Wednesday, November 23, 2011


There are SO MANY free museums in London, it's dizzying.
I am just going to list all the ones I liked enough to recommend to other people. In no order. If/when you find yourself in London, visit a few. They're first-class.

1. The Victoria and Albert. First place I ever went in London. It is my favorite museum here. Design, art, all things beautiful. HUGE.
2. The Tate Britain. British art through the centuries.
3. The Tate Modern.
4. The National Portrait Gallery.
5. The Natural History Museum
6. The Geffrye Museum. Interiors of houses.
7. The Wallace Collection. This is the most ornate museum I've ever been to. Incredible. They have an impressive armor and weaponry collection.
8. The Museum of London. Rather trippy to look at things from Roman London, Medieval London, Elizabethan London, Victorian London, London Now, and think, "this is all layered under my very feet."
9. The British Museum. Similar to the V&A.
10. The Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood. Cute. creepy in places. Culturally very interesting.

That's all for now. I gotta do homework. Finals, yo. Later.

Monday, November 21, 2011

I hath the Sneezles.

by dose id thtuffy.

Yesh, I am still here, still doing my homework. In fact, that's mostly what I did all weekend. Aren't you proud. There's not been a lot to report lately: lingering cold-in-the-head nastiness, lots of sleeping. Being a hermit, getting the finals work donezo. It's sort of nice.
Not a lot of exploring going on tho. I have to remind myself I am not here primarily to explore absolutely everything, because 1. that's impossible. London is Bigger On The Inside. 2. I am here for school. School before exploring. Soon enough, school will be through, and all I intend to do is Christmas shop, make things, explore, and sleep.

I seem to go in shifts anyway. Be a hermit for a week, be a gypsy for a week. that be how I like it. Variety. Hopefully I'll do some exploring today: I have a self-directed museum visit as one of my last bits of homework for dear old HCFS.
HOW DIFFICULT. actually, choosing a museum is much more difficult than you would think.

thag you veddy buch.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Are you hungry? Because you're about to be.

Today, I took myself to Borough Market. It is supposed to be one of the best food markets in Europe.
I concur.
I went when I was hungry. DO NOT DO THAT.
it is pleasant torture. I ended up snacking upon a pain au chocolat with almond paste. om. nom.

There was curry.

And greenie veggies, and bread, and those BROWNIES. and meat, and mushrooms, and olives, and EVERYTHING. and Turkish Delight. the guy selling it was hilarious "Hey, good looking, come here." *gives me a sample*. Boy was that delicious.

PUFFY DOGGIE. i petted him. he was friendly and fuzzy.
I am not sure what the occasion was for bearded turbaned man to look so serious, but he held that face for a good minute. hence the good picture.

And then on the way home, which was more convoluted than we will go into, because half the Tube was out of commission.....there was this epic traffic jam. The bus sat on that street for a solid 45 minutes. See the dude in the white shirt? he hopped out, lit a cigarette, smoked it, talked to his friend, and then they hopped back in the bus.
Ha, and when his friend threw his litter all the way across the road, white-shirt guy goes and gets it, and presumably threw it away properly.

I'm never ever bored here.

But now I have a sinus infection, BUT i am going to a car-boot sale tomorrow.
good times. good night.

Friday, November 11, 2011

CASTLES. and shakespeare. Who may not have existed. (read on.)

so history. Lots of it. Warwick…hwere to starrrt. At the beginning.
Before I even got to my lodgings, I walked past/photographed the church where J.R.R. Tolkien got married, a lovely little Catholic church.

No. let’s start with the best thing.
You’re about to learn things. Things they don’t tell you in history class.

Because it would be too complicated.

You know, they say Shakespeare was not Shakespeare. He could have been many people, or that could have been a pseudonym. There are many candidates, I will not list them all. Elizabeth I is one of them. But all those possibilities save one don’t hold water. That one is Faulke Greville, former Earl of Warwick and once an inhabitant of Warwick Castle. Here is the case for his possible genius. Make your own call. It sparked my interest.

Warwick is near Stratford on Avon. There is proof that William Shakespeare met Faulke. Shakespeare left only a bed and a modest amount of money in his will. No writing desk. No inkwell. No documents. None of that.

Elizabeth I summoned Shakespeare to come to her court three times. He never showed once.

There is no record of Shakespeare attending his own plays. Faulke Greville attended them all.

