Tuesday, January 31, 2006


Now the chemicals in my brain have sloshed around to their proper neurotransmitters, and I'm fine. I'm sorry if I got a little heavy-handed. A very genuine sorry. This blog is not the place for me to be venting. So, the last couple posts have been yanked--on the advice of my smart younger brother I went and exposed myself to some Turners--and I'm about to go order "Sweeney Todd" since apparently the stores here have a bias against brilliant Broadway shows and have not seen fit to stock it. All is well.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Happy New Year!

Welcome to the Year of the Dog! (hmmm...maybe it's a sign: Year of the Dog, I want to get a dog...maybe it'll be this year!) Yesterday I celebrated Chinese New Year with Lisa and her friend Kali and almost everyone in the dorm. We had Chinese dumplings, barbecued chicken, broiled fish, and for desert, glutinous egg rolls, which are boiled balls of rice with sweet sesame (think peanut butter, but with a different texture) in the middle. And Tiger beer, which is a Chinese beer--and apparently brewed on the island of Hainan, which is where Lisa is from. There was SO MUCH FOOD, but it was great. I'm going to have to get some chopsticks though, because I felt like such a farb eating with a fork.

(farb, btw, is a word I learned from a book I just finished, "Confederates in the Attic." It's a derisive description for Civil War re-enactors who don't go all the way in their reenacting, as opposed to hardcores, who are, well, super-hardcore about it.)

I was going to go to Trafalgar Square today and watch the parade, but I still have this weird little sore throat which is spreading into my sinuses and applying pressure on my brain. So instead I went to the grocery store and thought, as I was passing packets of pre-mixed pie crusts, "why would I buy some shepard's pie mix if I can't sprinkle actual pieces of shepard on top?" and then I had to smack myself into remembering that I'm not actually in Sweeney Todd. I blame the odd little sickness, so I bought some paracetomol. Take that, odd little sore throat. I also bought some Haribo gummies, which aren't medicine, but do taste nice and coat the throat. Mm. I feel so optimistic.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Far too much free time

I arrived at the library this morning to work on a presentation for Monday, so I've spent the last two hours surfing for musicals of the 1970s. No, no! Really, that's my assignment--musicals of the 1970s. So I just rehashed everything I knew, ignored Grease and Annie, as I usually do, engaged in a little Lloyd-Webber bashing and tada! Mission accomplished. (Dear Andrew Lloyd-Webber. I think your musicals from the 70s, JC Superstar and Evita were probably your best. But now, you pretty much suck. And I loved Phantom when I was younger. But if it runs for another 20 years, I will have to form an army of theatre-ninjas and burn the theatre down, because that's just selfish, that is. If you don't write a better show, I will publish unflattering pictures of you. And there's more where that came from! Love, Nicki PS: Sunset Boulevard was cool too-even if it only had two songs in it.)

I am in a much better mood today, probably due to the sun! yay! the sun, even though I have a weird little sore throat and a weird little headache, but I Refuse to Get Sick. And, I second the views of Sam "Guinea Pig Slinger" Fromm--people who don't update their blogs also suck. Since I don't talk to most of you-all on a regular, basis, that's where I get my news from, so take five minutes and write, damnit.

I would also like to draw everyone's attention to the fact that the new version of Sweeney Todd comes out in three days, so soon I will be able to listen to almost two hours of Michael Cerveris goodness without having to dial around on my iPod. Yayyy! Very excited. Haven't eaten in a week so I can save up enough money to go buy it the DAY IT COMES OUT. Hopefully they will have it here as well as in the States...if not, don't worry, you will all know about it, I am sure. But who is this Michael Cerveris, you ask? Well, never fear, I will find a picture of him for you...let's see, I'll just google "michael...cerveris" and...holy crap, who the heck is that? And why did he come up with I was looking for Michael? Damnit...

okay, well, that's not a very good picture...actually, teehee, it's a VERY good picture, but, ah, this blog is supposed to be rated PG13...

