20 January 2006


This picture is for Erica, (although I doubt she's checking this blog while she's away on vacation), but everyone else can feel free to bask in its simian glory as well though. I found it and it was so cute I basically *HAD* to post it!
Awwww! Isn't he just so cute? Don't you just want to pinch his little cheeks and give him a hug! (You know you do, admit it!)

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Today a giant has fallen.

Asashoryuu was ruthlessly taken down by fellow Mongolian Hakuho, and dropped to second place in the race for the title. After getting smacked about by Kokkai early on I would have thought Asa had learned his lesson, and not taken another trouncing this tourney, but lo and behold Hakuho got the better of him with a brilliantly executed arm-lock (although it was a rather close match).

This basho hasn't turned out anything like I expected. With top contenders Asa and Koto relegated to the second ranks, the competition is fiercer than ever; tied in first place are long-time Ozeki Tochiazuama, making a convincing comeback, and Maegashira #11 Hokutoriki, perhaps hoping for another chance at the cup after losing to the Man from Mongolia in the Grand-finale last time round.

Definitely the most exciting tournament I've seen in more than a year, and though I wish in my heart of hearts for Asa to set yet another new record by winning his 8th straight victory, it'd also be nice to see Hokutoriki get his own back, or Koto'oshuu win his first title, and I know Hiroko (one of my students) for one, would be thrilled if Tochiazuma finally took home the big punch bowl. Hell, who knows, at this point even Tokitsu'umi still has a chance!

Goog Niter!


19 January 2006

London: Day 3, Part 1

So, as promised, here is the continuing saga of my week in London:
Day 3: We had a full schedule today as we planned to see Westminster Abbey, The Tower of London and ride on the London Eye all in one day. And see them we did. Our first stop was Westminster Abbey, which had one of the longest queues I've ever seen. We waited outside in the cold for about 1 1/2 hours amusing ourselves by taking silly pictures like the one shown at left. (Did I mention it was COLD? I basically walked around swaddled in the same hat, scarf and coat get-up the whole time and still froze my ass off half the time...) However the wait was most emphatically worth it.

How to describe Westminster Abbey? I'd have to go with statuarily-gifted... (It's too bad the word statuesque is already taken, because it really feels like it OUGHT to apply.) Anyway, you get the point. I've never seen that many statues all together in one place in my whole life, they were literally cheek-by-jowl, and all of the sort to inspire you with a kind of open-mouthed wonder at the awesomeness of their erstwhile owners. One particularly arresting monument was the of Tomb of Sir Joseph and Lady Elizabeth Nightingale depicting Sir Joseph trying to save Lady Elizabeth from the skeletal hands of death. Pretty sweet!]

Our next stop was the Tower of London where we saw the Crown Jewels, and the Bloody Tower where Sir Walter Ralegh was held for 13 years. We also saw some rather nice cannons looted from the Napoleonic Wars and lots and lots of Beefeaters. The Crown Jewels (which include the world's largest diamond; 'The Great Star of Africa') were not too shabby, but I was most impressed by a solid gold nautilus-shaped punch server and its accompanying solid gold punch bowl which could easily hold enough punch to floor even Henry VIII.

Unfortunately after a good 10 minutes of searching all I could find was this detail from one of the handles which doesn't really give you an accurate idea of the sheer grandeur and swank of the punch bowl, but since you're not allowed to take pictures inside the Jewel House you'll have to content yourselves with this.

I have no idea who this guy is, but that's the Star of Africa he's holding, formerly part of Cullinan I, now located in the Royal Scepter. I found plenty of pictures of the scepter, but I just liked this guy for some reason, so here he is...

Okay, it's getting a bit late so I'll post the rest of Day 3 tomorrow! Goog Niter!

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17 January 2006

Finally (The Long-awaited Saga of My Trip to London and Paris!)

So, today I went to the photo-shop and finally got my pictures developed from my New Year's trip! Here's the blow-by-blow; Enjoy!

