YOU THINK OF A WONDERFUL THOUGHT
I found it kind of funny that several folks were baffled by my Peter Pan post. Now that my DVD Talk article is up about my trip to London for the press junket surrounding the new Peter Pan DVD, it should all be clear. I am kind of paranoid about broadcasting when I travel, so I sometimes keep such things on the down low. Putting the picture up was a signal/good-bye to the people who knew, and then something I could call back to...now.
(This will just be the text post, photos will follow in a day or two.)
I left for England on Wednesday, arriving there on Thursday morning thanks to the time difference. While a good portion of my time on the three-day trip was scheduled by Buena Vista Home Entertainment, there was also a lot of free time for me to wander the streets of Piccadilly and marvel at how expensive everything was (particularly with the exchange rate, thanks to our current President and his flunkies messing up the world). I tried not to let that get me down, though, and wanted to take in a little culture. In fact, when I first got there, I just started walking from my hotel and within blocks, I was in the Green Park. I walked through the park and found on the other side was Buckingham Palace. Right when I got there, a marching band and a procession of soldiers/guards on horses were parading through the gates. From there, I took a walk around St. James Park. Amusingly, there was a sign by the lake that said, "Please Do Not Feed The Pelicans." I didn't see any pelicans, but I saw lots of other birds. I am not sure what makes the pelicans so special they need to be singled out. (For the Pan-specific stuff I did on my trip, you'll have to read the article; this post is only about the rest of my activities.)
I decided to go and see a stageplay the first night, but the fact that I fell asleep in the early evening meant I had to stick in the immediate area, or I wouldn't get to the theatre on time. I actually tried to go see Equus with Harry Potter showing his bum, but it had only opened two days prior and the theatre was a madhouse. Tickets were available, but they were 50 pounds, which is roughly $100 American, and the seats were bad, so I passed.
Instead, I hopped next door to see Jessica Lange in Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie. This was somewhat of a misstep only because of the timing. I was tired from travel, and so sitting down in a dark room proved difficult for me. Through the whole first act, I had to struggle to stay awake. The second act actually picks up anyway with the arrival of the gentleman caller. Lange was really good, as was the actress playing Laura, Amanda Hale. She had a great way of speaking, with the stops and stutters of an overly shy girl. Funnily enough, the male lead, Ed Stoppard, was the least effective, and the guy I thought I was going to hate, the gentleman caller, pulled it out. Mark Umbers entered the scene like he had just stepped out of a 1940s movie, playing an overly gregarious American go-getter, but as the drama progressed and grew quieter and more intimate, his facade dropped and revealed what a front it was.
Friday night was reserved for Marc Ellerby, who took the tube in from wherever it is he lives to enjoy some fine Oban scotch with me. We had actually never met face to face before, or even spoken without using our fingers (for typing, you pervert), but it was like we'd known each other forever. His voice was deeper than I expected, but I guess only I sound like I'm 12 (compare my adolescent serial killer voice to Joëlle's sexy adult tones on that podcast). I did like talking to his father on the phone, because he sounded like a typical English father from the movies.
Saturday was the day I had the most time, but I had a couple of missteps that caused me to do less than I would have hoped. The bulk of the day was the premiere. I didn't recognize most of the celebs, because they were Brits, but you could tell they were celebrities, they just looked different. Thandie Newton was there, and she was gorgeous, even dressed down and hanging with her kids. After, I went to Gosh! Comics, where I bought a Posy Simmonds collection, Literary Life. I had decided to walk rather than take the bus, and I ended up missing a turn and going a little out of my way. I tried to take the bus back, but the ticket machine took my 2 pound coin. Some old lady was staring at me while I grumbled at the machine. "Bloody American," she was probably thinking.
At Gosh, I also learned that geekery knows no borders. There was this dude hanging out that would not shut up. He went on and on about how Miyazaki was overrated. You've heard this kind of guy before, because he repeats everything as he says it. "You know, a lot of people like Miyazaki, but I think he's overrated. I know why they like him, but he's overrated. I mean, he's good, but he's overrated." He also bragged to some 12-year-old boys how he had spent a lot of money on the American DVDs of Dragonball GT, but he never finished watching it because he didn't like it. I am not even sure they were impressed that he was stupid enough to invest in imports of a show he didn't like. (I actually think calling things "overrated" is overrated. I think it's a shortcut to you claiming to be smarter than we all know you are.)
After that, it was a stop by Carnaby Street to look at the clothes, and a short breather before heading down to the Tate Modern to check out their Surrealist room. That may have been another bad choice, just because I was too knackered to take it all in. I couldn't really process--though it was neat to see some Cindy Sherman prints. There is a scene in Love the Way You Love where Isobel gets a Cindy Sherman book. I didn't know her work, but Joëlle suggested her when I was working on the script, so it was neat to see what is a new discovery for me.
That was about all I could handle that night, though, and I knew the hired car would be there at 7:00 in the morning to take me home. I bought a couple of souvenirs--a Powell & Pressburger box with A Matter of Life and Death is a must--but it was pretty much over in a shot. Yet, everything else was on Mickey Mouse's dime, so I can't complain. I'm not entirely sure what the whole purpose of a press junket is. It wasn't like my mind was changed about the DVD, which I had already watched before I left the States. They flew people from all over Europe, Japan, and Korea, as well as other Americans and Canadians. Most everyone else in the group do these kinds of things all the time, and I guess maybe it means guaranteed coverage for whatever movie is being showcased. It's pretty wild.
One side story: There was a bizarre incident at the customs counter at Heathrow that I still haven't figured out. When I was waiting in line, there was also a Middle Eastern family waiting--a mom, a dad, and three or four children of various ages. I first noticed them because the oldest boy was wearing a really nice Glenfiddich jacket, and I thought it odd to see a 12-year-old advertising whiskey. The family ended up in the kiosk next to me, and when I stepped out of line, I saw what looked like the mother trying to push the oldest boy through to the other side of the kiosk. He looked like he was resisting, and my immediate thought was that maybe they were being denied and she believed if she got him to the other side, England had to take her son. When I was walking out, though, I saw that he was on the other side and was laying on the floor, eyes closed, his mother over him. Both times I looked, no one was really getting excited or freaking out, and I kept watching him as I walked away. As I turned the corner, the boy opened his eyes and, I swear, he looked at me. Was he faking? I'll always wonder what was really happening.
Current Soundtrack: Bryan Ferry, Dylanesque
Current Mood: rejuvenated
All text (c) 2007 Jamie S. Rich