Friday, December 20, 2002
Mum came up for the afternoon for lunch, and we went to the Rainbow Room at the Big Pretty Building. Unlike most times that we've gone to pricey, famous New York eateries, we actually enjoyed the food and atmosphere. When we first got up there, it was pretty foggy. But after awhile (and after Mom temporarily convinced me that a particularly nasty front was about to unleash a tornado upon Midtown Manhattan), the weather cleared and we had a lovely view of the south of the city. We followed the nice lunch with a victory lap through Rockefeller Plaza, Fifth Avenue, Grand Central and finally Penn Station. Now my feet are tired and I'm too weary to go out and do more even if I wanted to.
So I guess that does it for me in New York for awhile. It's been a swell three years. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't sad to go. But I believe I'm going for a reason that is infinitely worth whatever heartache comes with leaving. Besides, there's a lot more trouble to cause, er, good work to be done in Washington as far as making a difference in the world at large. So let's see what I can find...
Adios, New York. It was fun.
Monday, December 16, 2002
But before you cue the violins and break out the hankies, I did manage to have a pretty entertaining night, and was able to embarrass myself without anybody's help.
I decided to take myself to TeaNY, the vegan cafe/tea shop owned by one Mr. Moby. It's been awhile since I was there last, and since they have a marvelous selection of teas and it's within walking distance, I went by myself to get some dinner. I took some Christmas cards and my journal to keep me busy while I waited for my food.
It wasn't busy at all when I went in, and eventually I was the only patron in the place, munching on a fake turkey club and key lime tea (I know, I know. But since I'm only in Lower Manhattan for a few more days, let me indulge in some hippie dippy goodness while I can). Suddenly, Mr. Moby and some of his pals bound into the place and sit directly behind me. All of a sudden, I'm in the ninth grade again, sitting next to a kid I have a crush on but am too scared to talk to, let alone keep my hand steady enough to hold a teacup.
So not cool.
In the end, I didn't wind up talking to him at all. Which is okay in that I've talked to him before and he was with his friends and all. But I did feel like I should have capitalized on the moment. So I grabbed one of my Christmas cards, scribbled something about how I appreciated his music and the role that it's played during my time in New York and that I'm super-sorry about your recent beating, and when I finally left (which was a good hour or so after Moby & Co. did), I left it on my seat and fled into the night.
Needless to say, I feel less than super cool now. Especially when I realized that I slightly under-tipped my nice waiter. Sheesh. But that's okay. Because I'm never ever ever going back there. At least not for a good few months.
Incidentally, I discovered that vegan cheesecake is actually quite good and that eavesdropping on rock stars and their friends can be surprisingly boring when all they're doing is singing along to the New Wave tape that's playing in their restaurant.
Thursday, December 12, 2002
That is so not cool, to say the least.
For one thing, Moby is not the most physically imposing person you'll ever come across. If you want to attack somebody randomly, you could pick a better target that would pose more of a challenge. Unless of course, you're new to the random beating scene. In that case, by all means go for the skinny, hippy-dippy pacifist vegan musician. You can work your way up to people who would actually put up a fight once you perfect your skills on the wussies of the world.
I sincerely hope that the three gentlemen who jumped Moby didn't do so because of something silly like an Eminem song. Maybe Moby owed them money. Or slept with one of their girlfriends in college. That would still be pretty retarded, but not completely asinine.
Maybe they were from the beef industry.
Anyway, I recognize that the moderately serious beating of a music star is not real high on the list of problems of the world at large. It just bummed me out.
So not cool.
Friday, December 6, 2002
I found a lovely silver-plated menorah at that bastion of all things Hebraic, Pottery Barn.
It's a damn fine menorah if I do say so. It's a bit too classy for my humble dorm lodgings, but I plan to hold onto it long enough to give it a properly dignified home someday.
As it is, the poor thing has to suffer not only being surrounded by craptastic Yaffa gear, but, due to a woeful shortage of Chanukah candles, it currently has pieces of paper rolled up to resemble candles shoved into its holes.
The menorah's a bit pissed.
Tonight being the last night of Chanukah, it only has a few more hours to go before it gets put away for the year. I hope it won't hold a grudge. A cranky menorah is nobody's friend.
Tuesday, November 26, 2002
First of all, the Central Park Zoo is one of the best things going in New York. It only costs $3.50 for both the regular zoo and the children's zoo. It's small enough that you can fit in several other tourist stops in your day, but big enough that you're more than adequately entertained. I highly recommend getting there in time for the feedings of sea lions and penguins.
But I do have a fondness for those bunnies.
They're located in an enclosed pen so they can romp about. One rabbit, who I assume to be of opposite sex than the others, is segregated, but it manages to engage the others in bunny tomfoolery despite the wall of chicken wire that separates them. The fence is tall enough that I suppose they're not meant to be touched, but its spaces are big enough that one can fit a clandestine pat in here and there. The black and white one I made friends with was very obliging.
Do visit the bunnies if you're in the area. One can't be sad watching bunnies romp in the grass.
Tuesday, October 15, 2002
This was my first visit to downtown Washington in four and a half years. Last time I was there, it was January 1998, and there were TV cameras everywhere to cover the newly-hatched Monica Lewinsky scandal. This weekend there were only a few protesters camped out in fromt of the White House to mar the scenery, but I suppose you can't fault them too much for that.
The monumental buildings are fairly impressive in the daylight, but at night they're all lit up and quite pretty. And the Metro in DC kicks the New York subway's butt as far as aesthetics and safety go, so it's all right to stick around that particular part of the District after hours. Not a lot of pedestrians, but lots and lots of cops and official-type people about.
Try to stop by the Old Ebbitt Grill as well. The menu changes every day, and it's quite reasonable. That's my recommendation for the day.
Sunday, October 6, 2002
This is why I love living in New York.
Despite weather forecasts that threatened the region with the remnants of Hurricane Lili, yesterday's weather was beautiful. So I decided to take myself to Washington Square Park, where something very special was going on.
