Yield

As hard as we may try to stop it, the seeds will sprout. Doubt, fear, frustration, joy, hope, love… Whatever your heart sings deserves to be heard.

‘It takes a lot to keep it going/
It takes a lot to keep it real/
Take some time for yourself and learn to yield’
– Amy Ray

grass through pavement

Let it speak; listen in earnest. And then let it go.

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

Thanksgiving, Lord Mayor’s Style

No one told me that London celebrates Thanksgiving. Ok, so they call it ‘feast on the bridge’… Whatev.
feast on the bridge

Apparently the end of summer is marked by the Thames Festival, a two day outdoor arts event put on by the Thames Festival Trust.
thames festival

The Southwark Bridge was lit up like a garden reception.
Jen and the bridge

It’s the biggest end-of-summer-harvest party I have ever seen.
southwark bridge dining

dining on southward bridge

southwark bridge crowd

There were unique stalls and installations – some educational, others just fun.
thames festival activity

bicycle cinema

Yeah, I could use this kind of thing at home.
bicycle cinema two

To work off dinner.
buddha bowl

(Must. Replicate.) Brown Rice, sweet potato and pineapple curry, kale?, blackened tofu. MMMMmmm.

Oh, yeah.
konditor and cook

I did have a gingerbread man from Konditor and Cook.
gingerbread men

You should have been here for this.
crepes

Festivities stretched along the southbank from Westminster to Tower Bridge.
vw and tower bridge

You would look good in this picture. See you September 2011?
tower bridge

Sunday = Carnival+fireworks. For the win. Full report coming soon, same Bat time – same Bat channel.

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

There’s No Place You Can Hide

I can find something nice to say about anything.  Don’t test me.  You. will. lose.

Here’s the conundrum:  I just saw STOMP at the Ambassador Theatre in London’s West End.  You need to understand that I did not, at any moment, find myself searching for something nice to say.  Rather, I worried that mere words could not possibly express…  Words fought each other in my head for the chance to describe…  

Infectious. Hilarious. Personal, heartwarming, instinctually conversational, unbelievable.

Praise for STOMP is not a kindness.  It’s natural – and unavoidable – like the beat.  The audience dancing in their seats and the long-running success of the show are evidence enough that you should get tickets.  Before even getting comfortable in my seat I was impressed by the fantastic set, a serious piece of art in its own right.  If I had come across it in a gallery I might think it a monument to our “society of stuff”.  In use though, the meaning changes to something much more celebratory and simple.

STOMP is a show that is proudly representative of a relatively new genre in theatre, comprising the live performance of a musical composition, characterization, dance or movement, and clever use of the audience as the final performer on the bill.  It is surprisingly funny; the average audience member will laugh more at this show than they will have all of last week.  And the talent of these performers is phenomenal.  They must at once be musicians, actors, dancers, and conversationalists – without the muss and fuss of words.  Mm, Mm, Mmmm.

And before it goes seemingly unnoticed, the lighting designer deserves a round of applause.  Performance glue meets icing on the cake.

I took away the following message – we take music for granted.  Our heartbeats, the tide, the mathematical language of the cosmos…  We are living within song.  Listen for it.  Feel it.  Celebrate it.  Share it.

I think Gloria Estefan may have said it best (finally, knowing this song is useful), “the rhythm is gonna getcha”.

The 7 Fingers Have my Heart

Loitering in the Peacock Theatre is the Sadler’s Wells production Traces.  It is an absolutely stunning piece of performance art with an urban vibe and abstract presentation.  Despite being a work of finest art it remains accessible to us all through such universal themes as struggle, self awareness, love, loss, relationships, belonging…  Traces elevates the human potential for expression through movement at the same time that it highlights the joy of movement for its own sake.

As the audience members enter they become a part of the performance – as if entering into an intimate conversation with the real life cast of the show.   There is a faded story line, artistic exploration, and timely commentary tied together by language truer than words alone.  It is a wonder to witness.  Breath taking moments are strung together seamlessly, one after the other.  As if it were as easy as the wind blowing or rain falling.

