Wednesday, May 31, 2006

I aim to please!

Since everyone wanted to see pictures from St. Pauls, here ya go. Enjoy!

We made it after a couple wrong turns. If you look under the cross on the dome--that's where we ended up eventually.

I'm not a photographer, but I am just obsessed with street lamps. Here's another one to add to my collection.

Some of the eight hundred million stairs we climbed today. I couldn't take pictures of the interior, but I snuck this one anyway.

Lisa pointed out a cell tower in the distance that looked like the Eiffel Tower, prompting me to comment that the dome was higher than I thought. If you look at the center of the photo, just above the river, you can see the Globe theatre--a little blobby white thing. The flag was flying--currently they're showing Titus Andronicus, which I want to see, but I think I'll wait until the weather gets nicer.

Not a St. Paul's pic, but here's me in my new skirt feeling classical.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Putting the muse to bed

The only bad thing about using coffee to jump start the muse is that when you're happy with your ten pages and you're ready to turn in, he's still bouncing around the room going "yeah, and then, what if you had a, uh, a MACHINE GUN on stage and you could, ah, symbolise..." and I'm putting my PJ's on. It's like trying to put a three-year old down for a nap.

I went in to school to help out a classmate with a project for a couple hours, then when I got home I did laundry. I wrote in my journal "doing laundry is so stressful and time consuming because you have to lug it over to the other building then babysit the dryers...but I probably wouldn't be complaining if my other option was a washtub and mangle." sigh. I guess it's all relative. Yesterday after St. Pauls I went shopping because I just needed some new clothes. Yes, needed, not wanted, for once. I have very few short-sleeved shirts or summery clothes in general, so I went on an absolute spree and bought four new shirts, a pair of jean culottes, a skirt, tank top and a vest. Which, when combined in the right order give me the "merchant seaman" look I've been craving. I'm working my way up through the ranks. Now if I could just find a blue coat with gold piping in my size...

Of course, all the summer clothes shopping was for NAUGHT because today was freezing cold, windy, rainy, hail-y and generally miserable. I was looking forward to making BLTs for dinner, but then on the way home I changed my mind and had stew. As in middle of winter, hot belly filling stew. And I'm wearing my sweater which hasn't been out of my closet since January. Now if only I had someone to keep me warm in bed. Alas. Unfortunately most historical dead white guys are not very good in that department.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Bank Holiday

Today is a Bank Holiday, and also, for future historical reference, the day I finally got around to seeing St. Paul's Cathedral in London. The last of the great destinations. St. Paul's is absolutely beautiful. You can tell that this church takes pride in being the religious heart of the city, and works hard to be modern and approachable--as opposed to Westminster Abbey, which I think I still prefer. St. Paul's is clean and open, with wide spaces to walk around, and not nearly as many dead people as Westminster. Another difference is that one does not "visit" St. Pauls, one "climbs" St. Pauls, as the greatest treat lies at the top of the dome. I went with my friend Lisa, and we found a diary from another expedition on the stairs:

12:30: Arrived at the base camp and after arming ourselves with oxygen tanks and sherpas, set out to conquer the Dome of St. Pauls.
12:45: Not even halfway there and already fatigue is sapping our expedition of strength and stamina. Jenkins has begun to see things, but this may be due to the thin air.
1:07: We had to leave much of our gear behind as it proved too heavy to carry. Jenkins' frostbite became infected and we were forced to amputate his leg.
1:14: Our loyal sherpa "Benjy" has died. Due to lack of supplies, we were forced to eat him.
1:38: We reached the "Whispering Gallery" of the Dome but left quickly after Jenkins began reciting "The Jabberwocky" at the top of his lungs.
1:52: We finally reached the Stone Gallery. From here we could see all the other peaks of London, including Mt. Globe, Mt. Tate Modern, Mt. Charing Cross and Mt. London Eye. Had to forcibly restrain Jenkins who wanted to "fly" to nearby Mt. St. Pub.
2:03: I have finally made it to the top, but at what price? Jenkins was captured and eaten by a Sasquatch. My loyal sherpa "Minjy" disappeared into an icy crevasse. I have no food left. I fear that this is the end for me.

This was found, as I said, on the stairs as we were pushing our way skyward, lungs and legs burning. Although, when we finally did emerge, gasping and wheezing into the blistering wind, the view of the city was amazing. Who needs a gym when all of your city is a Stairmaster?

