Sunday, 31 October 2010

Spoiler Alert!

Earlier this year, my friend Chris (DYFL) discovered and then divulged the ending of the Twilight series to me and a group of our friends. We sat around in shock after he told us the finale for this wildly popular vampire saga. I've never read the books and fell asleep during the first movie, but I was intrigued by the ending Chris recounted to us - only because it was beyond horrific. The cartoon I drew based on the Twilight ending asks the question: how in the world are they going to make an entire movie out of THIS?!

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Land of Plenty

Moving from New York to London leads to inevitable comparisons between the two metropolises. Prior to my big move, I read numerous articles (mostly British) from the past couple of years highlighting the growing rivalry between London and New York as two cities of the world -- a rivalry, of which, I'm afraid, New Yorkers aren't particularly aware. Each article smacked of a sort of inferiority complex held by London. Even in areas where London beats New York, there was such a desperation in pointing out the win by London, that I couldn't help but picture the rivalry between Marcia and Jan Brady from the Brady Bunch. Marcia Brady, for my non-American friends, is the beautiful and popular eldest daughter on the 1970s family sitcom, while Jan Brady is the attention-starved and "hopeless wannabe" middle daughter.

I feel that all those articles' attempts to match up London against New York are so frustrated because comparing the two cities is like comparing apples with oranges -- or, more accurately, comparing fish & chips with hamburgers. The comparison is simply a matter of taste and preference, and the one you prefer at any given time is subject to change. Sometimes you want the satisfaction acquired from eating a ground beef patty smothered in melted cheese, and sometimes you want a battered chunk of cod the size of a child's leg.

I'm sure the debate about which city is superior will continue until the zombie-squid apocalypse.

Until that inevitable day of devastation, I'm not going to engage in the debate. I love New York after living there for eight years, and I'm just now acquainting myself with London. Therefore, I'm simply going to recount the very personal observations I've made about London since moving here in May. I've divided them, not surprisingly, into likes and dislikes.


1. Richard is here!!
Yes, just when you thought we were past all that mushy crap about my gorgeous boyfriend, you were wrong! His well-spoken British self is the number one reason I am in London and, therefore, the number one reason I like London.

2. Expat Americans
My transition to a new country has been made infinitely easier because of all the wonderful expatriate Americans whom Richard and I have met.

3. Our Apartment
If our apartment in London were an animal, it would look like this:

In other words, small and incredibly adorable.

4. Double-decker Buses
I can not help it, but double-decker buses really bring out the kid in me -- and Richard, for that matter. I'm almost embarrassed by how much we enjoy sitting in the front row of the upper deck as the bus careens down winding London streets.

5. The History
London is obese with history, it's everywhere. I honestly feel that with almost every step I take my shoes are passing over some wedge of land where something interesting and consequential happened. Discovering the history of my surroundings in London makes even the most mundane tasks come alive with stories.

6. The Food
Despite all the negative flack that Britain gets for its food, I have had some of the most amazing meals of my life in this city. In the past five months, I have had only two meals that were sub-par, everything else has been utterly amazing.

7. London is not Svalbard
I'm so relieved that since I moved abroad for love, I didn't do it for someone who lived in the ass-end of nowhere. Essentially, all I've done is trade one major metropolitan center for another -- which is great! Although an arctic barren waste may be a cool place to visit, I doubt I could ever live in one.


1. The Tube
London's Underground is usually very fast and trains come regularly, however, it is also blighted by tiny train carriages, completely swamped with people, and not even remotely air-conditioned.

2. Tourists
This may only be a symptom of having moved to London during the Summer, but London is ridiculously lousy with tourists -- slow moving, confused, and obnoxious. Back in New York, if you avoid Times Square and the Empire State Building you don't suffer too much from tourists. In London, however, they are EVERYWHERE. At first, I thought Londoners didn't know how to walk with the same purposeful gait as New Yorkers, but then I realized that the dopey individuals who were plodding along without any regard for the people trying to walk around them were not Londoners, but tourists -- thousands, upon thousands of tourists. If there is any place in London even remotely interesting, I assure you, it is hideously overcrowded with this swarm.

