Archive for October, 2009

Will try to explain this better in my blog post coming later today or tomorrow but for now, here is a video of ‘Diversity’ (this year’s winner of ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ who beat out Susan Boyle) performing at the UK Premiere of MJ’s ‘This is It.’ Enjoy. 🙂


PS: Dunno if this is going to work.  If it doesn’t, will try to figure out another way to get this working.


Read Full Post »

‘The Road’ Review

For those who didn’t know, I really love films and was so happy to have gone through the experience of the London Film Festival for the past two weeks.  I’m also an amateur film critic and so am doing a shameless plug here as well if you’re interested, of my advance review of ‘The Road’ with Viggo Mortenson.  It’s a good film.  Take a gander if you’re into character development and a different take on the ‘end-of-the-world’ scenario. 🙂


Read Full Post »

So London ends DaylighIMG_3027t Savings time a week earlier than the US and bleh…it doesn’t come at exactly the best time when you’re trying to juggle endless amounts of reading and chatting with all your friends across the ocean.  Oh well, it’ll improve within a week when the times start to match up again (save for the Asian countries…which blah…is so confusing).

The weekend was again, mostly dedicated to reading and studying since that’s what a graduate student’s life seems to boil down to (at least this term) but there were a couple of intriguing notes to fill up on.

On Friday, one of our optional (but highly recommended) lectures was happening instead of on the usual day on Tuesday and it was happening late.  Usually, my Fridays are much more chill and quiet with only one optional class happening but instead, I was on campus for the whole afternoon.  Thanks to some smart planning, some students from our program suggested getting drinks before and after this lecture.  It was seriously a good idea and watching a BBC newscaster talk about multiculturalism with a good slight buzz is pretty cool.

I also realized that I’veIMG_3020 really become a restaurant foodie here in London, literally trying at least one to two new places out every week and usually, something that is fairly affordable.  This week was Hard Rock Cafe in the week and two other places during the weekend.  One was on Saturday, a really cool, romantic Italian restaurant called Buona Sera, At the Jam.  Odd name with a crazy design inside.  Tables are literally stacked in two floors, right above each other.  It makes more sense when viewing the picture.  I was unfortunately on the bottom but its awesome to see patrons climb up a ladder to get to their table and see the staff climb up the same ladder with two hot plates in their hands.  Pretty gnarly.  The food was pretty good to boot too and affordable!  I had some garlic bread, a fettucini carbonara, and some awesome chocolate-filled pastries. So good and again, a nice date spot that’s a bit more on the outskirts of London and different.

On Sunday, I went to a Chinese restaurant called Gerrard’s Corner in Chinatown.  It’s an odd name with a weird interior with Christmas lights abound and a white wall (music was…like wind symphony, band stuff).  Coolest part about this day was it was the last few days of the London Film Festival so I dressed up a little before the screening.  At the restaurant, theIMG_3028 waiter looked at me and asked me if I’m attending the festival.  I said yes.  The waiter then stared at me for a couple more seconds and asked if I had a film I was presenting at the festival too.  I had a big grin and wanted to reply yes, but my conscious got the the better of me and I just responded, ‘I’m just an amateur filmmaker.’  The guy’s excited look never came back for the rest of the night.  However, the (again, affordable!) food was pretty good.  I had a pork raised noodle dish along with some amaretto on the side.  A great way to start the night before the festival.

Speaking of the film festival, Sunday night also was the debut of the ‘surprise film’ (literally).  The audience takes a risk because there is no information about the film whatsoever other than…a surprise.  Heh.  Luckily, I somehow managed to get a ticket online (they released like one more seat a couple hours before).  The movie was ‘Capitalism: A Love Story’ from Michael Moore.  Kinda disappointing since it was a film that already is in wide release in the US but was interesting to view.  It also really depends on if you enjoy Moore’s in-your-face perspective style where it’s a bit obvious what direction Moore is going in throughout the whole film.  I’m not a big fan personally of the style where a documentary director inserts in evil and moody music in the obviously most effective parts.  Probably the best parts were the intimate and less-known stories about pilots who earn only $17,000-$20,000 a year or the life insurance companies make off of their employees.  Provocative stuff that is sure to create a stir and is well shown.