The caption assures me Michael's in there somewhere...but...can't see him. Titanic poses a huge challenge, ladies and gentlemen: the only show I seriously considered walking out of is also one of the few shows with Mr. Cerveris on it. Do I somehow overcome my loathing of the show with my love for Michael? The jury is still out...

Stephen Sondheim! What the hell are you doing here?! Great, now there's going to be a cage battle on my blog...

All right, all right, I'm done...crazy what a little goolging can lead you to. Actually, MC is older than he looks...I honestly don't know that much about him, except that he's a DAMNFINE actor and a DAMNFINE singer. Honestly. Totally professional respect for another theatre person. Totally professional. Totally.

Friday, January 27, 2006

A New Discovery!

This is a picture of the Deptford Town Hall, about five minutes away from the library here at campus. This is where Nico and I performed our final piece--downstairs in one of the bathrooms. It was built in 1905, and the bathrooms were probably period. Today, as I was passing by, I looked up and noticed that there are actually four scuptures in between the windows on the second floor! Then above that, on the triangular pinnacle thing, there's a scene of a naval battle--and above that is a weathervane in the shape of a ship! If you count from right to left, one, two, three, that's a sculpture of Nelson. Who the other three are I have no idea, probably other navy guys, since this area is heavy into the Navy. (Goldsmiths itself was started as a naval school for the sons of officers) Just goes to show what you see when you look up! Such a pretty building.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Afternoon tea

Lisa and I went out this afternoon, and we had afternoon tea...not the traditional tea, the way you think of it, but Chinese dim sum, where you order little dishes of things, and then you share. So we had bao, which are little round balls that tasted similar to thick angelfood cake stuffed with pork, prawn dumpling soup, sponge cake, pork ribs and chicken paw. Yes, chicken paw, as in "the foot of a chicken." Lisa ordered, since the menu was in Chinese, and when she took the lid off the pot, I couldn't believe it: there it sat. A chicken paw. Lisa said, "if you don't want it, I'll have it," and I said, "well, I'll try anything once," so I ate it. It was kind of...salty and rubbery, didn't taste anything like chicken, and there were lots of little bones. After I finished it, Lisa mentioned that chicken paw was one of her favourites, and I said, "I thought you were just being polite! Next time I'll let you have it!" On the list of weirdest things I've ever eaten, chicken paw is definitely at the top.

We were in Chinatown so Lisa could buy food for the Chinese New Year, which is this Saturday. She's cooking dinner, and then we're going to the parade on Sunday. Chinatown is kind of hidden behind Leceister Square--if you find it, or you know it's there, it's very easy to find, but it's also kind of hidden. So when we came around the corner and saw all the lanterns and decorations for the New Year, it was extra-special pretty. Of course, dim sum was a long time ago, and I'm getting hungry again. I think this time I'll have a hamburger--I've been exposed to enough culture for one day. :)

Later tonight I'm going to attempt to see Amato Saltone again...this time I'm bringing a flashlight. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Blank Verse

I just want to apologise for the weirdness that my blog wandered into yesterday. I have promised myself no more musical theatre quotes, because people probably wouldn't know that the question of "Company" is "should I get married?" which merges in my mind into, "Should I commit my life to the theatre?" and people read it and think I'm going funny in the head. Anyway. Have spent the past couple days feeling very bored and lonely, mostly because I've been reading, writing, walking and spending lots of time by myself thinking. Ostensibly about my final project (of which there are currently five contenders) but usually about What I Want to Do With My Life. And listening to music, which then gets mixed up into my real life in my imagination, until half the time I'm walking around thinking about myself as a character in a play.

