Monday, November 28, 2005

Two Posts

I divided today's post up into two bits: this one is about Thanksgiving, and there's a longer one below about the Sondheim conference I went to. Read at your leisure.

There's also lots of photos, since I figured out how to do that, and everyone loves pictures--although if there is a theme that connects these two posts, it would have to be crazy knife wielding people. Like...THIS!!!

"attend the tale, chicken!!!"

Yes, that's me, carving the Thanksgiving chicken. There were several reasons for a chicken: 1. it came with stuffing, so I didn't have to make any. 2. it came with it's own roaster pan, so I didn't have to buy one. 3. the oven at school is too small for a turkey. So it was Chicken-Day last Thursday, although we had PLENTY of other food.

We also had an apple pie--despite my best efforts, I couldn't find a pumpkin pie, and I didn't want to chance making one, since the ovens here are metric and therefore weird. Pies normally come in smaller, personal-sized pies, so I bought a "family" pie--which was still titchy--because, damnit, that's what Thanksgiving is all about.

I had dinner with Lisa and Felicia...orginally it was just going to be Lisa and I, but Felicia was hanging out in the kitchen while I cooked, so she jumped right in when I asked her to join us. She contributed a box of Stove-Top that she had gotten, so there was even MORE food. And then, as we were mowing down, M. walked in and I, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, asked her to join us as well. People came and went, so the food went pretty fast as well. Infact, all that was left was green beans and mushroom soup, which I ate with some rice the day after. So much for leftovers!!! I even splurged on a £5 bottle of American wine (Ernest & Julio Gallo) What a feast.

So, a day which I thought was going to be sucky and miserable actually turned out pretty nice. I made Felicia and Lisa go get some leaves and flowers from the garden, so we even had a nice centerpiece. (and, Lisa has promised to make me a traditional Chinese dinner one of these days--score!!!) Of course, it was hard to be away from the family and friends, but at least I wasn't alone. ( I had figured if no one wanted to eat with me, I'd get out the pictures I have of everybody. Luckily, I didn't have to.)

But now I have to go check some books out of the library, so I'll have to leave the lovely G5s behind...I had to scan in my student card and send it to Student Universe to prove I'm a student so I could buy a plane ticket back to school in January. Weird, huh? Scanning is cool!

God, that's good!

This post is for theatre people, so I put it underneath incase you're not interested. But I hope you are.

This weekend I went to a Sondheim symposium hosted at Goldsmiths. I helped out with the registration, which meant I got in for free. Now, the symposium kind of reminded me of the one described in "Proof"--the two days I was there was a lot of academics reading papers, which was interesting, but I felt like the dumbest person in the room. I like Sondheim--or rather, I like his musicals which I am familiar with, but I haven't studied him as a contributor to musical theatre, and theatre in general. So it was a real eye-opening experience.

My favourite papers were both on Sweeney Todd. The first, on Friday, was the keynote speaker who talked about the musical quality of the act II opener "God, that's Good!" I should mention here that I do not know Sweeney Todd, so I was hearing the music for the first time. The speaker talked about the role the song played in the show, as well as the influences from old movies (like "Hangover Square," for example) on the show, and then proceeded to Power Point a chart of the song, showing the different sections: a-b-c-d, the repeats, how different sections contributed to the sense of pacing and character. It was really interesting to see how not only does Mrs Lovett, for example, have a very short staccato melody line, but her words are also very short and punctuated. Her part in this song is the biggest, and she sings to eight different people--short lines of "speech" give her a harried feeling (I learned) which is compounded by the music. The speaker compared Sondheim to a medival architect who lovingly carves the buttresses on a cathedral: no one's going to see it (or see the layers of music within a song) but it's there. And if you look for it, it's amazing. Then he showed a video of the original production, starring Angela Lansbury and Len Cariou (below), and said, "But, in the end, that's what it's all about."

I really appreciated that most of the speakers and the audience, while dissecting and analyzing the contributions and social implications of his musicals also made space for: "But it's still theatre and still entertaining and not a show unless it's up on it's feet!" It's easy to forget that when you're talking about how Sondheim's shows demonstrate the American dream in reverse: communities falling apart and misfits ending up together.