Yesterday marked the date of the autumn Dachshund Fest. Hundreds of dachshunds and their owners gathered in the north end of the park (as the southern end was dominated by some very hopped-up nannies who were getting ready to march to City Hall to demand labor standards). The event culminated in the group gathering together to hoist their weiner dogs above their heads to sing the Dachshund song.
This, friends, is why you never leave the house in New York without a camera.
Not content to end my day with that, I paid a visit to the Met. As I was walking to the 19th-Century European wing, the family of three a few paces in front of me stopped to admire the sculpture courtyard below. It was Woody Allen and Soon-Yi, with their young daughter. They wound up in the same room as me a couple of times in the Impressionism section, and plenty of people noticed them, too. Nobody seemed to care all that much.
In three and a half years, that was my first celebrity-in-the-wild sighting. At least the first one that I noticed.
And tourism in this town is flagging? Come up and visit, people! All this happened in a span of four hours. Imagine what you could see in a weekend.
Wednesday, October 2, 2002
What a bunch of sorry-ass cats.
These folks' idea of a mean kitty is one that likes to sleep in the bathtub or yell at the television.
Normally I wouldn't bother with such silly sites, but this one really needed rectifying.
And Gato was there.
Saturday, September 21, 2002
It wasn't that I was squeamish about the subject matter. But based on the play's premise, I thought it was going to be a bit too girl-power, down with men, rah-rah-sis-boom-vagina to carry me through an hour and a half. After 30 minutes, I figured I would have heard all that I needed.
But it was a fairly engaging, and very funny, production. Admittedly, some of the monologues didn't ring true or seemed a bit gratuitous, but the performances of the three actresses that read them were very good, and there was enough valid and interesting stuff that it didn't seem too silly.
It goes without saying that it's not for everyone. If you think you're going to have a problem with the subject beforehand, you probably aren't going to enjoy it. But if you're so inclined, it could be worth a look. I wouldn't not recommend it.
Sunday, September 15, 2002
I haven't been caught out in a rainstorm such as we had today in a long long time.
As mentioned, it rained a lot in London, but it was rarely a torrential downpour. Except that one time in Kew Gardens, which sucked heartily.
Anyway, Jeffrey visited this weekend, which means that I got to go out to eat. We visited one of our favorites from the days when we lived on 26th and 1st Avenue, Bamiyan. Bamiyan is a very nice Afghan restaurant where you can sit on the floor, if you wish, and enjoy kebabs and pasta and dumplings and oceans of delicious yogurt sauce.
My favorite part of going to Bamiyan is the doogh. Doogh is a delightful concoction on yogurt, salt, mint, and seltzer water. I enjoy it, although I have yet to find a sympathetic doogh taster. It complements tasty seasoned meat very nicely. For honest.
Crissie said it tasted like the dentist's office. I don't know what that means.
She didn't take a very big sip.
Perhaps next time she'll be more open-minded.
Saturday, September 14, 2002
It would be terrible to think that it all got screwed up before the first year of the new century was over, wouldn't it?
Of course, you'd have to agree with the idea that the 90s were a shiny, happy decade that did more good than bad for world history, and I think that remains to be seen. And you'd have to be mighty superstitious to believe that one event can set the tone for a whole century anyway.
Or would you?
It's just an idea. But if September 11 becomes the turning point for this century the same way that World War I was for the last, I quit. I quit, or move to Anarctica to live happily among the penguins.
A little pessimism never hurt anyone, right?
I've been watching too much TV.
Thursday, September 12, 2002
She thinks I may be somewhat less than spontaneous.
She says this because she caught me in my rotating the pants ritual, wherein I transfer the pants that I did not wear this week to a different hanger, to make room for the freshly clean pants, who must wait their turn.
I just want my pants to have equal wear.
Is that really so wrong?
Time to alphabetize the pantry.
Wednesday, September 11, 2002
Of course it was sad. I knew that the same thing was going through everyone's minds as I walked through SoHo, Greenwich Village, and Union Square. But people were going about their business just the same. And it was a lovely day. A gusty day, but a welcome change from the ickiness of the past week. Lots of people were outside, stopping by the parks on their lunch breaks. During my particular lunch break I went to Union Square, where there were stations at which you could create a drawing or a message and have it put up on a wall. I sat down and made a contribution, and then took my lunch next to a very nice Jack Russell terrier named Spot. I followed up lunch with a visit to Petco, because no matter how sad I get, watching small furry animals will always make me happy.
Tonight Christine and I went to a candlelight vigil in Washington Square Park. Although it was very nice to see the NYU community gather together for something (anything), I have to say that the event didn't go off as planned. For one thing, the wind, which was beyond anyone's control, made the science of candlelighting considerably difficult. For another, the orchestra (which was supposed to be the centerpiece) was barely audible, so no one really knew when to start being reverent and carried on talking and laughing and trying to keep the candles lit. I guess there was something redeeming in that, but it wasn't the solemn occasion I thought it would be. Real reflection occurred on the walk home south on LaGuardia Place, where there was nothing but pitch black where the towers once sparkled.
But all in all, New York didn't seem to be a depressed city today. Last year, it was a place drained of its energy and spirit. Today people were solemn, but not somber. It was a day to honor the people that died, and celebrate the city that went through a crushing blow, but somehow got its rhythm back nonetheless. It will never be the same, but it's still very much alive .
So September 11, 2002 was a reflective day, but reflective in a positive manner. Not a bad day at all, on the whole.
Tuesday, September 3, 2002
I've been riding halfway across the country in a big green Blazer full of Jeffrey's worldy possessions with a bag of pork rinds and several dozen CDs at my feet, keeping track of the miles and various exotic roadkill that rolled by.
Our trip took us through Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, DC; Maryland, Delaware, and my own little corner of Pennsylvania.
It's a very interesting drive, starting out flatter than all get-out and winding through the Smoky Mountains and then through the vehicular nightmare that is the Beltway before ending in the familiar chemical-plant-lined highways of Philadelphia.
I saw my fair share of smooshed armadillos on the side of the road and ate my fair share of greasy fried meat along the way.
