Friday, November 27, 2009

I Made David Laugh...

and I think it was genuine, not a courtesy laugh.  At a BBC Radio recording last weekend called Meet David Sedaris I sat and listened to David signing books and chatting with the rest of the audience members who stayed behind to get books signed. He was talking about an upcoming flight to Australia and how the reason you have a layover in Hong Kong when you fly to Australia is because there is NOTHING to buy in Australia. He said something like, “Think about it, what do they make there? Ugg boots and Speedos? The thought of those”. And my response was, “And worse yet, think about them worn together”. After sitting for almost an hour and a half while this man made me laugh out loud repeatedly, it felt pretty good to give him a tiny chuckle.

My friend N from the B&B who moved to New Zealand is here for several weeks and he and his girlfriend went with. They thoroughly enjoyed the recording.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to my American family and friends. While we aren’t celebrating due to work and school, the message behind the holiday couldn’t have come at a better time. I’ve been finding myself in a glass half empty phase all week.

For today I am thankful for the person who builds me up when I’m feeling down, random hugs I get from the teenager in my life, my dad’s happiness, my family a continent away but never far from my thoughts, my friends who can make me laugh out loud even through an email, iPods, travel coffee mugs, Skype, NPR podcasts, digital cameras, chocolate chip cookies, electric kettles, Yeah Yeah Yeahs tickets, Johnny Depp, and all of the many blessings I have in my life!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

She's Won Me Over

A & I caught Florence and the Machine's set at Reading Festival this year.  She's got quite a following here in the UK.  Usually that style of music is a little too airy fairy and taking itself way to seriously for me to like it but slowly, Florence has won me over.  Check her out.

The Subculture

I read a book called Starstruck years ago. The author shed light on the professional autograph seeker subculture. Because of sites like eBay celebrities have gotten a bit suspect of signing pictures for “fans” especially when a so-called fan walks up to the celebrity with 10 copies of a picture asking for an autograph. While we were at the awards show last week waiting for Rupert Grint, we were standing outside the hotel with a group of people that I thought were just fans. As time went by and others joined in the queue, I realized at least six of these people were professionals. Some of them had just come from stalking The Dorchester Hotel where Mariah Carey was staying. They were grousing that the paparazzi showed up and chaos ensued. None of them got the autographs they were hoping for. As some of them were talking they pulled out file folders of various head shots out of their backpacks, looking for the pictures they needed to get signed at this event. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black, the paparazzi are just trying to make a living too. When the event began, you could separate the fans from the professionals. While the fans were just standing there waiting for the celebrities to come to our side for pictures and autographs, the professionals were yelling at the celebrities, trying to flatter them to get them to come and sign. I didn’t see any of them not sign the merchandise put in front of them. The only celebrity that seemed to ignore the pros was Pixie Lott, a young singer in the early stages of her career. She was courting the legitimate press, which makes sense if you are trying to establish yourself. The pros couldn’t stop bad-mouthing her!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Showbiz Awards in London

Ben Kingsley

Pixie Lott

Ian McKellan

Patrick Stewart

The Saturdays

Groundhog Day

I’m referring to that Bill Murray movie where he re-lives the same day over and over again. That was my Saturday and Sunday.

As I have mentioned, A has a crush on Rupert Grint and follows his fan site online religiously. She found out that he had been invited to an awards show in London and wanted to know if we could go check it out and see if she could get some pictures of him. I told her if the weather was nice and my cold had subsided I would consider it. Saturday afternoon she got ready spending a very long time on her hair, which lasted all of 5 minutes once the wind and the rain had their way. As we were walking down the street to the train station, I said to A, “Hmm, when we walk down these streets again will you be disappointed or elated?” Little did I know...

We got off the train and went in search of the hotel. I had actually been to this hotel to meet a friend last year so I had a pretty good idea of where it was. As I was reading a map and figuring out where to go A starts freaking out as she does when she thinks we are lost. I eventually looked at her and said that if she ever pulls that again, I’m never taking her anywhere. The way she acts you’d think at some point in her formative years we’d gotten lost in the wilderness and had to resort to cannibalism! When we arrive at the hotel, all is quiet except some trucks with media equipment around the side. In between frosty silences A realized that the fan site said Saturday the 15th and Saturday is NOT the 15th! At this point she is distraught because she doesn’t think I’ll bring her the next day while I’m in the middle of shifting gears to Plan B, buy her friend’s birthday present for her party this coming weekend. She finds this too stressful at the moment which makes me snap, and I tell her to start thinking about someone other than herself. As I am saying this, I realize we are having a heated conversation on one of those posh streets in London where they probably don’t allow “crazy”.

As we start our train journey home, tears are streaming down her face in a packed train when I notice a 20-something lady rummaging around in her purse until she finds what she was looking for. She doesn’t say anything, she simply smiles a sympathetic smile and hands A a napkin to dry her tears. I thought it was so sweet since on public transportation you try not to act like you notice what’s happening around you.

When the sun was shining the next day, and with H at work I agreed to go back down to London. It was weird, on the journey I noticed at times we were standing on the train platform right in front of the same advertisement we had stood before the day before. This time when we arrived there was activity as the red carpet was being delivered and fans were standing outside the hotel gates. A found out from the organizers that Rupert was confirmed to attend and the excitement could not be contained! As I stood there with one ear bud in my ear listening to a cooking podcast, she kept turning around and smiling at me saying “Aren’t you excited?!”

