Saturday, December 17

Home of the holy crepe.

Paris = spectacular!

This morning I went to the's a bit too much. I saw the Mona Lisa, the Grand Sphinx, and the Code of Hammerabi...amazing.

Updates after the 24th sometime.

Wednesday, December 14

It isn't indie rock to post on your birthday, so I waited

until now. But that doesn't mean I can't talk about it! I got a very lovely cake from Joseph and Liz just now, a box of cookies from Monica, and lots of love from everyone. Actually, I've officially deferred my birthday celebrations today because I've had too much homework to do. I filled out the forms in triplicate, so don't worry. Check out the awesome e-card I got in the mail from my dad! He says it's my mom singing, but I think my mom probably loves me a little too much to tell me I look more like Spongebob than last year. I've already listened to it three times, but it's up for another 44 days, so let's give these instacard people a run for their hosting responsibilities! WATCH IT AS MANY TIMES AS YOU CAN. VALUE IS NEAR. LONG LIVE MY BIRTHDAY.

I feel kind of old. All my friends tell me I am. But then, they are twentyish. So, probably no big deal.

Look at all the books I read this semester! There are a few. They come up to the middle of my thigh when I stand next to them.

The kids at the school made me a great little card! Adowable. Really glad I spent time there. Here is the outside and inside. I made them cookies, so it was a pretty fair trade. Unfortunately I had to leave last week in the middle of their field trip, which was to a Jewish arts center where they learned about the culture and--shockingly--met the kind of jews that wear those little hats.

For those of you who like navagating my photobucket thingy, my Switzerland pictures are up there. But once again, no time to write descriptions, as I'm in the middle of some final paperage. Until I can give you the guided tour, you can find it in the "Up to Dec 13 Switzerland" folder.

Up and coming soon:
Switzerland photo tour
Scotland photo tour
Spain photo tour

I am listening to Cat Stevens right now. Matthew and Son is the song.

I am 22 now.

I am finishing classwork on thursday, going toma-ing, Ollie-ing, and Chris-ing on Friday, and then coming back home on the 24th! Don't know whether there will be too many updates after friday, but we'll see. I'm working on it :)

Friday, December 9

Murphy Mania

7 songs I'm listening to:

1. Air -- Ben Folds Five.
2. Beautiful Child -- Rufus Wainwright.
3. Day -- Jaga Jazzist.
4. At the zoo -- Simon and Garfunkel
5. Bottle of Blues -- Beck.
6. Italian Shoes -- Patty Larkin.
7. Every Planet We Reach Is Dead -- Gorillaz.

Let me know if you want any of these songs. I consider it community service to distribute them.

7 People I most want to tell me what they're listening to, and then do this on their blog, if they've got one (if not, just comment here and let me know):

1. Alex B.
2. My mom.
3. My dad.
4. Corinne W.
5. Katherine R.
6. Cousin Adam.
7. Joseph W.

Thursday, December 8

Off to the really highlands

Hey everybody! I've uploaded the rest of the pictures for Scotland and all of them for Madrid to my photobucket site (in the "Up to Dec 8 Scotland/Madrid folders), so check them out if you like! But I will be updating the blog with a description of them all, as usual, over the weekend. Of course, I'll be in Switzerland this weekend, visiting my fabulously European relatives the Murphys! Sweet gig.

Also, I went to the school today to hang out with the was my last day, so I brought them cookies. What I didn't expect was that they made me a card, and all of them signed it! It's totally awesome, I'm really proud. I'll post a picture of that soon...

Just so you know, I'm leaving next wednesday to go on a trip to France and Germany--and after that, it's off to home! So I'll try to stay in touch, but tons of homework, so no promises!

Tuesday, December 6

About that last post...

The one just below this was meant to be published about last thursday, before I went to spain!

So if it seems like I'm living in the past, don't worry. I'm still stuck in time, I just didn't want all that text and hyperlinkage to go to waste. A fascinating Braunstein brand photo-safari awaits you soon! Next stop: Spain. With VIDEO?


Tuesday, November 29

The weeks are made of years.

Oh good lord, let's get to Friday already.

This is going to be a long post. But it's brilliant, so stick with me.
Here's the heads up display:

  • I thought this was hilarious and this was depressing but functional (Pantea, the ones I told you about...)
  • In the battle of good and evil, who will reign victorious? Pimpin' shirts that need to be ironed, that's who...oh well. It used to be white. There's a picture of me wearing it haunting this post...
  • I've finished two of my major projects for school, and have two and a half left to go for the next two weeks. I haven't slept in two days, and I'm sleeping three hours tonight before I finish my assignments for Wednesday. Luxury is mine!
  • I got into Foundations of Educational Linguistics, my last class! Hooray. Now I may just be considering trying to get credit for observation hours.
  • I've got an interview with the head of marketing at the Royal Opera House, thanks to a connection made by my professor in Critical Writing: Reporting the arts. It's on I've got to do some major preparation. What a rush that's going to be! My project is going to be on the advertising campaigns that the opera house has--I'll have to tell you more about it later. Until then, there's always checking out their website.
  • Plays I've been to recently: Tamburlaine, Richard II (starring a real life Kevin Spacey! I was star struck.), Madame Butterfly (Opera), Un Ballo In Maschera (Opera).
  • Plays I'm going to: The Emperor Jones, this Wednesday. Maybe the Edward Scissorhands dance number, and an opera next week.
  • Going to Spain this weekend, to visit my legendarily hip e-friend Pantea! More on this later.
  • Creepy tree.
  • I went to Scotland last weekend! It was amazing.
  • I don't know if you guys were told, but apparently Rhode Island is a small midwestern town that is so boring that it has to associate itself with the exotic Bengal tiger in order to feel good about itself...American Eagle Outfitters, you are a shining BASTion of truth.
  • I bought GREAT new glasses! Check 'em out. I look a little physically exhausted in this picture, yes.

Today's menu:

1. Pictures and summary of Milan!

2. Pictures and summary of Scotland, part 1!

3. My answering of Pantea's interview questions.

1. ITALY TRIP, PART 4: Milano (The brief version...this was a while ago, I don't remember everything by now...)

Day 1: Enter the Milano.

  • Warning. Do not fall through rifts in reality.
  • Vroom, vroom! It was a boring store! They had about 5 products! 3 of them were a differently striped jacket!
  • We were able to approach this building, the Milan Duomo. Unfortunately we had to shrink away in awe until the next day...

Day 2: Duomo til you drop.

  • Although I remained a child of light and chastity, Joseph had McDonalds. I thought it was important that everyone know that he can no longer claim to never have had American food abroad here, whereas I can. I feel so...clean.
  • We went to the park to read! I climbed a tree and looked at some leaves.
  • The entrance to the most posh mall of all time. Oh yeah, sorry, it's a pretty arch too :).
  • Finally, we worked up the courage to go back to the Duomo--which was by far my favorite building in Italy. Check this stuff out! We got to go to the top and walk around as well. Picturesque, eh?
  • The inside of the The door = a wonder of the world.

Day 3: End of trip!

  • Joseph left that morning, and I went to go check on my hat shop to see if I could purchase my regent hat. Unfortunately, the shop was closed. I went back to London, have been here for a month, and life goes on! But on to the Scotland, where the action was.


Day 1: Supper to Scotland to Supper.

It was thanksgiving! I rushed out of a potluck Thanksgiving dinner, in the traditional expatriate style, although if you will please observe the majesty. I think this was the biggest thanksgiving dinner I had ever had! Felt like it after the 4th plate of that macaroni, anyway. My dude-buddy Monica was there because it was her suite. I made corn bread (I didn't have buttermilk or corn meal, so I crushed up corn flakes and melted butter in whole milk--it actually cooked cereal in milk) and got on a night bus...lordy, that sleep felt good. After the 9 hour bus, I got in just 20 minutes before the tour started that morning and ran through the valley in the center of Edinburgh to catch the tour. That was a good idea, because I only barely made it. Rock.

Our tour guide was named Ewan...he was really into swords. He kept waving a plastic one around and using it to point to the map...he had a pretty awesome plastic axe as well. Nobody messed.

We stopped for lunch in a small town by a river (whose name I don't remember) with a cathedral that was quite beautiful--my first Scottish meal! Oh sweet surrender, that shortbread was good.

