Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Dames to Watch Out For: Gloria Grahame

Its my birthday as I begin this post, so I'm going to indulge myself and return to that old standby of "Dames In the Media the League Once Dug", which at this URL, we call "Dames to Watch Out For".

In this edition: Ms. Gloria Grahame

You may think you don't know Gloria Grahame, but if you owned a TV in the 1980's and 90's in the month of December, it means you saw It's a Wonderful Life.  Grahame played Violet Bick, the woman who seems a lot more interesting than Donna Reed who George gives some money to so that she can leave town and start a new life (its also shown she had eyes for George Bailey, and he had no idea.  We think George may have missed the boat on that one.)

see, you know this person
She also appeared in Oklahoma! as Ado Annie, a sort of naive, man-crazy problem-child.  Grahame was in her 30's by the time the movie was released, but was playing someone around 17 or 18, I'd guess.  Go figure.

If you've seen Oklahoma!, she's the crazy one who is often seen in a terrible hat.

the hat alone should warn the farmers and the cow mans that she's 10 kinds of crazy
But that's not the Grahame we're here to talk about.  Today, we want to discuss the Noir-centric Gloria Grahame.

Grahame gives Ford a couple of things to think about
In doing my research I stumbled across a great post about Grahame at Bright Lights Film Journal, and I'd recommend it as a good read.

I haven't seen all that many films with Grahame, but its hard to ignore her in either Crossfire or The Big Heat.

It seems Grahame actually received accolades for her work in Crossfire, and its not hard to see why.  Its a heartbreaking role as a taxi dancer, caught up in the murder of a Jewish US Soldier.  Ginny's role isn't the focus, although pivotal, and Grahame breathes a lot of life into the character, worn out and tired, and rightfully certain she's barely counted as a person any more.

I'll discuss Crossfire at another point.  I've seen it twice, and while somewhat dated in its approach, its still a great, tight film and uses the genre to share messages that were on the mind of America in the wake of World War II.

Also like a loaded gun?  A loaded gun.
Grahame would receive an Academy Award nomination, but it wouldn't lead to her becoming part of the Hollywood Pantheon of stars best remembered from the eras she crossed, from Hayworth to Monroe, or their later peers.

I have discussed The Big Heat, which I'll reiterate here is just a terrific movie.

this fills so many check boxes for me on a great noir scene, my brain is kind of exploding
For me, the standout role for Grahame is likely in The Big Heat, which is the source of the image above.  This is a movie about tough/ righteous police, corrupt cops and their spouses, sociopathic henchmen, ruthless mobsters, etc...  and Grahame manages to go toe-to-toe with all of them.  Including Lee Marvin.  Lee.  Marvin.

Grahame's character (a bit like descriptions I've read of Grahame herself) is a particularly bright woman who also likes to have a pretty darn good time.  She may intellectually know she's hanging out with hoodlums, but it seems to be working out pretty well for her.  The character takes a drastic turn, and Grahame handles the metamorphosis terribly well for what could have been an awkwardly melodramatic performance in lesser hands.  It may not be a femme fatale role, but its also an interesting female role from the era (as many are once you head into the world of noir).

publicity still from "The Big Heat"
Unfortunately, as with her peers such as Veronica Lake, Rita Hayworth and Marilyn Monroe, Grahame's personal life seemed fit for its own big screen treatment if it hadn't featured a lot of material that likely wouldn't have met production codes back in the day.

Grahame had her fair share of romantic entanglements and married four times (including to Nicholas Ray and, later, Ray's son, so....  yeah, there's a story there), and died at the age of only 57.

For my birthday I received a film noir box set from Jamie featuring Human Desire from 1954.  Its one of the movies up next in my queue, so expect to see more Grahame in the near future.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Taking the Night Off

Its my birthday.  Here's Cyd Charisse.

Today I am 36. Dammit.

No.  I don't want to talk about it.  As I did at League of Melbotis on each birthday, I shall share with you a song that sums up the annual rite.