There isn’t enough praise to lend; I couldn’t sing it, dance it, paint it, play it, or spin it for you myself.  Thankfully, these performers can do a little of it all.

Not to be missed.

(Upon seeing that he was more than pleased with tonight’s show, I offered Drew the opportunity to give me his review for this performance.  Unfortunately, though “utterly speechless” works very well for him on this occasion, it’s less than our discerning audience demands.)

Happy Wednesday!

 

Any Dream Will Do

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is a spectacular event not to be missed.  Gareth Gates lends a tangible familiarity and lovable quality to his debut as Joseph.  This show is absolutely dream-like in its presentation – the detail in every fantastic element, as well as the timely humor infused throughout, makes for an evening to be remembered.  If you allow yourself to stop wondering how the cast manages to belt out each beautiful note amidst the frenzy of choreography and perfectly timed costume changes, you can fully appreciate the wonder of this show. 

Brits know the Bible story of Joseph very well and most learn the musical score of the “Joseph” show in their music classes.  They might agree that the musical is a bit more like a circus than a Bible story heard in traditional Sunday school, but they identify with the teacher and pupils in the play as they accompany Joseph on his amazing journey, imagining it as a child might.

Prior to the show we enjoyed tapas at La Tasca just off Leicester Square.  With an environment that would please a local and tourist alike, as well as a perfect menu for sharing, I highly recommend it.  Meals and drinks are affordable and we found the staff to be friendly.

Five stars for our brilliant Tuesday evening!

Are You Diggin’ On Me?

To look upon Joss Stone is to behold someone distinctly familiar.  Sweet. Young. Lovely.  But when she parts her lips her soul comes rushing out like thick velvet or strong coffee.    You can blink, but she’s still your little sister or the girl next door – she’s standing on stage and it’s as if the voice of someone soulful, sultry, sexy, older sings straight through her.  Each of us has a gift to give the world and Joss clearly understands what she is meant to share.

Touring the UK in intimate settings prior to the release of her newest album, she offers her grassroots fans a fantastic show complete with band, back up singers, and a bit of polite conversation.  She’ll sing her part.

It’s quite a bit like a show built for a bigger venue, but gives a certain air of closeness that you miss in a stadium.  In fact, last night one of Birmingham’s locals asked Joss out for a curry after the show.  I am not quite sure that her coy smile said either “yes” or “no”, but he’ll always have that.

Opening for Joss was a singer/songwriter friend Adam Isaac, also from Devon.  Quite the cure for my headache, Adam has a fantastic voice and an accessible style.  Adam’s energy is refreshing to say the very least; his clever lyrics and poetic wordplay won my heart almost instantly.  If your iTunes folder includes anything by Jason Mraz, Jon Meyer, or Jack Johnson you should check out Adam Isaac.

If you are in Birmingham, do look up the The Rainbow Pub.  You’ll be sure to enjoy.

And that was only Monday…

Toyer

Last night Drew and I had the pleasure of attending Toyer at the Arts Theatre London on Great Newport Street.  The theatre itself is modern and intimate, housing the London Cocktail Club – a fantastic and sexy new addition to the nightlife in the Covent Garden area.  I wasn’t sure what to expect from the show, a rumored thriller, but always enjoy a night at the theatre.

Under a full moon, quite late, we arrived at Maude’s swanky apartment.  Waiting for her to arrive we listened to the coyotes bawl and bark.  It was quite spooky waiting there for her…

Here’s what Drew had to say about the evening:

“William Schoular’s adaption of Gardner McKay’s Toyer is a tense psychological thriller featuring discomforting performances from Alice Krige and Al Weaver. In a medium filled all too often with over the top show tunes, dancing and mundane drama hoping to appeal to all ages, Toyer is a welcome change from the stereotypical theatre experience.

The play begins a bit awkwardly with the already distraught female lead, Maude, taking the stage, but very quickly settles into proper audience engagement once her counterpart, Peter, knocks on her door. The performance keeps the audience at the appropriate level of discomfort by continuing to move back and forth between tension and respite as neither Maude nor the audience is certain if this man is the Toyer or just a misguided actor.