Approximately seven thousand stairs down later, Lisa and I hit the crypt, which is where Nelson is buried. I say "buried" I mean "stuck up on a pedestal in a huge coffin." I think it's funny that on the maps they have little symbols "Nelson's tomb here!" because it's kind of hard to miss. I mean, talk about your place of honor. Interesting historical note, however: Nelson's coffin was originally made for Cardinal Wolsey, but when he fell out with King Henry VIII, it was taken away from him and stored at Windsor Castle. When Nelson died (two centuries later) they knocked the cardinal's hat off it, replaced it with a viscount's coronet and used it for the admiral. The Duke of Wellington is also buried here--he has a smaller tomb, but a HUUUUUGE MONUMENT up in the nave.

I liked reading about how St. Paul's was preserved during the Blitz by a group of volunteeers called the St. Paul's Fire Watch who would patrol the building putting out fires. St. Paul's was also hit by a bomb that knocked a hole in the roof--luckily it didn't cause structural damage. I put this in my play because that kind of dedication is fasinating.

Today is also, for my American readers, Memorial Day, a day when we are supposed to pause and reflect on the soldiers and warriors who gave us and protect our freedom. I may not be pro-current-war, but I do have a profound respect for people who fight in our armed forces, as well as the soldiers who have gone before. It seemed fitting that I found myself in the American Memorial Chapel at St. Paul's, looking at the names of American soldiers who died during WWII, and when the dean of the church called for it's visitors to stop for a moment of private reflection, I reflected on our service men and women. To all you who have given me the freedoms I now enjoy, I thank you and will not forget.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

the city at night

As most of my loyal readers know, there are only two ways to get me to see the sunrise. A, an armed stranger bursts into my room, forces me out of bed at gunpoint and drags me outside, or B, I stay up all night. You should probably know at this point that the sun starts coming up now about 3:45 in the morning, so when I say I've been up to see the sunrise the past two nights, it's not really that much of an accomplishment. Not like, say, seeing the sunrise in December. But I digress. These past few nights have been spent in the company of friends, happily arguing the finer points of modern theatre, musicals or life in general. The kicker comes when it's time to go home and the only way to get there is on the night bus. Night buses, as I solemnly told Andrew last night, are the sacrifice I make for choosing not to have a car. As I singlehandedly continue my quest to save the world, I use public transport. I don't mind, normally. I like buses, I love trains, I like being able to stretch my legs and read whilst traveling. (and, for the record, Andrew, I do not sleep with a biography of Wellington under my pillow. Could you imagine what that would do to a book cover!??! No, no, when I fall asleep, it's safely tucked under my arm, teddy-bear style.) The problem with night buses is that the routes are longer, because there are less of them. So if you, like me, have been enjoying a relaxing evening among friends in a casual, low-light atmosphere with salsa, chips and your favourite adult beverage, it can be quite a shock to the system to be suddenly flung onto this fluorescent-lit, jerky, smelly bus full of other dazed people like you. Some times the trip can take more than an hour. Normally I counteract the effects of this by calling friends from home. The time difference works out perfectly, and I know that Sam is entertained by hearing about my humerous anectdotes firsthand.

Now that the weekend is over I need to concentrate on revising my piece before rehearsals on Thursday and Friday. And getting my sleeping schedule turned around. But right now I need to finish this coffee, and then put out some bird poison. Because if I'm going to bed at five in the morning, NOTHING is going to keep me up.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


Windy today, hair pulled back and pinned down.
Lines in the face being deepened
By a smile that refuses to fade
Turn my head to reveal
A pink rose
Veined white and explosively alive
So breathlessly heavy it has weight in my hand
Like a bird, like a mouse
It nests in my hair
Pink on brown.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006



Theatre 7:84 is an independent theatre company based out of Scotland who aim to do political and engaging theatre with new writing that is culturally relevant. In March, the ArtsCouncil announced they were cutting the funding for this theatre because it was too "audience based." As an audience member, I am upset by this--not all theatre is introspectively performer based. SOMEONE has to sit in the house and watch, after all. Anyway, 7:84 is protesting this decision, and YOU, my loyal readers, can join the fight by signing an e-petition. Learn more about the theatre, then sign, sign, sign. We need more theatres like this!!!

I know that most of you have not heard of this theatre and are probably thinking why you should bother. But think how you would feel if you were in this position: your theatre company has been in operation for 30-odd years, and then all of a sudden the money rug is yanked out from underneath you. Theatre folk need to stick together, much like the farmer and the cowman, so let's all be friends and work to put a stop to The Man cutting our funding.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Two Parts

Now that the summer is finally getting underway here, you'll be glad to know (peter) that I'm working harder than ever. It's very weird being this close to the end of May but needing to kick it into high gear because we have our scratch performances in three weeks. "Scratch" is a fun new term I've learned which means a show that's not a rehearsed reading, but has less production values than a full on show. In a way I'm disappointed we're not getting to see our pieces full out, but, after reading Sam's blog, I don't know if I could handle the pressure of a "real" show with the whole department depending on me. Not to mention that I have only been working seriously on this piece since January, whereas at Rutgers the students get three years of feedback. But I think that this is just as valuable an experience. The emphasis is very much on the writer, helping us to hone and polish our work, instead of being distracted by fellow designer and actors who all have other goals as well. Distracted isn't the right word. You know what I mean.

