Disconnections, missed connections

5 September 2010

So up until Friday I didn’t know what my plans were. Actually, no, I knew some of them. My partner’s mother is visiting from overseas, and they’re traveling from London to Italy and spending a week and a half traveling around. Nothing more beautiful than September in Rome. At the end of September they’re heading to Venice for the weekend where I agreed to join them.

But of course, with starting a new job, I had no idea what was in the diary. Then I discover, the Thursday I’m going to join them in Venice, I have meetings in both Brussels and Edinburgh. Of course the first task is to work out which I’m going to (easier said than done). (I’ve now decided).

But you wouldn’t believe how difficult it is to get between the two. There are no direct trains (my preferred means of transportation) from Brussels. I could get an overnight train via Paris and Milan for £200 however. Or fly Ryanair for £30.

I hate Ryanair. Yes, they get you from A – B yada yada yada – and they’re cheap. I can cope with cheap. I can cope with all their extra charges. But what I can’t cope with is the fact that they purposely make the whole experience as unpleasurable as possibly. From their garish clunky website to the INYOURFACEYELLOW on the plane itself (I’m saying nothing about the overlyabrupt cabin crew). I’d really rather not arrive at my destination angry and irritated by the experience of getting there.

Anyway, that’s all irrelevant now as I’m actually going from Edinburgh. And could have gotten from Edinburgh to Venice on an appropriately timed flight (arriving that night, not changing at Heathrow overnight) with Lufthansa… but for £650 (£230 single). How can it cost so much more than a return to go one way? The £230 of course isn’t too bad. But as I have to get back to London it’s a waste of money and a seat.

Anyway, I’ve now resolved the problem. Increasing my carbon footprint, and tiredness in the process, by traveling back to London and catching an early morning flight the following day. Oh and missing out on most of a day’s holiday.

In an uber-connected world easy to forget that getting from A to B isn’t easy. And I’m lucky – I have the resources to do it.

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NYC: Next Fall

7 March 2010

Last Tuesday, while I was still in New york, I went to see another Broadway show. The play, Next Fall, has had a magnificent welcome. Starting out last year off-Broadway it progressed and was in previews at on Broadway when I saw it.

It’s a play that deals with relationships between couples, parents, friends, and God. The relationship at the haeart of the play is a gay one. But it could be any one. I tend to connect with plays that have a theme about relationships (how could one be written without such?), but in particular gay oned (I also saw a tremendous piece of gay theatre off-Broadway, The Temprementals, while I was in New York). The play opening formally in March, was written by Geoffrey Nauffts and produced by Elton John and David Furnish.

Next Fall one opens in a hospital waiting room – a place where, no matter where in the world you are (New York, London, Bogota) the same emotions come to the fore: fear, worry, stress, loss, worry, concern… The story is about a gay couple and starts in what is, essentially, the final scene. It progresses with a series of flashbacks to tell the story of Luke, who ens up in a hospital bed, and his partner Adam.

The synopsis:

Luke believes in God. Adam believes in everything else. “Next Fall” portrays the ups and downs of this unlikely couple’s five-year relationship with sharp humor and unflinching honesty. And when an accident changes everything, Adam must turn to Luke’s family and friends for support… and answers.

The religion aspect is one which interests me in particular. Growing up ‘different’ and having a faith are things that are not necesarilly easilly reconcilable. They’re something that takes some personal struggle. And this play asked some uncomforable questions as part of the plot. But it also proved that understanding it requires a personal belief.

The play particularly shows how this, combined with family relationships, can cause gay people to remain uncomfortable. In a country where Proposition 8 has recently been introduced, to stop the progress that had recently been made on introducing gay marriage in the US, it’s a situation that remains, and a story that should be told. Ironically, Porposition 8 was voted for the same day as President Obama won the US presidential election – and this juxtaposition brought forward the ideaf for Next Fall.