That was followed on Sunday by a speaker who had followed the current production of Sweeney Todd now on Broadway from it's original incarnation. I didn't know this, but the "new" version was actually produced at a small theatre here in England called the Windmill. It was subsequently moved to the West End before going to Broadway.

Here's the London version from 2004.

What's interesting about this version (if you haven't heard me rant on about it yet) is that it's scaled DOWN: there are only nine performers, and they all play instruments, so there's no orchestra. The speaker noted how the director used their instruments as additions to the character, rather like dance or the music itself, so it wasn't meant to distract from the show. (and hasn't, from what I've heard) What is so interesting about this Sweeney is the implications for smaller theatres: obviously there is an economic factor to be considered; Sweeney transferred to Broadway for $3.5 million dollars--compare that to the $20 million Lion King.

The new Broadway version.

But it's also really taking to heart the idea of a smaller budget meaning more creativity. I know I was taught that at Point, but how many times did we go over budget? Here Sweeney is stripped down to one room, with no mad barber chair or pile of fake meat pies. The costumes are modern, reflecting the characters, not the time period. (and I think it's an interesting character choice to have Sweeney be bald...I know that Michael Cerveris DOES infact shave his head, but why does Sweeney? Interesting...) It's also something to consider for smaller theatres: how much of a show do you have to change before you lose the message of it? Apparently, you can change quite a lot.

Another play that got a lot of time at the conference is "Sunday in the Park With George" which just happens to be playing at a theatre near here, so I'm going to go see it and see what everyone has been ranting on about.

So this is what I did with my weekend. I had to get the Sweeney soundtrack just so I could learn "God, That's Good!" but I'm still trying to be patient and wait for the new show to come out.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Clouds Racing By

I'm sitting in a different part of the library, typing on a hugely beautiful iMac G5, which is about as different from my computer as you can get. It's so pretty, with its 21" monitor and ability to perform tasks almost before I think of them...sigh. I can only imagine what playing solitare on this machine would be like.

Outside is grey and drizzly--we haven't had much rain for the past week, so I don't mind. I'm wearing my new purple winter coat from Fashion Bug, which was purchased 14 months and twenty pounds ago. Bad news Mom--it's way too big, even with a sweater! But warm. I love walking down the street on these cold days. Everytime I breathe out there's a little puff of smoke. It's like each step I take I'm making an entrance through a haze of stage fog. Tada!

Today is Thanksgiving and I'm very far away from home and the people who make it Thanksgiving. It's very weird to be in another country where this is just another day to people. Goldsmiths is serving up a dinner for "international students" i.e. Americans, but I'm going to be cooking tonight. Even if it's only me and a couple of my flatmates, at least there will be food. (no cheesy potatoes, unfortunately) Lots of food. This afternoon is all about the food. Food, food, food. And, if I can't be home for Thanksgiving, at least I can be thankful for the fact that I can breeze through Sainsburys and splurge on a £5 bottle of American wine. :)

Monday, November 21, 2005

Death by Fog

Today I was very cranky as apparently everyone in Goldsmiths felt the need to run into me, stop suddenly in doorways causing me to run into them, stand too close to me, breath on me, bump into me, look at me, think about me and ignore me. Too many undergrads in one little hallway make a cranky Nicki. Not to mention it's cold. I can think of only one person who would appreciate the cold snap, and even he would be unhappy 'coz there's no snow.

But then...I draw your attention to the links on the right of the screen. You will notice a new link which I found while surfing for information about Assassins, still reigning as my favourite musical. That's right, I found a page devoted to HP musicals. Before you scoff, go check them out. There's at least thirty shows, all reworded by fans with even more time on their hands than me. And they're HILARIOUS, to steal Andy's word. I especially like the Assassins if only I could convince Michael Ceveris to sing "The Ballad of Tom Riddle." Oh, I'm laughing so hard people are looking at me. (ah! people!) I knew there was a way to combine the two loves of my life...

Sunday, November 20, 2005

O Cedric!

