Showing posts with label travel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label travel. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Reminder: I am in Chicago

As of this evening I am in Chicago.

This is a pre-written post, so it's possible my plane exploded or I got lost and took a wrong turn at Albuquerque.

Anyway, low-post week is more than likely.  You guys have a great <indeterminate period until I post again> and we'll chat soon.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Next week we head for Chicago - Expect low to no posting

Next week Jamie and I head for sunny Chicago, Illinois for a few days of vacation.  We're escaping the Texas heat in exchange for Chicago heat.

I'm definitely looking forward to it.  Somehow, Jamie and I have never been able to work in a normal vacation like humans are supposed to, especially if they've been together since the first Clinton Administration.  I know, it sounds weird, but we've had lots of extenuating circumstances and Jamie does not travel easily.  However, this year we made it a priority, and so off we go to The Windy City.

Anybody else have this poster?
My plan is to basically see a lot of museums and go to a Cubs game.  We've also got a Fodor's guide, and I have a couple of recommendations for some stuff to do at night.  We'll see.  But it does mean that early next week we'll be posting in an extremely limited capacity unless I decide to bother to bring my laptop (I probably will).

The 1908 Cubs look forward to what will surely be an endless string of pennants

Jamie has just informed me I cannot buy us tickets to see Ministry, who is playing while we're there.  Which shocks me, because I thought those dudes hung it up eons ago.  No rockin' out to "Stigmata" for us, I guess.  Nor is playing clips of Ministry from YouTube really winning Jamie over.

I may try to talk her into going to The Green Mill.  We'll see what happens.

So if you're in the Chicagoland Area and feel like coming pretty much to the dead center of town (we're staying right across from Grant Park, I think), give me a buzz.

Really, I don't know anything about Chiacgo.  I went there some as a kid, but we were mostly out in the suburbs.  My ideas about Chicago are formed by:

  • The Untouchables
  • The Chicago Cubs
  • The Chicago Bulls
  • Superbowl XXV
  • Ferris Bueller
  • John Hughes movies
  • Mr. T
  • street scenes in The Dark Knight
  • viewing WGN as a kid to watch cartoons
  • The Blues Brothers
  • I once watched "ER"
  • and their history of putting their politicians in jail (in Texas we just make whatever politicians do legal)

I am perfectly aware that Chicago is a great American city, and I look forward to gawking around like the idiot tourist I shall be.

Also, I'm totally looking up the "1920's Gangsters Tour" I've heard they've got.

Cubs Win!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

So far in Quincy...

It's been a fine trip. I flew through JFK yesterday en route to Boston Logan, arrived, ate some food, read, internetted and then went to bed and slept in a bit.

Today the conference started and I presented in the mid-afternoon session. We had lower attendance than I would have liked, but I thought the conversation which occurred was tremendous. Then, at the meet'n'greet cocktail hour had some great conversations.

My biggest problem is that I've been doing this so long and attended so many conferences, I can't always remember where I know people from. That caught me twice tonight.

After the happy hour I met up with Kevin of One Wall Cinema.

the aforementioned Kevin
Kevin took me to a favorite haunt of his, and it was a really nice night out away from ETDs and library talk.  I had a great time, and am a bit bummed that Boston is so far from Austin.  Kevin is a good man with whom one can chat.  I recommend you try it.

Kevin took me on a quick drive around Quincy, and I saw City Hall, the former home of John Quincy Adams, and the graveyard where John AND John Quincy Adams are buried.  I nerded a bit.

I suppose I knew Sam Adams (the beer) was from Boston, but as its one of my favorite beers in Texas, I don't think of it as local to Boston.  It is, so I should shut up about that.  But I bypassed Sam Adams this evening and tried local favorite Wachusett Blueberry.

It is AWESOME.  And they put blueberries in it.  I'm not a huge beer drinker, but this was right up my alley.

