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Archive for November, 2009

An early post? Yes. I’m leaving for the US in the next 24 hours so I decided London-wise, this is technically the end of the week so to speak.  The other crazy part to note is that there is only 2 more weeks left.  Yikes.  Study-wise, the course has been enlightening albeit frustrating many times with piles of readings that sometimes never make sense.  However, I wanted to make a specific post about it and I guess how it’s all affected me up to this point…another day perhaps?  Since the week was so short, as well, (and it’s getting pretty late), I also thought that this post should be (and is because of lack of material) short as well.  So sorry.  More to come next week most likely.

-Visiting the Rich Parts of Town: London like any urban city has many sections to it from the more suburban-y parts to the poorer sections to the open markets.  Knightsbridge/Mayfair are the two areas that I haven’t been to yet that are really REALLY for the upper-class.  Sprawling old buildings refitted inside with the most modern of technology and class…they make nearly any student feel completely impoverished.  There was a table, for instance, at Selfridges was…take a guess…about 8000 pounds. What in bloody hell?  A chair at the mega-market Harrod’s was…800 pounds. Geesh louise.  And I thought the exchange rate was bad enough but these items (which sprawl the several floors and several hundred acres of market space) are astounding.  But it also gave me a chance to view the upper class of London (as well as being forced to take off my backpack and ‘carry it around’…wacky).  They are quite a different bunch which I haven’t seen as much of in the areas I’ve been to with a bit of a deeper accent and always looking the part.  It was definitely an experience.

-Gordon Ramsay: What was the better part of the week, though, amidst the constant rain and studying was going to a book signing that Mr. Ramsay was holding at the Selfridges & Co. store.  The queue itself was about an hour and a half wait from where I was standing (about the halfway point oddly enuogh) and he was supposed to be gone in 2 1/2 hours so I was fortunate to have caught him.  The greatest part about it was that he really took time to shake your hand, look you in the face, and have a small chat with you.  Anyone who has watched any of his programming other than ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ knows he’s a friendly and funny guy when he’s not in the kitchen trying to fix something or yell at someone.  We had a fun conversation about it being Thanksgiving tomorrow and about his program ‘the F Word’ and even though it was only for a short moment, it wasn’t like a very detached experience…it was very personal and enjoyable.  Cheers Mr. Ramsay.  My respect for you has increased tenfold. 🙂

Happy Thanksgiving (since we don’t celebrate it in London) and see you in a week.

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Yes…Week 9 truly was the Week of Random.  When all your major events happen during the week rather than the weekend in London, you know something is up. Hehe.  Let’s begin:

-Monday: Monday was fairly normal, except for the fact that I won tickets to see Rihanna perform at the O2 Brixton Academy.  Heh.  Things were a bit hectic though.  The original idea was to go straight to the Academy to get our tickets/wristbands/etc. yet the morning of, all the contest winners were told we needed to go to the PR (or whatever the contest hosts) actual offices, which was located in the opposite direction before heading to the show.  Note, this had to be done all in the matter of a few hours since I also had to attend class and have my friend assist me.  All in all, though, it all worked out and came together in the end and we headed to Brixton.  Before going to the show site, we stopped by a great little market row that reminded me of (what I can recollect) were the market rows of Korea or Hong Kong (like in the movies).  There was a pizzeria there called Franco Manco with delicious Italian-styled pizza on sourdough bread.  Very good stuff with a glass of wine to boot.

Soon afterward, we headed to queue up outside the theater.  There was a fairly big-sized crowd there, which I believe, is made up of all contest winners.  My friend and I realized this really was made out to be a huge publicity blowout for Rihanna, as the concert was also streamed live online at the same time and heavily advertised through Twitter.  There was even a pretty good Rihanna look-a-like that the crowd gawked at before we went in.  One other thing to note, Brixton was super strict about everything.  Not only was their search of your body (body pat) and bags thorough, they threw out bottles and gum packs immediately without you saying anything.

The actual theater is also nice.  The audience area was intimate yet still fairly spacious, at least 3-4 bars lined up the downstairs area, and the stage had a nice big vertical look to it.  The stage was strewn with mannequins and television sets and the pre-show was a DJ duo streaming out a lot of electronica hits.  The actual concert, in my opinion, was pretty dang awesome.  Rihanna came out of an elevator from a trapdoor on the stage, the props moved and the television sets had images streaming in a bevy of aural and visual goodness.  It was all very glamorized as a spectacle and didn’t disappoint at all.  Especially when she sang her new songs (only 2-3 from what I could discern), she worked hard to make them sound good and put some interesting visual references to them as well like a rotating chair with a wine glass in the middle of the stage for ‘Russian Roulette’ for instance.  Although the new songs were definitely different in sound (much edgier and dark), they’ve grown on me since the concert.  There were also some special guests that appeared from Young Jeezy (for his rap on the new song ‘Hard’) and Jay-Z for ‘Run this Town’.  Quite cool.  I’ll put up some of the Facebook vids on here soon after.  The concert ended with ‘Umbrella’ in a shower of red confetti and some of the audience members actually holding umbrellas up.  It was a great way to end with the crowd pumped up and Rihanna seeming like she’s back in form.  It was all a little short, but for being 40 minutes and free with that much content packed in (literally non-stop), it’s hard to complain.

-Wednesday: Wednesday night, a group of us Globals went to celebrate one of our program student’s birthday, first at a pub (Shakespeare’s Head) and then went to go watch ‘We Will Rock You.’  I’m not the biggest musical guy since they’re usually pretty pricey but admittedly, this one is probably one of the weirder ones I’ve watched so far.  Its a musical with music from the group ‘Queen’ and about the future when rock died and everyone literally became clones of each other.  Plot-wise, the story gets wackier and wackier until it becomes pretty silly (which the characters acknowledge).  The main attraction is the music which was pretty good overall.  Fun and something to rock out to.  Admittedly, my favorite character had to be the trenchcoat villain with sunglasses.  Gnarly.

-Thursday: Thursday, I applied for a contest on Twitter to win tickets to go ice skating for free next to the Natural History Museum.  I actually won.  What I didn’t know was it was going to be on the same day I applied for tickets.  Yay for me.  It was unluckily a busy day though filled with meetings for presentation prep for the following week and long hours of stats.  Also unlucky was that I had a +1 guest and had to make a last minute call-up.  Luckily, one of my friends was able to tag along and so we went.  The ice rink was small but because it was made up of mostly contest winners, it was very chill.  Also, I realized that even though I haven’t been ice skating in…what really seems like years, I could skate pretty consistently.  It was also really neat to be skating in such a great atmosphere.  It wasn’t raining, was just crisp enough, skating around Christmas lights and next to a beautiful, historic museum and with a good crowd.  Couldn’t really ask for anything better except for to be around even more friends.

-Weekend: The rest of the weekend consisted of souvenir hunting (much harder than one thinks in London since all the typical souvenirs are so…similar, in all the shop, :/) and a lot of studying/presentation prep for the following week.  I did get to visit Oxford St. twice which was neat…a huge line of shops and stuff.  I also got to eat at two fantastic places, Patisserie Valerie, a French bakery/casual restaurant which smelled oh so good (food itself was ok) and a fantastic little place called the Carlton Coffee House.  It had some amazingly good coffee and some fantastic, filling pasta (and soups) to mix in with it.  Was definitely the highlight of the weekend.

Less than 7 days to go…:)

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Yea, it’s been a couple weeks already but I’m finally getting somewhat of a chance (late at night) to finish these reviews that I watched at the London Film Festival.  I’m really proud of the ‘Up in the Air’ review as I felt that one touched me the most out of all the films and worked hard and spent some extra time cleaning and revising that one.  Two more reviews coming up hopefully before the month ends.  Enjoy!

‘A Serious Man’ Review: http://collegetimes.us/%E2%80%98a-serious-man%E2%80%99-an-utterly-insane-yet-profound-dark-comedy/


 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Up in the Air’ Review: http://collegetimes.us/%E2%80%98up-in-the-air%E2%80%99-a-witty-and-demanding-modern-day-film/

 

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Just a small video of the fireworks I mentioned in the prior post on Saturday. 🙂 A little blurry because its through my window and covered a bit by trees.

http://www.facebook.com/v/818633095611

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Ah…what a contrast of weeks.  This week has been much more chill albeit hectic weather-wise.  I’ll try to recollect as much as I can…

IMG_3294-The weather this week was nasty.  Lots of rain almost every day and gusting winds (especially on Saturday) made it a chore to be able to walk around anywhere.  The ways the streets are sometimes and the buildings, the walkways become like wind tunnels and it is a pain to try to make it to the Tube or home as the wind throws you around a bit and smacks you in the face.  Umbrellas aren’t much help either as they break at the might of the wind.  Again…its a fun experience the first time but a bit of a pain the second and fourth and ninth time. Heh.

-Monday was the Covent Garden Xmas Lighting Ceremony.  Much different than the Oxford St. one, this one was a bit more elaborate and intimate with a Christmas Carolers, a light show, free mince pies (delicious and fattening), and best of all, fake snow (more like soap duds flying in the sky but nevertheless, fairly cool).  It was a nice event and Covent Garden is a such a ritzy area with a lot of high-class stores and random goodies along with a reindeer petting station, a giant Christmas tree, and more.  For me, it ranked a bit higher than the Oxford one just because it was cooler overall even without the star power.

-Thursday was another film society meeting…the film was ‘The Deal.’  Its like a prequel to ‘The Queen’ about Gordon Brown and Tony Blair (played again by Michael Sheen whose gonna also be in the upcoming ‘Twilight’ movie oddly enough).  It was…an interesting movie that talked about their friendship and falling out in their rise to power and the ‘deal’ they made.  A bit dated admittedly and very corny/over-dramatized but insightful and interesting to see all the intricacies of British politics and their background.

IMG_3322-God…speaking of Thursday, it was like the worst bad karma day ever.  It started out with the Underground subway lagging so much.   Got me late to my first class pretty badly and not a good way to impress the professor at all.  The fun day continued with me buying a hot chocolate and then going into a store and having the door slam quickly on my hand and me spilling the hot chocolate all over my hand and some of my jacket/umbrella.  (You have to note, in London, most of the doors are fire doors…they are harder to open and close quickly after you do.  It sucks).  Then at the film society meeting, I try to open the Coke bottle and it explodes on me…spilling more liquids all over me and all over the floor.  Brilliant.  This was also one of the days the wind/rain combined into a fun ride home with people coughing everywhere on the Tube and to add insult to injury, me slipping while walking up the escalator.  I realized Friday was the 13th but man…it came a day early.  😦

-Friday was a nice day though.  It still rained and wind was till fairly bad but this was the day I finally…bought a GUITAR.  I found lessons through a connection with a band member in a society (a little complex I know) but yea…it was cool.  I found out that there was a street littered with small music shops near Tottenham Court which was pretty nice to see and so my teacher and I picked out a guitar and figured out lesson times and stuff.  Was pretty sweet overall.

IMG_3302-Saturday…was supposed to be eventful with an event called the Lord Mayor’s Show, a big parade and procession ceremony for the newly elected Lord Mayor (in spandex and old school clothing) along with a huge fireworks show afterwards on the River Thames.  However, Saturday also equated to just a huge wind storm and flash flood advisory warnings that had me stay indoors instead.  Also, the BBC reported the fireworks were cancelled but I looked out my window at 7pm and lo and behold, a huge fireworks display near the River was  being cast. Damn. Interestingly enough, the night ended up being a pub crawl with a friend to three different local pubs.  Three pints were a lot heavier than I thought (my tolerance still must be pretty weak).  These two international students came up to us at the last pub and had us take them to a nearby club (and then bar because the club was too crowded) since we kinda knew the area but we went home after ‘dropping’ them off. [Ah…an awesome addition…about one of the older, local pubs.  Saw a guy playing the accordion and a gal playing the clarinet with no music and just played on and on as background music.  Definitely a London moment. :)]

But yea…that’s about it.  Seeing Rihanna in a private concert on Monday.  That should be…interesting at the very least. 😛 Cheers.

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Thought this would be a nice break from all the writing and reading.  First up is the Covent Garden Christmas Lighting Ceremony.  Second is an old vid I took back my first week of a street performer dancing to Billy Jean. Cheers:

http://www.facebook.com/v/816301912321

http://www.facebook.com/v/796972129361

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So yea…it’s been one hellish week in which the ‘hell’ hasn’t exactly ended with a lot of readings and essays to go.  To be blunt, I’m just being lazy and could have finished them a bit earlier than this.  I also could’ve finished the blog earlier but have been addicted to a new ‘stranger’ online program.  Will update more on that some other time…

-So yea…our hell week, which I think I described before, is underway.  3 essays due on one day doesn’t seem too bad but with hundreds of pages to go through in terms of research from past readings and just trying to make an essay after a year’s break is a bit harder than it sounds.

-Of course, eveIMG_3184n though its hell week, I still have to go out and do something right?  This week was the Christmas lighting ceremonies in three places, Regent St., St. Paul’s, and Oxford St. which Londoners make a big deal out of.  They seem to get a celebrity (this year, they tied it in with A Christmas Carol premiere) to push the button to light up the ceremony while hundreds of people stand around watching.  This year they got Jim Carrey to do the honors.  A group of us went to the one at Oxford St. while another went to St. Paul’s.  Admittedly, even with all the glitz and glamor with the concerts and many people, it was a little underwhelming in terms of the Christmas lights.  However…I had to note that probably…there were more all around the city…just had to keep a better eye out for it.  It was pretty cool though seeing Jim Carrey there doing the ceremony along with Colin Firth and Bob Hoskins on video.

We also got to stop the by ‘ChrisIMG_3231tmas Carol’ premiere in which they did a huge freakin’ transformation of Leicester Square…the touristy spot where they seem to do all the premiers.  This seemed to be the worldwide premiere as they transformed the park into like a mini Central Park from New York with fake snow, Christmas carolers, and lots of fake trees with all the stars walking through.  However, they didn’t let anyone really see the park from the outside…which is pretty dumb in my opinion.  Jim Carrey and most of the other crew also seemed to beat us to the punch (somehow) and all we got to see were celebrities from X Factor (the UK version, sort of, of American Idol).  Still, pretty cool overall.  I got to try out my second official Chinese food place too which was pretty good…Golden Dragon.  Seemed like the Triad were there with the ghetto second floor but otherwise, it was cool.

-The other big thing was probably going to see My Beautiful Launderette, an early movie of London which had Daniel Day Lewis playing a gay friend of a Pakistani.  Quite fascinating if not a bit fanatical.  This was also the first ‘club’ meeting I finally got a chance to go to.  It’s tough with all the readings and work to make time for these things.

IMG_3193-The other big thing this week was Guy Fawkes Day.  If you watched ‘V for Vendetta,’ you probably remember the poem ‘Remember, remember, the 5th of November…’ and in the UK, it’s actually celebrated with bonfire parties and fireworks all weekend long starting from Thursday.  Pretty neat.  I saw some walking back home but because of the work…might have to delay watching any fireworks till the following weekend when there is another big parade/thing going on.  That’s the nice part about London I suppose…always something going on in every street corner.  🙂  2 and a half weeks left though too when I get a nice weekend break.  Cheers.

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