All right kids, here it is, the moment you've all been waiting for: My review of HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE. Before you proceed, I'm going to warn you that there will only be spoilers if you haven't read the book.

And I KNOW all of you have read the book.

All right. Well, first of all, Goblet of Fire is a massive book, and they had to cut out huge gaping swaths of the story to make it fit into two hours and forty minutes. (which becomes three hours here in the UK-advertising before films is an art here) I am fine with that, but I completely disagree with the bits they chose to cut out! Why introduce a character or a sitation and then not develop it? I'm thinking of Rita Skeeter here who comes on and then suddenly is not important. Not to mention the poor Champions who are introduced with much fanfare--and then have about six lines between the three of them. Brendan Gleeson as Mad-Eye Moody was genius, especially since he was actually playing another character. David Tennant as Barty Crouch Jr. was a little weird, not how I pictured him. And I was very, VERY disappointed that the only appearance of Sirius Black was a head in a fire--again, why introduce someone if you're not going to carry on with it?

All right, well, bits I liked. First of all, Ralph Fiennes as You-Know-Who...OMG. I bow to thee, Dark Lord! SO gorgeous. SO perfect. I knew he was a great actor, but when you're dealing with a character whose motivation is "pure evil" it takes a great actor to pull it off. There was a moment where YKW accuses Lucius Malfoy of betraying him and I actually had to go outside and have a cigarette. Ralph Fiennes and Jason Isaacs in the same scene. You could see the film scorching around the edges. I was happy to hear some of the dialogue from the book: "Why do they always travel in packs?" "Come Harry, the niceties must be observed." When you're enough of a geek you have passages memorised, you feel vindicated someone else noticed. The humor is better--this movie certainly is more British (don't ask me how, it just is) and the Weasley twins are funnier than the last movie. Draco, however, is still a whiny little...oh, that something I don't like weasling in here...but for someone who has a VERY SERIOUS TASK in book 6, I was expecting him to grow up a bit more. I think my Pensieve was a better design, aren't the Weird Sisters female? and try saying "ferret sporran" without laughing.

And then, of course, when Harry comes out of the maze, I cried. I really, I don't know if it was because I was tired, or because the movie just chucked it at you, but I cried so hard. That moment was perfectly played. (Daniel Radcliffe, I'm relieved to say, produced actual tears this time) The whole ending was so emotional and I just left the theater aching. I don't know if I can say it's a "good" movie, but it's certainly interesting. Some interesting choices. Yes, interesting is a good word. There better be a whole box of deleted scenes however, because if this is the sum total of three years of work, I'm gonna be pissed. I'm going to see it again on the IMAX screen, so I'll let you know if bigger makes it better.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Nyctophobic Nicki is scared of the dark

I see I intrigued some of my loyal readers with that little teaser...I was running out of the library to class, but I couldn't leave without a little something-something.

So, the Shunt Collective, a theater group, have a space in London Bridge, the tube/train station, and they "create" theatrical events and I was supposed to go see their latest one, "Amato Saltone" for class. I get to London Bridge and I can't find this place because I don't realise that it's actually THERE in the station, I'm thinking it's down the road or something. Then there are all these squeaky 17 year old boys trying to be all cool and yet somehow so DUMB and I'm getting a little pissed off because I don't like not knowing what's going on. I'm there by myself as well, so when one of the annoying 17 year old boys keeps looking at me, it's all I can do to stop from snapping: "Do I look like a tourist attraction? Then go to hell."

But the door (which is literally a door in a brick wall) opens and I get my ticket and a key with the number 20 on it. And the lady says, "Go on in!" And I realise that I have to walk down this long...long...LONG dark hallway underground. I almost couldn't do it. Any of you who have seen me freak out in the dark can imagine. I nearly turned around and left. Finally I managed it by steeling myself and practically sprinting from one pool of light to the next. I make it into the bar area okay, except my adrenaline is about 300 percent over the max. recommended dosage. The show was supposed to be based on a noir writer from the 50s, but I'm just confused and pissed off and hot and scared and I don't want to be there. So then we all get ushered into the penthouse, which is this room (that's underground!!! I don't care if they have projections of the skyline, it's underground!!!) and the show starts. The actors are moving among the audience, and we get divided up into two groups and move into different areas and the play is enacted around us. Normally I would be very up for this as a different theatrical experience, something I have never done, have never written, and isn't it cool to be a big city where this is possible? But all I could think about was "when are the lights going to go out?"