In the end, Toyer leaves the audience considering the sexual tension between victim and victimizer as well as how performances like this are not the subject matter for children.”

I have to agree that the actors delivered an uncompromising performance and kept me quite on the edge of my seat until they finally left the stage.  The audience may have wanted to offer a standing ovation, but the air was so thick as to hold us in our seats.

On the Waterfront

For some reason, what’s hot in London theatre at the moment includes two plays set in New York (centering around the dock workers) near the same time.  We had the opportunity to see a fabulous revitalization of A View From the Bridge, and Tuesday night made our way to the Theatre Royal Haymarket for On the Waterfront.  It is a gorgeous traditional London theatre complete with marble and ornate chandeliers.

While Steven Burkoff’s stage adaption of On the Waterfront does showcase a group of talented actors, a compelling style and interpretation, as well as a having a similar feel to a graphic novel, there is something a bit disjointed about this production.  The slow motion scenes which are so cleverly used in a few instances may be a bit overused and tend to become a bit awkward.

Credit should be given for the obvious efforts being made to entertain and challenge the audience through a very artistic presentation of a well known film.  The actors came across as absolutely committed, unfortunately the production still felt a bit forced.  The romance was not entirely believable.  At times anger and shouting covered lines and did not give a wide enough range to convince us of the darkest truth.  The mob wasn’t quite a formidable as may have been intended.  The ending, well…  It dissipated into a slow motion sequence rather being strongly punctuated–the triumphant moment losing its glory and fading directly into the cast’s bows.

I am still impressed with the amount of work that went into this production and I keenly wish for its success.  Perhaps with the remainder of the run, the details will fall into place.

Added to the list of things I’d like to see: Waiting for Godot, starring Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen.  Handsome and strange all in one show.  Nice.

The Caveman is Among Us

 

defendingthecaveman

Defending the Caveman, the one man show starring well loved Australian comedian Mark Little, is a witty exploration of gender roles and social opinion.  Upon entering the theatre you are welcomed into Mark’s slightly cave-ish living room, complete with cave paintings and Flintstones style furniture.  Mark’s spear is ready at hand–beside the remote.

As Mark entered the stage it was hard to tell if he was a character in the show or the host about to announce the show–and I got feeling he didn’t like his shirt.  Although opening night may have started slowly, the audience soon grew comfortable with a stage show that crossed over into stand up comedy.  Mark found a groove and got comfortable.  Moments later laughter erupted as we started to identify with the scenarios plaguing Mark and his wife Cath.  Hunters vs. gathers and negotiation vs. cooperation were common themes.  Writer Rob Becker has obviously done his homework on the subject; the humor is based in anthropological study, the philosophy of gender, and real day to day life.

It’s a great laugh.  It’s easy to relate to.  And there is never a better time to laugh about what makes us different than right now.

Seeing this play reminded me of something I had read recently.  Isn’t that funny how you come across something new and then you start seeing it everywhere?!  My favorite philosopher, Ken Wilber, has some great things to say about gender roles and feminism.

“…we can learn to value the differences between the male and female value spheres.  Those differences, even according to the radical feminists, appear to be here for good — but we can learn to value them with more equal emphasis.  How to do so is one of things we might want to talk about.”  

(1996, A Brief History of Everything)
ken wilber

 

Of Bridges Burned

While Drew was busy today, I joined Emily and Kerry for a walking tour of the area near St. Paul’s Cathedral, on the south side of the City of London.  Apparently Emily has become friends with some credentialed London tour guides, Keith and Gordon, whom I had the pleasure of meeting.  It is amazing the amount of history they have stored under their hats!  These gentlemen surely have very full social calendars; they know the whole city by heart as well as most of what there is to do.  Keith gave us plenty more information than I could ever remember about the buildings in the area that had been destroyed and rebuilt, whether due to bombings or refurbishment requirements.

keith

tour statue

st. pauls

stationers

We ended our walking tour at the Museum of London.  Though it looks rather unimpressive from the outside, it houses a fantastic amount of information on the history of the city as well as precious artifacts.  The collection of exhibitions are well presented and inviting.  Currently, the museum is undergoing refurbishment on the lower level to accommodate for exciting new features.  I wouldn’t mind visiting the Museum again, less tired, less snotty, and less frozen.