Unfortunately, at this point it began to rain. Like the dickens. So when we got to the William Wallace memorial it was a bit hard to look up or enjoy the scenery. Luckily I had my good old orange jacket!

Then it snowed, and my jacket helped less. We stopped and saw a traditional hairy coo named Hamen. I wanted to pose with him, but really couldn't see how it would be survivable.

And then I somehow ended up at another big potato and meat dinner again with a bunch of friends, this time from the trip. From the left to the right, that's JD, Charlie, Lisa, two people I don't know, and then Paula in the red. All extremely high quality folk. At the end of the day we were dropped in Iverness at that hostel (which had an extensive dining area, as you can see), and told about the places to go--my friends and I decided to go to a grocery store nearby and buy haggis supplies in order to prepare for a meal of haggis, potatoes, and turnips. YUM! Honestly, ye dudes, before the freaking out goes on, I will tell you this: haggis is GOOD, and you've eaten worse if you've eaten a hot dog. Think about it! Ew. No wait, don't. So you know, it tastes a lot like corn beef, and is very herby.

Day 2: Pretty.

We woke up and visited Loch Ness (one, two)! It's extremely deep. I know what kind of moaning noises of disappointment you're going to make once I say this, but I think I've been convinced that Nessie exists. No, seriously. The lake has a population of a large fish called the pharox, and huge numbers of them disappear every year, apparently. If what the guide told us was true, then I believe in it. Of course, that's a major if :). Of course, I spent some money in the gift shop there. Luckily I didn't buy anything scary.

Fortunately, unlike the previous day, the weather was delightful! We saw the largest ruined castle in the country, which was at Loch Ness.

The rest of the day was very scenic--we saw some of the Monroe Mountains in the highlands, there are something like 273 of them--and it's a thing in Scotland to hike them all. Of course, I purchased some small bottles of whiskey to bring back--you guys best be ready for that stuff...It's vicious.

The bus was yellow, by the way.

We spent the night in Skye! It was a great little hostel that they dropped us at. There was a great buffet and a bar, where everyone except myself and the people I discussed spirituality with got loaded, I'm pretty sure. Yes, this place had something for everybody. No pictures of that place...Although it was called...The Monroe Lodge.

Overall, just so you know, the trip was delightful! Wait until you see the other pictures (Me wearing a traditional kilt and holding a broadsword = yes). Although it was a bus tour I was able to feel like I was part of the group, and the tour guide was a very interesting guy--we learned a lot about the history and culture of the country. It was also good because I never felt like I was on the bus for too long--although we basically did the entire tour backwards because of the rain, I never really felt like we were watching places go by that would have been cool to go to if we "weren't trapped on this here bus tour" or something. Anyway, More soon!

3. It started on Pantea's blog, and now the viral madness has begun. Try it out! I ask awesome interview questions. For my readers:

1 -- Leave a comment, saying you want to be interviewed.

2 -- I will respond; I'll ask you five questions.

3 -- You'll update your journal with my five questions, and your five answers.

4 -- You'll include this explanation.

5 -- You'll ask other people five questions when they want to be interviewed.

Here are my questions from her, answered:

1. Where do you see yourself in 3 years and what do you think you will be doing? I know you said that you can see yourself just getting an apartment after graduation and working an uninteresting job and taking time to learn on your own.. but I guess I'm still curious about that? Basically answer this however you want...

1: My plan for year three is there, but everything's a bit soupy. I am heck bent on thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, as I love hiking and having done that is important that I will be proud of. Lately that's been compromised with wanting to get my teaching degree, which may take time in a way that would delay that. But I have to decide what's most important to me, and what will work. I would like not to have to get my teaching certification before I go hiking...I think there would be a discontinuity there. But basically I want to have a teaching job (or be on the way to one) by year three.

2. What is your all time favorite song to "rock out to" and why?

2: Right now, definitely "Cigarettes and gravy," on Beck's Midnight Vultures album. It's got this kind of techno-Egyptian thing going on in the background at the end, it just makes me want to dance around people making weird hand movements and head dancing. With this song it started this summer...I was sitting in the office and like, mentally turning into cottage cheese when the song came on...I've never been the same since. That day flew by. Annie, the Nepalese woman who worked next to me, looked at me kind of strangely and laughed.

3. What is your idea of the best third date?

3: Ah, gosh...if I had a rule, it was meant to be broken? In general, I think hanging out with the person exclusively in a "date" atmosphere is key, something like one person making dinner and another person making dessert, before going out to something together. That's probably because I like to do ambiguous hangin-out dates with someone before I drop the traditional d-bomb.

4. Where is the best place to spend an afternoon nursing a book, both in London and in New York.

4: Top London book spot so far: in Greenwich, near the Royal Observatory, having bought cookies. But not now, it's too cold. Right now the best place is in the school building courtyard. It's really cold out there, but there's an air vent, and you can move the chairs so you can sit in it--you can smell the winter air and stuff, but it's still warm and nobody goes out there.Top New York City spot: top floor of the Kimmel Center, there's a big carpeted room with lots of chairs that they leave open, but I've never seen used. There are 10 foot high windows with lots of light, and it's always quiet. The view isn't distracting, but it's still pretty. The chairs are right...not very comfortable. Or you can sit on the floor next to the window (my choice!).

5. What is your guiltiest pleasure?

Although I know it's not right and I hate it because it's cheesy, I frequently enjoy fantasies of getting into a physical fight to save someone. And secretly, I think I'm a fighting genius. I think that plays into my larger guilty pleasure, which is that I'm inwardly INCREDIBLY egotistical. There have been times when I thought I had super powers or were telekinetic.

I've never actually been in a fight except Sean Hackett in 5th grade, and that was just me getting a disproportionally large amount of revenge while the gym coach wasn't looking.

Also, listening to and really enjoying Smash Mouth albums. I have bought four! Agh! Delicious.

Thursday, November 17

Kids say the darndest things.

Music: "So Happy Together," The Turtles.

An old favorite.

So, I volunteered at St. Alouicious' again today, and sat in on some older kids than last week. 7-8 year olds! It was really rewarding, I think I like this age much more than last weeks' class, which were 4-5 year olds. I got to sit up in the staff lounge with the teachers and ask them all kinds of questions. There are a lot of small things that I pick up every second I'm around the school--the teacher I observed today, for example, had all these good little ways of keeping the attention of the entire class without having to reprimand individuals very much. Thinking back on my teaching job in the Bronx, (which was disastrous by comparison), I realize part of what I did wrong--I think I didn't choose my words or where I spent my attention wisely enough. Really, I think the end result was that I was too busy telling some of my students not to talk for them to gel together as a class. I guess it was because I was trying to be too suttle about reprimanding them...not willing to blame the entire group for what a few people are doing.

I'm great at dealing with individual kids, but a large group of them I have trouble with--because my tendency is towards individual attention and speaking to people one on one, and dealing with issues (like students needing help figuring out a math problem) one at a time--while this is a good thing at times, I think I needed to balance it out in my class by speaking to the class as a class.

The highlight of the trip was when the teacher let me sit in her chair at the front of the class, as their religious exploration studies this week were on Judaism (haw! I guess that's fair after I sang hand motion songs about the birth of Jesus). I had told her I would be glad to answer some questions for the kids, and she surprised me by giving me like 10 minutes to answer all these questions from her chair. I didn't expect it to be a rush to sit there, but it was. Thankfully because they didn't ask me any of the basic things that I don't know but which usually get me in trouble with other Jews (Holiday dates/names/purposes, namely. To all my family who's reading this and expects me to know when Passover is, I apologize, it's not the real me, I swear...It's all the Jesus I've come into contact with lately).

Here's a short rundown of some of the questions they asked me, and how I answered them. Let me know if you think I've misinformed massive amounts of small children on important facets of Judaism (Extra credit commenting option: How would YOU answer these questions, regardless of whether you're Jewish?). I found the whole ordeal to be fascinating/hilarious.

What's Shabbat?
Shabbat is the day of rest, it's this day where you're not allowed to do any work...You can't flip lightswitches or buy things either. Although it seems a little weird to me.

You can't flip lightswitches?

