Friday, November 30, 2007

A walk down South Bank

Met up with C at London Bridge station, intending to go to the Tate Modern. We didn't get the late opening right, so all I saw was Louise Bourgeois' famous work Maman (aka the giant spider).

Passed by OXO Tower and were taken in by the colorful merchandise of the Christmas shop of Chicken Bus, a Latin American shop, where we got our presents for Secret Santa. Ssshhh!

Passing by the National Theatre, we hit three birds with one stone. At the Lyttelton Concert Pitch, we listened to the Katya Gorrie Trio. If Celine Dion sang jazz, that would be her. C and I also reached a consensus on the double bass player...

spotlights lyttelton concert pitch crowd

Upstairs, we saw the young winners and finalists for the Linbury Biennial Prize for Stage Design and the Dazzle jewelry exhibition.

So you see, there's no way to miss out on art and culture by the riverside.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

MA dissertation update #3

SOAS buddha

The patch of green in between SOAS and IoE.

Happy to report that I am done with the interviews. Sitting down to work on Chapter 2, telling myself to stop reading because I cannot read and discuss every possible issue regarding my topic. There's just too much to say. And this is an MA dissertation, not my life's work (though it would be great to work in this area because I'm enjoying it). So onward, soldier.

Speaking of soldiers, what chaos am I returning to in Manila? We're in world news again.

Talk about reinforcing cultural stereotypes

I'm not going, but just seeing this poster made me laugh.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Golden Compass world premiere

I only got Daniel Craig's his initials as he very quickly moved down the red carpet, but he can make any girl blush. *Collective sigh as he held girlfriend Satsuki Mitchell's hand*

I only saw the backs of Eva Green, Sam Elliot and Dakota Blue Richards. Completely missed Evanna Lynch and Katie Leung of the Harry Potter movies, and Lily Cole (and I was with Kat and Jon--how could that have happened?!?). Disappointed that Nicole Kidman went into the cinema like lightning and left just as quickly with husband Keith Urban. Yes, it must have been cold in this dress, but she could have done ala-Cate and signed a few autographs.

My companions, all bundled up

Director Chris Weitz, Jim Carter and Freddie Highmore play Santa

There were lots of people I didn't know, but that's because I don't watch British TV. But I did recognize Simon Cowell's girlfriend Terri Seymour and Trinny of What Not To Wear, wearing something almost unwearable. Will spare you the X Factor final five photos, though I have lots of them.

Author Philip Pullman had a lot of explaining to do
(more on the books in another post)

What surprised me more are the appearances of people I didn't expect, like latecomers Hugh Grant and Joan Collins, and these guys...

Andy Serkis and Salman Rushdie

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Not just Professor Lockhart

The man single-handedly responsible for my fondness for Shakespeare (other than old Bill himself).

Kenneth Branagh is not just Gilderoy Lockhart in HP2, he's an actor, director, writer and producer. But what surprised me most about Branagh is that, in real life, he is nothing like his larger-than-life characters. In fact, I didn't notice his arrival until he was right in front of the press photographers.

Branagh is the director of The Magic Flute, the English-language screen adaptation (written by himself and Stephen Fry) of the Mozart opera. Purists might not be impressed, but when was popularizing and modernizing opera ever wholeheartedly accepted by the elite?

I knew that the premiere would be small, but finding no crowd at all at 5pm, I decided to spend half an hour reading at the nearby McDonalds, passing time with an evil McFlurry. After an hour of standing in front of Odeon West End with the red carpet regulars, I got an autograph and a photo with one of my most admired actors. What better reward for a week of hard work. Ika nga ni Jon by text: "Gaga ka talaga! Gagang maganda!"

Didn't stay so long though. I had dinner to catch and the man behind me was pressing too close against me for comfort. So all I got were shots of these kids and glimpses of lead actress Amy Carson, Sir Peter Moores and Brian Blessed. If I remember correctly, the boys below are William, Luke and Jamie.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Another one of those train videos

Haven't done this for several months and I know I'll miss it. London Kings Cross to Doncaster and back on a GNER train. A pleasant train ride (spent reading, mostly) in low resolution.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Lovelier the second time around?

Leeds in the sunshine, yes. I don't have any evidence other than this, but you can take my word for it.

Missed the first time? It's here.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Get arty

Gray days call for a little color. Time for inspiration. Time to flock to an art superstore!

London Graphic Centre has made itself into a grotto for the creative (and moneyed). Lots of great gift ideas for the creative in you.

Props to Cass Art for their affordable (read:presyong Manila) materials. Their slogan is "Let's fill this town with artists" and they mean it.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Writers, blocked

I believe in the concept of being blocked, when there's this thing in your past that keeps you from doing things you enjoy. A parent who said you were terrible at something. A teacher who said you shouldn't. A friend who said you're no good. What's keeping me from writing? Time. Inspiration. Then again, I do write everyday.

Now this film has something to that effect. Blair and Wilson as writers. Why not?

