Poetry Pit Stop #4 and The Ruling Class

Anchor Down*
Does your hi mean hello?
Or are you trying to hint that you’re above me,
beyond and away,
and I could never satisfy
such a soaring personality?
Come back to me.
Come down and slip
your ankle through this lasso loop;
Healthy humans live on Earth.
Not in castles made of clouds,
munching ozone layer cake,
slurping rain drops as they form;
Jewels of dew
dotting cotton.
Make your nest here
in my arms.
I will crystallize your wildest dreams.
Make your furthest,
waving fantasy
more real than you can stand.

by: the ever-in-the-clouds so-and-so, Gianni
*(I like this title better)

After a fantabulous meal at Shackfuyu (please go there and order ALL of the food) and a quick stroll last Friday, I saw The Ruling Class, written by Peter Barnes and starring James McAvoy.
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USDA beef picanha with kimchee tare butter.

USDA beef picanha with kimchee tare butter.

Korean fried wings.

Korean fried wings.

Fried potatoes with curry sauce. I also had the okonomiyaki-style prawn toast, and the french toast with green tea ice cream for dessert. OMNOMNOM.

Fried potatoes with curry sauce. I also had the okonomiyaki-style prawn toast, and the french toast with green tea ice cream for dessert. OMNOMNOM.

Hey there, London Eye!

Hey there, London Eye!

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The play was great, and not at all what I was expecting. To be honest, I wasn’t really sure what to expect (I just saw James McAvoy and trusted that it would be good). After the death of the 13th Earl of Gurney, the earldom and the old man’s estate are passed on to his only son, Jack, who happens to be a paranoid schizophrenic. As Jack’s uncle plots to take over the estate and have Jack permanently committed, the doctor under whose care Jack has been for the past seven years tries to cure him of his condition once and for all. Of course the play is about class and the prejudices held by members of differing echelons. However, it’s also about what is considered “normal”  according to societal standards and ultimately makes the point that, as long as you know how to play the game and do what is acceptable in front of the right people, what may be actual insanity is allowed to pass for mere eccentricity if you’re high up enough in the food chain. And as long as your behavior doesn’t tread on the toes of anyone important, you can do whatever you want. It’s an engaging story, and way more intense than I thought it would be. A nice surprise.

I was also pleasantly surprised by the theatre itself. The play is on at Trafalgar Studios. This is probably my favorite theatre venue I’ve been to so far. There isn’t a bad seat in the house. It’s one large room with stadium seating. Every chair faces the stage except for some box seats on either side of the seating area. The floor of the stage isn’t raised, but extends directly into the audience. The people in the first row were practically in the play. It has a very intimate feel, and it’s super easy to hear the dialogue even several rows up (as I was). I’ll definitely be back to see other productions.

I hope all of you had a wonderful weekend, and that the week ahead rocks your socks off 🙂

Later!

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Living to blog.

Last Friday, I took a bus from the Manor House tube station to Camden Street. I sat on top. It was a nice view…

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From there, I headed to Regent’s Park on foot.

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And to the top of Primrose Hill.

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After that, I went to Covent Garden to check out Union Jacks, one of Jamie Oliver’s restaurant.

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I had the “Squashed” pizza. Roast butternut squash, braised greens, sage, and Spenwood cheese. Deeeeelicious.

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Oooh, a paper straw :)

Yay for paper straws 🙂

I realized after all this (and a Thursday spent searching for baked goods to blog about)…

Caramel Pretzel Shortbread from Crumbs & Doilies

Caramel Pretzel Shortbread from Crumbs & Doilies!

that everything I do, I do with blogging in mind. I check out the buildings I pass and the food I eat for the best possible angle to photograph. I choose things to do, not (only) because I find them interesting, but because I think they’d be good to write about.

Blogging is a challenge  — at least for me — because it’s not just you reading what you’ve written. Your posts have to be entertaining, original, and if you can manage it, exciting. Six months in, and I’m still adjusting to life in England. I’ve heard from a number of people that it can take a whiiiiile to find your feet. And I’ve moved around a lot anyway, so the assimilation process is familiar territory. I’m happy to be here, and I’m really stoked about the progress I’ve made so far on my thesis. But if I’m being totally honest, living in another country can be confusing, frustrating, and lonely. When those particular feelings hit, blogging becomes an even bigger challenge for me. I want to get out there and do every amazing thing England has to offer (and there are LOTS of those things!), but there’s also daily life to get on with, and unfortunately that’s not always as mind-blowingly wonderful as I’d like.

