WorldGirlRants

I started this blog because I left Boston to live and work in London for a while, and I wanted to stay in touch with family and friends. I'm back now, but still have plenty of opinions on world news, politics, the media and the absolute craziness that comes from dealing with people. Bring it.

31 January 2006

Mourning



Respect and mourning for Coretta Scott King. And a good reminder to reflect on the work her husband began, and she so tirelessly continued.

Tech Woes

So for the past five days, I haven’t been able to access the internet from my apartment. I live in a hotel – 350 guest rooms and 120 apartments. When I moved in, I thought “what a sweet set-up – hotel amenities like concierge, excellent service, etc. – with apartment living.”

Well, things haven’t turned out that well. Today, after four days of not having internet access, and being confronted with people who sympathize, but don’t actually get the urgency of working remotely with our colleagues minus internet access (or worse, trying to do a full day’s work from Starbucks), I decided to take things into my own hands and literally stumbled my way into the back halls and hidden office areas of the hotel looking for someone to help me. Lots of people promised to help me, but it’s now 10:40 pm and I still have no internet access.

They set me up with a wi-fi account (which for tedious reasons I can’t bear to rehash, isn’t possible in my apartment) in the premier guest lounge, which was fun at first while I enjoyed smiling waitresses bringing me complimentary glasses of champagne while I worked, but quickly lost its luster.

Especially when, in the middle of trying to meet a deadline, a lovely retired gentleman sat down next to me and introduced himself. And then proceeded to describe his estate in Yorkshire, and the 8000 trees he’s planted on the property over the last 20 years – in e-x-c-r-u-c-i-a-t-i-n-g detail. He then directed me to a horticultural web site on my laptop and proceeded to go through different varieties of trees, clicking on the pictures and explaining the unique properties of each one.

He was lovely, and I very much wish that I had had the time to actually enjoy speaking with him. But instead, I had just come off a dramatic scene in the lobby with the apartments manager threatening to pack all of my things and leave if I didn’t get some resolution. I also went on a tirade about customer service, the amount of money my company is paying and the lack of urgency and respect the entire company had shown me. And finally, culminating in the dreaded, “I work in PR. I can ruin you with some well-placed phone calls to business and travel editors.” (I didn’t mention my career shift and the fact that I would have to get my former colleagues who still actually DO work in PR to make the calls, but whatever….

They promised to deal with it in the morning. I have a scary feeling I may be discussing gardening again for at least part of the day tomorrow. More champagne, please!

30 January 2006

Hamas Fashion


An annoying afternoon got quite funny when my friend Alex sent this picture and an amusing email:

I wish they would just get their plaids matched up. Maybe then I could focus on their rants.
And then the whole group she emailed was off and running. Here's some of the string, in order of receipt, going down the page:

My response:
OMG, am dying laffing. will be posting to the blog -- and
crediting you, of course!


Tim:
Now THAT'S a posting I'd like to see on the blog, worldgirl! Let's talk about important issues, like the one Alex raises. Mixing plaids are a tremendous hazard to society and need to be analyzed and dealt with post haste.

Me:
ah, so now i get it. if i mix politics and fashion, it is interesting.
if i stick to politics alone, i'm scr3wed.
gotcha


Tim:
I think you should propose a "help" group for those who need fashion advice when vetting their political views (or angst). It's important to dress the part when protesting.

Me:
but isn't there something to be said for telling between the good guys and the bad guys by their fashion choices?

Alex:
Yes. There can be no world peace without coordination and a
basic understanding of the color wheel. Everyone knows that dressing to kill isnt meant to be taken literally. Maybe we should get the fab five in there. Straighten things out, so to speak.

29 January 2006

Liquid Party

Our journalist friends at Zaman Daily in Turkey are either really funny or need better copy editors. In a story on reaction to the Hamas win, they refer to Benjamin Netanyahu as the leader of, not the Likud Party, but the Liquid Party. Check it out here.

Is this some attempt to highlight the differences between Israeli politicians, and Hamas, who are planning on implementing
sharia law in the PA? Are they implying that the right wing party in Israel is all about the booze? Netanyahu: Liquid party and liquid lunches?

And while we're talking about sharia law in the PA, does anyone else find it amusing that while the new "leaders" in Hamas say they want to use sharia as the basis for their laws, they won't "force" people or close down bars that sell alcohol? Especially since about a month ago, Palestinian gunmen
BLEW UP a UN bar catering to Westerners in Gaza precisely because it served alcohol?

Guess they won't be coming to Netanyahu's Liquid Party down on the beach next Saturday night. I hear that when he's not being self-aggrandizing or trying to whip people up, he mixes a great cosmo.

More Wow!


Like I said last time we talked about this, men who smoke in England must be INSANE.

Now, I realize (at the risk of being sexist) that a lot men may be more concerned about impotence than infertility, but I would think that even the biggest "playahs" would not want to think about their sperm being "damaged," whether or not they were considering becoming daddies any time soon.

