Thursday, June 30, 2005

House Nazi

The saga continues. On top of not ever having water that the average person originating from a developed economy would deem hot, not to mention warm, the house is now in full disaster mode. It didn't always used to be this way, I'm told. In fact, the narcissistic trend toward total totalitarianism by the Warden is a relatively new phenomena, even if it's particularly nasty in product.

I've previously mentioned my friend being rejected a place in the house because of his sexual orientation. There's another incident to add to the list. Sunday was the Golden Jubilee party for the house - 50 years ago, they started William Temple House. It was a big gala from the Warden's perspective. He invited previous residents and encouraged residents to invite professors, parents, and even embassy representatives. Of course, he still expected the students to cook for all these people, which not only is classless and pathetic, but was never mentioned to anyone prior to a week ago. When people blanched, he got irate and issued a threat that is altogether too familiar. If you don't go to the party, you won't be offered a spot back in the house come August. It's a frequently bandied threat from the Warden. Everything is, "Do X or get kicked out." In fact, it's to the point that it's more surprising when you don't hear about someone being threatened in a given week.

Anyway, I knew all about that but I wasn't going to be bothered. Not only was my Mother in town and we were going to be busy, I'm not staying in that infernal hell hole past mid-August anyway. I've already given notice and I have my move out date already. There were obvious reasons (the guys Pol Pot in sheep's clothing), but really, I wouldn't have been approved to stay anyway since my coursework is done and I can't commit to any place after October. So, when the latest threatening missive was displayed on the community bulletin board, I chuckled to myself, said something like, "What an assh*le," and moved on.

Sadly, some people were not so lucky. But, one person has a particular reason to gripe. When my friend was rejected, he did not create a stink or sue for discrimination or anything like that because his boyfriend lives in the house and he didn't want to jeopardize his residency. Well, his boyfriend didn't go to the party and now has been summarily informed that he's not coming back to the house. Party's on now, Wayne. Not only is that an absurdly illegitimate reason, the fact that there is a previously existing incidence of discrimination because of sexual orientation indicates a culture of discrimination, something that is completely illegal in this country. I don't know what they're going to do. It's ultimately academic anyway because the two guys were moving in together anyway, but now they're angry and want to make trouble for the Warden. Bully for them. The guy should be fired, as should the second in charge. I, for one, would be happy to testify on their behalf.

Anyway, that's the latest saga. I'm counting down the days until I'm out of there. I believe I'm at 45 days to go.

Nothing else interesting happened, so I'll end this post with a short rant about the NBA Draft. I've pored through all available information about the draft and one thing seems clear: some people know what they're doing, some don't have a clue. Toronto and Atlanta in particular seem to be destined for long term terribleness, although Atlanta's pick was easily more justifiable than Toronto's. This marks two years in a row where Toronto has used a top-10 pick to select, at best, their 10th man. I have no idea what Pete Babcock is doing, aside from trying to get fired early. But hey, he ruined the Atlanta franchise and he's doing his best to ruin the Toronto franchise, so maybe he's competing with Isiah Thomas for worst GM of all time.

At any rate, now that basketball is over, the sports world has suddenly become incredibly boring. Training camp can't come quick enough, even though I won't be able to see much if I stay in the UK.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Getting Back to Normal

After nearly two weeks off of work, the last thing I wanted to do this morning was get up and head into the office. Sadly, I was forced to do so. Still, as there is no work to do (Again!), I've been mostly reading about the NBA draft and catching up on the sports news from the last week.

My Mother left for Ireland on Tuesday. We had a great visit. An exhausting visit, really. I have about 300 pictures to sort through, so I won't be posting anything just yet, but will put some of the best up by the weekend. The following is a brief review of what we did.


I had class on Friday so I sent my Mother to the British museum. She didn't last long. Not surprisingly, she was exhausted after Tuesday and Wednesday's all day events. Class was relatively droll and my mind was drifting. After class, I met some mates for a couple pints before heading back home to meet my Mother. We had a nice dinner and a chat before calling it a night.


We went to Windsor Castle on Saturday. It's a giant castle just west of London. Edward the Conqueror started it about 900 years ago with a wood fortress on a hill that he built. About a hundred years after that, they put stonework in and it's been an impressive defensible position ever since. The castle is just on the Thames meaning that for hundreds of years, it provided a valuable defense of London as well as being a quick boat ride into the city. At some point, it transitioned to a residence, which it remains today. The Queen's residence that is.

Windsor is only about 30 miles from London, but it's a whole different world out there. The town is classically British in my opinion with a large, shop filled street that can only be navigated by pedestrians in the center of town. It's a vastly different look and feel from London, that's for sure.

We spent about four hours in the Castle. There's just that much to see and do. It's very impressive and I left feeling that if I ever have a country estate, I would like it to be much like Windsor Castle.

In the evening, I went to a Colombian friends birthday party. She had invited me and since I think the world of her (even though she is sadly in a committed relationship), I wasn't going to skip it. Of course, I ended up staying too late and didn't get home until 2 or so, but it was worth it. I got to see a lot of people I hadn't seen in a while. Good times.


Sunday proved to be fairly brutal given my state of sleep deprivation, but it was throughourly enjoyable. We took an organized tour from London to Oxford, Stratford on Avon, and Warwick Castle. Oxford was a very brief stop, about an hour. We didn't mind much because it was quite cool in the morning and we at least got to see and hear about some of the history of the college.

Stratford on Avon was a nice town; I could definitely live in a place like that. For those in unawares, it's the birth place of William Shakespeare and they capitalize on that. We toured the house he grew up in, but didn't have much time for anything else. Still, nice town and the sun came out making the whole place entirely beautiful.

Warwick Castle, however, was the highlight of the day. It is an amazing place really. It's a giant castle with high rising parapets fully complemented with arrow holes, murder holes, a portcullis, and all the trimmings of a medieval castle. The words, "silly English kniggits" immediately rang through my head. My brother in law would have absolutely loved the place (as would most everyone who goes there).

One of the truly grand things about Warwick Castle is that you can climb the towers and stand on the highest parts and look outwards, much as English soldiers did centuries ago. As a testament to my Mother's fortitude, she climbed along with me, even after tiring. Truly a great, great place. They have a jousting festival in July so I may go back. The only disappointing thing was that the dungeon was closed due to flooding, so I didn't get to see what it was like down there. Still, it was awesome.


We took the train to Bath on Monday. Bath is a city that was founded by the Romans almost 2,000 years ago. They discovered a hot springs there and built a temple and town around it. Unlike other hot bath springs in the Roman empire, this one had religious significance. Bath is a quaint little town saddled between two rolling hills astride the River Avon. The sun was shining, making the place look glorious in that European sort of way that we simply don't have in the States. I could live in a place like that as well.

