neadods: (universal_roaming)
I'm not going to chronicle every step of my last 10 days in England, but I am going to try to pass on the best stories. I saw Hamlet, but that gets another post. Cut-tagged because yes, there are a lot of spoilers when discussing that play.

Theater seen:
- Hamlet
- The Play That Goes Wrong
- The Importance of Being Earnest (with Poroit playing Lady Bracknell)
- John Finnemore's Souvenir Cabin

Hamlet was brilliant... and I don't usually like Hamlet, which gives a clue to how much has been changed in the play. Mind you, being in Benedict Cumberbatch's spitting zone (and he is a spitter) didn't hurt. (No, he didn't get me, but the confetti did once.)

But blasphemously for a Shakespeare and Cumberbatch fan, my favorite was The Play That Goes Wrong. Describing it will make it sound just like Noises Off, and the similarities are overwhelming... but Noises Off is, no matter how hilarious, at heart the story of professionals acting unprofessionally. The Play That Goes Wrong is the story of an earnest amateur company finally tackling a play that lies within their scope and size ("Unlike our 2013 season, which included Checkov's Two Sisters; The Lion... and the Wardrobe, and our summer musical extravaganza, Cat") only to be betrayed by the set, the props, one of the tech crew, and their own inexperience. But they're trying Just! So! Earnestly! that you can't help but root for their uphill, howlingly funny climb.

Another highlight was the Radio Times Festival - well, not the festival itself, which was mis-advertised, packed with the wrong kinds of vendors (cat rescue, will lawyers, and a knife maker, among others) and run with the kind of efficiency you'd expect out of The Play That Goes Wrong.

But the "How the BBC Works" tent had a clip of their very first broadcast ("The shows at first will likely be uninteresting. Please bear with us.") and showed how to photoshop you into a photo of Twelve and Clara. And it had the Women in Sherlock Panel.

For Women in Sherlock, most of the audience questions went to Moffat, Gatiss, and Vertue because they could show what went on "under the hood" so to speak. But Una Stubbs, Amanda Abbington, and Lou Brealey weren't completely out in the cold - and while I have my opinions of Abbington, she was a champ signing with the fans while Lou went down the line, holding out her arm and waiting for people to duck under for photos.

I could do a whole post on that panel, and may. Must say, what I liked most of it was hearing Moffat speak without the gloss of other people selecting quotes, then telling me what he really meant and how I needed to feel about it.

After a week, it was off to Cheltenham for the Literature Festival. We stayed at the Queen's Hotel, which has the perfect location and luxury appointments, including wallpaper designed over 175 years ago for Parliament. I have to say, every time I saw the elevator doors open to the elegant Regency stairs, skylights, and historical wallpaper, I thought the very same two words:

The Shining.

The main event for me at the festival was Austentacious, a Jane Austen improv show based off of audience title suggestions. Our show was "Snakes on a Carriage," with the earnest, impoverished Mr. Addison Lee taking on the evil Lord Uber and his snake-dancing sister.

But I lie a little bit, because the biggest attraction was the Waterstones book tents, and their tempting ways of changing the book selection on the tables every hour or so. I'm a bit surprised that I managed to stay under the weigh limit on my luggage!
neadods: (sherdoc)
After the Holmes exhibit, we split up. L stayed with her friends, and The Other M, while M and C and I left with Jean and Fake Keith of Staggering Stories to meet up with Keith, AsdaMan, and El Presidente of Staggering Stories. (Only Jean is a London native, so the Staggering Storytellers were taking the opportunity to do a little in-country tourism.)

I had no idea until I got there the impact and the sheer size of the installation, which is flooding all around the Tower, lapping and pouring and advancing in waves.

I also had no idea, until we turned the corner and saw the line of volunteers (200 per shift) that the poppies were being assembled, not just being taken out of a box and stuck in the ground. Someone -- usually in military uniform, the Tower is, after all, still a military base(ish) and a historical site -- hammered in a stalk. Then a volunteer in red would gently place the petals on the stem and screw them down with the center of the flower.

The last third of my photo album is a wash of red. It's really impossible to show the impact, much less the size of it, in 600 x 600 pixels. Here in America, we keep seeing the same two photos: poppies waterfalling from the "Weeping Window" and heading to the Thames, and the Queen and Duke wandering among them. Like St. Mary's, I kept trying to get the right "emotion" shot.

Judge for yourself. )
neadods: (sherdoc)
I really was all over that church like a rash. )

I know what made that light streak... but I tell people it's a ghost.
neadods: (sherdoc)
Wednesday was spent mostly at the Victoria and Albert and Thursday was mostly spent haunting the area around Covent Garden (and speaking of hauntings, every night I wasn't in the theater I was taking a different ghost tour).

But Friday was the two biggest events: Sherlock Holmes and Poppies.

Lynne had been to the Sherlock Holmes exhibit the night before because she was one of the sponsors (The Other M has a photo of her pointing at her name on the "Thank you" board. And it's why I'm not bothering to anonymize her). So she had gotten to go to the big 'do the night before, tweeting things like "Standing next to Mark Gatiss. Ho, hum, another night in London" and not tweeting about wanting to lick either the exhibits or Ian McKellen.

The next day, we were the second group too, the rest of the group being rounded out by one of the 221B Concom and one of the Tin Boxers (both studying in London), a couple of Lynne's local friends and a couple of mine from the Staggering Stories podcast.