But I don’t want to leave y’all hanging 🙂 Which is why I try to find things that are worth blogging about. But a question for all you bloggers out there: Do you ever feel like you’re living for your blog? As in, doing things just so you can blog about it later? In fact, I know there are people out there who don’t even blog, but feel the need to do exciting things for the sake of other social media audiences (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc.). Because we want everyone to know that we aren’t lazy, that we’re not taking life for granted.

On the one hand, living with your blog in mind is great because it gets you thinking about what there is to do in your city. You learn more and, therefore, you get out there and do more. On the other hand, it can sometimes feel forced. And whenever I am genuinely having fun, I don’t always remember to photograph it :/

Some folks take to certain things like fish to water. I’m dog-paddling at the moment and barely getting by, but I’ve only just begun. Fingers crossed, I’ll find my sea/blog/life legs soon 🙂

Happy Monday!

Happy-making life things.

I was so, so happy to move to London. I was absolutely, 100,000,000% planning to grab life by the hojos and take full advantage of this city.

Ooooh!

Ooooh!

Aaahhh!

Mmmm…

Lovely!

Lookit how pretty!

But then I remembered…I don’t have a job yet. And in exchange for many goods and services, humans often require monies from you. Even the guardians of public transport. Curses. As such, I’ve mostly reverted to shut-in status. There’s also the fact that I have to write every day, and…it’s just easier to do that while sitting at my kitchenroom table (if you saw my “living room” you’d laugh until your eyeballs burned in their sockets), staring out my big, pretty window. But there are lots of things about life in my London flat that I’m crazy about (and things that put a small, satisfied smile on my face). Aaaaannnnd, here they are!

1. My Big, Pretty Window.

Choko likes to spy on the neighbors. :)

Choko likes to spy on the neighbors. 🙂

There’s a giant, house-high wall of ivy directly opposite that looks like the secret entrance to some magical land. But if I don’t want to spend my time staring at angry shrubbery, that’s cool, too, because I have a bay window which offers a wider view of the backs of my neighbor’s houses and their beautifully manicured gardens (well…a few of them are nice, anyway). Also, their dining rooms and kitchens. My neighbors don’t like to cover their windows.

2. Taking Baths.
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I can’t tell you how long it had been since I took a proper bath. Now that I have a bathtub, it’s all I ever do. I also run to Lush at every opportunity to load up on bath bombs. Lying in my fizzing tub while my favorite show or movie plays on my laptop is one of my favorite ways to spend time.

3. I CAN HAZ DISHRACK.
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This may seem totally lame, but I am SO. HAPPY. to have a dishrack. When I first moved in, I was doing the dishes and using my tea towel to dry them. When that didn’t work, I had to use ALL the paper towels ever because I couldn’t let my moist dishes just sit by the sink in a stack. Then *bumbumBUM* Tiger did away with my dish-drying woes! Having a dishrack has actually made doing the dishes more enjoyable for me because I know drying them won’t be an utter Hellfest. It’s the little things, y’all.

4. Kitchen! With Working Oven!
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One of the things I’d been most excited about was having my own kitchen again. Then I got here and couldn’t use the oven. *WOMPwoooommmmp* But now, all that’s over! I’ve made pizza, and garlic bread, and…well…other carbs. I eat a lot of carbs, OK? Blame the oven.

5. Doing Laundry Without Leaving the House.
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When I lived on campus, I had a Circuit Laundry card. A card that I needed to go to my preferred laundry room to purchase, then go home to top up, then go back to the laundry room to activate the funds. It’s actually a bit like this prepaid gas meter biz (which I’m not a fan of. I REALLY need to arrange it so I can top up online…). Anyhoo, I didn’t do much laundry, even if I wanted to, because it rained in Guildford. A lot. And I didn’t want to go outside. Now, I don’t have to, and even though it sounds like the end of the world every time I do laundry, my happiness over the convenience far outweighs my annoyance at the seismic activity caused by my washing machine.

There are other great things: great bakeries and shops nearby, theatre (saw The Nether last Friday — it was ace), getting leads on jobs… Also, this:

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😀
Happy Monday!