The feature attraction in Bath is, of course, the Roman Bath. It takes a long time to tour and it's very informative, but near the end, I tired of the audio tour device they give you. There's almost information overload at a place like that. At the end, you get to try the water from the spring. It was warm and tasted a little odd, but I drank it heartedly. I figure if the Romans drank five liters of the stuff before breakfast every day, it must be good for you.

The rest of the town was really cool to see with the exception of this Costume museum. It was mostly boring and uninteresting, which surprised me because Rick Steves gave it his highest rating (3 triangles). Even he can miss the mark, I suppose.


I took my Mother to the Tube at 7 am. I didn't go all the way to the airport, but I can't imagine she had any trouble. She left quite early for her flight to Ireland, not that I blame her. You can't be to sure about that type of thing. I was sad to see her go. We really did have a great week, if exhausting. Of course, it was good that she left. I need to get back to normal so I can finish out the term and get a job. Still, I don't imagine that without some sort of windfall she'll be back. That's too bad. She really enjoyed herself, but there's still so much to see and do. I have to applaud her effort, really. Not only did she see some of the best parts of London, but she also saw a good bit of the country. I saw more in the last week than I've seen in 10 months.

Anyway, after dropping her on her train, I went back to sleep for a couple hours before heading to class. We watched Platoon, which I hadn't seen in a long time, so I really enjoyed it. This class is finishing up on Saturday when we have our final. I'll be glad for that. Next week is going to be brutal because we'll be back to Globalization and we have a number of make up days scheduled. Which, of course, means that I need to finish that damnable paper this weekend. Yuck. Plus, we're probably going to do some sort of BBQ to celebrate the 4th this Sunday.

Now, it's about noon and I've successfully squandered the morning away, so I'm off to lunch. In the words of the immortal(ly challenged) George W. Bush, "Merci y'all!"

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Catching up

My mother is in town so I'm going to try to be brief.


First and foremost, I got stood up by the South African. I called her, she never called back. I'm not calling her again. My instincts told me she was sincere with interest; apparently, my instincts were incorrect. So instead of meeting up with her, I went to the Colombian restaurant with Smooth Like Butta' and Eurotrash. Good times. We went to a park afterwards and baked in the absurdly hot (for London) sun. We also met a couple Brazilian girls who were smoking hot.


I was saved by death. My paper and presentation were nowhere near what I had hoped. I just couldn't get it together over the weekend for some reason. But I was ok enough that I figured I could "wing it" with the presentation and then fix the paper by Thursday. No such need. My professor's Dad died on Sunday and he flew to Israel on Monday. It was an expected occurrence as he had been sick for quite some time, although, I'm sure no less sad. The end result for me is that now my papers aren't due until July 5th.


I received an email on Tuesday from my sister asking me if my Mother had arrived safe and sound. Confusing, I thought, since she was supposed to arrive on Tuesday night. Especially confusing, I added, as my sister was the one that took her to the airport. After several brief moments of panic, I managed to track down my Mother. She had told me the wrong date of arrival. I guess that's what happens when you start to get a bit older. She waited for me at the airport for an hour on Monday night, but when I didn't show, she managed to get the tube to the general vicinity of her hotel and then took a cab to the hotel. She's not one to be helpless in that type of situation even if it is a country she's never been to before.

I had class on Tuesday and had to sort out some really absurd financial aid issues at school (still haven't received my money!) but once I got that done, I met up with my Mother at her hotel. I had sent her out to see some sights during the day. Later, I made her dinner and had a good visit.


We really did the tourist thing yesterday going to the Tower of London and St. Paul's Cathedral. What an exhausting day. Not only was it hot as Dante's 7th circle, but we were on the go from 9 am until 5 pm. We both ended up taking naps before dinner. It's been unseasonably hot in London this week (reaching 90 in the sun at times), so it really takes it out of you. We had a nice dinner last night as well.


My Mother went on a tour this morning. It's an all day event. I couldn't go because I have to write a damnable paper that's due tomorrow. We watched this horrid film call Birth of a Nation on Tuesday and I have to write a 3000 word essay about it by Friday. Yuck. Nothing like a 3-hour long silent movie about how great the KKK is to spoil your day.

Anyway, it's a busy week so I'll be posting sporadically.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Short but worthy

So I met up with Ms. South Africa last night. It was a relatively short date (about 2 hours) but worth mentioning because I actually like this one, which is notable in itself.

My first impression when I met up with her was that she was about as cute as I thought she was - a good sign. You never know when you have the drunk goggles on, but I was confident and that paid off. She's cute, fit, and pretty much fits my prototype. Plus, she has that ever so endearing accent that I simply can't get enough of (never end a sentence with a preposition).

Anyway, we went to this rather shoddy pub for a drink. On Friday at 6pm in The City, you pretty much have to go to a shoddy pub to get a seat and to hear what the other person is saying, so I don't think we minded much. At least, she didn't appear to mind. We talked for roughly two hours at which point she had to go...back to work. I surprised myself by being disappointed. I guess time passed naturally and interest was growing, so I didn't realize that I was starting to like her. She was reluctant to go and she quickly and immediately agreed to see me again, hopefully Sunday if things go well.

I was actually a bit nervous at meeting her, which was unusual for me in the last 6 months or so. The difference is, however, that this is a proper woman, with a good job, a good future, and a good head on her shoulders. I'm more interested in what she has to say, what she thinks of me, and things like that than I have been with other women I've met here. I suppose I would have felt the same way with Ms. Colorado if we had met in similar fashion, but that's a whole 'nutha saga that just doesn't warrant further discussion. At any rate, whatever nerves I had, faded away quickly; I was very comfortable with her which I think is a good sign. Who knows what the future holds, but at the least, it was nice to go out with a nice woman who has potential - a rarity for me. I also thought it said something that she was willing to leave work, even when she should have stayed, to meet with me instead of canceling or postponing. I, for one, would not have wanted to go back to work at 8 pm for another hour or so. But, if I was in her position, I probably would have done the same thing.

At any rate, all this leaves me in a fuzzy position because I have a ton of work to do and instead of being sensible and going home, I met up the Roving Alcoholic for some drinks (they were free, who was I to argue?). He ended up getting mashed up and when he gets like that he's a terrible drunk and he pisses me off. So I left about 10:30, but I was still decently intoxicated (the drinks were absurdly strong at this club) so the night was a wash, as was this morning. I blame me. So now it's about 2pm, I've done about an hour's worth of work on my paper and I have about 10 more hours to go. Of course, it helps to have a bit of incentive. If I finish this thing up today, then I get to see Ms. South Africa I'm off to kick some ass.