Edward Burns' Purple Violets on iTunes November 20.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

London Jazz Festival: Beth Rowley

Sat on the floor of the Royal Festival Hall Ballroom amidst a crowd of 20- and 30-somethings and some older jazz aficionados to see and hear a lovely girl with a fantastic voice, one of the first gigs of the London Jazz Festival. (The dimples are as hard to resist as the rich sound from her lips.) Somehow Beth Rowley reminds me of Amy Winehouse (must be the big hair and the old school sound) and Josh Groban (must be the hair again and that fresh unstudied way she moves).

White male musicians, black female backup vocals, white female lead. I'm not complaining, just describing her band. Rowley is blues-y soulful and can even do country. "Bristol's finest" is also one of Britain's most exciting young artists. I'm excited for her.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


round tower
Two great lectures at the London School of Economics were also opportunities to chat with Jon, who's an LSE alumnus.

Global Media System, Public Knowledge and Democracy
Speaker: Professor James Curran, Media Research Programme Director, Goldsmiths, University of London
Click here for the podcast (20 mb; approx 86 minutes)

A four-country study showed interest in current affairs to be the single most important correlate of knowledge, with gender and education as strong predictors. However, as Curran argues, the "tectonic shift in organisation" of the media--privatisation, de-regulation, market liberalisation, and the decline of public broadcasters--are turning audiences from citizens into consumers, with worrying consequences, as showed by findings in the US. Americans know less in general about public affairs than the British, Finns and Danes. Finland and Denmark have dominant public broadcasters, Americans mainly private, while the British are in between. My theory is that there is less to do in Finland and Denmark, hence they watch more TV. Care to rebutt that? ;)

But really, there could be a lot of reasons for the differences, including the multicultural society of the US. This points to possible problems in access and differences in the culture of watching and reading the news.

Sonia Livingstone chaired the lecture.

freemasons hall

Migration and Social Transformation
Speaker: Professor Stephen Castles, Co-Director of the International Migration Institute and Professor of Migration and Refugee Studies at the University of Oxford
Click here for the podcast (22 mb; approx 95 minutes)

Castles very ably took us through key issues in migration studies, talking about the ambivalence about the growth of migration studies and stressing the need for caution. The failure of migration policy and the reinforcement of 'methodological nationalism' in the social sciences are reasons for pessimism. However, once migration is acknowledged as both the result and cause of social change, we can begin to see that globalisation transforms the conditions for migration and then dismiss 'conventional wisdoms'.

We managed to have a word with the professor at the reception after the lecture. He identified us as Filipinos because we were cracking up (couldn't help it) when he mentioned the Philippines as being an interesting case, because Marcos started migration to fight change, not develop the country.

One point he mentioned about the Philippines is the structural dependency on migration. For us, it's normal to go abroad. So true. And the situation replicates itself. While mobility and the freedom to seek better conditions are human rights, there are flaws in the system. No space here to discuss this but you get the picture.

The lecture marked the inauguration of LSE's Migration Studies Unit. It was unfortunate that David Held, who was scheduled to chair the lecture, was ill and couldn't make it. Held is one of the key figures in globalisation studies.

About the photos
These are buildings near the LSE. Big structures, bigatin figures in the academe. Hahaha!

Friday, November 16, 2007

The most colorful corner of London

Somewhere in between Covent Garden and Chinatown is an alley called Neal's Yard. You have to see it for yourself.

Exactly one month left in Inglatera. At heto ako, naghahabol ng oras. Translated, I'm running after time because I'm running out of it!
la piazzetta, neal's yard neal's yard

Thursday, November 15, 2007

MA dissertation update #2

When I started with my first 177 words two weekends ago, I thought, yehey, only 19,823 words to go! For most people, the writing process is a test of willpower. You have to sit yourself down in a place without internet connection and Just. Do. It.

There's the effort of encoding all the things I read and the sources I amassed over the summer--a painstaking process that occasionally made my eyes nearly bloodshot.

Am also in the middle of doing interviews. Three down, five to go.

It can be pretty miserable when London has so much to offer yet going out of the house makes you feel guilty. Why does the sun come out when you have to stay in? It's 4 degrees out, but the blue sky is worth bundling up for.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Between King's Cross and St. Pancras

quentin blake covers it up

"Behind that," said the woman behind me, "are the loveliest chimney stacks in London."

Took these last week. On a day like this, everything is lovely.

St. Pancras International, the new home of Eurostar high speed trains to the continent, opens today.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Derwent Valley Mills

Because of the role they played in the Industrial Revolution, the Derwent Valley Mills make up a World Heritage Site. We visited a number of mills: Strutt's North Mill in Belper, Arkwright's Cromford Mill, and Arkwright's Masson Mills.

belper east mill stack masson mill threads spools colors bobbins bobbin room light electricity danger boiler empty boilers between boilers the basement

More photos of mill machinery in my Derbyshire set.