What I'm most excited about is working with my director, Matt Wilde. I mentioned Matt back in October when he guest lectured for us--this is the guy who assisted on "His Dark Materials" and he's also worked at the Royal Court. I had my first meeting with him today, and he's incredibly good about asking the tough questions, like "Well, what do you intend to do with this scene? 'Cause you're not doing it. Think about what you're telling me." Very nice. A bit unnerving, but, hey, if something's not getting across, then I want to hear about it. We start rehearsals on Friday! And then I have two shows, the 9th and 10th of June. So, if anyone's around...

Tomorrow I'm going around Brockley and the surrounding areas and dropping of our promotional material--a bright pink and orange bookmark. That should be fun. Meanwhile, I have a horrible sinusy headache. I am beginning to suspect that I have allergies, because this "cold" has gone on far too long, and the only symptoms left are runny nose and eyes. Wouldn't that be ironic: the one year I don't have a garden I spend all my time sniffling.

I wanted to blog about two things today, so if you're strapped for time, come back to this bit later. But I thought all you theatre people out there might be interested in this. I was surfing around last night for information about Laurence Olivier, and I learned that he was actually "in" the movie "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow," starring Gwyneth Paltrow and that cad Jude Law. I was pretty sure that Olivier had been dead by that point, and I was right--his estate allowed the filmmakers to use footage of him in the film. It was manipulated and another actor was hired to provide his voice, and the end result was Olivier playing the baddie as a hologram. I was quite shocked when I read this--from a technical standpoint, of course, it's nothing new--but from a performance standpoint it's absolutely astonishing. Forrest Gump used similar technology to "resurrect" John Lennon et al, but this film used those people as themselves, and in roles that they had played in life. So John Lennon's appearance on the Tonight Show (or whatever it was) wasn't completely fabricated. But using footage of Olivier to create a completely new "performance" seems really desperate. Of all the actors in all the world... I can't conceive of why the filmmakers would do such a thing--because they could? to create a buzz for their film? The articles I read about it said that they treated their subject with care--at one point a movie theatre is showing "Wuthering Heights" one of his career defining films--but the point is that this actor/performer had no control over his character, his performance. Probably Olivier, being dead, doesn't care a lot, and I suspect that this was motivated by something a little more financial than pure artistic intent. But I wonder what encouraging this type of artistic thievery will bring. Is it post-modern? Or just opportunistic?

Monday, May 22, 2006

shopping in the UK

I went to Sainsbury's today to stock up because I was down to butter and pasta--and since pasta requires cooking, that means I'm out of food. So I strolled down the aisles and I picked up a package of carrots and beans, thinking, for once I'll be eating healthy. But then I was instantly racked with panic and a sense of self-loathing because these veg had come from Kenya, and I have recently read an article about how African farms are using up all the water and African people are starving, etc, etc, just so we can get our fresh fruit and veg, and if I bought these carrots, someone was going to go without their tea. Then I realised if I didn't buy the veg, I would be throwing African workers out of a job, and the entire economy of Africa would collapse, thus giving way to the rise of a powerful and charismatic dictator who would befriend the United States by selling us cheap veg, thereby ruining more American jobs and destroying the hopes for a Free Africa. I'm exaggerating of course, but you see my point. It's important to remember that it's all interconnected! To assuage my guilt I bought some organic British grown tomatoes and some Clipper tea, which is fair trade.

For a clearer, musical version of what I'm talking about, see this website: This is a very excellent flash cartoon that points out you can't shop at Wal-Mart and then also complain when they ruin local economies. If you surf around this site, you'll also find a very excellent cartoon with the Founding Fathers rapping about why dey so cool.

(oh, that reminds me--I was worried that people here had lost all sense of history and perspective, when I read in a paper that the World Cup organisers has banned the English fans from chanting 'Two World Wars! One World Cup!' at this year's games, which are being held in Germany. Glad to see someone's got some perspective at least.)

Sunday, May 21, 2006

they just keep on coming

I must like my room this way. No matter how many times I clean or how much I apologise to my roommates, my room always ends up incredibly messy. Except for my desk. I must have that clear so I can set down my 'ffeine fuel and notes. But behind me all is caos and untidyness. "I know where everything is!" is a stereotype--but it's also true. Embrace the caos.