Now you can begin your day with Boo-Berry and end it with Blueberry
I am confident I rid my body of many oxidants by consuming a glass of this beer.

In general, I've been having a lovely time, as far as this conference business is concerned.  And I am quite fond of the Boston accents of various stripes I've heard around me.  Partially because nobody has yelled at me, which will ruin it.  On the plus side, nobody has, as of yet, asked how I like them apples or, indeed, any apples at all.

Kevin also convinced me to eat "Buffalo Chicken Nachos".  Texans, we cannot control what they do with our local cuisine once it leaves the state, but there are worse ways to see a pile of nachos wind up.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Books. Comics. Movies. Travel. Grey Gardens.


I am afraid it is already very late, and thanks to an evening out for dinner, followed by a catch-up call with my folks (just returned from Disneyworld), and catching up on a few things around the house, I am afraid we come to a third evening in which I have not written a post in which I review any media.  Partially, because no media has been consumed.

I feel I should post this evening because tomorrow night I am off to the movies to see a double bill of Shock Corridor and Naked Kiss at The Paramount's Stateside Theater.  You are welcome to join me.  At this time, I believe I am going alone.


During my commute, I am listening to For Whom the Bell Tolls*.  I also finally cracked Grant Morrison's Supergods over the weekend.

Supergods is covering a lot of history I already know, so I am really hoping it finds a new direction soon.  the Hemingway book is fantastic.  I'm pretty skimpy on my Hemingway, having only read short stories, some assigned stuff, and A Farewell to Arms.  Quite enjoying the audio book.


Wednesday sees the arrival of Before Watchmen.  I won't return to discussing the project in this post, but its another DC product I'm leaving on the shelf.

But I am picking up a few books this week.  Action Comics.  Popeye.  Fury Max.  iZombie and X-O Manowar (which had at least an interesting first issue).  But looking at the picks for September...  Man, it looks a little bleak one year on from The New 52.


Of course Wednesday, I'll be at the double bill of Shock Corridor and Naked Kiss, so maybe see you there.

Sunday I'm off to see Prometheus with Matty, Nicole and JuanD.  Should be a hoot.  I'm mostly looking forward to Scott's visual spectacle.  If the story pans out, all the better.

My Blu-Ray of John Carter is coming soon.  A movie not many saw, but which I really liked.  Here's to Planetary Romance.

For next week, I don't have anything on my Paramount schedule, but I do have a ticket to see The Old Dark  House at The Alamo Ritz.  It's a classic, but one that rarely screens.  This should be fun.  Again, I'm going alone, so if anyone wants to buy themselves a ticket, let me know.

Just FYI:  Realized tonight there's a strong chance I'm not going because...


Next week I'm off to Boston for most of the week for work.  I'm presenting with a colleague from Florida.  We'll be out in the "Quincy" area, wherever the heck that is.  I've never been to Boston, and I won't get to do any touristing.  It's going to be all-conference, all the time.

No, I am not telling you where or when I'm presenting, Mom and Dad.

Grey Gardens:

Home ownership has finally caught up with us.  In the past couple of weeks, we found a small stain in our laundry room was actually indicating a roof leak that hadn't leaked thanks to the SEVERE DROUGHT plaguing Texas.

May showers led to a leak that dripped between the walls of two rooms upstairs and straight down into the ceiling of our dining room.  A room which is delightfully free from any real furniture, so, it all ended okay after we lost some plaster, etc...

Then, our air conditioner died for a few days there.

I keep waiting for raccoons to start wandering through the living room.

Jamie has taken care of hiring people who can fix these things, and she has provided oversight of repairs.  We are keeping the slow decay of our home at bay for the time being.  Its just a bit taxing to even deal with, money aside.

That's it.

I gotta go to bed.

As a last thing...  the new album is out from Advance Base, if that's your thing.