Can you still fall asleep with the light on?
Yes! Of course, you just have to get someone who is not Jewish to hit the light switch. Like, a friend.

Do you light candles?
Yes, we light two candles during the service before Shabbat.

My mother is Jewish! (The teacher: No she's not, Sam, she's Catholic.)
Me: maybe she's half Jewish, and half Catholic? (We move on.)

Does the man who runs the synagogue sing music?
Yes! Actually, my Rabbi--that's the man who runs the synagogue, the Rabbi--plays a guitar, so when we sing he plays the guitar. It's just like...An organ in church.

Do they tell stories at synagogue?
yap. They tell stories, just like sermons in church. And then the Torah is like a long story...It's a long scroll, except sideways...Do you guys know what scrolls are? Yeah, it's like that, except a really really long one, and we read a small piece of it every service, until the end of the year, when we get to the end, and then you have to roll it back. I did that with my dad once. (Hey dad, do you remember that?)

What do Jews eat?
Well, I eat whatever I want, heh, but if you're a serious Jew--there are a lot of different kinds of Jews--then you eat according to a set of rules called Kosher. One of the big rules is that you can not eat meat and cheese in the same meal, so cheeseburgers are a big no-no. And you also can't eat anything made out of pigs, so bacon cheeseburgers are an even bigger no-no.

What's synagogue like?
Well...(ask the teacher what an altar is called) we have an altar, but it's called the Bima (they like that). You go on Saturday nights with your family, after the sun goes down. It's like church, but there aren't any stained glass windows and it's at night.

(The last question) Are Jewish people greedy?
Well...Have you ever heard of stereotypes? It's a thing that everybody might think is true but isn't necessarily. (I think this was a little too complicated for them...But the kid seemed interested, the teacher cuts in.) Mrs Barker: Well, there are all kinds of greedy people, Curtis. There are Catholic people who are greedy, and Jewish people who are greedy....(I didn't really think that answered the question.) Like.....You know how girls are supposed to be good at sewing? Well, I like to knit!

I don't think I answered the last question very well, at least, not so they got it, but they really seemed to enjoy my visit. DEFINITELY going back next week to the same classroom.

By the bye...

Got a blood test today. I never see my own blood anymore for some reason (haven't skinned my knees in a while, doncha know)...So it was pretty strange looking at that vial. But the bottom line is, results in 5 working days. I'm not worried at all. To my grandparents: Meemee and Poppa, don't worry! It's no big deal. I'm just taking care of myself :).

Big update with Milan pics soon!

The Picture of Dorian Gray is really interesting. Too bad I'm going to have to speed demon my way through it in order to write my paper for this Tuesday.

Saturday, November 12


Music = Fiona Apple, "A Mistake".
New game = Kung Fu Remix, on newgrounds. Don't give it any time. I'm only putting it here as a warning.
New classes =
  • Advanced creative writing: Poetry with Robert Fitterman (To work on comics + writing, although my CW minor is already done.
  • Topics in Genre Study: American/Asian war literature (Vietnam War narratives are really interesting.)
  • Two classes to help me complete an education minor, the specifics of which I have note yet determined (will I be considering staying the summer to complete that? I don't know.)
  • Another internship in education?


This weekend is not going as well as I thought it would, in some ways. I am going to the hospital on monday to get a blood test, as a doctor's appointment suggested I may have anemia...really, it's probably not that, but I'm going anyway because I want a nutritional analysis, and I feel dizzy a lot when I stand up quickly...which doesn't seem right. I do feel better about my paper, although I haven't done nearly as much work as I'd hoped, yet. There's still tomorrow and monday...

I finished The Mayor of Casterbridge tonight. Interesting book, full of lying detestable individuals and beautiful/interesting scenery. Probably going to include it in my paper for class that I've been worried about...I'm pretty sure at this point that my paper is going to be about children being portrayed as adults by Victorian-era narrators, particularly during education. I don't know what the "so what" of my thesis is yet, though.

Volunteering at the school on thursday, called St. Alouscious, was fun and interesting. Really mentally exhausting. Afterwards I felt incredibly tired, kind of dusty, mentally. The hymn-saying turned out to be pretty cool, just a lot of normal kids' songs like "The Wheels On The Bus" and "He's got the whole world in his hands". One thing that really interested me was the way the kids I was staying with were learning the alphabet, with accompanying hand signals. "S" was a snakey movement (biblical?), "T" was making the cross of a "t" with your right hand, and so on. I had never thought of that before. In any case, at this point it feels like working with older kids, like high school level, might be better. We'll see!

  • The futuristic stage at the Barbican theatre, at the Barbican complex. That place has everything--residences, theatres, a college, stores, inside it. I think England is preparing to restart civilization there should anything go wrong. I went there to see a dance production called "O", which wasn't that hot by my count.
  • The building that strikes me as strange on the way to school. I think it's because of the stairs without the walls. I've been trying to put it in a comic, but like the first line "Let's talk about vegetables" in a poem, it just refuses to be written about.
  • Corinne sent me a letter (Thanks Corinne!), and inside it was a tattoo! Chill. Check out this puppy. No, I'm totally not flexing.
  • St. Bert, the patron saint of pigeons.
  • The soup kitchen where I've been volunteering. Unpeopled.

ROME TRIP, PART 3: Venezia!

Day 7: Arrived from Florence!

  • We get in to the hotel! Here's Joseph chilling out in the room. We stayed near Mestre, which was a city about 20 minutes by bus from Venice. It was actually a really good thing, because we got a different experience than actually staying there, which would have been expensive and touristy in a bad way. We got to see a little more of what suburban Italian life was like, I think.

Day 8: Venice tour. (Foggy+Rainy -> Sunny in afternoon.)

  • Venice is pretty. Even when foggy.
  • Breakfast at the supermarket = yummy. I don't remember what Joseph got, but I got a fresh warm baguette, brie, a little yogurt, grapes, and an apple for later. Yay!
  • I discover the joys of pocket coffee, the philosopher's stone of candy. Basically, they are hollow peices of chocolate with a shot of expresso inside...five in a pack, 1 euro per pack...yeah, I got the jibblies.
  • In case you didn't know, the public transportation in Venice are the Vaparettos, which take you down the larger canals and from island to island. Joseph and I totally got 3 day passes.
  • Piazza de San Marco, the only piazza/square place of significant size in Venice! The birds were insane. People try to slip birdseed into your pocket in order to sell it to you. Yes, I went into the building in the background of the first picture there.
  • After touring, we spent a while just kind of wandering and ended up in a rather large park, near where we read for the rest of the afternoon. I got Joseph to smile, for real. I think he looks happy.
  • Big boat, no?

Day 9: Venice tour. (Foggy + Rainy -> Foggy)

  • Breakfast at the supermarket + Pocket coffee = still yummy.
  • I dropped a poetry notebook in the Grande Canale! How's that for a memory? Luckily, all of the stuff in this notebook was unimportant/on my computer. It happened as I was going through my bag to get my camera. The picture wasn't worth it :).
  • Aside from Vaparettos, public transportation in Italy is interesting. Did I mention that? The bus driver, after picking us up, parked on the side of the road near a park and went out to have a cigarette, wandering in a soccer field and watching us watching him on the bus for 10 minutes. It was chill, I read a tiny bit of book, struck a pose, and so did Joseph...but I probably would have been annoyed if I was actually on the way to somewhere. I can just picture this:

SIMON: Sorry that I am late, Signore, but the bus driver decided to have a few extra cloves this morning. Takes a drag on five cigarettes at once and finishes them all in one breath, throwing them on the ground in the Italian style.

SIMON'S LAX ITALIAN EMPLOYER: No problem, dude! You're just in time for the first break of the morning. Have some cake.

Day 10: Left that morning, for Milan, my second favorite city (Florence was my favorite.)! No comment, yet.

Toodles. Time to read like the dickens. No, that is not a pun, I didn't finish the 1000 page Dickens book we were supposed to read. Yes, I am embarassed. No, I do not like him particularly. Though clever and laughy, he's kind of a kitschy writer for serious reading, in my opinion. Although I haven't read that much of him.