And then they did.

The only thing that stopped me from having a panic attack was my watch, which, despite having a broken alarm, still has an Indiglo face, so I was able to see...something. Then, all of a sudden the emergency exit sign lights up, and a stage manager comes in and tells us that it's a REAL power cut, not part of the show, and we should follow her. I didn't need to be told twice. After the crew reassured the overexcited 17 year old boys that this WASN'T part of the show, they offered us refunds. I ran out of there as fast as I could, emerging into the comforting fluorescent glare of London Bridge nearly in tears. I had to have a cup of coffee to settle myself down. That was probably as bad as anything I've ever experienced, but luckily the next day my classmates were pretty supportive--even though they asked me when I was going back to see the show. Yeah. Right.

But Friday night I went to a club called Too 2 Much in SoHo and watched a drag act which I liked much better. The gentleman's name was Justin Bond, and although he wore a skirt and makeup, he didn't make a real attempt to pretend to be a woman, and the music that they performed was amazing. his backup band was a piano, a flute and a cello, and they ROCKED OUT. I was so impressed with them--even if it was £7.50 for one cocktail. Ah, the big city.

Yesterday I met up with Melissa from home (hi Melissa! told you I'd put you in my blog) and we went out for dinner at Pret A Manager. It was so good to hear that Wisconsin accent again, don'tcha know. I had to ditch her for a couple hours to go to the National Theatre for a book launch--last year's MA students had compiled their plays into a book and we were invited to schmooze and drink free wine. Afterward though, Melissa and I went to see "the Producers" which was pretty good. I can't believe that that's the first musical I've seen and I've been here for two months! We had a great time at the show though--my only complaint was that someone needed to tell the two leads that they weren't Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick and to get their own comedic timing.

So today I again met up with Melissa and Libby, who's here from Germany, and we had some nibbles and then wandered down to Buckingham Palace. I had to leave early unfortunately to come here and do some homework. .(which I'm going to do as soon as I finish this...) I'm very tired, as you might guess, and I'm also fighting a horrible, horrible sore throat which has rendered me unable to speak much above a whisper. Either that or I have to drop my voice down an octave or two which just sounds threatening. "Hi there!" Right.

O no! They just announced the library is closing in 15 minutes, which means I won't get to my homework! O well--at least I got to send a love letter to everyone. If you've sent me an email in the past couple days I've read it, but haven't responded because I'm a horrible person. Tomorrow--when I'm back at the library, grr--I'll try and catch up again.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Terror in London Bridge

The Shunt Collective? In the London Bridge Vaults? As in "vaults?" As in "underground?" As in "dark?"

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Done is good

I just printed out my first plays ever written as an MA student, to be handed in tomorrow when the office opens. They are done. I can't believe it. I'm looking at a pile of paper sitting next to the computer here, trying to wrap my brain around it. Ah, they are so shiny. I just hope they're good.

Before I go out and enjoy a dance of joy I have to write another paper for a class tomorrow, so all is not bunnies and light just yet. But I've finished my first projects, so that's a step in the right direction.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Look what you've done

Wow, look at all the people who are getting blogs! I feel so proud, since I was the first one to take the leap. G. Sarah, Chris, I will add your blogs to my list soon, I promise.

I'm just stopping by quickly on my way home to enjoy leftover curry. Curry, in case you don't know, is one of the good things to come out of the British Empire. Along with Freddie Mercury. Then I have to work on my first two writing projects, which are due on Thursday. I'm not real worried yet--some of my classmates don't even have a first draft done!

