This Week

Right, it's been a week and I have five days left in London. It's a bit surreal to be honest, despite the inevitable mailing that will occur tomorrow (all my sweatshirts, all of the presents for those who don't live with me, my posters, the rest of the large-ish teddy bears) and the fact that I've packed up all my mugs and everything else in my room is, bit by bit, getting put away either in my duffel bag or my carry on. Still, I haven't been resting on my laurels or moping in my room about my departure on Tuesday. No, I've been out and about getting in my last trips both in the southern part of England and in London. There will be more trips in London tomorrow, but for now I'm going to talk about a couple of stand out moments from the last seven days.
So I'm going to admit it: I bailed on Miike Snow. I printed out the ticket but when the time came to leave for the gig, I decided that I just didn't want to spend 3 hours rubbing shoulders (literally) with a bunch of hipsters. I like Miike Snow's music, but the majority of the people who were going to be at that concert are exactly the kind of people who have made my London experience less than brilliant. So I stayed home and relaxed, which given the week I've had was probably a good idea.
The next night however I didn't bail on seeing the Hertfordshire Choir perform Mozart's Requiem. It was an amazing performance and so Mozartian that at points I just had to smile and go "Aaah Mozart. So distinctive, so pattern oriented." I had a nice dinner and in general a nice night out. However to all future composers: Don't try and mix modern music with scientific theories and moral concepts. Especially where lyrics are involved. It doesn't work.
Monday I mailed things. I had grander plans, but after I found out that I would be spending hard cash to mail everything, grander plans went out the window.
Tuesday I went to Brighton and while the weather was nice and I got some good pictures, it was a bit disappointing to be honest. I went to the Pier, but none of the rides were opened and for me, that was the whole point. Sure the Royal Pavilion was beautiful and opulent and well worth the time, but it's not why I went to Brighton. I went to Brighton to have fun on the pier. Still, at least I can say I've been there (like I can say I've been to Leeds, Cardiff, Liverpool, Glasgow, Bath, Winchester, Salisbury, York, Canterbury, Greenwich, Penzance, Windsor, Stonehenge, and Dover.)
Speaking of Dover, that's where I went today. It was over cast the entire time, I couldn't find the restaurant my Mom found for me (I walked past where it was multiple times though without knowing it, which annoys me even more), and it took 35 minutes to get from the White Cliffs (National Trust shop site) to the Dover Priory train station (which means it probably took about 30 minutes to get from the town centre to the cliffs). Once I was at the White Cliffs, the views were amazing, but again, it was over cast and chilly. Not a great day for viewing needless to say. However the day was redeemed because I got a crepe and the book my grandmother wanted me to get for her at St. Pancras. However the some of my flatmates are being obnoxious, but I only have a few more days of said obnoxiousness.
I still have to make up my mind about what I'm doing tomorrow, but I do know that the morning will be devoted to spending a great hairy wad of money to send off the last of my sending off things. It annoys me, but the post office doesn't take credit cards (well American credit cards) so I have no choice. I might be getting my hair done or I might be shopping and going to the Eye. All I know is that I'm having dinner with Amanda and a friend of her's, so part of my evening is taking care of. I also know that on Saturday I'm going to a cinema theater to watch Dr. Strangelove: or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb because I haven't seen it all the way through and it seems like a good movie to see on the big screen. In the next entry I will talk about my undying love for Glee and the Comedy Store. But that's next time. Until then, don't panic.


Nice Things

I had something nice happen to me today. This is not to say that nice things don't happen to me, it's just to say that one of those nice things happened today. I ran into one of my former music radio classmates Jade. It's been ages since I'd seen her and while we only had the briefest of conversations* she said it was really nice to have met me and gave me a hug. I haven't gotten many hugs while I've been here but one of the things I missed the most during the low point that was the majority of February and March were hugs. I have a friend** at UMW who is a big hugger and while I missed getting hugs from my family I missed getting random hugs from Joe. So, in short, getting a hug from one of the only British people I'll remember fondly was really nice.
So while I've been in London, and in general really, I've been remiss on updating you guys on the music world. This is because I've stopped checking NME.com like a crazy person and rely entirely on the AV Club. I don't know if this is for the best, but it is the way it is. However I read a news item on the AV Club that I had to immediately report which reminded me that I have another news item from a couple of weeks ago that also needs to be written up here. The first item is about George Harrison and a docu about him being directed by Martin Scorsese. I have to admit that after reading two biographies on the Beatles George has become my favourite by a long shot. This is because I will always prefer the underdog and George, at least in the Beatles, was the underdog (and no, Ringo doesn't count, he's just sad.) So the fact that there's going to be a documentary on him that could possible feature demo-ed songs from when he was in the Beatles makes me start salivating. In fact my reaction was "I want now." Sadly, we have to wait until 2011. The other news items pertains to Brandon Flowers forthcoming solo album (aka the end of the Killers). I loved the Killers first album. I liked one of the tracks from their 3rd album. I hated their second album. However I really like Jenny Lewis so the idea of Brandon Flowers dueting with Jenny Lewis makes me slightly interested in hearing this solo album. As the AV Club would say, I'm cautiously optimistic.
So that's it. I've got 11 days left and two music performances in a row. I also have rugby shirts to buy for myself and my Dad. Until then, don't panic.

