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Wednesday, January 3, 2007

day six: everything from restrooms to cinema

Today I saw everything in the Prado, and I do mean everything. It took about nine hours, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. I would like to make some remarks about several of the paintings, but I cannot find a search tool at the Prado's website. I would prefer to include links to the paintings. In the meanwhile, here are some random observations about travelling.

In most European public bathrooms that I have seen, the dividers between toilet stalls reach all the way to the floor and usually to the ceiling. This is never the case in the States. Why the difference? I can think of three possibilities. One, in the States, looking at people's shoes while they excrete is part of the lure of the restroom. Two, materials are too expensive and they build partial dividers to save money. Three, the lack of privacy makes same-sex encounters dramatically less likely. Hmm.

I have typically travelled alone in my life, even to cities and countries where I knew no one, but this time I feel especially lonely. Hopefully that will change soon.

Over the next two days I plan to visit Toledo and Madrid's Cine Doré. That is the cinema where Benigno sees the silent film in Hable con ella (Talk to Her). They are screening a Fritz Lang film that I need to see: Human Desire (1954). Lang is one of my favorite directors and ranks fourth in my seen-most-films-by list, behind Bergman, Kurosawa, and Scorsese. Besides Ozu, Lang is one of the few to make great silents and great talkies. His films, both in Germany and in Hollywood, cultivate an expressionistic style of shadows and visual menace. I try to see at least one film in every country I visit. You might be surprised how much filmgoing varies from place to place.

As for Velázquez and the Prado, I am going to try writing out my blog entries on a pad at my hotel and then typing them at the internet spot. I don't see how else I can write moderately serious things while on the road.


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