Archive | November, 2004
November 27, 2004

Thanksgiving in London

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Celebrating Thanksgiving in a foreign country…felt kind of odd, but it was a lot of fun. We had this potluck where we all brought a dish of some sort, but since I can’t cook I provided the rolls, butter, soda, and assisted with the desert. While we were making baked apples (recipe courtesy of jailbird Martha Stewart) the fire alarm went off and the entire dorm had to evacuate. During the incident I was thinking, oh God, been there, done that (sophomore year at GW) but it turned out that the dorm administration had decided to do a fire drill (yeah, great timing to do a fire drill…while a bunch of Americans were slaving away in their kitchens…on second thought, maybe the Brits did it on purpose). When it came time for dinner, there was plenty of food for the 12 of us (and ironically, there were only a few Americans, so we had to do a bit of explaining about the Mayflower, Pilgrims and Indians, yada, yada). We had an 18 pound turkey, which, according to the people in charge of cooking the turkey, was quite hard to find…they had to call around to a bunch of supermarkets, and when they finally found one it was a whopping 18lb. Of course, we had all the regular sides: stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, cranberries, and vegetable curry (ha, traditional Thanksgiving dish…the curry was quite good with the turkey…might have to use that in the future instead of gravy). We had some various desserts, ice cream, and wine…lots of wine. Finally got home at 2am…good times.

So Friday was the biggest shopping day of the year back in the US. Lame. Ironically, that day I came across this billboard in my neighborhood, which pretty much sums up my thoughts on “Black Friday.” The text of the billboard, which you can’t see due to the glare, says “Who really does a ‘spot’ of shopping anyway?”

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Agreed.

November 20, 2004

Colin Firth as James Bond?

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Colin Firth would consider Bond:

Colin Firth is done being Bridget Jones’ nice guy, but he’s not against donning British agent 007’s tuxedo.

“At the moment, I can’t think of anything I would be less attracted to,” says Firth about the possibility of a third ‘Bridget Jones’ film.

However, the 44-year-old actor tells Entertainment Weekly magazine that he’d seriously consider taking over the James Bond franchise from Pierce Brosnan.

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I vote Yes.

Getaway 2: Black Monday for PS2 – I must buy this…the Tate Modern is in the game, so my dorm has to be there…would love to run around Sumner street and steal one of the black taxis waiting to pick up tourists…and then drive over Blackfriar’s bridge towards LSE…ah, video games, how I miss thee!

November 14, 2004

Weekend of culture

After walking by the Tate Modern museum every day since I’ve been here, I finally decided that I should go inside and check it out. After visiting, all I really have to say is that modern art is, umm, weird. One of the “pieces of art” that was on display was a urinal. I kid you not, it was a urinal that was signed by the artist and put in a glass display case. So I figure that now all I have to do is perhaps find some ordinary object, sign my name to it, and sell it for some money, and there you have it, LSE is paid for! Anyways, there were some actual pieces of art – Picasso, Monet, Andy Warhol, etc, and there was an entire room full of Soviet propaganda posters (sweet). There was a cool exhibit called “Scrapheap Services” – a sort of anti-Thatcher piece. Quite eery actually – a white room with mannequins in red uniforms sweeping paper cutouts of people, while TVs ramble on about Scrapheap Services (check the link for more).

Went to Borough Market on Saturday for some fresh fruit and lunch. Took some pictures and uploaded them so my comrades can see the area I live in…shots of Borough Market, the hideout that was in “Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels”, and the Globe Tavern that Bridget Jones “lives” above (be sure to see “Bridget Jones: Edge of Reason” if you were a fan of the first movie…it’s pretty funny, and it has Hugh Grant and Colin Firth, so how can it be bad?)


Watched more fireworks on Saturday night…they were being shot off a barge on the Thames, not far from Blackfriar’s bridge…what is with the British and fireworks? They are obsessed!

That’s about it…another week of classes start tomorrow.