*spoiler:  It tolls for THEE

Thursday, March 22, 2012

By the way, I am in New Orleans


Yes, I am in New Orleans for a work trip. Fortunately, my conference ended at 6:00. Kermit Ruffins started playing at Vaughan's at 8:00ish.

in some ways, I never travel alone
I was unable to round up anyone to go with me, and so I headed to Vaughan's where New Orleans musician Kermit Ruffins and his band play a regular Thursday night gig all on my lonesome.  I highly recommend you take it in, were you in The Crescent City.

Like most white people living in the suburbs outside of Louisiana, I first heard about Kermit Ruffins thanks to the power of HBO and their series Treme.*  And that was more or less who showed up for the Thursday night gig at Vaughan's, I'd hazard.  Me and a bunch of other 20-30something folks who wanted to see THE Kermit Ruffins.

Well, as it turns out, Kermit and Friends put on one of the best shows I've seen in years, and I had to leave at what I took to be the mid-point so I'd be in some condition to get to my conference tomorrow.

if you squint, that's Kermit there in the middle
I do not usually venture out from hotels while on work trips, but as it was a Thursday and I was in New Orleans, I figured nobody would forgive me if I didn't at least TRY to do something fun.  So I did.  And it worked out.

Now, I rest.

Have a good Friday, y'all.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Fantastic Voyage (to Denton, TX and the movies)

Wednesday I head to Denton, TX for a 2 day conference on...  you know what?  I'm pretty sure you don't care.  But, yeah, 48 hours in Denton with Librarians and Degree Evaluators.  Should be a hoot.

Anyhoo, on Saturday I'm hoping to join SimonUK at the Alamo South Lamar for a screening of one of my favorites from middle school, shown to us in Life Sciences in 7th grade in order to demonstrate exactly where we might need to know this stuff.

Fantastic Voyage is the original "we've shrunk them down to microscopic size and injected them in a submarine into someone's bloodstream to save this important person's life" story, which is way less specific than you'd think.  Its been ripped off on numerous occasions.

But the first is still the best.

World's least efficient way of keeping your cholesterol under control
Doesn't that look exciting?  13 year old me certainly thought it was amazingly exciting.  I think 36 year old me still sees the appeal.

The movie starts at 11:00, but as Kid's Club at South Lamar is free, be there early as 10:00.  Have some coffee with me and Simon.  We're good company.

And if you need further incentive:  Raquel Welch wears a white "scuba suit" for a good chunk of the movie.

You can microscopically swim around in my bloodstream anytime
You can never have enough scuba-suited, laser-toting Raquel Welch for my dollar.

Come out and join us!  Wear your Slim Goodbody costume so we can map the progress of our crew!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Light blogging ahead (I'm in Lubbock)

Tonight I am in Lubbock.  And tomorrow night I leave Lubbock.  I won't be home until near midnight, so do not look for me.

I'm up here visiting Texas Tech University, a pretty darn good school pretty darn near as far away from the rest of the world as possible.  Sort of a reminder of how spread out we are once you pass west of the Mississippi.  Fortunately, I haven't had to go to El Paso yet for work, but I might one day.  And when I do, I might see about going to Ft. Davis or something you hear about in Texas, but you kind of have to really want to do.

This time to Lubbock I flew rather than drive my own car.  I had believed the Lubbock airport took turbo props from Dallas, but learned en route from SF a couple weeks back that jets come here.  It wasn't a 737, and I forgot to look to see what carried me here, but I'll look on the way back.  It sure beats the 8 hour drive.

Anyhow, limited blogging for several days.  I'm sure you'll all get along just fine.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I am returned (and discuss a bit about why this was fun)

No matter what they do to make flying better, its still stressful.  I am well aware they put bars in airports for a reason, but I never drink while flying, just in case they need me to take over in the cockpit.

I had an absolutely terrific time in San Francisco, helped along by Jenifer, Doug, Kristen, Lauren and non-Signal Corps member, Morgan.  I am not sure if I mentioned the SF Sketchfest, but Doug got us to RiffTrax Live, and it surpassed any expectations I had.  Our hosts were Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy, but we also had guests such as Eugene Mirman, Bruce McCulloch, David Cross and Paul F. Tompkins.  Not bad.

