Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Snow anyone...

I was working on my latest essay tonight when one of my housemates, Helen came down the hall and said, "It's snowing!" Of course I did what any other person would do...I looked out the window to confirm it. Not because I didn't believe Helen. Mostly because I've never seen snow. EVER! 

Oh alright...there have been a couple of occasions in Texas when it got quite cold and there was a very (VERY) small amount of a white, somewhat fluffy substance on the ground. At the time everyone was saying, "Look! It's snowing!" (We're Texans...what do we know.) Truthfully, if you gathered everything up that had fallen on the ground in Houston, BOTH TIMES, you could have put it in a big gulp cup added some syrup and had a tasty treat. 

Tonight was different. Both Helen and Mary Anne assured me that it was nothing compared to what it can get like but it was still very cool to see. Mary Anne, Helen, Emmy, and Claire all went down to walk around in it. 

So, what's my take on seeing snow (real, live, fluffy, enough to make a couple hundred sno cones snow)? Frankly, it's cold. BUT...it sure does make everything a little bit prettier. 

Monday, 27 October 2008

Total number of celebrity sightings: 2

Neil Gaiman
author of many books including Stardust, Neverwhere, Coraline, The Graveyard Book
He did an interview tonight and signed copies of his new book afterward.
That's MY book he's signing :)
 

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Auto Drawing

While I was out on Friday I came across this artist. He was painting a mural of a football player. The interesting thing is...he doesn't use paint brushes. He uses remote control cars. 

Ian Cook is the artist. Check him out at www.popbangcolour.com

video

"a beautiful day for a walk"

I have Fridays off. Well, relatively speaking. I probably should have been working on one of the two essays that are due next week but I decided my time would be better spent wandering the streets. 

I went into central and got out at Baker St. Truthfully, it's a little further out than what most people would do but I like the walk...it's one of my favorites. It's my 'hood (I promise, that's as ghetto as I get). When I was here in 2006 this was basically the neighborhood I lived in. I get to walk through Paddington Park. I told you this city was full of parks ;) It's cute. Not too big, tons of trees, benches that are perfect for sitting and having lunch. Then I walked down Marylebone High Street. I have such sweet memories of Marylebone. It's quite a posh little area. AIU, the school I was at before, is on this street...and it's where I lived before. Tons of hustle bustle. I heart hustle bustle. We had a great flat right in the middle of it all. On a corner, just above Starbucks, with a front row seat to the gorgeous guy in the flat across the street who apparently didn't like to wear shirts. It can get busy but I know a few short cuts so it's not too bad...especially compared to Oxford. In about half an hour I made the quarter mile (if that) trek from Marylebone High to Regent on Oxford with about 10 million of my closest friends. The closer you get to Piccadilly doesn't get much better but once you've made it through Leicester Square and found your way to Trafalgar Square you know it was worth it. 

Sitting in Trafalgar Square on a beautiful day, like Friday was, is fantastic. The sky is clear and the air cool. There are people around but if you can find a seat next to the fountains you start to block out everything. The massive lion statues can consume you. Big Ben, in the distance, intrigues you. The architecture of the surrounding buildings seduces you. 

After an hour more of walking around I started back to Harrow. I had gotten so lost in the sights and the sound of Kings of Leon on my iPod that I missed the street to the tube station I wanted. An older woman stopped me and happened to be looking for the street I was looking for. She was a sweet English woman on her way to get her hair done. So we asked for directions and it turned out we had both passed up the street. When we found where we were going she said, "You can go ahead if you're in a hurry, no need to wait for me." I explained that I wasn't in a hurry I was simply out taking a walk. She said: "Well, it certainly is a beautiful day for a walk."     

Truer words have never been spoken. 

Friday, 24 October 2008

Stay Young!