Cinema Sins

No movie is without sin. We all know this, but it’s nice to have a sarcastic, mostly monotone, and sometimes genuinely angry male voice confirm this for you. Cinema Sins is a YouTube channel (and also now has its own official website) where one guy (Jeremy Scott) tells you all the things that are wrong with a particular movie. Some of the sins are things you’ve probably noticed yourself that you couldn’t be bothered to mention to anyone because…well…no one’s gonna pay you for noticing stuff in multimillion dollar Hollywood films that can never be unmade. Some of the sins are things you didn’t even notice, but once you hear about it, you agree that it’s ridiculous. Some of the sins are just things Jeremy mentions to be a jerk (but it’s still funny).

Each video begins with the same three words: “Everything wrong with” (kinda like an episode of Friends… “The one with”…) after which a shot of the film’s title comes up. The video also tells you how long it’s going to be (“in ___ minutes or less”), then tells you there will be spoilers (“duh”). Jeremy then runs through the entire film, stopping at each sinful scene and explains why it’s sinful. At the end, the sins are tallied and the film is sentenced. After that, there are a couple of minutes where scenes from the film are dubbed over with famous dialogue from other movies/TV/random biz. Sometimes, there’s even a bonus round where extra sins are added for anything that’s been overdone in the movie. My favorites are the videos for Michael Bay’s films, especially the Transformers movies (which get tons of extra sins in the bonus rounds for product placement and the overwhelming presence of explosions and American flags).

They had to make a Part 2 for this one XD

In honor of the release of the Hellbomb that was 50 Shades of Grey, Cinema Sins did a week of videos dedicated to films known for their sexiness. Basic Instinct. Nine 1/2 Weeks. Showgirls. Goldfinger. In case you’re interested, the most sinned movie of the bunch was Showgirls (69,000,203 sins after the bonus round).

Cinema Sins also does “How to” videos.

The Cinema Sins team gives a disclaimer that no matter how many sins a movie gets, it doesn’t reflect how entertaining the movie is or even how much they actually might like it. You’ll probably find videos of films you love on their channel. I have. But it’s all for the sake of comedy. And no one is safe. Not even them.

*I just did this review for the hell of it b/c I visit this site every. Single. Day. Clearly I’m not well-known enough for people to ask me to blog about their shiz, but I just wanted to go ahead and clear that up. 🙂 *

The Worst

Saturday, I went on a brewery crawl AKA the Bermondsey Beer Mile. While I’m pretty sure the word “brewery” is meant to put you in mind of something more highbrow than a pub crawl, it was basically the same thing. Except instead of a long wooden bar, there were picnic tables and instead of televisions, there were giant brew kettles urrywurr. And lots of bearded men with toned arms… But I digress. We started at 11:30AM (‘nother difference between this and a pub crawl, haha) and visited 5 breweries. We each bought our own beer, then passed them around amongst ourselves (so that’s what that song is about…).

We started our boozetastic tour of wonder at Fourpure in Bermondsey. I chose the strongest one they had a transnational IPA that was surprisingly easy to drink! It was dark in color, but not very bitter. Two people from my group  got a brown ale (delicious) and a pale one (pretty good). Next, we headed to Partizan Brewery where I found my winner for the day: Rooibos Pomegranate Pale Ale. It was crisp, light, and flavorful without being overwhelming. In other words, I’d totally buy a six-pack of that. We also hit The Kernel Brewery, where I had their London Sour Cherry beer. It was actually sour, like a Sourpatch Kid without all the sugar. I liked it, but don’t think I could drink it too often (because if I did, there’d be nothing left of my esophagus).

The reason this post is called The Worst is because lately I’ve gotten into the bad (if you blog) habit of consuming things without taking pictures of them first. So everything I’ve just said could be some Inception-esque drivel I concocted for fun. Or a drug-induced hallucination (from Inception to Requiem for a Dream). I guess this is where you and I really test our relationship. You’ll have to dig deep, deeeep into the bowels of your heart and find that glowy ball of affection that allows you to trust me. I totally drank this beer. And stumbled upon a little market nearby where I bought waffles covered in pulled duck and plum sauce, then topped with two fried eggs (now that probably does sound like a hallucination, but it was real. Sweet zombie Jesus, it was oh so real).

I know I said I went to 5 pubs breweries, but I can’t remember the names of the other two. I honestly can’t decide if I should blame drunkenness or my geriatric capacity for memory. In any case, I remember the other beers being drinkable.