Though it should be noted that the smooshed armadillos had nothing whatsoever to do with the greasy fried meat that I consumed.
At least I hope that's the case.
It was a very successful trip, ending in Jeffrey securing a place in lovely Forestville, MD and the obtainment of a fine green sofa and comfy mattresses.
Is obtainment a real word? Does it really matter?
So I'm back in NYC for the time being. Classes start tomorrow, which should result in a welcome return to routine.
Monday, August 26, 2002
But alas, I feel I have done just that today.
I arrived back in NYC yesterday, and am delighted to be in an interesting neighborhood on the fringes of Little Italy, Chinatown, and SoHo. I believe the hipster slang for the area is NoLiTa (North of Little Italy), but since I am decidedly unhip, I really shouldn't throw that around in everyday use. Neither should you, if you know what's good for you.
So after spending all of yesterday unpacking and the early part of today stocking the pantry, I collapsed on my bed with a very old magazine and whiled away the afternoon.
There are better ways to piss away an afternoon. I could have read that old magazine in Battery Park. Or the very nice playground around the corner that says "Play!" on the wall.
But the bed just looked awfully appealing.
It won't happen again, but NYC is going to have to wait for me to atone for my sin. Tomorrow I set off for another wildy life-changing adventure when I fly to Dallas to drive halfway across the country to assist Jeffrey in finding a new home in Washington, which is destined to be another regular urban haunt.
The wildly life-changing adventures seem to be occurring rather frequently, don't they?
Maybe an afternoon reposing on the bed was the proper thing to do after all.
Thursday, June 13, 2002
Now, an obscure, quaint (if overpriced) eatery in the middle of an obscure, quaint (if over-gentrified) little town might not mean much to you. But it meant a lot to lovers of fine club sandwiches and "gourmet beer" and quiches of the day and good bread soaked in herbed olive oil.
Odd, how the beloved local eatery burns down the same week that Chik-Fil-A opens. There's an irony there that I think we all can appreciate.
Odd too, how I entered their parking lot two hours after the fire whilst I was turning around to get back to the bypass, and yet failed to notice the building. Faraway, so close. Or something.
There's an irony there that I think only I can appreciate.
I guess we'll be going to Applebee's from now on.
Monday, June 10, 2002
Yep. It's summertime in suburbia.
Now you know why the updates haven't been quite as often in coming. Unless you're curious about how different diners' mozzarella sticks stack up against each other. Or Wawa's new computerized ordering system. 'Cuz I can talk about these subjects at length.
But I won't.
Gotta go. Conan's on.
Monday, June 3, 2002
Really I am.
Look, it's not like I'm not getting out or anything. Cuz I do. I have friends. And a job at the mall. And Virgin Radio on the computer. I'm fine. What's your deal?
I not lame.
By the way, did you know that there are no English words to rhyme with "purple" and "month?" I learned that from Headline News. Because I'm an informed individual who is interested in intellectually stimulating, worldly subjects -- as well as the Party at the Palace and David Beckham's foot. So there.
Tuesday, May 28, 2002
At least, I don't remember doing so. I don't remember crying the day after. Nor the week after. I'm sure that I cried at least twice since it happened, but despite being constantly exposed to the aftermath of that day (the Missing posters, the flowers, the foul air, etc.), I don't think I was overtly emotional much of the time.
I have now become somewhat unglued twice this week. But I'm not so sure that's a bad thing.
As you probably know by now, HBO ran a fairly gritty documentary on 9/11 in New York this week. This first day that it aired I resolved not to watch it. I told myself that it was exploitative, disgusting, and all in all unhealthy to watch so soon after it happened.
Naturally, I watched it tonight. About two minutes into it I had serious thoughts about turning it off -- and all they had showed at that point is the well-known footage of the initial impact. And there were some points where I clicked it over to VH1 for a minute or two until I felt sure that the troublesome part in question had passed. It was very difficult to watch, because it basically forced me to see everything I saw that day all over again. Surprisingly, I found I was glad that I did.
I remember very clearly the things that I saw when it happened. It's not like it was a blur or that I blocked it out. But I remember regarding it all with a sense of detachment, even bemusement. Well, this is certainly odd. Which sounds terrible. I knew I was supposed to be sad, but I couldn't force myself. When I went to Ground Zero two months later, I felt sick, but not sad. But seeing those images on TV tonight-- seeing the park outside my dorm covered with memorials, the viewpoints from my neighborhood of the Towers -- let me feel what I think I wanted to feel that day, just eight months later.
Like I said, the documentary is extremely difficult to watch no matter where you were on September 11. I wouldn't blame anybody for refusing to watch it, or turning it off in the middle. There's a couple moments that are, in my opinion, pretty gratuitous. But you may try looking at it, even if it's five years down the road. I was sure that if I watched it, I would be blubbering, spouting obscenities, screaming at the wall, or engaging in some other similar anti-social behavior by the end of it. But I'm not. I'm typing this instead, and reading the Onion. Dare I say it, I actually feel a little better. I'm sure I'm not "over it." I don't really think I will be, but I think that's okay. It's part of who I am now, and I can live with that.
Thanks for listening. I promise next time I'll write about puffins or cheesy poofs or Care Bears or sumpin' like that.
Tuesday, May 21, 2002
My favorite news story du jour is Bono and Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill's Excellent Adventure. The two of them are running around Africa on fact-finding mission to see how debt aid is being distributed. Which means there are a lot of very amusing photo ops with the very nicely dressed dignitaries and the very scruffy rock star looking at each other sideways. I wish all diplomatic missions could be so entertaining.
Saturday, May 18, 2002
At least that's what you do if you're a flaming dweeb.
Moby's new album 18 came out this week, and it's quite good. I was a bit concerned when the single We Are All Made of Stars came out. Suffice to say, even if you haven't heard it, the title tells you all you need to know. Whatever you say, Mobes. Stars. Mmm-hmm. Very cute. Now run along like a good little vegan.
