Monday, November 29, 2010

Barcelona FTW!

Well it has been quite the weekend of win and fail for me.

WIN: Thursday night it was Thanksgiving and tons of people showed up and tons of food showed up and I held a pineapple for the better part of an hour as an impromptu piece of modern art. If this doesn't scream "amazing Thanksgiving" to you I don't know what your problem is. Also, I knew Simon was that hench, masked dude in Misfits. I knew it.

Thanksgiving feast!!
My housewifeness likes to surface now and again.

FAIL: Friday my class was so boring I literally had to fight to stay awake. My palms firmly pressed against my face were the only things keeping my eyes open. I think that was my last class though as I will be in Ireland this Friday (win).

WIN: Cheng's friend Jon came to town and we had authenic Chinese food in London's Chinatown that was extremely on point. Hot tea = yums after walking around in freezing temperatures. Also, I nabbed a pair of soccer shoes for about £8. Here's to fitting into children's sizes!

The converted basketball court where we kick around.

FAIL: Apparently low-rise, straight-leg, light-wash jeans do not exist in London. I have no idea why this is such a phenomenal request to make of clothiers but apparently it is. Apparently I'm super-unstylish which is also full of fail. However, I did have a yummy burger with Adam so that was good.

These are all I'm asking for, really. Simple.

WIN: Chelsea almost lost to Newcastle which was inspiring, I had my first Sunday Roast at the pub, and 4/6 of my flat went ice skating at Somerset House! Which was phenomenal. It started snowing as we were leaving the rink. Ahhh, magical.

The gang doing some quality ice skating at Somerset House.

FAIL: Unfortunately, after leaving the rink I still had to write 1000 words worth of documentary proposal. I still don't know how to write a documentary proposal and I'm fairly certain I never will. Big waste of time and effort, Stephen, you're a terrible teacher. I'm holding onto the hope that 70% really does translate as an 'A' back home. That would be nice.


The End.

Monday, November 22, 2010


I have so, so much catching up for my loyal following to do. First of all, I'm tired because I can no longer sleep on my school mattress and, secondly, I've been less than inspired to write about the doom and gloom around me. Bleh.

A week ago I was in the lovely English countryside visiting old-time pal, Alex. This was an absolutely wonderful/freezing cold experience that I found way more uplifting than the big city. There were lots of cows and everyone knows cows are hilarious. Such a good time. Not to mention Alex kept me busy tour-guiding around the area. He did a fantastic job though he'll probably deny it. He picked me up from the bus station after I arrived Friday night and drove me back to the Avon Tyrrell Activity Centre near the New Forest. Then he cooked dinner which was delish and we watched Blood Diamond, which was disappointing. By the way, the New Forest is a forest created and maintained by William I around 1079 for the private hunting of deer. Just FYI.
The Dorset coast.
Anyways, the next morning we jetted off to the Dorset coast and I saw my first castle! It was in rather poor repair but things should be looking up for Highcliffe Castle in the future. The castle itself was built between 1831 and 1835 by Lord Stuart de Rothesay who stoled most of the stuff he used to build it, most importantly, the stained glass. He actually nabbed the Jesse Window from the church of St. Vigour in Rouen. Other bits and pieces came from Germany, Switzerland and the Flemish. It was completely ravaged by a fire but assistance from Christchurch Borough Council, English Heritage and a £2.65 million grant are restoring it to its former glory.
The inscription reads:
which, for those of you who don't read Latin, means:
Sweet it is, when on the great sea the winds are buffeting the waters, to look from the land on another's great struggles.
It's from the second book of Lucretius, a Roman poet and philosopher. Apropos since the castle sits on a cliff top and was a refuge for Lord Stuart from his turbulent career as a diplomat during the Napoleonic wars in Europe.

Next, Alex and I took off for Corfe Castle which dates back to the 11th century and commands a gap in the Purbeck Hills on the route between Wareham and Swanage. There is some evidence of a stronghold that predated the Norman Conquest. Edward the Conqueror was executed here in 978 and Maud de Braose and her son William were walled alive in the dungeon and subsequently starved to death here in 1210. The castle was also used as a royal treasure storehouse and was a royal prison and stronghold before being sold by Elizabeth I to Christopher Hatton (her secret lover, shhh) in the 16th century. It twice came under siege in the English Civil War and only fell when betrayed by a member of the garrison. Anyways, after the bad guys got in they undermined the entire structure using explosives after which (for the next couple hundred years) the local populace raided the place for building material. Most of the building material can still be seen in a number of nearby houses. There's one pub in the village that's older than my entire country. Imagine that.
Sheeps hanging out on the castle

After that, Alex and I visited the Jurassic Coast to check out Durdle Door. The name "Durdle" is derived from an Old English word, "thirl" meaning bore or drill. It is a natural limestone arch that is very dangerous to jump off of or try to climb.

My last day in town, Alex was a good sport and took me to Stonehenge. It was rather dreary and rainy and I thought that English Heritage could have presented the monument a little better. Moral of the story, don't go to Stonehenge unless you have a vested interest in Stonehenge. I have a vested interest in Stonehenge and I'll link you to my research paper if you'd really like. I'm just that nice.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Domestic Goddess

I have just made chili. And cleaned the flat and my room (almost) in its entirety. I didn't do the dishes but they weren't my dishes to do so that is excused.