Although the headache was quite prominent by this time, the night was still very young.  The walking tour group headed to the Sir John Oldcastle pub; Drew joined our group there.  Drew and I celebrated our first beer of 2009 and enjoyed a curry.

curry

We met a few more of our group and were privileged with more information about events around the city and additional bits of history before moving along to our final destination.

The Slaughtered Lamb, in Clerkenwell, is a nice place to enjoy a drink, a hot pub meal, and live music in a part of town that is rather quiet on the weekends.  Trusting the expertise of our new dear friends, we are able to recommend the chips, but can only give three stars to the fish due to it’s low crunch factor.  The portions are healthy, and the atmosphere isn’t bad, but crunch is a rather important factor to this group.

I know you are wondering how we stumbled upon The Slaughtered Lamb.  Upon the urging of Kassi Thomas, and seeing how the venue happened to be in my neighborhood, it felt right to be at Levi Weaver’s show – despite the low grade fever, exhaustion, headache, and runny nose.  It was well worth the late night to say the least.

levi weaver

If Bob Dylan, Thom Yorke, and Coldplay had a baby I think they would name him Levi Weaver.  And I hope my saying so doesn’t offend Levi at all…  Armed with a pick, a haunting voice, a drummer, a borrowed guitar, two loop pedals (one of which may have fried mid-Of Bridges Burned), a harmonica that was missing early in the set and later returned by mic b (Mike B.), and a borrowed violin bow, Levi won my heart.  It might have taken a lot less, but I think it was the fried equipment and mislaid instruments that made the night so special.  It was cause for conversation that tied us all intimately into the performance – even to the very last note of Which Drink.  Kassi Thomas’ name did come up, in fact, and Levi spoke sweetly of my dear friend.  That’s good; I’d hate to get all redneck in public.  Under the lights.  On stage.  Like the time I was on Springer.

The lyrics are haunting and intelligently crafted, riding on a voice that lifts up one of your heartstrings in an unexpected way, and sneaks in.  If you aren’t convinced by the recordings you can find on his site, I would beg you to give it another listen live.  Experiencing his candor, wit, and spirit enhances the mere poetic vibrations – which are lovely on their own – and creates a tangible connection to the universal themes of love, loss, and the peace that only comes with hope.

La Cage aux Folles (and an Interview)

Along the river, near the North end of the Hungerford Bridge, the Playhouse Theatre is home to an extended run of the critically acclaimed La Cage aux Folles.

la cage

lobby

beads

stage

Some of you are likely to have seen the film version which starred Robin Williams (The Birdcage), but I can promise that Graham Norton is stunning in his interpretation of Albin. Stephen Pacey (Georges) and Stuart Neal (Jean-Michelle) are fabulous – and pitch perfect. It is hard to say who steals the show; the competition between the characters involved in the central plot are juxtaposed against the awesome presence of Les Cagelles, a troupe of superbly talented performers. Of course, Jason Pennycooke (Jacob) tickled me to death with his impeccable delivery of cleverly orchestrated comedy.

The creative team are to be commended for their role in creating a campy, tacky, over-the-top experience that was at the same time dazzling – and heartwarmingly familiar.   Productions like these are labor intensive; it appeared that the audience truly appreciated the attention to each detail.

So, what would I consider the highlights? The sentiment, the dancing, the singing, the glitter and feathers, the beach balls in the audience, a ripple into the splits (not just once, but twice), feeling like a participant, and the eyelashes. Who could forget the mascara?