But happily, the rest of the album fairly rocks. Pretty stuff. And I got to meet Mr. Moby (again) at a Tower Records signing. Such a nice guy, even if he needs his goofy artist friend to sit next to him and stare dumbly at the fans when they aren't surreptitiously conversing about things that only hipster rock stars and artists converse about. An appearance on Saturday Night Live rounded out a merry Mobylicious week. Gravy.
By the way, if you're planning to take your two-year-old to see the PG-13 Spider Man movie, don't. Trust me. You'll be happier, the kid will be happier, the movie patrons will be happier. Everybody wins. Rent him Bob the Builder instead. You'll be glad you did.
Saturday, May 11, 2002
Is it sad that I have spent an hour and a half of my last day in the computer lab? No one else is here, which is very nice, and I'm rather exhausted. So there's my justification. I did go to the Tate Modern today. This visit, combined with Thursday's jaunt to the Tate Britain, confirmed my unflagging resentment of modern art. I could go on and on (and in fact, I did Thursday night, subjecting poor Christine to a 45-minute tirade), but suffice to say I find it mostly to be a big steaming load.
I liked the Rodin sculpture though. Too bad there were only two.
But why dwell on that? Here are a few reasons why I'm sad to be leaving London:
- Free museums. Somehow it feels better blowing twenty pounds at the gift shop if you didn't pay five to get in.
- Historical context. America preserves a square mile of Philadelphia and creates Williamsburg, VA in order to celebrate its 300-year heritage. London sits back and laughs and laughs and laughs.
- Gratutitous pageantry. They may be a drain on taxes and a gangly brood of anachronisms, but the Windsor dynasty is way more fun (and far less frightening) than the Bush dynasty. And when they decide to party, they do not muck around. Jubilee 2002 versus the inaugural ball? I hardly think there's a comparison.
- Yellow journalism. London's tabloids achieve heights of tackiness and sensationalism that the New York Post only dreams about. It's the stuff that makes me take the hypocritical stance of abhorring the notion of ever being professionally involved with it, but happily giggling over it in the supermarket checkout.
- Proximity to Paris.
- Proximity to Dublin.
- Professors who are knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the subjects they teach. Who knew?
- Regular use of the word loo not as applicable in the U.S.
- Parks. The well-landscaped, sprawling, lovely Hyde Park beats the overcrowded, over-paved, fishbowl that is Central Park any day of the week. Plus, pelicans at St. James' Park!
- Fish and chips.
- Digestive cookies.
- Padded seats on the Tube.
- Charing Cross Road and its financially-draining but oh-so-stimulating bookshops.
- Virgin Radio.
And why it's nice to go back:
- Paying in pounds is not healthy for students and other living things.
- As lovely as Britain's museums are, the Met could take any one of them in a fight.
- The scary public-service announcements have spread to the radio now. Time to leave the country.
- Moby will be signing CDs at Tower at 4th and Broadway on Tuesday.
- Living arrangements will no longer be confined to one room.
- No more feelings of self-righteous indignation after listening to NYU London Students wear their ignorance like a badge of honor ("Omigod, my friend told me the Changing of the Guard is, like, so not worth it. One guy, like, taps another guy on the shoulder and tells him to, like, take a hike. It's, like, f---ing ridiculous, y'know?")
- Iced tea.
- Seeing family, boyfriend, friends, kitty, etc.
- I will now have the opportunity to earn back all the money I squandered this semester.
I believe that covers it. See you Stateside.
Tuesday, May 7, 2002
If you're really into architecture, the history of fasion, or Jane Austen, then you need to get yourself over to Bath. If however you're an architecture dilettante, mildly interested in period costuming, and not all that keen on Pride and Prejudice, then save your 30 pounds.
We spent a long time in the Costume Institute, the highlight of which was an exhibit of the Queen's ugly-as-sin dresses over the past 50 years. Since it was May Day (observed), there were festivities afoot, and we saw the Jane Austen dancers get jiggy in the tea room. I did get the chance to participate in some of these dances, which involve a lot of spinning around, skipping and clapping. It's like Gymboree in powdered wigs. Good times.
Crissie and Christine being Austen enthusiasts, we went to the Jane Austen Centre, which I thought was a bit of a rip-off. Jane lived in Bath for five years, and hated it. But that won't stop Bath from milking her passing presence there for all it's worth. She mentioned the city in every one of her six novels you know. And though she didn't live in this house, she lived in one just like it. And did you know that in Jane Austen's time people enjoyed gardening? Here's an exhibit showing a garden such as Jane might have had. That'll be 3.50 please. Don't forget the gift shop.
Although I'm the one who took Crissie and Christine to the Dublin docklands, so I have nothing to say in the matter.
Saturday, May 4, 2002
I think the nap might win.
I finally visited Harrod's yesterday. Nice place to visit. Any store with its own squad of pipers is okay by me. I was a bit put off by the Dodi and Diana memorial, which features their photographs mounted in some god-awful gold thing, and displays a dirty wine glass from their last dinner together. There's also the "engagement ring" that Dodi supposedly bought the night before, exhibited as a testament to their true love or sumpin' like that. It's surrounded by a fountain and flowers, and a sign saying that it's the only thing in the store you're allowed to photograph. Tacky tacky tacky.
We also had free passes to used the "luxury bathrooms," which would otherwise cost a pound. I was less than impressed. Sure, they were clean and in-laid with marble, and had handcream and nice-smelling soap, but I expected something more. I think they should install one of those Japanese toilets that has a heated seat and a bidet option and plays music and provides its own lemony-fresh scent. Or I saw this toilet in a restaurant in Germany that cleaned its own seat after every flush. The seat rotated and a little spongy thing came down and cleaned it. And it smelled lemony-fresh. Harrod's needs to get hooked up with these Toilets of Tomorrow. Only then will I consider my pound well spent.
I did score myself a mighty fine toy. His name is Herbie the Hamster, and with the power of a single AAA battery he travels all around the room within his trusty plastic ball, bumping into things, and continuing onward. It's quite hysterical.
So the trip to Harrod's was a success, tacky fountains and sub-par potties excluded.
Friday, May 3, 2002
All of the stuff in the British Library's exhibitions used to be at the British Museum, but the collection of documents and manuscripts grew large enough to warrant it's own space in the Library's rather ugly modern building at King's Cross. But the space is small enough that you could make a respectable visit in under an hour -- though you need a little more time to really appreciate it.
Among the highlights are not one, but two original drafts of the Magna Carta (only four survive), as well as the Articles of the Barons that preceded it in 1215. There's Handel's draft of the Messiah and drafts by Mozart, Bach, and Beethoven (Beethoven wrote notes in big, crazy, Van Gogh-esque strokes. I think those two would have gotten along fine, if they didn't kill each other first). Original handwritten manuscripts from Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Shakespeare, and James Joyce -- another kook with deranged handwriting. They also have a lovely collection of illuminated manuscripts and ancient religious texts in Hebrew, Sanskrit, and Arabic. Since you obviously can't leaf through this stuff, you can go to a back room and virtually turn the pages of the Lindisfarne Gospels and Leonardo Da Vinci's notebook on computer.
There was also a nice display of Beatles' lyrics scribbled on napkins, notepads and children's greeting cards where you could see songs like In My Life and Hard Day's Night taking shape. That's one drawback of the information age. I bet musicains don't scribble lyrics on airline cocktail napkins as much anymore. They jot them in their Palm, or some damn thing. Not nearly as romantic, if you ask me.
If you're in London, definitely check this place out. It won't take long, it's not crowded, and, like most museums in London not owned in part by the Windsors, it's free.
Tuesday, April 30, 2002
With three out of four papers out of the way, fun was had this weekend in great abundance. We saw a show in the West End starring Matt Damon, which was an interesting experience in that the audience was full of nubile American girls and Mr. Damon had not been onstage since his pre-Good Will Hunting college days. It kinda showed. But nonetheless, a good time was had. I visited the National Gallery again, only this time I invested in the audio tour. I think I'll make a habit of using those things when I return to the Met. It's great; you punch in the code, and the title of the work flashes up and you sit on a bench and you learn and then you do it all over again. And the NG has every single picture on file. Fun indeed.
We also paid a visit to Windsor Castle, the queen's cozy little abode on the river. If I've learned anything while soaking in British culture, it's that royalty, like George W. Bush, doesn't "do subtle."
I've also learned that if you were so inclined you could amass quite a collection of obscenely ugly plates with obscenely horrid portraits of the queen and her progeny emblazoned upon them. If you were so inclined, that is.
So when the museums close I'm left with a report on Tower Bridge, Virgin radio, and six-month old magazines to occupy myself. And needlepoint. Yes, in the absence of VH1 and constant Internet availability, I've taken up needlepoint.
I think it's time to come home soon.
Wednesday, April 24, 2002
But I learned a lot. I learned about how Tower Bridge opens due to a complex system of bascules, and that Henry VIII had a festering wound on his leg, and he needed glasses, so he got nich Dutch people like Hans Holbein to portray him as the strapping character that we know and love today.
Ain't that cool?
So with only one paper left on the horizon, I'm bound and determined to enjoy the rest of my stay in London. I think I'll start by reading one of the many magazines and books that I've accumulated over here.
Between Christine and I, our room looks like a British bookstore that ate some bad sushi and threw up all over the place. Many an issue of Hello! and Q and Entertainment Weekly, and copies of the Independent and the Guardian, as well as several tomes pertaining to monarchs of today and yesterday and Irish rock stars and Victorian novels and art musuem guides and histories of London clutter the place. How we're going to get them all home I don't know.
I also have a bird whistle, a Vincent Van Gogh doll, and a thing that goes "Baa" when you turn it over.
I should maybe try to keep my propensity to accumulate crap in check, at least until I get my own place.
But it's fun crap. I don't regret it.
I think we should all periodically take the time to enjoy all the fun crap there is to be had. You'll be glad you did.
I think I'll go do that right now.
Wednesday, April 10, 2002
A lot of our professors figured that we would have a lot of work to do the last week of classes. So rather than being stuck with three papers on that week, they decided to be nice and make many of our final projects due in two weeks time.
Which means I now have three papers due in the same week anyway, so I guess their charitable measure failed. It was nice of them to try though.
And since it seems that the royal family is well and truly done with the Queen Mother and have gone back to the palace, or Scotland, or wherever it is they hide out, I can commence with my work without distraction.
Now if it would only rain. It's friggin' England, and we haven't had a rainy day in about a week and a half. It's been relatively gorgeous. Very vexing when you have to hole up in your room writing four papers simultaeously, three of which are due in the same week.
Of course, if I wasn't in such a situation, it would negate the "Study" aspect of "Study Abroad."
Going to royal funerals is a lot more fun though. You should try it. It's a nice pastime.
Friday, April 5, 2002
We were delighted to see that we selected a spot directly opposite the viewing area reserved for the Chelsea Pensioners, so we got to watch all the little old men in their tri-cornered hats salute the Queen's casket and the royal family as they went by. We were quite close, and were able to see Prince Charles, Prince William, Prince Harry, et al. very clearly.
I'm not sure what the protocol is for such matters, but I didn't take pictures of the family or the casket, though many others were. It felt a bit strange given the circumstances. Maybe I was being over-cautious (it was a very public event after all), but if it were a wedding procession or part of the Jubilee celebrations I would have felt differently. However, I wouldn't be thrilled with people taking pictures of my grandmother's casket, so I felt it right to extend the same courtesy. I got some nice snaps of the Pensioners and the band and some of the many, many soldier-type people though.
And my friends will have you know that Prince William is better-loooking in person than he is in the paparazzi's pictures.
The day continued with a nice picnic in the park (Morbid? Sure, but it was there and we were hungry) followed by a visit to the park's little family of white pelicans.
Now to polish off this culturally-enriching day with dinner and a movie at Anna's.