"In the Aeroplane Over the Sea" - Neutral Milk Hotel

What a beautiful face 
I have found in this place
That is circling all round the sun
What a beautiful dream
That could flash on the screen
In a blink of an eye and be gone from me
Soft and sweet
Let me hold it close and keep it here with me

And one day we will die
And our ashes will fly from the aeroplane over the sea
But for now we are young
Let us lay in the sun 
And count every beautiful thing we can see
Love to be 
In the arms of all I'm keeping here with me

Anna's ghost all around 
Hear her voice as it's rolling and ringing through me
Soft and sweet
How the notes all bend and reach above the trees   

Now how I remember you 
How I would push my fingers through
Your mouth to make those muscles move
That made your voice so smooth and sweet
And now we keep where we don't know
All secrets sleep in winter clothes
With one you loved so long ago
Now he don't even know his name 

What a beautiful face
I have found in this place 
That is circling all round the sun
And when we meet on a cloud
I'll be laughing out loud
I'll be laughing with everyone I see
Can't believe how strange it is to be anything at all

Monday, April 11, 2011

Evidence that Girls No Longer Terrified By Nerds (Appear to ALSO be Nerds)

The past week, I've seen pics from two decidedly geeky romances.

Here, the starry-eyed suitor placed the engagement ring (s?) in a Pokeball.  Apparently, this (and placing an "I Choose You!" message in the ball) worked for the gent. I am not overly familiar with Pokemon, but I do know:  this sort of thing as recently as the 90's would have meant you were going to have to start over with an entirely new girl and become a cautionary tale. 

Comics Alliance also featured this story on a Vintage Superhero Themed Wedding

You know, when I was getting married, people laughed and said "are you going to dress up as Superman?" which...  honestly I thought was a weird question, but it was appropriate, I guess.  But it certainly never occurred to me to try to talk Jamie into anything but a pretty standard-issue wedding of tuxes, dresses, bouquets and a cake.  We did choose "Satellite of Love" for our wedding song, somewhat in tribute to MST3K, somewhat in tribute to Lou Reed, somewhat because...  seriously, who picks "Satellite of Love" for their wedding song?  We were kind of snickering our whole way through the wedding planning, I might add.

But there was no mention of capes.  I didn't even insist on a red and blue cummerbund set, which I would likely do these days. 

Its a nice side-effect, I think, of superhero movies going more mainstream and the influx of women into geek culture which seems to grow every year.  Already it seems that the era when women were hugely in the minority was some long ago age.  But, really, it was more like...  2003? 

I'm not suggesting there's parity, but its a different world out there now. 

Jamie may not have had a superhero-themed wedding, but she's been living a super-lifestyle since the say I unrolled a Superman poster in our first house and announced "this will look great in the living room".  In many ways, I like to think Jamie was a pioneer in the field of Not Fleeing when The Geek Lets His Freak Flag Fly.  In addition, she's more than embraced all of this superhero and comics jazz.  She very much has her own tastes and opinions, and has read far more comics than people know. 

But that likely does not mean she wants to spend our anniversary at a comic convention.  But she does have her own GL ring, and is prepped for the movie.

Signal Watch Reads: iZombie Volume 1 - Dead to the World

I'm not so much worn out on actual zombie movies and comics as I am on the "let us beat this meme into the ground until its an embarrassment" that has come along with the past five or six years in the geek-o-sphere. At the end of the day, I really liked Dawn of the Dead when I finally watched it last fall (it was also about 8x better than Snyder's remake, which people raved about, much to my confusion), I really liked TV's Walking Dead, and I only recently learned that CSPAN is not actually a network dedicated to showing the droning, rambling undead, but until that point, I'd been quite a fan.

So I was a bit skeptical of hopping onboard DC/ Vertigo's new series iZombie, despite the art being handled by Mike Allred, one of my favorite comic artists. Marvel kick started the whole zombie phenomenon with the one-note joke that was Marvel Zombies (and which was a funny good idea for, maybe, a one-shot, not 5 years worth of comics), and virtually every other publisher picked up on the fad, culminating in DC's Blackest Night series, which wasn't really zombies, but that's splitting hairs.