Friday, June 17, 2005

A few minor updates

I added a few links to the right hand side. One is an Arms Control Blog co-authored by my friend Paul Kerr, a writer for the journal Arms Control Today. It's high level stuff with a touch of humor every now and then.

I also added the Kim Il Jong blog. It's total satire and since it's always fun to imagine what "negotiations" with the North Koreans would be like (especially via instant message), it's quite enjoyable.

Last, I added a site that I found yesterday called The Superficial, which I wouldn't advise looking at when at work or when drinking coffee. Fing hilarious. No porn or anything like that, just racy ads that may offend co-workers or make people think you're actually normal and like looking at women in short t-shirts and bikini's (for the men out there). Seriously, don't start reading this when you sip your coffee or you're likely to have a coffee covered keyboard.

The blogsphere and more

There's been a good bit of discussion of late about the failings of the blogosphere - and by that, I'm referring specifically to the political blogosphere. The obvious problem is that any half-wit with a keyboard and an internet connection can get a blog in about 2.5 minutes and spew out their rants to the world. There's nothing truly new to this phenomenon, it's just now a mass market, any old redneck down the street, kind of experience. We are constantly warned in class not to rely on "internet" sources (a true misnomer if there ever was one since all media is now online in some capacity) because it is not "peer reviewed", i.e. said bilious blowhards write boorish boffery and someone out there in the world believes them.

This all comes to mind on this gloriously London-type morning (muggy, gray, warm) because of a blog that was forwarded to me over the evening. Apparently this blog is significant enough to receive a mention on a radio program, so I can only imagine the legions of conservative cohorts and radically religious hackola's that are frothing at the mouth at La Shawn's absurdly creative and dramatic puffery. My general impression of this site was that the author guy actually thinks that George Bush is too liberal - which means, of course, the blog should only appeal to less than 5% of the US population - the same 5% that got W back in the White House. But it gets worse. Among the intellectual misadventures (everything in parentheses is my addition):

- Prisoners at Guantanamo Bay are receiving luxury meals (to go with inhumane treatment)
- Schiavo wasn't on life support (what exactly, then, was that whole feeding tube thing?)
- There are legions of would be terrorists hiding amongst our midst ready to strike (where are the convictions then?)
- Americans are "being taxed to death taking care of deadbeats and criminals" (come to the UK or the EU, you'll see high taxes)
- Aid to Africa, or debt relief, is only going to help "brutal dictators" (a racist view, see The End of Poverty, by Jeffrey Sachs; absurdly off target - aid is targeted to nations with "good governance"; and, it's not like AIDS/HIV assistance is really gonna help them "dictators", now is it?)
- Hispanics and blacks have a penchant to be "gangbangers" and should all be deported (never mind the vast majority are US citizens)
- The New Deal was socialist (I guess all those child labor laws should be rolled back as well?)
- Welfare encourages black women to have babies (more whites are on welfare than blacks, welfare/AFDC doesn't pay enough for that to be true, most pregnancies are by teenagers and are thus unplanned)
- Hate crime laws are "insane" (it's ironic when GOPers criticize laws that increase penalties for crime)
- The New York Times engages in "historical revisionism" (a one-off against the most respected newspaper in the US, if not the world)
- Prosecuting US military personel for "mistakes" on the battlefield is the cause of low recruitment (never mind the risk of getting called up from "reserve" status to full-time deployment or the risk of getting shot or blown up by a "terrorist" in Iraq)
- The US hasn't "tortured" any combatants (I guess the author missed that whole Abu Ghraib thing not to mention even a brief review of what constitutes "torture" under international law")
- America is overrun by illegal aliens which is bankrupting hospitals and schools (bankrupt is too strong, but there are high costs, so I'll let this one slide, even though I think it's a worthy expenditure)

I don't care that La Shawn is black. I don't care much about La Shawn at all. What I care about is that there are thousands of people reading these sophmoric ramblings and probably aren't second guessing at all. Repeat that across hundreds (thousands?) of blogs and you have the makings for an extremely uninformed public that thinks they are informed.

When I prepare political postings for this blog, I come at them from a particular position that is obvious. But I do not merely repeat the bombast and hyperbole that is drowning out the voices of those who actually are well researched and informed. Instead, I try to do my best to be objective, to use facts to support my positions, and to reference those facts where possible. In the end, there's a right way, a wrong way, and La Shawn's way.

Anyway, as I'm rather bothered by this whole thing, I'll probably devote more of this space to these topics in the future. I have several posts that are in process where I'm making some rather big arguments that may be a stretch, so those will come first (whenever I finish them). But sometime in the future, I'll tackle some of these debates (especially the foreign aid one) in what I hope will be an authentic effort.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Life in the Gulag

This morning, at approximately 7:15, a planned fire alarm went off. This was a staged event by the Warden who runs the house - he had warned us there would be an early morning drill and "meeting". Before I proceed with the absurd details of said event, let me describe the Troll that runs the house.

Bryan, the Warden, is about 6 feet tall, balding, with little gray stubble puffs on the sides and back of his bulbous head. He, of course, makes up for what he doesn't have on top with a craggy gray beard that looks unkempt - I think there may be pork chop remnants in there somewhere. Filling out his face are clamshell ears that are remind me of satellite dishes constantly on the hunt for a signal from the mother ship. Lower, he has a giant protrusion of a belly that would make Fat Bastard proud. Think Shrek if you sucked out the green color. Adolph, as he's known around the house, has several annoying tendencies, one of which is his penchant to always smile and laugh while delivering threats and warnings - which, since he dispenses threats and warnings all the time, means that he's always walking around laughing and smiling.

Don't believe me? Here are a few examples:

- Once, he entered a 3-person room for "inspection" without notice, found it unkempt, typed up a letter that stated that if they did not have the room clean the next day, he would evict all three tenants. I was there when he handed the letter to one of the tenants and he was as cheerful as a horse put out to stud.

- Once, when I had friends coming to visit over the Christmas holidays, he cheerfully informed me that they could stay there, only to send my friend an email stating they could not stay because they were not a married couple and it was a "Christian" house.

