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.