But, boredom will soon come to an end, since I have things planned for the rest of the week, not to mention Tony-award winning plays to pen. Today I spent in the coffee shop again, working on letters and writing. Here's a sketch that I knocked out while I was there:

Yup, another self-portrait. I just don't feel right doing other people...wouldn't want to presume to know what they look like. You'll notice the new yoga hoodie. I'm kind of scrubby today. Bored and scrubby. But at least I managed to get out of my room and enjoy the London sunshine. I never thought I'd be bored in London--but I am. Just have to get on over to the ol' Imperial Museum, I guess. :)

Monday, January 23, 2006

And that's what it's all about, isn't it?

Aaargh! More Sondheim! I can justify it, promise--we studied "Company" in class today, which means that I had to watch a production of it for homework. (whoohoo!) Here's a picture from the Donmar revival in 1996 that I watched. (directed by Sam Mendes, who just did "Jarhead" starring Jake Glyllenhal who made out with Heath Ledger who is in "Casanova" which is a film being made by the main character in "Nine" so you see it really does all come back to musicals)

I thought that having Bobby being played by a black person was an interesting choice, especially since the rest of the cast (with the exception of Harry) was white. So not only is Bobby having angst because he's not married in a world which desperately wants him to be, he now appears to be struggling against a racial divide as well. (as opposed to Harry, who has married a white woman and "conformed.") I'm sure that's not what the director intended, but, as we all know, what makes it into the script and what the audience gets are wildly different things. :) The second picture is of Amy. I just LOVED this costume design--the dress ends at about her knees, and is reminiscent of a little girl's dress, which complements her childish "crazy" attitude perfectly. You go, Donmar!

I went to another party this weekend, this one in the City. It was less fun than the first one, because the men there were positively predatory. I did enjoy myself, but it was weird having guys paying attention to me! Usually I go to dance and I'm not molested--this time I was beating them off with a stick. It's a very weird feeling. I don't know if I'll go back to this party: the group that was putting it on charged more, there was no food this time, the drinks were more expensive, and the party ended early because someone punched a (female) bartender. I don't regret going because I got to hang out with Deb, and I did meet SOME interesting people, but overall, I think I prefer the Livin' it Large party. Of course, now I have no money for theatre tickets, so I won't be seeing anything this week, and that cannot continue to happen. That's what it's all about, isn't it? Theatre? Marriage? Theatre? Marriage? You see what you look for, you know.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

the sun! the sun!

See? I haven't forgotten my classic roots, even if lately I've been spending a lot of time in the 60s and 70s. :) Yesterday I had another yoga class, but this one went a little easier. The positions were easier because I knew what was coming, so now it's just a matter of getting that leg out a little further or bending over a little more. I remember this guy I knew in high school who was all gung-ho about going to the Citadel or some damn place where they made you hold your arms out straight and then put an AK-47 on your wrists and you had to hold it up until your arms dropped from exhaustion. There's a pose we do that is similar, the point being of course to strengthen our bodies and relax our minds, instead of training us to kill people.

Last night some friends and I went out to see a movie, but we got there too late, so we ended up going to Arbuckles, an "American-style" restaurant that served hamburgers, albeit with chips and salad instead of fries and "screw you, you're not getting a salad!" You could tell it was an American restaurant, because the first thing you saw when you walked in was a huge relief of Abraham Lincoln on the wall which made me laugh really hard. Nothing says America like Honest Abe, I guess. They also had a mural with a picture of Mount Rushmore, which prompted me to lecture on President Jefferson's hypocrisy for about ten minutes. Nevermind the fact that most of everything I know about the founding fathers has come from two sources: this book I'm reading, "Freedom Just Around the Corner" and the musical 1776. (yes, there's a musical about the Declaration of Independence, and I have it.)

Anyway, I now have some people here in London who read my blog, which means I can't complain about them anymore. Just kidding, guys! Welcome! :)

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

'tis your delight, sir, catching fire...

You are all going to think I have nothing better to do than sit around and watch musicals when I tell you what I did last night. I finally sat down and watched the 1979 version of Sweeney Todd, and then for good measure I watched Act 2 again this morning before I wrote a play. (yes, a play. A whole play.)