Right now I'm working on my play. I just finished draft number 8. The next one will be the shortened draft I'll be presenting in three weeks, and then the next next one will be number 10. I haven't revised this much in my life. I think it's going well. I named all my characters--there's about thirty-five of them, but you can double it up for six actors.

It is another lazy Sunday afternoon. I'm wearing my yoga clothes. The window is open and it's pelting down rain. We desperately need it here, so I don't mind so much, but I wish it weren't so cold. Makes it hard to type. After I finish here I suppose I'll tidy a bit, then read and maybe watch a movie. Next week is going to be exciting, we're starting rehearsals for the scratch performance on June 9&10. But tonight I have a pizza in the fridge and about half a dozen half-finished books, so I'm staying in.

Friday, May 19, 2006

God bless Louis Black

From the Daily Show:

"We can only hope that when Fred Phelps dies and goes to heaven, St. Peter looks like this:"

Thursday, May 18, 2006


I am completely knackered.

Six hours of workshops today, one chicken mayonnaise sandwich, a quick tour for a potential Goldsmiths MA, a trip up to Zone 2 to see a show and networking afterward and I am absolutely wiped. Not to mention I have this bizarre little sore throat and an open faucet in my right nostril. What a way to start the weekend.

Since my final project includes puppets, one of the guys in my class invited me along to see a piece of theatre by a company called Unpacked--which comes from the fact they can pretty much fit their entire show into a suitcase. Tonight's piece was a brand spankin' new one called "No Obvious Trauma" which was about a woman in a sanitorium and the possibility she might have had an affair with one of the doctors previously. What made the show absolutely captivating was the way they used the set and props. Basically it was two frames with green fabric stretched over it, a desk--all on wheels--and a wheelchair that they manipulated to make different places and settings. They also used a projector and puppets, which were carefully packed away in the desk drawers. The coolest part came right in the beginning, where one person flashed the empty projector across the screens while another person opened and closed the desk drawers in a rhythm. I couldn't figure out what the hell it was supposed to be until I heard a whistle and realised they'd created a train. So cool! I really appreciated the way they could tell a story simply but in a really interesting way. No kitchen sink drama here.

Afterward we went to the pub and I got to meet the company. Basically it's a group of former MA students who started working together after they graduated. They were all really friendly about sharing their experiences and encouraged me to send along my play. there's a possibility they might be able to work on it or at least help out with the actors we find. It was great to meet some "professionals" but I was getting a splitting headache, so I didn't get to pick quite as much brains as I would like.

Check out their website at

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Shepherding Visitors

I know most of my loyal readers are family, so you'll read with relief that KT and co arrived safely last night (albeit about 12 hours after they were scheduled to land) and after a few mixups at the airport, I found them and got them all into the city, and into bed. Alas! There was no time to go around London, so they mostly saw train stations (which, while being historical, are far less interesting than, say, statues of 19th century admirals). We did all go out for breakfast this morning, to which I invited actual British persons...did not plan on actual British hangovers, but then again it is the end of term, so what did I expect. I hope that, tired as everyone was, they enjoyed the brief stopover in the best city in the world (yes, London and I are back in love again).

I managed to not read the work for tomorrow yet, so this will have to be short, but I just have to mention that I think I'm going to set my landmark production of Sweeney Todd circa 1800 because that way I can have my Sweeney and breeches too.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


I totally forgot the Tony noms came out today!!!! Check it out at

Congratulations to the sexy Michael Cerveris on his nomination for Sweeney--which was also nominated for best revival and best directior. HELL YEAH!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Breechy goodness

Yesterday one of those happy convergences occured, where everything in your life seems to go together. Lisa and I decided to make a day of going to the Theatre Museum in Covent Garden. I had been before, but never with another person, and it was interesting to see what she thought was cool as opposed to what I thought was cool. I also paid a little more attention to the exhibits about great British actors, namely Sir Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh because I had recently rented a movie entitled "That Hamilton Woman" which starred both of them.

We watched it later that night, and those howls of indignation were me being upset about the utter lack of historical correctness in this film. This is the story of Nelson and Emma Hamilton. (what! I hear you cry. Nelson again? yeah. sorry 'bout that) but it was made in 1940, which was, if memory serves me correctly, right at the beginning of another war. So you have Nelson spouting off all these great speeches, "He will not be content with Europe! He will not stop, if you sign a treaty with him now, he will only use it to gather more resources and attack again! You cannot appease Hitler--er, I mean Napoleon!" It was Churchill's favourite movie, but it got the director hauled in front of the House of Un-American Activities. That's gratitude for ya. Olivier's performance is completely believeable, if only because he manages to get the stilted Britishness just right, and make stupid dialogue sound convincing, while still passionately desiring Emma. Interesting historical note, Olivier was experimenting with method acting at this point, and he actually had his arm amputated for some of the scenes--it was put on ice and reattached after the shooting was done.