Googled: "Like the dickens"

Meaning: A lot; as in 'hurts like the dickens'.
Origin: Nothing to do with Charles Dickens. Dickens is a euphemism for the word devil, possibly via devilkins. Shakespeare used it in 'the Merry Wives of Windsor: 'I cannot tell what the dickens his name is my husband had him of.'

Tuesday, November 8

A frontier of my gahd-daymned mahnd.

Music: Clark Gable, by The Postal Service

Stardate 443.bleh

Status Report:
Loading. .. ... ....
Advanced Creative Writing application, in which I work on comics = PENDING
Feeling satisfied with work I've been doing this weekend = PENDING, this weekend will decide. (I just got an assignment for a 10-15 page paper due next Tuesday after next, and I'm panicking)
Weekend Trip to Scotland = POSTPONED to the 25th, let me know if you want to sign up with me. It's the Skye High tour of Scotland at (Please?)
. ..
Publishing of comic in NYU-L paper = SUCCESS
Successfully ate four free sandwiches and two pieces cake at the meet the director meeting at school today = DELICIOUS SUCCESS
Eating Salad for dinner tonight = ALMOST AS DELICIOUS SUCCESS, too much dressing (yes, there is such a thing).

Mission Notes: Having Ollie over to chill out Wednesday night. I felt sick a lot of the weekend, and couldn't decide what was wrong with me. I was convinced there was something wrong with my eating habits, but it turned out I needed to get some sleep. So I did. Other than that, things have been alright, but a little panicky. Celery is my new favorite snacky food, although I found a bug in one just as I was about to eat it. It was a little caterpillar. Luckily, I dodged that bullet. My faith in the stalk of justice wavers, but does not crack.

My review of the dance production, when finished, will go here. Until then...

Secondary Report: Firenze (Florence),
Operation codename: Freakin' delicious.

Day 4:

  • We arrived by train from Rome, around 7 PM. It took about 2 hours. Found our room, and immediately went out for a delicious dish or two around downtown Florence. I had cream butter only...with a little milk added in.
  • Our room was rather nice, the woman who ran the hostel was a bit mothery, and overall was the best hostel we stayed in. It took a while to figure out the way the door to the hostel worked, though, so one time I had to climb out the window in the hall and into the bathroom window...rock climbing on the streets, fool. That was on the sixth day, though.
Day 5: 2 Davids.
  • We walked down to the Uffizi gallery, at the outside of which we found one of the three replicas of the "David" in the city. We got there just as the museum opened, at about 7.30 AM, which was the smart thing to do...because that place has a line like the dickens at any other time. We saw the Venus DeMilo and some other really great Carvaggio paintings (I think I owe my appreciation of him to Joseph, who is quite the connoisseur. In fact, I owe a great deal of my enjoyment of museums to him, it was great times walking around with him in these places.)
  • Afterwards, we went to go see the Duomo, which was gigantic and beautiful (Top and bottom), and had cool candlabras and a cool clock inside. Obviously, I remembered I had a camera at this point.
  • In the afternoon we walked across the old Florence Bridge (The bridge is over the Arno, a dirty but pretty river which goes through the city). to the south part of the city, the only one which wasn't bombed out in WW(1?), and which has lots of stores crammed on it, like the Old London Bridge supposedly did. Even though they were all Jewelry stores, I still had some fun looking at shinys. It made me want cufflinks.
  • Tiny European cars on a bridge!
  • Unfortunately, we missed the Boboli Gardens (behind the house of the Medicis, the ancient aristocratic family of Italy. The clock tower on their house looks like this, so they were doing alright) because I was being unnecessarily we ended up wandering to...
  • The south part of the city, where we spent a long time reading on a bench in front of the Florence Art Academy. We sat near some students who smoked pot (in Italian, of course) in between classes. When the Academy got out for the day we walked inside and stumbled upon a science fiction art exhibit, as well as the second replica of the David. We actually didn't know there were only 3 in the city until right before we that was pretty lucky.
  • We got back, Joseph took a nap, I took a picture of a sunset. No, I did other things too.
  • For dinner, we met up with some of Joseph's roommates and went out! We went to one restaurant, and unfortunately, because decided to leave a restaurant after only a salad (the prices were high), they charged us 5 euros each for what is basically a "sitting-down outside-at-our-restaurant-fee." The food was fine, but we were a bit turned off from that restaurant, so we all went to a Pizzeria al taglia (by the slice), and had a jolly old time! Then Gelato. I think it was Oreo that night? It was all a haze of goodness (Not wine, that part comes next).
  • Then, the four of us went back to the room, drank two bottles of 3 euro wine, and played Euchre. Score. Good card game, though Joseph and I needed some work as partners in it.
Day 6: 1 David.
  • We walked around the northern side of Florence, where we went to La Academie and saw the original David. We got up at around 8 to do it, and that worked well because we got there before the line (which is a serious business). You can't take pictures, of course. But I will tell you this: the museum is basically a hall with David at the end. We're not talking long, luxurious halls at the
  • After the Academia, we went wandering around the most eastern part of the city. We quested for the Piazza Donatello (It ended up being a 4 ninja turtle day, with the art museum covering the other three). Unfortunately, as we discovered when we got there, the Piazza Donatello is a locked up cementary island in the middle of a busy road. Yeah. So we didn't stay there.
  • Instead, I sat down and read for a while in a nice little park near the Piazza, eating some GIGANTIC ITALIAN GRAPES and in general having a good time. Joseph walked around and did some touring, I expect. You'd have to ask him, but I was engrossed in my Rushdie novel (Midnight's Children).
  • I think we broke into someone's villa by accident. It was pretty. I gathered the police some evidence.
  • We had a rather amazing lunch at the place I could not stop raving about, this incredible little pizza joint. I won't say anything have to go back a few posts to read all the adjectives. As you long term readers know, we made plans to go back the next day and eat both breakfast and lunch there (at lunchtime, I mean.)
  • Laundry! Joseph was a dude...he found an adapter to charge my cell phone in the wall while I watched the clothes rotate. But more on the adapter later.
  • We had a 60 Euro dinner...which was really good. We're talking wine, bruschetta, crazy pesto raviolis, and a big slab of the famous carpezio of the area, which is basically cured raw steak. It was super tasty, and I plan to do it again sometime. Also Gelato. I think that night was...

Day 7:

  • Oh my god, the best pizza in the world. Joseph agreed. We each ate about 4 slices. I got the cashier Paola's autograph, and gave the chef a hug, although I think I scared him. He didn't speak english, but he did give me a free cookie. Damn, I should be an ambassador.
  • I returned the adapter to charge my phone that didn't work, so no more phone after this point. That took some haggling. The guy in the store (Michelo) tried to get us to lead him to the outlet in the hostel so he could do electrical work on the dorm. That guy was a character. And a bad salesman. The haggling part came in later when I went back to the store and couldn't find anyone who spoke English, and managed to convey by hand gestures the fact that it didn't work. I received a standing ovation and an MA in pantomime from myself for that. Me = 5 Euros richer again.
  • We left mid day, again by train. Good times! Next Episode...Venezia.
Terciary Report: Poem.


Stage women;
manikins mingle
making meaning
love machines
Equal emotion
without motion
between pieces
between curtains

Women manikins
meaning machines
emotion without
pieces, curtains

Women machines
without curtains

Machines without



Friday, November 4

Casual reasons to cry for joy!

YES: 1, 2, 3, 4.

Here are some comics I made (One, two, three), the first one is my favorite. Let me know what you think of them? I may be persuing them as a form of poetry next semester as my final creative writing thing. And then turning it into a web comic? I get ahead of myself. It's part of my plan to have a final product or two once I've graduated...

Music: Subterranean Homesick Alien (Radiohead).

So today was pretty good...went to a soup kitchen, and bought tickets for the Edward Scissorhands dance production. Yesterday was fun too, I went to see the elementary school where I'm going to be a teaching assistant a few hours a week. It's going to be really interesting...the school has crucifixes all over the wall, and the time I'm going to be coming in is partially during when they have hymn practice. I would care for some reason, but I think it's going to be fascinating. Plus I like kids, as many of your know. And I haven't been around so many short people in a while, so it was kind of endearing being a giant.

So! Down to business: Today I'm going to tell you about Rome. Next time, Florence, then Venice, then Milan. Here goes!

ROME: A bustling metropolis with cheap food and a lot of incredible relics that are falling apart. Really, I enjoyed it, there was cheap house wine and I saw a lot of things that just seem essential to understanding history, like the Collisseum, but it's kind of an unreal city. A giant tourist zone. Very dirty.

The night before the first day, Joseph and I flew in for 2 hours on Ryan Air on thursday the 21st (I met some nuns on the plane who taught me basic Italian which I soon forgot). Got in to Star Gate Hostel, the worst place we stayed on the trip. Wasn't terrible, we got what we paid for (18 euros), but definitely the place I most expected to wake up in the back of a truck under dead bodies the next morning.

Day 1: It rained most of the day, but we packed some raincoats, so it was cool! Saw a lot of things:
  • We walked first thing in the morning to the Collosseum, which it turns out was named for the Collossal statue of Nero made of Bronze outside of it when it was first built. The statue was named, you guessed it, The Collossus. Check out these pictures (Through an arch). Interestingly, although it's a rather ugly looking structure now, it used to be covered in marble. But when they built new buildings, they tore all the marble tiles off and used them on other stuff. That's why there are all those holes all over the outside of it, as there are on the back of this thing in Rome, which we saw on the second day and which I don't remember the name of. Hence: ugly (but fascinating) history!
  • We tried Gelato! (Italian for complex ice-cream? I never found out.) Regardless, delicious.
  • We went to the Palatine, a giant park of historical structures where a lot of old palaces and government buildings, including the roman forum, which is now about half a column in a field. (Fun game: Find the kitties a the Palatine!) Also: have you ever seen a tree like this? Look at this thing, it's on the pipe.
  • Went to the coolest building in Rome, the Emmanuel II memorial for WWI soldiers. There was an amazing. It was raining, but still amazing.
Day 2: Rained a little! But not much.
  • Went to the Vatican! It took an hour on line to get inside. But we made it! Here's me looking at some bust. Har. I left my UPS jacket in the museum (which takes up 40% of the country, and the entire museum is a beautiful series of halls in which you walk, waiting, to see the Sistine Chapel). After the Sistine Chapel, where we were not allowed to take pictures (the Pope traded photographic rights to a Japanese company who offered to clean it, as the P-dog couldn't foot the bill to have it cleaned himself). We went to the Basilica afterwards, which takes up another 30% of the country. There, Joseph looked pretty, and I found my man from the Exodus, who somehow snuck his big stony Jewish butt inside the throne of Catholicism. I tried to go back in to get my jacket after walking through the museum, but it took too long. The museum closed. I left it for dead :( Time to find more conversation peice clothing! Also: The Pope's tennis court. What EVER. T0tally exposed.
  • Saw the Tiber River, which runs through Rome. It's kind of dirty and surrounded by vagrants, so I didn't stop to paint a watercolor or anything, but still...the Tiber is like...famous, right? It was cool.
  • Saw the Spanish Steps, which were crowded and awful. But there they were....
  • We wandered a bunch and saw some fountains until the end of the day. We found a toy shop where Pinnochio and Joseph shared a quiet moment of true friendship.
  • Saw the Pantheon! Interesting, but sadly falling apart and turned into a cathedral.

Day 3: Sunny! We left mid day for Florence. I actually received a guide just for Florence from a really top notch guy I met in the hostel the night before. His name is James! Here he is, making an official presentation.
  • Went to the Museo Nazionale, which was unmemorable and small, but interesting!
  • Went to the Duomo, which was super-cool. Joseph found his favorite famous statue (Romulus and Remus suckling from the She-wolf, the original.) and proceeded to investigate, which was less awkward than it looks in this picture. Sweet.
I would like it to be known that at no time while in Rome were Joseph and I even tempted to go here. Those of you who know what the Danza Slap is...cry, cry for shame.

Oh my Lord, this blog is exhausting. Did I mention that when this was all finished about an hour ago, my computer shut down and deleted it? My face turned strange colo(u)rs.

Wednesday, November 2

Back in style.

No hat, as the place was closed when I got there, despite the hours that it was supposed to be open. (Yes, Pantea, I agree that fedoras are the immortal fashion). Lots of work. Lots of pictures. Lots of new things to talk about, and a few orders of business:

Got back from Italy about midnight Monday. Would have been earlier, but got delayed in the airport. I played some Italian videogames for a while. Almost ate a sandwich called a "Fattoria" comment.

I don't think it wants anyone to know, but the internet is having a bad day today. So I'm going to take it easy on the pictures today. I have over 200 pictures from Italy, and I'm going to get them down to about 50 or so that I really want you guys to see...and then update them by city. So, first city, hopefully up tomorrow, would be Rome.

BUT, because I know I owe the people's republic of my blog a few pictures, I confess I was able to get a few things up. Two of them are from Rome. Think of it as a trailer for what will be a really, really intense travel documentary. No, really.

Lunch on the 19th, just before I left. I made a salad and took a picture of what basically comprised that afternoon for me. Unfortunately, the salad was a bit more filling than the book.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Infinity Pidgeon, the mammal that knows no fear. Natural Habitat = the apocalypse. I crossed paths with it in the park.

Wednesday night cookies, oh yeah. I passed these out to my friends before I left for Italy, on Wednesday night. That's raspberry jelly in the center. Made them from scratch. So proud.

A picture of me sitting on a balcony at the back of the Emmanuel II WWW memorial, in Rome. Hi people.

And my pride and joy, a self-constructed panoramic photo of the inside of the Vatican. Yes, this is basically the size of the entire country. But isn't it grand? That dome in the back is the Basilica, and the Sistine chapel is off to the right, where you can't see it. Actually, this is only half of my proposed panoramic photo, because it just got too big. But yeah. There it is. Popeville. The place you always see him giving sermons is in front of all the chairs on the left there. (For the fans of the I Spy books in dentists' offices: I spy a girl taking a picture of half of herself).

Sunday, October 30

Like Indiana Jones...but sexy.

I am thinking of buying a brown fedora here in Milan. The salesman was an old Italian man who was fixing the brim while I was trying it on. Opinions? Am I a hat man?

Also about Milan: The McDonalds' here are more dense than anywhere else in the world. At one point I was standing on a street corner and could see three with the naked eye. Whoa. Joseph had a McRoyale with cheese. He said it wasn't that great.

Venice was great! A little like Disneyland, though. I'll explain later. I dropped one of my small poetry notebooks into the Grand Canal while on a Vaporetto water bus! Glad there wasn't anything cool in there.

Also about Venice: They sell a lot of masks.

Time to go running!

Tuesday, October 25

0 AP (After Pizza).

I would like to say that I am pre-emptively sorry. Why? Because I am now beyond the realm of mortal food, and thus pity will be distributed liberally amongst those of you who still eat at Pizza Mercato, Dominos, Feast and Famine, or even Casserta Pizzeria. I have ascended for the toll of a trifling 1 Euro and 25 cents to a new dimension of pizza which questions the very fabric of my shoddy three dimensional existence. Yes, the Venus de Milo was good. Yes, the Duomo was sufferable. I will admit, I thought I had something with the Sistene Chapel. But tomorrow, the David will only be a kind of unhappy reminder of the Goliathian ambrosia which has passed into the annals of culinary legendary history at the back of my throat. I will probably cry in the near future.

I do not know the name of this place. I had to actually force myself to walk away. But Joseph and I have marked a location on our map. And though we will probably be dining with his friend Natalie tonight, and thus will betray ourselves, we have decided to skip breakfast tomorrow and eat two meals at this place. Then we will go to the Academia to see the David (as mentioned), and hop a train to Venice. Things are looking great, so far. Thanks for all this, mom and dad, I love you very much!

Also, I found a juggling store. Sweet.

I am considering buying jade cufflinks and a tea set for myself while in Europe. Opinions? Alternatives?

Saturday, October 22

When not at home...

Do like the Romans do.

I'm in Italy! I'll update very quickly if I can, but it's just sheer luck that the hostel that I'm in, Yellow Hostel, has a great little internet service. THe other hostel I've stayed in so far was kind of a slummy joke, but this one has mood lighting and strange posters and everything! Score.

You'll never guess how many pictures I have of things. The Colloseum, the Palatine, Vatican City (today! Saw the Sistene Chapel. Lot of work for one guy.), the Basilica, and in general, almost every historical attraction. Food = Reason to make money, here.

