Archive for the ‘England’ Category

Week One

Saturday, February 2nd, 2013

The Flight: Flying is uncomfortable. Flying with a head cold is worse. I guess, in a sense, it was a small blessing as I couldn’t taste the airline food very well.  But joking aside, the flight was all right. 6.5 hours, over Canada then the ocean. The Sun had just come up by the time I got out of the plane…. 6.5 hours after it had just set. Didn’t sleep a wink! Soon it had been 24 hours since I’d slept! It was very exciting.

Getting into Bath: That was tricky. It’s like driving in DC, but with worse parking, neighborhood streets only, and no way to understand traffic signals. Luckily my friend Tony was very good and found us the way to the train station. I couldn’t even recognize the symbol for rail! And did you know, they didn’t use the metric system until the last 30-40 years or so? So all the road signs are in Miles and cars run by Miles per Hour. But it’s illegal to sell anything in inches, pounds, onces, or gallons, etc.

Once in Bath it was not so bad. We waited for the bus that would take us to our houses for about 2 hours. Once there though, it was really lovely. Charming little house with crooked steps. Downstairs is the kitchen and washer and dryer, a wooden dining room, and the access to the back garden. There’s also a full bath with the shower “right” next to the window. On the ground floor is the mudroom, a bedroom, and the living room with a TV and lots of couches. That is the room the photo I posted yesterday was taken. On the way to the “first” floor, on the landing, is a toilet. Then on the first floor are two bedrooms, one of which has a bathtub in it, and yes it is carpeted. Continue up to the top floor and there are two more bedrooms and a giant shower room with a tiny shower in it. No toilet. Only a tiny stand-up shower in the corner of the giant room. Oh, and the corner of my room is painted like a Jungle!

The Weather: No one knows. Don’t listen to the forecast, it’s probably wrong, but might be right, so you don’t know. It might be 52 out, but the wind’s at 23mph. Or maybe it’s raining, well, it was, and it might later, but it’s stopped now. Oh, just kidding, there it goes again. But the Sun’s out? That’s hail. But all in all, it’s not bad, just very cold.

Diagnostics!: We were told at the height of our jet lag that we’d have to take diagnostic tests. No one knew it was coming, but they reassured us that it won’t count against us. The teachers didn’t seem too horrified when we spoke to them at the reception, so here’s hoping! Classes start Monday with Education in England and Shakespeare in Performance for me. Then School placement on Tuesday. Culture shock will be in my next post!


My New Backyard

Friday, February 1st, 2013

My New Backyard

This is the view from my living room in Bath. Tonight it’s movie night! Tomorrow is a tour of the markets and Sunday Stonehendge! I’ll blog again when I have a little more time about the whole transition and the rest of my charming house!


Sturm und Drang

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Ok, so I used a semi-clever title to suck you into a post entirely about….

12. Learn to love the rain

Hey, it was a hard bucket lister to achieve. And my brain is overrun with terms for my Gothic Literature final tomorrow (For all the non-English majors, it means “storm and stress”). So, this week the weather outlook in England is bleak. Surprisingly, the weather’s been amazing the entire time we’ve been here, seeing sun more often than not is not something I expected. But this week a mega storm is hitting. A hurricane tried to stop us from leaving the states back in August, and now storms are trying to stop us from leaving England. Not that I need any encouragement, I’d just as soon stay here straight through winter! Hail storms are expected throughout the week, and we saw a bit of that today.I’ve never seen such temperamental weather! It went from bright and sunny to hail storms back to sun within 10 minutes, throughout the day.

I braved the weather for the weekly dessert run and was so glad I did, although not so glad I didn’t bring a camera. Let me attempt to put this into words. I looked up from the wet streets and saw the most alluring sky I’ve ever seen. To the right of my house was pale blue with wispy, fluffed clouds, typical of a summer day. The buffer zone had smatterings of dark gray, wrapped in tendrils like glow worms. And the left side, down the hill was smeared with soft pink, the kind of pink that adorns a baby girl’s bedroom. All of it looked like someone had gently spread their fingers and diffused all the colors together. And the sun was still out—but only shining on a small area in the pink, which made it look like the skyline behind the church hosted dying embers. I had another hippie moment and just stopped to look at it, my chocolate withdrawal forgotten for the moment. And none of that would have been possible without the storm and intense rains. I officially love the rain. I’ve never seen sunshine give that much color.

