Monday, November 15, 2010

Holiday Musings - Part 5

Due to a glitch in the Blogger software, some of the posting features aren't working very well, so let's see how this turns out.

It's been 3 weeks since my last entry about France, so I think it's about time for another one!

Choice of subject: the majestic Notre Dame cathedral.

I took A LOT of pictures, but picked these because they're among my favourites, and offer some of the best views.

From what I could see, most tourists cram themselves outside the main entrance ( right ), which features 3 separate doors and the famous Gallery Of Kings statues ( below ).

As a first-time visitor, I was initially disoriented by a long queue of people, whom I thought was lining up to enter the church. Turns out they were waiting to go up the stairs to the roof, which can take up to an hour!

Once inside, there's more to see, from statues of famous saints ( including Joan of Arc ), to numerous small prayer chapels, beautiful paintings, an altar, and of course, the famous rose windows.

I'm told by certain photography enthusiasts that my photos of the windows turned out great. Guess I got lucky, since I don't use a fancy or particularly expensive camera. Nikon Coolpix is good enough for me. But I did upgrade to a higher ISO, better zoom and 15 megapixels. :)

After spending about an hour strolling around the interior - was referring to my trusty Eyewitness travel guide on all the interesting sights - my mum and I went outside to walk a full round and view the exterior structure from a 360-degree perspective.

We met very few tourists along the way, which is a huge pity. The cathedral is breath-taking from every angle, and we stopped many times to gawk at the pure awesomeness of the architecture. Flying buttresses, hello!

There's also a lovely rose garden at the other end, where you can sit by a small fountain for a short breather, or bask in the sun.

Following our little walkabout, we ended the trip by listening to the church bells chime the 12 o'clock hour, after which they launched into a protracted bit of melodious clanging.
I was transfixed, and captured the interlude with my camera's video recording function.
I could practically picture Quasimodo in the bell tower! Such a beautiful summer day. My mom LOVED it. :)

Other Updates

Have been reading up a storm, zipping through Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan's The Fall, before moving on to Jeff Lindsay's Dexter Is Delicious.

The Fall - Book 2 of The Strain trilogy - was disappointing because it pales in comparison to Book 1, which blew me away.
The writing has lost the oomph factor, the chapters don't flow smoothly, the action scenes feel forced, and the plot fails to develop in a manner that sustains my interest.
I do a lot of bedtime reading - need to wind down after my frequent evening shifts. How easily I doze off is a good gauge of how terrific / abysmally bad a novel is. And I had a lot of trouble staying awake with this one. Unlike The Strain, which kept me up till 2am at one point.

Another gripe: the totally irrelevant blog and diary entries from Fet the pest exterminator, and Ephraim Goodweather the infectious disease expert. Not well-written at all, and worth skipping entirely.

Will I read Book 3? Of course. I wouldn't be able to live with myself otherwise. Just hope it will match The Strain in terms of excitement and plot / character development.

I also hope a film trilogy - or better still, a TV series! - is in the works. Am already imagining Robert Downey Jr in the Goodweather role, with Gerard Butler as Fet. If my choices become reality, I'm going to buy lottery tickets! :)

Dexter Is Delicious, on the other hand, is currently giving me insomnia. Book 4 - Dexter By Design - was unremarkable, but Book 5 has author Jeff Lindsay back in top form, exhibiting a degree of laugh-out-loud dark humour I haven't seen since Dexter In The Dark.

Can you possibly fathom how a novel about a serial killer can make me chortle heartily, even after a crappy shift at the hospital? Since I've been watching the TV series online, it's even more interesting that I'm experiencing what's essentially 2 separate realities in Dexter Morgan Land. On television, he has a baby son named Harrison, lost his wife to the Trinity Killer, rescues a young woman from a pack of perverted murderers and subsequently helps her hunt them down.
On paper, his new daughter is called Lily Anne, wife Rita is alive and well, the Miami police squad searches for a possible vampire / cannibalistic cult, and Dexter's bloodthirsty brother, Brian ( who was killed off in season 1 ), returns with what sounds to me like a sinister ulterior motive.

Balancing the 2 story arcs is making me dizzy, but I'm also loving every second. :)

Something else I highly recommend: The Walking Dead.
This new TV series airs on local cable just 5 days after its U.S. telecast, woohoo!
Based on a graphic novel and executive produced by Frank Darabont ( who directed the excellent Shawshank Redemption ), the pilot episode got me hooked fast, and Ep 2 convinced me that yes, this show is worth my time.
Why? Well, don't expect hard-core action, sex / nudity or any big stars. The pace is rather slow - lots of talking, strategizing, trying to escape from one place or other. Zombies don't make the most fascinating villains either.
Maybe it's my personal preference, but I enjoy the verbal sparring between the plucky survivors, with their power plays and heroic/ desperate attempts at staying alive.

The main draw, however, is Andrew Lincoln, an actor I never knew of until now. As deputy sheriff, Rick Grimes, he is believably gritty and handles the action scenes extremely well. The supporting cast benefits from solid direction, especially in Ep 2, when they look positively horrified while chopping up a dead zombie then smearing its foul-smelling innards on their clothes, in an attempt to disguise themselves during an escape.

Also helps that Lincoln reminds me of another favourite actor, Viggo Mortensen. Slight physical resemblance, especially that strong jawline and scruffy chin. And they both handle their firearms most magnificently. :)

I'm also currently into The Vampire Diaries. Granted, it's directed at teenagers - specifically the Twilight fans - but I have my guilty pleasures too ( Gossip Girl heh! ) and this show is much less annoying than the Twilight movies.

Are you on Team Stefan or Team Damon? I like the former, because honestly, Ian Somerhalder's range of facial expressions is so damn limited. He tries to look evil, but how badass can an arched eyebrow be?
Paul Wesley, on the other hand, excels at being tormented.

But I have to say, distorting the vampire legend is so WRONG. I prefer my bloodsuckers nocturnal. And why is it always a male vamp who goes after a human girl?

Other new TV shows on cable, which I will try to review soon: Hawaii Five-O, and Hung season 2.

Last but not least, any guesses for People magazine's Sexiest Man Alive 2010?

I have this horrible feeling that Robert Pattinson's going to be on the cover. But then again, People mag rarely bestows this title on someone in his 20s, so let's hope that trend continues.

If I had my way - quirky taste and all - I'd choose ( in order of preference ) Robert Downey Jr, Viggo Mortensen, Clive Owen, Keanu Reeves and Edward Norton.

I adore George Clooney, but he's been featured twice already.
Kevin Spacey is sexy in my book, but not an ideal candidate looks-wise.
James McAvoy's hot, but too young for such a title.

D-day: November 17!

Till next time...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hey I took my wedding photos in France... I agree with you that it really captured our hearts, despite the few bad encounters we did have with rude locals.. Your pictures brings back to my mind a gamut of sweet memories from Paris...

by the way, I work in the same dept as you and I agree with you, the recent MOs really make you seniors work harder than you guys should!