I hear you asking about the interview as well. I very much like the company and the people on the team. The journey to the little town was rather uneventful; if only I had a change of clothes and a little sunlight, I might have enjoyed lunch at The Marlow Donkey and taking photographs for you. Unfortunately, it was dark and rainy – my first interview on a rainy day, in fact. And I still haven’t figured out how to deal with five inch heals, long pants, and trekking across England without carrying a rather unprofessional looking bag. I think it’s time to get some ballet flats and have all of my pants hemmed. Some casual boots would also come in handy when I finally get the job.   Who’s coming to shop with me?

A View From the Bridge

I met Drew at his office and he grabbed a quick slice of pizza as we headed to the Duke of York’s Theatre.  It seemed quite the appropriate thing to do on our way to a play set in New York.  The theatre itself was the first proper English looking theatre I had yet been in…

pizza one

pizza two

marquis

Arthur Miller, who is well known for works like All My Sons, Death of a Salesman, and The Crucible, tells twisted tales of the great American dream gone wrong.  A View From the Bridge certainly delivers all the hidden sin and guilt one would expect.  I would not have been nearly as uncomfortable had the performance not been so good.  The truth is that the set was just eerie enough and dark in the right way, the lighting cast all the right shadows, and the characters cut through the fourth wall.  I was delighted to see who were playing the leads; Ken Stott, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, and Hayley Atwell delivered an all star performance.  [For some reason it was really exciting to me that we unknowingly stumbled upon a show featuring an actress from my favorite US tv drama (Without a Trace) and one of our favorite films (The Abyss).]

I was convinced by the costumes, the accents, and the street scene that I was sitting around that kitchen table, 50 years in the past–a witness to a conversation and a fly on the wall as the story unfolded.  

The attention to detail was evidenced by the sound of the train that could be heard ever so often rumbling by outside the flat where most of the play took place.  It was like distant thunder, an ominous reminder of the of the coming storm.  Director Lindsay Posner really does deserve credit for this stunning production.  This was two and half hours of anxiety that I am thankful I had the opportunity to endure.

On a completely separate note, we sat next to a couple from Philadelphia who told us that they visit every year in January and we sat behind a group of students from Virginia who were taking a class on the arts in London.  One of the students was from Franklin.  Small world.

Do You Still Need Someone to Play the Lead Tree?

My heart is achy (the good kind of sore, like you have the day after a 7 hour dance rehearsal) as I attempt to put a punctuation mark on the end of this week and begin a new sentence again.  As hard as it was to hear the recruiters tell me that I had not been a successful candidate for this position and that, I know that the lows are necessary; there’s always down before there is up.  I did get a couple positive bits of news in the sea of “no”.  I still have an interview Wednesday, and some serious interest expressed from two other, very reputable, organizations.  Best of all, I received the compliments and praise of two people whom I dearly love and admire–with perfect timing.  And I was reminded that sometimes I need people more than they need me.  It’s beautiful, really.

We’ve made two lovely new friends, Emily and Kerry, through a colleague of Drew’s (thanks Todd!).  They are ex-pats who have both previously lived in London and recently come back for more of the big wild city.  Spending time with Emily and Kerry might be a good kick in the pants for me.  They are both familiar with the city and can suggest an infinite list of fun things to do.  I am inspired by their story.

Emily planned a Saturday afternoon adventure for the four of us.  We met near the Green Park Station and walked to White Cube gallery in Mason’s Yard.  (We were looking for the Testori gallery, but it was closed.)  I am not sure what to say about the Miroslaw Balk exhibition inside, entitled ‘Nothere’, but you might find it interesting.  Perhaps if I knew more about Polish history or current events I might have connected with the meaning without picking up the leaflet.

We also visited Hamiltons to see Richard Caldicott’s ‘New Work’.  It is amazing how something as simple as stack of cups can become such an intriguing piece of art.  I don’t think I would mind having one of these pieces in my home.  That’s why I need a job.

For lunch we stopped at Eat Thai.  That’s what you do there, in case you were wondering.  I know the name is a bit ambiguous, but I’ll talk you through it when you are here to visit.  We can recommend the Sweet Corn Cakes, Green Curry–though I can’t remember what the dish we had was called, and the Jungle Curry.

