Posts Tagged ‘Rome’

Top 11 Cities I Want to Visit

March 2, 2020

11. Amsterdam

Firstly, I do not smoke pot but I am open to the idea in a place where it is safe and legal. With that out of the way, I am mostly focused on my love of the artist Vincent Van Gogh. I identify with Van Gogh because of his history of mental illness. I also really love the style of his paintings. Beyond that, Amsterdam is just supposed to a neat place with architecture, art, and culture worth seeing.

10. Cape Town

From my research, Cape Town seems to be the best bang for your buck when it comes to museums dedicated to African art and culture. This is an area that is not explored as much in my country so I would love to go there and see it without it being filtered through the American lens. It also seems like a great city to visit and I would love to experience South Africa firsthand. I do not have a lot of familiarity with African culture except the bits and pieces that flow to our country. I know people who have visited Africa so I know that it is safe and that they have a lot to offer.

9. Moscow

There is so much history tied into this city that it would have been hard not to put it on this list. People are so scared of Russia lately and have been for many decades. Still, it is a country with a unique and interesting history. Russian architecture and art is different from a lot of stuff that I have seen. Mostly, I am interested in exploring the history of the relationship between the USA and Russia (formerly the USSR). The Cold War is such a crazy time in history that I have been fascinated with. I read a book by CIA Agent Antiono Mendez about his time in Moscow both during and after the cold war (among other stories). It is always portrayed as almost another planet so I would want to see what it is actually like.

8. Luxor

I am really talking about one thing above all others and that is the Valley of Kings. The carvings have fascinated me since I first saw photos and drawings. I would love to be in the famous valley and just take it in. There are plenty of other landmarks and plenty of interesting ruins and repositories of history. Egyptian history and mythology have been of interest to me since I was a kid.

7. Las Vegas

The glitz and glamour of Las Vegas is something I have really only seen on television or in movies. The town is legendary for entertainment and I feel like just the atmosphere and design is something that I would love to take in. Each casino is themed like they were created in a weird adult Disney park. I do not really drink or gamble so I would just love to explore. It is also a very distracting city so it would be great to be in a place that I could feel like nobody was paying attention to me. Specifically, I would love to see Penn and Teller operate at the Rio which is where they try out new acts for the first time in front of a crowd.

6. Edinburgh

I definitely have Scottish blood in me and I would love to travel to connect to that. Like many cities on this list, Scotland has structures that are ancient especially compared to what is in the United States. I would love to just stroll around and look at all of the buildings. There are also so many museums in the city. Of particular interest is the Writer’s Museum dedicated to the writers of Scotland but there are so many there. Also, I would go during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival which is a legendary event to watch new comedy and obscure acts.

5. Dublin

I have been enamored of Ireland since I embraced my role as a writer. I love writing and Ireland was home to so many soulful writers. I would love to explore that history as much as I could. I also would love to explore Irish and Gaelic mythology. A lot of folklore about fairies comes from Ireland so exploring that firsthand would be great. Dublin seems to be the heart of it all and that is where I want to be. Walk the streets of Dublin and see all of the architecture and poke into museums to see history and art. A lot of people visit Dublin to drink but, as I have said, I don’t really do that.

4. Rome

Again, the biggest bang for your buck when it comes to Roman art and history. There are so many museums and landmarks in Rome that I could spend months there and not be finished exploring. The whole city is just chock full of history that I have been into since I was a preteen. The legendary pantheon of Rome and Greece is something that always comes back into my mind and imagination. I would love to see artifacts in person and in the intended context. I am somewhat interested in structures of the Catholic Church as a lot of it is quite beautiful. However, I would not go to Vatican City because I disagree with their authority and their hold on the world.

3. New Orleans

The Big Easy is the closest thing that the US has to a mythical city, a legendary place where the legends are true. I just want to soak up the culture and history and just be there. Also, I am a fan of the hotter jazz that comes out of New Orleans and I would love to sit and write at some clubs and listen to music. I do not like parties but I would kind of be interested in attending the greatest party in the USA and perhaps the world.

2. Los Angeles

One word: Hollywood. Since I saw my first movie, I was obsessed with visiting Hollywood and seeing as much as I can. I would take every backlot tour that I could. I would visit filming locations and get into as much as possible. Hollywood is just somewhere I want to be. Also, just outside is Disneyland. While I have been to Disney World, I have never been to the original and that is something I would love to experience. So much history started at Disneyland and Disney Studios. It is not possible but I would also love to visit the Magic Castle which is open only to those who are invited and really only to magicians.

1. Tokyo

Japan is just so different from the country that I have grown up in that I want to explore the culture and atmosphere. I consume anime, manga, martial arts films, pro-wrestling, and so much of Japanese culture that I would love to see it for myself. Tokyo is supposed to be an absolutely amazing place. I would love to visit Korakuen Hall, where so many great matches have occurred. The ancient temples and castles are there to be explored. Finally, there are two Disney parks there (Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea). Both of them were created in conjunction with local creative teams to make something that works for tourists and Japanese citizens. Tokyo DisneySea is supposed to be the greatest Disney park in the world.

