Thursday, January 25, 2007

Living on Borrowed Time

Since I jumped on the grenade for the company and am staying in London for another 2 weeks, I’ve been trying to make the most of the time when I'm not working by exploring the city and seeing the sites like St. Paul’s Cathedral and taking walking tours along the Thames. Note bad ass scarf in above photo. Looks like I fit in, right? Below photo, I'm trying to look up Saint Peter's robe to see if he lives up to his name.

London is such a beautiful city with such a wealth of history. It amazes me to walk around and see so many places that I’ve heard about my whole life and all of the history that has happened here. I’ve been reading “Great Expectations” by Dickens to get into the English mindset. Below, Fiona's snow covered house where I've been staying.

Why does the bad weather seem to follow me? Last year setting up the New York office I was there during the single snowiest day they have ever had. Now in London I gone through these awful wind storms and now it is freezing and snowing. Yikes, good thing I bought a wool jacket.

And I recently went to see Patrick Stewart in Antony and Cleopatra. He is in the Royal Shakespeare Company and has been getting phenomenal reviews for this play. Check out the photos. I’ve never seen Shakespeare performed live but figured it wouldn't get any better than this. I have to say that I don't think it's my thing but I'm willing to give it another shot if something comes up that sounds interesting (like this performance in a few weeks). It was so well done, great sets, well acted… but in the end, I just had to see Picard! Make it so!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Change of Plans

Slight change in plans. I'll be in London for another 2 weeks. The ISP screwed up the UK to SF network connection so rather than me going back to SF and then flying out here again next week to finish things up, I'll be in London for a bit longer and will try to make it over to Paris or Amsterdam if time permits.

I went to see another show in the West End Saturday night, Icons in London It was an entertaining show but this is the second Elvis impersonator I've seen in a week and that kind of creeps me out. The show itself was a VERY loose story about how the lead, Greg London, found his true calling, singing, even though he was just impersonating others. We watched as Elvis, Johnny Cash, David Bowie... spoke to him and he sang their songs. Then they shoe horned in Arnold Schwarzenegger, Austin Powers, Kermit the Frog. Very Vegas and entertaining.

The weird part that I’m still trying to wrap my head around is that I’m watching someone from the US play to a UK audience (for the most part) and do characterizations of US Pop stars in a cheesy Vegas over produced style. Snippets of US pop music (top 40 pop hits) are being sung by someone who is imitating real pop stars in a slick manufactured show. It’s 3 levels of fake-ness. This is representing, in a way, the worst parts of the entertainment industry of the US; being packaged and exported for international consumption. It reminds me of the time I was in a hostel in Edinburgh and there was a large international group piled into the rec. room watching and cheering for WWF wrestling. What kind of crap are we unleashing on the world?

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Leaving London

It has been a whirlwind week or so but Monday I'm headed back to the States. Sorry no pics since the last post but between all the long work days I did manage to get out a couple of nights while I was here.

On Tuesday, I went out with a co-worker and a group of his friends to catch a local Elvis impersonator, Lou Jordon.

There is something really weird about being in a smoke filled London basement bar and watching some guy pretend to be Elvis Presley. The audience was shouting for all his famous songs which everyone sang and danced too. I always forget how much influence the US has over Pop Culture until I see something like this. BTW, he had a newer jumpsuit than in the photo. It was white still but covered with sequins in the shape of flames.

Then on Thursday I saw Don Johnson in Guys and Dolls at the Piccadilly Theater in the West End. Fiona had gotten a deal on these tickets and I've always been told that when in London, go see a Broadway show so... I really wasn't expecting too much but was surprised how much I enjoyed the production. The dancing was excellent and the singing good. Don, not so much but it was fun to watch him out there trying to hoof it. The weird part was that they had the actors trying to these awful New York / Brooklyn accents that made the dialog very un-natural. Don kept coming in and out of his accent which was hilarious. It was as if English was a second language to them (which is another discussion altogether) but all in all it was fine.

Monday, January 15, 2007

First Few Days in London

The jet lag is finally wearing off and I’m sleeping the whole night, if you call waking up at 6 AM a whole night. I arrived uneventfully into Heathrow around 11 AM Wednesday the 10th. Fiona picked me up at the airport and we headed back to her flat in her VW Polo (why don’t they bring these cool little cars to the US?). Having not slept on the flight, I powered through the following few days drinking 4 Red Bulls and some caffeine gum per day. Basically, forcing myself to stay awake as long as I could stand it and then collapsing into a fleshy imperialistic lump.

The job seems to be coming together slowly. I found my way to the main office eventually and started setting up my gear. They move at a different pace here and I found myself trying to be patient as the power and internet circuits were turned up. It also didn’t help that I was so hopped up on caffeine that I could see through time but when in London

I took the weekend off to take a short trip to Brighton with Fiona and her 11 year old son Josh. He competed in a regional swim meet there and then we spent the rest of the drizzly cloudy afternoon enjoying the beach, town and some wonderful Haddock and Cod fish and chips.

Sunday we slept in a bit (finally) and enjoyed the clear blue skies and crisp morning air. We visited the Columbia Road Flower market and eventually hooked up with my co-worker who is here helping setup also.

We all met up at Spitafields Open Air Market, had a nice lunch, did some shopping and then walked back through town to see the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Tate Modern, House of Parliament and Big Ben.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Foggy London Town

So I'm headed to London, England for 2 weeks to build out the newest Current TV facilities. Current signed a deal with BSkyB to broadcast a localized version of our stuff. My boss and I are going over there to build the same amount of IT infrastructure that we currently have in San Francisco (that we’ve spent the last two years building). We’ll be bringing 3 locations on line, each with a set of firewalls, switches, SAN servers, VMWare servers, mail servers… My guess is that I won’t be sleeping too much.

It will be great to see my old friend Fiona that lives in London. I haven’t seen her in a few years, since I was there in 2000(?) and she had a sweet little flat in Pimlico. She has since bought a 3 bedroom place south of the city center with a friend of hers. I’ll post when I can but not sure when that will be.

Stay tuned…