- And the piece dé resistance, something I have not mentioned to anyone over here because it was told to me in confidence relates to my friend Justin. My friend is gay, his boyfriend lives in the house, and Justin applied to get a single room there. It was cheaper than what he had previously and he applied prior to his boyfriend moving in. The warden told Justin at the time of his application that he would be sure to have a spot in a month or two when something opened up (usually because someone would get kicked out for some illusive rule violation). After Justin's boyfriend moved in, Justin started hanging out at the house a lot - in the kitchens and common areas. He never broke a single rule and he always signed in and out. One day, Justin and his boyfriend were watching TV in the common room with another friend who lived in the house. In walks the Warden, marches right up to Justin, and says, "It's not right that you two are together all the time. It's not natural." They bandy words, long story short, Justin hasn't been back and his application was rejected.

A couple things about this stand out:

1. The Warden said his application was rejected because they only allow 3 people from each nation to stay at the house. That's a lie. There have been 4 Americans for quite some time (one of which was moving out and Justin could have taken his spot), not to mention at least 4 Koreans the entire time I've lived there. But lying is nothing new to Shrek.

2. Half the house is gay. To make a statement like that is not only discriminatory, but it's in clear ignorance of what is going on around him.

3. It's mighty Christian to call out someone for being gay, in front of other people, and then essentially ban him from your house because of his biological, immutable characteristic. But hey, what else is new from Captain F*ckstick?

Anyway, back to the story of the day: the fire drill. He had one previously, probably last fall, I can't really remember. It was on a Sunday and in the afternoon. Most people were there, but obviously some were not. This time around, I get the sense that he wanted to do it at 7:15 because he figured most people would be there at that time. He was right.

However, if he thought he A) had anything important to say or B) had anyone's attention, he's dead wrong. Instead, everyone grumbled (especially the French guy who actually used the word "Nazi", clearly making my day) and no one paid him any attention. He concluded his little "chat" with a rules refresher, another lie about the law here (something I'm going to track down this morning, print out relevant sections, highlight, photocopy, and distribute around the house), and laughed about us being mad because he woke us up at 7:15.

If they're ever a way to completely alienate yourself from an audience, this guy is a pro. Way to go.

Now, for my next trick, I'm going to spend the next hour re-reading various housing acts to find out exactly what our legal standing is, who we can report him to, and how I can make his life miserable. I want this man fired and on the street. I want his body consuming his own fat ridden flesh as he slowly starves from not getting enough spare change from whatever street corner he's begging at. I want this man institutionalized in a crap hole where his everyday life is corrupted by a Gulag Chief of his caliber. I want this man to live one year of his life in living conditions that are exactly as miserable as mine are right now. I sentence him to living with himself. Then again, maybe I'll just go have another coffee.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

And So It Begins...A Rambling Diatribe

Officially, the job hunt is now on. I'm applying to jobs both in the UK and the US. It's the only sensible thing to do. My preference, of course, is to find a good job here that I can excel at for a year or so, but that may not be feasible. Either way, I want good work for good pay.

I'm still a bit in shock about the whole Michael Jackson thang. I fully expected his pedophiliac ass to go down for something. Now, I understand that the mother of the boy who alleged molestation was less than perfect (as totally Fing insane) and the boy's testimony seemed to change a bit, making the entire enterprise a dodgy call at best. But still, I find it totally unreasonable that this child could make something like that up and be so graphically descriptive about it at the age of 13. I know that when I was 13, had I been molested, I would never have wanted to discuss it with anyone, not to mention have my name thrown about the international press for all the world to see.

But more than that, I've read the original complaint from 1993. I saw the Bashir documentary. Jacko is totally wacko, as they say. Some of the jury did say that they found the previous testimony (for which he was not on trial) very compelling and warned him to stop what he's doing, so that says something about the quality of the characters involved in this trial. But I'd have to say, like I've said before, anyone who willingly lets their son into Jackson's demenses, not to mention his bed, after these events should be taken to the town square, publicly flogged, and then disembowled Braveheart style.

One interesting thing over here is that the press is now asking if he should have been tried given the not guilty verdict. That, to me, is a fundamental misreading of the American justice system. Grand juries indict based on evidence they believe to be compelling. They don't hear the defense, only the offense (if you will). Thus, there is never a question that it shouldn't have been tried. For what it's worth, the system worked in this situation. The prosecution could not convince the jury, without a shadow of doubt, that Jacko had committed these acts and they rightly acquitted his Planet of the Apes ass.

Anyway, I'm about to enter hell week. I have three papers due next week (roughly 7500 words total) and a presentation for Monday. I'm way behind. I blame myself. Aside from Friday's adventure with the South African, I expect to spend the rest of the weekend with my nose at my computer and my fingers aboard for the long ride. Sigh. Why do I do this to myself?

Last night, I was dreaming of nothing but drinking tall glasses of ice water. Over and over again, I poured myself a glass of ice water and drained it in one smooth motion. When I woke up at 3 AM I realized there was a desert in my mouth. Two bottles of water later and I was able to go back to sleep. Very odd how the subconscious works.

I'm sort of perturbed at my school right now. I have three real complaints. First, it is not possible for me to do the full thesis. This is something I had counted on and looked forward to (because I'm demented like that). But, my professor dropped the ball. I would have had to submit a thesis proposal to St. Louis last term to have had a chance to do the full thesis. But he didn't inform me of that (I had no idea), he kept reassuring me that it could be done, and then didn't look at the particulars until it was too late. I'm really bothered by this and while I'm not making a big stink, it's really soured me the last two weeks. He should have known better or at least looked into it earlier. I've only been asking him about it for four months.

Second, being a satellite office, they have a horrid financial aid office. Well, maybe they're all bad everywhere, but this time, I'm really perturbed. They failed to inform me that I needed to sign a form in order to receive my last crop of loans. I followed every procedure that I found online and it's not clear that you need to sign this form (I signed it last year and assumed that was good for the full term of my course) to receive aid. Now, once I discovered it earlier today, I filled it out and signed it online, so it's in the works. But I'm skinned as they say here - I don't have much money and I'm depending on that £2000 to get me through to August (and a new flat). I guess I should expect as much. I'll survive, but it would have been much nicer to have that money come through sooner rather than later.

Last, Real World, through an incredible amount of bitching, persevered and received a £915 scholarship. I'm so fed up with her anyway right now that this doesn't help. I inquired in January and was told that they don't give scholarships mid-term, only at your entrance to the program. To find out that she was told that but kept bitching about it until they gave in (six months of whining) really chaps me. I know it's petty, but she shouldn't have received a scholarship in the first place (its' based on academic merit, not need) and they clearly gave her 'hush' money. I certainly could have used that money, but I wasn't willing to lower myself and complain about it until they gave in. The fact that they did sort of makes me wish that I had, until I remember that I would be more similar to Real World and no one wants that. She disgusts me, but I'm too nice to cut off the friendship. Sigh.

