I love British TV and one of my favorite genres is the quiz-themed. For me, it is relaxing, and at the same, ironically, provides a chance for me get hyped shouting answers at the telly– cathartic when you’re in a country where you have no friends, family or work colleagues to talk to just any time. My favorites (in order) are: University Challenge (BBC), Mastermind (BBC), The Chase (ITV) and Eggheads (BBC).
I began to follow a full season of University Challenge (meaning, start to finish) last year. When I was in the US, I would catch it on delayed run on YouTube. I have also introduced a few American friends to it, and they love it. Which makes me wonder why Quiz shows are not as big or common on American TV, but anyway. I digress. University Challenge got a spike (not just in viewership but in social media buzz) largely because of Canadian Eric Monkman and his team mates Justin Yang (also Canadian), Ben Chaudri (who has made “Nominate Chaudri” a popular byline when you need help with answers) and Paul Cosgrove (he of the bemused smile and closing-bracket sitting position) from Wolfson College, Cambridge. And also the team from Emmanuel College Cambridge led by Bobby Seagull and his baby-faced teammates. Monkman’s tight-browed intensity and booming voice is a stark contrast to Seagull’s smiley enthusiasm, but they seem to share an endearing lack of arrogance or self consciousness. And altho neither team won the Championship — that honor went to Oxford’s Balliol College (led by Joey Goldman) — they came out with their own cult following. The bromance also produced radio stints and a book (which I must admit I have yet to get a copy, but I will).
So far this year, the show is at the quarter finals level. My favorite team is Ulster University — if only because, or maybe precisely because, they are so out-of-the-mold of the teams or winners:
They are from Northern Ireland (largely under represented in UC)
Their average age is 50 which makes them often more than twice the average age of their opponents (“You’re never too old!”)
They are a very good, solid, cohesive and fast team
They are NOT Oxbridge (to point out the obvious)
Their spirited, excitable and animated expressions when they get a question right or wrong.
They have that underdog quality that makes you just want to root for them, because they represent the quiet and deadly potential, nay power, of the unexpected. I really hope they win (they lost to St. John’s Cambridge, but still have another shot) or at least go through to the semis. Go Ulster!
We visited beautiful and historic York on Friday night to catch “Illuminating York“, an annual light and sound festival which alternates among landmarks of the city. I believe this is the 6th year of the festival. This year’s son et lumiere piece entitled “Rose” was designed by award winning projection artist Ross Ashton and sound artist Karen Monid. The lights were played against the South transept of the York Minster where the awesome Rose Window is housed. I truly enjoyed the visual and audio experience — the loudness of it, the brightness of it, just the hugeness of the experience under clear skies with just-right cool, jacket-hugging weather. Unfortunately, in our rush to head out to the venue before the rush hour traffic, I’d forgottem to bring my (heavy-duty, literally) tripod. Which makes taking any nighttime photos a bit of a challenge. To keep my shots as steady as possible under the circumstances, I had either rested the camera on C’s shoulders or head, or at best, lean one corner of the camera on the ground while tilting the lens upwards. Many shots came out blurred sadly, but hey.
Below is a collage I’ve put together. Not all that brilliant, given the limitations. Caveat: they’re lightyears away from the beauty of the real deal so it is highly recommended that you catch it next year (or later) if you can. :)
I’ve shamelessly submitted my pictures to the photography competition of the event. 100 GBP in photography vouchers at stake (you amused?). Nothing really fancy, but think of the bragging rights for an uber-amateur like me: yup, priceless. To my pleasant surprise, I received an email from one of the reps asking for high-res copies of my shots. I complied with 7 shots, gladly and with all the chutzpah that I can muster. Even better, the organizers have humored me by putting them up in their official Flickr page, along with seriously beautiful captures. Now THAT has amused me no end. Please check it out:
Down to my last 2 weeks before I head back for the States, I’ve been tagging along with the hubby up to Scotland — where he works on his projects (with power generation plants) and I ….. I also do work, and try to make the most of the time difference with the US by doing touristy stuff while America sleeps, and then rush back in time to catch them during their work hours. :)
These weeks in Edinburgh are particularly well-timed because of the ongoing Edinburgh Art Festival. We’ve booked a hotel in Falkirk, which is a convenient midpoint for the hubby to drive off to work and for me to catch the train to Edinburgh (or even Glasgow). The train to the city is a bit pricey at 7.80 GBP roundtrip off peak (they call a roundtrip a “return” here) which roughly translates to about $13-14. That’s about half an hour train ride each way. Not cheap, compared to commuter fares in Chicago. Imagine if you had to commute to work everyday. And the peaktime tickets are even more expensive.
But anyhoo, the Royal Mile in the city was packed with street performers last week.
Almost every other person you bumped in is in a costume (“fancy dress”) of some form, either because he/she is part of a performing act, selling you stuff, or just being their funky fashion self. So so so much fun. Here are a few views:
Dressing “normal” feels so abnormal this time in this City.