I am still pondering many of the geographical, historical and cultural differences between San Francisco and Austin.  I have to tip my hat to the city, but I have always been most comfortable here in Waterloo, warts and all.  But we could certainly learn from San Fran.

I've been thinking a bit about the difference between something like the Noir City Film Noir Festival and the fact that Austin has SXSW, and the difference is that Austin's festivals, Fantastic Fest included, are really industry shows.  You can buy a pass for SXSW, but its a pass to get into things that people with the industry badges won't fill up.  Consequently, you tend to hear people telling you about this great documentary they saw about Peruvian peanut farmers or whatever, but there's not much in the way of just celebrating film.  Its all about selling films.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Noir City Special: We Crash Dashiell Hammett's Apartment

So, more than once I mentioned that Jenifer had lined up something highly unusual for my visit to San Francisco that was going to be a real topper for the trip out.

She told me ahead of time that she'd gotten this set up, but it didn't make any sense at the time.  After having spent a few days with Jenifer, I now get that she's just one of those people who has the near-magical ability to make things work.

Its also worth mentioning that Jenifer figured out from looking at pictures that she lives across the street from the recently renovated former apartment of pulp hero, Dashiell Hammett.

The story around the apartment itself is kind of amazing, and involves sleuthing on the part of his truest fans.  Its true Hammett lived in multiple buildings, but by looking at return addresses on envelopes from letters, descriptions of Sam Spade's apartment in The Maltese Falcon and a few other contextual clues, they've narrowed it down and figured out that this was the apartment Hammett resided at for a few years in San Francisco, and when he wrote The Maltese Falcon.

I'm still not entirely clear on how Jenifer made the contact, but this morning we met up with one of the organizers of Noir City, who had been one of those investigators and who had lived in the apartment himself and did a lot of renovations.  I won't go into specifics, but basically the apartment is now a very weird spot.  Nobody lives there, and its a residential building, so there are no tours.  Essentially its supported by a philanthropist who pays the rent and maintenance and the place sits empty most days except for an occasional tour like ours or a walking tour.

Jenifer models next to the plaque talking about Hammett outside the security door.
The building is down the street from my hotel, as well.  And one thing I've learned in my short stay is that behind a lot of these facades, there's something going on or some crazy history in a lot of these buildings you wouldn't guess walking by, be it a famous author's former residence, or a secret stash of vintage cars or swimming pools by big doors.

Just inside the doorway
It doesn't seem that anybody was really aware of the building's history until the last 20 years, and so the apartment had to be basically re-done to match the original decor.  The building went up in 1917, and so Hammett would have lived there about 10 years after it opened.  Since that time, landlords had removed doors, painted over glass, added a hundred layers of paint, etc...

Dedicated folks pieced together the apartment from fixtures in apartments from the building that were original, found items that matched the book, etc...

Its a fairly small place.  A bedroom/ living room with a murphy bed, a small bath (with the original clawfoot tub and toilet, so you can stand where Hammett stood as he showered, I suppose), a small kitchen, etc..   So this was not from a period in Hammett's life where the money was just rolling in.  Its a modest living space in a part of town with a lot of character now and then.

I did take more pictures, and when I upload them to Google, I'll post a link.

Oh, the Falcon on the desk?  I'm not sure what that's about.
No, this was not Hammett's chair, but its a nice chair, right?
Of a very special, very noir weekend, this was an unbelievable bit of history that put a near surreal spin on things.

Thanks to Jenifer for arranging the tour (and so much more during my stay), to Bill who was more host that tour guide, and Doug, who was... there, I guess.

More pics when I get home and get them off my phone.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

So, San Francisco is an interesting town.

I do love my little hamlet of Austin, Texas, and I'm not one to plan to move anywhere because I had a few nice days of vacation, but San Francisco is an interesting burg.