It really does get you thinking though…the roles of people down in the middle class and those in poverty.  What’s the right answer?  Reviewing this one is tough because of trying to tackle the film without disregarding Moore’s style, etc.

But anyways, yea…an interesting weekend for sure.  I have a crapload of reading left as usual though.  And ah…a surprise is coming in November.  Well, not really a surprise surprise but some crazy plans coming up.  🙂  What could it be…

Read Full Post »

Oh the weather outside is…well, not completely frightful yet.  London still gets a decent amount of sunshine every now and then.  However, much of it is usually (later on in the day) covered by clouds and a lot more rain every now and then.

Now, to note, I usually do like rain back in California.  It’s refreshing and although made driving a bit more of a pain, because of car travel (and just the general way SoCal works in terms of not having to walk too far to anything), rain was welcome.  In London, it’s great to see rain while inside my room, minding my own business.  Rain is not so fun when having to run to class.  On top of that, the temperature is steadily decreasing, from a constant 60-70 degrees to more of a 40-50 degrees.  One of the people in my program who’s lived in London for a while said to expect the wind chill later to bring that down quite a lot.  Brilliant.

Being the official 3rd week of school, I’ve started to also get into a pretty steady rhythm of read-read-read and then attempt to make sense of it in discussion sections while listening to more theories in actual lectures.  It’s a definite headache.  Trying to be smart, I volunteered along with a classmate for one of the readings in the lecture the past week.  Dumb me, I chose one of the densest readings yet and with a lack of a firm communications background…just spat all the information out viIMG_2939a my printout.  Oh well.  I guess slowly but surely right?  Heh.  Things will ramp up soon yet again because all of the formative (aka ‘practice’) essays will be due by Week 6 of school so that’ll be a focus of mine next week (which unluckily falls upon a huge party week).

Other than that, some other highlights of the week include: a trip to Hard Rock Cafe London.  I was craving a decent US cheesburger with some pretty ok french fries and my supervisor from back home suggested I hit up this place.  It wasn’t the best of food and it sure was pricey but ahh…it was pretty good and filling.  Something I am definitely looking forward to soon back in Cali.

Also, I went to a special outdoors screeIMG_3018ning event from the London Film Festival of short British movies based around transportation.  On paper, it doesn’t sound like much fun other than a giant screen in the middle of Trafalgar Square.   However, being there, it was pretty awesome.  Watching short movies under the fairly clear sky (at the time) with hundreds upon hundreds of other people huddled together with the sights of the National Gallery to the fountains and statues of the Square surrounding you is a sight worth standing for.  🙂  Just as cool was walking through downtown London at night, something I haven’t done since I’ve been here and it harkens back to Downtown New York with just the amount of people running about and the theaters and buildings looming over you.

But anyways, back to reading…

Read Full Post »

IMG_2916Much to my surprise, the weekend was more than welcome and necessary (although completely detrimental to my reading schedule which I am currently trying to catch up on after I update the blog).  The British Film Institute was holding their 53rd London Film Festival which already started on Wednesday with the UK premiere of Fantastic Mr. Fox and there were a lot of stars in attendance throughout the week with all the various films from George Clooney (who has an assload of films at the festival) to Viggo Mortensen.  This was all mainly taking place at Leicester Square, which is known to be pretty touristy but is a pretty cool area in terms of having a lot of premieres back to back.

Unfortunately for me, all the tickets were booked beforehand to the major films that I wanted to see.  Fortunately, I learned that there were stand-by queues for those who were willing to gamble their time and wait to see if there were any extra tickets available which is exactly what I did on both Saturday and Sunday.