Bring a camera; although we all got busted for taking photos in the exhibit (which is prohibited) there are two things which you can take photos of, as shown below.

photo cut )

Exhibit details below. Spoilers, sweetie! )

Mind you, for anyone who buys souvenirs - the ink on neither the tea towel nor the mug will last long without flaking. I was extremely disappointed by that; I like the motto "SHERLOCK HOLMES: the man who never lived and will never die" and planned on giving that mug hard use. However, I was pleasantly surprised that the deerstalker in the exclusive Cristy's "Sherlock" tweed was reasonably priced. Frankly, I expected it to be 100 pounds or more, and it's slightly less than 50.
neadods: (sherdoc)
The Austen tea at Cheltenham was one of the quick sellouts. I found Dierdre Le Faye's talk fascinating; she was talking about how she'd read a casual line from, say, Mansfield Park about taking a fork in the road, and then another casual line about how the land was flat somewhere, and add a few more casual lines and confidently say "They took a left turn at [x] and Austen is describing this part of the country, which she had visted when..."

I started my spending spree by buying all three of the books she was signing - her latest compilation of Austen's letters ("I like to pretend I'm Cassandra and she's writing to me"), Jane Austen's Country Life and The World of Jane Austen.

That last is also the title of the 2015 JASNA Big Do, so perhaps Le Faye will be coming to America.

Val McDermid's talk included her work on the update of Northanger Abbey as part of a modernization project, and the writing problems of having to stick to the original plot and that the tension of the original plot had been "relieved far too soon, only 3/4 the way through the book, leaving a gentle canter to the altar."

And on the Tuesday of our trip, M and I hared off to Bath. We had exactly 7 hours, so we visited with slightly more efficiency than leisure, shoving in the Roman Baths, the Assembly Room/Fashion Museum (I was aided in our timeline by the museum being much smaller than I expected), the Jane Austen Centre whose main exhibit is the new waxwork, but my favorite part being the sign on the wall explaining incomes and what they would buy you, and Bath Abbey.

Between the first parts of that sentence and the Abbey we stopped for tea at The Pump Room. The waiter's head kind of exploded when I said I didn't want tea or coffee -- I loathe both -- so M said "bring her hot cocoa." The decadent results are under the cut.

Also under the cut are some shots of things from the Abbey, including a diptych exhibit running along one wall. Frankly, there are better shots of the waxwork and the baths than my camera takes.

Pictures: under the cut )
neadods: (sherdoc)
When we staggered off the plane at Heathrow, we immediately took a minibus to Cheltenham. I'd been initially resistant - there's So! Much! in London - but once there, was disappointed when it was time to leave before I'd done half of what I wanted to explore.

The main event was the Cheltenham Literature Festival, where we all saw Judi Dench and John Cleese, and went to the "Jane Austen Tea" which was really a discussion by Dierdre Le Faye about her investigations into Austen. A couple of us (there were 5 of us travelling together) thought that she was too nit-picky; I found her method of stringing together small details outright Sherlockain.

I also went to the Val McDermid tea and the talk by the guy who wrote The Marshmallow Test, a man who is very smart and surprisingly witty.

Because most of these boiled down to "buy my books" and there was a food fair down the main drag on the first day we were there, I already knew before I went to London that I was going to end up buying a second suitcase for the trip back. But you can't GET some of those jelly flavors in America!

We also ate magnificently, including at The Beehive Pub (highly recommended) and the Daffodil, which played The Mayfair on Sherlock. The management not only didn't giggle when we asked to be "put close to the John and Mary table," the manager came out and pointed out not just exactly where Cumberbatch stood and a couple of her waiters who'd been in the show as waiters. Superb food, but I just adored The Beehive.

I also adored St. Mary's church, which is hidden by buildings. I kept running back to take more photos every time the weather changed.

Pictures: under the cut )
neadods: (yay!)
I need a Night Vale icon. Also a "squee until you pass out from lack of oxygen" icon.

Furlough or not, I defended this trip to NYC almost unto death - I'd already paid for the bus ticket and show tickets before the congressional trolly jumped its tracks, so I was GOING, by George!

Actually, I was going by Megabus, which is ordinarily a calm, if overlong, trip. This time, however, the bus driver threatened to beat down a passenger and then I think abandoned two more at the rest stop, so the adventure started early. When we were getting out, I heard a passenger say "You needn't be such a bitch" and I left skid marks getting around the corner before the blast. [ profile] suricattus found me huddled between a Starbucks and a subway entrance.

The city. )

I was going to go down to the village and SoHo, but thought it time to get to Brooklyn. I found the theater first thing... and a line that had started 2 hours before the show. One guy said that his plane had land at 12:30 and he'd come straight to the theater -- and he wasn't even first!

My resold ticket had arrived (”Oh, another [name redacted]" the ticket taker would say, but she had bought several tickets) and it was an Eternal Scout (read: front two rows, autographed T-shirt, drinks ticket for which I gratefully took a water bottle instead of beer) ... Anyway, I wasn't worried about a seat, so I wandered until I found Cafe LaFayette for dinner.

When I got back, the line stretched a full block. While finding the end of it, I ran into some SherlockNYC friends, then found my place almost at the next corner. Lots of people cosplaying - mostly Carlos because lab coats are easy, but there were some deer masks and some Cecils with tribal or tentacle tattoos, bleached hair, and third eyes.

Unlike many fans, the folks around me in line weren't willing to chat with a stranger. They were polite about it, but that left me to my book until we got in.


They came out for autographs after; I couldn't get near Cecil so I didn't get a shot of that stunning smile as he was surrounded by fans and doubles.

I didn't like the neighborhood, so I was successful in attaching myself to a group of fans walking back to the subway and discussing "Cecil as 12-year-old fangirl. Yes or Hell Yes!?"
neadods: (Default)
I've been fighting off a cold, and right now the cold is winning hands down because I was out 3 hours past my bedtime in the cold last night. But it was worth it, because I was with the SherlockDC group taking part in the Washington Ghost Tour.

