Tuesday, April 30, 2002

Winding Down

And so it has come to pass that I have less than two weeks left in the fair city of London. I plan to spend this time with equal parts studying, sight-seeing and job hunting.

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


Well, that was an arduous week.

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

Misplaced Priorities

Everyone at NYU-London seems to in a state of perpetual frenzy and anxiety. So I guess that means we're nearing finals.

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

Royal Funeral

We woke up early today to get ourselves a nice spot to watch the Queen Mother's funeral procession to Westminster Hall. Morbid, you say? Durned right. But we felt it was a necessary cultural experience. Besides, you couldn't ask for a lovelier day for such an event. So we parked ourselves near the entrance to St. James' Park to see the pageantry. We got there about two hours before the procession started, which I think was just about right. We weren't in front, but very near to it. A very few people camped out all night. I bet they feel foolish.

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


Spring Break is now over. Now commences a period of austere living and major studying -- all of which will be penance for the fun that was had for the first half of the semester.

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.