Now I like Vivien Leigh, but I think that she might have worked a little harder on her motivation. In her defence, she was coming off of "Gone With the Wind" and might have gotten confused, since apparently the costume designer thought that "1805" meant "farthingales and crinolines." (I'm starting to doubt that Vivien Leigh has legs, actually.) At least they got Nelson's uniform right...even if he was wearing the FULL DRESS one the ENTIRE MOVIE.
I think it was more interesting to watch this movie and think about the context it was made in, not the one it was portraying. If you were going to have a piece of propaganda to encourage your allies to join you in the fight, you could not choose a better time period. But what was really interesting was how the love story between Emma and Nelson played out. At this point Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh were a couple well on their way to being married (aw) but in the movie the two characters are completely angst ridden over their forbidden love. The only way the film could be made is if they both had these speeches "Ah, it is so wrong, but I can't help loving you!" inserted at the insistence of the film board. They kiss--twice--and Emma's pregnancy is completely offscreen. Yet somehow you can sense this incredible heat and chemistry between the actors. A modern movie might treat the passion with more passion, but because of the censorship this film was operating under the stolen moments between the characters really ARE stolen and therefore much more believeable. It's hard to dial back the ol' brain after being exposed to so much media these days, back to when it was possible to get pregnant just by fainting into someone's arms. I suspect that Dad would like this movie. It has a lot of flaws, but it is a treasure trove of great acting and a brilliant (for 1940) Battle of Trafalgar.

Favourite bit of dialogue:
Emma: "And in the corner, the English admiral, with all his expressions easy to read. Nelson, bored. Nelson, happy. Nelson, ecstatic." [she adopts the same scowling face each time]
Nelson: "And what is this expression?" [he rests his head in his hand and looks neutrally at Emma]
Emma: "Nelson tired?"
Nelson: "Nelson in love."

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Your daily dead white guy Major-General James Wolfe, the "Victor of Quebec" who captured the city from the French in 1759 and was killed in battle. He has a statue outside the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, which is where I was today. Despite being surrounded by people, writing letters to friends and reading about historical figures, I was bored, lonely and depressed. From the top of the hill you can see the whole of London spraddling out beneath you, and I finally realised that the history and the richness of the city that I love so much is just paved over, dead, fossilized and gone. In it's place is garbage, bad music, crime, poverty and distrustful neighbors. And no matter how may biographies I read, how many museums I go to, how many people I talk to, I'm never going to get to experience the City I needed, so I might as well pack it in and go home now.
Blackout. Curtain. Houselights up.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

It's My Blog and I Can Rant if I Want To

I've been on a beer-and-midol holiday the past couple days, so I spent most of this evening immersing myself in the news. I can't believe all the stuff that is happening. It's enough to make me want to crawl underneath the bed and not come out. Ever.

First up we have the fat man walking, an overweight gent from California who walked across America. and Ostensibly this was to lose weight, but along the way he discovered that the thing that was keeping him big was being depressed. I'm glad that he could take a year off to figure that out. The rest of us have papers to write. I thought it was interesting that he lost weight even though he would eat at McDonald's and other fastfood places--hey, where else are you going to eat along our nation's highways? This just proves what I've been saying: you want to lose weight, get rid of your car. Next!

Then we have Palestine. Apparently Israel has cut off their oil supply because Palestine hasn't paid the bill recently...because various international bodies have cut off their aid since Hamas came to power. I can't read articles about this fast enough. As soon as I finish one, another one pops up, even grimmer. Think about it: the bill doesn't get paid. No gas. Now people can't get to work to earn money, so the economy grinds to a halt which means...the bills can't get paid.

And don't even get me started on Iran.

The last article off the wires is a blurb by an English writer about the immigration issue in the US. It is very interesting to read about the US from a British standpoint, because distance lends perspective, and because from the English viewpoint, it's pretty cut and dried. Obviously we want these immigrants here, or we wouldn't be giving them jobs, right? right? I'm pro-immigration rights, as the descendent of immigrants it would be ungrateful not to be, but I can understand how some people might feel overwhelmed. What's important to remember, however, is that the US was not all unified to begin with.
Exhibit A: the Quakers of Pennsylvania refusing to get involved in bloodshed during the American Revolution. Exhibit B: Virginian Thomas Jefferson writing the Declaration of Independence 'cause if a Yank had done it, no one south of Maryland would have signed it. Exhibit C: the Puritan New Englanders educating themselves about the new ideas of "englightenment". We very nearly had 13 different countries at one point--And all these people were white, male and English speaking! Yet out of this great melting pot (let me just...get out my soapbox here...) they managed to make one country.