There are numerous verbal clues, hidden in the jargon of that time, hinting that Shakepeare was not what he appeared, and even that he was Faulke. I don’t remember the specifics. Look it up if you like.

The wealthy and famous in that time had portraits painted to show their importance. The only portrait of Shakespeare was drawn 13 years after his death.

And here is the thing that made me wonder. In an ancient church in Warwick, Faulke Greville is buried. Or is he? His grave began to crack some time ago. It was X-rayed to find why it was cracking.

There is no body in the grave. Just boxes lined with lead. What did they store in boxes lined with lead?

Documents. His grave contains no body, only boxes filled with documents.

Makes you wonder, hey? Here’s the kicker: The Greville family line is still around. The woman who calls the shots with regard to the grave?
She doesn’t want the grave opened. But she’s ill.

The next in line? He/she wants to open it.

Pull it open, man. Let’s get the truth. After all, wouldn’t it be something to find an unsung literary genius after 500 years?

Well now, there were other things. Like Lord Leycester’s Hospital, which has nothing to do with medicine, rather, it is a place for retired servicemen to live. It is basically a beautiful quaint Tudor building complex. Like a fool, I had no camera. Pride and Prejudice was partly filmed there, if that gives you any idea. Look it up.

Here's the mean truth about photos. I have them, obviously. Not from that jaunt. They are here, on my compy. But uploading them is a PAIN. I may post them separately, I may put them on Facebook when I get home.(in fact, i think that'll be my London-sick fix) I may even show them to you personally if you wish. But I hate always having a camera. It ruins things sometimes. Tough beans. I will post some. But not all.

I'm going to flirt with verbal description for awhile.
The oak beams in this Lord Leycester place were older than America.
GET YOUR HEAD AROUND THAT. That oak, man, it's like stone. I petted it. It was tough.

Oh, Warwick Castle was cool, but too commercialized for my snarky amateur-history-buff soul. The views were incredible. ALL RIGHT FINE HERE'S PICTURES. from the tower, from the hill, from other places.
because they must be resorted to when words fail. The whole time I was thinking to myself "This is where fairytales come from. All those Brit fantasy writers, this is the soul of their worlds. This is where they live. Here." also autumn lasts so much longer here. These were taken on the first weekend of NOVEMBER. does MN look like this in November? NO.

You'll just have to come here.

I pull my earbuds out and buy a turkey and cranberry pasty for 3.75, worth every pence. Pasties are like pies. Little pies full of spices and potatoes and meat and other worthwhile things, all wrapped up and juicy in thick buttery flaky pastry. Oh, careful how you say it, if you ever order one. Say “past” like “it was in the past” NOT “I used paste”. Big fat difference. The former is tasty pies, the latter involves burlesque routines.
The Evening Standard and I chill by the Bishopsgate entrance to Liverpool St. Station. I read the paper and eavesdrop on the three peers next to me. (read in your best British accent.)
“Eww, someone get it off me. I can’t stand it. I get that whenever I touch unprocessed wood.”
“There’s a man by the Starbucks who’s a woman.”
“What! A man who’s a woman!?
“Well shout it why don’t you!"
”I caught myself singing along to Justin Bieber the other day…”

Train stations are like airports, all hustle and bustle and wait, rife with possibility. I’m beginning to have a real affinity for the Liverpool St. Station. It’s on a busy street, with pubs and coffeeshops and newsstands and patio tables in the entrance, where the human lifeblood of London grabs a pint and a chat, or reads the paper. And in the dark cozy evening, it has some sort of ancient beehive aura that’s comforting. Therapeutic. I think that’s the height of my hybrid introvert/extrovert personality right there: therapy= being alone and chilling in a crowded space, observing. Love it. I feel as though I become part of the architecture, part of London. A Londoner. I get to pretend I’m a Londoner.
I despair of describing London to you. It defies me. It’s too hard.

Come. Come here.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Being Rusty (a project. That is not school-related, or money-related, or any crap like that.)

Once upon a time, I used to draw people. All the time. I drew classmates whilst they were unawares. I drew imaginary people. I drew characters from books. I drew my friends.

At some point, I quit doing that.

I think it was because my drawing skills progressed to the point where I was really starting to delve into depicting the range of emotions people's faces can convey, and I got a little intimidated.