*In short: "Hey! When are you leaving?" "Hey, in a week and a half" "Oh, well I probably won't see you again, but it was really nice meeting you" "Yeah, you too" "Bye" "Bye"
**Loghman, who I've friended on Facebook, had a really strange definition for friend that I've since adopted. So technically Joe isn't a friend, he's an acquaintance. But unlike Loghman, I make exceptions to this strange definition.


Tanning in the English Rain

I got a sunburn. I'm known for being suspiciously pale and whenever photos are taken of me next to my Mom's younger sister's kids (otherwise known as my aunt's kids) I look like a freakin' albino (save for the dark hair.) So getting a sunburn isn't exactly something I like getting. However, because this is just how my brain works, I immediately thought of the couplet in "I Am the Walrus" dealing with English rain:
Sitting in an English garden waiting for the sun
If the sun don't come you get a tan from standing in the English rain
Of course now said sunburn is itching like a mofo, so the damn thing isn't nearly amusing as it was before it started itching. But how did I get a sunburn you might ask? From riding in an open top double decker bus, that's how. So let's talk Penzance.
After the stress of my final week of classes I decided that going to Dublin would have been too much. After canceling all of my tickets and booking a room in a lovely guest house, it was decided that I would be going to Penzance, best known for being really near Lands End and its pirates. It's also very close to the shore and I thought, what better way to de-stress from a stressful week than by spending some time by the seaside? Well my supposition proved correct and Penzance was just what I needed. While I didn't spend that much time in the actual town, the entire trip was not only incredibly restful but also incredibly beautiful. I visited my final Tate at St. Ives (excellent, though not as fun as Liverpool) and then took a very bumpy and amusing ride to Lands End. The roads in the part of Cornwall I was visiting narrow and aren't really meant for more than one car. Granted there aren't a great many people driving around the area, so the narrow roads aren't that much of a problem. Unless you're a great big bus and have several small cars heading your way. Then you get to do a little dance, which is highly amusing to watch from the top of said great big bus. Sure the wind whipped my eyes quite a bit and I somehow ended up with a sunburn, but I had a great time in Penzance and kind of wish I could have stayed a bit longer.
I've got 12 days left. It's a bit daunting and a bit surreal at the same time. I keep telling people that it doesn't seem that long ago I was landing in London and freezing to death in Paddington waiting to move into my home away from home. I'm looking forward to going home though (not excited about packing, never excited about packing) and seeing everyone after such a long time. Especially my woofies. Oh there were so many cute dogs in Penzance. So until next time, don't panic.


Waterloo Sunset At Last

I'm done. And no not in the "I can't put up with this anymore" way. I've felt that way for awhile now actually. No, I mean I'm officially and finally done with all of my classes. The last two days were incredibly stressful (and not just because I had to write two papers that were due on the same day). The past week in fact has been incredibly stressful because of the three papers I had to write. And then there was birthday. So let's start there and move forward.

I haven't really done anything special for my birthday for the past couple of years because school lets out a week before my birthday and so all of the people I would invite to a birthday party are in other states. That and I'm not use to really having birthday parties for people outside my family. You could say I'm out of practice. But since I don't really have a lot of family over here I decided that I would take my only friend here out for pizza. Amanda and I shared a pepperoni pizza at the place my Mom and I found near Holborn and I had a nice glass of red wine with it. We talked about how weird it was to think that our time in London was almost over and wondering what the heck we are going to do with all the stuff we're not bringing home with us (Oxfam!). It was really nice all in all. Then I went home and opened some really lovely pressies. I got two QI DVDs from my Dad's parents, a CD of accordion music from my Mom's older sister, and a lot of other really nice things (books, more DVDs and a blouse to be specific.) I talked to my Mom and Dad on the phone and then I talked to my sister on her cellphone. It was, all in all, a much better birthday than I was expecting.

Then the paper writing started. Actually it was more like, I spent a day "researching" and then on Wednesday and Thursday I wrote papers. I had spent Monday morning finishing my marketing paper even though it wasn't due until Wednesday because I wanted as much time to focus on my other two papers as possible. I spent most of Wednesday writing my law paper and then most of Thursday writing my incredibly crappy and awful Art and Society paper. I really didn't like that paper. The law paper was better though largely because I felt more secure in what I was doing. The marketing paper was not brilliant, but passable and that's all I care about with that class. It was a huge relief to get them done though. I had spicy beef pho for dinner with a beer and strawberry with "fresh" basil sorbet for dessert which was even nicer than getting the papers done.

