Monday, January 31, 2005

Other Goings-on

  • Bill and I saw Mean Streets together this weekend. Harvey Keitel is fairly sexy in that movie, and I think most everyone would agree. I also found Harvey Keitel fairly sexy in The Piano, but I am willing to go that one alone. In any case, imagine my excitement when I discovered my boyfriend Bill actually looks like a young Harvey Keitel, but taller and with better lips.
  • We went to Greenwich yesterday and Bill made us spend several hours in the National Maritime Museum and then got all cranky when I wanted him to pose for a picture next to an anchor to commemorate my suffering. The National Maritime Museum is not for girls, despite all the crap about the Titanic.
  • On Saturday, we went to the Saatchi Gallery's Triumph of Painting Show which was OK. Of the five painters exhibited, one was female, and all were white. Mind you, all but one are alive and well, so this is not like wondering why all the Impressionists were white men... pretty fucking lame, Lord Saatchi. And really, most of the paintings looked like album covers (Bill's observation, not mine). I was disappointed in painting's triumph. And I was so excited to see a contemporary show that isn't conceptual. Bill and I were disappointed.
  • And speaking of disappointment, our return trip from Greenwich was marred with disaster. In short, Bill and I ended up walking from Baker Street Station to our home due to the ineptitude of London's transportation system. Which is 4.0 miles (mapquest will show you our walk here)!!! Still, we walked along one of London's lovely canals which was very romantic though a bit cold and footpaincausing. Though sadly I was not able to make what I intended for dinner, as the grocery store was closed before we got there (again, London Transport's fault as were we able to take the tube or even the bus, we would have arrived in plenty of time). Happily, we went to our favorite Thai restaurant which was on the way (which, incidentally, is called Boys Thai. Which is programmed into my mobile as "Thai Boys" as you know, my phone thinks Thai is the surname. Or maybe I am just trying to explain why I have Thai Boys in my phone.) In any case, no one should miss my favorite food question in my quiz.
  • Who are these random people that have taken my quiz? I find this very exciting!

I take off my trousers for a £2 discount

A few weeks ago, I bought a couple of pairs of work trousers in the January sales. Unusually, they were a bit too long, so I am having them altered. Saturday morning, I went into to the local laundry/dry cleaner/tailor.
I walk in, and say to the nice Kurdish man there "I need to get my pants shortened." This was my first mistake, as "pants" in the UK refers to a woman's underwear. Obviously, I didn't need to get my pants altered, I needed my trousers altered. Thank God, I remained blissfully unaware of this gaff until I returned home to tell the story to my Australian flatmate, Corey, who giggles when I say pants (even though they say pants for trousers too in Australia).
The nice Kurdish man asks how short I want them... And of course, I don't know. I estimate 2 inches shorter, but feel very indecisive about this. I assumed, rather logically I thought, that a tailor did the measuring.
In any case, he says I can try them on here and he'll measure. I agreed, and found myself in the back room without a door. He kindly remained in the front room watching riots on Kurdish TV, which I can only assume had something to do with today's elections.
But like I said, there was no door and this was highly embarrassing. I was very thankful to be wearing my nice boycut hello kitty underwear as opposed to something that might have suggested I was a tartish Western woman. Though why he'd assume otherwise when I take off my pants at a moment's notice I don't know. I am sure Kurdish women know how to hem their own pants. In any case, he measures, it's 2 inches, I say more embarrassing things, and he tells me that my alterations would normally cost £16 pounds, but it will be £14. (Incidentally, that basically doubles my trouser expenditure. Oh well, they are nice). I guess this means he did look at me in my hello kitty underwear.
So, tomorrow I will pick up my trousers. I fear I did not adequately convey the utter absurdity of this event.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Oh yes, I am a planner.