There are all kinds of walking tours, naturally, and plenty of ghost tours of different parts of the city. This one was focused in the heart of downtown; SherlockDC picked it because the guide dresses in Victorian clothing, and without anything specifically Sherlockian around here, that was as close to canon as we could get.

The walking part of the proceedings is very slight - we essentially circled Lafayette Park and then crossed the street to end in front of the White House. (Actually, we polygonned the park, as our tour had to dodge all the other tours. "It's like Grand Central around here near Halloween," the guide explained.) But that area is FULL to the brim of tragic stories, murders, and death, and the guide milked every story at every stop, from Dolly Madison still happily waving from her perch on her porch through Decatur showing up in his window even though the window was closed, bricked, and covered with shutters.

Our guide was a historian who teaches 4th grade ("I do this to buy pencils and stuff for class") but it meant that he 1) really knew the settings, 2) had a booming voice when he wanted to be heard, and 3) could wrangle 30 people without batting an eyelash.

There were stops to take photos; he tread a fine line between saying "if you believe in that sort of thing" and "last week we got a good shot of a human figure right here..." Lacey of SherlockDC got an unexplained something showing up in one of her photos; there were also lots of orb photos (which I'm inclined to consider something to do with all the headlights around us.) One guy had an ipad with him and was filming the whole thing in infrared - who knew there was an app for that?

I learned a lot. I hadn't known that there were so many burials at Lafayette, much less that some of the bodies were still there. I knew about the President's church, but not of the death knell it rings for ex-Presidents, nor of the 6 ghostly figures who come to pay their respects. ("You won't find anything about that on the church website, of course. They were last seen in the 1920s, but when Reagan died, there were about 150 people on the portcullis with cameras, infrared cameras, EMP meters, etc. Didn't get anything.")

We wound up in front of the White House because that is, of course, *THE* most haunted house in DC. The guide told us of the 4 Presidents, 2 First Ladies, and 2 children who died there, and a little bit about how they died. (Although he said Todd Lincoln died of typhoid, then described cholera. In graphic detail.) He talked about the hauntings in the various rooms. ("Women don't go to the Andrew Jackson room because they get their bottoms pinched. Especially when Bill Clinton's in there.") He talked about the many, many sightings of Lincoln by famous individuals ("Churchill was in the bath. I want you to think hard about a wet, naked, Winston Churchill. Never gonna get that image out of your brain, are you?") The last story he told was of "the most famous person to see Lincoln's ghost" - Lincoln himself. The tour ends with him reading the verbatim account of the dream Lincoln had of a dead man in the East Room and being told "the President's dead."

It was a fun tour, and I recommend it. Afterwards, parts of the SherlockDC gang went out for drinks and elevens-at-nightses; Old Ebbitt Grill was packed to the gills, so we struck out north, ending up at Georgia Brown's for dessert and beer.

As for the Little Free Library, it was a weird week. Only 7 things went out all week -- a very poor tally -- but the ones that went were things I wasn't sure would go, and a LOT showed up.

Left: Bollywood Cookbook, Catching Fire (actually waiting for [ profile] shawan_7 to pick up), The Forgotten Garden (I'm going to learn to read stuff I'm interested in before it goes), Podcasting Hacks, Practical Magic, and the Sherlock Holmes radio collection on 6 cassette tapes.

Left and returned: Grisham's The Firm.

Returned: Under the Banner of Heaven, Da Vinci Code (audio)

Appeared: 6 children's books, 2 books in Spanish, Harry Potter: Prisoner of Azkaban, Eagle's Cry, Quick Vegetarian Pleasures (which I snapped right up myself), and an academic conference study with a title like "Evolution of Western Thought Regarding Islam and Arabs."

I also discovered, as I noted before, that there are two little free libraries near my local yarn store. So there's going to be some cross pollination going on next Knit Night.
neadods: (yay!)
SherlockNYC is made of win and awesome, y'all. As thrilled as I am to see that SherlockDC is kicking off (hey, [ profile] duckyone, their first events are drinks after Frankenstein showings), as long as SherlockNYC keeps coming up with fabulous events like this, I'm going to keep Bolt Bus in business.

So - after Bolt-ing up to NYC and being taken in by the ever-wonderful [ profile] suricattus on Friday, Saturday I wended my way down to the American Museum of Natural History.

Things didn't *quite* kick off according to plan: the people doing the checking in were a few minutes late and the people to be checked in were sitting just about everywhere *except* the spot marked out on the SherlockNYC emails. In fact, they were sitting on either side of it, so what was to be one group was two with a gap and the resulting "are my teammates over there? How about over here?"

It didn't help that I had never *met* any of my teammates!

However, after initial milling around, teams started checking in. There were a LOT of teams, with a wide variety of names, some Sherlockian - Team Purple Shirt - and others just because: Team Panopticon, Team TARDIS, Team Mutant Ninja Squirrels, Team Helen, etc. (For far more details, see SherlockNYC's twitter feed.)

As I do not yet have permission to use everyone's real names on LJ, I'm going to refer to the rest of Team Purple Shirt as Lalaine (our fearless leader), Becky ([ profile] justatiltedlamp, and J. Lalaine & J are friends, I was a random assignee, and Becky was a last-minute addition when SherlockNYC opened up the wait list. And a very lucky addition she was - not only did she remember to bring the mandatory pen (I remembered to bring one to the city, but not to the hunt), she had a member courtesy card that got all of the team in for free!

We had an hour and a half to kill - our check in was just after 10, but we weren't to open our packets until 11:30 sharp. (Not only was that in bold on the emails -- twice -- it was written on the seal across the back of the envelope.) I'd wanted to see the bio-luminescence exhibit - I figured there'd be a clue there - but as a special exhibit, it took an extra charge. So instead, we wandered through the museum to get a feel for the layout and to scope out exhibits that we thought would be useful, like human evolution (skulls) and the gem exhibit.