I've had the good fortune of having Jenifer (aka: @J__Swift) as my tour guide.  Today it was not pouring down rain, and so we went to breakfast and wandered into a cafe where we ran into Bruce McCulloch of Kids in the Hall fame (and because he's one of the Kids in the Hall, he's also one of the funniest people I can think of) and tried to very nonchalantly eat brunch outside the window he was eating inside of.  So, like, a foot away.  I guess he could hear us a little because when Jenifer came back to the table and asked "was the Bruce McCulloch?" he waved at us.

He doesn't live here.  He was just in town for SF Sketchfest, which is an awesome event and something else we don't have in Austin (like a Thai restaurant every block, as near as I can tell).

So he probably heard some of my super-lame anecdotes.  You're welcome, Bruce McCulloch.

Jenifer took me around a bit to see some sites, not the least of which was the Cartoon Museum.  A small space, but with a great variety of examples of work of iconic cartoonists, from Al Capp to Gene Colan to a current exhibit by Keith Knight.  Every few panels I'd find something I was amazed to see, be it a print of a Yellow Kid strip, or original Gene Colan Daredevil art, to...  well, it was worth it.

Jenifer and her pal Morgan took me to a nifty vintage shop where I found a Superman vinyl record of the old radio broadcasts (it was inexpensive, Jamie), and a reprint of a World's Finest comic in a format I'd never seen before.

This evening returning via public transportation I saw no less than two couples in wedding outfits.  Today, I saw my first real-life version of Reals (real life superheroes walking down the street).  And, I guess, Victorians wandering about this evening in their finery.  Yes, I totally stared one dude down with a "boy, what are you doing?" look which was totally inappropriate given my own costuming choices Friday night.  Lots of crazy hobos, too.  If Austin wants to believe itself weird, its really going to have to step it up.

The Film Noir Fest has been fascinating.  I thought Austin was a movie town, but, sorry, Austin.  What I've come to see as a crucial difference is the lack of hipster-ness, irony, etc... that I take as part and parcel of the film-going experience at The Alamo.  While the population of San Francisco and surrounding communities is considerably larger than Austin, what you would not see is a 1400 seat theater sell out for double-bills of noir two nights in a row.  And sustain a 10-night Noir Fest.

The crowd is all over the place in terms of age, which is interesting.  It does remind me of the better nights at Austin's Paramount Theater, where you really do see all kinds of people.  And because I'm selfish and want to see movies I'd care to see on the big screen, I keep thinking about how one could replicate such a feat.

There is a tragic lack of Rice-a-Roni, but I have secured a tin trolley car which goes "ding" about which I am quite excited.

I do want to thank Jenifer for taking her time and energy and devoting both toward my entertainment and amusement.  She's been a real champ, and its been a huge pleasure not to speak to her entirely in 140 character tweets.  Look her up if you come out this way.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Dark Vacation

Well, on Thursday I am off to San Francisco for the 2012 Noir City Fest.  I'll be in San Francisco from Thursday afternoon until Monday morning.

I expect if you want to see me whilst I am in the Bay Area, you'll know how to track me down.

The schedule is pretty packed, but I do plan to write up all the movies one way or another as part of Movie Watch 2012.

Thursday night I'm actually headed for Riff-Trax Live with Dug, K and J__Swift.  Possibly MikeF and Rus.  We'll see.

Despite living in the town with the Austin Film Festival, SXSW, Fantastic Fest and more, I've never bothered with a film festival, so this is all new to me.  Mostly I wonder about how well my back can handle sitting in movie-theater seats this many hours.

between you and me, I hope this doesn't happen to me while I'm there

Jenifer (our J__Swift) has arranged a special EXTREMELY AWESOME/ SUPER NOIR event for me on Sunday that I'm keeping under my hat until I can post photos.