Anyhoo, after beerfest, I ran over to the Royal Opera House to see Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute). Listen… I was so pumped for this. The lights go down,  Tamino is being lusted after by the Queen’s henchwomen, then entrusted with his great mission — rescuing Pamina — by the Queen, Papageno is acting a fool, and Sarastro’s extolling the virtues of knowledge and philosophy. All is well. Then…it’s suddenly Intermission. No, I didn’t write a paragraph and delete it by accident.

I fell asleep.

It may have been all the beer and all the walking around…but I missed most of the first half of the opera (and proved once again that I am, in fact, The Worst).

The second act was good (and luckily, I stayed awake for it). The singing was of course phenomenal, and Papageno cracked everyone up with his desperation for love and inability to keep his mouth shut. It became very clear to me though that operas are really only meant to showcase beautiful voices (and stunning costumes/sets), not stories. The trials in Act II were almost immediately overcome (and it didn’t just seem that way bc I fell asleep during the first half). I actually want to see a show about the Queen of the Night now. She was interesting. I also wouldn’t mind a follow up show on Papageno’s remaining years (hands down my favorite character). Is there an extremely zealous individual somewhere out there who wouldn’t mind digging around Mozart’s archives to see if he wrote anything else about these people?

The only pictures I took at the ROH were of the empty-ish theatre and its ceiling:

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Pretty, right?

but I’ll do better next time. The Royal Opera House is gorgeous, and I definitely plan on going back. But in future — just to be safe — it’ll probably be the only thing I do that day.

Happy Monday!!!

Th1rteen R3asons Why

I hope you’re ready, because I’m about to tell you the story of my life. More specifically, why my life ended. And if you’re listening to these tapes, you’re one of the reasons why.

Hannah Baker has killed herself, and no one knows why. That is, until a(n un)lucky few get a shoebox full of cassette tapes that detail, in her own words, the events that led to Hannah deciding to take her own life. These tapes (13 sides in all “because there are 13 sides to every story”) are narrated by Hannah and paint the picture of the last days of her life. We follow Clay Jensen, who loved Hannah, secretly, and can’t think for the life of him why he deserves to be part of “Baker’s Dozen.” Each side tells the story of one person whose actions — large or small — packed onto the giant snowball that finally flattened Hannah Baker.

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Before the deed was done, each person on the tapes found a red-starred map of their town slipped into their locker with the words “SAVE THIS–YOU’LL NEED IT” written on it. As Hannah tells each story, the listener is invited to follow along by visiting each starred spot on the map. Now why, you might ask, should any of these people actually listen to these tapes? Personally, I’d be compelled to listen simply out of curiosity. I love feeling like I’ve been let in on a secret truth about someone that illuminates who they are, which is one reason why I love this story so much. However, the kids on these tapes have a different incentive: a threat. If they fail to listen to the tapes and pass them on to the person whose story follows theirs, a second set of tapes will be released “in a very public manner.” How can a dead girl keep track of who’s passing the tapes on? Well naturally, she has help.

So many aspects of this story made me want to see it through to the end, even without the threat of being watched. First, there’s discovering who Hannah was and what drove her to erase herself from existence. Second, there’s the mystery of why Clay (a person you also learn about as Hannah’s story unfolds through his headphones) ended up on her list. Third, you start to make connections between the people whose stories have already been told. Fourth, and perhaps most important of all, you recognize yourself in the mundane (and not-so-mundane) instances recounted on the tapes. The ultimate significance of this story lies in the realization that every single thing we do effects others, often in ways we could never imagine. You’ll likely spot yourself and at least one person you’ve known somewhere in this story.

This isn’t just a book for people who have dealt with severe depression, though it is helpful to have someone to commiserate with (even if that someone is fictional). This book is for anyone. Everyone. Especially those who may know and love someone dealing with depression. One character expresses the viewpoint that Hannah “just needed an excuse to kill herself,” and other characters express something similar. But that’s just their excuse, their way of dodging responsibility for their part in what became of her. Hannah owns up to the fact that, in the end, it was her decision and no one else’s. But that’s not the point. The point is that our actions have the power to influence the way other people think and feel, for better or for worse. I find myself forgetting that from time to time, but this book never fails to remind me.

Far from merely being a sad tale, Thirteen Reasons Why is also (darkly) funny, insightful, and conjures up the familiar and strange fact that high school is a world unto itself. I haven’t reread many novels. After all, there are so many stories out there to get lost in! In fact, I can just barely count the ones I have read more than once on two hands (Pride & Prejudice, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, The Giver, James and the Giant Peach, Matilda). I could probably give you thirteen reasons why Jay Asher’s novel is among them.