Friday, July 11, 2014

The Face of Jane Austen

A waxwork likeness of Jane Austen was unveiled at the Jane Austen Centre on Wednesday in Bath, England.

A former FBI forensic artist, Melissa Dring, used the Cassandra Austen's sketch of her famous sister as the starting point for the waxwork. She also used diaries, letters and other contemporary accounts of Austen's appearance. Mark Richards, a sculptor, took Dring's final findings and created the waxwork itself.

It's a very nice life-like waxwork, and I, along with many Jane Austen fans, find it interesting to see what these artists think Jane may have looked like.

Anna Chancellor, who played Caroline Bingley in the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice is actually a direct descendant of Jane Austen's brother, Edward. Do you think there's any "family resemblance"?


There's a waxwork of Jane outside the Jane Austen Centre in Bath, and it's very different from the new waxwork that is supposed to be the closest "anyone has come to the real Jane in 200 years" (according to a spokesman for the Centre). I took the picture below during my first trip to Bath in 2010.



Thursday, July 10, 2014

On the Town: On the Streets of New York, New York

The video below is the opening number from the Broadway revival of the musical, On the Town. The musical is returning to Broadway in September, and they filmed the opening number, "New York, New York," to promote the show. I love that they actually filmed the number throughout New York City. You'll have to watch the 1949 film to see how closely they recreated the opening number from that movie.



I have pictures from my recent trip to New York of the many of the places where they filmed this number.

Central Park

Bethesda Fountain - Central Park

Little Italy

One World Trade Center - from a yacht

Steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Radio City Music Hall

Musician in Central Park

Atlas - Rockefeller Center

Empire State Building

On the Town will be playing at the Foxwoods Theatre. When I was in New York in June, the marquee for Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark was still up, even though the show closed in January.

Times Square

I will most certainly be posting more photos from my New York trip soon.

Monday, July 7, 2014

The 12th Doctor is Coming!

We now have a date for the return of Doctor Who, and the Doctor will have a new face. Season 8 will premiere on August 23rd on BBC America. I can't contain my excitement!!

It's always hard to let go of a Doctor you've grown to like. I remember when I first saw the 9th Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) regenerate into the 10th Doctor (David Tennant). I was not prepared at all. I didn't know that Christopher Eccleston would not return for a second season, and I wasn't ready for a new Doctor. I had never seen David Tennant before, and I was so disappointed that "my Doctor" was gone. Of course I grew to like David Tennant as the Doctor, and by the time I knew that Matt Smith would take over the part from Tennant, I had prepared myself for the change, though I was sad to see David Tennant leave. Even though Matt's Doctor was very different from Eccleston's and Tennant's Doctors, I grew to enjoy his take on the Time Lord, and it was hard when it came time to say goodbye to him.

However, I am extremely excited to meet the 12th Doctor. I'm curious to see what Peter Capaldi will bring to the role, and I'm hoping for some great episodes. Even though I am a huge fan of the actors who played the 9th, 10th, and 11th Doctors, I am an even bigger fan of Doctor Who itself. I'm glad that the creators of Doctor Who decided in the 1960s that one of the characteristics of a Time Lord was the ability to regenerate, so that even if the actor playing the titular character decides he would like to move on professionally that the series will still go on.




Sunday, May 18, 2014

Season Finales: The Good and Bad

I like season finales that give me a sense of closure, and a glimpse into where the next season may go. I don't like season finales that don't tie up most of the loose ends or don't answer the questions that have been raised the entire season, or that have a huge cliffhanger. I believe if you tell great stories and develop great characters, whether they're likable or they're a villain, viewers will come back the next season to see what great stories you have in store for those characters. You don't have to have a "who killed J.R.?" cliffhanger to bring back the viewers if the show is good.

So, given those facts, here are some of my observations about the finales of my favorite shows:

***Many spoilers ahead***

Once Upon a Time

After the first half of this season I was ready to call it quits on Once Upon a Time, but I stuck with it to the end of the season. Although I think the Zelena plot line really fizzled at the end, and that the writers missed a great opportunity to actually have her go back in time (I think that could have been very interesting), the Wicked Witch of the West plot line was more entertaining to me than the Peter Pan plot line.

I liked the two-part finale for the most part. I really enjoyed having Emma and Hook go back in time in the Enchanted Forest. It was touching to see Emma witness her parents meet for the first time. She really needed that to give her a real sense of home. I enjoyed looking back again at Snow and Charming's story of falling in love, and I liked seeing it from a different perspective when Emma messed the first meeting up. And I loved the moment when Hook actually punches himself out.