And then it was 11:30. )

So it's kind of my fault that we went from a potential 2nd place to 3rd. We found out later that at one point 5 teams were in a dead heat, all of them trying to replace one wrong photo! (Not the same one, though. I asked.)

There were prizes. Team Purple Shirts in third each won a Turner print of Sherlock standing at the corner of Ludlow and unreadable, pointing something out to John, who was reading the New York Times.

Team Panopticon was second place and each won a color print of the Turner booklet cover.

Team Cherchez la Chien in first place each won both prints plus a copy of the graphic novel of The Sign of the Four.


After Team Purple Shirt reassured each other that we all came first in our hearts, Becky gave us all skull erasers so that we would have a friend to talk to.

None of us ended up going to the lunch. While I somewhat regret not going - I met some lovely people at the last SherlockNYC luncheon - I just couldn't bring myself to make the main meal of the day burgers and fries. Judging from the picture on SherlockNYC's twitter, plenty of people went and had a good time. I had a quieter but excellent (and huge) feed at Machiavelli.
neadods: (Default)
Emails are starting to fly around for SherlockNYC's next event, and I'm starting to get really excited for it. I'm heading up to the city tomorrow, and on Saturday I'm joining 50 fans in a photo scavenger hunt at the Natural History Museum -- the schtick is that Moriarty has replaced one of the artifacts with a fake and then given a set of clues to Sherlock and John. We're divided into teams - I'm Team Purple Shirt and will pack to dress accordingly - and we get two hours to go (quietly, respectfully) through the museum, following clues in an envelope and taking pictures of our solutions.

Then there's lunch at a burger bar, and an afterparty at a place to be determined on the day.

The whole thing will be managed, appropriately, by text message - teams text their answers, and there will be a mass text to remind us when to wrap up (the hunt runs roughly 2 hours). Possibly due to the questions about precisely where to meet at Gillette Castle, the mass email has included not just written instructions, but a Google map pin, photos of the entrance, and even a photo of the meetup point with a marked area drawn on it.

There is a prize for the winning team, with a remark that in case of tie, the winner will be determined via questions about canon. I'm assuming The Canon - Doyle - but could be wrong about that, considering this is a Sherlock BBC group. To reimburse for the prize, a very nominal fee of $5 was charged for being in the hunt; the price of lunch is each player's responsibility.

In the hopes of being an ambassador for Doyle, I'm going to have a couple of used Sherlock books and will offer them up at lunch to anyone who is interested in checking out the canon.

SherlockNYC has become a group to reckon with. I'm impressed with their energy and imagination.
neadods: (theater)
Let me explain why I posted a lot and then dropped offline for over a day. No, is too much; let me sum up:

New York City
Carol Kane
Jim Parsons

"That's an old play!" my mother said when I told her where I'd been. And it is, but the sold-out theater was full to the gills of Dr. Sheldon Cooper fans who were having the time of their lives all the same. And frankly, likes like "There's so much you have to learn, Myrtle Mae, and I hope you never learn it," "I've wrestled with reality for 40 years and I'm happy to state that I finally won out over it." or "He'll be a perfectly normal human being and you know what bastards they are!" -- well, lines like that never get stale.

Considering that he's playing an uber-nice guy who's seriously out of touch with everyone around him, it was hard not to pick out the elements of both Jimmy Stewart and Dr. Cooper in Parsons' performance, but that's not to say that he didn't do a superb job in the role. Carole Kane surprised me by taking a cameo role; she could have made an amazing Veta, but she has a single scene as Betty Chumley. (Where she promptly mops the stage with the rest of the cast, Parsons included.)

The show clipped along at a quick pace, three acts having been tightened down to two. The stagecraft showed that simple is often more profound than lots of special effects... although that said, I'm still trying to figure out how they worked the bit with the encyclopedia, where the book was moved from place to place before "Harvey" closed it.

The last time I saw a live production, Harvey got a bow. This time, the set was filled with white rabbits. Mo said the paintings on the wall changed, but I missed that.

We didn't have a large window of time between bus dropoff, play, and bus pickup; most of it was spent either at a leisurely lunch at Bar Boulud (thank you for introducing me to that, [ profile] suricattus, or poking through the street fair running up and down Broadway.

And now, I'm exhausted. I've averaged about 5.5 hours of sleep for the last four nights; today's entire chore list reads: Eat. Sleep. Catch up online. Repeat.
neadods: (sherlock_believe)
Remember how I said that I hoped the horrible trip to North Carolina wasn't a foreshadowing of the trip to Connecticut? Well, on the way to [ profile] hhertzof's place, I got caught up in
1) traffic delays
2) the Bronx
3) epic rain of Biblical fury

Fortunately, I had [ profile] duckyone to keep me company, which helped a *lot* to keep me focused and awake.

I haven't been to Gillette Castle since I was tiny, so it was a whole new experience. I don't think the park service markets it very well, though. For one thing, the gift shop was meager and full of tat (Seriously, they were selling a $3 pamphlet that was part of a chapter of a book about Sherlock Holmes that's out of print. WTF?) Nor does the service do much to as outreach to three groups that should be fascinated by Gillette - not just Holmes fans, but train enthusiasts (he was one) and engineers, because the work he put into the castle was just fascinating. Not just the doors with all their various locks, but the trick drinks cabinet, the hidden internal fire-fighting system, and the way of checking the heating tank levels from the third floor. Heck, even I have to go into my basement to check the oil tank!

He was also a crazy cat person. Seriously crazy cat person. He had around 15 living ones at any given time, each of which were belled and all of which were trained to come running to the door for a dinner bell. He'd even designed a living room table with little dangly wooden bits for their plaything. In addition to those, there were stone cats on the crenelations, and statues of every shape, size, material, and, frankly, scariness. (There was one huge white china cat that looked both freaky and freaked out; half of the folks on the tour took pictures of it and it's probably the subject of a dozen tumblr posts by now.)

