Sweeney Todd!

Hubby and I have had three Christmases now doing “the traditional Jewish Christmas” of a movie (all musicals so far) and a Chinese dinner. I highly recommend it, given the first stipulation below.

Before the cuttlefish in XO sauce, we had a matinee of Sweeney Todd. Quite good. No spoilers. Mostly.

  • Beware: “the demon barber of Fleet Street” is quite violent. Even more than I expected. Nightmare producing, perhaps.
  • There are at least two good views of Geneva bands. I know one set was worn by a clergyman, but the other might have been a barrister, as they also wear bands (I got mine in London at a lawyer’s tailor) and the Old Bailey is a location.
  • There are lovely views of London churches, which were then still the tallest buildings. Christ Church, Spitalfields. St. Paul’s. St. Bride, Fleet Street (of wedding cake fame). St. Dunstan in the West. A couple of others I didn’t recognize. A nice reminder that churches very often persist even when the place is fundamentally changed, as in Docklands.

Relly's walk

David Warnock is as glad for Google Maps (in beta) being released for the UK as I was for their release in the US. (Thanks for the tip.)

Now I can fulfill my whistful wish and show you the relative distances between (the site of) Whitefield’s now lost London (Moorfields) Tabernacle where early Universalist James Relly — whom John Wesley later called an antinomian — started his career as a Calvinist Methodist and the Sandys Row Synagogue, which is in the building formerly used by Relly as a Universalist chapel.

To remind, John Murray and his first wife, Eliza, also made that walk from one to the other.

Google gives walking directions. About twenty minutes as a moderate walking pace.

Relly ‘s and Murrays’ walk

20 July 2006. Or try this Google Maps link.

London's bus campaign for Washington

Bus-loving people will have already seen the London ‘My other car is a bus — new advertising campaign — I only wish I could get one of the bumper stickers!

That said: Washington’s buses could use some more practical help, especially with the capacity of the Metrorail system being stretched towards breaking.

We all know that rail is “sexier” than bus, but that’s were the room for growth is — affordable growth anyway — and buses are more convenient and practical for a large segment of the populus than the rails anyway. (Neither home nor work is less than a twenty-minute walk from a rail station, but there’s a bus that goes very close from one to the other. I would have to drive if it wasn’t for the bus.) Time to treat them with some respect.

We could be more like London: encourage pride in our strikingly extensive and relatively modern system and provide more information for potential users. WMATA buses are quite difficult to use if you don’t already use them. It took far too long to get free system maps printed (and as it is, you have to ask for them at subway stations). The experimental downtown route direction maps were printed too fine, without adequate direction, and are already outdated. Weekly bus passes are sold at too few many shops. Bus stops are inadequately marked. There are several problems, and they are all resolvable.

A good starting palce would be to adopt London-style “spider maps.” These combine realistic local neighborhood maps (centering on a rail station) with stylized radiating bus routes. The format is based on the famous London Underground map. Hubby and I found the concept invaluable in our visit last year, and once implemented the bare details can be printed at the individual stops — far more helpful than the truth-bending minute-by-minute, long-distance-train-style schedules currently posted.

Since a picture is worth more than my feeble description, here’s a link to get some spider maps to review.

Spider maps by borough