Tuesday, April 2, 2002
We went to Wales for three and a half days to finish up our vacation. We stayed in the town of Caernarfon -- a little town with a big ol' castle. Roommate Christine is our resident medieval English history buff, so she was more than happy to schlep us to as many castles as she could and tell us all about the nasty things that Edward I and his ilk did there. We didn't mind. We just held the video camera and let her go on and on. It was interesting. And besides, I had a bit of payback coming my way after our Robyn-led journeys to the less-than-scenic docks of Dublin to look at abandoned, graffiti-covered recording studios.
It was nice graffiti though.
Anyway, we stayed at a somewhat more professional lodging than that maintained by Mrs. Molly Ryan (God love 'er). It was a legitimite B&B run by some nice Welsh people who really, really loved the Carpenters and who fed us beans and sausage and bacon and tea every morning.
(At this point I would like to apologize to my Jewish relatives for the consumption of bacon over Passover. I usually try to avoid pork products over such a holiday, but believe it or not, the Welsh just don't stock Manishewitz in any kind of abundance. So I continued to eat pork like I usually do, for bacon is really good. I'll do a makeup Passover when I get back home. All will be well).
And it's lambing season, which meant lots and lots of babies populating the Welsh fields. Nice.
Wednesday, March 27, 2002
We stayed with a very nice elderly lady named Molly Ryan who likes to talk and talk and talk and say "God love ye" at any opportunity. She also berated us on our first night when we returned to the house at only 10:30, but we were forgiven for not staying out all night when we informed her that we were up at 4:30 that morning. She need not know that we are not really night owls by nature.
We took a lovely mini-bus tour of the Wicklow mountains just outside the city and saw where Braveheart was filmed (the nice people of Ireland want you to know that it was filmed in Ireland. Not Scotland. And don't let anyone tell you differently. No. Seriously. Don't put up with any cursed lies that Braveheart was made in Scotland. 'Cuz it wasn't. It was made in Ireland. So there). We saw a lot of sheep as well.
Another side trip was made to the town of Killiney, along the seashore. It's not really a town per se, as it is merely a big hill with big houses owned by incredibly rich people. But it has a swell beach. Despite the fact that it looked as though the heavens were going to rain down upon our heads at any given moment, the beach was full of nice Irish people and their kids and their dogs and their kites. So we went as well, collecting beach rocks along the way, trying to figure out which house was Bono's, and putting our hands in the Irish Sea, which we decided was really frikkin' cold.
We also discovered that the Dublin art scene is waaaay over our little heads. We went to see a play about (now follow me) penguins at a zoo who are under the rule of a king penguin who throws bad penguins to the lions. And no penguin play is complete without themes of incest, obsession, stalking, depression, and murder. And sure, let's have the people dress up in scary costumes and makeup and overact like there's no tomorrow. And have them sing. And let's produce the whole thing in a crypt. So what could have been a lovely, funny play about penguins turned out to be good old-fashioned nightmare fuel. We left at intermission, and then happened upon a courtyard showing an arty movie wherein a little girl shoots a sheep in the head to the strains of the Exorcist theme. All the while, some anarchist punks were beating the crap out of each other with a pogo stick along the back wall of the courtyard. It was time for us to go seek out the myriad other parts of the city where such things weren't taking place.
But all that aside, I really liked Dublin. It's the kind of place that grows on you. It's not beautiful, like Paris or Edinburgh, but parts of it (the waterfront by O'Connell Street and St. Stephen's Green) are really lovely. And the people rock. There's a quirky energy and character there that reminds me of Greenwich Village, except Dublin is very down to earth while New York is rather high on itself. Dublin's not all that great if you're in a tourist frame of mind, but it would be a great place to live, if one were so inclined.
Off to Wales on Friday then.
Tuesday, March 19, 2002
But I don't regret it. NosireeBob. I knew it was coming. And now I get to go to Dublin on Friday. Yep. Life sure does suck.
I've had random lines from Braveheart running through my head for about a day now. Should I be concerned?
"I love ye, always have."
"That's my friend Irishman. And yes, if you join me, you get to kill the English."
Anything the Irish guy says, most of which is unprintable.
"Why do you help me?" "Because of the way you're looking at me now." [big sloppy kiss and ridiculous scene in which we're to believe that William Wallace has just impregnated Sophie Marceau with the heir to the English throne, which is, like, soo historically inaccurate because Isabella was so two years old at the time and...oh never mind]
Never watch Braveheart twice in three weeks. It sticks with you. Like oatmeal sticks to your ribs.
Christ, I don't even know what I'm talking about. I think it's dinner time.
"That's something we shall have to remedy."
Friday, March 15, 2002
If it makes you feel any better, the last time I wrote in my personal, handwritten journal was January 28. You, dear reader, are my number one priority...after boyfriend, schoolwork, job searches, feeding myself, bathing, friends, the Onion, bunnies, U2, Virgin radio, the Winged Nike of Samothrace, baked beans, and dictionary.com. But you're right up there.
But I feel I have a valid excuse for my negligence. Jeffrey and I have been exploring London. We've done neat-o things such as Westminster Abbey, the Wallace Collection, the National Gallery, the Tower of London, and the British Museum. As an added bonus, John Ciocci was in town as well, and we spent Wednesday night taking strange pictures with Roman stautes at the aforementioned British Museum. Is it wrong that my favorite part of the British Museum is the corpses? I'm utterly fascinated with them -- how old they are, how well preserved, how they were found, and what was found with them in their tombs (if they had tombs, unlike the poor neolithic schmuck who was bashed in the head). I even bought a book about what preserved remains tell us about history. Understand please that I abhor violence and destruction, but once it's established, I love watching forensic science shows about how they solve the mystery. I think it's neat.
Maybe I shouldn't be telling you this.
I also truly loved the National Gallery. Art museums are such geeky fun. Going to a major art museum for the first time is great, especially if you just go without a guide and set off to conquer as many rooms as you can until you get too tired to continue and need to sit down and eat Indian food. Every corner is a new surprise. Ooh! The Supper at Emmaus! Ah! Jan Van Eyck's Arnolfini Wedding! Golly! The Wilton Diptych! Neat! Some painting I don't know with some dude's severed head!