And this stuff is written in big black scary letters on every pack of cigarettes here. "Smoke and you will be a pitiful girly man in bed." "Smoke and your family name will die with you since your little buddies will be so damaged they won't be able to swim straight."

And yet, I see plenty of men smoking in the UK. As for the women, I haven't seen anything approaching this level of scary for us, so I'm wondering if perhaps smoking isn't all that bad for us? That's gotta be it, right?

27 January 2006

Ireland Top 10

Top 10 Reasons I Need to Go Back to Ireland Soon

10) When your cab driver tells you his life story in Ireland, it's actually interesting
9) Guinness actually tastes better there
8) People are so freaking friendly, you're almost suspicious at first, then you just enjoy it
7) Office complexes apparently have large, central bars playing great music which are jammed at lunchtime with people hanging out, having drinks and having a good time
6) Alex will be upset if she can't type "fookin' daft" again soon
5) There's nothing better than the accent (new favorite word, by the way -- amn't -- contraction of "am not." As in, "are you going to the pub? no, i amn't.")
4) People aren't rude, don't push and shove in lines and are just generally chill
3) It's beautiful
2) So much history everywhere you go
1) Real Irish boys vs. American Irish boys

Note to Self


Dear Self,

Are you an idiot?

You neither live in Ireland, nor drink Guinness EVER, so why on earth would you stay up until 3:45 am going Guinness for Guinness with the locals? Especially since you had to present at a meeting with a business partner at 8:45 am? Have you learned nothing over these past 36 years? You're not 25 anymore, my friend.

Although I must commend you for waking up on time, not vomiting during your meeting and ordering fried fish, potatoes cooked three different ways, green beans and an endless supply of diet coke and cappuccino for lunch when you all went to another bar. It did set you up nicely to be a little less peaked during the afternoon session.

Nice work on turning what could have been a mess into a great meeting. And try not to do that again any time soon.

Love,
Self
xoxox

26 January 2006

Hamas Win

I can't not mention it. (But as promised, balanced this commentary with my whole "I love Dublin" post)

I'm depressed (but not surprised) about any prospects for peace, but hope I'm wrong.

Analysis on Slate.com includes this:


With Hamas democratically elected into power, a peace process leading to the formation of a Palestinian state is no longer a viable option—unless the organization completely changes its ways. Speaking this morning about the future Palestinian state, Bush seemed to emphasize the word "vision"—meaning something we can look forward to—more forcefully then he has in the past. For right now, though, we can expect Israel to consider further unilateral steps, encouraged by a U.S. administration that has no other options left.


Also, more info here.

My mom said yesterday (surprisingly) that she held out hope that Hamas would become more "realistic" as they participate in the political process. I hope my optimistic mother is right.

For the lighter side, check out AbbaGav's post on the Hamas victory here.

Dublin > Dusseldorf

I'm in Dublin. I love Dublin. It's much better than Dusseldorf. At least in my opinion, although they are much lower on the funky glasses quotient here, but much higher in everything else.

Friendly friendly friendly! Long convo with taxi driver on everything under the sun. And by the way, I just love the way people just use the word "fuck" here like a valley girl uses "like." You can be talking about your new baby nephew in Ireland, and "fuck me, he's the most fucking beautiful little one you've ever seen."

And THE BEST part was when he dropped me off, and he said "well, you're among the most educated intelligent and traveled Americans I have met in 20 years of driving a taxi. I usually get, 'Hey Martha, isn't this so QUAINT!'" I nearly busted a gut.

As my colleague said, "the Irish boys love you." But of course, I didn't need to travel all the way from Boston to Dublin for that when we've got Southie just down the road. Although, their accents ARE much better here.

25 January 2006

Wow!


Based upon this warning I saw on cigarette packs here, I can't believe how many people smoke in the UK. Causes Impotence?


You'd think that with warnings like this emblazoned on cig packs in big black letters, London would be like a greyer, windier California . You know, a place where small packs of secret smokers hide in alleys like smack addicts, puffing away with no regard for their health. But you'd be wrong. Smokers everywhere!

Could there be a link between this new (proven?) information on the effects of smoking, and this story about the sex lives of the French?

24 January 2006

By Popular Demand


So apparently, readers of this blog don't like the "Angry Me" that comments on political issues. (Which is why I won't comment on the slanted BBC coverage of the Palestinian elections which is making my blood boil and causing me to listen to my new
Eurythmics Ultimate Collection CD over and over rather than watch TV.)

My last post, on W and the abortion rally, resulted in a number of emails and IMs accusing me of "depressing people." I don't know what it says about me or my readers that people would rather debate the merits of
Futurama as a cultural icon than discuss world issues, but I am nothing if not responsive. So keeping that in mind, the photo above inaugurates a new feature -- Funny Signs in London. Enjoy! (And feel free to leave a comment suggesting why the proprietors of The Cock Tavern might not want people sitting on the steps. Seriously, there's a lot of material there.)

And I promise not to post any angry political diatribes without a balancing post about something stupid I have done or a funny commentary on people, places or things. OK?