Julius Caesar

November 4, 2017

I went and saw Chesapeake Shakespeare Theater’s production of Julius Caesar last week and it got me thinking. Most stories that Shakespeare wrote had heroes and villains. Even the histories painted certain characters as good and certain characters as bad. That is the way humans tend to divide things. We split up actions and people as Right or Wrong. Of course, we often overlook that people are more shades of gray but that is very complicated to think about. Anyway, here are some thoughts based on what I was thinking about. It is clumsy and mostly unresearched but here it is.


Julius Caesar

We know that Julius Caesar was a charismatic leader of the Roman Republic based on lines from the play. A big bit of evidence is that he is highly beloved by the people of the Roman Empire. Being beloved by the people does not necessarily mean that a politician is a good person. In fact, that is some of what Cassius warns against during Act 1. There is a danger in putting any human on a pedestal because you will almost always be eventually disappointed. People are not perfect and should not be treated as such. Praising people like Ronald Reagan or John F Kennedy tends to push their glaring faults and their transgressions into the shadows. We know that Caesar was starting to buy into his own hype and was highly susceptible to flattery. He could have ended a democratic system of government and named himself a King, not recognizing that people are less fallible than a person. It was only a matter of time before he let himself rise to take the crown.


Cassius

Cassius is a schemer and a sweet talker. Somebody who is well-spoken is somebody you really have to listen to closely to catch not only the words they are saying but all the words they are not saying. When you listen to Cassius, his cause does not seem so righteous. Yes, he agrees Brutus that Caesar must be stopped from ending the Republic. However, he spends a lot of time talking about how he and Brutus are just as good as Caesar. He seems more interested in tearing Caesar down than protecting the public from a monarchy. You have to watch for people who seek to tear people down rather than build things up. Caesar is right to fear him because he is a smart guy with a ruthless agenda. It is Cassius’ idea to kill Caesar and he would have absolutely supported murdering Mark Anthony too if Brutus had not put an end to that talk. Later, he is the first of the conspirators to take his own life when things start to turn against him. I can never trust somebody who is hungry for power but quick to run when the hard work or the punishment comes. He is a weasel and is all fair talk and very little substance.


Brutus

We are told that everybody regards Brutus as an honorable man. His love for Rome is so great that he is willing to sacrifice the life of his friend to keep the democracy running. While I view the sacrifice of Caesar as necessary, killing him was never the answer. When politicians are assassinated, they immediately become saints in the eyes of the public. Violence should absolutely be the last resort when it comes to solving a problem. And yet, the conspirators seem to jump right to it. Brutus goes from agonizing over the plan to taking control of it and leading it. He allows himself to be talked into something that never should have happened. There had to be some more political way to dismantle Caesar’s popularity. Brutus’ heart is in the right place. If you have a friend who is going to ruin everything, you do what it takes to stop that friend but there is such a thing as excessive force. The Romans saw that and they were able to use it as a weakness to use to drum up armies against the noble house of Brutus and the other conspirators.


Mark Antony

Mark Antony pretty much started the whole mess. If you look at Act I, it is Antony who publicly offers Caesar a crown. Antony sees the love that the public bears for Caesar and seizes on the opportunity to win points by offering Caesar a crown. He knew that Caesar would probably turn the crown down (which he did) but he probably already knew that it would put more bad ideas into Caesar’s head. This scene is an inciting incident that makes the conspirators desperate to get rid of Caesar, leading to them making the bad choice of murder. When the deed is done, Antony is distraught over the death of his meal ticket/friend but makes a deal with the conspirators to help them smooth things over. He immediately reneges on that deal and incites the crowds against the conspirators through expert emotional manipulation. We have seen lately what damage a populist movement can do. He latches onto Octavius (the future first emperor of the Roman Empire) and drives Octavius to fight to the finish, only accepting surrender when the conspirators were dead. His actions, waging a war against a criminal group to bring them to justice and to unite the country, may seem just at first. Just remember that this was all in support of installing a tyrant.


The People

Finally, we have the people who are also not blameless. As a citizenry in a representative, democratic government they have a hand in their fate. They are the ones who cheered Caesar for a military victory and cheered even more when he was offered the crown. They are shooting themselves in the foot by giving away any power they had in the first place. They are complicit in the political tension which eventually gives birth to the death of Caesar (and indirectly the subjugation of the people under the Roman Empire). The people have few thoughts of their own. When Brutus speaks after the assassination, they almost instantly forgive him because of his eloquence, earnestness, and reputation. Yet, when Mark Antony speaks a minute later, they very quickly turn to cursing Brutus and the rest of the conspirators. Granted, this is directly after the murder of the head of state but it is troubling to watch them switch positions so fast. People today seem just as fickle, heavily influenced by social media, news outlets, propaganda, and politicians’ ‘heartfelt’ speeches.

Conclusion:

There are no heroes here. This is truly a story of gray areas and I cannot decide who to root for. The conspirators mostly had the best intentions but their methods were over the top. Caesar’s pride went before his fall but that fall should have been political and not fatal. Anthony through oil on the fire when a cooler head would have prevailed. At best, Brutus might be considered a tragic hero because his heart was in the right place but his missteps caused his downfall and death.


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