Thursday, February 28, 2002

Virgin Radio

In case you were wondering how one amuses oneself in one's tiny, dirty, TV and computer-less one-room flat when one isn't studying, sleeping, or eating rancid chicken, I will reveal it to you now.

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

Food Poisoning

Not the best weekend, as weekends go, on account of our fridge not being very cold, and me eating the chicken therein anyway.

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

Charles Dickens: Horny S.O.B.

By special request...

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

Are You Ready for Some CURLING?

Last night we went to friend Chrissie's sumptuous dorm in Bayswater to watch her television and use her supermarket (ah, what one takes for granted). Our original intent was to watch the Brit Awards in the name of cultural experience, but our attention was soon diverted to the Olympic coverage of curling.

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


Last night I went to see Mamma Mia!, the musical featuring the songs of ABBA.

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

Gatecrashing Westminster Abbey

Yesterday I made not one, but two visits to Westminster Abbey. The first was a class visit in the morning. 10 am on a Wednesday in February is a very nice time to visit the Abbey, as hardly anyone else is there. Even on the 50th anniversary of the Queen's accession to the throne, as it was yesterday. This event led to our second visit -- an evensong service commemorating her accession.

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

Scotland and Super Bowl

Although I've been back from Scotland since Sunday night, I haven't been able to get to one of NYU's precious computers, on account of the fact that 100 other kids hadn't checked their e-mail since Thursday as well.

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.