Still, the comics internets really seemed to LIKE iZombie, which means almost nothing on a typical day. I didn't know if this was more "oh, Zombies! He he he!" geekdom just leftover from the zombie craze, if this was one of those cases of the tastemakers seemingly randomly picking a comic or character to champion as seems to be SOP in the comics internets (ex: lets all suddenly love Thor!), or if there was something genuinely to the raves.

As I mentioned above, I really like Mike Allred's work, but I've not always been a fan of the comics he actually works on. I burnt out on X-Force pretty quickly, and I never could stick with Madman (which was weird, because it seemed like it should have been exactly in my wheelhouse). But the comic was written by Austin-local, Superman-scribe and much-buzzed-about Chris Roberson, and I figured that was at least worth a shot.

I'm happy to report that the money spent was well worth it. Yes, Allred seems to just get better, and he seems like he's having the same fun here I felt he was having on those early issues of X-Force. He and his wife, colorist Laura Allred, are hitting on all cylinders here. The body horror of the comic is toned down through the Allreds' style to keep the focus on the story, and to push the story along (one can imagine what this book would have looked like under, say, Juan Jose Ryp - who does what he does well, but it would have been a much different comic).

Of course an Allred-drawn female protagonist looks like a very pretty girl with a migraine, or perhaps working on two days without sleep.  In this case its "Gwen", our protagonist/ not-shambling-mess zombie of the title.

yes, brains will be consumed
Gwen is dead, yes.  But she can avoid becoming a Night of the Living Dead-style zombie by consuming a human brain every 4 weeks or so.  Inbetween...  she's just kind of pale and can eat whatever she pleases.  No, we don't see monstered-out Gwen in this book (spoiler!).

Roberson isn't out to create a horror anthology with iZombie, and he isn't exactly playing to the same tone as, say, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but he is out to create a fun and and surpising book that manages to defy expectations in enough places that it does feel like Roberson is doing something new and different using very familiar tropes.  The first volume's true climax includes the imparting of essential knowledge to push the character (and, one imagines, the supporting cast) forward and out of what's become routine for the undead of the cast.

In many ways, I'm much more interested in the world Roberson puts on the page, and exploring how that world operates than I would be in building toward some big-boss fight.  If he can manage to make the concept of a zombie novel in the middle of 2011, then I've got high hopes.

Here be spoilers

I'd be lying if I didn't say I'm concerned about cliches appearing.  An ancient religious order dedicated to wiping out the paranormal has become so common, its now a standard down at SyFy Network original programming.  Let alone "the hunter and the hunted feel a mutual attraction" is a standard trope in any genre.

I'm not here to offer Roberson advice.  The man knows what he's doing, and for all I know, he's got some off-the-wall plans for what looks like a "been there, done that" storyline.

Endeth the spoilers

The Monster Squad
In a few issues, Roberson has created a memorable cast, and its going to be the "community" feel of the book that will see this title sink or swim.  From Gwen to her ghostly BFF to the hangdog "Scott" (an unfortunate were-Terrier), a clique of vampires and a mysterious, bandaged stranger...  its a good little group that Roberson and Allred have put together here.

There are plenty of seeds planted for at least two years' worth of stories, and I hope Roberson gets a chance to explore them all.

The book manages to pull off an interesting balancing act of bringing to life horror monsters in an almost "day in the life" approach, and makes them likeable without resorting to getting twee or overtly cutesy, defanging the concept utterly, or transporting the concept to another genre in order to make it "relatable" (see:  Monster High).  In short, it never gets turned into kiddy material just because its also not a horror book.