SherlockNYC had a really respectable gathering for this - about 20 people, with one dropping out due to sickness, but another scooting in to join us for the luncheon afterwards. I am seriously impressed by their ability to pull together events. We gathered a bit confusedly at the visitor's center (the confirmation said "meet at the castle" and we didn't know if that meant meet where you get the tickets or at the actual castle, and it didn't help that the lady selling tickets had never heard of our group.) Some of us were very obvious with Sherlock pins or t-shirts, some wore something fannishly related (there was a great Martin Crieff shirt), and some just figured out that the group of young women must be us. Quite a few of us dressed for tea, with some seriously smashing outfits.

Oh, and while Ducky and I thought that we might be the ones who'd come the furthest, we were scooped by Cindy, who'd come from a state further to join the fun!

About 8 of the group were SherlockNYC movers and shakers, and they got us corralled together, sorted out the tickets, and herded us up to the castle. Once there, it was a self-guided tour, so we more or less started splitting up again. Herding fans is, after all, just like herding cats. Only you can't shake a treat can to bring us running.

After a good long while running through the castle, we ended up regrouping outside in a little riverside portcullis thing - the temperature wasn't too bad if you were in the shade, and it was pleasant there. Then it was off to Gelston House, a restaurant down by the water right next to an absolutely stunning late 1800s opera house.

There was a mismatch between the number of people and the entrees ordered, and I'd long since forgotten what the heck it was I'd ordered in the first place. But I cannot repeat how absolutely put together this group is, because Audry whipped out her smart phone, dialed up the records, and sorted it all out promptly.

Lunch conversation ranged all over, from the scion societies through audio to the general wonderfulness of Benedict Cumberbatch. It was good, I think, to have Cindy and I there to wave the scion society flag -- all that's *really* needed for cross-pollination is for more of us to show up at Sherlock stuff the way the new Sherlock fans are showing up at older Holmesian events. Cindy's Red Circle of DC and I'm Watson's Tin Box - both of 'em out of the area, but also a way of showing how we aren't all, well, as ritual-oriented (or expensive) as the BSI. Frankly, I'm of the opinion that SherlockNYC has every right to consider itself a scion - it's already more active than some!

Afterward was a reading of Ken Ludwig's "Postmortem." Not having bothered to click the link before going, I assumed that this was some Sherlock fic, possibly written by a SherlockNYC member. Turns out it's a two-act murder mystery play about William Gillette, set in the castle. (It was, in other words, RPF!) Parts had been shuffled around - at one point one of the actresses was speaking to herself - and parts were sunk into to the point I think anyone who went is going to get the giggles for a long time if they heara thick New York accent calling "BAHW-bee!"

Shoutouts to [ profile] brewsternorth, [ profile] laughingacademy, and [ profile] raxhel, who were at my half of the table along with [ profile] hhertzof, and [ profile] duckyone Good to see you again/meet you!

And now I have to go see what two days of being offline hath wrought.

Oh, and due to popular request - Malice, Tin Box, and now SherlockNYC, at some point by the end of the week (tonight if I have energy, but no promises after all that driving) I'm going to make a master post of all the Sherlock Holmes audio out there and where/how to get it.
neadods: (universal_roaming)
Nanoseconds back from a long, lovely chat with [ profile] wendymr and Spouse, and wish we could have talked all night.

Before the cut, I'll say that Seana was brilliant, but it was a rather strange Richard because they wanted to push the idea of Richard as the continuation of the medieval play character of Vice, and thus Richard wasn't a frustrated king or a politician or even a person, he was an Idea of Evil. And... that didn't particularly work for me.

However! The ending scene made up for everything. And I didn't think that anything could compare to the last RIII I watched here, where Richard was hung up by his knees in a tree, and the last image was a back-lit shape of black (no, I can't spell the s-word and the ipad doesn't have spellcheck), an image of the dying king, his withered arm slowly falling to dangle next to his good one. Brilliant stuff, gave me goosebumps.

Here, cut for major staging spoilers )

And now, alas, I must pack to go home, a trip that will start horrifically early in the morning. When I get home, I'll see what's up with my userpics, half of which seem to have disappeared. I'd rather still be talking with Wendymr & Spouse!
neadods: (theater)
Today was pretty much shopping day, and I bought a lot, because every time I bought food for someone else (like the ice wine smoked salmon at Indigena) I bought some for me too. Good thing I have my entire car to fill up!


Merry Wives was loads of fun, although maybe not my Ultimate Favorite Shakespeare Play anymore. Everyone was good, but Ger Wyn Davies was Falstaff, so you know he did his best to mop the floor with everyone else. "His favorite dish is the scenery," Mo said, and he dined well.

He also treated the fourth wall like three gibberish syllables, constantly breaking it in asides to the audience. On lust "making beasts of us all... yes, (pointing) you sir, you know what I mean, I know you do." On a joke that got only one tiny titter, it was just a point and "Thank you."

The audience ate it up.

The Misanthrope... I started out a little disappointed because the after show talk was cancelled "for unforseen circumstances." And then, during the first half... well, aside from thinking that Sara Topham is typecast as The Sprightly Ingenue and that everyone was riding roughshod over the poetry, I found myself profoundly indifferent. At intermission I asked myself if I was having fun (no), if I was comfortable (also no; how can an ass be so fat and so boney at the same time?) and if I wondered what would happen (not much; the playbill spoils the ending).

And so, blasphemously, I didn't go back in when the trumpets sounded.

