Our London Times (Not to Be Confused with The London Times)

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A view of London’s river at night. I think they call it The Tim’s.

If you have read about our trip to Paris a couple of years ago, you will recall that said exploit was in lieu of (notice my mastery of the French language) the nonsensically luxurious and exorbitant high-school graduation party that is all the rage nowadays.   Our children have opted instead to spend a like amount of money traveling to the destination of their choice:  Thing 1 chose Paris (see previous sentence above); and Thing 2 chose London.  It is this latter escapade from which we have returned some time ago that I now relate for your vicarious reading pleasure.   On a thematic note, you will notice that the Thing 1 Paris trip was all about art and architecture while this Thing 2 London trip was a tribute to pop culture and its anomic icons.

What a cute little Ben...

What a cute little Ben…

Day 1:  Our overnight flight arrived in the morning and we hit the ground running by immediately taking a nap in our Soho rental.   By mid-afternoon we were sufficiently less groggy enough to stumble our way around the city, taking in Trafalgar Square, where Lord Nelson keeps an eye on things (in case you didn’t get that, it is attempted subtle humor for the statue thereon is complete with eye patch), and Big Ben, one of the largest four-sided clock structures in the world—second only to the faintly less renowned Minneapolis city hall, which is 20 minutes from our house and had us wondering why in the world we just travelled 4000 miles to see this other little, puny one.  Pshh.

Conveniently next door to Tiny Ben is Westminster Abbey, where we took in the nightly organ recital, an activity that I do not recommend to the severely jet-lagged.  About half-way through Thing 2 nodded off, eventually rousing herself with such a sleep jerk that her program took flight, wafting downward to a gentle yet fully observable rest upon the tomb of Dr. David Livingstone, I presume.  And given that nothing is as hilarious as when laughter is forbidden, the entire row shook with our suppressed jollity for roughly the next twenty minutes.

From there we crossed the river to take a spin on The London Eye, which is a giant Ferris wheel that provides sweeping views of the city from a rotating glass pod you share with 37 Japanese tourists.  Thoroughly exhausted, afterward we waded back to our apartment and slept.  Turns out I snore with a distinct American accent.

Me hangin' with the posthumous princess.

Me hangin’ with the posthumous princess.

Day 2:  After a breakfast of Choconilla yogurt and Jammie Dodgers, we spent the morning at Madam Tussauds Entirely Tawdry And Yet Absurdly Expensive Wax Museum where we took selfies with fake celebrities wearing paraffin pants.  Interestingly, the origin of Madam Tussauds comes from back when it was fashionable in France to lop off the noggin of antiestablismentarians, unlike today when we are much more civilized and just call them hateful and drive them out of business.  The Madam would scour graveyards for the dismembered heads of celebrities and then display them on a post, charging popular culture addicts an arm and a leg to see the heads and extoll the virtues of capitalism.

After lunch at Speedy’s Deli beneath Sherlock’s TV apartment, we ventured via double-decker bus to the National Gallery where we saw a bunch of pretty pictures and where Thing 2 was able to uncannily recreate a James Bond moment from the movie Skyfall:Bond Girl

That night, after a traditional British dinner of Japanese Ramen, we scored some tickets to The Queen’s Theatre and Les Miserableblebles, perhaps the greatest live production I have witnessed to date—definitely worth the month’s salary it takes a family of four to see it.  It had it all: great acting, incredible singing, and better staging than an impromptu Clinton campaign stop.

Our typically English rental car.

Day 3:  This began the part of our trip to London wherein we rented a car and left London, much to our perilous endangerment given that I was driving a manual transmission with my left hand on the wrong side of country roads only slightly wider than an olympic balance beam.  The purpose of said death knell was to journey to Cardiff and satisfy Thing 2’s requirement to attend the BBC’s “Doctor Who Experience”, a museum of all things Doctor Who to include props, costumes, tardises, and more cheesiness than a Wisconsin roadside stand.

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I think it would be hilarious if it is discovered that Stonehenge had monotheistic origins.

On the way, we of course stopped to encircle Stonehenge, a ring of very old rocks, and snigger at the goofily clad druid-worshippers who have claimed its unknown origin for their religious conjectures.  From there we went to Bath, named for the Romans’ proclivity toward water immersion, and spent the night in a B&B on a bluff overlooking the entirety of a small part of the eastern edge of town.  That evening we walked to the city center and took in the sights of Bath’s giant and mysteriously circular buildings.  As per recommendation, we dined at the oldest house in town (c.1482), home today of Sally Lunn’s, named for a 17th century proprietor known for her enormous buns—upon which your dinner is actually served.  (There’s a visual for you.)

Day 4:  The next morning we completed our journey to Cardiff and were a bit surprised as the road signs as well as our GPS transformed into Welsh, a language that clearly prides itself in multisyllabic diction.  For example, the sign that reads ‘lleymadaelargyferceir’ evidently means ‘exit’.  Despite the language barrier (or as the Welsh say, rhwystriaithatddealltwriaethglir) and once trying to go the wrong way around a roundabout, we made it safely.

Upon arrival, we spent the GDP of a small Caribbean nation to Experience Doctor Who complete with extortionately priced souvenirs, then had a traditional Welch lunch of pizza and Coke on the bay.   After again cheating death on our drive back to London that afternoon we made our way to our Kensington flat, which it turned out was as tall as any regular apartment.   Dinner was at the Hereford Arms, which claims to be an old hangout of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  And I didn’t even know Herefords had arms.

Brings a tear every time I think of that bird not being able to fly because they are ripping out its tail feathers.

Brings a tear every time I think of that bird not being able to fly because they are ripping out its tail feathers.

Day 5: This morning we split up, with The Queen Mother going to the Albert and Victoria Museum (which has nothing to do with Albert or Victoria by the way), while Thing 2 and I went in nerd-search of the one tardis, a.k.a. blue police call box, in existence on the streets of London.  Both meeting with success, we met up at the world-famous Harrod’s Department Store and shopped amongst the British royalty and Arab sheiks that can actually afford things there.   We also laid an imaginary wreath at the totally tacky Diana and Shirtless Dodi Memorial housed in the Harrod’s basement, nestled reverently between two escalators and ranked by TripAdvisor as #666 (coincidence?) of 1294 things to do in London.  It was a moving experience which spurred philosophical reflections about life and death and the question, “Top half, TripAdvisor?  Really?”

Empty-handed and richer for it, we walked along Hyde Park to Buckingham Palace and watched the guards not move for a while.  Sadly, you are no longer allowed to get up close and pester them any more or take selfies, a true disappointment to Thing 2.  It’s a rule probably less about terrorism than avoiding ugly American tourists pestering them and taking selfies.

That evening we went back to the theater and saw Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a ho-hum recreation of the movie for the stage, the highlights of which were the oompa loompa costumes and the comfy seats.  We should have gone to Thriller Live.

Overall it was a good trip.  We did a lot of sight-seeing, shopping, and other touristy family-fun stuff.  But, given that London is considered one of the most expensive cities in the world, mostly we did this:

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Here you go…

Is Donald Trump Comparable to Jesus? Yes. Yes He Is.

If there is one thing this highly entertaining and yet disturbing political season in America has taught me, it’s that Donald Trump is pretty much just like Jesus.  And Martin Luther King of course, but mostly Jesus.  I got this information from a mister Jerry Falwell, Jr. who is a reverend and so obviously knows what he’s talking about.  You know Jerry, I’m sure.  He is president of the ironically named ‘Liberty’ University, known for its rather lengthy and comprehensive list of student restrictions.

He is also the son of the very postmortem Jerry Falwell, Sr., coincidentally of the same name and who also had a penchant for comparing people to Jesus, which proves once and for all that comical hyperbolic comparisons are hereditary.  For example, Continue reading

#OscarsSoNotMe

So I’ve decided to boycott the Oscars this year. I categorically am stating to you, the reader, and all the world for that matter, this simple fact: I will not be attending next month’s Academy Awards. (Excuse me for a moment…GMA is about to call.) The primary reason, of course, is that I was not invited. Again. Plus I am somewhat disgusted by their egoistic self-congratulatory nature. And once the opening monologue is over, they are about as interesting as C-SPAN at 2 a.m. after a couple doses of NyQuil. But those are only the main reasons.

The host of secondary reasons I will be shunning the seemingly unshunnable include the fact that the extensive list of nominees is about as diverse as a Northern Wisconsin deer camp. Scanning the list, I almost feel as if I am not welcome into the community. Nowhere is there anyone who looks like me. Nowhere is there a Continue reading

The Chronicles of Hernia

According to a number of movies from the 40s and 50s, Christmas is a warm, wonderful time to gather with loved ones and sing carols, exchange gifts, and eat goodies—much like it was in first-century Palestine. And so, I thought to myself, what more appropriate time  than that of joyous celebratory yuletidiness to have an abdominal mesh inserted into my nether regions?  I went to see my doctor about just such a possibility.

For those unfamiliar, such a mesh is the long-term fix for what is known in medical jargon as a ‘hernia’. For laymen and Jim Fowler fans, a hernia is not a wheezy African dog; that would be a laughing hernia, which are more painful than a coughing hernia but less painful than a sneezing hernia. A medical hernia is Continue reading

The Best of TIM’s Best of 2015

Happy New Year!  Here’s hoping that your arbitrarily chosen day celebrating the interminable passage of time was filled with all the whimsicality such inconsequential festivity deserves!  And what better way to mark such an insignificant festal period than to also mark the best of the best of one’s experiences contained within that very same random twelve month period?!

And so here it is:  the enormously personal and subjective and somewhat recommendary listing of my favorite happenings of the very comma-filled foregoing, that is, previous, year, namely, the second annual

The Best of TIM’s Best of 2015 (see above)

Starting with… Continue reading