Finals are this week, I just had my first one today. They’re all sit-down, closed book essay exams; 2 hours for 2 exams, so nothing too strenuous. I have two tomorrow and my last one Thursday–then I’m officially done for the semester! Our final tea is on Friday, and afterwards the Prior Park ladies have a reservation at (drumroll)….Jamie Oliver’s restaurant! We’ll probably go out for one final Squeeze the Cheese night at PoNaNa (remember, the awesome cheesy music night at the Moroccan club?). I take a bus to Heathrow at 8am on Saturday, my flight is at 4. An 8 our flight. Luckily, I’ll have two ASE-ers on the flight too. I’ll try not to cry when I have to say bye to Bath, but I make no promises! I love this place too much :)

 

Sir Lancelot and Clotted Cream Mania

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

So after three months in Bath, I finally sampled the famous clotted cream I’d been hearing so much about. My roommate and I went to a quaint tea shop, “The Bath Bun.” After being warmly greeted, we were ushered upstairs to a room straight out of the Victorian era–oddly reminding me of Madame Puddifoot’s in Harry Potter. Classical music was softly playing, the tables draped in floral tablecloths, china dotted with ultra-girly florals. Christmas lights were strung up for the impending festivities, and tables were filled with only women chatting amongst themselves. There’s something so loveable about seeing old British ladies chatting over their afternoon teas and cakes…

I got the classic afternoon tea spread—a tea of my choice (jasmine), biscuits (cookies for you Americans), a sandwich (tuna/cucumber), clotted cream and a slice of cake.

Lovely little spread

 

Clotted cream is huge here, and the best way I can describe it is a warm flaky biscuit which you cut in half, then spread it with a light, airy butter and strawberry preserve. It’s refreshingly tasty! The Victoria cake I ordered was basically light vanilla cake with cream cheese and strawberry jam in the middle.

 

I sincerely believe I need to start a Clotted Cream Awareness group for America. How were we not aware of this delectable dessert? And afternoon tea? It’s served between lunch and dinner, as the perfect way to wind you down after a harrowing day and have a little chat amongst your girlfriends.

We felt insanely classy as we sipped our teas and daintily nipped at our cakes.

Worthy of a cupcake show. Notice the edible little jewels!

 

Clotted Cream!

 

 

 

It was so nice and relaxing to just sit down after a day of essays and work to enjoy a cup of jasmine tea in an environment that promotes relaxation amongst ladies. Not to say it was exclusive to women, but you get the feeling men only come here if they’re dragged by force or guilt-tripping. Dolores Umbridge would be proud to have tea in this utterly pink-plastered, floral tea shop!

 

Oh riiiiight, and to throw something else to make all my fellow nerds back home jealous:

I saw John Cleese turn on the Christmas Lights throughout the city! John Cleese lives here in Bath, at The Crescent. There was a little concert given, with a bunch of singing acts filmed by the BBC last Thursday. A troupe of women sang the infamous “Halleluah.”  The Stockingtops, a group of older ladies decked out in red coats and fur hats, sang carols  too. 3000 people came out to see Sir Lancelot turn on the lights.  I just happened to see him from THIS close:

Ask me the questions, Bridgekeeper, I am not afraid!

John----friggin---Cleese!

“Mr. Cleese, is there a character you’ve played in the past that you particularly identify with?”

“No.” *cue the laughs* “I’m shocked all of you came out to see this, you should be at home eating.”

“What are your plans for Christmas?”

“Well I’m going to visit my daughter in California with Jenny (pictured, his girlfriend), that is if we’re not broken up by then. Christmastime is expensive for presents, you know.”

Jenny “That’s a very real possibility.”