So, I live in a hall with ten other girls, and as you probably figured, I have "difficulties" with some of them. One of the girls, M, in particular. We are polite to each other, but we have different goals for our time in London. She likes to party and buy clothes and go see rock concerts. I like to go to museums & theatres and drink tea and geek out about historical figures. I would's just I'd rather party with y'all instead of strangers. So this morning, M is making breakfast as I enter the kitchy to get my morning tea and, in the effort of comradeship, she asks me if I'm excited about a cocktail party she's planning this weekend. "It's going to be a black and white party, and we're having martinis!" she announces cheerfully. I look concerned. "No!" I say, "Not this weekend! This weekend I'm busy--the new Harry Potter movie is coming out!" She just looked at me like I was crazy. And I had to laugh. See kids, it takes all kinds, and we must all get along and accept one another as best we can.

(Which is something I learned from Book 3, by the way. Have YOU got your tickets yet?!)

Monday, November 14, 2005

Maxwelton's braes are bonny

Hello everyone! Here I am, safe and sound in crazy ol' London again. Scotland was WONDERFUL. Even though it rained all the time and was...bloody cold and...yeah, and the wind was pretty nasty too... Okay, so the weather didn't cooperate, but I still had a great time.

I stayed at the Hotel Greek Thompson, which was named for an architect who was into Grecian influences, so there was lots of columns and things woven into the carpets. The hotel was "shabby genteel." The first room they stuck me in was about the size of a closet and smelled like an ashtray, so about two minutes after I got there (just long enough to whinge about it in my journal) I went back to the front desk and requested a room change. Eventually I was put in a room with a double bed and a television, which was very satisfactory. I even got to watch an episode of "House" that I hadn't seen before!!!

Oh, right, Scotland. Well, Scotland is bloody beautiful. Glasgow is a little city, so I could get around sans car. The streets are laid out on a grid, but what they neglect to tell you is that they also go UP and DOWN. Hilly does not begin to describe this city. My first day I was there I got out my climbing equipment and hauled myself up a sheer rock cliff to go see the cathedral (okay, no, but that's what it felt like) The Glasgow cathedral appears small, but it's built into the side of a hill, so when you go inside, it opens up--and there's two levels "underground" poking out of this hill. It's about eight hundred years old, and mostly plain sooty stones, no fancy goldwork like a "normal" cathedral--this would be due to the Reformation. Clearing the cathedral out of all it's riches is what saved the building which is an architectual marvel. There's also a saint buried in the basement--sorry, not basement, lower chapel--St. Kentigern, also known as St. Mungo. As in St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies. :) I only barely managed to not ask the nice Scottish tour lady if she had read book four.

After the Cathedral I went to the Cathedral Bar and had a delicious lamb curry that I'm still drooling over, and then visited the Necropolis, this gorgeous Victorian cemetary built on the tallest hill in Glasgow. The dead people have the best view of the city! It was very eerie. As you're walking (hiking) up this hill you're literally rising out of the noise of the city until it was practically silent. This is where John Knox is buried, he's the man responsible for the Reformation in Scotland.

Self portrait of me at Loch Lommond--note the lack of sun or smile.

The next day I went to Loch Lommond. This was the only day when I really felt like "this sucks." It was really windy and rainy, and a lot of places were closed because, haha, who would be stupid enough to go touristing in November? I did take a boatride on Loch Lommond (I love boats!) and get a lot of pretty pictures of the Highlands. Because it rains so much, the grass is still green, greener than I've ever seen it, even as the trees all around were losing their leaves. The little town at the end of the train line where I got off is named Balloch. Balloch Castle was built in 1810, and after I mountain-goated my way up the steepest hill yet, I discovered that it too was closed for the season. Then it started to rain. And I was forced to sing the blues.

Walking back I was nearly attacked by a vicious herd of ducks who have no respect for tourists. There were also some graceful swans who were doing their best to dismember two little girls who had made the mistake of proffering bread. These little girl were screaming in terror as these huge birds came after them, and their parents were saying, "Now, now, they don't have teeth, they're not going to bite you." No, they don't have teeth. So it will hurt more when they tear you to pieces. Scary.

The day was saved, luckily, by Balloch House, a small pub that had a real fire, a real pot of tea and a real piece of carrot cake and a squashy armchair where frozen me could sit down and consume aformentioned tea and cake. (only £2.50!!) So the day ended on a warm and fuzzy note.

Friday I locked myself in my room with my computer and told myself sternly that if I wanted to do anything that night I was going to have to finish some plays. I sulked for a little bit, then set about doing my homework, and actually got quite a bit done. then I rewarded myself with pizza and a movie--"the Corpse Bride." Not bad.

Saturday, ah, Saturday I went to Stirling. There were two things I wanted to see there: Stirling Castle and the Wallace Monument, but I couldn't go to both. So in the end I went to the castle, because the Wallace Monument was built by the Victorians, and Stirling castle was built by KINGS. The walk up to the castle was brutal. "Who," I panted to myself as I hauled myself skyward, "Who builds a bloody castle on top of a bloody hill?!" Of course it makes sense when you're trying to repel invaders, but it also repels plenty of tourists, I've no doubt. Most of the streets in Stirling are cobblestones--the sound of terror is a speeding car hurtling towards you over cobblestones. Lucky I had on my blaze yellow coat.

But the castle was well worth it, with a thousand years of history. Here's me on top of the castle, looking out--note the windblown hair. The Wallace Monument is a tower on the next hill over, about a three mile walk.

There's been a fort here since 300 AD, and King James IV of Scotland started a proper castle. His son finished it, and it's been added on to quite a bit. Mary, Queen of Scots was crowned here, and her son, James VI of Scotland and later I of England was baptised here. Oooh. It's all historical. The Great Hall has been completely renovated and looks like it would in the 1500s. During the 1800s the army was stationed here in case Napoleon decided to invade, so there's a line of cannons across one of the walls. And all around is this beautiful swell of mountains and green highlands. The wind was whipping gently into my hair and for once it wasn't raining, so I took about a million pictures (including one of a statue of Robert the Bruce--more Victorians) to remind myself of the Countryside when I'm back in the City.

So, yeah, Scotland was great. Everyone was super friendly, and I felt really safe walking around the city. I even got all of my Christmas shopping done! There is a pedestrian zone with shops in Glasgow--and also bagpipers, hanging out on the sidewalks, playing like you would see people in America with guitars. One lad was wearing a kilt, but later there was another bagpiper who was hardcore!!! bagpiper!!! with hot leather pants and long hair and a punked out bagpipe. Extreeeeeme! I did like seeing men walking around in kilts and soccer jerseys on their way to the pub to support the team. I'm mad for kilts. the thing I thought was interesting is how different the two countries are--england and scotland--when they're so close. Green Bay is maybe six hours away from the Canadian border, but we share a common dialect. But if you drive north of London for six hours, you're in Scotland, and it's completely different.

So now I can say I've done Scotland--didn't try the haggis though. I'll have to go back I guess. I've rambled on long enough here, but I feel like I've left a lot out. I did pick up a book of ghost stories which I haven't read yet--you know me, if I read them before going to bed I'll never sleep.

Monday, November 07, 2005

A Funny Thing Happened...

I went to the Senate House Library (behind the Nat'l Museum) on Saturday to do some research for a paper I will be writing soon. While I was there, I figured I could kill two birds with one stone and look up some information on a personal research project that I've also been working on. I pulled a book of letters off the shelf and opened it randomly and this is what I read:

"Actors don't think...They are perfectly willing to be directed if it's a new work, but when it comes to Shakespeare, you can't teach them anything."

The author was complaining about how hard it is to get actors to think about their characters and motivation, all they're interested in is spitting out the words and looking pretty, although he didn't use those words. I found this incredibly funny, since I've heard the same thing from directors nowadays, and this was a letter from 1878. The author?

Edwin Booth

Friday, November 04, 2005

A Bit o' History

Sam reminded me about Cornish pastys, which I TOTALLY FORGOT on my list of things what make me happy. Helas. Thanks Sam. Yes, definitely, especially the mint and lamb ones from the place in Covent Garden. (Yes Laura, I love lamb. I love to eat baby sheep. sheep...)

Things are going much better today. I had a very successful meeting with the "Hedwig" group--we're putting the show on, and I'm in charge of ripping the script apart and making it more theatrical--and the sun is out, which is nice. This afternoon is given over to research, so I thought I'd fill you in on some fun and interesting things about Britain.