It was great to see Red/Ruby again. I'm sad for the actress that her new show was canceled, but I'm sure many fans, like me, were happy to see her return to OUAT.

I'm not quite sure how I feel about Elsa coming to Storybrooke. I really prefer Once Upon a Time to base their characters on the real fairy tales, and not on the Disney version of fairy tales. So, I would be okay with the character actually being the Snow Queen from Hans Christian Anderson's story, and not Elsa from Frozen. However, this is ABC, who is owned by Disney, and Frozen is so popular, so chances are it will be Elsa, and we'll probably get Anna eventually too. I just really don't want to see a talking snowman on the show - or even a character named Olaf.

Castle

Oh, Castle, Castle, Castle! The season six finale was full of humor and surprises, and one big surprise at the end. I loved the unexpected twist of having Beckett still married to an old boyfriend and having to get him sign divorce papers before she and Rick could get married. Castle does comedy well, and I liked that the comedy revolved around Kate this time instead of Rick.

And then we get to those last few scenes. We were left hanging not only in shock, and with many questions, but with the sense that it may take another season for Castle and Beckett to get married, and if there's even a Castle for Beckett to marry. However, since the show is called Castle, and what TV execs in their right mind would tell Nathan Fillion they're gong to kill him off his titular series just because they wanted to shock the fans? No. There's a bigger mystery to that black SUV and Rick's burning car. I think it's funny that most TV writers think they can't have their main love interests on a show get married. Castle is more about the cases that Beckett and Castle try to solve than it is about "will they or won't they." They could just be the next Hart to Hart. *wink*

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

This show really started off with guns blazing, and then sputtered for a bit, but it certainly made up for it in its race to the finale. It really needed the shake up of S.H.I.E.L.D. that began in the latest Captain America film to solidify it as a great television series. If you started watching it and gave up on it in the middle, you really should go back and watch it - starting from episode 17 to the finale.

There were so many things I was hoping for in the finale, and one main one did not happen. Just like Fitz, I sooo wanted Ward to turn to the good side. It was a big shock when we found out where his allegiance lay, and it was really gutsy of them not to have him turn good at the last minute of the finale. Although, I really liked it when May actually had her chance to have a go at Ward. And when she nailed his foot to the floor with the electric nail gun, I almost cheered for her.

It was great to see Samuel Jackson as Nick Fury, and even though it was totally unrealistic that he knew exactly where Fitz and Simmons were in order to save them, it was a great moment when we saw him holding his hand out to Gemma from the helicopter.

I really like this finale, and I'm looking forward to seeing where they go next season and how they tie the episodes in with other Avenger movies.

Arrow

This season of Arrow was really good. I liked that Slade ended up being the "big bad," even though I really liked him as Oliver's ally on the island.

I was so happy to see the return of John Barrowman - even though he's a bad guy, I really like the actor. I wonder how far to the bad side Thea is going to go. I also wonder what her and Oliver's confrontation will be like if she does go "dark," and she does a lot of horrible things like "failing" Starling City. *wink*

I'm not quite sure how I feel about what Oliver did to Felicity so that they could defeat Slade. I like Felicity so much and we know how she feels about Oliver. I was kind of hopeful during their scene in the Queen mansion, and then when we found out (along with her) that it was all a ruse, I was a bit disappointed. I like Laurel sometimes - but I really like Felicity.

I am sad that Sara left. I really like her. I hope she's not gone for good.

Nashville

I am not a big fan of prime time soap operas (or daytime soap operas for that matter - although there was a time that I never missed an episode of Days of Our Lives, but that was many, many, maaaany years ago). Nashville is the only show I watch that could be considered a soap opera. Okay, who am I fooling? Nashville IS a soap opera (or should I say "soap opry"?), and I have to admit that I have become very invested in these characters. Although, there are a couple of the characters (Layla and Jeff) I think should just be written out of the show (though they don't necessarily need to go the way of Peggy).