Yesterday I drank two bottles of wine with my Australian friend Jenny. It was a lot of fun, but left me with a headache and strangely sore legs today, due, I believe to a trendy square shaped chair.
I started a new project at work today. It is called "Planning Me and Bill's European Adventure 2005." Of course, as you all know, we are already in the middle of our European Adventure, and that is why I need to work on the title.
Mostly, I am talking about planning our travels for the summer. Where to go, how long, how much, etc. In fact, I am so excited about this, I suspect I will try to make Bill sit on the floor with me with maps and guide books, Thai food and wine, for hours this evening so we can begin to make PLANS.
You are so lucky. I just wrote out this extremely long section where I debated between bus and rail travel, but then I realized it totally wasn't interesting to the average reader so I deleted it.
There are so many things to think about. I would gladly take input on must-see cities, must-pack items, and other advice. Do you think I should buy a proper backpack, or just use a duffel or rolling suitcase?
So many things, so many things...

Thursday, January 27, 2005

It's more profound than a pass/fail thing.

I made a quiz. As I talk about myself all the time, this should be a cinch for everyone. Enjoy. Highest score gets the best Christmas present!
Test your knowledge here. Fuck it up and you may find yourself ruthless! ahaha.

Another Personal Triumph

Today I finally successfully badgered my friend Stefanie into having a blog. It isn't as clever as mine yet, but she works in D.C., which is obviously the anathema* to all things good and happy (ex. The White House, The Fact that Only 13 Senators Voted Against Condi Rice's Confirmation, The Holocaust Museum, The Headquarters of the Christian Coalition, and the list goes on). It is not as happy as, say, London, home of the London Dungeon and this kid. Thus, her life is a bleak pit, unlike mine which is filled with things like curry.
Today I photocopied an article about sugar and cancer for several of the people I "support" (i.e. sit near and am generally ignored by). Obviously I didn't read the article myself as it called sugar something like "fasting serum glucose" which makes it sound really boring. In any case, the Swiss doctor (who has at least seven names in this format: blah-blah von blahberg de blah-blah) laughs on the other side of the cubicle wall, and says "oh, everything causes cancer these days."
Considering that she works for a pharmaceutical company (indeed, in the drug safety unit!)working on cancer meds, I find her comment vaguely reassuring yet also menacing. I am pretty sure she is giving us cancer. You might not find this conclusion terribly logical but you should have heard the laugh.

*Even though I looked anathema up, I am not positive that I am using it correctly but feel strongly that it is the word I want to use there anyway.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Vera Drake wants to kill you.

Do not see Vera Drake. Don't fall for it. I fell for it, and why wouldn't I? A British period drama (how many times have those three words been joined together, anyway?) about pre-legal abortions that the critics have just eaten up. Of course I would want to see it.
But! Do NOT! It honestly could not have been worse. I spent the second hour of the movie drumming my fingers in irritation and trying not to gag audibly. Vera Drake herself is completely unbelievable and underdeveloped, as is every other character. For a movie with such a moving premise, it left me completely cold. I cry at nearly all movies, and managed to be totally untouched by the collapse of Vera's world. I will admit blinking back a tear or two at the frightened women seeking her services, but honestly, I've been known to cry at long-distance commercials. Mike Leigh should have been able to get more out of me.
Strangely, only Film Threat, Hollywood's (dumb and annoying) Indie Voice were particularly critical of it. And the reviewer was most critical of the part that I thought made the most sense, living in London and all.
For understanding British cultural basics, Vera Drake was dead on. My first job here saw me drinking a cup of tea every hour. Yes. They drink tea all the time, and offer tea to make things better. Train delays? Let me fix you a cuppa. Dead mother? Cuppa. It's all about tea. If they drink coffee at all, it is the sort that dissolves in hot water. But that is for another post. Additionally, the British insist on asking you "Are you alright?" which doesn't imply that you look sick or confused. It's just a really confusing way of asking how you are. And the expression "ta." It means "thank you," not goodbye. In any case, even with the useful introduction to British vocabulary, the movie was seriously lacking.
So, that was very disappointing. At least I got to eat at my favorite London Japanese restaurant before the movie.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

The U.S.A.