So tomorrow night is bonfire night. Bonfire night is the celebration of the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot, which was a group of Catholic dissenters trying to blow up Parliament in 1605. You may notice that this is the 400th Anniversary of this plot, which means that this year's celebrations are sure to get out of hand. It's kind of like the 4th of July with fireworks and food, and then huge bonfires in the local parks. I'll be heading to Blackheath, which is close to Greenwich, to see the fun.

Fun fact: If you watch "Bridget Jones's Diary" the fire station that Bridget goes to is in Lewisham. I don't know if that's the actual firehouse, or if they in fact have a brass pole, but it's kind of cool.

So, apparently 2005 is a good year to be in London: the 400th anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot, the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar and the 100th anniversary of Sir Henry Irving's death. (Irving was an actor. There's a statue of him outside the National Portrait Gallery.) Glad I waited a year. ;)

Next Tuesday I'll be flying off to Glasgow, Scotland for a "holiday." I'm going to try and get all my work done so I can spend the time ENJOYING MYSELF and getting my history on. I'm hoping to take a day trip up to the Isle of Skye where Bonnie Prince Charlie escaped to after he unsuccessfully tried to invade England and take the throne back from William and Mary. That was in the early 1700's--the next king was George I. I also want to go north of the city to Stirling and the area around there. This would be the highlands and also the area where William Wallace and his army fought off the English. (those rascally English) See: Braveheart. I'm dying for a bit of countryside after being surrounded by city city city for the past five weeks. There's lots of history here, but the only grass I've seen recently was the bit outside the National Museum, which was also covered in pigons. ("rats! rats with wings!")

I do have two writing projects due in two weeks, for those of you who think all I do is lounge around museums all day, so I'm trying to get all that done in the few days before Tuesday. That's one of the reasons I'm not already gone--that and it is expensive. Although I managed to find a tikkie on EasyJet for cheaper than it would have been to train. I would rather have trained it though. I like trains. They're all historical. And you get a better view of the sheep. (mmm....sheep...)

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Things I Like About London

As some of you may have gathered, things are not all peaches and roses here in London, and sometimes I find it very hard to remain optimistic about being here. Classes are going well, but I haven't really made any friends yet--everyone here seems to think obsessing about Harry Potter and movie characters "uncool," imagine--so sometimes it's hard to keep a smiley face going. So I thought I'd make a list of things I like about this City, to remind myself when things are going bad, there's always a little good:

1. Sainsbury's squash: A concentrated fruit drink you mix with water and voila! Fruit juice. Cheaper than actual juice, tastier than water.
2. Trains
3. Sainsbury's ice-cube bags. Plastic bags you fill with water and freeze to make ice cubes. No spillage!
4. The West End
5. Cadbury's chocolates--official chocolatier to the Queen and officially my fave.
6. The Guardian. Liberal newspaper.
7. Fish & chips. Mmmmm... Oh, and curry as well. Mmmmm, curry....
8. Horatio Nelson
9. The Victoria & Albert Museum (it's free!)
10. Having a tea break
11. The exit signs which show a little green man fleeing for his life.
12. Dogs on the Underground
13. Fruit & veg from street markets

There's more, but I can't think of them. I spent all day yesterday at the National Gallery, getting some museum therapy. I went to the exhibit on Ruebens, which I think would have been more interesteing if I was an art student--lots of sketches and inspirations, not so many paintings. Then I wandered around the National Portrait Gallery until it closed--hey, they're free, why not? I don't know what it is about breeches and periwigs...I think I was just born in the wrong century.

Anyway. Next week I'm off to Glasgow and then to the Scottish Highlands. Am looking forward to being out of the city and seeing some hairy coos. :)

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Not a good day

Today started with me choosing a too hot setting on the washer and shrinking most of my clothes, then dyeing all my delicate undergarments a delicate shade of purple. *sigh* Am trying to get some work done, but it's not easy when I'm afraid to leave the library, for fear I'll need the internet and won't have it. Like I said, not a good day.