IMG_2909Saturday, my target was on the movie, ‘The Road’ directed by John Hillcoat and starring Viggo Mortensen.  I got there about 40 minutes before showtime, a bit scared because I had never done a stand-by line for pretty much anything.  Also, it didn’t help that the line was labeled ‘Returns Queue.’  Much like a lot of other things in London, the line was a bit disorganized.  All the movies for that theater for stand-by tickets stood in the same darn queue.  Also, you had to be assertive and lucky since people cut in front of you and the man in charge of it all would say one thing (like, the tickets are sold out), only to be asked again and say there were more tickets.  The name of the game was twofold mainly.  One was to wait in line patiently and hope that the boxoffice has extra tickets (which they usually do).  The other is to hope that a person’s spouse or friend is sick and sells off a ticket.  For ‘The Road,’ it was the former and lucky too since it was quite the last minute that it happened.  Got in right as the movie started.  The great thing about British theaters is that in almost every theater I’ve been to, your seat is reserved.  Thank god.

(Note: I’ll be doing reviews hopefully by the end of the week for both movies I saw.)

‘The Road’ was a pretty good movie although I don’t think it will earn many accolades overall.  It did make a lot of audience members cry by the end though and is definitely a wonderful character piece between Viggo and the boy in the film, Kodi McPhee and just about really the human element of how it would be like in a post-apocalyptic environment.  The great thing was getting a quick Q&A session with Director Hillcoat who did give some cool insight into the movie and was a pretty cool guy overall as he explained about how they recreated the horrors of disasters like Katrina but seemed to really understand the focus and love he had for the characters and their interactions.

Another interesting thing to note that day was I got one of those wonderful ‘free hugs’ one sees on Youtube and other sites.  Needed it after such a depressing movie.  I had some terrible noodles and chicken though at a restaurant across from the theater.  Yuck.

IMG_2926Sunday, my target was the movie ‘Up in the Air’ directed by Jason Reitman and starring George Clooney as the headliner.  Here, I made sure to make it at least an hour in advance and lo and behold…it was a busy night since it was a big premiere (Clooney unfortunately didn’t show though).  Another unfortunate bummer was when I got in line, the theater bouncer said they only had 14 seats probably to get in and I was the 15th one.  My luck.  I know.  However, Lady Luck was on my side as a nice woman came up and offered to sell one of her tickets since her significant other could not make it.  I snatched it in a heartbeat and was not disappointed (along with the fact that I got front-row seats and free water/chocolate).

The movie is great and is currently my favorite movie of the year.  It just has so many great elements working together from the imagery to the editing to the acting and just a unique plot.  Director Reitman and two of the female leads, Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick were also there to introduce the film and take Q&A afterwards.  Reitman is a funny guy which makes sense, given his movies have a lot of satire and wit about them and really gave a pretty cool and down-to-earth insight into the whole process.  ‘Up in the Air’ was a film 6 years in the making in terms of just writing the screenplay which is crazy and he stated that this was probably his most personal film yet from the three he’s directed so far, ‘Thank You for Smoking’ and ‘Juno.’  For me, I’m still trying to juggle if I like ‘Up in the Air’ better than ‘Juno’ or vice versa.  Overall though, it was great.

Running back home, I bought a slice of pizza and munched it down quickly while running down the subway before it closed (unfortunately, the metro closes at midnight).  It was an interesting experience as I hadn’t done such traveling so late at night.  A bit scary admittedly, especially because I had to walk quite a ways because the closest metro stop was closed because the elevators were down.  However, I made it home safely with two great films in my head.  I plan to hopefully see two more before the festival ends in the next week and a half.

Now…about those darn readings…

Read Full Post »

Week 4 is slowly coming to a close already with a blur of a week although in reality, it feels like each day is going by so slowly because of the immense amount of paperwork and readings that we’re required to do for each class.

Some interesting points of the week:

IMG_2896-Being about a 40-minute walking distance from school really makes it tough to enjoy the activities on a daily basis.  There’s a lot of societies (clubs) that have meetings yet I’m already usually pretty burnt out by the end of classes to even attend any of them.  What I am thinking though is perhaps to focus on maybe one or two clubs and some volunteering to help keep my mind a bit more stress-free along with trying to learn the guitar.  However, another big factor into the lack of much activities out of school is also the sheer cost of everything.  I’m about to run out of my initial amount that I brought with me from the US and am about to hit what I transferred from bank-to-bank which means I really have to watch what I’m spending…what with the falling dollar amount and all.  It’s no joke when people say London is an expensive place to live.

