Sunday, 31 July 2011

Cheerful Sunday

Being able to talk to my friends and family in America for free!

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Word of the Week


Definition:  a place where groups of people purchase tickets in order to watch moving pictures together, generally while consuming over-priced food and drinks
Used in a sentence:  I like when movietheatercinemas have arms that flip up so I can snuggle with my honey during the show.

A note on pronunciation.  "Cinema" should be pronounced with a long and strong "ma".  Like "si-ni-MAAH".

Friday, 29 July 2011

30 years ago today...

The world watched enthralled as Charles and Diana got married in what is still considered by some to be the wedding of the century.

We all know how this fairytale ended up going horribly wrong, but you gotta recognize that the wedding day was spectacular.

It struck me when I read about the relationship of Charles and Camilla, that is actually quite romantic.  That these two people have loved each other for so long and through marriages to separate people, only to be reunited in the end-  it's like out of a cheesy romance novel.  
Yet people certainly didn't feel warmly towards Camilla.  (I think this is better now than it was, but she keeps a fairly low profile and will never be beloved in the manner Diana was...)  Probably because Diana was so loved and the marriage fell apart in such an ugly and salacious manner.
I think it's partly because everyone was so mad that their fairytale didn't turn out like they expected.
Everyone wants a story to go the way it's supposed to.

Love them or hate them, the Royals are pretty fascinating and they sure know how to put on a party.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

What's my age again?

We watch a few game shows in the Ameringlish Household.
Our favourite is Eggheads.
Lately we've been tuning into Pointless.

Pairs of people compete to come up with answers.  The trick is that, like Family Fued (Family Fortunes to the UK readers out there), a random sampling of 100 people have been asked the same question.  The player's aim is to answer the question correctly, but with the answer that the fewest number of that 100 gave.  Does that make sense?  They're looking for a pointless answer.  That is a correct answer that no one else gave.  It's sorta stupid, but kinda fun.  I especially like when they ask stuff that is hard for Brits to answer, but super-easy for any American.  (You'd be surprised how often it happens!)  They compete for money, but seemingly more important is the Pointless Trophy.  I think my brother would rock this game show.  Or at least an American version of this game show.  After all, there are even more cases where the answers are skewed to a British competitor.

But, yet again, this post isn't really about any of the ramble that you just read.
It's about something that I've noticed about British game shows in general.
Namely, that they are obsessed with age.

At the start of every British game show that I've ever watched, when the contestants introduce themselves, you'll hear a variation of the following:

"My name is Sally.  I'm 34 and I'm a receptionist."

Name, Age, and Job description.

The name.  Yeah.  Obviously.  A given.
The job description.  Sure.  I think most US game shows include this info too.
But age?  Every single time.  It strikes me every time.  Especially in the case of women beyond their 20s.

Perhaps because I was raised in the south, but it feels rude and intrusive to know a contestant's exact age.

Have any other expats noticed this?
Am I alone in thinking that it's weird?

(Note:  I am not complaining.  Merely pointing out an interesting difference in cultures.  I like England and I like living here.)*

*I'm thinking of putting this disclaimer on all my future blog posts to avoid people accusing me of being whiney or whatever.

But all of this is not really the point.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

WFW: The Boys

I figured y'all had seen enough of my mug for awhile and I'd give you a mid-bride-ification break.
As I said in the last post, this is about when the boys arrive.  Well that's not entirely true.  My dad and brother had been there all morning generally making themselves useful.

First they went to Jason's Deli to pick up food for us to eat whilst getting ready.  Mmmmm.  Then they ran around putting up some flame globe thingies on sticks in the ground (a technical name) to light the entry way to the church.

Anyway, here's what was going on in the basement.  Yes.  It's a basement with windows.  My church is built into the side of a hill so 2 of the walls have windows onto the playground outside.

Ross started getting changed and was very confused when the photographer 
started snapping photos of him partially dressed.

The groomsmen relaxed.

Ross yellow socks.  The entire wedding was pretty much planned around Ross'
early proclamation that he would be wearing yellow socks.

Ross' Uncle Jeff shares a laugh with Best Man Tom.

My dad gets bow-tied up.

Tom puts the finishing touches on his speech.

Ross relaxed and put some Laurel & Hardy films on to watch.

You can't tell, but they're watching Laurel & Hardy on the 
giant projection screen.  

Big Bro Matt is not amused.

Straightening ties.

This makes it look like the boys were very sporty.  
It was really just in the room already and the photographer
took a picture of it for some reason. :)

Ross' getting ready accoutrements were far less
extensive than mine.

Deep in thought.

The basement is the church's "Youth Suite", so there were
plenty of things to horse around with- including this
cut out for the youth group's upcoming mission trip to Belize.

I'm so glad they were able to relax and have some fun during the afternoon before the wedding!

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

The Glee Project

I've been totally sucked in by yet another lame reality show.

I've always been a fan of Glee (though I've caught a few reruns recently and have been disappointed by how the eps hold up- apart from the musical numbers).  And I certainly love a cheesy competition-style reality show.