Day 1: I arrived at Heathrow, completely exhausted after my over 13 hour flight. I collected my various bags and went through customs. The customs guy was extremely cheeky with me and asked me a lot of personal questions eg: "How long did I know the person I was staying with?" "How did we meet?" "What was our relationship?" "Were we just friends, or was he my boyfriend?" (maybe it's just me, but I fail to see how this guy asking about my love-life or lack there-of is going to catch any f***ing terrorists...) Anyway after all that John met me at the airport and we headed straight for the hostel by underground. Our hostel was in Oxford Circus (see the pic at left) and the guy working the desk when we checked in was a very very nervous Russian guy. We ditched our stuff, asked the Russian guy for advice on restaurants in the area and eventually got some grub at an Indian place a few blocks away. We took a bit of a stroll after dinner and then went back to the hostel where I promptly conked out.

Day 2: We woke up at the crack of ten and set out for our first destination the Tate Britain Museum, which houses many of the most famous Pre-Raphaelite works. As everyone from back home knows I've been hankering to see these in person since my junior year of highschool and I finally saw them. It was almost a religious experience. I saw Waterhouse's famous 'Lady of Shalott', Rossetti's 'Proserpine' and Millais' 'Ophelia' and 'Mariana'. Perfectly breathtaking, all of them, but oddly enough the painting that caught my attention the most was John Singer Sargeant's 'Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose' of which I had previously been unaware. Something about the precise quality of the light at dusk that he was able to capture in this picture was absolutely transporting. I got a postcard of it, but you really have to see the original to appreciate it I think.
We had lunch in the gallery cafeteria and I had my first taste of a real English 'cream tea' which is not actually a tea at all, but a rich dense scone smothered in jam and clotted cream, and quite possibly the most delicious thing in the whole world. After lunch we made our way to Westminster Abbey only to find that it was already closed for the day. We did get to see Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament though, so it wasn't a total wash. Here are some photos actually taken by me:
This is (as you can see) Big Ben. As you can also see I am not the best photographer in the world and a lot of the shots that I took came out rather half-assedly, so bear with me! After our disappointment at WA we set out on foot to Buckingham Palace.

This is John in front of the gates to Buckingham Palace. We actually saw some guards changing places, but according to a little plaque in front of the gate this was not in fact '*THE* Changing of the Guard' but rather only *A* changing of some guards... Oh well.

In front of Buckingham Palace there is a big monument with all sorts of Mermen and lions and various other figures on it that was quite impressive, so what did we do but clown around on it.

I wanted to climb all the way around to the front of the lion but I was a little scared since it was very narrow and slippery and had to content myself with peeking out from behind his tail. You can barely even tell it's me...

We also paid a short visit to Nelson's Column and I did some more goofing around with the Lions (they are by the way quite high up off the ground and John had to give me a boost) but apparently I didn't get a picture of it on my camera, so anybody who wants to see it'll have to wait 'til I get the rest of the pictures from John.

The next stop on our trip was the Tower of London, but unfortunately it was also just about to close, so we bought advance tickets for the skating rink (Yes, there's a skating rink at the ToL for some reason, and one at the Eiffel Tower to boot!) for the next day. By this time it was almost time to see our first play. John had suggested that since we were going to be in London we should catch a show or two in the West End. The first play we saw was 'Twelfth Night' at the Novello Theater and it was great. I'd never seen or read it before, so I skimmed a summary of it at home before I went. All I can say is it was hilarious! The acting was fantastic, particularly that of the actors playing Sir Andrew Aguecheek and Malvolio and I was laughing out loud half the time. I'm going to have to rent the movie version and watch it again, the scene with Malvolio preening himself in his 'yellow stockings' is really a classic comedy moment. (I love the nod to 'Kill Bill')

Okay this entry has already gotten a little too long already so I'll do the rest of it in installments. Stay tuned for day 3 and day 4 tomorrow!

Goog Niter!

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