bird reminded me of Kevin from "Up"

Need a vase?

Throwing knives

And here is a small sample of artwork from the Enlightenment wing:

The entire Enlightenment wing was set up as a giant library; bookcases filled with artifacts, almost like a private collection. If I were a billionaire, I would construct my house to look like this wing. And then I would have fabulous awkward statues constructed for my personal enjoyment.

The winged feet of Hermes, the messenger god.

Love the feathers, girl!

A dazzling model of the solar system

Minerva in full battlements; I wouldn't mess with this chick.

What are you lookin' at?

Greek Coins

I can't wait to see the Egyptian artifacts. Right now the Book of the Dead is on display in a special exhibit.

We did go into one room of Greek sculpture. I couldn’t help it.

Athena, Goddess of Wisdom and Strategy. Looking coyly over her shoulder... She knew how to work it.

Dionyssus, God of Wine (among other things). Thanks for the Pinot Grigio (among other things)!

This guard looks so bored, even though he has just impaled a snake. I guess it's just a day in the life...

This woman appears to be saying, "May I take your coat?"

We left the museum at closing and went back to Jack’s apartment where we watched a bit of a Manchester United game (yes, I watched sport! They call it sport and not sports here. And it’s not math, it’s maths. Yeah. Two of my favorite things.) before heading out to a pub called Night and Day for dinner.

Jack and I have been friends for so long that we have our own language of sorts. We will be talking, say one word and immediately start spewing out movie quotes or tv references or private jokes. To a third party, we sound like we have terrets or some sort of social hiccup, but to us, it’s normal conversation. We chatted about a variety of topics while I enjoyed fish and chips and a half pint of Strongbow, Jack had a traditional English Pasty (meat, potatoes and gravy in a flaky pie crust) and a pint of Carlsburg.

Mrs. Doubtfire quotes ensued.

Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match! Find me a find, catch me a catch!

Oh sir! I saw him, it was a disgruntled member of the kitchen staff! Did you not tip them? It was a run-by fruiting!

Clue references were made.

Mrs. White, looking pale and tragic.

What is it you do, Wadsworth? --I butle, sir.

And I went home warm with the comfort of good food and great company.