So when I saw ads a few weeks back for The Glee Project, I set up a series record.  We're a few weeks in and so far so good.  I've agreed with both eliminations so far and am intrigued to see what happens.  For my money that's a great start.  So far, my favourite contestant is Cameron.  He's a cool/nerdy hybrid guy that's got a great vibe.  

What surprises me most about it is that it's airing on Sky.  Glee airs on E4.  When I did a little internet research, I learned that it aired on Oxygen in America.  What's up with that?  
Why is this quality reality show that links to a phenomenally successful TV show being aired on a low-profile non-major network like Oxygen?   Why didn't Fox snap up this show?
Am I missing something?

Monday, 25 July 2011

Freeze frame

It doesn't matter what channel it's on, but as long at the TV is on, it freezes up at 6:58.
Every evening.  Sometimes it is a short freeze like a little skip in the feed.  Other times it fully freezes and we have to change the channel to reset it.
We're not sure when it started, but probably a few weeks ago.

Ross is usually working while the TV is on some show or other, killing time and waiting for Emmerdale to start.  I'm usually in the kitchen working on dinner.

It's gotten to the point that it serves as a nice little alarm for us.
Ross looks up from his work and says, "It must be 2 minutes to 7."

What is this about?
Does it only happen to us?
Is it a time-sensitive glitch in our cable?
Or is it a sign from Sky (our cable provider) that we watch too much TV?

As a bonus, and to save this being a completely pointless post, I'll now discuss the words "Boob Tube".
In America, it's slang for the TV.
In England, it's what I know as a tube top.   It always strikes my ear as lewd when I heard this kind of shirt called a boob tube, though it's a very apt name.  It is, after all, a tube for your boobs.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Word of the Week


Definition:  an outdoor space,adjacent to a residence, generally enclosed and full of growing things
Used in a sentence:  Oh, I'd love to have a yardgarden with a fabulous patio for relaxing and entertaining.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Oriented to temperature

Back when I worked in mental health, one of the first things used to assess patients who came in for evaluation was a quick examination of their physical appearance.

I would make note of how the person presented themselves in my write up of the evaluation.  Not like a fashion critique.  Like how well groomed they were and if their clothing was appropriate to the season.  It was worth noting if someone was bundled in a sweater, coat, and scarf in the heat of Dallas summer.  Or in a flimsy t-shirt when it was sleeting out.  To be fair,we didn't get people this severe in very often.

But as I look around Manchester town centre, I wonder if maybe some of these people would benefit from a little evaluation.  I'm not talking about obviously, mentally ill people either.

Ross and I often joke that if you took a picture of a variety of people seen in town on any given day and then showed these pictures to a third party and asked them to describe what the weather was like that day from looking at the pictures alone, they'd be fairly stumped.

Now I'm not very good at taking unobtrusive pictures of strangers so I know present you with a selection of photos I found on the internet that are representative of actual outfits I saw this afternoon.

Yes, we actually saw a guy wearing this.  He was also wearing slim cut black trousers.

Bonus points if the control tops extend beyond the bottom of the shorts.

Especially if they've got a dropped crotch.

What do you think the temperature/weather was?
(And no cheating with the internet!)

Thursday, 21 July 2011

What and What?

There's an expression in England that I've heard frequently since moving here.
It's got to do with these 2 things.


It's fairly common to hear someone say something like "You two are like chalk and cheese".  It doesn't make a ton of sense if you think about those kinds of chalk and cheese, though.

It helps if you keep in mind these versions.

So now do you see?  It's similar to the American expression "comparing apples and oranges", but I would argue even better.  

1.  It's alliterative.  Alliteration is fun and cool.
2.  It's adds a whole level of nuance that "apples to oranges" misses

So I guess the reasoning of "apples to oranges" is that they are both in the same general category, so it is unfair to compare to things that are not equal.  
"Chalk and cheese" takes it to a different place.  It implies that you are dealing with two things that, at first glance, might be confused.  The two things are very different and serve entirely different purposes, so they are in no way alike once you look close enough to get past the initial similarities.

Kinda cool huh?
I wonder how many British people use this phrase without actually understanding why it means what it does?
I bet a lot of them are picturing sidewalk chalk and cheddar!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

WFW: My Turn Part 1

By now the bridesmaids had all been though the hair and make-up process.  While they started to get dressed, I hopped into the make-up chair.  I'd already done a trial with Erin (as well as my Bridal Portraits) so she knew exactly what I wanted ahead of time.  

I went with some super-long dramatic fake eyelashes.  On my wedding day, I figured I might as well go totally glam!

Before I knew it, my make-up was done and it was time to switch to the hair chair.

I knew it was about time for the boys to arrive.  They'd had a leisurely morning of sleeping late and having lunch at Cindi's Deli (one of Ross' fav places).  The photographer had just been downstairs to the room the boys were using, so I inquired as to whether everyone was there yet.  She got a nervous look on her face and said "nearly".  When I pressed, she said she'd said too much and didn't want to get anyone in trouble.  Don't worry.  Not long after that, I got word that Ross and Best Man Tom had arrived on the scene.