Today started as a lazy, rainy, grey day.  It was a great excuse for “from scratch” pancakes.  I quite enjoy them with the preserves Drew’s mom sent home with us– instead of syrup!  

The weather stayed pretty dismal all day, but we shook off the chill to a hot new song, at a video shoot for an up and coming London artist.  The sets were constructed inside different rooms of an old warehouse tucked in an alley about two or three miles from our flat. 

video shoot

The warehouse is a home for old props; it’s a naturally fun place to stage a music video!  I can’t wait for the next one…  I think I’ll volunteer to make tea for the crew and if I am lucky, they’ll let me.

Hit Me!

Hit Me! The Life and Rhymes of Ian Dury is a play wonderfully written by Jeff Merrifield, and well carried by Jud Charlton (playing Ian Dury) and Josh Darcy (playing Fred Rowe). There isn’t much of a storyline or a plot, but you don’t really notice until it’s over. The play is more of a study, and a celebration, of Ian’s life as told by the man who may have known him best of all.   Several of Dury’s best known hits are performed in the show, cleverly intertwined into the backstory exchanged by the two actors. Although there may have been more c***s and f***s than all the other words added together, the story seemed to have the ring of authenticity.

The play is written cleverly, sharing intimate details of Dury’s life while also capturing him at three distinct stages of his career. I was thankful for the comic relief in the second half, perhaps owing to the heavy subjects addressed in the first.

The characters were accessible–tangible even. At times the audience became a third character in the play, sometimes as a friend on the listening end of a conversation and often as the audience member of one of those memorable Ian Dury and the Blockheads shows. Ian Dury fans were definitely in attendance; they sang along, they danced, they laughed at all the right moments and clapped the loudest. They also had a hard time moving away from the bar to their seat before the show started and after the intermission (or “interval” as may be used the universally used term in London). It is understandable that these live music lovers may have felt a little out of place in a theatre seat. It is interesting to note that the Leicester Square Theatre used to be a live music venue, which I understand, hosted Ian Dury in his day.

The set was cleverly designed, and the lighting design helped transport the actors and audience between locations. I did appreciate the attention to detail taken in costume design and the time it must have taken to put all the hats back in place after each show…

We were told at the interval that Fred Rowe was actually sitting in front of us with Ian Dury’s children, though it was unknown if all of his children were in attendance. They looked like a handsome bunch, but I didn’t have the nerve to ask them what they thought of the show–if Drew hadn’t been with me I might have. But I know how I embarrass him when I talk to strangers…

Keep in mind that I am no theatre critic. I am sure there are plenty of good ones out there, but the chances that you will know how wrong or right I am are slim. So, take my word for it. It was fabulous.

He’s Right Behind You!

This weekend Drew and I enjoyed ourselves at the Barbican Centre for two very different shows.  On Saturday we had a lovely lunch at the Waterside Cafe before enjoying a special showing of The Day the Earth Stood Still in a very nice cinema.  After the show we had dinner at Tortilla in Islington and spent some time at Borders.

Today we had another horrible rendition of biscuits (Jackie told me not to make biscuits without Martha White flour and I had no idea what he meant until now) before we got ready to head back to the Barbican.  

Drew treated me to theatre tickets.  We saw  a very special show – the Catherine Wheels Theatre Company production of Hansel and Gretel.  What makes the show so special is that you travel with the characters through the set and you stay very close to the action.  I say that’s what makes it special as if the characters are not magical and wonderful, but oh, they are!  Because the play is meant to be enjoyed by children and adults alike, there is something for everyone, but the chance for children to move between scenes is beneficial in several ways.  Firstly, they experience the set.  It was really cool and spooky (and festive) in all the right ways.  Secondly, they have the opportunity to break their little attention spans to move from place to place.  Thirdly, they get to touch things and feel a part of the action.

I cannot say enough about how much I enjoyed this performance of a classic piece of children’s literature.  Not only does it appeal to the part of me that studied nursery rhymes and storytelling.  It also speaks to that part of me that majored in theatre for two semesters and minored in dance to the end.  I really appreciated the care that was taken in designing clever sets and staging that placed the audience, well, on stage.  It’s brilliant.

Tonight we have labored over the tentative itinerary for our holiday.  We have booked a rental car and started our packing lists.  I have something to read on the plane and much laundry has been done.  We can’t wait to see you.

We Came, We Saw, We Chugged Hot Apple Cider

So how about this new look, eh?! Props to a gorgeous webmaster and designer extraordinaire… More changes and updates to come, we hope you enjoy!

If you don’t have something to drink and more than just a few free minutes on hand, go make yourself some refreshments and come back with a comfy chair. The update you are about to peruse is lengthy. We apologize for the lovely inconvenience.

We awoke Saturday morning to a grey London sky. It was cold and spitting rain when we ventured out of the flat with a plan to head to the IKEA store in Wembley. After a stop for hot chocolate in the cafe downstairs, we bravely headed for the tube station.
barbican tube
Unfortunately, at the tube station we realized that all travel via tube in the direction we needed to go was suspended. Since our trip was more for fun than out of necessity, and because we had already made it outside the flat, we decided to head southeast toward the Borough Market.

Dang Gina.

People were crammed in the aisles between the market stands. The farmers’ market tradition looked to be thriving in this riverside town.
borough market

fuzzy vegetable stand

jellies
Despite the chill and the threat of rain, people weaved their way through pick-pocket central for things like artisan breads, fresh produce, direct from fisherman fish, sweets, savouries, free-range meats and eggs, hand squeezed juice, wine, beer, ready to eat foods, and fresh sausage cooked any of a hundred different ways. (Although the smell is still appetizing, I can barely look at a sausage.) We had lunch from an organic stand and then got in line for hot cider. The sign said something about mulled apples and fall spices. It should have said something more like “hot apple flavored piss, nasty–but hey, it’s warm!”. Hold your nose. Raise glass to lips. Swallow. Repeat.

I managed to bring home this cute little guy from a lovely bakery stand; Drew opted for a big, fat brownie. I can’t blame him, but look just look at this face…
robin cookie

Cold? Check.
Full? Check.
Damp? Check.
Photos? Check.

We thought we might as well follow the river west until we hit the Tate Modern Museum. Before we could make it inside, we were tempted in to the new Globe Theatre, whose roof is currently being re-thatched.  Wow.
the globe stage
It was really an indescribable experience to walk through the museum and take the guided tour of this attraction that has been so lovingly built– and restored as near as possible to the specifications of Shakespeare’s time. Those two semesters I chased theatre in college came in really handy, but I was amazed that there were people on the tour who did not know that all actors in Shakespeare’s day were men. I thought we all learned that in English class when we read Romeo and Juliet. Whatever. Moving on. Drew and I will definitely return for a play when theatre season starts. For now, everyone is talking about Panto. This is an art in which I never imagined I’d have the opportunity to participate. If you are one of those dear friends that dresses up and carries a big bag of toilet paper, rice, and newspapers to a showing of Rocky Horror Picture Show to shout at the screen–you will appreciate this form of theatre that has survived on an undercurrent to its present day fame. The plays performed are usually kids’ fare like Peter Pan, but the adult humor whizzing over little heads is key. The audience knows their lines and the performers are over the top. Before we leave town, we’ll have to experience this!

Tate Modern has too many floors. I mean that in the nicest way possible. Of the seven levels, four have exhibits. Drew and I only made it through two before it was late, dark, and my eyes had started to look at each other for help.  I don’t think I could have made it through another collection, even if we had arrived at opening.  The huge exhibit on the first floor didn’t take long to see because we opted not to stand and watch the film portion. We did spend some quality time with a UBS Collection of the following:

MATERIAL GESTURES
Anish Kapoor and Barnett Newman
Material Gestures
Viennese Actionism
Expressionism
Distinguished Voices
Contemporary Painting
Claude Monet and Abstract Expressionism
Marlene Dumas
Paul McCarthy