 

Very dry sense of humor, but I suppose you don’t have to try to be funny when you’re Sir Lancelot. We went to an Irish pub afterwards and celebrated with the locals. And of course, the Christmas tree is up now too! I live in the most beautiful city :)

 

Rugbyyy!

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

11.Play rugby with the Brits

At this rate, I’ll be done with the bucket list before Fall Break! Yes indeed, I played full contact rugby with a British team. And no, I did not sustain any serious injuries, despite playing in my Chucks (running shoes haven’t come in the mail yet!) and being the American. It was the girls’ pre-season, so it was mostly conditioning, with some agility and endurance tests. I’m not as out of shape as I initially predicted. I’m basing that off of the fact that I wasn’t splayed out on the ground gasping for dear sweet air. We did get to try tackling, and there is something very primal about it.  I learned one of the girls got red-carded last year for getting mad at a girl and tackling her by her neck, while another slapped a boy to the ground. What’s not to like about these girls? haha

Garrrrr!!!!

 

The girls were all so welcoming and nice despite my lack of experience,  as well as my two other American tag-alongs. Practice lasted around an hour and a half, but regular practices with the full team (20-25 girls) last a lot longer. I felt so invigorated by it all, and could definitely see the mass appeal the sport holds for most of the country! It’s so much more hardcore than football. Football uses so much padding to protect the players from injuries, rugby is bare-knuckles grappling in the mud with NO padding and a lot more lee-way with penalties. I also saw the men’s team practice in the next field over. What I initially thought I heard was men running full force into pads, and when I looked over I discovered the noise I had heard was someone getting ABSOLUTELY SLAMMED into the ground. Who says the Brits aren’t tough?

I’d definitely be interested in seeing a professional match, it’s a huge event here. The stadium is right next to the Avon River, and from what I hear and see around town, it’s the country’s main sporting event. They have entire stores dedicated to rugby gear and such. I can definitely say I want to learn more about it now! American football is fading fast for me. I think yelling for the ball in a British accent clinches it.

The Drive and Boston

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

A quick summary of the drive up to Boston. It was semi-stressful (yay flash rainstorms on the New Jersey Turnpike!) and long. It was not interesting save for the flash rainstorm on the New Jersey Turnpike. Mom and I made it to Boston in one piece with only a minimal amount of getting lost (tricksy Boston roads are tricksy). I was more stressed out by unpacking and moving everything in than by the drive to be honest. And moving in and unpacking was incredibly stressful because I have no organizational skills or sense of space. Thankfully the major things (furniture, huge boxes) were taken care of by a moving company and Mom was there to help unpack a bit before leaving. Her leaving was incredibly difficult but was made up for in spades by the arrival of roommate from Buffalo (Melissa)’s friend arriving. This made getting to know Melissa ever so much easier in a weird way. Melissa is very cool and kind of reminds me of another friend of mine who’s hung on despite my tendencies to not communicate with people since high school.
Boston. Boston has confusing roads and tiny tram cars. However I feel that by the end of this school year I’m going to like Boston at least as much as I like DC (though not as much as I love London.) There are more Dunkin’ Donuts in this city than there are Starbucks in any other city which is kind of awesome. The law school is right across the way from a Dunkin’ Donuts and there is one across the street from the T stop I get off of to get to school. That’s how popular Dunkin’ Donuts is in Boston. However they do have Trader Joe’s in Boston and I have mastered the bus system well enough to get to the Trader Joe’s close to me. And just past that Trader Joe’s is the nearest Jewish neighborhood which means there is a fantastic bagel place I can go to for breakfast before I go grocery shopping. That and many other reasons is why I think I’m going to like Boston come the end of the year.
Both of my roommates are awesome. One actually enjoys cleaning the dishes and the other says what she thinks and doesn’t give a damn (though really that’s true for both of them.) They’re mature and smart and don’t believe in petty drama. They are, basically, the perfect antidote to last year’s roommate situation. I hope everything continues to go as well as it has been for the past few days, but I have high hopes that they will. Tomorrow I find out if the rest of my section are as awesome as my roommates.
That is all for now. I have my second day of orientation tomorrow which hopefully will be less dull than the first day. Quickly though one last thing: I love how cold Boston is or at least how much colder it is here than in Virginia. Bless the North.