Today was a lovely, rain filled chilly day. Tomorrow and Friday are supposed to be awesome though. I hope so. I only work a half day tomorrow and I don't have school in the afternoon, so if it's nice, I could actually enjoy some of the afternoon in a park with some school work. I need to get some more sun. My tan is fading.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Weekend Recap...Profanity Warning

I hadn't really planned on going out Friday night. But when the bell tolled on the end of yet another dragged out day of long boredom, I was more interested in grabbing a pint than going straight home to crack open some books. Of course, the seed was planted by the Roving Alcoholic (RA) who started an email chat with a joke about getting a drink after work. Once planted, it became inevitable that we go out.

We started at Bed, a nice club right around the corner from our office building. We've gotten to know the staff there, so we always get comped some drinks along the way. There was this guy there that the RA knew so he joined us. Around 830 or 900, this other guy insisted that we move on. Bed is never that lively and he had big plans. Thusly, we left.

The second place we went to has a name that I do not recall. I walk by it every day that I go to work, but I had never realized it was a club. From the outside, it looks like a rather small, modern pub. However, once inside, you realize that there is a huge downstairs that is absolutely packed with people getting filthy drunk. It's a nice space down there because it isn't too loud (unlike some clubs) and there is ample dance space and talking space. You don't have to dance if you don't want to, but you can if you choose.

Anyway, not in the door five minutes when I notice this cutie eying me and offering up a few small smiles. We engage in a few minutes of smile tag before I head over to her and introduce myself. Turns out she's from South Africa and works for a company that I actually have on my "apply list". She didn't want to totally desert her colleague's, so after 10 minutes, she turned back to them. I figured that was the brush off. She seemed sincere enough, but usually when a woman says something like that, it's a "you're nice, but I'm just not that interested" kind of deal. So I went to the bar and retrieved some beers. When I got back to my friends, I looked back and she was smiling at me again! Not having any of that, I went over and asked if she wanted to dance a bit. She agreed and we danced and talked for another five minutes at which point she asked me for her number because she felt bad about leaving her colleagues. After an absurdly difficult attempt to exchange numbers (we were both a little tipsy and it was really loud), we said our goodbyes, she said she would call the next day, and that was it. No matter what happened after that, I was good for the night. Definitely an ego boost and a nice thing to meet a woman that seemed cute, nice, smart, and sincere.

Soon, our relentless march to the next club was underway. This time, it was a club called Agenda. One of the good things about the guy who was leading us on was that he knows all the bouncers, so we weren't paying to get in. Agenda was very similar to the previous spot. It looked fairly small from outside, but was huge inside (all one floor this time). We met several girls, none of whom were that interested, but some of whom we danced with. After about an hour, it was time to leave again.

The last stop (for me) was Atlantic in Piccadilly Circus. Somehow, we got there by cab although I know that neither I or the RA paid for it. But it was a fairly quick trip, so it couldn't have cost much more than 10 quid. Atlantic is a really nice club. We never would have gotten in without our guide and even then we had to pay 10 pounds each. It's a semi-exclusive club that used to cater only to VIPs. And you can tell from the inside. They have essentially two rooms. One is a huge room with a semi-circle bar that stretches around the middle flanked by couches and a few tables. Near the back there appeared to be a bit of a dance floor, although I never made it that far. The good thing about the bar is that it's not expensive. Bottles of beer cost approximately 3 pounds, which is great for a club.

The second room, the "VIP" area, was more tables and couches than dance floor. I only know this because I'm good at acting like a VIP. Ok, seriously, the door wasn't exactly guarded, so we just went in. There's a bar at one end and the room is longer and narrower than the main spot, but it's still nice in there.

Anyway, while in the first room, I saw a group of girls, some of whom were cute, some of whom were less than cute. My mates and I were standing next to them and I caught the eye of one of the cute ones. So I start moving a little closer to see if there's a dance in it when one of her (unattractive) friends leans over and murmurs in her most posh British accent, "Please go away."

I turned to her and said, "what did you say?"

"Please go away," she repeated.

"How RUDE!" I retorted with my best outrage I could muster at half pissed midnight.

"What?" she queried. "I asked politely!"

"How typically British," I replied. "It's ok to tell someone to fuck off if you tell them politely. Well, here's how we do it in America: Go fuck yourself."

With that, I turned and left. I was in no mood to bandy with overweight British bitches with typically rude British mannerisms. Anyone who knows me at all knows that I never do that sort of thing. In fact, when the gay guy was grabbing my ass I shouted at him and told him it was "inappropriate". But I blew my top that night. Ten months of frustration because I either A) don't understand British mating rituals or B) don't measure up to whatever posh ideal that British girls seemingly embrace but never find. The whole episode pretty much summed up the entire "try to meet British girls" experience over the past 10 months. There's a reason why there are so many Bridget Jones'. If you aren't part of the solution, you're part of the problem and the Brit girls I've met, even the ones I'm not interested in at all, are part of the problem.

Whew. I feel better now with that off my chest. The next day, I hoped Ms. South Africa would call. When she hadn't called by 4, I called her, but she didn't pick up. I didn't leave a voice mail because I hate doing that when you just meet a girl - it's always better to get someone live on the phone. She did call, however, the next day. I was out to lunch with my mates at this tasty and delicious Colombian restaurant so I didn't hear her call, but she left a message apologizing for missing my call on Saturday. We chatted later in the afternoon and we're going out on Friday. There's a couple things I like about this one (looks, togetherness) but one thing stands out - she asked me for my number and she asked me out before I could get there. That speaks to a confidence that I find highly attractive. Hopefully I won't blow it or she won't turn out to be some kind of axe-murdering freak, or worse, turn out to be British.

The rest of my weekend was comprised of procrastination and schoolwork. I didn't get that much done, but I got enough. I finally started writing my Globalization paper although I didn't do much at all on my thesis proposal. Speaking of which...

Friday, June 10, 2005

Ups and Downs and other randomness

Yesterday was a feature day in the ups and downs of life. In the morning, I had an email waiting from Ms. Colorado. It was a really nice email and it made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. She's doing well in Colorado, but misses me and wants to talk as soon as possible. Good stuff.

The slapback from the warm and fuzzy beginning was an email I received from a former classmate at around noon. I've mentioned him before - he's the 50ish South African guy who was in our program for most of the last two semesters. We hadn't seen him in awhile, so we assumed he had followed through with his plan and moved to Georgia. He got into a law school in Atlanta and was planning on finishing the MA from long distance. The South African is a really interesting guy. After logging many years as the owner and operator of an accounting firm, he sold it a year ago, enrolled in the MA in international relations, and started reinventing himself - pursuing a longtime dream to go back to school and feel like he had more importance than protecting rich people's money.