So now I am sitting in my clean room that smells vaguely of cinnamon and apples (yumm, smells like Christmas) enjoying a bowl of chili con carne which is arguably one of the best things to eat when it's chilly outside. Potato soup obviously trumps any other cold-weather meal but for arguments sake, chili is good too. I have a ton left over as well so we'll see how long I can stretch it. Perhaps next week I'll make potato soup and then those two plus my coffee can see me through the long, hard, five-weeks-worth-of winter that I'll be enjoying in London.

I'm not complaining much though because the trees have changed color and the city looks semi-decent. It'll be another story, of course, when the leaves all fall and everything just looks stark and depressing. But for now, this is what I'll be enjoying on my little jaunts around the city:

Monday, November 1, 2010

"Halloween" or "Why I can only hear out of one ear"

This is the Halloween post. In this post you can expect to see photos of my make up, my costume, my friends and the venue where we got down. All of this is way more interesting than the school aspect of my study abroad. Suffice it to say, I'm still less than impressed LCC.

This Halloween I was inspired by WWII-era nose art. Probably because I came across the following book while perusing the Imperial War Museum and thought, Gee, that would just be so perfect!
The sultry, pin-up version of Jane. With blonde hair.

However, after searching for possible costume material, I reconsidered and just bought something on the cheap side that I could possibly use again someday. So I morphed from somewhat pin-up to a sort of dirty pirate hooker (I never thought I'd get so much use out of knee-high leather boots). The important part was that everything was somewhat foam-proof and (although my make-up was ruined) my costume survived the night!

London is more fun than San Antonio because absolutely everyone rides the bus.

My date for the night - A Clockwork Orange-ish

Hugh Hefner and a bunny or two.

About fifty students from my building all piled onto the bus around 11:30 p.m. and jetted off to London Bridge, under which our venue was located. Debut is built into the tunnels underneath the underground/train station near London Bridge and it's huge. Which was good because I'm guessing there were more than 3,000 students there last night. Sick. There are more than five different rooms within Debut, all blaring their own music and featuring neon lights, foam cannons, and hot-tubs (if you're VIP). It's from standing in front of the speakers in the techno room that I am now deaf. In one ear. Maybe when my ears stop ringing I'll be able to hear properly again. Thank goodness I don't have class until Wednesday night!

Being silly in line for the cloakroom.

Picture I took while my eardrum was being perforated.

Lotsa neon lights and FOAM!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Movie Night, Movie Night and Crepes

Last week was a blur of activity and, as everyone knows, it's difficult to blog while blurring. Classes are still not worth mentioning, for the most part. In my features class we did an exercise to practice interviewing others and my interview turned into a class-wide free-for-all. Apparently college sports in America are quite interesting. Now I'm desperate to see some university leagues play while I'm here. Not that I wasn't desperate before, it's just that now there's an edge to it where I can justify my obsession by objectively comparing and contrasting... for anthropological purposes...

On Friday night the weekend got started with a birthday party in 101. I have no idea who Lia is but I will admit, without shame, that I was very disappointed she didn't have cake at her party since that was the only reason I went down in the first place. You can say I'm a terrible person. During the course of the party I was somewhat convinced to head to Camden with the crew to go to some Electric... thing... dance place. So I headed up to take a shower and get changed but to my chagrin the whole group had already left by the time I was ready. Tom (who had crashed the party with me earlier) was still here though. I chatted on Skype for a good bit with my family since Grammie and Grandpa and Danny AND Timmy were in town and afterwards I watched Cruel Intentions with Tom.

Cruel Intentions is an insanely depressing movie. I almost want to be physically sick as I'm watching the antics of these mega-rich, private school New Yorkers. Somebody please tell me they don't exist in real life. Albeit depressing, I also love the soundtrack. To whomever can listen to this song for hours on end and not contemplate suicide, I salute you. I didn't get quite to that point on Saturday since 501 was (finally) having a movie night!!!! I was cheered up immensely by The Fantastic Mr. Fox. George Clooney cures most everything. As do the folks in 501.

On Sunday I headed out with the same lovely people for Brick Lane. We wandered around for a few hours and I fought the urge to buy every cheap, little, frilly dress I saw. The sequined ones too. Remarkable self-control. We grabbed lunch in the cafeteria-type place and I nearly choked on my Kung Po Chicken. I had a cough and it was spicy and when I inhaled the spiciness I started crying big, fat tears and was out of commission for a few minutes. Tizzy was very worried. After lunch we wandered around a bit more and then decided to head home. On our way home, we kept an eye out for a nice little coffee shop or somewhere we could enjoy crepes but with no luck. So we decided to go home and make our own crepes and coffee. Sophie, you make much better crepes than Selfridges. I would know because I tasted a Selfridge crepe when I went there with Adam who was shocked that I'd never been in Selfridges. What can I say, a fashionista, I am not. Price tags in swanky stores make me ill.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

It Is Raining Again. And Cold.