Ah, got to get running, my time is running out on this computer! But I wish everyone who's taken the time to read my blog up to this point the best! Thanks for keeping up, the photos I'll be updating when I get back on the 30th should be mindblowing.

Until then, Florence, Venice, Milan.

A crazy man attacked the La Pieta with a hammer once in the 60's, Joseph tells me. That's why the nose is broken.

I saw the corpse of Pope Pious X today! It was creepy. Bye.

Saturday, October 15

Operatic Death Star.

First off: the lane of legends. I will investigate. The pastries of all our hopes and dreams are somewhere in this bloody city.

This week has been trying, but it's the beginning of a long phase, productive phase in my life. I can tell, because I had a lot of moments of meditation and enjoyment when it came to actually doing parts of my work. While everything for this weekend is far from finished (Paper, presentation, reading, the usual 10 phalanxes of assignments to barrel through in the next few days). Here's the judiciously sculpted summary of my week!

Monday: Crazy paper editing and sitting in the park at Bedford square, eating lunch. There was a ladybug in the grass with me. We were illing. It was empty and really a place to go back to. Note to self: Sandwiches and great apple juice are great meditational tools. Fortunately, this park is owned by NYU-L for the time being, and all I have to do to get access is to trade my ID to the NYU guard across the street for a gate key. Also, I went to a play; sadly, it stank. It's called the Mousetrap, and it's the longest running play in the world. Yes, that may be a bad thing. If you want to read more about that, here's my review.

Tuesday: Rock Climbing with the ULMC! (And classes...but that's not the sparkling part of the day). It was a really great time. No pictures this week, but I went with my friend Keity, and was releived to find my sport alive and well here in the UK. It was comforting--a way of not feeling a little homesick, as I get sometimes here. Anyway, I learned a little lead climbing theory from a nice guy named David, excercised poor technique (I used my arms a lot, it's called "cranking". My signature move, which I've dubbed the "hella-crank", is well known at the Palladium wall). Also, today, at the honorable Linda Zou's request, I bought and ate a Galaxy Bar. Here it is, just before it enters the maw of delciousness. Thank you so much for your fructal guidance, Ms. Zou. You have made my candy week. I should describe the experience as somewhere in between the taste of milky chocolate with the very desirable chewiness of a Tootsie Roll, but without the hardness or inferior taste of a Tootsie Roll.

Wednesday: Lordy, how time flies. I don't even remember what happened that day.

Thursday: I mostly spent time reading, before showing up for Measure for Measure at the Globe. It was a good performance; although not my favorite, it was of my favorite Shakespeare play I've read this semester, so that definitely helped. It was also an "original production" (all the costumes, props, and sets were hand made as they would have been in Shakespeare's time.) The Duke, for those of you who know the play, was surprisingly mousy. It was hilarious.

Friday: Worked at a soup kitchen for a few hours at a church on Tottenham Court Road, got day tickets for Wagner's Siegfried at the grand Royal Opera House, bought some candy (Skittles and Shortbread cookies), and then, much to my delight, hunkered down for about 5 hours of incredible opera. I was in the back row on the fourth floor of this gigantic auditorium, and it was still one of the greatest performances I've ever seen. I'm hooked, it's safe to say.

Saturday: Woke up, went running/grocery shopping (fruit tarts!), wrote my review for Siegfried, and then went to have a very settling discussion about careers, writing, and Britishness with a very kind and generous opera critic, whose work I admire. It's not often that I get to say that, but there it is. I think my review (soon to be edited) of the same show was remarkably similar in structure to his; but I wrote it seperately, I assure you. I think it's an unconscious act of flattery. He was the guest speaker at my critical writing class a few weeks ago, and we had both seen the same opera recently-- The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant. So I ended up having this further chat with him about the merits of this performance, and how I might get more intellectually invested in opera as a form. I'll keep you posted as to how that goes--I think I may try to spend some time listening to music in the library. Finally, I acquire sophistication! I tell you, I had hopes for myself once I started eating salad three years ago, but I never expected this...

Today: Went to a party! I brought mueslin. That stuff is delicious. Went to sleep. Woke up. Reading Jane Eyre. Dinner with Patti tonight? Only the Dieties can say for sure. Hang on, I'll call her: Ringing, ringing, ringing. Message machine. Again, who knows!

I'm proud to say that I'm starting a bit of a web comic. Maybe I'll start next week's post with one of my latest inventions? Come on, people, make some noise. Maybe I'll get brave and crawl out of my blogular groundhog-hole a little early next week...

Cheers unto infinity, you all. Next week, Italy! I promise to update before I leave. Then, when I get back, it's photo time. Sorry about the extremely text-y post, blogger's doing something strange with in-image posts.

Current Music: M10 III - Reincarnation, Ghost in the Shell soundtrack. Also: Sound Check (Gravity), by the Gorillaz.

(Two Stormtroopers, standing near the tractor beam power grid.)
Stormtrooper: Do you know what's going on?
Other stormtrooper: Maybe it's another drill.

Sunday, October 9

The times, they are a-changin'.

Call me bi-hemispheral. Today we went to go visit Greenwich village, which is a great little place just on the very eastern edge of the city. Home of the Cutty Sark, the second fastest tea-clipper ever (what fame!), the Royal Naval Hospital (The dining hall and chapel inside were breathtaking), and the Royal Observatory. Apparently the royal observatory, however, is not where people actually did any discovering. No, they had a separate little shed for the astronomers to go to for that. The royal observatory was for the nobles to have a good time...Again, I'm not a royalist. Anyway, I also went down to the market, where I determined a need to purchase fabulous pair of cufflinks and a tea set, but didn't find any that were worth it. I also need shirts that require cufflinks, but that's the least of my worries, obviously.

Unfortunately, I was hideous for all of this (that's the royal observatory in the background of that one). Nevertheless, I had a great time with some great new friends, named Hyun, Nora, and Sabrina. Nora and I actually may end up doing some knitting together, I'm really interested in learning about that. I'll let you know how it goes.

Not that I'm in a rush, but let's get these pictures out of the way, so we can talk about the important stuff.

Royal Naval Columns.
A pretty wicked 24 hour clock.
Staircase, currently my desktop (this is a pretty one, I think. Let me know if you want desktop resolution. I'm considering making a Simon in London desktop collection for y'all.
Pretty afternoon skyline.
London Eye on the way back. I hope I get to go soon.

So, substituting for this week's big news section we have the very honorable and effective

THE IMPORTANT STUFF (Depending on who you are).

Whew. Glad we're here. A few developments:
  1. I'm the arts editor for the newsletter here at the NYU-L program! I get to organize a page of reviews, and I get to make a comic, which will probably be based on the comic at! I hope to bring something new to it, though. The newsletter is called the Moon.
  2. I'm going to Measure for Measure at the Globe on Wednesday, training for my community service in schools on Tuesday, soup kitchen volunteering on Friday, classes Tuesday and Wednesday, and going to see an opera named Siegfried tomorrow. When do I do my homework, you ask? I point your attention to a cardboard box with the words "Time Machine" scribbled on it in marker.
  3. I have decided based on a lot of thought to pursue the idea of teaching as a career (elementary English?). I think it will make me happy. I can explain this more, and I will, but in my next post. Mom and Dad, don't worry, I've just posted a four page letter all about this stuff to you, and it's got mathematical proofs and Venn diagrams in it and everything about my decision. No kidding. I'm going to post on here as I figure out how I'm going to make it possible, but the basic issue is me getting certification and getting paid at the same time. Post me and let me know what you guys think!
  4. I jointed the UMLC (University of London Mountain Club), and will be continuing my rock-climbing endeavors every Tuesday, now with a bunch of very sophisticated and impressively muscular British types. I'm also planning on going hiking with Patti around the English countryside very soon, which sounds like it will be a really good way to experience England outside of London. I'm psyched.
  5. I've booked my flight for Rome, and am definitely visiting Switzerland, Spain, and Germany, I just haven't booked them yet. I'm still considering France, Romania, and Dublin/Edinburgh, but no definites yet. I'll keep you posted!