Once, while waiting to meet friends at Piccadilly Circus, Richard and I decided to play a game:

At one point I thought I had heard English being spoken, but it turned out to be Dutch. Neither of us won.

3. It's Freakin' Expensive!!

 Enough said.

4. Plenty
Over the past few months, I have had to get used to a lot of minor changes from living an American life to living a British one. However, there is one seemingly minuscule difference that really gets under my skin. It is a uniquely British problem and, therefore, not confined just to London, but I'm so irked by it that I'm counting it as a mark against this fair city. I'm talking, of course, about paper towels. That's right, paper towels. Called "kitchen roll" in the United Kingdom, paper towels are sold over here roughly half the size of paper towel rolls in the USA. They are short, skinny little rolls that barely last a couple of days. This wouldn't be so terrible if it weren't for the fact that they have the gall to name these towels, without even being remotely aware of the irony, Plenty. Seriously, they are branded as Plenty -- as though calling the product something that it most certainly is not won't actually just highlight its glaringly obvious short-comings.


I'm sure these lists of likes and dislikes will grow the longer I live here, however, I take it as a good sign that the dislikes list is smaller than the likes list -- in much the same way as Plenty is smaller than it's American cousin, Bounty. Yup, I really do have a chip on my shoulder about that one.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010


My sincerest apologies for not posting for an age, but I have been on vacation in the Canary Islands -- specifically Tenerife. Richard and I rented out a holiday villa with four friends and prepared to while away an entire week lounging by a pool and cursing passing clouds for getting between us and our beloved sun. However, as this wonderful holiday abroad approached, Richard and I started to have misgivings. We looked forward to the sun and the fun, but we did not look forward to sharing our villa's pool with various other people staying in the vacation compound. Richard and I had hoped to have a private pool, however, none of the villas with private pools in our price range had seemed very nice. Therefore, the group had settled on renting a villa in a resort property where there were bound to be other guests using the pool.

In the days leading up to the vacation, I kept having nightmarish visions of the kinds of people who would be awaiting us at the pool in Tenerife.

However, upon arriving on the island, this is what actually awaited me, Richard and our friends:

None of the other villas in the fourteen villa complex were occupied -- not one! Not a single other villa had people in it. We had the entire compound, let alone the pool, to ourselves for a week. Being responsible adults, we decided to blast loud music from our villa, push each other fully clothed and screaming into the pool and play hide-and-seek, cops-and-robbers and sardines just about every night we were there.

With all that excitement at night, I spent my days in Tenerife doing little more than this:

After one week of this utter laziness, I was happy to return to reality. Nevertheless, the time away had been wonderful and as we gathered our belongings to make the trip back to Britain, I paused to make an addition to the villa's guest book. 

Where other families had written rather generic and predictable messages of praise for the villa, I scribbled out this:

Haggis-Attack was a team name from one of our earlier games; it was inspired by
the fact that three of our friends are Scottish.

Once I was certain the villa's owners would be sufficiently aware that the week in Tenerife had been the stuff of stars, hearts and unicorns to us, I returned the guest book to it's table and we all hopped in two cabs to the airport. At the airport we waded through a sea of British and German tourists, passed through security and spent far too long wandering around shops that attempted to sell goods produced in the Canary Islands - which, in case anyone is wondering, are goods that consist of any material that can be extracted from a cactus or a palm tree. These tacky-crap-produced-in-the-Canaries stores all came under the blanket name of Canariensis. Canariensis is a type of palm local to the Canary Islands, but everyone agreed it just sounded like the shops were named after some sort of sexually transmitted disease.

Richard and I arrived home to our apartment after a beleaguering odyssey which consisted of riding a crammed budget flight, a bus, a commuter train, the last tube train on the Hammersmith & City line before the London Underground closed for the night, and then another bus -- and, I might add, while waiting for this last bus we saw an astonishingly violent fist fight break out between two drunken groups of people in front of a chip-shop across the street. Since our return, I have been adjusting to a life where I have to wake up at 9am and reacquaint myself with one nasty word: deadline. Of course, our lovely vacation is easily remembered every time I see Richard's perfect tan -- granted, this makes me instantly notice the glaring inferiority of my own sun exposure which is best demonstrated in the most family-friendly way by using these Ken dolls: