Sunday, February 28, 2010

Now I Gotta Cut Loose

Having a child is sometimes like what I imagine it would be like if an alien landed on earth and you had to describe our strange human customs. It is part of the joy of parenthood to watch your child experience things for the first time. I’ve especially loved watching A’s reaction to some of my favourite movies and I’ve noticed, sometimes describing plotlines instead of just screening the film make them seem ridiculous. I had that experience once when living in Germany and talking to my sister-in-law in the U.S. She and my brother had just gone to see Edward Scissorhands. As soon as she said something like there’s this guy and he has scissors for fingers I didn’t hear anything else she said. I was thinking, really? This is popular? You liked it? However, now anytime I pass Edward Scissorhands on the telly I always stop and watch.

One of the movie channels has been running a promo for their 80’s movie month and they always show a clip from Footloose. A. mentioned that they were currently remaking that film and she asked me if it was any good. I had a flashback at that very moment laughing about Footloose with my friends J & T. J said any movie when someone dies in a “rock-related accident” is, I can’t remember what he said afterwards because I was laughing so hard. So I start describing the plot to A. and explaining that when I was her age it was THE most popular movie and I remember loving it. Her response was, “It sounds like crap”. So once again, maybe I should have avoided the description.

Fast forward two days later and we are in the store and guess what’s on the shelf for £3? Footloose on DVD. I pick it up and tell her that now our Saturday night entertainment is sorted and she will watch it. Begrudgingly she half-watched it as she IM’d a friend. As the music started I told her that the soundtrack was my favourite and she groaned, “Oh you sad-o”. Hahahahaha

Watching it from start to finish now, gosh that movie is awful! Not just for the ridiculous plotline and the heavy-handed rebel with a cause lead character, but how about the violence towards women! Hopefully the remake will not have an ex-boyfriend beating up his ex to have her run to her new boyfriend instead of maybe I don’t know, the police? So in this case watching it or explaining it, both bad propositions.

I’ve been totally stressed out at work lately. Maybe I need to find an abandoned mill, turn up the jams and dance my way out of it.

Friday, February 26, 2010

We Needed a Little Hollywood...

but we got a lot of London with it. February has been all about work and other drudgery and the weather has been really cold and basically the pits. Some mornings H and I have time to have a cup of coffee and catch up but it’s never long enough these days. Yesterday he was sharing some work annoyances that had me laughing out loud. Sometimes all we can hope for is that our work misery is amusing to someone else. Think of all the great comedy born from someone’s tragedy! My favourite quote about his work lately was that he figured the whole point behind fine dining is to allow the diner to avoid chewing. Everything is pureed, foamed, whipped, etc.

Anyway, so because of February being February, A and I took the train after she got out of school yesterday to go see if we could see a glimpse of Johnny Depp at the world premiere of Alice in Wonderland in Leicester Square. A is just a tad bit obsessed with him in Sweeney Todd, which I’m wondering, should I be concerned by that? :)

There were sooo many people. In fact I have never seen that many people in Leicester Square which is usually swarming with tourists. As we stood there I was counting the languages that I heard: Spanish, Italian, Polish, German, French, and Cockney. Of course you would hear this string of foreign words and then “Johnny Depp” somewhere in the middle. The cockney was a dad whose daughter was standing next to A and would not give up waiting for a glimpse of the celebrities after it was pretty certain they were not going to come as far as where we were standing. His words were something like, “Bloody hell Elizabeth, I’m standing out in this blasted rain any longer!” Yes, it was raining, and cold, and well English. So any Hollywood glitz and glamour was soggy like our shoes. The screams from the crowd were, in A’s terms “Epic”. At one point when Johnny looked to maybe be heading down the line of people close to A a woman yelled out a very serious “JOHNNNNNNNNNNNNYYYYYYYYY”. It sounded a little like a very loud coyote. This prompted a guy standing next to me to double over in laughter.
We thought about heading to Chinatown for dinner before taking the train home but we were both soaked to the bone. The thought of sitting in a restaurant didn’t appeal so we headed home for some hot cocoa.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The City Lights

It's bad when doing something social feels like a chore.  All weekend long it was one thing after another.  A friend had invited me to see A Single Man in London and I had been looking forward to it until it was time to squeeze that into the schedule.  But by the time we met at the coffee shop I was glad I did go and I hadn't cancelled.  We enjoyed the film and while I was waiting for the train I took some city pics playing with some of the settings on my camera.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Should You Be Shopping Here?

The village where I work is rough around the edges. A told me that her friends from school call the village “chav city” (check out urban dictionary for the meaning of chav). I’ve witnessed hooligans pulling lead off of a building for profit; I’ve seen teenagers standing in the vacant high street in the evenings drinking cheap wine out of a bottle. I’ve seen the occasional serious drunk asleep outside of the grocery store in broad daylight. Yet, some of the most expensive English countryside surrounds us. There are also elements of traditional country living on the high street, especially in the saddler where we shopped for A’s horse gear. I’ve spent more time in there in the last three months than I have the whole time I’ve lived here. I wish I could take some pictures inside because I think you would rarely see a store like this in the U.S. Upon entry your are enveloped in the smell of leather. A commented on it on Saturday when we stood in line for about 20 minutes to buy a whip. I told her enjoy the smell because it might help her ignore the fact that we were being treated like second class citizens. You could be a perfectly acceptable person walking down the chavtastic high street, but as soon as you walk in this store, you’re judged by a very different standard. We waited and waited and waited while an elderly couple with very posh accents were being fawned over as the husband tried on slippers. Were they right? Would they still fit if he were wearing two pairs of socks? What size shopping bag would they be given when they bought the slippers? It went on and on.

