Sunday, September 27, 2009

"You're Not Singing Anymore"

I only started to worry when the police helicopter showed up.

But that's getting ahead of myself, let's start a few hours earlier. We woke up early Saturday because KT had to to pick up a friend at Heathrow airport and then head for Cardiff in Wales. Why? Well, it's where Dr Who and Torchwood, two of their favorite TV shows, are filmed. Equally important there's the Great British Cheese festival in Cardiff castle, I expect them back tonite with lots of cheese!

It was supposed to be another warm, sunny weekend day so after Kate left, I planned a long bike ride, hooking together several routes I had already done. Though the cloudy start never burned off, the ride was great until about 12 miles out from the house my mobile phone rings--a researcher based in Spain that I needed to talk to happens to be in England and coming to Cambridge. Did I want to meet him in at the Eagle pub in a bit? Uh, yes. I biked about fast as I can go to get home--I did 26 miles in 2 hours (Sadly, I realized marathoners run that distance in the same time!) and met the source for a 90 minute interview.

From there I biked to a Cambridge United game against the big neighboring town of Luton. Luton was a league above us last year but dropped because they were penalized for shady financial dealings. Their fans are not happy about that and a thousand or more made the short trip to Cambridge.
Wild game--United went up 2-0, and seemed in control as the ref ejected a Luton player leaving them a man down and enraging their fans, who were on the verge of rioting. Away fans are segregated from home fans but Luton fans were taunting Cambridge fans with obscene chants and tried to break by the police to "our" side (left).

But after halftime, Luton stormed back, quickly scoring 3 goals. Delirious Luton fans started chanting to Cambridge fans "You're not Singing Anymore" and "We have only 10, We have only 10". A few rows from me a fight almost started between Luton team members sitting in "our" stands and a Cambridge fan. By that point, police reinforcements ringed the field. Cambridge tied the game, but Luton scored another to win the crazy game 4-3. As I walked out of the stadium, police vans and ambulances were lined up, officers were wearing riot gear and a helicopter buzzed overhead--and the Luton fans weren't being allowed to leave until the home fans had departed.

After that true taste of English football, I needless to say biked out of the area fast and came home to watch American college footbal with their passionate, but largely peaceful, crowds!


Below are some pictures from the much more peaceful bike ride, including one from the backside of the Cambridge American Cemetary.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Official Fringe Tally

Our 7 days in Edinburgh are drawing to a close. I'm not sure we've hit all the major highlights of Edinburgh tourism, but we sure did see a lot of shows. The final tally: 33 34 between the two of us (18 19 for JT, 15 for KT).

Manolibera: an Italian group doing sketch comedy using background cartoons drawn with an old-fashioned overhead projector. Light and whimsical and family friendly. This video provides a taste.
Breakfast@Bedlam: a solid morning sketch show with coffee/tea and pastries. Favorite may have been two backpackers trying to outboast each other with tales of their travels and the poor they've helped.
Yianni: a decent standup comic telling his romance woes to mp3 music snips he played by remote control.
Pythonesque: a comical history of the Monty Python group, mixing biographies and their sketches. Fun but not as brilliant as hoped--only 3 out of 5 cocounuts.
Janis: a one-act play depicting the life of Janis Joplin, focusing more on her sexual and drug exploits than her music unfortunately. Didn't like the actress.
Not Spain: a powerful play of a western female journalist interviewing a man caught in the Balkan wars.
Aint that a Kick in the Head: the life and music of Dean Martin, performed by a 6 piece band in an Italian deli! Learned how big a star Dino was.
After the Bomb: Clunker #2, farce about Cold War spies, a crazy professor with a lust for toasters, and an alien planning a world invasion. Actors couldn't even keep a straight face at times.
The Gravediggers: Clunker #1, a well-intentioned but painful comedy about 3 gravediggers in rural Yorkshire, written and acted by 17-18 year olds.
Trapped: a really impressive, professionally choreagraphed dance depicting a totalitarian state. Here's a trailer for the show.
Forgotten Things: odd, one-act play about a suicidal teenage boy, a grandma with dementia, two unattentive parents and a pyschiatrist played by a puppet. Had its moments.
Flhip Flhop: a comedic dance/hip-hop music group. Two painters goof around, making amusing sounds and tunes with their bodies and whatever else is around. Ok, but not great. Here's a trailer for the show.  

Flying Forward: A modern dance performance from a dance troupe in Liverpool.
Why Do All Catherines Call Themselves Kate: A three-character, one-act play by Mwewa Sumbwanyambe, a student at Leeds University. (I got in for free because my name is Kate.)
Trilogy: A nearly three-hour play-slash-performance art piece about what it means to be a young woman today. Involved rather a lot of naked women. Website for the writer's project is here:
Malaje, the Flamenco Circus: An OK performance of music, flamenco, juggling, and acrobatics from a Spanish group.
Out of the Blue: An absolutely phenomenal a cappella group of guys from Oxford.
Tap Kids: Cute musical with very talented young tap dancers -- like High School Musical, but with tap dancing. Here's some video.
Shappi Khorsandi: A hilarious London comedienne from Iran read from her new book, A Beginner's Guide to Acting English, which is largely about her experience of moving from Iran to London as a child, then living through an assassination attempt ordered by the Ayatollah on her outspoken journalist father.
Jazz A Cappella: Another Oxford group, called the Oxford Gargoyles, who sang some standards, some new stuff.

The Last Witch: This was part of the real International Festival (i.e., not Fringe) and was a drama about the last witch burned at the stake in Scotland.
The Military Tatoo: Grand military review that includes bands from around the world, and many hundreds of bagpipes. It was absolutely brilliant, and ended with a spectacular fireworks display. Here's an old video of one of our favorite performances from the Swiss Top Secret Drum Corps.
Borges and I: A really neat performance -- a one-act play/physical theatre centered around the life and works of Argentinean writer Jorge Luis Borges.
Sarah Millican: excellent comedienne who appeals because she's just so normal -- and at times, absolutely filthy, but usually in a clever way, not the cheap-laugh way. Here's a video interview with her.
Axis of Awesome: Hysterical comedy rock band from Australia. Here's their 4-chord song.
Lewis Schaffer: I'm so glad we didn't pay anything to see this comedian. Ugh.
Rebel Cell: two hip-hop artists rapping intelligently about changing a totalitarian system by anarchy or by democracy. (JT wrote about co-star Baba Brinkman earlier this year for work and for this blog, and Baba also performed his Rap Guide to Evolution here at the Fringe (It won an award!). We chatted with him before and after the show -- in his last week of doing two shows a day for 3 weeks. His voice was more than a little worn.)

Phew. Now it's off to the Highlands to be entertained by nothing but the rural countryside.