Saturday, November 19, 2011

I Might Need to Re-assess my Priorities

My favorite part about this holiday season is hands-down the black Friday shopping. I wake, bleary-eyed at 4 in the morning and scamper out to the mall; leftover Thanksgiving ham in hand. I have wrangled several friends into this tradition over the years. We decimate the mall and take advantage of all the early bird deals. It's not only the shopping, the excuse to eat doughnuts, or well deserved afternoon nap that I love: it's the people-watching. 21

Women with fatigued and fussy four year old kids, frantically searching for the perfect Christmas gift. Random groups of Japanese tourists all sporting matching shirts and Mickey Mouse ears. Ladies grabbing those shoes like it's the only pair they've ever seen. Ah, the beauty and majesty of humans reduced to our baser animal instincts. The instinct for savings.

Tragically this year I am in England and they do not give a hoot about our quaint American traditions. They also don't do ANY pumpkin here. No pumpkin pie, no pumpkin spiced lattes, nada. It's a travesty. Anyway, I have recently been having dreams that are set inside a mall. More than one. Today when I was watching Dawn of the Dead, in between screaming at the zombies, I felt a sense of loss that I was not currently in a mall mapping out my black friday master plan.

Maybe my inability to engage in a massive consumerist mob will be a humbling experience that will make me less materialistic. Or maybe I'll cry.

Either way I need to re-assess my priorities so I stop dreaming about the mall.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Home Sweet Home (Invasion)

Want to know something that kind of sucks about England? They love protecting the rights of criminals (unless they set fire to London).

 Now, if I was to describe myself I'd probably mention my liberal inclined politics. However when I hear about the "human rights" laws set up for criminals my suppressed, redneck Uh-Merica! side comes out.

Here in England if a burglar breaks into your home you may be prosecuted if you use anything other than "reasonable force." Now no one can define reasonable force, so it can end up that you (the homeowner) could serve jail time and the criminal could go free. Now in the particular case linked above the homeowner caused permanent brain damage to the assailant; on the other hand his wife and young daughters were tied up face down  and threatened with murder. Remember that thing called fight or flight? What if your body chooses fight? Don't you have the right to protect yourself and your family from intruders who could mean you bodily harm?

And another thing; if squatters decide to move onto your property and squat to their heart's desire. Now I'm not talking about abandoned property, I'm talking about prime real estate that tax paying citizens are living in or renovating. The police have no legal recourse if there are no signs of forced entry. It is a civil matter under English law. Meaning homeowners have to take the squatters to court and pay legal fees (the squatters get free legal aid!). Afterwords, the police rarely arrest the squatters and they just run off looking for the next house. While the homeowners are waiting to go to court the squatters often cause thousands of pounds of damage. The police do nothing and the squatters get to go ruin someone else's life.

Finally, this country love the rights of criminals so much that they do not publish the names or faces of escaped convicts. You read that right, and escaped murderer could be on the run and you would have no idea of their name or what they look like. So hooray rights of privacy for criminals!

England, you might want to take a lesson from America on this one. Criminals should forego the rights to privacy and protection from bodily harm when they break the freaking law!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Curse of the Amish.

I have developed a new theory about the Amish.

Maybe the Amish didn't shun technology because of God: maybe they were too inept to use it. Maybe those modern zippers and electric filaments stymied the Amish until their beards grew long. They just couldn't understand the modern world so they made up some malarkey about vanity and piousness.

I've had quite a while to contemplate this because my laptop has been out of service for a week. My power cord broke and I had to order a new one. In fact, since I have been here my external hard drive and  iTunes have died.

This is a systemic problem I have with technology. Well it has a problem with me. Technology hates me. iPods crumble under my fingers, computers crash, DVD players freeze, GPS units start spewing out directions in Mandarin.

Sometimes I wonder if I'll be forced to join the Amish.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

England Needs a Don Draper.

Hell, even a Pete Campbell would be an improvement.

Even though I've now been in the UK for several months I'm still learning new things about British culture. For instance did you know the name for an oat-filled cookie is flapjacks? I didn't either. When I was listening to a cooking show yesterday and the woman said she'd be cooking flapjacks my face lit up. I was sadly disappointed.

Pictured above: Something I don't want to eat. 

The Brits are not into pancakes. They have Scottish pancakes that are about the size of an English muffin. No plate-sized (or as I call them properly sized) pancakes here. 

Anyway, pancakes aside, these Brits need to revamp every single ad campaign they have. Sometimes I watch  a commercial or see a magazine ad and I have not the foggiest indication of what is being advertised. 

In addition to ruining Zoey Deschanal's face in this Rimmel London Ad:

They turned America's sweetheart into a waxy, dead-eyed zombie.

this country also has truly heinous TV ads. And not bad-good like the Eagle Man ones.

First off, if your ad seems like it's for Prozacs; you're missing the mark. Unless this is tea for depressed people. Second, I was distracted from the ad by the super indie cover of song song I jammed to in the mid 2000's. Finally if this tea makes me encounter my freaky doppelganger; I'll pass. 

You will never be as cool as the Geico gecko. No matter how many smoking jackets you own.

Where to even start. English people seem obsessed with these meerkats. If I look out my window right now I will see a "Solar meercat" that holds a lamp all day and treats me to a light show all night. Meerkats all over the place. 

This just scares me. I'm sure if you want people to buy your cereal you shouldn't put images in their heads that will poison their dreams. Just some advice. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

E4 and the Curse of Terrible American TV

Remember when I said the majority of British TV that filters across the pond is the creme de la creme? Well the formula here is reversed. That's right in addition to making shallow imitations of our shows:

Television executives also display the worst American shows here. Half the time when I see the advert for the "fresh, cool" American show, I have no idea what it is. I've never heard of some of these programs. Furthermore I see adverts for shows that have already been cancelled in America. "Charlie's Angels coming soon to e4!" Great are you going to show the whopping three episodes they filmed? 

Hey you remember that TBS show Glory Daze about the crazy go-go 80's fraternity life?!? I thought not. Well even though there are only 10 episodes total the show is popular here. 

All of the "quality" programming from the CW and ABC family channel is represented. And the Brits lap it up. They think 90210 is an amazing show; the best we have to offer. 

Yeah let's have a 12 hour Rules of Engagement, Big Bang Theory, and My Name is Earl marathon! Because that's representative of the best American comedy. Apparently. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Things I learned in Glasgow: Part 1

The more times I visit Glasgow the more I like love it. It reminds me of Chicago. The cities have a similar vibe. Both are working class cities, with big-hearted, foul-mouthed locals. Glasgow has a crosstown rivalry, with dire hard fans; and the Celtics lose as much as the Cubs. I had an awesome visit, and I hope I'll be back soon.

Technically some of these pictures are from Edinburgh, but what the heck.

All the garbage cans in Scotland look like this. Not very efficient if you ask me. 

From the museum of my nightmares children.

Well I could see a child liking that...

Dear God. 

Edinburgh is full of cheesy tourist shops and pirates.

I went to GOMA the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow. Let me just say it's lucky the place if free. Lord knows thrifty Scots wouldn't pay to see modern "art." The comment book was littered with slander too colorful for this blog. But I will say the comments made me laugh; more than the "art."

Lamp stack = art.

At this point I stopped in an adjacent room to watch a short film; also supposedly art. The film dealt with the tumultuous and complex relationships between men and their cocks. But I had to leave because there was too much blood; I get queasy. Also I think cock-fighting is wrong, no matter how complex the relationship between man and bird is.

Seriously that's not art. 

Ok that's just obscene.

I wonder what the artist was thinking about why sculpting these.

A house made out of glued-together bread boxes. Genius? 

When I hear people laud the worthiness of modern art I get a feeling the little child felt in the story "The Emperor's New Clothes."  I just stare at their rapt faces and wonder if they're trying to pull a fast one on me. 

I guess I'm not cultured enough to appreciate the virtuosity of glued-together bread boxes.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Going Rogue

Larisa's cat Rogue might actually annoy me more than Zibah. 

The most annoying part is that I'm spending so much time thinking about cats.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Aberdeen C sides: Or I am a total scatterbrain and didn't post these earlier.

