Tuesday, July 31, 2007

of interest

A few interesting things we saw today:

A living statue that wouldn't move even after we put money in his cup, so a big rip-off.

A man who could get out of a straightjacket in two minutes by dislocating both of his shoulders. Not a rip-off.

A man who swallowed a 4 foot long balloon whole.

A jogger who looked like a monkey (just an observation)

A Coke fountain with crushed ice at Nando's Chicken.

A Midsummer Night's Dream at Regent's Park

A bunch of Americans hanging from the poles of an empty tube car. That was us.

A drug bust. Not us!

A really big clock.

Monday, July 30, 2007

i don't wanna show off no more

OK, so, yeah, it was my birthday. I'm 35, if you are counting, and I hope it shocks you. I look great!

If I had to spend my birthday away from home, I'd do it in London. Except maybe I'd have my family with me. That would complete it. Because I realize that birthdays aren't really about you, they are about the people you choose to spend them with. Think about it.

I spent the first half of my day waiting for the wolverines. They ambled in, one by one, looking groggy. Mark Pugh, my program assistant, brought four with him, and another six or seven came on their own throughout the morning. Two got left behind by cancelled flights or missed connections, so they get here tomorrow. But all morning I lay reading in my bed until I'd the hear the buzz upstairs. I'd run up and find a bleary eyed student ladled with luggage on the front porch. And I would take them in and give them shelter, like a nun at a convent. Yes, that's exactly it. A nun at a convent.

Once Mark got here I left him in charge of door duty and ran down Old Brompton and up Gloucester to my favorite little pizza joint. I had a nice pizza with olives, bacon, mushrooms, and tomatoes. I don't know why I did the tomatoes - I hate tomatoes! I guess I was feeling healthy. Somebody stop me before I start eating healthy food - it's really not my thing. Unless Lisa makes me do it. I miss her.

Once everyone was here we did a giant neighborhood tour. We hit all the exciting spots: the laundromat, the Sainsbury's, the church, that really ridiculous golden Albert monument, the bus, H&M, the tube, and I pointed out to everyone the KFC where Miles wet his pants. It's important that they know that story.

But my birthday didn't really kick into gear until tonight, when I declared that we would be doing dinner and a show! The dinner would be my choice, and so would the show. What? I'm the special boy. That's the dealio. So we had pub food at the Angel & Crown on St. Martin's and everyone seemed to enjoy their bangers and mash served up by really authentic English servers. By really authentic English servers I mean some Asian girls. Then we made a mad dash - literally a mad dash - like, on foot - about ten blocks to catch the 7:45 showing of The Drowsy Chaperone. We got amazing seats on the floor at the student rate - 15 pounds. That's super cheap, yo.

I don't know if you are familiar with this show, but it turns the wacky up to eleven. It won all kinds of Tony Awards on Broadway but it's closing here. I have no idea why. It was one of the funniest, most entertaining things I've ever seen. It's a spoof of those cheesy old 1920's musicals. There is a song in it called I Don't Wanna Show Off that was written for my sister Courtney. Lots of tap dancing, spit takes, Charleston, blind-folded roller skaters, a Chinese number, and a romantic song about a monkey. I loved it.

Afterwards we walked all the way through town and then took the tube from St. James' Park to Gloucester Road so I could have some birthday cake at the Patisserie.

Sunday, July 29, 2007


I had an enjoyable day with Alex Ungerman today. Alex is one of my students from UVSC, and also a terrific actor who has been in a few of my shows. The great thing about Alex is that he likes to walk around town, even though his feet hurt him. Actually, just one of his feet, which is curious. Anyway, we walked around a lot today buying power converters, bath towels, and soap. Jeez, when am I NOT buying power converters and soap these days! If I had a nickel.....

Anyway, Alex and I also chanced upon a wonderful show tonight called The Car Man. To be honest, we went to it because it was the only thing playing tonight. Seriously, the only thing. But I saw that it was a Matthew Bourne piece, and I'm all about the Matthew Bourne and, as has been very well documented, the modern dance. Turns out this was an adaptation of Bizet's Carmen, except all dance, and set in 1960's America. It was all about a greasy auto shop in middle america, so you know you're going to see people ordering fries at the burger joint and then doing Pas de bourrées. The poster said it was "thrilling" "glamourous" and "sexy," and boy, howdy! The sexy didn't stop! Where's the hot tamale train, Mary Murphy? Alex and I really liked it. Not the sexy, I mean the dancing. It is so exciting to see creative minds working and reinventing. I forget how amazing theatre over here is. It really is an art form and you leave the theatre completely inspired. And by inspired, I mean that I did some Martha Graham contractions on the tube.

On the walk home, we saw this:

and also this:

and pondered the meaning of life:

day one, this year

I made it safely to Britain, and had an unusual sensation of comfort when the plane hit the tarmac at Heathrow. Last year when I flew to London it had been five years, so it took a while for me to get my groove back. This year it had only been fourteen months, so it wasn't long before I started calling sweaters 'jumpers' and saying 'alright?' instead of hello.

My flight over was fine, and thankfully I sat by no talkers. Flying out of SLC I was squeezed between a portly business type and an Indian girl studying economics. She was no fun! Just reading her text book the entire time and highlighting exciting parts of it. Business man struck up a conversation immediately, telling me all about himself. I started feeling really heavy like I knew that a five hour conversation was budding and there was no way out. But interestingly enough, he asked me what I did for a living and I told him, and the conversation was over before we had even flown over the Great Salt Lake. I don't know what it is about my profession that stops these conversations dead. Was he annoyed by my job? Intimidated by the artsiness of it all? Did I have nothing to offer him professionally? Well, I wasn't crying me a river or anything. He shut up for the rest of the trip, and I was spared more small talk with a mid-level ding-a-ling.

The rest of the flight was fine. I slept.

In order to stay awake once I got to London, I took a train down to see Adam in Brighton. We had dinner with Loraine, as well as Jennifer Knudsen and her three kids. They are visiting for six weeks which, with three kids, would put me in my grave. Jen seemed to be doing fine. We had dinner at Bill's, which is this magical place where they put fancy origami vegetables on everything. Adam and I saw the Simpson's movie, and I slept through more than half of it. It was a combination of jet-lag and not enough Ralph Wiggum.

Now I'm back in London and Alex Ungerman is helping me prep for the onslaught of weary Wolverines tomorrow. We have to go buy Oyster passes and get tickets for The Drowsy Chaperone tonight. Will this job ever END?

A few observations about Britain this year:

1. Everyone is wearing stripy things. Stripes are in.
2. The weather is drizzly, we are using jackets.
3. The British people seem a little fatter to me.
4. Do I have to call potato chips crisps?
5. Everyone is reading Harry Potter on the tube.

Here is where I live: