Saturday, July 15, 2017

My Favorite Vampires

Have watched Castlevania a few times now, and it has renewed my interest in vampires (in fiction of course).  (Also renewed my interest in vampire hunters - yes that means you Trevor.)

I confess that the only vampire novel I have ever read is Bram Stoker's Dracula.  I keep the book in my bookshelf, though it is decades old, and has been decades since I first read it. Have been thinking that Audible should get either Richard Armitage or Graham McTavish to narrate a new audiobook version. 

But through my life, starting in my early teens to today as a woman of a "certain age" I've kept my interest in vampires in film, TV, and stage.   I do prefer a certain style of vampire, one not just deadly and scary, but a seductive vampire with sophistication and charm. Yes - a certain type of seductive dangerous charm!

(Maybe that's why I couldn't get into True Blood - I tried watching a few episodes, but somehow not for me, though very popular with others.)

I'm sure I've told this vampire story before, can't remember if I did so on this blog.  If I did, I apologize for telling it again.  A personal vampire story I still find amusing.  OK - here goes.  Over a decade ago now, I started a new job, not at the place I work now.  On my first day at work I walked into the main reception area of my employer (a university) to find a huge and very ornate plate on the wall back of the reception desk, with this portrait in the center:

For those that don't know, that is a famous portrait of  Vlad Tepes, the real life Vlad Dracul, Vlad the Impaler,, who it is said inspired Bram Stoker's novel.  Now, as someone who has followed fictional vampires for a long time I recognized him immediately.  But being my first day at work, I said nothing and proceeded to go on to my new office.

Weeks later I was having lunch with some of my new co-workers and I thought maybe it was a good time to bring up a question that I wanted to ask since my first day of work.  So I said "Why do we have a portrait of Dracula at the reception area, entrance, to our department?"  Everyone looked at me with a mixture of horror and disbelief.  "What are you talking about?" they said.  "Well", I said, "The portrait on that ornate plate that is on the back wall of the reception desk, that you can't miss when you open the suite door, is of Vlad Tepes, a real life historical figure that inspired the legend of Dracula. I was wondering why such an otherwise conservative and otherwise serious place would have that so prominently displayed. We don't offer any degrees related to Vlad or vampires in literature."  (OK,  this is approximately what I said, it has been years, but something like that.) Well, everyone laughed and looked at me and asked how I could possibly know who that was. None of them did, or had heard of him before.  So they changed the subject,this was not a group that liked to talk about vampires, and I, being the introvert I am, never mentioned this again.  

Weeks later I happened to come in through the reception door (my office was in another part of the building) and I noticed that Vlad's portrait had been moved away from reception, and into an inner office.  I feel I must have had a small part in that, though it was never mentioned to me at all. It wasn't really my intention that they move it, I just wanted to know why it was there. Years later, when I no longer worked there, I asked a friend who still did, and she told me the plate had been a gift from a visiting group of international students. 

Anyway, to go back to my favorite vampires, here they are below, from my early teens to today:

Jonathan Frid as Barnabas Collins - Dark Shadows

Frank Langella - Dracula - on stage and screen 

Aidan Turner - Mitchell - Being Human 

(still my favorite Aidan Turner role)

Dracula - Castlevania

Voiced/Performed by Graham McTavish 

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Mall Walking - Frederic Bazille at the NGA

I haven't posted a Mall Walking post in a long time, but I thought this one might be of interest to some.

I've been looking forward to seeing the Frederic Bazille exhibit at the National Gallery in DC for a while, and finally made it just before it closes on July 5.

In a strange way I feel more of a connection to Bazille, and Monet, and Renoir, and Manet, and Cezanne in recent years from my repeated viewings of this TV series:

Crazy, I know

Richard Armitage as Monet (seated), in the back,  standing, James Lance as Bazille , and Charlie Condou  as Renoir

The real Claude Monet from the Bazille Exhibit:

Flowers (L to R) by Monet, Bazille, and Renoir

Before this exhibit I had only seen one or two of Bazille's paintings on exhibit. It was quite a wonderful experience to see more of his work. I especially liked his two artists notebooks/sketchbooks,one from his student days and one he was working with just before his death, that shows not only some wonderful drawings but some preparatory drawings and sketches of work he was planning before his life was cut short in such a tragic way.

Also enjoyed seeing his work next to his contemporaries, especially his good friends Monet, Renoir, and Sisley.  

Some of the quotes on the wall that NGA has used for this exhibit from Bazille's letters to his mother and friends, give us a bit of insight into Bazille the person.  One of my favorites is from a letter to his mother telling her he's now supporting not one, but two, needy artists, Monet and Renoir. Bazille came from a well-to-do family and his parents sent him an allowance to help him live in Paris while he pursued his career as an artist.  He first went to Paris from his home in Montpellier to study medicine, but his love of art won. 

Bazille's career only lasted for seven years.  

I'm not an art critic, only a perpetual art history student, so if you want to know more about this exhibit and Bazille's work, below is a lecture from the NGA about him and the other Impressionists:

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