First week of school: done. I can't say I was very impressed with my classes but the level of attention given to such small, small details was impressive. Who ever thought that there would be a class solely devoted to sub-editing? Or that said class would be over two hours long? Two full hours of looking at symbols to denote where there should be full stops or where text should be italicized. This was my Friday class, though, so I'm getting ahead of myself.

Tuesday was a lovely day off. I had a nice long run and I'm not sure what else happened. I need to buy a planner so that I remember what my plans are (past and present). Anyways, Wednesday was a busy day. I hiked all the way over to Edgware Road (about an hour and a half, but I got turned around sometime before getting to Hyde Park) and picked up some laundry from Sarah and hit Primark for some £4 sweaters. Which reminds me that Gap is having a 75% off sale and that would probably help my current situation. My current situation is not really owning any cold weather clothes. I have coats for really cold weather and sweaters for mild weather but nothing in between. Clearly, I'm unprepared for the next few months. Unfortunately, since it took me so long to get over to Sarah's there would have been no way for me to make it back to LCC for my film seminar. Therefore, I missed my film seminar. Which is a shame because it will probably be my only interesting class.

Thursday's class could be called mildly interesting and it's the only course where I've actually been given work to do. That being said, stand by for email or skype interviews! I need to write a couple of feature stories! I'm not sure my brain is up to it - I haven't seriously written anything for months. Fantastic! Thursday I remember being extremely exhausted and passing out for about 4 hours sometime in the late afternoon. Then I remember waking up and hanging with the flatmates for another good two hours before heading back to bed! I woke up on Friday much refreshed. The refreshed feeling didn't last long though, due to the aforementioned class. Boohoo.

Friday afternoon was much better since Sarah and I decided to stalk Johnny Depp! For all of you that were unaware, Johnny is filming POTC 4 in London! For all of you who are not as savvy as I am, POTC 4 stands for Pirates of the Caribbean the fourth. Now you all can pretend to be as comfortable with movie abbreviations like I do. Unfortunately we did not manage to track down Mr. Depp (perhaps they were not filming that day) but Sarah and I had a lovely jaunt around the Old Royal Naval College and I took some pictures. I like the pictures a lot because every one of them reminds me of that story that begins: "It was a dark and stormy night..."

It was a dark and stormy night...
It was a darker and stormier night...
It was a really, really dark and really, really stormy night...

After we were finished thoroughly searching Greenwich for said actor, Sarah and I headed our respective ways. I just barely beat the rain home, took a little time to have a snack, and then headed out again for Oxford Street. Then I stayed up much too late drinking coffee, talking, laughing hysterically and having a good time in general. I did wake up around 10 a.m. this morning though which is respectable. However, it's raining outside and freezing so I'll decline to join the outside world and instead make tea and watch House. Oh and wait for my couch surfers to return from their football match. For the weekend I'm hosting two Americans who are traveling through London and needed a place to stay. This is in a vain attempt to get karma on my side so that I can stay with someone when I head to Liverpool at the end of the month!

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Case of Preposterous Optimism

"A Case of Preposterous Optimism"

This was the name of an exhibit I encountered while walking home alone in the dark from Waterloo Station where Bakerloo decided to terminate instead of terminating in the usual spot - namely, Elephant and Castle. All at once it summed up my thoughts about my abilities to get home safely and my previously constructed opinion on my course today. Only one of the two was properly justified optimism....

Seeing as I'm typing in my blog instead of in some hospital somewhere you can surmise that I was correctly optimistic about my ability to get home from Waterloo Station. It was, in fact, a walk in the park (I would have much rather it been a cake walk but beggars can't be choosers). I must have developed some sense of direction because I was able to navigate the extensive Waterloo Station and find my appropriate exit. I then was able to make it down the creepy back alley and through the tunnel with no interferences. Once I was on Westminster Bridge Road I could get straight to St. George's Circus with no problems and from there I could easily conduct myself to good ol' Julian Markham House.

However, my classes today were a whole other story, although one of my "classes" was only a brief course to familiarize students with macs so I can be somewhat more gentle with my judgement. My crash course in computers was around 10:15 this morning and it was about 45 minutes of the most inane instruction I've received thus far. It honestly was unnecessary to school us in proper methods of logging onto our computers for fifteen minutes. Let's not dress it up, all you do is click once on an icon. No password necessary. Simple. My later class was much of the same although my professor is a darling so I can forgive him more readily. The first chap closed the door on some students who were five minutes late saying, "The next class is at 11, yeah?" Rather rude. But my second "tutor" is a scrawny, nicotine-addicted, old guy who is barely keeping pace with the technology of today yet is clearly enamored with typography and InDesign. It was just an unfortunate coincidence that I already have experience using InDesign and so the beauty of today's lesson was lost on me. It was much more like a monotonous review of what took me five minutes to learn when I was a freshman.

I have one day to muster my missing enthusiasm, though. Tuesday is a free day for me and so I will go run and get excited about London all over again and hope for the best on Wednesday.

I'm pretty sure Wednesday won't disappoint since it's my film elective and last week we talked in detail about some classic westerns. Which I loved.