This was a decent finale, and what I hope for the next season is... Juliette and Avery stay together, Deacon and Rayna get together, Scarlet finds a nice guy who helps her with her confidence and she writes more songs with Gunnar. However, this is a soap opera, and nothing will be that easy. *wink*

Reign

This was one of the new series that I was a bit wary of originally. I love history of the British monarchs, and I didn't want the CW to mess up the history of Mary Stuart. The historical aspect of the Queen of Scots has basically been laid to the side to tell their own story of romance and political intrigue, with a touch of the supernatural. And I discovered that I'm really okay with that. I like Adelaide Kane as Mary. I adore watching Megan Follows vacillating as the villain and an ally. I like the addition of King Henry's illegitimate son, Bash. In fact, at times I liked him better than Francis.

The season finale wrapped up many things, and set the scene for an interesting second season. Francis found out that Lola's baby was in fact his. And he's off to help her during her labor - even though he knows the plague is running rampant. Bash discovered what the "Darkness" was. And the writers decided to add a historically correct fact. King Henry really did die from after being stabbed in the head with a lance fragment while jousting. They just got the identity of the man who was the cause of his death in the joust incorrect. But then, who can really tell who's inside that armor. Maybe historians have it all wrong and the CW got it right. *wink* When I saw a joust in the preview to this episode, I wondered if the writers were really going to kill Henry. They did. And now Francis is the King of France. If you know the history of King Francis II, you know what happen to him not too long after his father died. We'll see how Reign handles that (if the show lasts long enough).

I'm interested to see how they handle all of this, and if we'll ever get to the time in Mary's life when she actually returns to Scotland. I guess it depends on how quickly time will go by in the series and how long the series lasts.

Grimm

I love Grimm. Let me just say that one more time. I Love Grimm! I've really enjoyed the addition of Trubel. It was a great idea to add another Grimm, and an inexperienced one at that.  It's also good to have her on their side because of what happened at the end of the finale. It was quite the cliff-hanger, but one I didn't mind, because it should give the show a great place to go in the 4th season.

I liked the fact that they made Adalind sympathetic for a while, and I also like that they've given her a real motivation for what she did to Nick. They should have realized that you don't mess with a mother when it comes to her child.

I'm glad that Monroe and Rosalie were able to actual get through the wedding ceremony before all of the craziness started. They are such a great couple.

I'm interested in finding out what they do with Sargeant Woo next season, now that he's seen a few pages from one of the Grimm's books. Will they add him to the list of non-Wesen (I don't know the official name they've given them) who knows about Wesen and Nick's job as a Grimm, or will Nick and Hank try to explain it away as they did before?

And then there's Sean Renard! Will he or won't he? I'm sure he won't. I think if they were going to let him die they would have done it in the finale and not wait until the next season. But... you never know anymore.

What were your favorite season finales? What didn't you like about the finales of your favorite series? What series are you most looking forward to in the fall?

Friday, May 16, 2014

2014 TV Fall Season: Preview

The 2014 TV fall season has been announced, and I'm excited to see what the networks have in store for us this season.

Last year there were nine new series I was interested in seeing (Sleepy HollowAgents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Reign, Crazy Ones, Ironside, About a Boy, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, The Tomorrow People and Star-Crossed). Three of the nine I never ended up watching (Crazy Ones, Ironside, and About a Boy). Two of the series I started watching and then quit (The Tomorrow People and Star-Crossed).  I watched every episode of Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, but I almost stopped watching it in the middle of the season when the story didn't seem to move quickly enough for me. I did enjoy the few final episodes, however. Three out of the nine series have been renewed, and those are the three that I actually watched every episode (Sleepy HollowAgents of S.H.I.E.L.D and Reign). I plan on continuing to watch all three of them next season.

This year there are six new series that have caught my interest. There aren't any that I'm really enthusiastic about (there doesn't seem to be a Sleepy Hollow in the bunch), but some look promising.

The one new series I was really excited about, Galavant (as you may have read in my post of two days ago) isn't even on the fall schedule. I suppose it's meant to be a mid-season replacement.

ABC

Selfie
Description: After being the subject of an embarrassing viral video, a self-involved 20-something enlists the help of a marketing expert to revamp her image in the real world.
My thoughts: This series is being touted as "loosely based on My Fair Lady." I think the two main characters names certainly give that away. Karen Gillan plays Eliza Dooley, and John Cho plays Henry Higgins. I don't know how George Bernard Shaw would feel about his characters thrown into the world of modern social media. *wink* It's interesting to me that Scottish actress Karen Gillan is committing to an American TV series. She has made a few movies since she ended her era as Amy Pond ended on Doctor Who, and I guess she decided American television would be a good next step in her career. I'm not into the world of "selfies," Instagram, or Twitter, so I'm not in the demographic that this series would appeal to, however, I'm interested to see Karen in a comedy. Who knows, I may like it. It's interesting to note that another Doctor Who actor, David Tennant (who actually was the Doctor), is also tackling American television in Gracepoint (a remake of the British miniseries, Broadchurch, which also starred David Tennant).