My cousin Alec is as of the weekend before last, according to the Jewish Faith, the man. Congratulations, Alec! May you and your sister receive British baked goods in the mail. Wait, did I say that? Love you, dude. Great job.


Thursday, October 6


My camera is working! New expensive batteries were necessary. 8 dollars for four AAs. In celebration...

I call your attention to the following series of photos, taken on the 26th of September, regarding one young man's lunch.

1. The approach.

2. Before.

3. And after (The dismount). Evidence suggests that the meal was an apple, a guacamole, lettuce, and chicken breast sandwich on organic wheat bread, and a fruit, honey, and granola bar for dessert. The financial morticians have resolved that aforementioned meal cost approximately six dollars. Not bad, eh? Thanks for the advice, dad. Finally took it.

Remember that banana bread I told you about? The batch that I made from scratch with help from Liz, that I was super proud of? Well, I have a picture of the last peice of it, and it looks a little like...not delicious. But it was, and as you can see if you want, other people thought so too. Here's the picture, from 30 minutes after I took it out of the oven.


A surveillance kitty (In an alley).
Friends walking.
A purple house. Adorable?
These places exist, it's not just on TV. Don't you want to live here?
A church of gothic proportions.
A fountain of not-centered in the frame proportions, but pretty anyway. This was about the moment my camera went on strike.

Some notes!
  1. I love my grandparents! They sent me candy! Thanks, guys! I couldn't have written a paper last night without those swedish fish.
  2. Straton upon Avon pictures soon! (Have to get them developed).
  3. Brighton pictures of me in the ocean soon!
  4. Going to a soup kitchen to volunteer next friday. Training for working in a London elementary school on wednesday.
  5. Rock climbing sunday?
  6. Visiting Ollie this weekend?

Current music: "Mongrel..." by DJ Shadow.

Wednesday, October 5

Great graves.

I went to Stratford upon Avon today (Just got back about an hour ago)! I went to the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of A Comedy of Errors, which was well done on most accounts, but on others I suppose there's just no escaping it: I'm annoyed by a good farce.

I did get a good lot of pictures of Stratford with a disposable camera, including a picture of good ol' Will's grave, which is in the holy trinity church. Some things to note about Stratford:
  • The geese are vicious.
  • The houses are tiny.
  • Stratford was the first town to build a bridge over the Avon river ("avon" in latin means river, so it's really just called "river river"), but there are many other Stratford Upon Avons in existence, so apparently there's this big problem with people visiting the wrong ones.
  • It's not quite as touristy as you might think, for a town which basically thrives on the fact that a famous writer used to live there.
  • There's a place called the "As You Like It" sandwich shop, and a Sheep street. Isn't that adorable?

I'm hesitant to write too much, obviously. I guess I want to be fresh when approaching it later when I actually have the visuals.

And now I must fly away back to the homework scene, which stretches on and on, like a Great Wall of Boring. Mine is almost visible from space.

Monday, October 3

Buckling up some swash.

Apologies for not writing sooner, but the days go by like buddah here. Also, my camera broke*, and I was feeling guilty about not having any real visuals for you. But I figured I'd go for a quick text update... Here are the juicy bits of the last week (the way I'm doing the dates is the way they write them in Britain. Backwardsish, eh?):

*It is unknown whether my camera is actually mechanically/electronically broken, but it won't turn on for longer than 2 seconds when I put in new batteries. I hope this does not mean our good friend the camera will be the cause of many a wordy blog entry...

26/9/05 (Last Monday): I went to Julius Caesar at the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre, with Patti! Good times, although I was late unintentionally, and am quite worried she thinks I'm a bit of a chronologically troubled youth. The concept of Caesar was great, very modernised, but the acting was a bit dry (Patti says: what is it about modernizing Shakespeare that always translates to men in leather business jackets?) Other than that, pretty much scrambled to put together my Frankenstein research paper. It ended up alright--it's about how the monster shatters the narrative of Victor Frankenstein by speaking eloquently, and how that effects the novel. Also, about the duality of the origin story of the monster in comparison to the dual origin story situation in the bible. I didn't sleep monday night, needless to say.

27/9/05 (Last tuesday): Handed in the paper, had to get started on my presentation on Collins' The Moonstone as a sensation novel, and how that worked into the detective novel. Very rushed to get that over with. Plus, I was on my 48th hour at this point, so, a bit knackered. 3 hours of sleep.

28/9/05 (Last wednesday): Handed in my reviews of Julius Caesar and Harvest.I'll post them as soon as possible. Also, my professor mentioned my review in class and asked me about my writing it, the way he does with things that catch his eye! I'll try to get it up here soon, but no promises. I've been waiting for this, and I was proud, but I sort of felt at the end that it was less judgemental and more random who he mentioned. But still, I think my review writing skills are improved. I always try to show a "moment" from the play, like they do in the papers, because it's useful for conveying emotion, and the atmosphere of the play--which can make it a more balanced review if you've got a lot of intellectual things to say. Anyway, also gave my presentation. Rather interesting stuff, but the presentation went as such that I wasn't really sure if I had said anything worthwhile at the end. I think it was mostly because I was nervous, as a result of A) Me not doing many presentations recently and B) Me not having spent enough time preparing for it. You know how people tell you a presentation was fine, but you don't beleive them? It was like that. I got lots of sleep wednesday night. Word.

29/9/05 (Last Thursday): Read a bunch. Pretty much didn't leave the room. But, to even it out, I made banana bread from scratch! Big accomplishment for me. I have pictures of what was left of it, which I think really captured how successful it was, but...alas, the moon is in the seventh house on that.

30/9/05 (Last Friday): I went to Brighton, known as London by the sea, and had a tour the Royal Pavilion in the center of the city, as seen right here. Also, it was getting kind of cold, but I did go swimming, as I wasn't going to let this side of the Atlantic get away so easily. Thanks to Liz for taking the pictures (at this point, my camera was broken), I'll definitely have some visuals soon enough on this! I can still scan, ye damnable gods of silicon! Aside from that, I had a great day, having packed myself a lunch in my new tupperware from Woolworths (They're like Odd Job or Christmas Tree Shoppes for most of your guys in the US), and got a bunch of reading done. I did learn some Greek dancing from my friends Nikki and Kosta at night; however, I'm not going to talk about that until I have a signature move. Right now I Greek dance like a club-footed drunken bunny rabbit. No pictures of this, so don't ask. Cheers!
30 days have september, april, june and ohh.... I always miss it at the beginning there.
1/10/05 (Saturday): I spent most of this day reading. But then, at night, I went to the English National Opera (ENO) and saw The Bitter Tears Of Petra Von Kant, my first somewhat classical opera! It was in English (with supertitles above the stage), and apparently taken from a film, which was originally taken from a stage play. I found it hard to appreciate how abrasive the music was in comparison to the singing, it wasn't meant to harmonize at all, but it certainly worked. Everything was meant to be very 1970s gawdy, so the set was a little like Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange. Mix that with the weird Lolita-esque plot, and you've got yourself one ugly/delicious to watch opera cake. Speaking of cakes, there were none at this party I went to in my dorm afterwards, but I did have some of what is known as "jungle juice" for the first time. That stuff is serious.

2/10/05 (Yesterday): Big day including viewing the new Studio Ghibli film Howl's Moving Castle, and going to another GoodBooks concert, both with Ollie. The film was a bit weird, and while I'd advise you see it strictly on the principal that Ghibli is my favorite movie studio and it's an extremely pretty animation, it's a bit sinister at times. Half of the movie is this kind of very new age Disney flick garnished with Japanese/Victorian culture, and the other half is this kind of creepy sci fi war movie that seems reminiscent of Hiroshima. I know this is a horrible thing to say, but at ttimes, it's like the people who wrote the movie were trying to show children what Hiroshima and Nagasaki would have been like if it had been western culture. Maybe it's the movie trying to express something similar to a moral like "when you hurt others, you're hurting yourself", but I'm not sure. The point is that the movie didn't really resolve any of the problems it addresses outside of the just kind of ended. Anyway, I think it's a really good rental. Not as good as Princess Mononoke or Spirited Away, though. I did enjoy going to the concert afterwards with Ollie as well, although GoodBooks played most of the same songs. I've learned a lot about the professional dynamic and problems of being in a band from going to this show and the last one. There's not much I can say as I'm so far away from actually participating in band culture as it is, but basically my opinion is that to sign with a record label when you're young, as GoodBooks has done, is a career decision made in a time when you really don't know anything about what you want out of your career--hence, a high chance of unhappiness. This kind of plays into my worries about careers, which I'll expand on later, as I want as much feedback on it as possible.