Pre-Departure Mania

Monday, July 25th, 2011

Well hello followers! This will be a documentation of what promises to be the best time of my life. I’ll be spending a semester in Bath, England, a world heritage city about 2 hours west of London. For everyone that’s ever taken an 18th Century English class, you know Bath was the city the upperclass went to when they wanted to be fashionable and relax from their super-stressful lives in the natural hot springs (named Bath, get it?). I’ll be spending a week in Oxford, a week in Stratford (yes, Bill Shakespeare’s home), and of course lots of adventures in between.

So, I got my passport, my rain gear, and all the bells and                whistles. My new house is a spacious nineteenth-century house with a small patio and a garden. I’ll have  to learn to cook (oy vey), keep warm in subzero temps (goodbye Virginia heat!) and try to NOT smile like a dumb American everytime I hear one of those awesome accents.

The class schedule promises to be entertaining!

1) Ghosts and the Gothic: The Literature of Terror. Includes a trip that tracks Jack the Ripper’s rampage through East London.

2) Myths and Legends of Britain and Ireland. Celtic myths, King Arthur, fairies, giants and all the nerd-tastic stories that might induce a frenzy.

3) Saints, Sinners and Scientists. No course listing for this one, funny enough….hmmm ideas?

4) Fantasies of Youth: The Child in Twentieth-Century Children’s and Young Adult Literature. J.M. Barrie, J.K. Rowling…and sigh, yes even Stephanie Meyer (ew.)

So there you have it. I’m sure there will be times when I miss the VA heat, my crappy reality shows and good old fashioned American burgers. I’ll try to pimp Willie Faulkner as best as I can amongst the Brits. Oh, and did I mention the first week of orientation we will go see Platform 9 3/4, Stonehenge and go on a substantial hiking trip? Insert smiley face here.

Nore’s Legal Series – Sampling

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

I haven’t been blogging. However that doesn’t mean I haven’t been writing or doing things. In fact I’ve been writing about various legal cases having to do with various legal ideas and issues pertaining to copyright. It’s hella fun and I thought some of you might enjoy it. I’ve only written about three topics, but they’re fairly lengthy, so that makes up for the sparsity. If you get confused by a term or want more details, there’s Wikipedia and dictionary.com. Enjoy!*
The practice of sampling within the rap and hip-hop music communities has been around since the late 1980s and since that point the issue of copyright and sampling has been something that has largely been avoided by the courts, at least when compared to the output of music created through the use of sampling. Since the advent of sampling those few cases that are either pursued by the original artist or manage to make it to court have been dealt with in a variety of ways by judges. Up until 2005 with the Bridgeport Music v. Dimension Films case judges could take one of the two different methods or combine those methods to reach a ruling. The first method would be to use the substantial similarity test where the song that was created with the use of sampling would be compared to the original song from which the samples were taken. In comparing the two songs the judge would use the criteria of whether or not the songs were similar in message, tone, and audience to find whether or not the songs are substantially similar. The other method in trying cases of infringement through sampling would be to use a de minimis analysis. This would involve the judge looking at the particular sample and determining whether the sampled used constituted a qualitative and quantitative part of the original song. If the sample did not, and would not be recognizable to an ordinary listener, then the case would be dismissed. Normally judges would use a combination of the two methods, as can be seen in the case Newton v. Diamond where the judge used a combination of the substantial similarity test and the de minimis analysis to determine that no infringement had occurred. However Bridgeport Music v. Dimension Films created a new bright-line rule which aimed to simplify the issue of whether or not sampling constituted copyright infringement.
In Bridgeport Music v. Dimension Films the judge ruled that in cases where the artists admit the sampling has occurred that “no substantial similarity or de minimis [inquiries] should be undertaken.” This rule would only apply to digital sampling, which makes up the majority of sampling done within the rap and hip-hop communities. The judge also stated that simply an artist should “get a license or do not sample.” In this case the judge was implying that any kind of sampling, no matter how small or even potentially unrecognizable, goes against copyright law and should be considered infringement (“even when a small part of a sound recording is sampled, the part taken is something of value. No further proof of that is necessary…”). Again, this rule would only apply to digital sampling.
In light of this case, as well as Newton v. Diamond which was decided in the same year as Bridgeport Music v. Dimension Films, a number of scholarly articles have been published discussing the merits of this bright-line rule and the way copyright law in general deals with digital sampling. While all scholars agree that the law needs to better incorporate the idea of digital sampling, the exact method of dealing with sampling is not as widely agreed upon. Some scholars support the Bridgeport Music v. Dimension Films others, including Nimmer, believe that the judges were wrong in many of their conclusions namely the dismissal of the use of de minimis analysis and substantial similarity. In another article written by John Schietinger in the Fall 2005 issue of the DePaul Law review, the author vehemently disagreed with the judges dismissal of de minimis and substantial similarity analysis instead stating that a de minimis analysis should be conducted for issues of sampling. In doing so the author stated that it should be found whether the sample constitutes a trivial portion of the original song, and whether the sample is quantitatively recognizable within the context of the alleged infringing song and whether the two songs are qualitatively similar. Ultimately though, as the judges noted in their decision for Bridgeport Music v. Dimension Films “where one stands [on this issue] depends on where one sits” and it is unlikely that the issue will be fully resolved any time soon.
Finally it should be noted that even with the 6th Circuit bright-line rule, most cases of sampling are settled out of court or “ignored” by artists within the community, particularly if the artist sampling isn’t well known or the song itself is not terribly popular.