I'll definitely be picking up the next volume, and I'll put this on the "recommended list" if the next volume can maintain the spirit and style.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Michael Shannon to Play "General Zod" in new Superman Movie


Well, it sounds like Snyder is "re-imagining" Superman as, pretty much, Superman.  Actor Michael Shannon (who I know from Boardwalk Empire) will play rogue Kryptonian General Zod, who was condemned to the Phantom Zone (a sort of trandimensional prison) just prior to the destruction of Krypton.

Our villain

In the comics, Zod was a fairly minor villain, even for a Phantom Zone villain.

In the comics, Zod would go on to lead a pink-clad marching band
Nonetheless, Superman II turned General Zod into a crowd favorite.  After the relaunch of the Superman titles in the mid-1980's, several attempts were made to bring Zod into mainstream Superman lore.  Seriously.  Several.  None took, and if you want to see a map of a continuity mess prior to 2006's Infinite Crisis, I would point to DC's handling of Zod as Phantom Zone menace, pocket-world Kryptonian menace, alien symbiote-thing menace...

In 2007, Zod returned to the DCU, and despite the weakness of the conclusion to New Krypton and War of the Supermen, its safe to say that Johns' Last Son storyline brought the cinematic trio of Zod, Ursa and Non squarely into the comics, and have put Zod into continuity.

That's neither here nor there in relation to the movies, but as Zod is so tied in with Superman in the public's understanding of Superman, its good to have the comics and movies match up a bit better.

The 2009-2010 season of Smallville also featured a version of Zod, as well as a prior season (that I didn't watch.  Maybe 2005?), so TV has seen its fair share of Zod, too. 

I'm very pleased by the casting, if not the choice of villain (can a man get a Brianiac?).  Shannon was the most interesting part of Boardwalk Empire, and I think that's saying something. 

Friday, April 8, 2011

No Post Friday

This evening I was out rollerskating (no, really), and did not have time to even think about posting.

I highly recommend rollerskating if you haven't done it in a few years. Its invigorating.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Green Lantern Trailer #2 Brings Up a Few Points

Here's the newest Green Lantern trailer, which showed at WonderCon this weekend in San Francisco. In my opinion, its a bit of a step up from the last trailer.

In the era of CGI or in the era of matte-FX, big FX movies have had an issue that's hard to overcome: how do you get a trailer out that shows off your movie when your FX aren't done?

Not to mention, what is the appropriate tone to take with your trailer well before the movie has only been shot, but the storytelling that goes on in editing hasn't been done?

I'll say this: the new trailer, whether you like it or not, is a lot closer to what I think of when I think of Green Lantern comics than what I saw in the first trailer. The first trailer felt more like "what would happen if Ryan Reynolds became a super hero?" than "Ryan Reynolds is playing Hal Jordan, who becomes a Green Lantern", going for half the length of the trailer before hinting at anything... interesting. And then was a montage of confusing imagery that wasn't going to mean much except to veteran Lantern fans, and even then... well, it just wasn't anything all that promising.

I'm still not sold on the movie, but at least someone stepped in to cut a trailer that was more "Epic Space Opera" than "Wacky Summer Comedy". And I can only hope the footage is there, along with the script, to bring the best parts of Green Lantern and its 50-year history in comics to the screen, and not let the usual issues with stars, wayward directors, producers with notes, etc... get in the way.

But, man, I don't even know that its worth it anymore to show trailers much more than two or so months before a film's release. I don't recall the last time I heard anything but comic fans and non-comic fans alike finding reasons that a superhero adaptation was going to be awful, and usually for pretty minor reasons. And, as someone who has talked a lot online for years about comics, movies and the place where they meet... I'm as guilty as the next guy.

But I'm not doing it anymore. The patterns are too obvious.

1) The first images of the costume are released, and even if its an exact replica of the comics, the internets light up, mocking the look. The one exception: Iron Man. But when movies or TV make alterations to make the superhero not look like a crazy person, people go crazy. Yes, I'd like to see a Batman more like the comics in the movies, but deep-down, I know that look basically boils down to the Adam West costume. And did you really think Wonder Woman was going to go live-action in 2011, and they weren't going to put pants on her? How many columns would have been written about a pantless WW had the producers gone that route?