My hair took quite a while because I was rocking some awesome extensions.  Again- go glam or go home.

While I was getting my Rapunzel locks styled, Micah went on a delivery mission on my behalf.

Ross opened his wedding day gift.  In addition to a nice card and a copy of I Like You by Sandol Stoddard Warburg, I got him a fabulous fancy watch with a bright yellow face.

Ross sent Micah back with a little something for me.

Look at that duck.  My man is good! ;)

I showed off my pretty little something blue.  Ross gave me a lovely ring with diamonds and sapphires that had belonged to his mother.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Batman Live

This weekend, Ross and I had free tickets to see a dress rehearsal of a brand new show, scheduled for world premier next week.  Batman Live.

The show is an arena spectacle, so we figured we were in for big, cheesy, fun, frothy action.  We trekked to the MEN Arena and got our seats.  (As a side note, Texas arena food totally kicks British Arena food's butt!)
We figured it was an exciting concept- a family friendly arena version of a well loved comic book character.

The arena was less than half full because it was a preview, but it was still full enough to have a good crowd feel, essential to a viewing experience for something like this.  We had great seats near the front, but not on the floor.  

Obligatory Meg & Ross self-portrait

The set looked impressive.  There were miniature Gotham City buildings and a very impressive screen across the back that showed all sorts of animation.

Blurry cell phone picture of the set, pre-show

The crowd, a good mix of adults and kid, was primed for a good time.  The two directors came out onto the stage with microphones and welcomed us to this open dress rehearsal.  The explained that, as it was a very technical show, there was a chance that the show would have to be stopped if something went wrong.  They said that the show would resume as quickly as possible.   We were excited!

The show started with an enactment of the death of Bruce Wayne's parents.  Then something happened for about 25 minutes (Lord knows what, neither Ross nor I can remember) before Batman even made an appearance!  That's right.  We timed it.  It took 30 minutes for Batman to take the stage.  He flew in to confront Catwoman mid cat burglary.  

During the fight, we experienced our first stoppage of the show.  Something had gone wrong with the flying rig.  They stopped the show for a few minutes while the sorted it out.  Being the nerd that I am, I would have really enjoyed if someone had come over the microphone and explained what went wrong.  Ah well...

The fight re-started and was much better.  Now, I thought, it's really going to take off.  Wrong.  Man, this show had a whole lotta stuff going on.  There were a whole host of villains (Catwoman, Penguin, The Riddler, The Joker, Harley Quinn, Sandman, and Poison Ivy) and bunch of background acrobats.  The story ended up being a very tenuous narrative about Robin's creation story and a bunch of villains taking over Arkham Asylum.

Now look.  I knew I wasn't going to a theatre performance.  I knew it would be a spectacle.  But for all the spectacular parts, the sum wasn't all that impressive.  There was either too much story or not enough.  I think loosely strung together vignettes with each of the villains would have been better.  A major flaw was that none of the performers seemed to "play out" enough to the crowd.  Especially the villains (with the possible exception of Harley) lacked the pizazz and charisma they should have been packing.  I mean, these are comic book villains.  This is when an actor should go big or go home.  Another fault, ironically pointed out by The Joker (though I don't think it was any sort of meta-commentary) was the lack of humour.  The Joker was referring to Batman himself, but the statement could just as easily have been attributed to the show as a whole.

At intermission, Ross and I found ourselves pondering whether to stay or go.  I made the case that we should stay, just to find out if the show could redeem itself.

The stage at intermission.

Alas, the second half fared about the same.  There were a few large scale numbers, but they weren't really that exciting.  The Batmobile made an appearance and was fairly impressive.  I think the straw that broke the camel's back for us was when Batman told the story of his parent's death to Robin.  The impressive backdrop screen showed an animated version of the event.  It was actually really cool.  Why oh why, did they bother opening the show with the exact same scene (less well-done) in live action at the beginning of the show?!!  It was pretty ridiculous and showed a real lack of writing aplomb.  

Ross and I were shocked at the applause and yells from the audience at the end.  We were even more surprised to see the tweets the show elicited.  Ross came across nothing but positive reviews which sung the praises of the production.  Really? 

In an effort to be constructive, I below outline our suggested changes:
1.  Revamp the story.  Ross and I are available to consult for a fee ;)  
2.  Get in a few comedians to play some of the villains.  Ross suggests Peter Kay for Penguin.
3.  Re-choreograph large fight/production numbers.  A good choreographer should be able to draw the viewer to the important bits of what's going on.  The current effect is a chaotic mess.  There's way to much going on in every corner, leaving the viewer confused and feeling like they don't know where to look.
4.  Consider the tone of the show.  Would it hurt to camp it up a bit in the style of the TV show?  That screen would be great for showing the "Boom!"s "ZOP!"s and other onomatopoeic words.  Maybe add a few musical numbers?  Just sayin'. 

Hopefully, by the time Batman Live comes to a city near you on it's world wide tour, they will have worked out the kinks and revealed the full potential of this show.