Forever
Description: A 200 year-old man works in the New York City morgue trying to find a key to unlock the curse of his immortality.
My thoughts: Two words - Ioan Gruffudd (I met him at Comic Con a few months ago, and that is one beautiful man). I just hope that his curse of immortality has nothing to do with drinking blood. *wink*

How to Get Away With Murder
Description: A group of ambitious law students and their brilliant, mysterious criminal defense professor (Viola Davis) become entangled in a murder plot that will shake the entire university and change the course (great pun *wink*) of their lives.
My thoughts: The premise to this series reminds me of a TV movie from 1991 that starred Pierce Brosnan called Murder 101. In the TV movie, Brosnan is an author who teaches a writing class to college students on how to write a novel that involves the perfect murder. Brosnan is framed for killing a colleague, and the mystery begins. I don't know how similar this series will be to the TV movie, but I'm interested to see where the show goes.

NBC

Constantine
Description: A man struggling with his faith is haunted by the sins of his past but is suddenly thrust into the role of defending humanity from the gathering forces of darkness.
My thoughts: I'm on the fence about this one (mainly because I can't quite grasp what it's really about), but I like Lucy Griffiths, who played Marian in BBC's series, Robin Hood. Another series based on a comic book.

Fox

Gotham
Description: The origin story behind Commissioner James Gordon's rise to prominence in Gotham City in the years before Batman's arrival.
My thoughts: I have enjoyed many series and movies based on comic books, and I'm willing to give this one a try.

CW

The Flash
Description: Barry Allen suffers a freak accident that turns him into a superhero with the power of incredible speed.
My thoughts: Arrow is one of my favorite series - especially after its second season, which exceeded my expectations - and I liked Barry Allen's character when he was introduced at the beginning of this season of Arrow. Given those two facts, I'm looking forward to this series. I hope it lives up to my expectations.

As you can see, there aren't any series on CBS's new schedule that I want to check out. It would be interesting if one of those CBS shows is a big hit and I just happen to give it a chance and love it. I doubt it, but it would be interesting.

What shows are you looking forward to in the 2014 Fall season?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Oh, The Places You'll Go!

Loch Ness, Scotland

"You're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So... get on your way!"
Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You'll Go!

Like most Americans, my ancestry is very diverse. On my mother's side, I am Norwegian, English, and Swiss. On my father's side I am Scottish, Swedish, Danish, English, French, Welsh and Irish (and traces of many others nationalities).

Eventually, I would like to visit all of the countries my ancestors came from (prior to this year I have been to England, Switzerland and France), but because my last name is Scottish, there's a special place in my heart for Scotland and all things Scottish, and I've wanted to go there for as long as I can remember.

I can now say that I've visited the "land of my father." I just returned home from a wonderful trip to England and Scotland. There wasn't enough time to see everything I wanted to see or go everywhere I wanted to go in Scotland and England, but I was just so happy to be there and enjoy the beauty of the two countries and bask in their rich histories.

I hope you enjoy my photo travel blog.

England
St. Paul's Cathedral, London

Westminster Abbey, London

Houses of Parliament (and Big Ben), London

The Tower of London, London

The Tower Bridge, London

Traitor's Gate, Tower of London, London

Shakespeare's Globe, London

Windsor Castle, Windsor

Durham Cathedral, Durham

Scotland
River Ness, Inverness

Loch Ness, Inverness

Cawdor Castle, near Nairn

Roman Vindolanda excavation, near Hadrian's Wall

Dunnottar Castle, near Stonehaven

One of the many amazing views from Dunnottar Castle

Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh

View from Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle

I loved everything about Scotland and every site that we visited. I loved the beauty of the Highlands as well as the Lowlands. However, one of the highlights of the trip for me was visiting the town where my ancestors came from - Kirriemuir, Scotland. As well as being famous for being the town where my ancestors came from (*wink*), Kirriemuir just happens to be the birthplace of James M. Barrie, who wrote Peter Pan.

Kirriemuir

Peter Pan statue, Kirriemuir

Wednesday, May 14, 2014