That history combined with the fact that he's a really smart guy with a great heart made his email all the more saddening. He disappeared from the scene not because he moved to Atlanta, but because he was diagnosed with stomach cancer. And it's spread to vertebrae in his spine.

Most of my classmates didn't know what that meant. I do. I didn't even have to google it to know that it's a virtual death sentence. Life's like this I suppose, not that clichéd axioms makes it any easier. The South African has always been healthy as an ox; he eats right; he's in great shape. Just when he embarks on the next great adventure of his life, this happens.

I have no way to express my sorrow toward him and his family. We never became great friends, but my heart goes out to him. From his email, he sounded like he's still in a bit of shock and denial. I imagine that's normal. No one wants to hear that they have 6-12 months to live. Everyone who faces that sort of thing has to stay upbeat, optimistic, and confident. It just doesn't look good.

Finally, because I can't resist, I have to put up this link. Truly disturbing. I think the solution is to shift to organic or imported beef. It does not shock that the USDA is ignoring a glaring risk, but it does disturb. See where the low end regulation takes us?

Thursday, June 09, 2005


Lest anyone in cyberspace think that I'm currently entrapped in a Monty Python-esque castle full of young nubile virgins who want to have a little "peril", allow me to clarify yesterday's remarks. They were a bit unrefined and crude, to say the least.

The problem I described yesterday in terms of meeting British ladies is accurate, I believe, to a certain point. Sadly, I left out the other half of the equation. For the ladies that do not fit that stereotype, they assume that YOU always will. Thus, even if you meet a nice girl with the best intentions, she's going to automatically assume that you want the quick shag route because it's such a prevalent theme here. And maybe I don't blame girls for thinking that. It's quite clear that there are legions of men in this city that literally just want to shag the next best thing that comes across their way and they're not beholden much to standards of decency, attraction, or self-respect. Several of my friends fall into this category.

I am not, sadly, surrounded by young, nubile, and willing virgins. Instead, there is consensus among several people I have talked to about this, we are surrounded with many potentially available women who are so skittish because they believe that you're only interested in a quick shag that they have impenetrable barriers erected around their personage. I hear ladies complain a lot about how difficult it is to meet a man, but they're part of the problem.

Anyway, another point I wanted to make clear is that the "shag first, relationship second" strategy that is so dominant here is the anti-thesis of what I want and how I operate. That probably has something to do with my inability to connect with a British girl as well. I see my worldview as suitable, they might see it as oddly old-school conservative or that something is wrong with me.

But, none of this discussion should be allowed to continue without some personal responsibility. I confess to not approaching the cute girl I saw at the pub the other night. I confess to not approaching any girls the last time I went to a club. I confess to not approaching a girl I saw at a pub last week. In fact, I confess to completely terminating any attempt to actually meet a nice girl. Call it frustration, call it boredom, call it fatigue - it makes no difference. The last month or so I've so completely taken myself out of the game that I have no one to blame but myself. That's ok. I haven't been stressing about it or really overly concerned about it much at all. But just as I think there is a right way to go about things, one shouldn't completely pull themselves out of the game because you just never know when you're going to meet someone you could actually connect with (look at Ms. Colorado).

What does all this mean? I'm not really sure. I'm tired of going to clubs - they're expensive, loud, and I just don't have that much fun at them these days. The pub seems like a difficult place to meet a girl, but then again, it probably depends on the pub. Some pubs are geared toward people sitting in booths and drinking themselves into Mike Tyson's Bolivian; others are more sociable. School has little to offer and work is a dead end. I need some new ideas. Short of asking every cute girl I see for directions to places I don't want to go, I'm a bit adrift.

At any rate, I'm not sure why I'm thinking about this right now. I have too much to do and not enough time to do it. In fact, none of this would even be in my brain right now if it hadn't been for a conversation at the pub the other night with some classmates. So screw everything I said above. I'm getting the best sandwich in London in less than two hours. It's the little things that matter.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

"Shoot or don't, just hurry up. I got sh*t to do."

Random thoughts are jangling about my head like loose change in a washing machine. I can barely hear myself think with the clinky racket of coin on metal rattling repeatedly through my skull. Perhaps is because of sleep deprivation, a serious disregard for my job, an ever present pressure to complete some school work prior to the arrival of my mother, or a combination of all three. No matter, this day won't pass fast enough for me, even though I have some work to do.

Like in Office Space, I've just spent the last hour having my eyes slowly glaze over as I gaze longingly at ESPN. Catching up on my sports news was top priority today. I hadn't even realized that the Pistons had beaten the Heat. Sadly, NBA fans around the world now have little reason to religiously tune into the Finals. Just how exciting can Spurs-Pistons really be.

Enough of the sports talk - it bores most folks and I have little more to say. Just too depressing when your favorite team is the Redskins. Next time someone tries to steal one of my ATV's...

There is this phenomenon that many know about, but more are starting to hear. I'm talking about ringtones. They're everywhere. Plus, unlike the shoddy types that I heard in the USA, the ringtones business has advanced with technology - it's now full MP3 audio - meaning the quality is up and you can put full length songs on your phone if you so desire. I happen to have one of these new-fangled high tech contraptions and I love it. I have tones from Outkast, 50 Cent, Friday (like every funny quote from the movie), House of Pain, Sir Mix-a-lot, Young MC, Beastie Boys, Skee-Low, and a variety of Eurotrashy club songs. I don't have complete songs for any except PIMP, but clips suffice. I constantly amuse myself by setting personality appropriate ring tones to people in my contact list. For example, Smooth Like Butta' gets PIMP, the Roving Alcoholic gets Girls by the Beastie Boys, and Real World gets something that Americans wouldn't get, but it's a clip from a Brit comedy show that is...well, let's just say that if she ever understood the joke she'd be mortally offended.

Anyway, there's one side cost of this trend and it's Crazy Frog. I had no problem with mobiles that ribbet or moo or oink when they're being rung. But Crazy Frog is so incredibly annoying it makes me want to get violent. Not only that, however, Crazy Frog recently topped the billboards at Number 1. Mind you, this is a fake song that someone made on their computer as a laugh that has now been converted into a full length track and is at the top of the international billboard. I think that for my next trick, I'm going to get a microphone for my laptop, repeatedly flatulate into it, remix it with a generic back beat and a few warbles, and then start my music empire. Surely that would be as successful as Captain Annoyance...