For my birthday my Mom's parents gave me a considerable amount of money. I felt very fortunate to have such nice grandparents and decided that on Friday I would spend it on a nice shirt/sweater combo at White Stuff, my new favourite place to buy clothing. So after a relaxing morning (sort of) I went to Spitalfields, had lunch at Crepe Affair (my favourite crepe place in the whole world outside of Paris) and went to White Stuff. I got a cute orange shirt and a striped blue/light green sweater to go with. I felt very pleased with purchases and with some time to spare I wandered around the stalls before finding a stall that sold really cute mens cardigans. I proceeded to purchase one even though it just about emptied me out. Then, in my big plan for the day, I went and saw a movie. The movie, highly recommended by Time Out, was La Danse and was about the Paris Opera Ballet. As I told my Mom it was more a visual stream of consciousness than a documentary with a story to tell (or at least a story in the traditional sense.) It was a beautiful and fascinating movie and I'm very pleased I didn't chicken out on seeing it.

Winchester, Salisbury, Waterloo
I wanted to go to Solsbury Hill. It turns out Solsbury Hill is nowhere near Salisbury is nowhere near Solsbury Hill, despite the fact that when spoken they basically sound the same. However I did see two more cathedrals (Winchester and Salisbury) and got spend some more quality time on trains looking out at the British country side. There's something inherently peaceful about the country side that I appreciate deeply. The cathedrals themselves reminded me of many of the other cathedrals I've seen, though Winchester was less impressive than Salisbury (and none of them compare to Canterbury.) The weather was off and on, though there was no real rain, which was good since I forgot my umbrella. After making my way back to Waterloo station I decided to take advantage of the nice weather in London and take pictures from Waterloo Bridge while listening to "Waterloo Sunset" by the Kinks. This has been a goal of mine basically since I got here so getting to do that, while dorky, was fulfilling. Then I went home in a tranquil state and watched the second to last episode (ever) of Ashes to Ashes on the BBC iPlayer. I'm going to miss that piece of software after I leave this country. It's so legal.

So that's it for me. I've got two more weeks in the UK and on my itinerary I've got Penzance (where hopefully there will be no pirates), Brighton, Dover, the Eye, the Imperial Museum, and some quality time in Hyde Park. It's not particularly ambitious but I do have to pack at some point. Also, next week I'm seeing Miike Snow and the LSO perform Mozart's Requiem. And hopefully getting a haircut at some point. Until next time, don't panic


I Don't Like This Paper

I can't decide whether I work better in the library or in my room. I've written the majority of my papers this semester in my room, but I've also written a couple in the library and I can't figure out if I concentrate better in my room or in the library. Sure, there are technically less distraction in the library and so I probably finish the papers quicker in the library than in my room. However I feel more relaxed in my room which I think makes my writing more coherent and just better overall. Granted I also think that my attention span is better when I actually care even an iota about what I'm writing about. For instance, I don't really care about portraiture and yet here I am writing a paper about portraiture and how it reflect society. I'm almost certain that even with a lengthy introduction and conclusion I'm not going to reach the target number of words, even a modified version of the target number of words. But I just don't care anymore. I want these classes to be over and I want this experience to be over. I want to go home. But I can't go home until these papers are done and that means I have to write about something I could care less about. At least with the law paper I actually cared a little bit. With this paper I don't even give a damn. If it were up to me, I wouldn't write it at all. But I know I must and I've grown up enough to realize that avoiding isn't the best way to deal with things I don't like. So here I am, writing a paper I don't want to write in a country that I would like to leave as soon as possible. Well either leave the country or move to another part of the city, one that's less annoying and loud.
Really though, I just don't want to write this paper whatsoever.


I Completely Forgot You Where Here

While in London I've done a good amount of solo dining. Taking into account that I don't eat out every night and that I've been to a number of the same restaurants more than once, I've been to a good number of restaurants in a variety of locals throughout the city. Solo dining however is not the easiest. Dining in London, in general, is not a quick affair due largely to the entire waiting service of the city being very well trained in the art of not looking at their costumers. With a larger group, or a small group with one particularly vocal member, is more likely to get attention than a small group with no vocal members. It's even worse for someone dining by themselves. However, despite the above description, I haven't had that bad a time in my dining experiences. I believe this is in part because I go to restaurants of a high-ish caliber and I tend to frequent restaurants that are short on space and therefore paying attention to me means getting a table free quickly for two people who will spend more than I ever could. For the most part I've enjoyed my dining experiences both in London and throughout the UK. Last night though I hit rock bottom at a restaurant recommended, oddly enough, by Zagat. I was effectively ignored for the entire time and my original waiter, who went off shift after placing my order, admitted that he had forgotten I was there. The risotto I had was undercooked and a bit bland to be honest. However the pinot grigio I had was lovely. Last night though, in my mind, was the bottom of the barrel in terms of London restaurant service. As I stated, I've mostly been pleased with the service I've received and the food I've eaten while in London. But for anyone who's has plans to eat in London, even if it's with other people, be aware of how the service works here. It's nothing like in the US and can take a while to get use to, but is ultimately worthwhile. London may not have the best food in the world, but it does pretty damn well and whole lot better than people give it credit. Granted, I'm not talking about English food. That's a whole other story.


