Archive for September, 2004

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September 26, 2004

Princes Street, Edinburgh
Recalling something I’d seen on Mike Daisey’s site a bit back, I sought out the WiFi connection at the Starbucks on Princes Street in Edinburgh. Here I am. The good news is that the dodgy, foreign WiFi card I bought works; the bad news is that the connection here isn’t broadband. Email is coming in at a leisurely, even European, pace. For the record, this Starbucks is brilliant (seats 100, looks out on Edinburgh castle from the second floor through classically lovely windows), and if you find you need chai in Edinburgh, this is the best place to get it. (If you need fine leather sofas and hot chocolate, the Bean Scene a block over from St. Leonard’s is quite nice, though I notice fine seating is much more common here than back in the States.)

I’ve officially done the annoying tourist thing: I’ve collected bits of the speech over here, and I’m not one bit sorry about it. You poor fools who have to talk to me when I get back will be, no doubt. Just a few days in Scotland and I’m finding my brain adopting the meter of the language here. (Me: “You’ve got WiFi here, yeah?”) Having never been surrounded by accents before, I can’t say if this is just something I have a weakness for, or if it’s the result of my long-standing British Isle geekery. Anyway, I apologi(z/s)e in advance to all you poor gits who talk to me when I get back.

This afternoon, the Willow Tea Room in Glasgow, courtesy of lovely wedding gifts from lovely wedding guests, followed by a trip to the famed Necropolis. Go there at night, though, and you die. Now you’re warned.

Tonight we’re back in Edinburgh, though. If it wasn’t for the fact that my total personal worth would be chopped in half by the exchange rate, I might be considering moving here. I like this city that much. Holiday-inspired hyperbole? Sure, perhaps, but I’m enjoying revelling in that, too.

If you’re in Edinburgh now or soon, get yourself one of these keen WKE custom-printed shirts, or one like it. Lovely shop. Say and I picked up a few.

Now, off to catch the train.

Noise: Vague jazz trumpet beneath a layer of peppery Scottish cafe chatter.

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September 24, 2004

Orkney, Scotland
No matter where I decide to plant ‘home’ for the purposes of this sentiment, this is the farthest from home I’ve ever been. (The keyboards are different, too; I’m not just adopting local typing parlance, though I am doing some of that, too.) It’s ten in the morning, and we’ve been roaming Kirwall for an hour or so. Lo, there’s an internet cafe, and the second instance of reliable internet access on my whole trip. I’ve written a bit already, but will write much more when I get back.

The ferry from Aberdeen was sickening, truly. The ship itself was wonderfully appointed, but the North Sea is a beautiful hellion (helliatrix?). Sara and I both were in awful straights. Truly, I think it was the most awful I have ever felt, though crippling ear infections are a run for the money. I was utterly worthless, sprawled out on the deck like a true Midwestern lubber. Today we’ve got, for all purposes, hangovers.

Still, Orkney is beautiful. Today we’re off to Skara Brae and Maeshowe, among others, for the finest in Stone-Age and Viking history. So excited. More when there’s time; all this is racking up the £’s.

The first song we’ve heard on the Mainland island (as the largest island in Orkney is called) is “Particle Man,” by They Might Be Giants. Savour that.

Noise: Scottish accents.

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September 16, 2004

Preparedness
September is National Preparedness Month. It therefore logically includes National Talk Like a Pirate Day. This is why it is laughable that I am neither remotely prepared for anything in the wedding/honeymoon/work category nor talking like a pirate.

Also, I do not know how I went this long without putting Guster’s Lost and Gone Forever on the iPod, but I’ve only just now done it. I have no excuse.

Now all I have to do is pack for the UK, back-up every file on my laptop, finish writing art descriptions, prepare two weeks of website freebies for Atlas, write my wedding vows, assemble the playlists for the reception, complete my writing assignment, buy 20 tickets for Sky Captain for use after the rehearsal dinner, prepare and mail packages to Australia and South Africa, get the hamster ready to travel, and calm the fuck down.

Then I get to wear the tux and the ring I just tried on, and kick it like there’s gonna be a law. After that it’s all jets and lag, engines and oceans, extra U‘s and fewer R‘s in the fish-and-chips, bangers-and-mash, Strat-This-Upon-That capital of the world. If you need to reach me, I’ll be in the castle on the hill, the island north of Scotland, the cinema on Portobello, the Eye on the Thames, in one of the world’s two great cities to endure the world’s two great urban fires. I’ll be jumping the pond, riding the rail, and driving on the wrong side for fourteen newlywed days, and you haven’t heard the last of it. So sod off, motherfucker, ’cause I’m going where the punks have been in revolt since they were painted blue.

Also, I’ll be in Wales.

Noise: Soul Coughing, “Screenwriter’s Blues”

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September 14, 2004

Off to Britain… But First!
Sara and I are in the final stages of crazy prep mode for all things wedding and honeymoon related. I’m assembling songs for the reception, she’s preparing the program cards for the ceremony. She’s gathering passports and plane tickets, I’m writing about Turkish vampires. Strange, this sensation; I’m ridiculously busy, horridly behind in all things, and unbelievably excited about the next few days. Hopefully, on flights, trains, and ferries throughout the UK I’ll find some time to be productive (not just on current assignments but… future assignments as well, he said with a wink and a whisper).

Married? Me? No, but ask me again on Sunday.

Noise: Fatboy Slim, Live at Brighton Beach

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September 9, 2004

Go to England and Sit in the Dark
See a movie in the UK? “Bah!” I said. “Not unless it’s a peculiar screening of an archaic gem at some art house in Edinburgh.” Once again, I demonstrate that I don’t know shit about nothing. Unable to get any screen in the States to show any two frames of Michael Winterbottom’s Code 46, I’m now planning on catching it at a cinema in Notting Hill. (If it surprises you to know that I’ll fly thousands of miles to a foreign country to see a futuristic detective movie, then we haven’t been properly introduced.) If nothing else, I’ll do this because seeing a movie seems like the proper punctuation between a day of used bookstores and an evening at the pub with my new bride, like a two-hour em dash.

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September 9, 2004

A is for Awesome
Let it be known that the following people are awesome: Nicole Lindroos, Chris Pramas, and Ricky Jay. Respect them for their generosity, their oddities, and their wisdom. Fear them for their verve, their skills with cards, and their knowledge of the occult.

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September 8, 2004

Movie Theatre Found in Parisian Catacombs
This is too wonderful. Three days after the Paris police discovered a fully functional cinema and bar in the caverns beneath the city, they returned to find the professionally installed electrical systems and all three of the site’s phone lines had been cut. On the floor was a note, which had not been there three days prior. “Do not try to find us,” it read.