There's this fantastic little town about half an hour from London called Luton. I probably would never have known about this place were it not for my friends Kathy & Doug. Doug is a filmmaker and several years ago he directed a short and entered it in a film festival in Luton called Filmstock. I can remember Kathy telling me all about Luton and about the two "amazing" guys who run the festival. A few years after that I was making my first trip to London so Doug contacted those "amazing" guys to see if they had some free time to meet up with me. They did :) 

I had come to England on spring break and had just spent several days in Paris with about twenty 15-year-olds, a parent chaperone who kept trying to group me in with the teenagers even though I had told her I was 27, and a tour guide who I now lovingly refer to as 'Travel Tramp' because she hooked up with one of the other chaperones. But I digress...

I was feeling a little out of place and really needed to connect with people my age who I could actually have a conversation with. Enter the 2 "amazing" guys from Luton. Neil & Justin. 

They're very busy guys but they still took time out to spend the afternoon showing me around London. I don't think I ever told them how comforting it was (especially that day) to meet up with them. For starters, they're very chill guys. They put you at ease within moments of meeting them. Also, they enjoy art, movies, music, life...all things I hold near and dear. It may have only been a few hours to them but it meant the world to this shy Texas girl who had never been out of the US. 

Over the past few years I've kept in touch with Neil & Justin and when Mary Anne & I  found out we would be in the UK for a week before we could move into housing Neil (and his fiancee Roma) were kind enough to open up their home. Again, something that meant so much to us. 

Tonight Mary Anne & I went back to Luton. Neil dj's at a pub on Thursday nights. We missed Roma and Neil and Luton and we needed a break from school work. If you can make it to Luton...GO! Go for Filmstock. Go for Stay Young (Neil's dj-ing gig). Go because (despite what other Brits have told me) Luton IS a great town and the people are some of the friendliest I've met anywhere, not just the UK. 

(Hey Neil, when we're back in a couple weeks for Filmstock we promise we won't bring y'all anything...and we won't sell any of your stuff. haha)
                                    

Yes we can! and Yes THEY do!

What's not to love about this? Since starting my courses a few things have become abundantly clear. People hear you're from Texas and they think you 1-ride a horse, 2-own a gun and shoot things with it, and 3-voted for George Bush. I always tell them 1-I don't but I have before, 2-I don't and I don't think I ever would, and 3-I didn't nor would I ever. 

The other thing I've noticed is this...They LOVE Obama. At first I wasn't sure if it was his good looks, his Kennedy-esque charisma, or that they actually believed he was the right man for the job. So I started talking to people. The girls I live with, people in my classes. A good percentage of them (the women mostly) think he's a very handsome guy. Most people agree he comes across as quite charming. Everyone thinks he is the right man for the job. 

I have to be honest, I was quite shocked to find out non-Americans know so much about our election. Actually, they tend to know a lot more about America than I do about the many countries they're all from. (There is a bit of shame in that, yes.) Here's the thing...after the last election I think most of them were sitting at home saying, "Damn Americans voted for that guy AGAIN? Good luck with that. Y'all* deserve what y'all* get." 

(*The use of the word "y'all" is the authors interpretation and does not reflect the dialect of anyone except people from southern states. Y'all know who y'all are.) 

Needless to say, they're all as eager as we are to see how this election turns out. And by the billboards I've come across in the tube stations it's pretty obvious how the rest of the world thinks it should go. (And by "world" I mean Britain...And by "Britain" I mean London-and its surrounding areas). 

Monday, 20 October 2008

HEY...Aren't you supposed to be writing an essay?

Yes...Yes I am

Total number of celebrity sightings: 1

Josh Hartnett...
Currently starring in Rain Man 

I passed him on the way to Piccadilly.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

DON'T PET THE SQUIRREL!!!