I’m flying back to the US on December 11th…can’t wait to enjoy some sunshine, warm temperatures, and good food (specifically, Mexican and In-N-Out…like I said before, British beef sucks!)

November 11, 2004

Big Brother wants you to pay for your damn TV licence

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When you purchase a television in the U.S., you can get a few of the basic channels without having to pay. Well, not in the UK. In order to watch the basic channels (ie, BBC), you have to buy a TV licence for �121 (around $224) per year. When you purchase a TV here, you give your details (name and address) to the retailer, who is required by law to provide that info to the TV licence cops (or whatever they are called). Supposedly, they drive around in vans that can pick up some sort of signal and give your door a knock if they think you are using a TV without a licence. Weird, huh?

So everyone in my dorm got this letter and door hanger that threatens us to pay for a TV licence OR ELSE! Funny thing is, I don’t have a TV, but whatever.

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They have an interesting advertising campaign, too…quite Orwellian, actually. Almost every bus has an ad on the side that says “What will you have to sacrifice to pay the �1,000 fine?” and “WE HAVE A DATABASE OF EVERY HOME WITHOUT A TV LICENCE. JUST SO YOU KNOW.” Personally, my favorite one is “If you don’t pay for your TV licence, we will kill you and stick your head on a pike just like we did to Sir Thomas More. Bastard thought he could pirate BBC. WE SHOWED HIM.”
COME AND GET ME TV LICENCE COPPERS!

And in other news, the LSE student government is exactly like their ridiculous American counterparts…
Student elections were last week and one of the positions up for election was “Honorary Vice-President.” Winston Churchill (yes, the deceased Prime Mininster) was elected, but his “victory” was declared unconstitutional because he allegedly said some disparaging comments about Palestines and Jews in 1919, thus violating the Student Union’s “Equal Opportunities Policy.” This incident made the front page of the school newspaper and was even worthy enough to garner an Op-Ed. All I have to say is: What…the…hell? I thought GW student politics were asinine, but LSE wins, hands down. First off, an honorary VP? WTF??? And Winston Churchill as honorary VP? WTF??? Yeah, I’m sure his biographers will be sure to dedicate an entire chapter regarding his honorary vice-presidency at the LSE! And a huge uproar over Winston Churchill as honorary VP? WTF??? Don’t these people have more important things to legislate about? Like, for instance, the fact that my dorm restaurant does not have Heinz ketchup (but has Heinz mustard and Heinz tartar sauce). I’m getting sick of this watered down ketchup…BRING ME HEINZ!

Oh, by the way, the only candidate “running” for honorary president was Margaret Thatcher, but she lost to RON (re-open nomination). Haha.

Also, check out Queen is exposed to Highland game.

November 7, 2004

Remember, remember the fifth of November, gunpowder, treason and plot…

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I see no reason why gunpowder treason
should ever be forgot
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes,
’twas his intent
to blow up the King and the Parliament.
Three score barrels of powder below,
Poor old England to overthrow:
By God’s providence he was catch’d
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, make the bells ring.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!
Hip hip hoorah!
A penny loaf to feed the Pope.
A farthing o’ cheese to choke him.
A pint of beer to rinse it down.
A faggot of sticks to burn him.
Burn him in a tub of tar.
Burn him like a blazing star.
Burn his body from his head.
Then we’ll say ol’ Pope is dead.
Hip hip hoorah!
Hip hip hoorah!

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Guy Fawkes!

For the past week, fireworks have been lighting up the skies of London. I though that us Americans loved fireworks, but the British take the cake on this one. I swear to God, I could look out my window between 6-10pm any night this past week and see 2-3 fireworks shows (and “shows” could be taken as private citizens who are setting them off, mind you) going on. Weird.

So last night some friends and I went to Battersea Park for Bonfire Night. What is Bonfire Night, you ask? Well, it is held on the night of November 5th (or, as in our case, November 6th) all across the UK to commemorate the failure of Guy Fawkes to blow up Parliament in 1605:

The Gunpowder Plot of 1605 involved a desperate but failed attempt by a group of provincial English Catholic extremists to kill King James I of England, his family, and most of the Protestant aristocracy in one fell swoop by blowing up the Houses of Parliament during the State Opening.Wikipedia

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Guy Fawkes trying to blow up Parliament! OMG!