POETRY AND DREAM
Giorgio de Chirico and Jannis Kounellis
Surrealism and Beyond
Elements of Chance
Natural History
Francis Bacon and Pablo Picasso
Joseph Beuys and Anselm Kiefer
Balka and Espaliu
Eileen Agar, Claude Cahun, Zoe Leonard
Realisms
Cornelia Parker

We’ll have to go back for the Rothko and Cildo Meirles exhibits as well the other collection put on by the UBS. And next time, I am going to get one of those kits they give the kids. It has crayons and paper so that the kids can attempt to recreate a piece of art they like. I think I heard someone saying that a member of staff tries to guess which piece it is at the end of the tour. I thought crayons would be an extremely bad idea in a gallery, but these British children seemed to keep the crayon in the right place. Maybe Super Nanny was standing behind them.

We had a long walk home, which started with the crossing of the River Thames via the Millennium Bridge. Even in the rain, and as dark as it was, the view in all directions from the middle of the bridge was beyond expectations.

Sunday started slowly, but I eventually made my way into the kitchen for glorious biscuit making. That is, until I opened the box of Atora Light Shredded Vegetable Suet, I was excited. What is this stuff? It cannot be what I should have purchased. It looks more like Gerbil food (or the after product) than shortening.
atora droppings
Anyway, I’ll test it out in a recipe soon, but I didn’t want to take any chances with it this morning. I opted to use butter instead. They weren’t the biscuits I had dreamed of making, but they didn’t kill us and they were all consumed by the end of the day.
biscuit
Most of of the rest of my day was spent tweaking and posting blog entries with bits of housework sprinkled in. Drew spent quite a while updating the look of our website, but he worked in a little housework as well.

For the grand finale to our big, lazy day I made a dash to the store for a few fresh baps, a green pepper, and a red onion to make Spicy Veg Sloppy Joes. There is something about that weird family tradition of eating Sloppy Joes on Christmas Eve that makes them irresistible in the days preceding the holiday… This may be the 10th wonder of the world.

I was very impressed with the color of the onion and green pepper as well as the bright red color of the final product from the special blend of simple ingredients and spices. Drew seemed really impressed with my skilled used of the hillbilly casserole dish.
veg
red

sloppy veg
I was quite pleased with myself as well. You would think we had real pub food. MMmmmm. Peasant-ish and uncultured. My stomach stills hurt a little when I think about how spicy they were; I look forward to the leftovers! (I brought a bottle of mixed berry Tums, Donna, don’t worry!)

Please be aware the English mustard is a lot like Wasabi; licking the mustard spoon may cause death or flaming nose drippings.

It was a lovely weekend.

Great Art in Londontown

Morning Star, by Paul Fryer

Jen and I had, what I consider, a great opportunity to see this work, Morning Star, in person yesterday. It is by an artist I had never heard of before, but I am very glad I now have. His work may not be earth shattering or mind altering. Of course then again – I am NOT an art critic. All that being said though, I really love this piece as well as the other pieces we saw on display.

This particular piece, as I understand it, is a depiction of the fall of Lucifer, The Morning Star. In this piece you see him captured and entangled during the fall. What I find incredibly interesting about the work is two fold. It appears he is entangled in high-tension electrical wires strung between three telephone poles. He also is depicted as the conventional image of an angel with large feathered wings (though appropriately they appear tattered and torn). The actual piece is not the size of a full grown man however, though, aside from the wings, he appears as a man in every other way – no horns, no tail, and certainly no pitchfork. It really is a beautiful work. It is this breaking from, or perhaps challenge of, the conventional image of Lucifer mixed with the contemporary images of technology which make it so interesting to me.

One of the things I had not considered about our move to London was how close in proximity I would be to such a fabulous art community. My creative spark has already been rekindled and it is my hope that being here will continue to fan the flames. During college I had hoped to some day be a freelance illustrator, and while it may not be a realistic dream considering how the internet has made accessibility to stock work easy to the point of pollution, I still want to do something purely creative (of course it is also fair to say illustration was never purely creative).

So here is hoping I get off my metaphorical butt and actually start being creative again. And considering how much GREAT inspiration is around me, how could I not?!

Cheers!