Now we're talking about last night: After Ollie and I got back we made some Spinach pie that was rather successful in going from ad lib idea to execution, some tiny apple pies, played some chess, and Ollie slept on the couch (It's a rather deluxe couch). I tried to read a little, but fell asleep. The book (Baumgartner's Bombay, reading it for Postcolonial Lit, about a German Jew in India, very surreal) fell out of my hand, and I found it on the floor in the morning.

3/10/05 (Today, Monday again): Woke up this morning, watched some thirty seconds of British news TV while we ate breakfast, and then walked with Ollie to the British National History Museum. That place is amazing, and pictures will definitely be taken when I go back the second and third times. We went to see the marble parthenon statues, and walked briefly by the Rosetta Stone (HAH! That's what I did this morning). I had to say goodbye for the time being, as I've got loads of homework to do. He's stayed on with his sandwiches in the museum. I've come here, to Bedford Square, to do homework and update the blog. Here I sit. A quick found poem (your comments appreciated, guess where it's from), and I'm off to the races again:


is an area
of Greece, traditionally associated
with an unspoilt
rural paradise.

In this print, Finlay
draws an iconic parallel
between this idea
of a natural paradise
and the camoflauge patterns
on a tank.

There is also
an echo of the Latin phrase
'Et Arcadia', used
by the seventeenth-century French artist
Nicolas Poussin, in a painting of
a group of shepherds,
a tomb.

Like Pouissin,
Finlay reminds us
that death
is present everywhere, even
in paradise.

Sunday, September 25

Monsters and Moonstones.

It's been a while! But I'm working on a Frankenstein paper (one of those where you have to examine a passage and, seemingly without a reason, try to pack everything about it into some small amount of text), so it's gonna be short and sweet. First, the visuals:

This is a picture of the set from the play I went to see on thursday, called Harvest. (Sorry, it refuses to upload the picture) I really enjoyed it, although it ended up being a little shaky on the conclusion, since the main character was still alive after over 110 years, and there was very little closure (in my opinion), because of that. Anyway, I'll be adding a link right HERE to my review of it when I get back, but I'm in the computer lab right now, and don't have the file with me. You are free to gaze at the set until then.

This bit on the right here is a picture of my roommate Peter, currently on vacation in Amsterdam with my other roommate Kosta. We're standing on the tube, and I had to take a picture of the soda machine because it's actually fitted to the angle of the wall of that one station. Is this as amazing to you as it is to me? Oh well.*

*Mom, this is my blog, and I'm allowed to be Non-Sequitor Man if I want to be.

The candy machine right next to the soda machine was also kind of interesting. Apparently "chewier chews" are all the rage these days. For those of you amazed by strange candy, I should inform you that there is a candy bar here known as a "Yorkie" by Cadbury which claims it is "for boys only". I haven't had one yet, but I think I'm going to have to, now that I've mentioned it. You know, the whole "Gun on the mantle in the first act has to go off by the third" rule.

So, after an evidently eccentric night of photography and theatre-going, I went to sleep, woke up, read, had dinner with friends at Liz's place, went to sleep, woke up yesterday morning, read, made plans to go to the theatre with Patti and Ollie this week, made dinner and played cards with some friends, read, went to sleep, woke up this morning, went to the library and found it closed, went to the computer lab, came up with an outline for my Frankenstein paper, and updated my blog.

That about brings us up to now. Cheers!

The crystal ball says...Simon will be going on a trip this celebrate having finished a bunch of work...stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 20

To the races!

Hey everyone! I've just found that I have to read another two novels by Friday, and write two papers by next Tuesday, on books that I also have not read (with many events in between that are not conducive to reading. So I apologize in advance; I'm going to try and keep up the excitement here at the blog, but no promises. Updates as necessary, probably not many pretty pictures.

Liz and her roommate Nikki made my friend Joseph and I dinner last night, and it was delicious. Today, my friend Joseph and I will be making them dinner.

I ate 30 cookies last night, and it was delicious. I could eat anyone under the table.


Big news: I modelled yesterday for the NYU-London brochure (got a gift certificate for it), finished 200 pages of Sense and Sensibility yesterday, Ollie's concert on wednesday, going to see a play called Harvest on thursday, Julius Caesar sometime soon at the National Theatre. Should be a total gas! Also: my roommate has been stealing food from myself and a bunch of my roommates. Developments on that as they evolve.

Sunday, September 18

From Globe to gallery.

This friday, I went on a class field trip to Southwark Church, where I got pictures of nothing of note. Sure, It was very ornate and British, and there was some terrific churchy ambiance, but the highlight of the trip was when we went to the Globe, had a very informative tour on the historical factoids of the building, and saw Pericles (for real, this time). Among the more interesting items were:

That the original capacity of the Globe theatre was 3000, compared with the capacity of 1600 today.

The people who sat behind the stage sat there because it was the best place to hear the plays. Mostly, people didn't watch them. The people who sat behind the plays were nobles, who would generally arrive late (for show), and demand to be caught up by the actors on what was going on during the show.

The actors had one morning to rehearse for plays, which were at 2PM (This conflicted with people's work in a big way, and almost got the Globe closed a few times). You didn't get the whole play when you rehearsed, though. You got a "roll" (role) of paper, with your role ("roll") on it, and the first two words of the line before and after yours. It was really difficult to know when your line was or what you were supposed to be doing, because you didn't know what people were going to say about you in their lines. Trust me, I know, they made us try it on the tour!

Here are some pictures of the globe. They're better than the last ones, and the second one has me snarling like a pirate in it, quite by accident:

After the tour, we went to Pericles, which was amazing. It's not the greatest of Shakespeare plays, kind of like a very patchy epic. But the Globe made it into a very episodic circus, with aerialists and people dancing on ropes. There were some bad moments where the narrator would break from the text of the play and start joking about how Shakespeare was a black man and then try to be funny by saying "don't worry, the idol is safe, mon, he was white." This same guy also managed to work in a bit about how at the Globe "we don't do art, we do LIFE. If you want art, you've come to the wrong place." This was really strange, because the play was going fine. I was thinking "you know, you just may be convincing me, I think I may be at the 'Chris Rock, actors on racial steroids and Juliet' performance." and then there was response shouting. No, seriously.

But in the end, it was okay, because there was some really great acting and acrobatics, and I was a groundling, which I enjoy (A groundling was one of the people who pays much less to stand and watch the play. Today, it costs about five pounds).

Right afterwards there was crew racing on the Thames. Except, all the boats where themed by country. There were a lot of people lining the river, especially on the Millenium Bridge. Look:

And here's a pretty picture of a bombed out building, which I'm using as my desktop at the moment. Keep in mind, any of the pictures you see on the site I have at desktop resolution, and I can send you bigger versions if you want them. Just email me.

My day wasn't over after the Globe. I then went to this concert which my friend Ollie had purchased tickets for, and enjoyed that. I won't say anything about it except that it wasn't what I would have gone to see by myself at all, and I'm glad Ollie was there, because he made it interesting. It was the kind of thing you always hear about in bad jokes, but it was actually rather of interesting, kind of audially intimate, even if it was atonal. Here's a link to my review of it, which I'm using for Reporting the Arts class, and as a writing sample for one of my internships. Let me know what you think, it's only on the first draft. I realize that sounds unwise considering I'm trying to use it to get internships, but I really needed this kind of writing quickly for the sample, and it's the only thing I've written that's like it.

A link to my review. -- It was at the Tate Modern, an art museum I went to a while back. The building is actually a converted power station, so Turbine Hall was where the giant generator used to be. The picture at the top of the post is what it looks like at night. Spacy, eh?

Basically, Ollie stayed the night at my place, and I made him an omelette for dinner. We played chess as well. He's a very active guy, I admire his being a mensch about his interest in the arts.

Today I've had a lot of work to do, and I had to miss open house to read Sense and Sensibility. So you see, the homework march goes on...