Fuzzy Brain

Edit: I didn't get the internship at Sirius XM. Still, at least I got to the interview part and the whole process was quick like ripping off a band-aid which is better than with NPR. And I still have WPFW to return to, so it's not like I'm at a loss for things to do. Better luck next time I say.

If you've been reading this blog for more than a year, you probably know the following facts about me:
  • I'm an anglophile
  • I've had a minor obsession with a number of male singers
  • QI is my number one lifeline
Another leading fact about me is that I don't really pay attention to politics. I'm aware of what's going on around the world because my parents wouldn't let me be that ignorant, but I don't read a newspaper every day, watch a news program (except during the summer when I can't help it), or listen to news radio. However, the British recently held an election, one that was really hard to ignore even for me. The result of the election was a hung parliament which means that there's still a chance that the Cyborgs* could come into power and do severe damage to a fragile country. As I mentioned at the beginning of this ramble, I don't really care about politics. It's depressing, even though it's getting slightly less so in the US, but not much. However, I really like the UK and I don't want to have to ban myself from it because of this election (which is what will happen if the Cyborgs get power). This was meant to be more coherent, but this is what happens when my brain stops focusing, which it hasn't been doing for awhile now.
In other news I'm in love with Glee and Kurt. He's so wonderful and the show is so ridiculous sometimes, it's like critically lauded crack. It fills the gap that Gossip Girl use to fill but since that show has sadly gone to seed and so I'm glad I have back up now. Again, this was meant to be longer and more coherent, but my brain seriously can't focus, though it doesn't have to do with Glee. That show just makes me giddy, not unfocused.
That's it really. I have PEO and Macbeth tomorrow and then it's the epic paper writing spree of 2010. Also my birthday on Monday which means I get to open all the packages that have been accumulating. So until next time, don't panic.

*The conservatives. Cameron doesn't look human to me, so I've labeled the whole party cyborgs. It's not mature, but they aren't my politicians.


Interview, Julian Barret, Brian May

I just* finished my first real interview ever. It was for an internship with Sirius XM in their music programming department. In case you've ever wondered, the biggest surprise about me is not that I'm obsessed with Glee but that I like sci-fi (like Star Trek and Star Wars). :hits head against desk repeatedly: I need all of you to think nice things and keep your fingers crossed for the next two weeks because it would be super awesome if I got this internship. However don't feel the need to hold your breath as well, I don't want to be responsible for any deaths.
In other news my grandparents arrived with only minor** delays and because it just made sense I spent the weekend with them. As far as I can tell a good time was had by all, especially when my great-aunt Hina showed us every program she has recorded from Japanese television. Here are some more highlights in bullet point form (because we all know how much I love bullet points).
  • Julian Barret was spotted at the second to last performance of Spymonkey's Moby Dick gathering new ideas for the next series of The Mighty Boosh. My suggestion would be to rip off the whole thing and claim it as theirs. It could work.
  • Brian Fraking May. And a chorus of 1,000 people. But more importantly Brian Fraking May.
  • Sweet Charity is possibly the sweetest musical about a dance hall hostess ever. Despite the undercurrents of cynicism and prostitution it really is a sweet play. Too bad she doesn't get the guy because he's an idiot. Anyway.
  • London's perfect weather went away. I suspect it was upset with TfL as well and decided to spend the bank holiday in Europe.
  • It's exactly a week until I am no longer half of the answer to life, the universe, and everything. I will accept late presents. Or mailing tubes for posters. Either is fine.
Well that's it. This week is fairly boring. I have PEO on Saturday and I'm seeing the Scottish Play that same night. I've decided that I'm going out for dinner for my b-day, I just have to figure out which restaurant location I'm going to drag Amanda to. That's the problem with having one's birthday on a Monday and having three papers due two days later: You can't really big it up. So until next time, don't panic.***

*When I say "just" what I mean is about 15 minutes ago. I had to talk to my Dad first and it takes awhile to write these things, despite evidence to the contrary.
**If minor is a two hour delay from 11pm to 1am. Then they had minor delays.
***I should have mentioned HHGG. However I was trying desperately to avoid mentioning DW, so that whole section of my brain shut down. Oh well.