Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Weekend (Oh wait, it wasn't).

Friday (Sunday):

We headed to the Shepherd's Bush tube station at 6AM, expecting regular service to King's Cross Station, where we would catch a train to Cambridge. The large, cold iron gate shutting us out brought us to the harsh realization that it was NOT Friday, but Sunday. Thankfully, we managed to secure a shady cab-service for 15 pounds. The fact that we had to wake the driver and clamber into his swerving Toyota minivan was slightly disconcerting, but we made it with time to spare. Arriving in Cambridge, we joined the queue (great Scrabble word) for the King's College service of "Nine Lessons and Carols" (maybe you've heard it on NPR). The service, which takes place at 3:00PM on Christmas Eve, is broadcasted to millions of listeners, but only 600 have the priviledge of listening in the gorgeous chapel, the epitomy of high gothic style. For this reason, the first die-hards arrived Thursday evening and enjoyed three nights on the lovely rural campus. Evan and I arrived at 8AM, waiting until 2PM in the freezing cold before being allowed into the chapel ("whew, we were two of the 600"). We noted that this occasion broke the record four hours spent on Thanksgiving Day in front of the National Gallery's Van Gogh exhibit. Anyways, the service was fantastic, including the classic lessons, some excellent organ works by Bach and Messiaen, carols sung by 14 choir-boys and 14 undergrads, and several singalong hymns. After the service we walked around Cambridge for an hour and then caught the train back to London.

Saturday (Monday):

Christmas day we again got up early to catch a ride with Evan's friend Peter to his parents' house. We cooked a rather large breakfast considering lunch was scheduled 4 hours later, but once potatoe bread had been added to the menu, we had to add eggs, and so on. The first course of dinner was smoked salmon, salad, and rolls, and was followed by the main course: roasted potatoes, mock-chicken and red onion streudel, various vegetables, turkey, etc. I was slightly taken aback by 3 sets of forks and knives, but thankfully I remembered to start at the outside and work my way in. After the main meal we watched HM the Queen's speech on the tele and then had dessert. After dessert we had coffee and each had a reading. Peter's mother chose the section of Little House on the Prarie that describes their friend fording the raging river to bring them Christmas presents. Evan read a story by Sufjan Stevens entitled "Christmas mysteries of the Chicken McNuggets as explained by macrobiotic star people and Aunt Harriet's Ouija board" and I read "In the Bleak Midwinter". After the readings we had cheese (stilton, brie, and mature cheddar) and crackers.

Sunday (Tuesday):

We slept in until 11 or so and then Evan's friend Simon arrived to spend 30 hours with us. The rest of our day was devoured by 6 hours in the pub watching football. We first watched Liverpool loose, then Chelsea draw (thanks to an own goal by ex-Arsenal player Ashley Cole), and finally Arsenal win. It was a satisfying day, largely due to the fact that it was so relaxing.

Since this entry is so long, I'm awarding a prize to the first person who reads the entire thing (no cheating). If you e-mail me at with the words I WON in the subject line before anyone else, you might get a prize. Cheers.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Times in London continue to be excelent. Thursday I enjoyed the British Museum for several hours while Evan perused a massive book store. I enjoyed Egyptian sculptures and mummies (including Cleopatra's), the Parthenon sculptures, and exhibit entitled "Sacred Objects of the Pacific", exhibits of Korea, China, and Japan (very cool folding tiger screens!), and a "Treasures from Bengal" exhibit. It was overwhelming, so I took down notes in the back of my sudoku book to remember some of the amazing artifacts that I saw. I'm slightly embarrassed to say that I walked past the Rosetta Stone without noticing, but there were huge kingly stone heads that distracted. I returned later to find it completely inundated with Korean tourists. Needless to say, I took a picture (of the tourists and their cameras).

Yesterday Evan and I straightened, no, cleaned the flat, then set off to Trafalgar for a lazy afternoon. We listened in on a practice for the Messiah at St. Martin in the Fields, and while there bought tickets to a performance of all Bach's Brandenburg concertos. We are very much looking forward to this performance which will take place next Thursday. After enjoying the practice, we spent some time in the National Gallery. We saw paintings by Manet, Monet, Van Gogh, Picasso, Renoir, Degas, Raphael, Da Vinci, Van Eyck, Michelangelo, Cezanne, and others. It was pretty fantastic.