Today I have been at work for about 4 and a half hours, and I have done absolutely nothing, save playing a word game at yahoo and reading a considerable amount of the New York Times, which I will talk about now.
First of all, I found this article about Hillary Clinton and abortion to be quite interesting. Though I have previously thought her rather doofy, she is really beginning to win me over. I think I could be really excited to cast a ballot for Ms Rodham Clinton should the time come. I was really pleased to see that even though she aimed to be conciliatory to the anti-abortion loonies, she pushed the morning after pill as an essential option.
More troublingly, this article on child molesters raises, I think, some really important and disturbing issues and reminds me why I am glad to be a girl. While sure, women molest children, fantasizing about adolescents is generally not a part of female culture. On the other hand, the ubiquitous Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen's 18th birthday saw them half-naked on the covers of dozens of magazines. Thus, I suppose it isn't surprising that 21% of university males report some sexual attraction to small children and it's considered normal for men to exhibit a slightly greater sexual response to adolescents between 14-17 than to women 22+. Of course, why wouldn't they, we are so saturated with images of women that have the same body as 12 year old girls. And slightly less body hair.
So, while child molesting is absolutely appalling, it's no wonder that men place their sexual desires onto children. I'd be really curious to know about this trend through time. Is the media's infatuation with younger, thinner, and more hairless to blame? From an evolutionary standpoint, it makes little sense to lust after a 13 year old.
In any case, I will take this opportunity to acknowledge that Gabriella (Eva Longoria, who is cool) is doing it to a guy who is alledgedly 17 in Desperate Housewives, which I have recently begun watching. However, in the grand tradition of TV teenagers (particularly male ones at that-- Luke Perry anyone?) you'd have to be insane to actually believe he is 17 (he's 26 in real life).
In conclusion, the world is pretty sick.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Mortification! (or The French)

Oh! My 17 year old brother has denounced my new blog ownership as being uncool! And the whole purpose of this endeavor is to make people think I am cool! Obviously, this is really devastating as I had hoped to gain mass approval.

Yesterday Bill tried to teach me how to play Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, as it would be nice if I could share in his passion. He tricked me into learning by promising that it wouldn't take much to be better than our French (and therefore not good at winning) flatmate Stephane.
I felt like I did really well at Vice City. The main problem is that I don't particularly like having the police after me. I don't even really enjoy killing people, or running into stuff. Let's be honest, I do plenty of that in my daily life; I don't need to do it on the small screen. Basically, I feel like I've played well if I am able to stay on my side of the road, which is hideously hideously wrong. I guess no matter how hard I try, it will never be Mario Kart.

Bill and I also had fun on Saturday explaining to Stephane the French people. He frequently tells stories about applying for jobs or talking to women that end with an eyebrow wiggle and a "because I am Frennnnch." Yet, he remains remarkably oblivious to the fact that the reason being French is special is because the Frennnnch know about passion and the depths of the human soul. So we explained about the Marquis de Sade and Pepe le Pew and how that's who French people are. Pervy and smelly. Stephane remained dubious. Nevertheless, it was enjoyable explaining to someone how debauched their countrymen are.


So Friday night Bill and I saw Hong Kong director Wong Kar-Wai's long-awaited film, 2046, which is a semi-sequel to a film I haven't seen called In the Mood for Love. In any case, I don't think 2046 is out in the US yet.
Before coming to London, I hadn't seen any Wong Kar-Wai (who may be called Kar-Wai Wong in the United States) movies, but Bill and I caught a couple of his at the National Film Theatre here in London (Happy Together and Days of Being Wild). As I had never heard of Wong Kar-Wai in the US, I assume that most of you haven't either. His movies are COMPLETELY unlike anything I have ever seen. Strange, dreamlike, impressionistic, but oh-so vivid and lovely. I have never seen anyone use music as he does and the cinematography is sumptuous! I recommend a) watching 2046 in the theatre when it comes to the US or b) putting the movie on in the background of your party so that you look really hip.
Also, the stunning Zhang Ziyi is in 2046 where she does not kick anyone's ass but instead has perfect hair and lipstick.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

No Surprises Here.

So I just took this quiz on beliefnet (called the Belief-O-Matic!) about my faith. Apparently, I am 100% Unitarian Universalist (shocking really, as I answered about half the questions with the most logical answer, something relatively scientific or humanist-- but to be dicks about it, I suppose, Beliefnet added "or not sure. Or not important" to the end of all of these answers. For instance, on the question about the earth's creation, you can choose from a variety of established religious beliefs, or choose, as I did, "Only natural forces (like evolution) and no Creator or spiritual forces. Or not sure. Or not important.")
How does uncertainty equal unimportance? I like to think my uncertainty about these things is fundamental to what I believe. Or maybe I just feel bad for the fairly minor role religion or spirituality plays in my daily life and I want to believe that I do care, even if all evidence is to the contrary.
In any case, my other best choices are: Liberal Quaker (94%), Neo-Pagan (90%), Secular Humanism (87%), Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (86%) although the list stretches all the way down to Roman Catholic (19%). Interesting that all of my top 5 are Western. I suppose I can never escape my upbringing. Although were I really trying to, moving to England was not the best choice. Though two different Buddhisms are 6 and 7.

I read an article on Beliefnet about how Liberals and Conservatives view each other. Obviously I'm biased, as I am (increasingly) a close-minded and self-righteous liberal, particularly when it comes to hot button issues like gay marriage, abortion and the war in Iraq, Afghanistan, and will it be Iran next?, but I feel like this Waldman guy is off the mark on Conservatives. He totally treats Conservatives as interchangeable with the religious right, although that's understandable I suppose based on the current direction of the Republican party. But 99% of Republicans I know (which is, granted, not many, and certainly not 99, so my percentage is most definitely off) are not particularly religious. Their Republican ideology is based far more on economics than religion. I suppose the bottom line is that I think most people are just completely wrong in how they view the world, liberals and conservatives alike.
This beliefnet place also has a lot of ads for Seventh Heaven, which makes me immediately distrust it anyhow.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

And there was light.

So, this is my very first blog post. This is a decision I have not come to lightly, as there is something so strange and narcissistic about a blog. Ultimately, I have decided to be up front about my narcissism and create a blog.
I feel very uncertain about this already and I have a flutter in my chest which is, I believe, unrelated to the amount of Earl Grey tea I have had this morning and the Chinese food I ate for breakfast. I find the font options completely confounding, not to mention all the little icons I could click which would surely wreak havoc on my foundling blog.
Now I will talk about my life and not my blog-relating insecurities.
As you may know, I am living in London at the moment with my angel of a boyfriend, Bill. As testimony to his angelicness, he cleaned the bathroom yesterday all on his own, and bought us a kitkat bar to eat later. Mind you, I live with four boys so this was extremely brave of Bill.
For my livelihood, I provide temporary secretarial services. England seems to have a much better temping system than the US and this keeps me as busy as a 35-hour work week allows. Now I am working at a Japanese pharmaceutical company that tests on animals. I am a secretary for an exorbitant amount of money. Additionally, they require me to do nothing but occasionally punch holes in paper and put the paper into notebooks. So I have all this time on my hands here, hence the blog.
I have previously worked for two non-profits with my bad-temping self, once for slightly less money and once for way less money, so I have surplus morality points that allow me to work for this pharmaceutical company which is probably conspiring in the deaths of millions because they pay me well and expect very little. I will no doubt talk much more about my job, as I will generally be updating from my demi-cubicle.
So, this will be the first entry. Rather dull, I think, but you know, I had to talk about what I am doing with my life. Perhaps this is a blog faux pas. As is, possibly, the font. Will anyone be mad if I use dangling modifiers? I will try to fix all of them in this entry, but I really like to go on and on and on, as you are probably aware, and it's really difficult to prevent the dangling modifier...