Tag Archives: UK

Thanksgiving Recipe 2014

London Thanksgiving Dinner
1 Portuguese
1 Australian
1 Briton
1 Irishman
1 Dutchwoman
1 American
8 supermarket trips
3 hours of cooking
5 Thanksgiving dishes (divided)
2 holiday candles
3 bottles of wine

Mix for 3 hours, stirring in 20 minutes’ worth of stories explaining the origin of Thanksgiving holiday and traditions (Optional: add 1/2 cup skepticism and a healthy dash of snark).

To make gluten-free or historically accurate, may substitute alternative Thanksgiving accounts.

Serve hot.

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The Making of Harry Potter: Warner Brothers Studio Tour

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At last: my birthday gift to me!

I laughed.

I cried.

(Well, nearly.)

And I wandered Leavesden Studios in a daze, remembering with fondness every moment of Harry Potter mania – the seven books, the midnight release parties, the costumes, fan fiction, and hushed spoiler whispers – and the anticipation of the films that brought the magic to life.IMG_1132IMG_1065On the Warner Brothers Studio Tour, eager fans (e.g. yours truly + Marijn, my trusty comrade in arms) can revel with abandon in the literary and cinematic masterpiece of fifteen years of Harry Potter – from the 1997 publication of the Philosopher’s Stone to the box set release of all eight films.

Props, sets, costumes, interviews, pranks and quirks, production secrets and behind-the-scenes gossip – soak it all in, children of all ages. The magic lives on. IMG_1124

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Field Notes | Walking to Strand Campus

Time: (morning rush)

8:30am – 9:30am (typical London workday is 9-5 or 10-6);shops generally open between 10 and 11am; larger chain restaurants open between 7 and 9am, smaller cafes and restaurants may not open until 10 or later)

People and Activities: (varied by area)

St Katherine’s Docks – sparsely populated, mostly men and women on their way to the Tower Hill Tube Station (business professionals) wearing suits or business-appropriate attire, assumed middle class, many taking personal calls on mobile phones, most walking alone, occasional solo runners, little interaction with others, restaurant staff setting up chairs & table settings for the day, short queue at the pop-up coffee vendor’s stall

Tower of London – largely tourists standing at rails to photograph the tower and each other; some professionals entering/leaving Tower Hill subway to access tube/train stations; generally benign, but occasionally brusque, interactions between the two as tourists stroll or stop and professionals attempt to hurry; tourists are primarily individuals, couples, or small family groups (no large, guided tours, no students); conversation primarily around the poppies for the WWI display in the Tower moat

Financial District – almost entirely business professionals streaming out of the tube station and toward their offices on the streets opposite; 2 charity canvassers attempt (rather unsuccessfully) to stop and chat with passers-by (myself included, though I too ignore them). Two men stand amidst the crowd handing out newspapers and another distributes fliers, presumably for a special taking place at the restaurant in which he works (he’s wearing a white apron); mostly white, middle class, English-speakers (those who speak at all) traveling alone or in pairs as they seem to have met up with a colleague along the way

St. Paul’s Cathedral – at this time in the morning, St. Paul’s is still rather quiet; business professionals walk by. Similar situation to St. Katherine’s Docks re:professionals and occasional runners; a few more family groups of tourists but again no large groups as it is still early

Fleet Street/Temple – greater number of young people around (whom I assume to be students) and more casually dressed business professionals; shops are beginning to open up, and tourists stand in small huddles on street corners consulting maps

General – Driving traffic is moderate, we are a bit past the morning rush by the time I enter the city; mainly cabs, buses, and personal vehicles but occasional construction trucks pass by; about two dozen cyclists pass along the way (from experience, this number would have been much greater earlier in the morning) and these seem to be young professionals, and predominantly white men (equal parts wearing jeans or cycling gear and suits; all carrying bags)

London from Primrose Hill

(photo cred: Dance For Your Daddy) - http://danceforyourdaddy.wordpress.com/2012/10/15/lets-take-a-cycle-to-primrose-hill-its-windy-there-and-the-views-so-nice/

A mid-run break this afternoon in Regent’s Park.

Waiting for Godot

“Have you not done tormenting me with your accursed time! It’s abominable! When! When! One day, is that not enough for you, one day he went dumb, one day I went blind, one day we’ll go deaf, one day we were born, one day we shall die, the same day, the same second, is that not enough for you? They give birth astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it’s night once more.” -Pozzo, Waiting for Godot, by Samuel Beckett

Time is a funny thing. A week can pass by in an instant and an instant can seem to take a week. In this rushed and busy city filled with rushed and busy people trying to keep one appointment before striding purposefully off to the next, time is always on the mind yet never considered.