Upstairs is where all of the riding gear is located. But downstairs there’s luggage, expensive leather handbags, a gun room, and all kinds of English country clothes from Hunter boots to Barbour’s “country sport collection”. A was telling me when we were standing in line that her friend and her mother had come into this very shop to get some riding gear and had about £100 worth of stuff gathered when they picked out a helmet to buy from the window which was marked £50. When it was rung up, it cost £60. The mother questioned it since in the window it was advertised at a lower price. She was told that the price had increased. She asked for a manager who then told her the only allowance they were willing to make was to split the difference. They instead left the shop without buying anything. That’s the kind of place it is, customer service is not a guarantee.

When we finally made our £5 purchase I had to laugh at the way we were treated. As much as I hate to admit it I’d go back if A needs additional gear because it’s convenient and it is a local business and I do try and support them. Also the smell and the atmosphere are free!

Under Construction...

Having some technical difficulties and needed a blogger upgrade.  Hope she's looking pretty again soon.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

We Have a Houseguest

We thought that H’s aunt and uncle would be visiting from the States this week. They are celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary and wanted to go abroad for the first time but the flight prices jumped and they have delayed their trip. However, this week is half-term which means the kids are out of school. While A’s friend is in Norway, we offered to rabbit sit, so we’ve got a mum and her newborn baby bunny.

I have no experience with rabbits and the first day she was here, I thought the maternal activity was looking non-existent. I found this great website which explained it all. Interesting!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Emo Kids, Come One Come All

Anything resembling politeness goes out the window in the train stations of London on a Friday night. A feeble grandmother would probably get pushed down to her death on the escalators if she dared stand to the left, the space meant for people in a hurry. Me, A and her best friend J headed to the Roundhouse in Camden for the Kerrang! Relentless Tour. As I told H when we got home, the price was right, lots of music for the money but to me it was all crap. I saw lots of bored parents hanging out in the back of the venue. The girls had fun and I amused myself with some photography.

The venue has a history and as you can see from the pictures, it is appropriately named.

I Call Her Tinker

L at the B&B used to call B a little tinker. I had to look it up to find that it means a mischievious child.

Our washing/drying machine got fixed this week. What did the repairman find in the brand new machine that made it stop at midnight the night before I was going out of town and A was frantically last minute washing her school uniforms? Two bobby pins were stuck in the pump. Every room that A walks into looks like a tornado hit it when she leaves and I guess appliances aren’t safe either. The repairman thankfully had a sense of humor and didn’t charge us. He just shared some of his “kids don’t listen” stories from his own family and left.

The Cream of the Crop

About a month ago I was listening to one of my favourite podcasts, Sound Opinions, and a listener left a message in their feedback section suggesting that someone needs to do some research as to why all the good music in 2009 comes from a small country like England when America is so much bigger and produces so much crap (I’m paraphrasing). Friday as I was eating my lunch I read this article which asks why is America kicking Britain’s ass when it comes to inventive television. The answer to both questions when you are evaluating a country’s exports is that you’re getting the cream of the crop.

My buddy R in DC recently sent me a message asking me what good television shows were happening here in the UK and since Gavin and Stacy has ended I racked my brains trying to think of a single British television show I’m watching these days. Instead I am basking in the glory of getting the best that the U.S. has to offer without having to purchase all of the pay channels to get it, shows like Nurse Jackie from Showtime, True Blood from HBO, Glee, Mad Men, and many more. With few exceptions, the imports make us look really good!

I sent a comment back to Sound Opinions about the listener’s concern. I explained that the entire spectrum of English music is not represented by what makes it to your shores. They don’t know that on Friday about 5pm when you turn on the radio to head home almost every station is playing awful techno, they don’t know that the songs that dominated the charts this past decade weren’t by hipster bands, but watered down remakes by reality show contestants. It’s just an illusion that the grass is always greener.

Gray Day in England

Mad Men Season 3 just began here. In one of the first episodes there is mention of the brand London Fog. The Englishman states that London Fog is a myth, there isn’t fog in London. February is here and Tuesday we had one of those gray days complete with fog that makes people yearn for spring. I ran out for lunch in the spit, that annoying type of rain that’s just enough to mess up your glasses. There was a young woman standing in a closed doorway, must have been on her break. She was layered up as folks do here in the winter, chunky shoes, socks, tights, skirt, sweater, huge scarf, coat, all in drab colors. The only thing visible was her finger tips peeking out of her fingerless gloves and her face. She was smoking a cigarette and reading a book in the spit. Forget the postcards with Big Ben on them, with the gloomy gray weather, she looked the way people expect it to look here.


Just finished watching the box set of Ricky Gervais’ Extras. I’ve seen an episode here and there but wanted to watch it from start to finish. I really enjoyed it and after watching it in a series, no wonder, it has a lot of the same characteristics as another one of my all-time favourite shows – Seinfeld. Here are some of the similarities I noticed.

1. Some of Seinfeld’s bests episodes revolved around a misunderstanding as does Extras. Example, what about the scratch that was mistaken for a pick. “If we pick, do we not bleed?”

2. Jerry has Newman as a nemesis. Andy has Greg.

3. Andy is selfish like Jerry. Both of them reacted in a similar way when parents ask them to visit their sick kids. I just caught the bubble boy episode of Seinfeld recently and laughed all over again.

4. Who is Kramer? Well, Maggie has the same quality as Kramer in that she is too honest. Whatever she is thinking she says. The unconventional social interactions, well Darren, Andy’s manager covers that territory.

5. Some of the best moments in Extras are the guest stars. Seinfeld even has that with Keith Hernandez as Jerry’s man crush and of course, the Velvet Fog episode was a classic.

However, Extras has an unexpected dark quality that one might not expect in a sitcom which makes it different. If you like Ricky Gervais, it is must see tv.