*I feel I should point out that this is not legal advice, more a summary of how sampling and other ideas have been treated in court along with a little bit of analysis by yours truly. As with anything I write about the law, don’t take it as authoritative more the thoughts of a pre-law student. Basically: I don’t have a degree, so hire a real lawyer if you need real legal advice.

Doctor Who

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

You might recall from my “big” graph of fandoms that one of those fandoms was Doctor Who. Based on the sites I frequent (EW.com, AV Club) this Saturday’s premiere of the 6th season* of DW is pretty well known. If not, this Saturday, 9pm, BBC America. Watch and be amazed (hopefully). But today the DW fandom got some pretty sad news. We’ve had a rash of deaths over the past couple of months of actors who played main characters during the classic series.** It’s been sad, but has left a pretty big hole in her passing, namely Sarah Jane Smith. She was a companion to the 3rd and 4th Doctor*** and came back in the new series for an episode before starting her own series “The Sarah Jane Adventures.” Sadly, the actress who played Sarah Jane, Elisabeth Sladen passed away today. The only happy thing to come out of this, and it’s really perversely happy, is that Sarah Jane and Elisabeth are a worldwide trend on Twitter. And here’s the proof:
(click for the full picture)
Anyway, I know I’ll be thinking about her this Saturday.

*If I were British I would have put series which is the same as season over here, but I didn’t want to confuse people. Also there was a “season” of specials when the last Doctor (David Tennant) was starting to bow out. However that doesn’t count as a real season, so this new season (and I keep wanting to say series) is the 6th one of the new run. More on that later.
**The original run of Doctor Who ran from 1963 until 1989 and is called the “classic” series. The new run of the show (which is referred to as “New Who”) started in 2005 with Christoper Eccelston playing the Doctor.
***The first Doctor was played by William Hartnell who was old. So when he was like “I’m out of here because I’m old” and the series was really popular the good producers over at BBC were like “We’ll just say that because the Doctor is an alien, he can ‘regenerate’ into a totally different person with a different face and a different personality and he can do that 13 times.” And so it was that we’ve had 11 Doctors, some who have stayed for a really long time (David Tennant, Tom Baker) and some who only stick around for one season (Christopher Eccelston.) Trust me when I say, you really don’t have to understand all of this to watch the series. But it can be helpful.****
****In case you were wondering, except for Tom Baker, I remembered all this information off the top of my head. Because I am a boss.