Because of this, I’ve also been doing ‘The Office’ marathon sessions when I’m tired of reading.  I really loathe the fact that Hulu doesn’t work in the UK (neither does many other US-branded online material) so I’ve had to use streaming sites to make it all work.  However, it really has made me get back into certain TV shows and just some media in general to take a break without having to purchase much.

-My god, I realized how important the readings are to classes.  Because I was sick the prior week, I lagged on doing my readings and much of them were pretty dense (and unfortunately similar because all my classes this term have to deal with media/communications).  This led to me skimming over one of the readings and in that particular class…I had nothing to contribute with awkward silences and stares abound when it came to our group’s turn.  One thing people probably don’t know about me is that although I am a fairly social and friendly person, when it comes to these types of discussion topics…especially those in front of superiors that are professors and topics I have never really studied before…I go into a recluse type of state.  It’s something I know I need to work on in the coming weeks, especially to understand the material better and for eventual letters of recommendation.  Brilliant.

IMG_2904-London loves to rain/sprinkle randomly…usually at the worst times.  I was walking to the huge Tesco’s (the super-supermarket to buy all the small things like measuring spoons, etc.) and it’s about a 30-minute walk.  It just started pouring down on me halfway as I was returning.  Bloody hell.

-The London Film Festival started on Wednesday.  Unfortunately, I was reading some important material for the next day so I couldn’t attend the premiere of Mr. Fantastic Fox (George Clooney and cast/crew were all there).  I’m going to try to hit it up for a couple of films though soon such as for ‘Astro Boy’ to ‘The Road’ and hopefully get my film groove back on.  Unfortunately, 10-15 pounds for a film equates to about 20-25 dollars back at home…making me wary of watching films wholeheartedly.  Erg.  I’ll figure out something.

Overall, it was a week of a lot of studying and trying to figure out how to save money/budget time.  Hopefully, I’ll start to figure out how to have a bit more of a social life in doing this.  Still…technically 7 more weeks until I get to visit home for a little bit.  I wonder how much things have changed…(or haven’t…)…

Read Full Post »

Week 3: The Weekend

IMG_2891 With school really ramping up and a lot of expectations and work piling down, it has become hard to update with the same amount of energy I have surprisingly been putting into this blog.  But if you keep reading, I’ll keep posting.  🙂

So yea, I compiled the weekend together because to be honest, it was filled together with really only one thing…reading.  If you’re going to grad school soon or are just starting, I mean…it sounds so obvious yet really, it caught me a bit off guard just the amount there really is and probably because I’m taking an extra class this term to lighten up my next one a bit so writing the dissertation shouldn’t be as bad (hopefully).  I was also a bit behind because of how sick I was the past week and the late recovery made my reading load even worse.

I’ve been asked by a couple people that the subject matter should be interesting to me since I chose it as my focus and sure, that’s true…however, even reading a heavy load of your favorite topic can become a bit tedious or tough in the head, especially when all your classes revolve around it.  It’ll hopefully be something that’ll be easier to balance as time moves on though I hope.

IMG_2894Other interesting things that happened during the weekend include visiting the Borough Market again for some green curry with a lot of seafood for lunch.  It was not too shabby.  The Market really is a highlight just because of how fresh and tasty the food is compared to what I have everyday.  Haha.

Another interesting thing to note in the UK…I just got my debit card and discovered that voila…you can’t just slide it like back in the US when getting stuff.  It uses a keycard embedded within the card which you have to hold in a machine.  Much more inconvenient although safer I guess.

And I guess one final note is that things are getting better in terms of recovering from how sick I was and just getting used to traveling around London itself.  But as much as I may repeat it…there really is this sense of feeling this inherent sense of independence and aloofness you feel when walking and riding the subway.  Perhaps its the loneliness (and thinking about it, maybe no different when driving alone in a car back in California) but this really does bother me at times, and maybe why I feel so alone at times.  This is also perhaps why people come to London either married/with a longtime significant other or cling on so quickly to someone else for comfort especially at this age I’m at.  Haha…I’m not really intending this to be an emo ending yet its just an interesting, sociological observation that I feel many times when simply just traveling around.  Perhaps the incoming barrage of events/studies will mitigate it…perhaps not.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »