Tag Archives: Lady GaGa

Life in London Part I: Music

7 May

The first installment on things I’ve fallen in love with while in London…

Music

I’ve always loved Adele, but being in London has made me love her even more. She is a singer/songwriter who was born in north London. I love her for her talent, her confidence, and her ability to write the emotions that we all feel and can relate to at every point in our lives.

Adele just released her second album, 21, and being in the UK allowed me to hear it (legally) before those in the states which was exciting. She performed at the Brit Awards (the UK Grammy’s, essentially) and it is a performance that will bring you to tears. (skip ahead to the 0:30 mark)


Another bit of music I can’t stop listening to is, of course, Lady GaGa’s “Born this Way” which I blogged about a few weeks ago.

Like I said in an earlier post, I am obsessed with this song.

Another GaGa song was released while I was in London. Like a lot of her songs, this one has some controversy around it. Basically there are those who feel she is advocating for the biblical figure Judas, the betrayer of Jesus. In actuality she is using Judas as a comparison to a lover. People need to chill out when it comes to metaphors. Seriously, it’s a song. And a damn good one at that.

Another British discovery is Jessie J. She’s basically the Brits’ answer to Rihanna and GaGa. She’s definitely fun to dance to and she’s a bit of a nutcase, like all good performance artists.

She's just crazy enough...

And then there’s all the fun club music I heard on a weekly basis… Not a lot of variety there but dancing doesn’t need variety it needs familiarity. So hooray for Top 40 from the last three years!

Advertisements

Madam Tussaud’s

27 Mar

On Friday the 25th I went with Sam and our friend Bri to the wax museum, Madam Tussaud’s. I went to the one in New York City a few years ago and it was a lot of fun so I knew I had to come to the one in London.

The museum is on Baker Street, which is, of course, home to Sherlock Holmes.

There are many shops and restaurants that pay homage to the Great Detective

The whole point of Tussaud’s is to goof around and take pictures with wax models of celebrities, politicians, and other famous people. I tend to be silly and nerdy on a daily basis so me in the wax museum is like a kid in a candy store: ecstatic, hyperactive, and enjoying a natural high. I hope you are as amused at my photos as I was at the museum.

Miley Cyrus: Quite possibly the most terrifying thing I've ever seen. I was prepared to defend myself.

Kate Moss: Sometimes I like to pose like wax figures of models. I think I've got the face down.

Audrey Hepburn: We had Breakfast at Tiffany's together.

Henry VIII: He snuck in on my portrait sitting. But it's ok, his cod piece really adds to the impressiveness of the painting.

Prince Harry: He's single, he's a ginger, and he's at least 5 inches taller than me. Oh, and unlike his brother he has a full head of hair.

Oscar Wilde: This is me hoping to gain a fraction of Wilde's talent by standing next to a wax representation of the author.

The Beatles: I joined the band AND got to touch Paul McCartney's leg. (unfortunately, these figures aren't exactly accurate, especially George.)

Justin Bieber: I finally met the Biebz. And I am indeed a good five inches taller than he is (he's on a platform) but that hair is just so glorious...

Lady GaGa: She says, "you can call all you want but there's no one home and you're not gonna reach my telephone," but lucky for GaGa, I was there to answer the phone.

Beyonce: Yes, I do know the "Single Ladies" dance. I go to Emerson, it's kind of a requirement.

Dali Lama: I like to practice Tree Pose with his holiness.

Pope: See, the thing is...

Samuel L. Jackson: I put my sunglasses on out of respect.

Spiderman: I like to get piggy back rides from Spidey. We're technically upside down, hanging from the ceiling. That's skill right there.

Winston Churchill: We're just two peas in a pod.

After the wax museum Sam and I went to Jack’s for a delicious pasta dinner. On the way there we passed Warner Bros. Studios, where they filmed the Harry Potter movies.

The Hogwarts houses and the Hogwarts crest. In 2012 the studios will have a tour of several sets from the films. Which is just one more excuse for me to come back to London.

Born This Way

16 Feb

This post doesn’t so much have to do with my experience abroad, but it is something that has been a small part of my life here for last few days.

I want to take a minute to talk about something amazing that happened this past Friday, the 11th. Lady GaGa released a new song called “Born This Way,” and if you haven’t heard it, now’s the time. Pay attention to the lyrics.

I won’t put all the lyrics in this post, but I will give the chorus:

I’m beautiful in my way,
‘Cause God makes no mistakes
I’m on the right track, baby
I was born this way.

I’ve been listening to it on loop. It makes me feel so happy and confident. I’m a sucker for a positive message, especially one that is true. We’re all beautiful in our own way, there are no mistakes, we are born to be who we are and that’s something to be proud of, not ashamed of. I only hope that someday we will live in a world where everyone feels this way.

I saw her in concert last year, and in addition to being a truly talented performer, she is a genuine person. I was so moved by her stories. One thing she said that I think about often is that if just one person believes in you, it makes all the difference.

So whenever you feel like people aren’t accepting of who you are, just remember that you’re beautiful in your own way, and someone, somewhere, believes in you.

We were born this way.

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.

Paris Part Two: Do we get to ring the bells?

14 Feb

Saturday (the 5th) was an early start: breakfast at 8:30am, meet for the bus tour at 9am. I don’t mind getting an early start, especially for tours. Our tour guide’s name was Julian and he was originally from London, so he spoke the English I’ve grown accustomed to hearing over the last month. He spoke French with our driver and endured countless “the Bloody French!” jibes from our program chaperone.

Things I saw on the tour:

A typical Parisian church

A typical Parisian house... (This was probably some sort of mansion thing but I can't remember)

The Shakespeare and Company book shop. It had a story to it but sadly I don't remember (This will be a recurring theme)

A fountain. possibly the one from "Devil Wears Prada" when she throws her phone in the water.

Louis Vuitton headquarters, also the largest LV store in the world. Fortunately and unfortunately, I didn't get to go inside.

New York Avenue. And New York Restaurant. In Paris.

Replica of the Statue of Liberty torch

Metro Station designed during the Art Nuevo phase

We drove around Paris and learned about the architecture and different districts before heading onto the Île de la Cité, one of two islands on the Seine, the other being Île Saint-Louis. The Île de la Cité is home to one of the most famous cathedrals in the world: Notre Dame. The last time I was in Paris (summer 2005) I only glimpsed it from afar. Lucky for me, the bus stopped and let us off to see the cathedral up close and walk inside.  The outside is a marvel. I’ve seen some old buildings and I’ve seen medieval churches (well… parts of them, in museums…) but seeing Notre Dame up close was a whole new game.

Breathtaking

The view from the side.

A statue on the grounds…

The copper has oxidized so these guys look a bit like the ghost army from Lord of the Rings (always a plus for this nerd).

Though most of the statues were restorations of the originals, the tableaus and their stories remained unchanged.

The three doorways into the cathedral.

Looking up at the center doorway

Statue between two of the doorways

John the Baptist. Holding his head.

Mary and a few other ladies in front of the center window

A few of the gargoyles. Disney gave me false hope that they would sing as Quasimodo rang the bells.

In medieval times the majority of people were illiterate, so Bible stories were told in picture form. Julian focused on the center doorway, as will I.

One of three entrances to the museum, the center door depicts the ascension of souls.

We have Christ seated as a king, flanked by angels. Below him is an angel (on the left) who is holding a set of scales. The scales tip towards good, or those who are going to go to Heaven. The devil is on the right, attempting to tip the scales towards evil, or those who are going to hell.

Tipping the scales... And the devil figures are just plain creepy.

Those on the left (Christ's right) will go to heaven...

Those on Christ's left (our right) will go to hell. This superstition towards the left is what led left-handed people to be treated so poorly.

After learning all of this from Julian, we were given free time to go inside the cathedral. There are few places that have taken my breath away: the Coliseum in Rome, the view from a cliff in St. Thomas, the first time I went to New York City… And now Notre Dame.

Ceiling of the main section of the cathedral

One of two giant windows

The organ

Chandeliers hang from the ceilings, providing a little extra light.

There were dozens of little apses, each with its own stained glass window. This one held a golden crucifix.

I’ve never been so impressed by columns and arches, stained glass windows and high ceilings.

People light candles in memory of loved ones who have passed.

I consider myself to be more spiritual than religious but I felt something while I was there. I can’t describe it entirely, but it was a feeling of contentment and wonder. It’s the same feeling I get when I go to a new museum or a new place that instantly captures my heart; as cheesy as that may sound. I could have spent hours in Notre Dame admiring the details but alas, I only had half an hour, which is more like five minutes for me when in a place that amazes me.

I could have stayed there all day. And night.

We continued the bus tour, getting a brief history of Paris and glimpsing a number of sights:

Arc de Triomphe

Sculpture on the Arc. Someone is having a hard time letting go...

This was a message left on the bridge above the tunnel where Princess Diana crashed. There were thousands of inscriptions on the bridge in tons of languages. This one, being a quote from a Lady GaGa song, was my favorite.

We finished our tour at the Eiffel Tower where we took the elevator to the second floor, the observation deck. There are quite a few monuments to be seen…

The Arc de Triomphe

Do I know what this is? No... Is it pretty? Yes.

 

Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, Sacred Heart Basilica, on a hilltop in the distance.

A football field

The urban part of Paris isn't in the heart of the city but on the outskirts in order to maintain the classic feel of the city.

I thought about going all the way up but the wind and limited visibility talked me out of it. Besides, I’ve now been up the thing twice. I figure that makes up for not going to the tippity top.

Me on the observation deck; thankfully there is a railing and a fence to prevent clumsy people like me from failing off the edge.