I really don't draw much as an end in itself anymore either, and I miss it. Drawing is always just a means these days, a means to a template or a clothing pattern or a screenprint.

To remedy this, I am giving myself a project. I made a lot of arbitrary parameters, because otherwise it will have no coherence. Also, I decided to frustrate my inner hipster and do realism, which is something almost all artists do, and everybody gets sick of. Therefore, inner hipster does not like it. So I'm going to do it. Trying to get back to the way I used to do it before I (briefly) cared what other people thought.

Here's what I wrote; we'll see where it goes.

1. The subject must be a musician. That I listen to, in whatever degree. Photos of musicians are easy to find, and they have some great facial expressions. They do not need to be performing, though that's preferable.

2. I cannot use any materials other than a 2B pencil, an HB pencil, a Pink Pearl eraser, my fingers, and an 8 1/2 by 11 sheet of white paper.

3.Photo must depict subject who is either deviant in appearance, and/or “making a face”: some emotion must be expressed. There must be some personal idiosyncrasy to capture: weird hair, distinctive makeup, smile, gesture, features, something.

4. I cannot use any unnecessary strokes: no photorealism, just realism. There's a difference. All I am trying to do is make the finished sketch recognizable as that particular person, and the expression in the sketch must match that of the reference as truly as possible. Minimal background, minimal shading, minimal lines. (this is deliberately to torment myself, because I am a perfectionist, and overwork/think things.)

Anyway. not sure why I'm putting this on FB. I'm only going to post it on my creative blog when it's all done. Feel free to suggest photos or musicians if you like.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

My ears hurt.

I just went for my first night bike ride in London.
why did i wait that long.
Nobody knows. But you know that funny pain inside your ears when you've been exercising outside in the chill? I've got that. It's not a bad feeling. It goes with a particular sort of warm fuzzy tiredness. A winter tired.

Also, there is nothing quite like doubledecker breath down your back when you're pedaling along. They have a personality, the buses here. I don't have a name for it yet.

I think I'll tell you about the Wallace Collection briefly. Oh, and Alfie's. Alfie's is funny.

The Wallace Collection is an art collection, an enormous one. It is in an 18th century hunting lodge, which is now smack in the middle of the shopping mecca around Bond Street. It's basically next to Selfridges.

The collection was left to the British public by the collector's (the 4th Marquis of I-don't-know-what)French wife under the condition that it never be added to or subtracted from.
The building itself is extremely opulent. I always get this funny sensation in places like that: simultaneously delighted and out of place. I was early, so I was wandering about, admiring, when I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I had dressed a cut above my normal jeans-sneakers-hoodie equation, and as a result, I didn't look out of place. It was very strange, feeling awkward and realizing that I didn't look it.

This place was rococo to the max. There were more swirlies around than atoms, practically. Unfortunately, I did not get any wondrous photos, just some mediocre ones. The rate at which my wonderful professor whisks us through these places makes me not exercise on the days we have class. It would be too much.
If you ever get the chance, go to this place. It's free. Great word, free.

Completely random thing: The only place I can really, truly say I haven't found in London is the equivalent of Hard Times Cafe. I miss that spot. It will be one of the first places I go when I get back to Minneapolis.

I've realized something about traveling. I have to live in the moment. I can't worry about home, it'll take care of itself. Further yet, I can't try to have it all. When I'm here, though I know for a fact I could live very happily here, I get little twinges of missing Minnesota and/or Wisconsin. But when I'm home, all the souls of the places I'm visiting now are whispering across the miles and the oceans, saying "come find us!". So, obvious though it sounds, you can't have le cake and eat it too. I simply count myself lucky that I ended up in a career guaranteed to let me discover lots of those sneaky whispering voices. Catch 'em. Catch 'em all. :)

Then there's Alfie's. Alfie's is an antiques emporium. The vintage jewellery made me drool on the cases. Four stories of historical ghosties. Yum. If and when you get to London, it's on Church Street. There's a dece little market on that street too.

but then it's London, you can't walk a mile without bumbling into a market.

Here's the Wallace Collection photos.

The ornate containers are snuffboxes, none of them bigger than 5 in across. The painting, which might be familiar, was actually very sexually suggestive, but the proper Victorian ladies later on thought the girl in pink was so pretty that they cropped all the men out and put her on chocolate boxes.

das all.