The British celebrate this night by throwing an effigy of Guy Fawkes into the fire (and sometimes the Pope, that dirty Catholic!), watching fireworks, and, of course, drinking beer.

We spent our time at Battersea Park staring at a huge bonfire (oooh…fiiiire) and eating burgers, chips, and candy floss (aka cotton candy). The fireworks were supposed to start at 8pm, but we were first subjected to an incredibly odd giant angel figure that was attached to a crane and dancing to the music of Tim Burton (how you can dance to Tim Burton is beyond me, but whatever). I knew I wasn’t the only person watching this and thinking, “WTF, chap?” because the dancing angel was met with resounding boos from the crowd of thousands. The firework show started, and the booing was replaced with “OOOOOOH” and “AHHHHH.” I must say that the fireworks were really quite impressive, and perhaps even better than most 4th of July displays in the US. And all of this to commemorate a failed terrorist attack! It boggles the mind….

I was disappointed, though, that there was no effigy of Guy Fawkes thrown into the fire! WHAT IS THE POINT OF GUY FAWKES NIGHT IF YOU DO NOT THROW GUY FAWKES INTO THE FIRE??? Must I remind you of your traditions!? Fire safety be damned, I want to see an effigy thrown into the fire! Actually, I was waiting for some disgruntled Brits to throw a Bush or Blair effigy into the fire, as I’ve heard happened last year. It would have been fun to dance around a giant bonfire while some straw stuffed effigy with a Bush mask slowly went up in flames. Alas, it didn’t occur!

I took some pictures last night but I’m lazy. I’ll upload them someday…

November 1, 2004

Weather / McVitie’s / Market Hopping / Etc.

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Weather
The weather here has been surprisingly nice. Temps have been in the 50s and 60s range, but the people here dress like they are expecting a snowstorm…it’s quite odd. Sometimes I will still wear my flip flops and a light sweatshirt, whereas the people on the street are wearing coats, beanies, scarves, etc…something is seriously wrong when the Californian is not cold, and the rest of the population appears to be…

McVitie’s Biscuits

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I must give some well deserved praise to McVitie’s chocolate biscuits. Oh, McVitie’s how I adore thee! Combined with a cup of tea, you make that long article on Soviet nomenklatura much more bearable! Anyways, McVitie’s biscuits rule, AND THEY ARE APPROVED BY HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN, so they have to be great, right?

Market Hopping
Went to Borough Market again, and had a steak sandwich (very good) and a “world famous” brownie that was sold to me by an employee in a “BREAD NOT BOMBS” apron (cute). Bought a bag of delicious apples for 1.50.

Afterwards, we went to Camden Market, which is a random mix of designer knock offs, up and coming artists, food stands, crafts, vintage clothing (it was weird to see a “BOY SCOUT TROOP #843” sweater and “WAL-MART LUBE CENTER” work shirt for sale), and enough goth products to make a Hot Topic employee envious. They had a lot of cool sneakers there. I think I’m going to buy a pair someday…Kat is going to make fun of me now. I had a burrito there at a “Mexican” stand. It was pretty good, but it’s the first burrito I’ve ever had with mixed peas and cut up green beans inside. I miss you, Las Casuelas…

My Office Depot training fails me
So, I had a stupid customer moment a few days ago. I was on campus making some copies of articles I have to read, and like a true idiot, I forgot to take out the staple before I placed it in the copy machine’s automatic document feeder. Hilarity ensues as the machine attempts to copy the 25 page document that is stapled together. Paper was all crumpled up and stuck in the machine. It only took 30 seconds to clear out, but I am ashamed that after working at Office Depot for 5 months, I did such a stupid thing. I hope the God of Office Supplies forgives me.

That’s all for now…time for Russian class.