Archive for the 'England' Category

There’s no ‘N’ in Tate, bass in the Poshness, and more site improvements.

The Wandering Nerd August 29th, 2007

Okay kids, grab a drink, settle down, buckle up, and hold on, there’s a lot coming.

The fancy schmancy bus that I was on deposited me in the middle of Victoria. Which is the name of the area in the SW part of central London. There’s Victoria the area, Victoria Street, Victoria Circle, Victoria Rail Station, Victoria Underground, Victoria Coach Station, an a goodly number of other transportation hubs all centered around there, all of which named, you guessed it, Victoria. How’s that for a spanking good intro to one of the largest cities in the world?

Luckily I was able to meet up with Damian - a friend from the Nashville days - and he helped get me sorted.

The ‘Tube’ or the London Underground gets a lot of flak from the people here. They are wrong, don’t listen to them - these people think cookies are ‘biscuits’ and that a Milky Way bar is a ‘Mars’ bar, so they clearly can’t be trusted. The Underground is ‘the biz’ - look at how British I’ve become. You can buy individual fares for travel on the tube, but the Oyster card is the way to go. It’s just a RFID card that stores up credit. Way easy, just swipe it and hop on and off wherever you want. Tres chic, all of the cool kids have one. Do you?

London is another study in anachronism, all of this modern architecture and sculpture, abutted along side buildings from the eighteenth century all the way back to the eleveneenth century. It’s vibrant and bustling, one of those cities that seems like it has a life all it’s own, independant of the crawling masses scattered through its streets.

Speaking of crawling masses: Nottinghill Carnivale!

And as a special surprise for you, my fine cultured reader, vidja. I would suggest turning your volume down…a lot, at least the bass.

I think with all of the sound waves and color particle-waves there was some sort of interdimension warp, only through the course of careful application of Red Stripe was I able to keep my sanity - if not my eardrums - intact. It was packed with people, I can only imagine what Brazil would be like during Carnivale. Maybe I should find out next year.

I’ve gotten sorted to a point where I should be able to periodically put some video up. I went back and added some to one of the posts from Glasgow’s museum. I thought about just getting lazy and doing video updates, but I hate being on film, and Brad would probably throttle me and my bandwidth if I did that. :)

The Tate Modern is pretty frikkin’ sweet. I spent a long afternoon in there after walking around some of the major sights of London. You’ll note that the London Eye is about like that drunk guy you knew in college - not me - that would always jump into a picture that you were trying to take. It’s an everpresent, unblinking eye…ever searching for the one ring. You’ll see it’s snuck into a number of photos, like peeking around from behind a building when it thinks you won’t notice. Speaking of the photos, London really lacks any sort of sense of grandeur. If they could try to sort out some sense of scale, or majesty in buildings they’d do a lot better.

Back to the Tate…the ‘Tate’ Modern. Lots of cool pieces, plus the sillier stuff like a red box, or a box on the wall that looks like a vent…but that’s not a vent, which is why it’s art…yeah. Though one of the tour guides on the river cruise did mention, after venting spleen on how modern art is rubbish and that the admission is free to get into the Tate but they charge you a tenner to leave, that when the Millenium Bridge was first built it suffered from stability problems. As England, and indeed the UK, is fond of giving clever nicknames to landmarks, it became known as the ‘Wibblety-Wobblety’ Bridge. Subsequent rework was done to stabilize the bridge, the Wobblety was removed and is now on display at the Tate Modern.


the timid proud one
asger jorn

francis bacon
triptych second version

jesu raphael soto


roy lichtenstein
wall explosion II

There was a huge Dali exhibit going on as well. I was shocked at how small ‘Persistence of Memory’ actually is, like 12″x10″. The exhibition was really focused on Dali’s interest in film.

I didn’t know that he’s done work with both Hitchcock and Disney after Andalou.

Hitchcock was for a dream sequence in Spellboud:

While that was cool, the collaboration with Disney, ‘Destino’ was perhaps the best animation I have ever see.

That’s only a snippet, the full thing I can’t find, but if you ever get a chance to see it, do so. So if you’re in London between now and September 8th… I’ve also heard it’s played continuously at the Dali museum in Spain. So there ya’ go.

The National Gallery wouldn’t allow photos either, so just some highlights for myself here.

harmen steenwyck - human life

peter rubens - a lion hunt

joseph wright of derby - bird in the air pump

john constable - from the meadows

edgar degas - ballet dancers

Dunno’ if those links will actually work, I’m running out of battery and will try to fix them later if not.  *Update*: they should work now.

I went to the Science and Natural History Museum - where they would allow photography - for a bit so you get another gallery:

I also figured out how to get some decent shots after night. To nerd out a bit, the problem with the cheaper digitals is you can’t control exposure length, i.e. how long the shutter is open. So any shots when it’s dark out causes that little guy to open to full aperture and spend some quality time being caressed by the light. So two problem arise from that with a simple camera. Keeping it steady while it’s sucking down all those photons, and making sure you don’t jar it by simply pushing the button. The first, easily remedied, I picked up one of those grippy little tripod things. On my bigger camera there’s a remote shutter control, on this little thing there sadly isn’t, but look how clever I am, there is a timer. Simple solutions to simple problems. I think they turned out well enough, at least for field work without a net.

London has become my favorite big city. I’m still enamored with Killarney as my favorite, but London truly is calling. It’s like if you took New York, or even better Chicago, and endowed it with both charm and civility. Though it does suffer from the typical big city thing of people never talking to - or indeed even looking at - on another.


The tube system, once you get it figured out, makes London extremely accessable. Just a matter of making sense of this. No real problem at all once you do it a couple of times, and pay attention to when they’re working on the lines. Not to mention the expansive bus services make getting around a breeze.

The only two problems I can see with London, are the weather and the cost of living. A nice but small simple flat about 20 minutes outside of London proper goes for anywhere from 800-2000 pounds for a studio/one bedroom. Yah. Some of the lease space in the center was going for the millions of pounds. Oh and you can’t actually own any property in certain areas of London, it’s all owned by the Duke of Wellington, you lease it for 99 years, then it goes back to him regardless. Strangeness.

They do have some large swaths of parkland through out the city so you can always find some lush verdant open space to lay out in during the 2 or three days of sunshine. They had a live band playing in the middle of St. James’s park too, keen:

On the last night in London I caught a showing of Wicked, as a musical it’s pretty and entertaining, great fun. As an adaptation it’s more of a musical inspired by the book, so completely different.

I’m on the bus to Paris now, sadly no wifi coverage, so I’m just going through getting caught up on cleaning photos up and writing this long…woah…really long post. I’m out of battery life totally so no witty commentary on the images yet, insert your own. You remember how I trust.

Hopefully there has been something interesting here for the class…what little class there is here. I’m talking about the others of course. Not you. You’re my favorite.

One more gallery!

soul on roll, but you treat it like soap on a rope
-public enemy

Meh, Oxford, a hidden tavern, and Equip: Increases attack power by 60 when fighting Beasts.

The Wandering Nerd August 23rd, 2007

I’ve been really strapped to figure out what I was going to say about Oxford. It was…okay? At best it was a mediocre place to stay. The tours I went on where mediocre, the service I received all over the city was mediocre, the reception where ever I went was mediocre. I was expecting this fantastic experience. The Oxford experience y’know? It wasn’t even outlandishly bad, just really ‘meh’ overall.

There were a few highlights, the Turf Tavern - which really is impossible to find if you don’t know where/what it is - and New College - which is the oldest college in Oxford, go figure. The best part about New College though was the bit that looks for all the world - of warcraft - like the Scarlet Monastery, there are pictures. I was really close to jumping this groundskeeper that looked just like the houndmaster for his stick… If you play WoW, that’s all uproariously funny, if you don’t, pretend I never said anything and be reminded this is the wandering nerd site, not wandering cool guy. Interesting side note: there is one thing that the groundskeeper of New College, and indeed the groundskeeper of any of the other colleges shares in common with the Queen - that’s ‘of England’ not ‘of Bohemian Rhapsody.’ The only people allowed to walk on the grass in the common areas of the colleges are the Fellows, the Queen and the bloke what mows the grass. See all of the wonderfully esoteric stuff you learn here?