To Ansley: yes, Hawaii. In a moment of excitement, we (we being Alan Newbold, Phil Gray, Tommy Poole, and myself, with a recent addition, Cody Lonning) bought tickets to Hawaii for the first weekend in February. Hurrah for rash decision-making.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


Chilling (quite literally) in London has been absolutely fantastic. Days so far have been just as relaxing as full. Sunday we watched two fantastic soccer matches: one between Everton and Chelsea (2-3), and one between West Ham and Man U. (1-0). West Ham is 17th out of 20 Premiership teams, Man U. is 1st, having lost one game to, you guessed it, Arsenal. Evan and I watched in amazement as Man U. were embarrassed for the first time at West Ham's home stadium. The next day, we checked out UCL, got some free internet, and generally enjoyed the tube (hurrah for week long passes!). Tuesday we went to the British Library and looked at original scores from such composers as Mozart, Bach, and Chopin, as well as an amazing collection of Bibles (Gutenburg, Wycliff etc.), books and the like (an original copy of Alice's Adventures Underground, letters of Jane Austin, Shakespeare's plays, Tolstoy, etc.), and some amazing scientific documents (Chinese acupuncture charts, Da Vinci drawings, a Japanese flower-arranging text-book). It was most awe-inspiring. We had planned to watch an Arsenal - Liverpool game, but it was postponed due to fog. Today we spent 4 or so hours in the Tate Modern, and experienced the 5 and 3 story slides that plummet to the ground (all inside of course). This interactive artwork as well as an amazing set of equa-distant mirrored electronic sliding doors were the most accessibly incredible things in the museum. We stood in the center of all the doors for some time, slightly confused, giddy, and excited. It sounds simple, but the effect inside is absolutely paranormal. Carsten Höller, the artist that created both these pieces, is now my hero. You may be able to find pictures on Google. Of course we did much more than this, but at least you get the idea of how much fun we are having. Flights around Europe range from .01£ to several pounds, so we may take a short trip. Travel is great.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Wishing for Reindeer?

Friday morning, after buying tickets to Hawaii for a weekend (what were we thinking?), Phil and I set off from Walla Walla towards Seattle, about a 5 hours drive away. After missing the exit for the Pasco airport, count them, 3 times (where I was to drop off Phil), I continued by myself. After traveling about two hours northwest to Ellensburg through slushy conditions, I was informed by glaring signs and flashing police lights that the interstate was closed. Instead of driving straight over the pass, I had to backtrack an hour, go south into Oregon, west to Portland (in driving rain), and north to Seattle (in one of the worst wind storms the region has seen in years). After a grueling 11 hours. I arrived. I'll finish retelling the account of my journey to London later. It gets better. Really... Actually... not really. I changed my mind today.

Monday, December 04, 2006


The main point of this update is to prevent any further abuse from such visitors as Phillip Gray, Paul Howe, etc. (see previous update's comments). I have little excuse for the large expanse of time that has elapsed since I last updated, save the fact that I am overly attached to placing pictures with each and every post. My lack of a camera and the inability of Blogspot to read the files I uploaded from Phil's camera have "prevented" me from updating (notice the quotation marks if you're critical).

Having said that, my roommate Phil, my friend Lance, and I have recently become slightly addicted to the classic game "Scrabble". Did I say slightly? Slightly is an understatement. Today I feel incomplete because we haven't yet played this fantastic game (and probably won't considering it's 10 PM and there's organ to be practiced). Lance has dominated every single three-person game except for one, when Phil managed to oust him out of the top spot. As you probably already realized, my record isn't amazing in three-player games, but I have managed to beat Lance twice in two-player.

When Lance isn't around, Phil and I play in Spanish with my handy "Scrabble, Edición en Español". I haven't won once. We have played about 5 times in Spanish, and I have lost by 50 points, 120 points, and even a whopping 160 points. The most frustrating game ended with a score of 308 to 305, after which I didn't speak to Phil for an hour. When Phil played his last letter, his final score was 306; I sat precariously at 307. Imagine my dismay as I stared down at my rack of two one-point letters. You know you're a nerd if you only have problems with your roommate over a Scrabble game.