At times, through the flashbacks, I felt like only part of the story was being told – I felt as though the struggle between faith and sexuality was not being fully explored. But alongside resolving the sixth character’s position the reason for Luke’s understanding of faith and exuality became clearer.

It was brilliantly acted, but – even more so – a fantastic, emotional funny and thought provoking well-written script. I’d gladly see it again, and I’d most likely well-up in the same way. If you get the chance to see this Play in New York, or wherever it is lucky enough to be produced next.

Read more here, see the show’s website here and twitter page here.


NYC: Signs of America

1 March 2010

There are some very amusing signs around New York. Here are just a few.

Receiving King Charles

The Midas Touch?


Boris Magic Touch – Incorporated

Anti-healthy health-food cafe/store


Earthmatters, Organic Foods, Free Delivery, We Are What We Fat

99 Cent Dreams


Red Hook, Brooklyn: “99 Cent Dreant, Everything 99 Cents or More”


Goods are clearly marked-up at 99 Cent Dream, Manhatten: “99 Cent Dreams, Everything $1 and Up”


That explains things a little more… They appear to have blacked-out the neon sign saying “Everything 99 Cents or Less”


NYC: Red Velvet

25 February 2010

Red Velvet cupcakes ARE New York.

Cup Cakes are ‘en-vogue’ in NYC right now. Stores selling them are everywhere, more varieties than you’d ever imagine existed (except for one store in Williamsburg I visited where a lady was selling just five types. She also had the door locked and had to buzz me in to enter. I never realised cupcakes were so precious). Although of course, like everything in America, they’re certainly bigger than their European cup cake cousins.

Red Velvet, I understand, is a favourite. They’re a cup cake based on the Red Velvet cake that became an NYC legend through the Waldorf-Astoria hotel. How they make the chocolate flavor cupcake red I really don’t want to know – never been a food colouring fan. But it is brilliantly done, smooth, choccy, sweet but not too sweet, with a cream cheese topping. Amazing.

Here’s one I ate earlier:

And here’s a recipe should you wish to make them.


NYC: “Valium is my favorite color”

23 February 2010

Next to Normal on Broadway

Next to Normal, a relatively new and award-winning musical on Broadway, was recommended to me by a number of different people. Being in New York, it was on the list of shows we had in mind to see.

Next to Normal is ‘Rent‘ for the desperate housewives generation. Out goes illegal drugs, squats, AIDS and angst-ridden love affairs, in comes prescription drugs, suburbia, depression and angst-ridden family relationships. It’s been described as not a feel-good show but a feel-everything show. I think I’d agree with that. It’s not an emotional rollercoaster like Rent but an emotion provoking ride nonetheless. Perhaps, I’d say, a little too much in a downward direction. It’s a single story, there’s no inter-twining of different story lines, which meant that subject matters of family relationships, grief and mental illness are dealt with with little humour of escapism (the rock star psychologist isn’t quite Rent’s moo-ing cow-belled Maureen). The story lacks the humour and hopefullness which drove the characters in Rent and in Spring Awakening. There’s no message of hope, nothing that is clearly driving the characters forward through the dispair they’re coping with, or not. And perhaps it was a little too close to the bone for the Broadway theatre crowd. Afterall, while they’re unlikely to be living with a rent boy in Alphabet City chances are they could very well be stranded in Diana’s suburban family-constrained mental distress. The story didn’t inspire me to change my own life, as good theatre often does (although perhaps I’m closer-related to the Rent/Spring Awakening characters than I am to these) nor did it provide the escapism I like to get from musical theatre.

However, it’s highly-praised score was performed brilliantly by a tiny cast – just six actors – cemented with amazing stamina by the lead actress Alice Ripley (who won the ‘Best Lead Actress in a Musical’ Tony award for this role in 2009). Her son in particular, played powerfully by Aaron Tveit complemented her extremely well.

Overall, a musical worth seeing, with brilliant performances.


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