I did poke around and get some fun photos though so I’ll call it a was. Walking around late at night in Oxford was much more exciting than the whole ‘walking college’ tours. I’d like to be there during an academic year, I suspect it would be more entertaining.


Give it a look and make up your own mind, but there was very little inspirational for me in Oxford. The only really striking thing was the Oxford Tube, which is the bus line which runs from Oxford to London. The fun part there is there’s wi-fi for free the whole way. So the previous two posts were made when I was rolling down the interstate…er…uhm…expressway here. Not only do they have better public transit, but you can surf the web while you’re on it. Now that is progress.

and I’ve got just one thing
that I can offer

A ‘propah’ castle, weapon proficiency, and a little spat.

The Wandering Nerd August 22nd, 2007

The choice was to go to either Bath - the city, you smart asses - or Warwick Castle today. I cast my fate to the winds…or the sun in this case. I figured if I didn’t see the sun before I made it to the train station, I would go to Bath as it was more internal and subsequently wouldn’t require a nice day.

As I was walking to the station - in the cold wind and rain, might I add - a ray of sunshine popped through the steel grey sky. Decision made. So fortune favors the foolish, and it actually turned into quite the nice day for my outing to Warwick. Which is good, I needed the sun. It’s hard being this garrulous, derisive, and scandalously cynical if I’ve nothing to contrast it with. I need bright…bright…bright sunshiny days like Cheney needs to consume fresh human baby hearts. I can go a few days without them, but my powers weaken in proportion. I really like Ireland and the UK, to a point, I find, I could reside here, but I’m thinking this grand adventure needs a really good tan, or at least one or two good sunburns. Have no doubt that I’ll complain bitterly about those as well. All things in time.

I’ve got this mighty affection for medieval…well anything medieval. Yeah, I’ve played Dungeons and Dragons. I’ve done the reenactment thing with the SCA, and I’ve seen numerous ‘ren fairs.’ I was expecting a certain tourist bent to this place. While there is one - they had the faux jousting and some guy carrying a dragon puppet around - there were exhibitions where they made a firm distinction between the movies and the history.

Quick background, or more convenient lies: Western vs. Eastern Martial Arts. The Eastern Arts have been integral to the religious and the political development of the regions. Whether Karate developing from the mandate of peasants not being allowed to bear arms, or the more classical Bushido being tightly threaded with the political classes, the east has been historically, and culturally associated with anything labeled ‘martial arts.’ The church - surprisingly - decided that the tournaments of the 16th Century were becoming too uppity so Pope Jelly the Fish outlawed them. Subsequently hamstringing the development as a martial art - well that and the advent of gunpowder and canons. A 15 kilo stone has approximately the same effect on a human in armor as a 9mm slug would have on a tin of tuna. - Italian texts of the time give descriptions of training motions not unsimilar to their Japanese counterparts when it comes to sword play.

Richard Neville, the Earl of Warwick, earned the title ‘Kingmaker’ by providing support to the appropriate king at the appropriate time. Think of him as the “Lifeline,” to put it into pop culture terms.

You’ll see a number of wax figures in the pics. They seemed to love them. Sometimes the dirty bastards made them move, or blink. I’ve got this thing, let’s call it a sort of phobia, about inanimate objects, cars, corpses, pop singers, etc. moving without external impetus. Some of them were terrifying on their own, others blinking at me unexpectantly left me wanting to grab a nearby sword - one of dozens, they are thick on the ground here in England - and make with the chopping.

In and of itself, the castle is fascinating, and overall, the players they have in place are seemingly interested in sharing some history with the customers/tourists. There was that one guy that kept knocking down little kids, but I think he was a fluke.

The highlights were, the bowman, the falconer, the weapons guys, and the big assed trebuchet. So if you like archer, birds, swords, or big ass trebuchets, you’re set.

It is a kid’s paradise. I gave in a bit and just had a good time with it. I think I was probably the only person there alone, but I did have a little tantrum with my self, threaten myself that I would go directly home, and then made up with myself by buying myself an ice cream. So I had the whole experience. I even fell asleep and had to carry myself back to the train, drooling on my own shoulder.

you can stand under my umbrella
you can stand under my umbrella

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