I'm getting increasingly fatigued with what I see around me. Most of my friends here in the UK are the type to look for a shag. I'm just not like that. I love to meet girls (well, love is too strong, I like to meet girls), but I'm just not after a quick romp in the sack and calling out "next" like an oafish receptionist at a government office. Call me traditional, but I actually like to talk to a woman - find out what she's all about, delve into her personality, establish a connection before I dive into the Shagatorium. Maybe I'm just old fashioned.

What I really wonder, though, is where are all the women that actually want that too? Maybe I just don't fit into what I see as the increasingly prominent direction that Europe is headed, but it truly seems like women here are much more interested in a quick shag than they are in the US. Or, if not solely after a quick shag, the presumption is that you shag immediately and develop a relationship if you're both interested later. To me, that's the cart before the horse. Not only that, however, it's not what I want. I want to meet a nice girl, go out together, get to know her, and then, if things are right, get together. But that's very un-European.

Another twist on this is what the Americans over here have dubbed "The Conversation". In the US, it appears (based on a variety of opinions) that we have to have the Conversation with a woman before we are officially together as a couple. The Brits and other Europeans are totally clueless about that. I guess the sense is that if you're with someone, you're with them. You don't need to talk about it. Me, I like to know my status. As I see it, there are three distinct phases:

1. Going Out: This could be between 1-3 dates. It's casual, you don't talk all the time, but have interest. Usually coupled with frequent, between the sheets panting sessions.

2. Seeing someone: After 3 dates but before 10 dates. This is an intermediate phase where both are interested but one party is holding back. Seeing someone is a 50-50 kind of deal because it often is based on coupling. They keep it going because of the frequency of mutually beneficial shags.

3. Dating: This is when it's official. Can be anytime after 3 dates. Usually occurs when people have a mutual attaction that is deeper than just physical.

My European friends have stated that the Conversation should never happen, but I think they're wrong. In fact, I think they couldn't be more wrong when they deal with Americans. Real World is a terrible example, so I'll leave her out of it, but generally, my feeling is that Americans want to know. Are we just shagging? Are we doing more? Do you expect this to go somewhere? Those are questions that could be asked, should be asked, given the incoherence of European dating views.

Maybe I'm just a prude.

I'll end this missive with one other observation that truly bothers me: the frequent number of people I've met over here that never want to get married. I've heard it from friends and people I am interested in - "Why get married? I don't need a church to prove that I love someone?" Uh, who said anything about a damn church? I was just asking about the concept of marriage. And why the hell is marriage about "proving" love? Smart people should not be so obtuse.

Then again, I guess George W. was right and marriage is under assault. I'll just lay down my opposition to everything that our erstwhile President supports to he can get to fixin' them anti-marriage folks the Texas way. Merci Y'all!

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Thoughts on my future

I have given a lot of thought to my future. It's always in my mind, as one could imagine. I believe, at long last, I have a tentative plan that makes some sense.

Step 1

The first thing on my mind is applying for jobs here in the UK. I have already applied for a position at Amnesty International and I have about 20 political consulting firms that I am ready to apply for (once I get my CV squared away). I'm doing some networking as well, so I'm constantly on the prowl for new opportunities. I'm fairly certain I don't want to simply work in business. I'm motivated and interested in policy issues, so that's where my focus is. Whether it's human rights, security issues, or development - my focus is the same. I am old enough and experienced enough to know that I'm not going to be happy unless I feel like I'm making a contribution to the world in ways that I feel comfortable with. Simple business won't achieve that for me.

My timetable for this process is basically the end of October. I do not want to stick around in a temp position doing shite work indefinitely. If I don't find employment to my liking by that point, then it will be time to throw in the towel and return to the US. However, if I have solid leads or chances, then I will get the BUNAC visa which would enable me to stay for 6 additional months on a work permit. If I don't have any tangible leads, then that's that.

Step 2

Looking for work in the US is a concurrent step. I'm not really wanting to be in the position of returning to the US and having to take temp work while I look for a permanent job. Therefore, I have feelers out and I'm scanning the internet sites for jobs to my liking. I have what looks to be a very good contact here who worked for the Senate for four years and he has stated that he would be willing to contact his people there on my behalf. I believe I could get an interview out of that at the least. Not only that, I have some companies in mind that do the type of work I'm interested in. The point is, if/when I return to the US, I want to have good leads so that I can spend a minimal amount of time temping to make do. I've tempted enough for my liking.

Step 3

This is the wild card that's been bouncing around my brain for quite some time: PhD school. I've looked at a few programs in the US and abroad and it's basically a lot easier to do it in the US for the simple reason that if I go this route, I'm not going to pay for it. I had to pay for this MA largely because I was such a lazy and unfocused student as an undergrad. But I've paid my dues here. I've worked hard, I've improved as a scholar and writer, and most notably, my confidence is sky high. I know that I could be successful in a PhD program, if I choose that route. That being said, I'm not going to just any PhD program. If I do get a PhD in International Relations (or Political Science), it's going to be at a top school. So, tentatively, my plan is to apply for a few top programs in December and see what happens. If I get in somewhere, then I can make a choice. If I don't, then I know that option is not available to me.

I'm a big believer that in life, sometimes bad things happen for the right reasons. Whether we like it or not, the challenge is to see what can be gained out of change. For example, I'm here in London, pursuing my dreams, and ultimately enjoying one of the best years of my life because of life changes that were ultimately out of my control. While the outcome of those changes did nothing to ease the pain at the time, sometimes life's like this. You look back years later and say, "Yeah, now I get it." I don't know if it's fate, a higher power, or random chance, but sometimes people need a kick in the ass to get them moving on the path that's right for them.

This is why I'm genuinely not sweating things right now. I have confidence that, just like moving to London, things are going to work out. Whether I become a high level political operative, a strong advocate for improving the human condition, or the mad professor, I am confident that I will be happy because I know that for the first time in my life, I'm on the path that's right for me. The last few years of my life remind me of what Morpheus told Neo which I'll poorly paraphrase here, "...there's a difference between knowing the path and walking the path." At long last, my life is starting to make sense.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Oh foul business

Work is extremely busy right now so I don't have much time for a well thought out post. Instead, this is a random collection of thoughts spewing forth like putrid vomit from a raging alcoholic.

Apparently, it is possible to get sunburned in London. Last Friday, it was extraordinarily hot, by that, I mean it was in the 80s. Of course, 85 degrees here is really hot because of the urban air pollution that magnifies the effect, but still, it's not like it was 99 like it gets in DC, NY, Chicago, etc. But the Londoners were warned to stay inside between the hours of 11 and 3 and I can attest, it felt pretty damn hot. I didn't get sunburned that day. I knew better. No, I got sunburned on Saturday when it was partly cloudy and in the upper 60s. Don't ask me how. Some people have suggested that the clouds cause the sun to reflect downward and that could be it. Others have mentioned a weak ozone layer or urban pollution. I think it could be all of those combined with the fact that I'm a white boy who burns easy. At any rate, I have healed up and I now have a nice cherubian rosy color splashed across my forehead. Good to have some color.