Here's a picture of George Hearn who played Sweeney in another one of his famous roles, this one La Cage Aux Folles--or the Birdcage. He was so good in Sweeney that I'm delighted to learn I already have him on my Sunset Boulevard soundtrack. Rather similar to how I was delighted to learn that Michael Cerveris is on my Tommy soundtrack (as a matter of fact, he's Tommy). The fact that both these men sound weird on these CDs that I have already does not daunt me. They are good and must be supported. Even if George Hearn did do the Barney movie for some reason. (I'll support him, but I'm not watching the freakin' Barney movie.)

Anyway. I have been very, very bored these past couple days. Having handed in my essay, I find myself with nothing to do but climb the walls. Maybe I'll go look up some pictures of Michael Cerveris...

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Money things

Last night I took my iPod for a walk, being careful to stick to the "high streets"--ie, streets with stores, people and traffic. I only got lost once, but then I followed one of the buses and pretty soon I was back on familiar ground. While I was out walking, a woman came up to me crying and asked me for some money for baby formula, saying that her child hadn't eaten in five hours. It was heartwrenching--and I would have given her some money if she hadn't pulled the same stunt two months ago. (and if my floormates hadn't encountered her as well) Clearly something has caused her to end up in this situation, and she needs help, but not a handout from me. I remember when some of us were in Chicago and we gave our leftover pizza to a homeless person instead of money so he could eat, but not go out and buy drugs or alcohol. I am not insensitive to people living on the streets or people living in poverty, but begging is not the answer. There is a magazine here that is written specifically to be sold by homeless people called "The Big Issue," and they have to buy it and sell enough copies to make a profit. I bought one coming out of "Brokeback Mountain" the other day. The gentleman was very nice and we chatted a bit about how it "wasn't the cold, it was the rain." I let him keep the change. I feel mixed up about it. On one hand, I hate people who are just begging, but then, I feel like making people busk or something is demeaning. But then, I gave some money to a woman who had created a life-sized chalk drawing of Leonardo's "Last Supper" outside the National Gallery. (gotta support the arts, right?)

Then, on the flip side of this coin is the fact that I have been starting to think about getting a job. I even passed out a bunch of resumes to West End theatres. (I love London. I printed out 15 resumes, and handed them out to 15 different theatres in two hours) I paid my rent this semester--it was less than last semester because part of my tuition check paid for it, but it's still money, money, money. I'm not coy: I want a job so I can go shopping, go to the theatre, eat out more. My school is paid for, but I want to have a good time too. Yet, how can I say that I want a job so I can screw around in the big city when there are people "sleeping rough?"

Sunday, January 15, 2006


Yesterday I was feeling extremely sore from the yoga class, but that didn't stop me from going to Surrey Quays and going to see "Brokeback Mountain" or, as some have referred to it, "The Gay Cowboy Movie." Let me put the record straight (no pun intended): the two main characters are the straightest men on the face of the planet. They just happen to be in love with each other. But both of them are so hyper-masculine that at points I was feeling a little alienated myself. As for the fabled romantic, passionate, tender makout scene by the campfire? Doesn't happen. All the girls in my dorm were squealing at me: "Don't tell us how it ends! We haven't seeeeen it!" Whose fault is that for not finishing your essays? Sheesh. I will say though, that my ABSOLUTE FAVOURITE moment in the movie was where (*spoiler alert!*) the mom hands Ennis the bag with Jack's shirt, and Jack's dad is ranting in the background and his mom just has this LOOK on her face. Broke my heart. Anyway, better heads than mine have reviewed this movie, so I'll move on to Part Two of yesterday.

(oh, I also broke down and bought some new pillows. After realising how much better proper neck support is when sleeping at home, I decided to get some new pillows, hang the cost.)

Then last night I went to a party that was put on by a group called "Lovin' It Large" which was for "big people and their admiriers." This was a foolish thing to do, in hindsight, because apparently dancing uses the same muscles as yoga, so now today I am TRIPLY sore. When I got there, the nice lady at the door was like, "what! your first time and you came alone!" and immediately introduced me to Deborah, who bought a bottle of red wine and was regaling me with stories of all her boyfriends. "My youngest has been 24," she told me, "but usually they're in their 30s." (she's almost 50) Then her friends showed up and they all grilled me about the normal: where from, what doing, why here, how do you like London? and we had a great time! The music was loud and occasionally obnoxious, but I had a fantastic time dancing. Didn't meet any guys, but Deb gave me her number, bawling "we're going out next weekend!" We'll see if I can recover by then. Taking the night bus took over an hour--luckily I had Samio on speed dial so I could talk to a friendly face whilst I was busing. Then some jerk fell asleep on my and I was forced to wake him out of his reverie and inform him that, he was "kind of a jerk, you know that, right?" On the way home I tripped and (rather than lose my grip on my phone!) fell knees first onto the pavement and skinned both of them like a ten year old. They really hurt! So, let's do the list:
1. Yoga class of DOOM
2. Dancing in boots all night
3. Skinned knees
4. Headache
If I go to more of these parties, I'm going to winnow myself out, since I think I lost about ten pounds last night. I was one of the smallest people there and therefore could dance for longer. That probably explains why I'm busily blogging instead of printing out a final draft of my paper. :)

Friday, January 13, 2006

Yoga class of DOOM

I just finished with a yoga class, New Year's resolutions be damned, and now I feel like I've just been put through the wringer. It was a very intensive yoga class--I've never broken a sweat before--but much to my amazement I was able to (mostly) keep up. The only pose I had a problem with was the shoulder stand. The teacher said: "okay, on your backs, then feet up in the air and onto your shoulders" and my body kind of sniggered and went "yeah right" and the next thing I know this guy has me by the ankles and is like, "okay? ready?" and the NEXT next thing I know my feet are hovering about six inches above my face. (this is a good thing) I've always been flexible, but I haven't done anything like this since I was about ten, so I was quite surprised that I could still do it. My hamstrings, however, which have been largely ignored up to this point, are screaming to be left alone (in much the same way that the American colonies were in the 1760s--I'm expecting a Declaration any day now) and my wrists are sitting quietly in a corner, whimpering to themselves. :)

Not much else going on. I'm reading a fantastic American history book what I bought back in Green Bay (and, since I dragged it all the way here, I figured I better read it) called "Freedom Just around the Corner" which is why most of my dialogue is peppered with random historical facts all of a sudden again. And The Essay is nearly done. Infact, when I finish up here I'm going to finish the bibliography, edit it once more and hand 'er in. Yesterday my class went to a staged reading of a new play that was pretty good. The poor producer wanted to know what we-all thought, but all I could think of was "must pick her brain to know how to start own theatre company..." so I'm afraid I wasn't much help. Tomorrow I'm planning on going to see this "Brokeback Mountain" I've heard so much about. No breeches or periwigs, so I can't promise I'll like it, but I'll try.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


I spent all day (literally) yesterday working on The Essay, and now I'm running back to the British Library, but I thought you might like to see my new Self-Portrait what I painted while I was home.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The British Library

I tripped on over to the British Library yesterday, excited to wander 'mongst the stack of historical books, gaily trailing my fingers over the dusty tomes as I searched high and low for that final book that would put the pin in my essay. But, alas, the British Library does not trust me (me!) to touch their preciouses. In order to even look at a book, you have to fill out a request form on the computer and then wait an hour until a lackey brings you your required material. And you can only bring pencils into the reading rooms. It seemed a very fascist way to keep track of books, until I realised that they had an original 1866 copy of a penny dreadful "the Conspiracy!" and I could look at it as long as I didn't get too excited. (and not yesterday. Yesterday I was on a mission.) So maybe there is something to be said for protecting a collection. Not that I would have broken the spines or anything...

Anyway. I also went to the University of London's library, Senate House, which was a lot farther than it looked on the map. And I did something weird to my foot. It feels like I sprained a bone right on top, so I can't really bend it. Going down stairs is a hellish experience. This can only work in my favour, as I'm planning on locking myself in my room tonight and working on my paper until it's finished. But, damn, it really hurts.

I also accidentally missed the first day of class yesterday. Here is my train of thought: "I have not yet handed in my paper for New Contemporary Theatre-->therefore, we still have this class. I show up to the class, no one is there-->the teacher must have cancelled the class so we can work on our papers. Excellent, I will go to the library." Not so. Turns out we have started our new classes, which means my first email to my new prof is, "sorry I missed your class." And it's the musical theatre class too! I got the syllabus from a roommate--here I was all excited about buying more shows to add to my collection and it turns out! I already have most of them. :)

Saturday, January 07, 2006

There's no place like London

I find myself quoting "Sweeney Todd" a lot these days--and not just because I finally sat down and listened to the whole show.* But there really is no place like London. It's not brilliant, it's not a slimy hellhole, it's just...there's no place like it. Haven't managed to get back to Trafalgar Square and make sure Nelson is okay yet.

I stumbled off the plane about 10:30 and got to London Bridge just in time to not catch a train home. A train ride from the London Bridge station is about fifteen minutes to home, but I spent about two hours on various buses getting closer and closer until finally I could walk. While waiting at one bus station (surrounded by other women and lights, mind you) this jerk kept saying, "where you going? I can give you a ride!" Listen buddy, how stupid do you think I am? Just because I have an American accent and a suitcase, do you really think I'm going to get into a car with you? Aargh. I had only gotten three hours of sleep the night before, so when I finally got back to Raymont Hall, I had a little ramen, a little shower...then sat on my bed for an hour going "sleep, damn you, sleep!" I have never gotten jet-lagged before, but this time I had this horrible hangovery headache all day yesterday and again I couldn't get to sleep. And I am so dehydrated. Luckily the only cure for that is tea, lots of tea, mmm sweet, sweet Twinings, which tastes different in the US, it really does.

So, after spending yesterday resting and going to the grocery store--a two hour trip which completely sapped my strength. Which kind of bread do I like again? I forgot--I'm finally at the library. Ostensibly I'm here to do research for my essay, but an hour into my visit I'm still hunched over a computer. :) If you've emailed me, I'm sorry, I will respond tomorrow, I promise. It was great seeing everyone. Come visit me. :)

*never saw the ending coming!!! OMG!!!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

An Open Letter to the Jerk from the Subway Commercials

Dear Jared,

I'm writing this letter to you after I saw you in a new Subway ad this evening. How could you? I supported you, you know, when you lost all that weight. I knew how much it affected your life, being that heavy, and how you needed to be thinner to be healthier and have better self-image and I supported that. I thought you felt the same way about me. But apparently not! Because tonight in the commercial you said that "everyone wants to lose weight this time of year." But I don't Jared. I'm very happy the way I am. I would go so far as to say--I love my curves! And I thought that you loved them too. I thought you understood how I was happy being fat and healthy, and would never insist that I slim down for you. But now I see that I was mistaken. Now because you've joined the ranks of the skinny, you feel as thought you have to pressure all your fat friends into being skinny too. Well, I refuse! I'm going to miss all our times together and all the free food you got from Subway, but I think maintaining a healthy body image is more important than starting a diet which is doomed to fail. Love me, love my roll, Jared. When I think of the countless Americans who are throwing their hard-earned money at the diet companies just to feel as though they have some control over their lives instead of using it for something more important*, I feel sick. I thought you understood when occasionally I got the meatball sub instead of the veggie sub. When I put cheese on it. I'm from Wisconsin, Jared, I have needs too! But now I see you don't respect my choices and I'm just going to have to learn to live with the fact that we won't be compatible. Well. I hope that your skinny little life is as fufilling without me as it was with me. Somehow, I don't think it will be.

Yours, Nicki

*Theatre tickets