I Took A Photo of My Fandom(s)

Monday, April 18th, 2011

There was a time when I didn’t know what fandom was. This doesn’t mean I was a fan girl (I really was) I just didn’t know what fandom was or that I was a fan girl. I just knew I really, really liked the Beatles. I’ve since learned (in depth) what fandom is and that various fandoms have different names for their fans. For instance, when I really, really liked the Beatles I could have described myself as an Applescruff.* Not every fandom has a name for its fans and generally lady fans are called fangirls and gentlemen fans are called fanboys. Fanboys and fangirls got to cons and if you’re really obsessed you dress up as your favorite character. That’s called cosplay. Of course all this is a rather extreme version of fandom and there are a great many people (myself included) who take more of a back seat when it comes to fandom. I never got around to writing about this, but I am very much a lurker. This is because I’m naturally shy and have never really thought of taking advantage of the anonymity of the internet to break out of my shell. But I’m not alone in being a lurker. So those are kind of the two extremes of fandom at least from my perspective: Cosplayers and lurkers. As with everything there are loads of people who fall in between the two extremes and they probably make up the bulk of fandom.**
As you can tell by the chart I made (which doesn’t actually include everything) I consider myself a member of a whole ton of fandoms. That’s the thing about being a lurker: You can sample a lot of different things without giving up too much of yourself to anyone of them. I have friends who cosplay and go to cons and I can tell you they give a lot of themselves to a select few fandoms and pretty much invest completely in those fandoms. I on the other hand can be a part of 12 different fandoms and enjoy all of them to various degrees and not be invested completely.*** In my opinion fandom can be a good thing and a really awful thing and it depends entirely on how much of yourself you invest in the fandom. Fandom is great when it introduces you to like minded people and you make friends that can last a really long time. But fandom is really awful when you’ve become so invested in it that you start to blur the line between the reality and fiction. I’m not saying that investing in a fandom automatically means you’re going to go crazy. But there’s always the chance.
So how do I intervene in my fandom? I don’t. I’m a co-founder of the school’s sci-fi club (for what that’s worth) and I take a real interest in everything that goes in within my fandom. But I learned awhile ago that I’m not really meant to intervene, that I’m better off as a lurker. So, I took a photo of my fandom.

The “Family and Friends” section got a little squished because I tend to forget how many fandoms I was introduced to because of nagging from friends/family.**** Hopefully you can read my handwriting otherwise none of this is going to make sense and quite frankly my fandoms don’t make sense in list form. And if a fandom isn’t underlined it means that it hasn’t become inactive but I’m not currently “participating” in it either. So now I define active, inactive, and random outliers.

  • Active – This means that I either a) follow one of the members/entity on Facebook/Twitter, b) am actively watching/listening/reading works having to do with the fandom or c) awaiting the return of said entity be it through new shows, new albums or tour dates I can actually go to.
  • Inactive – This if fairly simple. I no longer give a rat’s ass about what this group/entity is doing. They once meant something but now I no longer care.
  • Random Outliers – This group has no direct connection to any of the circled entities and generally speaking were discovered by pure chance.***** They may or may not influence participation in other fandoms, but generally speaking they just kind of exist in their own little worlds of awesomeness.

So that’s it. Those are my fandoms.

*Another example: Chiefs and Chiefettes for the Kaiser Chiefs, Whovians for Doctor Who and of course the most famous Trekkies for Star Trek.
**The crazies (cosplayers) are just more well known because they are crazy. And I say this as a friend of at least 3 hardcore cosplayers. This does not make them less crazy.
***I have some not fun experience in investing way too much into a fandom :cough:Kaiser Chiefs:cough: that did not end well. I kind of couldn’t listen to them for a good three months. I’ve since recovered and decided that being a lurker is better for my mental health.
****They don’t always nag. But sometimes they do. And then they force to me to watch things when I don’t pay attention to their nagging.
*****This is particularly true for the Killers who I discovered by watching VH1 on a snow day. “Mr. Brightside” is unlike anything I had ever heard before and Brandon Flowers is hella cute. A lot of my fandoms are based on the attractiveness of the members. It’s shallow, but you gotta start somewhere.