There just never seems to be enough of it.

Last night a group of us went to see Samuel Beckett’s classic drama Waiting for Godot at The Cockpit Theatre in Marylebone. Just as Beckett himself intended, the play encouraged me to stop – for two hours – and ponder time. Time and existence and sanity and boredom and human rights and striated society and companionship… But mostly time.

As I have felt overwhelmed by the speed of time’s passage these last few weeks, it was refreshing to be afforded a chance to pause and reflect.

“We have time to grow old. The air is full of our cries. But habit is a great deadener.” – Vladimir

Without a place of my own until this week, I have struggled to develop routine – that great structure to which I cling for calm and comfort – and yet I am grateful for the spontaneity that six weeks of wandering has offered. I am grateful for London theatre and friends who will invite me along. I am grateful to be in a rushed and busy city, but too, I am grateful for my flat that offers me a degree of sanity and security. I would hate to wait for Godot night after night after night.

“Nothing happens. Nobody comes, nobody goes. It’s awful.” – Estragon

Authenticity

“I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”

Many will recognise the cadence and application of these words, yet among the greatest human debates – following ‘why am I here?’ and ‘is there a god?’ – is the question of what is truth. As some have argued, truth is merely that which is perceived by each individual, thus allowing even conflicting stories and fantastic mythologies all to be ‘true’. There’s some philosophy for your morning coffee.

Nowhere does the truth debate shine more strongly than in the criminal courtroom. There, truth is on trial, even more than the accused.

Take, for instance, the murder trial of Amanda Knox. A British university student named Meredith Kercher was found dead in her room on 1 November 2007 and her flatmate Amanda stands accused. Beyond those two undeniable points, the story gets muddled, the facts conflict, and characters feature or fade depending on which version of truth is on the witness stand.

The intrigue surrounding the trial is perhaps more true than the murder case itself, and that is exactly what director Michael Winterbottom and writer Paul Viragh attempt to portray in their upcoming film The Face of an Angel.

Theirs is a true story.

The script follows the character of Thomas, a Hollywood film director trying to produce a film about the Amanda Knox trial. He begins with a book released by a Rome-based journalist who has been covering the trial. Here the viewer begins the ultra-meta journey of the director and writer themselves. The book and its author actually exist and they served as the starting point for this film script. Thus the viewers watch Thomas, embodying Michael, ‘the director’, watching the journalists, ‘the media’, watching the court case, ‘the instrument of truth and justice’, continuing on through a rabbit hole collection of perspectives – the boyfriend, the eerie landlord/blogger, the disengaged English art student, the family of the accused, the family of the victim, the slew of witnesses, the lawyers, the Hollywood production team, Thomas’ family in Los Angeles, and on and on.

Each presents a true angle. More importantly, each wants Thomas to select his own angle by which to approach the script and make it digestible to audiences seeking the truth. Thomas (Michael and Paul) struggles to reconcile that there may be many truths or none at all. His version of the trial story will be but another ‘true’ perception, a presentation with all the supporting frills and emotional appeal to make it marketable to the blockbuster world.

The Face of an Angel may be one of the most authentic (if one can use the term) trial portrayals: a critique on media and presentation and, I would argue, our understanding of truth itself, the film is a story of love and loss. It is not for everyone – a bit of a self-indulgent mindfuck – but nonetheless fascinating, beautifully made, and a reminder that the jury is still out on the truth question.

On the speed of life

It must be said that however much I craved a faster pace of daily life whilst in Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Lesotho, and even South Africa, London has far surpassed my expectations in the sheer speed of time. Despite a slow, frustrating beginning – as the housing search dragged on and on without success – each hour has shortened and my diary is suddenly filled with events, classes, meetings, and the incessant readings required by my course.

So although few were likely curious about my absence from the Menace these past several weeks, and even fewer truly concerned, I can announce that I am indeed alive and well. And I look forward to a return to relative normalcy on Sunday as I finally move to my own flat (no more couchsurfing!), re-start training for an upcoming 10K, and settle into life in London.

Time flies when you’re having fun, or so they say, but here it seems to fly by whether you’re paying attention or not. No fun-having required.