On the other hand, I have seen swans and even cygnets and ducklings. And also -- there's an app for Stratford. Two, actually. One is more or less the festival visitor's guide in interactive form; the other is for the town and has tours and non-main-drag shopping, etc.
neadods: (theater)
The B&B may be a long walk from city center but right now I'm not only eating a light lunch of cereal, yogurt, OJ, and chocolate poundcake supplied for free, my clothes are in the wash. @ 26 may not have the mega gourmet breakfasts Aspidistra used to give, but the amenities are well worth the walk. (And you can go right by the chocolate stores on your way back and pop 'em right into the fridge so they don't melt.)



Mo came back burbling that she'd seen The. Best. Warning. Sign. Ever. You know how theaters put up the signs: Warning, this play contains strobe, this play contains gunfire, etc. Camelot's reads "This play contains mist, smoke, [blah blah], birds of prey."

"Ha, ha," says Mo to herself. "That's cute."

But even having read it, she wasn't expecting the play to start with Merlin calling a live hawk to his arm.


In a little bit I have my first play, Merry Wives of Windsor. I adored it and considered it my favorite Shakespeare play when I first saw it in Regent's Park.

... in 1984.

So we'll see how it plays out now. Then tonight, it's The Misanthrope, with a break for fish and chips and chocolate tour sundaes between.

This morning was a Meet the vegetables Festival* with Seana McKenna & her husband/director Miles Potter. (*So called behind the scenes) Highlights:

On doing a one-woman play: SEANA: "The cast parties aren't as fun... but you never miss a cue."

On costuming: SEANA: "I wear two corsets this season. One pushes everything up; the other pushes everything down." She also discussed how she did Richard (no platforms or bindings lest she hurt herself over the run, and building up the costume over the "strong" arm to look masculine, while her own arm would look much weaker in comparison.)

On "Shakespeare's Will" MILES: "It may be a play about an unhappy marriage, but the strains of an acting marriage? Oh, yeah, we could relate."

On a female Richard:

SEANA: Richard's always an other anyway. I'm just taking that one step further.

MILES: He's always compared to animals - the toad, the hog. I think she's doing a bird of prey. (SEANA: "Skree!")

MILES: He's pretending throughout. The gender is one more pretense

SEANA: Although one guy didn't get it. He was complaining that Richard was too effeminate.

on the seduction scene: SEANA: "In Shakespeare's time it was a man to a boy; we're just flipping that dynamic. Also, what does he tell her? 'I did terrible things, but I love you, I won't do them anymore, and you're the only one who can change me.'" (Nods as women in the audience laugh appreciatively.)

Would you believe that I haven't seen any swans yet? I've been by the river.

neadods: (Default)
I took off yesterday and had a hella time running all over downtown DC.

First up: Where do you go when you absolutely, positively, can't find a book anywhere else? Library of Congress )

At the end of the visit, starting a day-long trend, I bought a book: The History of Sandwiches.

The LoC is close to the Folger, so next it was off to the Shakespeare Theater to look at their exhibit on First Folios and buy a copy of Foliomania, a book about same.

Then I grabbed a cab and raced across town, because I'd promised myself that I could go back to Mourayo, an amazing Greek place just north of Dupont Circle that I discovered with [ profile] suricattus when I stayed that night with her at the Nebulas. She had the best dinner of an excellent lot, IMO, the house specialty of pork with fig, honey, and a touch of soft sweet cheese.

Then I headed back across town for the last museum stop of the day - the What's Cooking, Uncle Sam? exhibit of the Government and American food. Although loosely collected into "farm," "factory," "kitchen," etc., I think a more accurate description would be "History of the passage of the Pure Foods Act," "Rationing," "History of Nutritional Education and PSAs," and "Presidential Dinners." (The last part included a letter from Queen Elizabeth II to Lyndon Johnson, enclosing a recipe for scones she had promised him during a visit to Balmoral. (Yes, I wrote it down!) (Flickr page of many of the posters and artifacts on display.)

I still had time before dinner with M, so I went to the Rotunda and took a look at The Big Three - the Declaration, Constitution, and Bill of Rights.

Then I went shopping, natch, and picked up Our Mother's War: American Women at Home and at the Front During WWII by Yellin and Fruits of victory: The Woman's Land Army of America in the Great War. I also took down the details for American Colossus: The Triumph of Capitalism, 1865-1900, but I didn't buy it - books that thick, I'm trying to get electronically.

And while I did resist the kitch factor of buying the poster of this for my kitchen, I couldn't resist getting the Vitamin Donut mug.

Dinner was at Legal Seafood and was excellent food with excellent service as always there.

And then we saw the simulcast of the Brian Bedford as Lady Bracknell Importance of Being Ernest. To tell the truth, I found it a bit overmannered; I'm glad in the long run that I didn't pay NYC prices to see it.

An excellent, if exhausting day out!
neadods: (compass)
So, there was this thing downtown yesterday...

The best laid plans of mice and Nea ran aground the moment they were put into place. The idea of meeting up at the Landsburgh Theater instead of the mall? Excellent. [ profile] settiai, [ profile] ladymalchav, [ profile] ponygirl72 & hubby were right there, easy to see.

Me, [ profile] thefannishwaldo, & [ profile] suricattus? Not so much. I took us to the College Park metro on the basis that nobody seemed to have "discovered" it on Inauguration day, arriving at the station at 9:00 for a 10/10:15 meetup.

Well, it's been discovered now! The lines were across the station and up the stairs, with people coming in by the busload. Meerkat (that's [ profile] suricattus, y'all) told me it would be a mitzvah as a local to squirm my way to the head of the line and help people out with our fare machines... and it would have the bonus advantage of making said lines move faster, getting us through. So I duly squirmed and pointed at buttons saying "punch that now" and shouted "IF YOU'RE GETTING A DAY PASS, IT'S $9! IF YOU'RE JUST GOING TO THE RALLY AND BACK, IT'S $4.80 TO UNION OR L'ENFANT STATIONS!" This was surprisingly popular; the guys behind us in line were all "Don't leave yet! Not until you show us!"

It took us an hour to get onto the platform; we were able to squeeze onto the first train that arrived, stuffed as it was, and it would take about another 40 minutes to get downtown. This trip turned out to be one of the success stories of the day. I've heard of someone who got to Greenbelt at 11:40 and finally got onto a train about 1.

Having finally made the meetup, we joined the flood of people onto the mall. It was shoulder-to-shoulder packed on the mall itself and up the stairs of the National Gallery of Art, West. However, there was space on the lawn of the Gallery between the retaining wall and the stairs where you could mostly hear the loudspeakers and sort of catch an edge-on glimpse of the jumbotron, so we set up a base camp there.

Signage was fabulous. Also surreal. [ profile] ponygirl72's two-sided sign (We have nothing to fear but fear itself the zombie apocalypse / I am a Marxist (Groucho Marx glasses & mustache) was incredibly popular. There was a Waldo with a sign saying "I'm here." There was a little girl in a princess dress with a sign saying "I want my tea party back." There were riffs on the theme like "Give Please a Chance" and "Only Hitler is Hitler." On the more political side, there was "Taxes are good; they pay for stuff" and "Nothing to fear but Fox News." And then there were people in costume - superheroes, lots of Waldos, a couple of Doctor Whos, and a whole lot of "I'm not sure what that is, really..."

Sound was iffy - we got to hear Jon Stewart "singing" with all too much clarity, while it took jumbotron cues to know what Adam and Jamie of Mythbusters were asking the crowd to do. (There were often chants of "Louder! Louder!" to no avail. Apparently the actual rally permit was only for 60,000 and so the space and the volume were set for that. While Stewart said there were "10 million" and Colbert said "6 billion," I'm going with the Guardian estimate of 215,000-250,000 on the basis that they don't have a bias. Certainly they were blowing well over the estimated 60,000, which is why the audience just about died of laughter on Colbert's line "I'm afraid nobody came to our rally.")

At one point I went in search of vendors - we could see people carrying little towels that both Meerkat and I wanted. (We would find out after via Facebook that said towels were being handed out while we were on our way to the mall.) The crush went from thick to nigh impassible as I got closer to the front, so I squirmed my way up 3rd to walk around the gallery. By the time I tried to come back down 7th, the crowd was so thick and so still that I thought I would *never* make it back to base camp! I tried sending a text to Meerkat, but the bandwidth on the Mall was so blown that no calls were going through and texts were iffy. (She did get mine... about 45 minutes later.)

Mad props to [ profile] settiai and [ profile] ladymalchav, who had the good sense to bring food. There was much munching of peanut butter and even more munching of cinnamon teddy grahams. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

There was just no way in hell that it would be possible to get off the mall to make a 3:30 meet; I tried texting and later calling [ profile] raqs, who I really wanted to meet up with after. As it was, we stayed in base camp and let the worst of the crowds shuffle zombie-like past us, then tried going to the front (I was still hunting vendors. Going to a rally and going home with money? So wrong.) [ profile] settiai and [ profile] ladymalchav peeled off to meet up with other friends, while the rest of us had a rather tiring on-foot tour of Chinatown looking for a restaurant with a less than a 2-hour wait. As it was, we eventually limped off to Union to say goodbye to [ profile] ponygirl72 & her husband (who completely defines the strong and silent type) and take metro home.

By now it was 3 hours after the rally had ended, and we still had to let an overcrowded train pass us by on the way out of the city. And I hear there were fistfights at the next station because some people had been on that platform for over two hours and still couldn't crush onto a train. We ended up getting diner takeout and heading home to crash on the couch and watch The Librarian while reminiscing and drinking hot spiced apple wine.

Meerkat's on her bus back home, Mo's ushering, and Waldo's at the zoo all day, so I've crawled back into my pyjamas. I should write a review of Live 34 and do laundry, but I'm thinking that what I'm really going to do is catch up on a week's backlog of Sherlock fic while watching scary movies until it's time to fetch Waldo at the station. It's a plan.

Pictures to come later. And probably links to video of the rally.

ETA: My favorite sign of the whole day? "If you see my friend Amy, tell her Courney's looking for her."

ETA II: Meerkat's writeup & pictures Waldo, ditto
neadods: (theater)
I had planned on liveblogging my trip this year, but that was before the ipod touch accepted the B&B network and the netbook didn't. Typing on that teeny screen is Just Not Worth It. (On the other hand, like the palm pilot before it, the Touch went from toy to tool in about 10 minutes; checking weather, keeping my schedule, holding play texts, etc. It certainly was lighter to carry than the netbook and a hardback book - I really see the appeal of ebooks now - and with wireless in the theaters I kinda got into the habit of doing a quick email check at intermission. Perhaps when the rumored smaller ipad comes out, I'll have something that will be better for typing on the fly as well as a better reading screen.)

The trip: We took a new route that was supposed to save 90 minutes. It added 90 minutes. *insert BLEH! icon*

The town: Two things of note for the tourists.

1) The County Food Company is now selling picnic pails. For $25, you get two big sandwiches, three small containers to fill with your pick from the dozen-item salad bar, 2 cans of soda or bottles of water, and a Secret Picnic Map (read: hand-drawn map of the Avon river), all in a bucket. It's a lot of good food, and a reasonable price for two.

2) Downtown businesses have grouped together to form the Chocolate Trail. For $20, you get 8 tickets, which you have 3 days to redeem at your choice of 16 businesses (repeats allowed). The woman at our B&B was giving us all the good hints - "Chocolate Barr only gives you two truffles, while Rheo Thompson gives you a box of 9 mixed cremes and Rocky Mountain gives you your choice of half pounds of fudge." (We chocolate trailed slices of turtle cake at Let Them Eat Cake for Mo's birthday.) Even non-candy stores were getting into the act - P'Lovers gave away chocolate mint bath salts, two tea shops gave away chocolate teas, Fosters gave away chocolate martinis, Kitchen Connoisseur gave away jars of mocha ice cream topping, and Bradshaw's gave away a plastic stemless wine glass with a couple pieces of chocolate and the promise that you could get the glass filled at a restaurant across the street.

The theater: Peter Pan, The Tempest, Two Gentlemen of Verona, & Winter's Tale )

Things are going well for Stratford. After a year of them begging me to renew my membership and a bad exchange rate (from the American point of view), I thought things would be bad for them. Instead, every show was filled to the brim.

On the personal side, I was devastated to discover that the Aspidistra is changing - it is turning into a guest house with no provided meals. As the breakfasts were the biggest draw, I'm looking for new Stratford lodgings.

On the plus side, [ profile] wendymr and I had a wonderful long dinner and chat on Saturday. Great to see you again!

Now I have to go back to real life... and figure out why my feet are swelling. I know I've been walking a lot and I've spent the whole summer in the same shoes, but that shouldn't cause edema, should it?

I'll be catching up with LJ and real life tomorrow after work. Good night, all!
neadods: (Default)
So: what I was doing when I wasn't online.

Friday night was a candlelight tour of a local colonial-era mansion. Alas, as I remember the way it used to be (when I last took the tour *cough* years ago, said tour is no longer given with actual candles. Dim lamps and plastic electric candles do not have the same effect.

Which did not stop me from taking this picture of the dessert table in the dining room. )

Saturday it was up at NYC. Taking the bus up and back doesn't leave a lot of time - not even enough to relax with a good meal - but there's something to be said for eating street fair food while talking with a friend. I love the Bryant Park fair, and it was tons nicer with cider in my hand and [ profile] suricattus chatting with me. [ profile] brewsternorth and [ profile] hhertzof, maybe next time.

The Macys windows were a bit stupid - kids could use touch-screen screens to write a letter to Santa, and then the windows showed how it flew to him. Urg. Lord and Taylor was a little more traditional )

My favorite display, though, was in the NY Public Library. (Which was also selling hilarious "Christmas In NY" cards, with "a pigeon in a Central Park tree," "five golden bagels," "six crabby cabbies," "eight messengers leaping," etc.) The library had greenery everywhere:

A gigantic tree )

Evergreens wrapped around the necks of all the busts )

And a menorah over the door )

And then there was one of those only in New York pictures )

And while I'm uploading pictures, the sofa at the crazy cat lady house )
neadods: (universal_roaming)
Since the last update, I got my copy of Invaders from Mars autographed by Paul McGann (I'd wanted to get an autograph yesterday, but I realized that I wasn't strong enough to even stand in line.)

After that, I scooted off to catch the end of the questions panel with Phil Collinson, Gary Russel, Rob Shearman, and Nick Briggs (although I frankly almost walked right out again, because I'd walked into the middle of a "Children of Earth was so brilliant" lovefest. (Interestingly in light of the "It's really really been picked up for another season, cross my heart" info coming from another convention, here Nick said that he said it was a pity that RTD was too busy to work on Torchwood again.)

They were also asked:
- If there would be multi-Doctor reunion show. After saying that they'd like to see it, they started saying which Doctor they'd play. (Phil would be Six.)
- There were shots of Skaro and the wars that made Davros come up with the daleks that were cut due to budget. "Someday someone will do it and it will be brilliant."
- Bad Wolf/Parting of the Ways, when the Doctor comes in with a gun and blows away the cameras got turned into "the Doctor comes in with a gun and they look scared."
- Rob wanted more shots of bullets sparking off an impervious dalek but thought that the idea of bullets melting was much more interesting when they did it.

Thoughts on Blink:
- Nick went to see it at Moffat's house before it aired. ("I bet he stopped doing that now." "I'm sure.") His kids were hiding behind the couch, and to deal with the fear, Moffat's son Josh whispered all the really scary bits 2 seconds before they happened.
- Rob says he scares the kids by saying "If you don't shut up, Daddy will make you watch Blink again."

Nick thinks that people are attracted to atypical episodes, which explains Blink even though there was little Doctor in it, but now he can't write a season of atypical episodes.

Rob bitched that Moffat shows off his Hugos. PHIL: "He wears them around his neck." About the one he didn't win - Rob says that he knew in advance he didn't win. "I think he found it a little bit embarassing that he kept winning it... I think he wasn't concerned that Silence in the Library didn't win. I think he thought three was enough."

Nick says that the End of the World episode is one of his favorites.

Phil Collinson wants to executive produce the SJA if he gets the chance.

NICK: (on executive producing) It's not just about having to do the job, but it's also about leadership qualities; you have to be everyone's dad and everyone's headmaster. I would watch Julie and Russell hug everyone around the room."
GARY: She hugged a little too long.
PHIL: I was pleased when Julie left because I stole her house in Cardiff.

How was Human Nature chosen to be an episode and are any other NAs under consideration?
GARY: It was a no-brainer once I heard what the story was. It was beautiful and just perfect. Paul's so clever. Everyone involved in that relished in bringing it to the screen... it really showcases what [David] can do."
PHIL: I think he should do [David Richardson's book; I missed the title.]

The special presentation is Waters of Mars, which is nice enough, but I'm back here checking email again. So I'm out in the lobby with [ profile] swallowedbysky and Tony Lee handing out Bella candies. (I've got a photo, shall I upload it?)


neadods: (Default)

July 2017



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