I got some hints on FaceBook about places to eat, etc...  we'll see if I can pull that off given our crammed schedule, but I appreciate the hints.

So, no idea what the next few days will hold, blog-wise.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

San Fran in Jan(uary)

Heads up, Bay Area folks.

So, in January I'm headed for San Francisco.

I arrive on the 19th.  I had originally planned to run around the city and whatnot the first night, but it turns out that its the first night of the San Francisco SketchFest.  As part of the Sketchfest, the crew from RiffTrax is performing on night 1 of the SketchFest.  So, while this means I may have a problem with the Alpha Plan of @#$%in' &%#@ up in San Francisco on the 19th, it does mean I get to go to SketchFest see the guys from RiffTrax do a bunch of shorts.  And that is awesome!  (and, no doubt, means extra time hangin' with The Dug and a more likely scenario of seeing MikeF and others)

Oddly, the event is at the Castro, where I will also be the following few days.

The schedule and tickets are now available for Noir City X, the tenth installment of the Eddie Muller-helmed Film Noir Fest.

I'm in and out of town fairly quickly as a man can only afford to stay in one place too long, and the fact that every time I leave work for a few days, some disaster is awaiting me on the other side.

I'm pretty darned excited.  The line-up for both before and after I'm there features some great films I've seen and a long list of films I haven't seen.  If you live in the area, take advantage.

I am a bit down that I'll miss Naked Alibi on Thursday, which features both Sterling Hayden and Gloria Grahame (and I've been trying to track it down for a while), and it seems this year they've moved the party to the second weekend, so I'm missing that.  But they did add Angie Dickinson to talk Point Blank, which is a great movie, so I'll get to see her in person.

But I also will be looking to fill days while I'm around, so if you have helpful touristy hints for me that don't involve wandering The Tenderloin in a Batman costume, I'd like to hear them.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Well, I am Back (from England)

Jason and I stepped off the plane and returned to Austin about 7:45 local time last night.  It was a great trip, and your humble blogger is pleased to say the time spent in London was both educational and entertaining.  I haven't done much in the way of international travel, and I am sure many would say that London is barely international, and that, of course, is practically true.  The locals speak more English per capita than the locals in my own town, and its not like you're having to go by horseback or otter-car to get places in London.

For a collection of photos, please feel free to click here.

I do plan to upload more pics.  However, my camera died halfway through the trip, and I need to download the rest from my iPhone.

We had the good fortune of staying at a flat in Kensington, which seemed to be a fairly well-to-do part of London.  Having had never been to London, I didn't really have any expectations, but found it easy enough to navigate and appreciated the local insistence on telling you which direction to look for oncoming traffic at each intersection.

Inside the city, we either walked or took the tube, with one quick trip on a river boat.

To get it out of the way, here is a brief itinerary:

7:00 AM arrived
Slept briefly
Science Museum
Natural History Museum
Princess Victoria Pub
Dinner at an Italian Place
Princess Victoria Pub

British Museum
Forbidden Planet Cult Entertainment Superstore
Dinner on High Kensington (I had fish cakes)
Ran into crowd of Indian nationals celebrating India's win in the Cricket World Cup Championship at Piccadilly Circus
Saw the comedy "The 39 Steps" at the Criterion Theatre in Piccadilly Circus
wandered around Piccadilly, etc...

Thames, Parliament, Westminster, Eye of London exteriors
City Cruise
Tower of London with Yeoman Warder Tour
Trafalgar Square
Salisbury Pub

Westminster Abbey tour
Churchill War Museum tour
National Gallery and Jason's strategic strike on important paintings (funniest bit of whole trip - mad dash to see 5 specific paintings before the museum closed)
Garfunkel's - the Bennigan's of England

Get on a plane at 9:30 AM

Some observations:

  • London has the finest public restrooms I have ever seen
  • Virtually every exhibit in London should be subtitled "Get Rich or Die Tryin'"
  • I would guess maybe 50% of the people in London are actually English by ancestry
  • the curators at the British Museum are very against you seeing a carving of a man's dick.  The ancients are very about including dicks in their statues.  This causes a sort of queasy feeling in the Greek/ Roman section of the museum where the curator never met a dick he was not going to knock clean off a statue.
  • I have never been anywhere short of a library conference where I was certain I could take everyone around me.  I did not see anyone I wasn't sure I could take anywhere in London.
  • Big Ben is more impressive than you think its going to be
  • Every place you think you're going to visit in London as a perfunctory visit is way better than you think it will be
  • The wedding of Prince William and Kate is going to be a total riot if the number of collector's plates, flags and mugs displayed in windows is any indication
  • Piccadilly Circus is remarkably short on trained elephants
  • US Public Spaces got nothing on London
  • Judging by the ratio of pub to "American Italian" places...  Londoners apparently love pizza
  • The British comic market is virtually identical to the American comic market (and Austin Books is a World Class comic shop if Forbidden Planet is any indication)
  • Nobody working in the service industry has been in their job longer than a month, and many are not clear on what street they are working
  • Apparently there is a dress code in force for 20-somethings in the parts of London I visited.  Only 3 looks per gender are approved.
  • I dress, look and act very much like an American.  Indian ex-pats will find this amusing.
  • British police see no problem with their visitors and locals climbing all over public statues (in Texas, this will get you in trouble).
  • Henry VIII had issues.
  • The London Eye is kind of ridiculous.
  • When architecture is from every era, it kind of works crammed altogether, but I wouldn't want to draw a cityscape of London.
  • You do not need to put on the "replica hat" at the Churchill Museum just because the docent suggests you do so.
  • You should do whatever the docent tells you to do at Westminster Abbey.
  • Newton and Darwin are buried at Westminster.  The UK is playing by different rules.  I'm just saying.
  • Also buried there: Dickens, Handel and others.  We can learn from this.
  • Public transportation is what you make of it, America.
  • The number of products the US and UK have in common is shocking.  
  • My dad, left to his own devices, will watch the same kind of "true life crime" shows on basic cable that I tend to watch when unemployed.
  • The only major disagreement you will see the Steans Men have while travelling is over which beer is appropriate for this particular moment (the answer is: always start with Stella)

I'm not the first American to get bowled over by London, but in some small way I am glad that I didn't wind up there until I had a bit more life and travel under my belt than I might have had when I was, say, 18.  Through reading, movies, documentary TV, etc...  I have an extremely rudimentary working knowledge of British history today that I didn't have at all until the end of college, and so I suspect that much of what I saw would have been wasted on me then.

It strikes me that we in the vast, vast majority of the geography of the US do not have memorials to those who died more than 200 years ago, and the further west one travels in the US, the briefer our sense of history as much more than an abstraction of something left behind somewhere else.  A lack of living history, of being surrounded by those who've gone before (some winning, many not winning) may be what gives us an inflated sense of destiny, like a teenager who sees only a future as a rock star ahead of them when they pick up their first guitar and who can't be bothered to learn more than the chords of their current favorite songs.

And as hard fought as democracy has been here in the US, it was also the first step we took as a nation.  Everything prior to the French-Indian Wars is buried in a sort of promordial soup of witch-hunts and Indian killing that we'd rather not discuss.  In England, this period is just short of current events.  You can see the change from one-thousand years of feudal clashes to the rise of democracy in the stones and monuments, and there's something to that, I think.  We're a blip on the continuum, it seems to say, and what we do while we're here is important, but it will also pass, and those who are remembered are remembered as either good or terrible souls, and history will look back on you with an audio tour that will speak frankly about your deeds as people walk on your grave.

Anyhow, I'm not telling anyone anything they don't know, especially those of you who've been to London.

It was good to go, its good to be back.  I will definitely return for a longer tour of England at some point, and I'd like to see all of the UK at some point.  But I should likely see more of the US, too.