But let's not forget signifigant parts of this country were not originally white, male and English speaking. Florida, for example, was Spanish. New Mexico, Arizona, Texas...well, Texas is a whole other story, but leaving that aside...originally part of Mexico. The Louisiana Purchase was actually Napoleon unloading some unwanted land so he could concentrate on invading Europe.* Alaska? Russian. Hawaii? Sovereign island...okay, bad example. But you see my point. Am I the only one who's read a history book lately? America is a nation of immigrants. But more than that, in this global economy, EVERY country is now faced with supporting people who call other places home. Whether it's a slacker playwrighting student with too much time on her hands in the UK or refugees from Sudan (oh, have you heard about THAT recently?!) the world is full of shifting, changing populations. Even Green Bay has seen a recent influx in immigrant populations recently, an influx that I think is a good thing. The thing is not to panic and become victims of xenophobia, or accuse people of coming to steal our jobs and heritage, but to remember what made our country so desirable in the first place: our ability to accomodate everyone and recognise and respect one another. Despite everything, I still think America is a great country, and I'm proud to call it home. I'm glad that my ancestors got in, and I'm willing to budge over and make room for other people. I hope I'm not talking in catchphrases or circles here. I'm just trying to come to terms with what some of my fellow Americans want to do to my potential fellow Americans.

Before you all pull out your hankies and wave your small American flags** however, let me just say that if Jeb Bush ends up running for president, they're going to have to build a wall between the US and Canada because I am LEAVING. Didn't we kick some British butt so that we didn't have to have a family oligarchy or whatever -archy? (an- perhaps?!?!) in the seat of power? aaaaarghhh!!! If George W. Bush is an evil gnome hand puppet, then Jeb Bush is one of those joke-snake things that you can't quite keep a grip on. You know who I would like to see run for president for the Republicans? Condoleeza Rice. Because she SCARES THE BEJEZUS out of me. Anyone who can lie like she can with that steely look in her eyes surely deserves to run the country. brrr. "TEN-SHUN!" "ooh, yes ma'am!"

*haha. fool.
** Feel free to also sing the Star Spangled Banner. In Spanish, if you wish.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Safari in Central London

Today I and my fellow explorers Alison and Lisa set forth to capture on film an Elephant of Epic Proportions that I had heard about from Sarah, our Hedwig costumier. The Elephant was actually a mechanical automaton/puppet/street theatre that was put together by Royal de Luxe a French company who put on free outdoor performances all over the world--but apparently, never in London. I had heard it was going to be near Picadilly, so we set out with that as our general destination.

Turns out it wasn't as hard to find as I thought it was going to be. Then again, a 12 meter tall Elephant tends to attract a lot of attention. Even not moving it was an impressive sight, majestic and yet festive at the same time.
The road leading to Picadilly Circus had been shut down--for those of you not familiar with London, this is a major street, five lanes wide, heading to one of the hearts of the city. (Like Dr. Who, London has several hearts) And for once I could stroll down the middle...well, stroll is loosely applied here. Pushed along ina crush of people might be a more accurate term. Lisa, Alison and I managed to squeeze by the behemoth (me snapping pictures frantically) and not get separated before deciding that more elephant hunting was not possible on empty stomachs. We meandered through St. James's street, roughtly toward Trafalgar Square, looking for something edible. I think that's what I enjoyed the most about the Elephant--it allowed me to relate to London in a completely different way. I was more aware of being in an audience, of being part of an event than I ever have been. It was like the fireworks at a Fourth of July display, where everyone is staring. But instead of ooing and aahing, they're staring in disbelief and trying to capture it on their camera phones.

We tea-ed in St. Martins in the Field, then plunged back into the fray. I had had a call from a friend who was standing next to the aforementioned Sarah--the Elephant was on the move! and it was heading to St. James's Park. The story behind the show is simple: a sultan dreamed of a little girl, and he was so struck by her image that he had a time-traveling Elephant created so he could find her.
And he found her in London. We were watching the last "scene" a procession from St. James's Park to the Royal Horse Parade Grounds where the Little Girl was going to go home in a rocket. On the way to the park we passed by the crater in the ground where the Little Girl's rocket had "landed." It was literally a crater, with chunks of pavement torn up and tossed aside, right in the middle of the street (albeit a rarely used one) which staggered me. Imagine a theatre company that requires, as part of it's rider, the closing of several MAJOR streets, the tearing up of a large chunk of concrete, a CRANE TO MOVE YOUR PROPS AROUND, as well as enough sound equipment to raise the dead. I cannot convey how cool this was.

