Sunday, November 27, 2005

My final London memories

Straight people here must feel some constitutional obligation to make out in the most public -- and the most vulgar -- ways possible. Especially if they aren't especially porntastic. (We saw one particularely egregious display tonight on a park bench. The man was sitting facing the river, like most people do. But the woman -- I kid you not -- was straddling his lap with her skirt hiked up and her lady business blowing in the breeze. The FREEZING breeze.)

Speaking of hiked-up skirts, there are two unfortunate fashion trends sweeping London at the moment. One is shorty-short skirts and towering heels. Which would be fine in, say, August -- but it's FREEZING here. Put on something warm already, ladies -- you're making my balls shrink up. The other is what can only be desribed as toreador chic: bolero jackets, knee leggings and ballet slippers. Again: not weather-appropriate. And also: rarely flattering.

One more self-righteous, Ameri-centric piece of judgment: "Shag" is never appropriate. Not on your floors (hard to vacuum), not in your sexual overtures (sounds REALLY gay) and ESPECIALLY not on your heads (looks like hell). Trust me on this.


I spent the day with my high-school friend Lucy, whom I haven't seen in over 10 years. She lives here now, and amid shopping and National Gallerying and eating and more eating, we got all caught up on long-lost friends and long-overdue gossip. Unfortunately, neither of us had anything particularly juicy to share about anyone.

We saw Mary Poppins (the new musical, not the mythical nanny) last night in what must have been just-returned seats in the front center of the dress circle. The seats could NOT have been better, and we got them just a few hours before curtain. Yay us! The show is delightful, packed to the brim with fabulous costumes and endless special effects and clever, tightly rehearsed choreography and a soaring, animated set that deserves a Pulitzer Prize. The old songs from the movie are almost all there, but they're dragged down by new material that's dark and kind of uninspired and clearly the product of a different (and slightly lesser) creative mind. One observation: There's a point near the end of the show that's nothing short of a technical landmark that's suddenly, conspicuously followed by no more special effects. From that point forward, the cast sings the last few songs on a bare stage with ultra-basic lighting effects, as though the technical budget took the directors only so far and all they had left for the ending were a few gobos left over from a high-school production of Man of La Mancha. The show is still a delight, but after all that buildup you're kind of expecting something a little bigger. I'm just sayin'.

Before the show, our friend Jim from Chicago, who was in town for business, met us for cocoa and then joined us for dinner afterward at the fabulous (and fabulously staffed) Balans. Come for the food, but stay for the waiters. And the other patrons. Woof.

Now it's off to bed and a long flight home tomorrow. Cheerio!

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