So what was it like for her to meet her crush? He was a no-show! While I enjoyed taking pictures of Ben Kingsley, Ian McKellan, Patrick Stewart, and many others, she kept watching and waiting for the arrival that didn’t happen. So in the end, there were tears on the train once again, but this time instead of a kind stranger with a napkin, mom put her arm around her and hugged her the whole ride home.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Christmas Season Has Begun

A and I went to London yesterday and found ourselves on Oxford Street picking up a birthday present.  The Christmas shopping season has begun!  As always, Selfridges has some interesting window displays.

Duran Duran

The BBC had Duran Duran night recently and this weekend I caught up on some of the programming. Duran Duran didn’t have the hold on all of America as they did in their home country, but they did have a hold on me and my best friend. C’s and my bedroom wall were covered with pictures of our favourite band. As I watched the programs all I kept thinking about was how much we would have loved these documentaries back in the day. I felt 14 all over again.

A came in the room as I was watching one of the shows and she got that look on her face when she sees something “old” on the television that doesn’t interest her. I told her that she should appreciate the fact that I take her to concerts. When I was 14 Duran Duran came to Chicago for their biggest tour and no one would drive us into the city to go see them. I explained to her that back then you had to go wait at a ticket outlet in line for tickets (oh how the world has changed). I thought at that point in my life that having a brother that was almost 8 years older than me would be a benefit but when I asked him if he would take us to the show he told me that he wouldn’t go see Duran Duran if they were playing across the street, in fact he would call the police on them for disturbing the peace. A thought this was hilarious but I remember bursting into tears at this answer. Well, just four days before the concert brother S fell in love with the woman who would later be his wife. She told him that she wouldn’t mind going to see Duran Duran if there were still tickets so four days before the show my mom drove me to the ticket outlet and we picked up four of the worst tickets available for the show at the Rosemont Horizon. We didn’t care though, we screamed through the whole show.

My best friend C and I would see Duran Duran two more times after that glorious evening. We saw them as they declined in popularity once again in Chicago in the late 80s, and then we saw them a few years ago in Louisville during their comeback tour. I remember as we were parking the car in Louisville we saw this steady stream of older women heading to the venue and I remember saying to C, man look at all the older fans, they look so old! It was a bit like the reveal moment in an episode of The Twilight Zone as I realized those women were my contemporaries and I looked just like them!

Went for Customer Service and Got Harassed Instead

A teenager’s cell phone is their lifeline. Little talking happens on it, it’s all about the text messages. A’s is acting up but she is not willing to let it go to get it fixed. So when she came home last week with yet another problem I insisted we take it to the store in the village and see about getting a replacement that the insurance includes. My only goal on Saturday was to get that sorted out and get some stronger cold medicine so I could die on the couch without the pressures of work.

On a side note, A has a massive crush on Rupert Grint. All of her friends just say, “Eww, he’s ginger” when she has mentioned it. They make red hair the equivalent of an eye in the middle of someone’s forehead.

We march into the cell phone store and start getting assistance from a guy who looks like he’s about 19. As we tell him what the problems are and he gathers the telephone number for us to order the replacement, he starts asking A questions. “So you like Rupert huh? He’s ginger (with a look of disgust on his face). You like him more than Harry Potter?” A turns beet red. He keeps on with the comments. As we walk out of the store he practically yells to her “You’re gonna lose your Rupert pictures when you get your new phone” which makes one of the other clerks snicker.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Rainy November

I dropped A off the other day and had to stop and take a picture as the autumn colors are fading fast.  Today I drove through the picturesque village of Winslow with a co-worker.  Unfortunately it was pouring or I would have made him pull over so I could take pictures of some of the thatched roofs.

The Cook's Update

I’ve gotten a lot of questions about H’s job. He is enjoying the work but the hours are very long. He works six days a week and leaves the house about 8am and doesn’t get home until sometimes midnight. The restaurant business is interesting and he’s collecting some stories that’s for sure. I’m always amazed when he comes home and starts telling me a story about the evening and he mentions in passing that he cooked staff dinner or staff breakfast. He has to pick from available ingredients that aren’t too expensive and make a meal. Since I’m a recipe kind of cook and also pretty rusty in the kitchen I would find this the most stressful part of the work day! It doesn’t seem to bother him.

I’ve been enjoying doing some cooking again, although that dread of figuring out what we are going to eat every night always gets to me. Today I had to travel with a colleague to a customer site and both of us were griping about this very thing. He was sharing with me his go-to recipes when he’s out of ideas and I was doing the same.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day is a big deal in the UK and I understand the outrage that this student took a drunken leak on a war memorial.  What struck me as funny in this article is that the kid shows up in court wearing a poppy.  Yes, it is the politically correct thing this time of the year to wear one on your lapel.  I can't imagine that poppy didn't serve as a reminder to the judge and everyone else in the courtroom, almost like pouring salt in the wound.

Bonfire Night

I started this post the other night and didn't finish it...

It’s Guy Fawkes Night and as I’m sitting inside nursing a cold I can hear the fireworks outside and it made me remember those early months in the UK. During my first October here I was talking to some colleagues after work and they were telling me what Guy Fawkes Night was all about. Someone turned to me and with more fury than the conversation required began to tell me how because of the increasing popularity of Halloween, Guy Fawkes Night was becoming less popular. I didn’t understand what that was all about, but then I read this article and thought if I didn’t know better I would think my co-worker was quoted in it.