Chasing the Elephant through the streets was exhilarating. It's actually more than just an elephant, it was a procession. First came the Little Girl, then the Elephant, then the band (as Alison pointed out, how can you have a time-traveling Elephant WITHOUT a band?) then a police wagon, then an open double decker bus with camera crews. Appropriately, it was an Elephant and Castle bus. The Little Girl and Elephant headed toward the Parade Grounds--where the guys with fuzzy hats are--where the little girl climbed into her rocket ship, waved to the Elephant (who waved back), and went home. Except took a crane to get her into position and a team of technicians to maneuver the Elephant up close.

I was positively blown away by the experience. It was the most exhilarating piece of theater I have ever seen. Most of the time we were moving through crowds of people, laughing and dancing as we tried to keep up with the Elephant's progress and take pictures. Everywhere you went people were watching with this incredulous air, and there was a feeling of community I haven't felt in London in a long time. Even the Little Girl's disappearance was brilliant. On paper it looks simple: put the cap on, fire the smoke, remove the cap, she's gone, simple like a magic trick, but in reality it was astonishing, probably because the Little Girl in question was fifteen feet high.

I don't know whose brilliant idea it was to bring this company to London, but all I want to know is: WHEN CAN WE DO IT AGAIN?!?!?!

check out more pics:

Saturday, May 06, 2006

unexpected prowl

"If the sun comes out in winter
No one will complain
So I have to spare a thought
For misunderstood summer rain."

That's from a song my friend Matt wrote...I was humming it this afternoon. I felt as though I were a part of a secret club: coming back from the Hamlet job, my train was delayed, so much so it didn't make sense to go home and then back into the city. So I disembarked at Blackfriars and decided to walk to Charing Cross, taking my time to read plaques, of course. I hadn't realised it had started raining whilst on the train, but that didn't deter me. It's just good English weather--and it's been so nice lately that it was hard to feel upset. The lilacs are out! The rear vanguard of spring have arrived, and the air is full of their scent. And I had remembered my brolly. So I snapped it open and set forth along Victoria Embankment. I was the only happy person in the rain, kicking puddles and humming to myself, finding odd staircases and learning that St. Clement Danes had been completely destroyed in WWII--and there's a nice statue of Dr. Johnson outside, looking happy as he holds up a book. Well, I would be too if I was immortalised holding a book. Gazed Longingly at St. Paul's--d'y'know, that St. Paul's Cathedral, one of the major, if not THE major landmark of London, is one of the few place I have nae been in this magic city? But Lisa wants to go too, and I promised I'd take her, so I did not go in. I continued on toward Charing Cross (once I spotted Nelson's Column it was easy) and as I drew nearer I could hear music, so I decided to go whole hog and check out Trafalgar Square where I Saw an Elephant of Epic Proportions.

Then I had to go to work. Work was easy--Galem made me stand by the door because the cash register was there, and I got to tell people that the door didn't open until six. I harbored suspicions that Galem was making me stand there because I was a...uh... "haha, Galem, whats'amatter, you don't think I'm up to putting chairs out? Let's get the menfolk to do it, huh?" Just ribbing him. "Well, actually, to be honest, I thought it would go quicker if we had two guys do it."


"What? Really? Who says that outloud? Is this 1958? The hell?"

Distracted now, but still happy to be out on a Saturday night, feeling underused. Full house. Have to suck it in to get by some of the punters, but we manage to get everyone seated, and the show starts twenty minutes late. I dwell on the fact that my boss reminded me to move quickly because there's a queue and not on the fact that he bought us all beer. Was looking forward to detoxing with a friend, until he spotted a train to New Cross and ran to catch it, leaving me to journey to Brockley alone, except for my journal, the new one I had to buy because I found myself in Trafalgar Square, in the rain, happy, with no paper. Why do I always find myself in that situation.... I think about the people with the umbrellas who had dogs with no umbrellas--people dry, dogs wet and I think how I would never dress a dog up in stupid costumes, but I would buy them a raincoat and keep the fur on their paws short so it wouldn't get drippy bedraggled. And the Elephant was wicked cool.

Home now, I have a potato, an egg, a tomato, all in one pan, saves on the washing up. I'm reading a funny book about Australia, and I drink some orange juice. Check mySpace. Realise it's one o'clock and the only thing keeping me from bed is three feet of space (small room).

Good night.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Now I walk in beauty...

