March 27, 2012

Bloody Hell: Hillary in London

This past weekend I got to travel to London. In thinking about how to approach this blog, I figured I could either give you a full run-down of everything I did and got to see, or share just a few fun anecdotes with you. As an athlete, I enjoy a good detailed play-by-play, but for the sake of entertaining my readers, I decided to go with a few fun anecdotes…

Anecdote #1: They drive on the left side of the road in London. Sure, I’ve seen my fair share of Austin Powers and Harry Potter movies, but really, nothing makes you feel more hesitant/uneasy/suspicious than having to look right and then left when crossing the street. Shortly after I arrived in London I had to hustle to find my way towards the Globe Theater to meet a friend from high school for a beer and a play. While frantically walking up the left sidewalk I felt someone rudely knock into my right arm. Even though I was cutting it close to being on time to meet my friend, I was prepared to take a few extra seconds to glare at my assailant. As I turned around I was shocked to realize my attacker was actually a public transit bus… I vowed to a) pay more attention to which way the traffic was coming and b) walk further in on the sidewalks for the remainder of my trip.

Anecdote #2: Shakespeare didn’t have to worry about planes interfering with his plays in the 16th and 17th centuries. The actors who perform there now do. The play “As You Like It” is confusing enough with actors playing different roles and pretending to be different people, but add an airplane muffling the dialogue, and you have a recipe for catastrophe! The stage was absolutely beautiful, and the performers did a great job and were incredibly animated, but I could have lived without the added sound-effects by the planes flying overhead.

Anecdote #3: It seemed to me like Lord Farquaad of Shrek had about three inches on each of the Kings who lived in The Tower of London. In the White Tower I got to check out the armor of past kings and princes, and let me tell you – those were teeny tiny men. I know I’m a tall, tall woman, but these men would probably just barely clear my waist. I think Shrek had it right when he wondered if Lord Farquaad’s big castle was compensating for something…

Anecdote #4: Apparently twin brothers separated at birth will DIE if they are reunited after a period of time and find out that they are indeed brothers. The play Blood Brothers, which I got to see at the Pheonix Theater, was really interesting. Other than the plotline forming around the unbelievable aforementioned superstition, the play was actually quite funny and the acting was really good – at least in the first half. I knew the play was headed down-hill once the main character got his girlfriend pregnant. We all know by now what I think babies lead to, but in this case it was marriage, crime, prison, depression, addiction, paranoia, and murder. I guess twin brothers separated at birth WILL die if they are reunited after a period of time and find out that they are indeed brothers.

Anecdote #5: Don’t go to scary attractions alone. One of the included attractions with the London Pass is the London Bridge Exhibition. OOOOOoooooo (that’s my phonetic ghost noise CAPS LOCK use at its best). Anyways, this exhibition is supposed to be scary…you interact with live actors who are dressed in scary (but really not so scary) costumes. You walk through different areas of the attraction and discover different things about the people and events in London long ago. As soon as my tour guide pushed me past the first curtain and told me to “turn left,” I immediately started creeping myself out. Not only could I not see two feet in front of me (as evidenced by my walking into a wall), but I felt like a swarm of ghosts from London’s past were about to pounce on me and, I don’t know, eat my flesh? I made it through the first four rooms, but when the tour guide asked if anyone wanted to leave before they headed down into the subway tubes, I quickly raised my hand and dashed out of there, leaving nothing but a family with an eleven-year-old girl tough enough to brave it out in my midst.

All in all, London was a really fascinating place, and full of history. I got to see the normal tourist attractions like Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, the London Eye, London Bridge, Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, St. James’s Park, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, and Shakespeare’s Globe Theater. The only thing my trip was missing was Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger.

March 14, 2012

March Madness

I'm realizing it's been a long while since I've written a blog, so I figured what better topic to write about than March Madness.

I'd actually been counting down the days (incorrectly, I might add...oops) to Selection Sunday since the Monday following the Superbowl. Selection Sunday is kind of like Christmas morning to me for a number of reasons, not all of which even have to do with basketball. Of course I love hearing about which teams made the tournament, and why certain at large bids were chosen over others (yes I'm one of those people who think that's super interesting), but March Madness happens to coincide with Spring, my favorite season, which makes me want to start the "days til I'm home countdown."  I'm desperately trying my hardest not to start that countdown, because I learned last year that if I start it too early, it can make the rest of my time here feel incredibly long, but back to March Madness... March Madness is the start of an incredible few weeks of exciting basketball games, tons of which I get to see because of the amount of free time I have over here.

This year especially I'm so excited about the men's tournament because so many teams are very evenly matched. Not one team has an untouchable player like Brittney Griner, and no teams are heading into the tournament undefeated like the women's Baylor team this year or the women's UCONN team from two (and three) years ago. I literally spent the last two days researching teams and making cases for who I think might win. Fortunately (for the excitement factor) and unfortunately (for the predictability factor) I was completely stumped about a number of first-round games and likely down-the-road match-ups. For example, Iowa vs. UCONN, Southern Miss vs. Kansas State, and then of course those 5 vs. 12 match-ups that often lead to upsets all had me forming pro-con lists in my head. I actually thought I was all set in my picks, until I found out Syracuse's big man Fab Melo is academically ineligible for the tournament and won't be helping his Orange teammates try to get a ring. That turn of events basically left me speechless and I would HATE to Melo right now, for obvious reasons - like NOT GETTING TO PLAY IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT. Honestly, that sucks enough, but I also think that if the NCAA committee knew he wasn't going to be able to play going into Selection Sunday, they would have put Syracuse at the second seed, having them play against teams earlier on who I personally think they match up better with. Needless to say, I no longer think Syracuse will be cutting down nets this year, no matter how much I like that team, coach, or their program.

After all of my research, I ended up filling out four brackets: one for who I think will win based on statistics and my own very own 'formula,' an upset bracket, a bracket of who I think (with the help of all the sports center talk I've listened to over the past week) will win games, and then a bracket based on a combo of  who I want to win and which teams have what I think it takes to win games in the post-season (consistency, good coaches,  and veteran players to name a few).

Even with all my research, formula making, and insight as a player for who I think makes a good tournament team, I'm not even slightly convinced I have even one truly successful bracket made. Every single game this month will be unpredictable and fun to watch. That is why I love March Madness.