If you're ever lucky enough to be in London on an October day please take this bit of advice. Go for a walk. It's true, there are a million things to do in this city. There are so many museums in town that you could probably go to 3 a day, every day, for a week and still not hit every one. And then there's the theatre. I hear Broadway is fantastic but London has the West End. Classically trained actors, Hollywood superstars, singing, dancing, they've got it all. Plus there's the Eye, boat rides on the Thames, markets and shopping. 
BUT...it doesn't get any better than going for a walk. We took the tube into central London today. Hit the British Library (which wasn't quite what I expected), took another tube to Camden, had some of the cheapest, best tasting, crappy for you Chinese food you can get, and bought a couple of t-shirts. The best part of the day though...the walk from Great Portland St station to Camden. It's not a terribly long walk and if you cut through Regent's Park it's all the better. The sky was this amazing shade of blue like that crayon you never wanted to use because you were afraid it would run out. The clouds drifted by with such pride you would have thought Van Gogh put each one there with his brush. The leaves have changed and have started to blanket the grounds of the park. The air was so cool and crisp each breath became less automatic and more deliberate, wanting to hold that "clean" feeling in. 
Even the walk gave us an opportunity to see some art. The Frieze exhibit is on. Sculptures all around. Some odd (the oversized club), some creepy (the mock crime scene). But it was an enjoyable day nonetheless. Even the squirrels came out to say hello.

Burn After Reading

Saw that last night. SO good. Not a single person in it is off. Clooney, Malkovich, & Frances McDormand were all fantastic. Score another one for the Coen brothers. 

Also, I have to be honest. I'm not a big Brad Pitt fan. He's an ok-looking guy but I don't really get the sex appeal. He's really not the greatest actor in the world either but he's usually entertaining. Especially in roles like this. He's amazing as the dope. Of course it could just be my taste (haha). I didn't particularly like him as ruggedly handsome in Legends of the Fall nor did I find him interesting as a blood-sucker in Interview w/ a Vampire. And as much as I love Fight Club it wasn't because of the chiseled abs of "Tyler Durden." He is, I feel, at his best when he's dorky (ok yes that IS my taste). But...he really does well in these roles. Want proof? See Burn..., or The Mexican, or his appearance on Friends. Even his constantly masticating character in the Ocean movies was a wee bit goofy. "Ted Nugent called, he wants his shirt back." 

See Burn After Reading. Seriously...go...I'll wait ;) 

I can't leave the country for 2 weeks...


...without the shit hitting the fan. Last week I got a few emails from home. "Your man got arrested!" I logged on to chron.com and there it was. The days headline: ASTROS PITCHER ARRESTED IN WEDDING RECEPTION MELEE. Seriously?!? Not MY Brandon. Arrested? He's one of the good guys. A few years ago after a Saturday night game (that the Astros lost) my friend's son, who was 11 at the time, and a friend of his chased Backe down the street as he drove away from Minute Maid Park...hoping to get an autograph. It would have been so easy for him to speed away in his SUV...the rest of the Astros did. Not Brandon. He smiled at the kids, pulled over, and signed a couple autographs. So how did this "good guy" go bad? 
He didn't. I read the reports, I watched the interviews, I've seen the mug shot. Witnesses are saying Galveston PD used excessive force. That only one person, if that, was really out of hand. What's the deal, GPD? Are you a bunch of wannabe ball players who saw your chance to take out your frustration on a hometown hero? 
And for those of you who want to say Brandon didn't have that great of a season or that he's no hero...Frankie called me that night after he got his autograph. He sounded really happy and told me what a nice guy Brandon was. THAT is what makes him one of my heros. 

Friday, 17 October 2008

The way I left things...

I know a "congratulations" really isn't in order but I've made it this far and that is no small feat. I left the US on the 5th day of having no power after Hurricane Ike wreaked havoc on the gulf coast. Luckily I had packed most of what I was bringing with me. 

The first day of no electricity is relatively painless...especially considering my aunt had purchased a generator. So we had a cold refrigerator and one room conditioned with air. We also had a tv working though after 24 hrs of local news coverage of the storm you just lived through trust me you'd almost prefer the alternative. Day 2 I was still getting along with my relatives...both my aunts, my mom, and my grandparents. Day 2, Hour 6 I was getting antsy. Day 3 I wanted to NOT shower by candlelight By day 5 I was ready for my flight and angry about missing out on all the things I had wanted to do before I left for a year. 

The only hitch we had between Texas and London was being stopped at security (in Houston) because I had a horseshoe in my carry-on. (What else is a country girl like myself going to have for luck?) 

We bounced around the UK for a week before moving to the campus at Univ of Westminster which is where I now find myself.