These are the days I love the most. When the earth moves with a languid grace and splendor, and I can match my pace to it, slowing the hurried gush of my thoughts. To leave behind the existential questions of WHO AM WHAT ARE IF THEN WHAT NOW, to feel no rush, to sit in silence. To sink into Nature's arms and be natural. To softly ask the question I AM and expect no reply.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Hamlet and Highgate

Monday was a bank holiday, which mean that nothing was open (see earlier post) so I spent some productive time looking for a job. But once I was done, I spent some unproductive time googling certain 19th century admirals who also share a name with a certain Shakespearean character. And I discovered that there's a new version of Hamlet being filmed here next month. A small indie film. I thought "hmm, I wonder if they're in need of someone to make tea?" So I sent them a CV. Not five minutes later the director calls me up and is like "yeah, I was just about to advertise for, interview?" Which promptly turned my unproductive search int a productive one and proves that God loves me. So today I trained up to the wilds of zone three to talk with the (very excitable) director of this new po-mo Hamlet. He thinks that I can be useful, so I'm going to be an extra pair of hands on a film shoot. How exciting is that? I had to listen to "Pandemonium" on the way up to the interview.

(Let me just pause here and say that "25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" is the greatest musical. "Pandemonium" so perfectly sums up what it's like to be twelve I want to cry. Sample lyric: "Life is random and unfair, life is pandemonium!" Of course in my case it was very fair, but I digress.)

Then I figured since I was already in zone three, I should go check out Highgate cemetery. -tary? who cares... Highgate is the biggest, baddest Victorian cemetery you'd ever want to go to, the 19th century answer to overcrowding in central London cemeteries. A hundred years ago this was surrounded by fields, now it's surrounded by the poshest pseudo-Tudor (say that fast) semi-detatcheds I've ever seen. Apparently the living got jealous of the splendid beauty of the dead. For Highgate is beautiful. I went into the eastern part, which is the not fancy part, and the graves are not in any particular order, right next to each other, occasionally on top of each other. The flowers and bushes that old mourners have planted have been left to grow unchecked so that the cemetery feels like a forest. Some of the paths through the woods were little more than footpaths, the ivy and undergrowth completely concealing the stones beneath. It was very peaceful and beautiful. I wanted to go there to get my Victorian on--north London is a Victorian creation, with more factories, but also houses for office workers and middle class families to live in (Bob Crachitt, anyone?)--but I also wanted to go to get out of the city and see some nature. Ironic that it was a cemetery, but it was also the most trees I've seen since coming back from Greece.

Because I was wearing my boots from the interview still my feet were killing me, and I didn't take the tour of the western part of the cemetery...which apparently had a vampire in it. When I came back I Googled "highgate" and I learned all about the Highgate Vampire, who was hunted and eventually staked by a vampire expert in 1970. Incredulous sounding as this is--there are pictures. (which I'm not going to post here, since they're pretty gruesome.) But I will put up a shot I took whilst in the cemetery itself. This is actually a graveyard...but you'd never guess from this photo:

Monday, May 01, 2006

You gotta manufacture inspirado

Today in the United States people of all backgrounds joined together to protest the horrible treatment of illegal immigrants by not coming into work or not buying American goods. I too joined in the protests...except since I didn't have any classes and I'm too poor to consume these days, it might not have looked like I was protesting. But I was. Definitely. I spent the whole afternoon in the coffee shop revising my final project, which now has a title: "Unexpected City Over Below and Above: Easy to Miss and Hard to Love" except I might make it shorter. John told me to come up with ten or twelve titles, which instantly got my back up against the wall. Naming a play is like naming a child! You can't just arbitrarily change it's name! You'll scar it for life! (thus the metaphor of writing a play=like being pregnant continues) I'm also looking for readers: if any of you crazy people out there would like to read it and give me feedback I'd appreciate it. Draft six and all of a sudden things that were funny two months ago no longer make sense. I have never revised this much in my life. Maybe writing a play isn't like being pregnant...unless your baby is Frankenstein's monster that you can switch out the limbs on or something.

I'm very excited about starting classes again tomorrow because I am, in case you can't tell from the drool hanging off my lower lip, bored. Bored, bored, bored, BORED. Yes, I'm writing, yes I'm looking for a job, but since everyone else is still neck deep in essays, there hasn't been a lot of people hanging out time recently. Which is why I managed to get through all of part two of "Ghosts of Albion" last night. The only thing funnier than Admiral Lord Nelson fighting 18th century zombies is...a zombie Admiral Lord Nelson. Who thought this was a good idea? Just thinking about it is enough to make me snicker. Touch me, I'm undead! mwahahahaha!