I'm getting quite tired of Real World of late. Shocking. Her birthday was Wednesday and she was making a huge deal out of it. I got her a card. What really annoys me about her, above and beyond anything else, is her inability to speak the English language. Not only that, we're literally in the last month of our master's program and she still has not learned a single thing. We discussed her thesis yesterday and it became clear that the word "argument" has not entered her vocabulary aside from post-coital pillow talk. It is utterly flabbergasting to me that she could reach this point in her academic career and not understand that it is insufficient to write a paper, not to mention a thesis, that argues that the US violates human rights domestically. As eloquently asked in one of the most annoyingly stupid movies ever, "And then?"

See this is galling to me because frankly I don't think she should be at this point without having understood that arguments have two parts: premise and implication. In fact, I think she should have failed out of the program (although you pretty much have to not be fluent in English to fail out...wait a minute...). At any rate, I gave her a bunch of advice, she took notes, and hopefully she's on her way. I'm just frustrated that she can be so thick headed and that we have to have the same conversation again and again.

I'm also a bit perturbed for more selfish reasons - she has an interview with Amnesty International next week for a good job that she is clearly not qualified for. I know I should wish her the best, but I find that difficult. I don't want the job she applied for - it's a budgeting position more than anything. In fact, I applied for a totally different job that is more up my alley. No, the real problem is that I'm trading on my paper - my degrees, my writing, my experience as is everyone else. The fact that "MA - Webster Graduate School" could carry the same weight for her as it does for me is frustrating. It's clearly not worth the same. I work my ass off in this program, I've learned a lot, I've grown as a thinker and a writer. She has partied her ass off, barely completed the assignments, learned next to nothing, and slid by because they pretty much never fail anyone in grad school. How could she possibly be employable by an organization like Amnesty except in an admin position?

At the end of the day, I know that I'm just espousing petty whines at the moment. But this blog is somewhat of a confessional and a safe place for me to vent this type of frustration. As a human and a friend, of course I want Real World to be successful in whatever venture she engages in. I'm just a bit put off by the idea that, on paper, it looks like we're equal candidates in our field. Of course, I probably would care a whole lot less if I had a job lined up or knew what the hell I was going to do come August, but like I said at the start, it's a selfish complaint.

Anyway, I have some thoughts about my future that I'll be putting in here in the next day or two. I've been thinking an awful lot about it and time is running short but I think I have a plan. Of course, I need to finish this degree first (thesis!) and that means I probably need to quit my job. I'll make that decision once my financial aid is in, but I have to say right now, I'm working all day today and I feel the pressure. I should be in a library or on a computer somewhere. I have much too much work to do and not enough time. Maybe I'll ask for an unpaid leave of absence.

Finally, I was sitting in class yesterday grinning like a pig in sh*t for really no reason at all. Someone asked me later why I enjoyed the class so much. It's globalization (which I think is a great topic because it has incredibly vibrant debate ground) but the prof is not the greatest. Then it dawned on me - this is it. I'm about a month away from the end of school (for the moment). Unlike college where I was eager for the end and celebrated like it was 1999 when it was over, I'm not eager for this to end. Instead, I'm relishing every moment because it's a unique, irreplaceable time in my life that I will always value and cherish. And that's why I'm in such a great mood - because I know how fortunate I am at the moment and I'm making the best of it. Good times.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Star Wars - Episode III - Don't Worry, No Spoilers

I haven't felt much like posting the last week. Perhaps its because we had a four day weekend (since I don't work on Fridays) and was busy going out and having fun. Or maybe I just needed a breather and some time to focus on some other things. Either way, I'm getting back into the swing of things.

I saw Star Wars last week. It was fairly enjoyable. If they had not let Hayden Christiansen talk it would have been 100 times better. Somewhere between the last film and this one, Natalie Portman learned how to act. She was less wooden and much more animated. Of course, it helped that she was absolutely stunningly beautiful as well - clearly more beautiful than previous films.

Ultimately, the movie just doesn't have what it takes though. Much like the previous two, some of the magic is missing for me. Take the scene where Anaken rises with the Vader suit. I was anticipating that it would be one of those tingly moments when you hear him breath and see the suit. But, it really wasn't. Instead, it was like watching Frankenstein, only somehow he miraculously had James Earl Jones' voice. Plus, the Vader suit, while totally cool in 1978, looks a little dated next to the surrounding technological advancements made possible by LucasFilm.

Further, the movie is nearly wrecked by the passage of time. Some films, like The Two Towers, find ways to express the passage of time. "Three days with no rest and no food..." said Gimli near the start of that movie. You could follow the events on some sort of sequential time table. Not so in Star Wars. In fact, the only way to tell time was to see Portman suddenly appear more and more pregnant as the movie progressed. Plus, there are a series of instant galaxy crossings that simply don't make any sense at all leaving you wondering, were the two scenes happening at different times or did Lucas just blow it? (I'm going with blow it.)

The other really glaring weakness is when Anaken turns to the dark side. I knew it was going to be a very difficult task to make that believable, mostly because Episode II was horrid in that regard with Anaken coming off as little more than a winy brat (aside from killing all those sand dudes). And to Lucas' credit, he tried really hard to establish Anaken as a falling star. But in the end, I found it difficult to believe. I mean really, when Luke Skywalker is tempted in Jedi, it's more believable and if Mark Hamil is outacting you, then it's time to hang up the cleats and find a new profession.

Anyway, the long winded point of this is that I think Lucas is ultimately very gimmicky. The first two - Star Wars and Empire (clearly the best of the six) - were amazing for the attention to detail. But things started to break down with Jedi (Ewoks anyone) and it became much much worse in Episode I. Jar Jar, the whole microcosm of the first film, amazing effects versus terrible acting and poorly written dialogue, etc. Does anyone seriously believe that Anaken and the Princess were really in love? Does anyone really believe that Anaken could have turned to the dark side on the premise that his love for her was strong enough for him to take whatever measures that he could to save her life? I don't think so. Once the love story gets botched, the movie collapses like a house of cards. If Lucas had paid more attention to the finer details, I don't think anyone would have serious problems with the movies. But as is, the whole prequel project, while fantastically successful financially, is bordering on the "lets just pretend this never happened" precipice.

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