Sometimes I wonder if people actually look at the sculptures before they commission them.

Seriously look at this cat's face.

One of these things is not like the other.

The real mystery is why Hasbro would rename Clue. Because Cluedo is a terrible name that undermines the seriousness of the game.

I want to be Rev. Green! Wait I don't live in an alternate universe where everything is awful. 

For all those hardcore gangsters in Aberdeen, Scotland.

I actually wish I had a picture of the university students' faces while I was making this pose. It would be a nice  juxtaposition.  

Friday, November 4, 2011

Seriously my flatmates are crazy

Remember when I mentioned that the people I live with are a bit...odd? Well here's an update:

A less popular version of the baby bjorn. I wonder why. 

I don't know who to be more embarrassed for Zeb or the cat.

I woke up to this on our first morning in Glasgow.

They do this every morning. 

No comment.

Dancing with luggage.

My Last Wales Post I Promise.

Seriously this will be the last time I post about Wales. 

How could I forget to mention my run-in with the seedy underbelly of Wales? My brush with the sordid crime of Cardiff. Before I left for Cardiff I was convinced that I would be going out every night, partying it up with the cool kids of Cardiff. But come 6pm I was done for the day. 

My dinner was eaten, all the stores were closed, and my back hurt. So I went back to my hotel and watched Nothing to Declare. This is an amazing show about the airport customs officers stopping tourists from bringing in food items and they do raids to eradicate illegal immigrants. 

Anyway, the last night before I checked out there was an incident with the police. The fellow in the room next to mine had a few too many and woke me from my slumber around 2am. That's not so bad; living in a dormitory makes you used to loud noises. But about 40 minutes later I was woken up again, to a hallway full of police officers. From what I surmised, the man in the room next to mine couldn't figure out how to open the door to the hotel. In fact, he couldn't even find the correct door. To vent his frustration he punched his hand through the door; which is entirely made of glass. 

Although the man argued with the police, his bleeding hand wasn't helping his case. Eventually the police forced the man to pay a fine outright to fix the door and escorted him to the station. In my opinion this was as fun as going to a club or and indie cafe. 

Aforementioned door now covered with a plastic bag. 

The crime filled city of Cardiff. 

Aberdeen: The Extras and B-Sides

Here are some of the weird, awesome and other things I saw in Aberdeen.

Another Jeremy Kyle guest. Did her boyfriend hide used condoms under the bed? Sadly, yes. Poor dear.

 Actually cool exhibit at the Aberdeen Modern Art museum. This was an exhibit on glass. I neglected to take a picture of the soiled sleeping bag, the piece of wood with hair glued to it, the portrait of Paris Hilton and other "art" in the museum.
Not efficient unless you like reading at your desk.

I legitimately thought these were balloons at first glance.

Posting this because anyone who know me will be shocked to hear I tried Indian food. As I am usually peckish and ethnocentric. 

You'll be even more shocked that I liked my food and everything I tried. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Aberdeen and the Highlands

So I made it back to Banbury without incident, in the normal amount of time. No floods or giant moth monsters came out of the sky to ruin my day. It was actually quite nice.

Anyway as I am back to my laptop I can post the pictures of Aberdeen. Aberdeen, incidentally, is full of imposing granite buildings, giant oil tankers in the harbor and wind. It is possibly the windiest place I have ever been in my life.

During my trip my hosts took me out to the highlands where I saw wild pheasant, grouse, one million sheep and adorable cows.

The wild birds were not happy to see my camera.

Who would build a house out in the middle of nowhere?

My awesome hosts.

This room smelled of warm bread and sugar. 

Seriously visiting a whiskey distillery is like Wonka's chocolate factory for adults.

Moment of truth: Not as burny as I expected. 

Should give you some inkling of how wet and windy it was. 

We went to a graveyard that had several ostentatious headstones.

I didn't see any flies; I wonder if the plants are hungry. 


I enjoy the contrast of arid desert inside and bleak, wet grayness outside.

City hall. 

The sea was amazing. All the Scots on the train were nonplussed. They just looked at their phones.