28 February 2011

In a city that is generally referred to as London

So it's a nice cold Montreal evening and I've just gotten back home from the airport--I spent reading week in that hallowed capital of that British Empire that I spend so much of my time studying!

The visit was great; of course it was amazing to see the Boy, and I had so much other fun besides. I'm not sure I could give a full review of the week (especially as that would reveal exactly how much time we spent lying about eating candy and watching "Arrested Development" (which I had somehow never seen, and absolutely LOVE now. Uh-oh, double parentheses))--but here're some highlights:

-a lavish--in all senses--shopping trip to Vivien of Holloway, where I've been yearning to go for a while now. It's around the corner from the Boy's flat and he noticed it last fall and told me he thought I'd like it, but sadly when we were in London over the New Year it was shut for the holiday! This time I made it, however, and spent at least an hour and a half browsing through the delicious dresses and whatnot on display. Finally I settled on a pair of dresses--one big circle-skirted halterneck affair and one more simple pink thing that'll be a great sundress, when the sun finally comes out again--and a white bodice top with a cutesy red gingham halter strap. Pretty much wish I could have taken the whole store with me though!

-the best burrito I've ever had outside of the US. Not surprisingly, there is less Mexican food in Canada than in the States, and with Anna's, the Boston institution, always clear in my memory I'm never too impressed; but weirdly, England did it for me, as Benito's Hat was delicious! Also the restaurant--the one in Covent Garden--was cheery as all get-out, and had seats right in front of a big front window for excellent people-watching. Right beside us on the other side of the glass was a table with complimentary chips and salsa/guacamole, and watching who did or didn't take chips, who looked longingly at the table as they walked by (mostly children) or suspiciously at the various dips (mostly mothers), was fascinating (and hilarious) itself.

-not one, but TWO trips to Shake, Rattle and Bowl, the Saturday fifties/throwback night at All Star Lanes, a bowling alley/American-style diner and bar which is pretty fifties/throwbacky itself. Went the first weekend with a mob of the Boy's student friends and had a great, if whiskey-sodden and ridiculous, time; then returned a week later (wearing my new dress!) to do the whole dinner, drinks and dancing shebang. We drank mint juleps and I even got the Boy to dance for a while! Also the DJ took my picture, and the other DJ liked my dress, and I was generally euphoric by the end of the evening.

-an epic adventure to Camden, including some vintage shopping, some silly jewelery acquisition, waaay too much time spent in the bottom of the Stables Market, and the purchase of a three-track hip-hop CD from this random guy who found out I was from Montreal and started talking about all the French rappers he knew who went to Montreal all the time to rhyme, and how I shouldn't be afraid of his music because it wasn't about cars or guns or drinking Cristal. Which conversation was worth the two quid I spent on the CD, I'd say.

-fun times at the British Museum, where we checked out a special (though very small) exhibition on Eric Gill, an interesting exhibit on different cultural rituals of life and death, and a very interesting gallery all about historical watches and clocks. There was a piece in the clock gallery that, once used as a sort of elaborate dinner-bell for the 16th-century Emperor Rudolf II, was shaped like a huge medieval galleon, and when its timer went off would produce a drumroll and fanfare, trigger a set of shipboard automatons to ring inverted bells (the crows-nests on the galleon), rocket itself down the banquet table, and set off a series of miniature cannons also aboard the ship: here is the museum highlight page.

-sneaking onto the UCL campus to take a look at Jeremy Bentham's Auto-Icon, which is on display in the main building...but only, as it turns out, from 730-6 Monday-Friday. We snuck in Sunday afternoon, and disappointingly his cabinet was closed and locked--but I found a brochure advertising the Transcribe Bentham project, which is attempting to transcribe the complete writings and papers of Jeremy Bentham by turning the transcription process over to volunteers from the public. I'll definitely be looking into that as soon as school leaves me alone enough to provide some time.

Speaking of which: more later, must prepare for essay exam in...twelve hours? Uh-oh. Signing off.

15 February 2011

Things to Do (This Year?)

New blog, new look, so so may effective hours of pre-midterm procrastination. This started out as a New Years list in January of 2010, but I've been adding and subtracting on and off ever since.

1) Learn/develop some better bookbinding techniques. The cardboard cover with ducttape spinal reinforcement is getting old. I picked up a fifty-cent copy of some hippie book from the seventies about how to make recycled paper so that might be another angle on the "cooler notebooks" front.

2) Try a hand at sodamaking (root and ginger beer). The Boy and I found a kids' science book with a natural ginger beer recipe in it and I'd like to try to make some...right after we finish the aluminum and cardboard SOLAR  OVEN(!) further on in the book.

3) Get rid of a lot of the random art and craft junk I've accumulated. This includes but is not limited to the following:
-A million beer bottle caps. Honestly, at least a shoebox or two of them. Made a whole bunch of magnets but...ran out of magnets. I've seen people on the internet turn them into jewelery...maybe that's an option?
-Piiiles of junker cassette tapes. Painted a bunch with the aim of making a mobile out of them, and could potentially knit with the tape?
-About a bajillion yards each of red plaid-ish corduroy with assorted, very Seventies flowers scattered across it and of bright, almost oversaturated block-print batik.
-The remains of a broken typewriter I found on the curb last summer (along with a really nice hard case) on which  the letters A, S, Q, W, Z and F do not work.

4) Write more letters to friends. I used to be a correspondence champion -- what happened?

5) Learn to play the harmonica. The Boy and I have discussed, in jest, a ukelele-harmonica folk-punk power duo, and while that of course is a dubious proposition, I'd like to be able to play the instrument.