Also, you cannot make an 8-foot CGI Hulk and not get "Shrek" comparisons, but... if you want a bulky 8-foot thing that's green, it really doesn't matter what design you go with. Two similarly sized green things are going to get comparisons. We get it.

2) The first trailer is going to have to cut out some key elements of what you, comic nerd, believe is super-important to explaining the character. The problem is - that's usually too much story for a trailer. Most first trailers are there to give you impressions: who is in the movie, is it a superhero movie, is it funny, etc... And, as I mentioned before, if the movie isn't all practical effects, its going to be pretty short on better CGI. It just might not be ready yet.

3) Some really bad movies have awesome trailers. But cool looking scenes don't really indicate a decent movie. I'm the first to say: Sucker Punch had a really slick trailer. Tron Legacy? GREAT trailer and teaser trailer. People get paid a lot of money to make random footage thrown at them look like a good way to spend an evening and $20. These days I wait to see how things are going at and word of mouth.

4) Every idea for a movie sounds stupid or brilliant, especially superhero-type stuff, depending on who is telling you about it. Superhero comics have taught me one thing: there are no bad ideas, only bad execution. So, do not trust snarky online movie-people, and doubly do not trust snarky people in magazines. Today it seems obvious that all the world will love an X-Man, but before Singer's version of X-Men came out? Man, the press was not sure what to do with this whole "X-Men" idea. I think the press has finally realized - people like Singer didn't bring new ideas to X-Men, those ideas were already there. They just understood enough about the idea behind the comics that they could make that idea work.

Guys who dress up as spiders and bats and refuse to use guns while taking on armed criminals is a stupid idea. Except when it isn't.

5) That thing you love about your favorite superhero? Or even that one detail you think is crucial? It may not be in the movie at all. That does not mean, super-fanboy, that the movies is going to be awful.

Anyway, these days I'm trying to give superhero movies a lot more breathing room before I start getting cranked up enough to complain too much. I still remember a world before Sam Raimi got an enormous budget and made a lovely ode to 60's and 70's-era Spider-Man comics into a movie. I saw The Phantom, The Shadow, 1990's Captain America, 1970's Captain America, some TV movie Spider-Man, Batman and Robin, TV-era Hulk (its really pretty bad), 1990's TV The Flash... and many of these I like or own on DVD. But we're spoiled in 2011, forgetting that the idea of spending a ton of money on a Green Lantern movie back in the day would have been unthinkable, let alone recreating a recognizable Oa and its occupants.

That doesn't mean every superhero movie coming out these days is good or worth seeing (I can name two Fantastic Four movies you can do without watching), but... these days I think its a wait-and-see game. Don't judge a movie by the first trailer or your initial reaction to a costume if it doesn't match the, frankly, impossible designs created for 2-d drawings of ridiculously proportioned men and women.

Give it a shot, be patient, and wait for the reviews and definitely wait for at least the second trailer.

Media Consumed While Travelling to and from London

On the way to London, mostly I slept.  But during the trip

I read:

The Score, by Richard Stark.  #5 in the series.  I really liked this one, and, boy do these books read fast.
Jonah Hex: Face Full of Violence - by Palmiotti and Gray (and others)
.5 of Jonah Hex: Guns of Vengeance - by Palmiotti and Gray (and others) I left this somewhere in the flat in Kensington.  Now I will have to fin another copy somewhere used or very cheap.
The first 175 pages of American Gods by Neil Gaiman.  If you start reading this and think "well, gee, this is a lot like Anansi Boys..."  keep reading.

I watched:

Space Battleship Yamoto - live action version.  It... wasn't very good. 
Jonah Hex - it also wasn't very good
3/4's of Black Swan - its good, but for a movie with so much hype, man, its about as subtle as a slap to the face.  I didn't turn it off out of disgust, btw.  The plane was landing.
Beverly Hills Cops - for some reason we all came back to the flat and stayed up late watching this on Sky.  No idea why.

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.