There I go again. All apologies.
Speaking of gruesome, the public service announcements here are way brutal to the point of being traumatizing. I remember when I was four years old and having to run out of the room when some of the drinking and driving PSAs in the eighties came on, and having watched British TV for a week in the hotel, I'm having severe flashbacks. One features a family of cartoon zebras who are about to have a baby, and the baby dies because YOU didn't give enough to the Baby Fund, or whatever it is. I was too horrified to catch the name of the charity. My favorite features a live action dad inflicting all manner of abuse on his cartoon son, who bounces off walls with little damage to his person -- until real dad throws cartoon son downstairs, who turns into a real kid lying unconscious at the bottom. Message: "Real kids don't bounce back." Robyn's reaction: "Good God, Jeffrey change the channel." There's a billboard of this ad campaign outside my dorm now. I'm thrilled.
Also, the ravens at the Tower of London are super neat.
And to think I thought I wouldn't have enough to write about.
Monday, March 4, 2002
So I'll probably go back next week with Jeffrey.
I'm not usually one to throw cash and time to the wind in the name of a good time in another country. It's all a bit capricious and spontaneous for my pilgrim sensibilities. But Paris is worth the £60 train ticket and getting behind on your work (although this weekend we took the super-cheap, bus and ferry, £99-with-hotel-included tour, so fret not Mom).
Without getting too Hallmark-y, anyone who goes to Paris and isn't at least mildly affected by the place is a sad individual indeed. The whole city is like an art museum. Sure, it's a bit full of itself, but I think it's earned the right.
I am now being chased out of the computer lab by a man with an overhead projector. But Paris = good, is all I really wanted to say.
Thursday, February 28, 2002
Christine and I live and die by our cheap-ass little FM radio and keep it constantly tuned to Virgin (being part of the vast empire owned by Richard Branson, not some dirty talk-radio station. Get yer mind out of the gutter). We delight to the great mix of rock from the 60s to today, and delight in the fact that they only seem to hire mental patients as their DJs; charming folk who play games like "What Are You Having For Your Tea?" (wherein you call and tell them what you're having for tea) and "What Has A Monkey Done To You?" Great fun.
In other news, we're off to Paris this weekend, Jeffrey sent me a smashing new CD, and U2 won four Grammys last night. All's right with the world.
Tuesday, February 26, 2002
So, without being indelicate, I haven't had the best of weekends.
But I seem to be on the mend now. There was one really miserable day of fatigue and chills and fever and other fun stuff, and it's been getting progressively better since then. I'm now in the unenviable position of constantly craving nasty, fried food, but at the same time being wholly fearful of ingesting anything solid.
Hopefully this will be my last night of soup.
Not that soup is without charm, I just need something new.
I'll be eating prepared food from now on, thankyouverymuch.
Saturday, February 23, 2002
I did a presentation on Charles Dickens in class the other day, and was mighty surprised to learn what a dirty man he was.
Whilst married to the lady that bore him 10 kids (don't you love the word "whilst"? I do.), he fancied both of his sisters-in-law. One of them was 17 when she died, and he wore her ring for the rest of his life. Sweet, in one aspect, but pretty pervy in another.
After 22 years of marriage, he left his wife for an actress lady, but retained his other, more alive sister-in-law as a "housekeeper." Cozy household that.
So in short: Charles Dickens. Born in Britain. Sensitive to poor. Loved the booty. Wrote books. Died. The end.
Friday, February 22, 2002
Figure skating really isn't the main, primetime attraction here. In fact, they aired it live at 3:45 in the morning, so one can assume that that particular sport doesn't really captivate the British audience these days. They do go nuts for their curling however. And we watched a good hour and a half of the showdown between the Brits and the Swiss.
Curling, near as I can tell, involves someone pushing a big disk-y thing down the ice, while their two friends frantically sweep the ice in the disky thingie's path to get it to travel toward an intended goal, be it the scoring target or bumping the bad guy's disky thingie out of the scoring target. And there's a lot of yelling and shrieking on the part of the person who gets to push the disky thingie. It was invented in Scotland.
For more information on curling, please visit The Curling History Page.
Friday, February 8, 2002
What a strange production.
I am by no means immune to the charms of the Swedish supergroup, but it's very very strange to hear "Gimme Gimme Gimme" and the like played by an orchestra in a bombastic, symphonic overture. It's also very strange to see the ABBA catalog attempt to be woven into a very silly story about...oh, does it really matter? When are they gonna get to "Waterloo"?
The funniest part was after the cast took their bows and proceeded to turn out a mini ABBA revue, in addition to the barrage of ABBA we had just heard during the "story." It was as though they just couldn't let the audience go without administering one more swift kick in the pants of Scandinavian glitterball pop. And the audience seemed grateful for it, as everyone in the packed theatre -- nicely-dressed grannies and young urban sophisticates alike -- got up and started dancing and singing, like some weird spiritual revival on Ecstacy.
I confess that I enjoyed the whole experience, even if "Dancing Queen" has been in my head on a constant loop and shows no signs of leaving anytime soon.
Thursday, February 7, 2002
The Lord Mayor of Westminster was there, but we couldn't see him, as we were stashed in the transept with the other regular people and had an obscured view of the quire where he sat with the other fancy people. But it was pretty spectacular. If you are not of the Christian persuasion, but feel like sitting in on a service anyhoo in the name of cultural experience, you might as well gatecrash at Westminster Abbey. The only thing more awe-inspring than the interior and the choir is the way it's illuminated at night from the outside; ethereal white towers against a deep blue twilight sky with Big Ben glittering behind it. It's almost enough to make a gal change her mind about things. Almost.
Tuesday, February 5, 2002
So all apologies.
Scotland was aggressively windy and rainy, and aggressively beautiful. Edinburgh is probably one of the most gorgeous cities I've ever seen. It's bounded by the North Sea on one side, and by huge green crags on the other, with castles and gothic churches all in between. Glasgow is pretty as well, but a lot more, er, gentrified/globalized/commercialized...what you will. Anyway, there's a lot of Gap stores there, is what I'm saying. And that's not a bad thing. It just feels like any modern Western city. Edinburgh doesn't let you forget where you are. It's militantly Scottish.
It's a surpringly long way from London to Glasgow. Maybe it's surprising because my sense of British geography is woefully lacking, but during the ride up we watched Bridget Jones' Diary, Braveheart and The Full Monty and took two long breaks. We didn't get in until five in the morning.
I tried haggis. Wasn't that bad, actually. I was actually a bit disappointed it wasn't worse, as I was expecting my ingestion of sheep innards and oats to be more melodramatic. It tastes a bit like corned beef hash.
So, in summation, any country that gives me four rainbows and a lot of sheep to look at while driving through it in one day is worthy of my admiration.
I hope you all enjoyed the Super Bowl, as I was too tired to haul myself down to a pub at Leicester Square at eleven at night after being on a bus for over 10 hours. Jeffrey was kind enough to tape the "E-Trade Super Bowl Halftime Yankee Doodle Expo-Fest-A-Rama Extravaganza Show Featuring Irish Supergroup U2 in Technicolor" (or whatever they're calling halftime these days), so I'll have something to look forward to when I get home.
Thursday, January 31, 2002
"Whilst" is a fine word, by the by.
So now I find myself all to my lonesome in the computer lab, watching planes take off from Heathrow and fly over the Senate House library as I read about Enron, Moby, and economic summits and listen to the Joshua Tree over and over. Life is good.
Today is a little oasis of peace and quiet in an otherwise hectic week. Hectic is good, it keeps me busy and provides endless opportunity for sensual and intellectual stimulation. But peace, quiet, and the New York Times are good too, once in a while.
I went to the re-built Globe Theatre yesterday, and tonight I board a bus and will spend the weekend touring about Scotland. We're promised a lot of free time there. So does anyone know something cool to do there? I'll probably pick up a guide book upon my departure from the computer lab. I love guide books. I'm a massive dork.
Have a nice weekend.
Sunday, January 27, 2002
When it rains in New York, it tends to do so at intervals, but intervals in which the rain comes down in a mighty downpour. In London, it isn't a downpour so much as it is a constant, aggressive mist that lasts three days at a time and is exacerbated by mighty big wind gusts that render umbrellas and hats useless and hairdos unruly.
I'm not quite sure which type of rain I prefer.
It was on one of these lovely days that we went to see Stonehenge and the town of Salisbury last Friday. Stonehenge, I have to say, was a bit of a disappointment. It is indeed a cluster of rocks. And it's located on one of the most windswept and cold plains that I've ever had the opportunity to frolic on. The sheep don't seem to mind though.
Salisbury was lovely and medieval with more swans on the River Avon than you could shake a stick at. It's one of those towns, like Brugges, that although may be pretty in the sunlight, does not suffer aesthetically from a gloomy day. The gray skies and the wet cobblestones give it a nice atmosphere. Gloomy weather also makes a lunch of fish and chips at a cozylocal pub all the more enjoyable.
Thursday, January 24, 2002
Case in point: tintinnabulous.
Or it's equally delicious derivation: tintinnabulation.
It's one of those rare words which commands attention on the page, and is a gas to say. Go ahead. Don't you feel better?
Incidentally, it means the ringing of bells, or like the ringing of bells, but that hardly matters.
So, thank you, Thomas De Quincey, and your drug habit, for introducing tintinnabulous to my life in your Confessions of an English Opium-Eater. A good time was had by all.
Monday, January 21, 2002
You know what I'm talking about.
But I'm happy to report that things are faring much better on the social front. My best friend from high school has been living in London for a couple months now, and was only too happy to show us around, take us to the theatre, and introduce us to her groovy Dutch roommate. Christine and I are now relatively comfortable with our small circle of friends.
And the navigation thang is slowly going better as well. We took a coach tour of London's Greatest Hits yesterday, so at least we know where most of the districts and landmarks lie with respect to our humble flat.
And I must be going because there is an ever constant line of NYU-L'ers who are lurking in the doorway coveting my computer. I must yield it unto them.
Saturday, January 19, 2002
This applies to many aspects, but I speak mainly of the luxury that is afforded in living in a city with an idiot-proof layout complete with right angles and numbered streets.
No such convenience here. Christine and I got spectacularly lost last night after a fleeing an uber-trendy bar (which very much rattled our Jeopardy!-lovin' sensibilities). Streets and passages thrown helter-skelter, streets that turn into other streets for no discernibly good reason, and a complete disregard for simple cardinal directions had us mighty confused.
Although considering we haven't been here for too very long, I suppose we shouldn't despair yet. We'll get the hang of it eventually.
Saturday, January 5, 2002
I spent the New Year with the honey at his grandparent's home in Arlington. I ate massive amounts of chicken fried steak and spent a low-key New Year's Eve drinking sparkling grape juice. I also had the opportunity to explore Ft. Worth on my own while Jeffrey went to work at City Hall. I wouldn't reccommend (recommend? reccomend? reccccommmennnd?) it as a lifestyle, but killing an entire day, sun-up to sundown, by oneself can be immensely satisfying. I shopped, trekked, and saw a movie all on my own. Quite novel. It was probably made all the more pleasant because I knew I had a Jeffrey to go back to at 5:00 after my day of solitude, but I guess there's no harm in taking a little personal time.
I also discovered that a lot of Ft. Worthians respond to 29-degree temperatures and flurries as though they were the harbingers of the apocalypse; and regard any who dare to venture forth into these conditions as stalwart and noble-hearted meteorlogical warriors.
But then, they never had to stand outside of the Ed Sullivan Theater on 53rd and Broadway in subzero temperatures in nothing more than an ugly page uniform, pretending to be chipper, cheerful and welcoming all the while.
I eat 29-degree termperatures for breakfast, is what I'm trying to say.
All in all a lovely visit, and a nice send-off from the Jeffrey, who I shan't see for at least two months ::sniffle::