23 January 2006

Fetal Position

According to this story in the New York Times, it might be best for me to stay in London forever. Who the hell wants to live in a country where people compare abortion to the holocaust and call for the equivalent of Nuremberg trials for "feminist abortionists." And where the President CALLS IN TO THE RALLY to offer support, calling the march a "noble cause" and saying:


"You believe, as I do, that every human life has value, that the strong
have a duty to protect the weak, and that the self-evident truths of the
Declaration of Independence apply to everyone, not just to those considered healthy or wanted or convenient," he said. "These principles call us to defend the sick and the dying, persons with disabilities and birth defects, and all who are weak and vulnerable, especially unborn children."

"By changing laws," he added, "we can change our culture."


And what's so scary is that for the past six years, W has called in to this yearly march every time. Has he ever seen how these people verbally attack women entering clinics? Does he not remember the shootings at clinics and murders of doctors? I've worked at clinic defense, and let me tell you, a lot of these people are not "peaceful demonstrators" -- their tactics are trauma-causing.

And does he call into other political demonstrations? Even though Cindy Sheehan lost me when she went after Israel (and off the deep end in general), she did stage the most direct demonstration he's ever had to deal with -- right outside his ranch -- and yet, the man dodged her all Summer. But THIS demonstration he called into?

Since he's such a fan of illegally listening in on people's phone conversations, has he added anti-abortion activists to the list? I mean, some anti-abortion activists have killed people, which is terrorism in my book. How is that any different from illegally and unconstitutionally SPYING on people with dubious ties (at best!) to terrorist activities?

I think I may be staying here until November 2008 at least.

Email String of the Day

So a group of my friends has been emailing back and forth about coming to London to visit. Convo below (email addresses, etc. changed or obscured so no one gets stalked or decides to sue me). We're so funny, at least in our own minds...

Remember to start at the bottom -- I pasted this in directly from my email account.
________________________________

From: Friend A
Sent: Monday, January 23, 2006 3:01 PM
Subject: RE: London calling

I just drink other people's drinks.

----------

From: Friend B
Sent: Monday, January 23, 2006 2:52 PM
Subject: RE: London calling

I've found cleavage to be highly effective for getting free drinks.
I then eat my "free" dinner of drink garnishes, e.g., olives, orange
slices, marachino cherries. This is why I had to switch from Atkins to South Beach -- love the fruit!

----------

From: Me
Sent: Monday, January 23 2006, 11:57 AM
Subject: RE: London calling

excellent! will purchase and begin executing immediately!
did i mention that there's a waterstone's near my house with a BAR on the top floor? my new favorite place to hang out. books & cocktails. what's better than that?

----------

From: Friend J
Subject: RE: London calling
Date: Mon, 23 Jan 2006 08:27:08 -0800 (PST)

Oh! I've never heard of that one.. I'll have to read
it. Showing my hippie years, I am familiar with "Steal this book" by Abbie Hoffman... Survive, Fight and Liberate!

----------

From: Friend A
Date: Monday, January 23 2006 2:43 PM
Subject: RE: London calling
Theres an excellent book you should read: Choke by Chuck
Paluhniuk. It's fiction but it involves a freaky couple of dudes who exhaust all the restaurants in the area using various tactics to get out of
paying. Its chock full of great ideas. You can relay your experiences in
in your blog.

----------

From: Me
Sent: Monday, January 23, 2006 10:37 AM
Subject: RE: London calling

I like it! Can you give me some tips on getting others to pay for
my dinner at fabulous restaurants in London? Have been considering
the whole "bring a big scary bug to dinner and put it in my food once
I've eaten most of it" thing, but wanted to know if anyone had any
other ideas?!?! Also considered the whole "be charming to random guys to get them to pay," but that seems too taxing.

----------

From: Friend J
Sent: 01/23/2006 10:14
Subject: RE: London calling

I say have Axxx pay for India expenses and get a free washer/dryer on
craigslist.org! I should write my book,"'Hobo's guide to living rich".

----------

From: Friend A
Subject: RE: London calling

I would love to go but Im afraid I have to back out. I need to save
$ for India and I need a new washer and dryer :) So you guys are
really missing out b/c Im doing the REALLY fun stuff. But try to suck it
up and have a good time....

Internet Legend?


So I've gotten a couple of forwards of an email going around about Al Qaeda selling merchandise on the Web. People appear to be taking this at face value.

A couple of things don't ring true on this one. Most especially one piece of merchandise -- a tight fitting women's tank top. As you may recall, Osama Bin Laden was closely allied with the Taliban, who I am reasonably sure would have frowned upon such items of clothing, seeing as most women in Afghanistan couldn't even show their EYES when they were in power. I am reasonably sure that observant Muslims (or shall I say hyper-observant in Al Qaeda's case) wouldn't be selling a shirt like this. And let's not even bother with the "Made in the USA" label on the shirt. I think that one's too easy, actually.


Look at the site on Cafe Press. I'm reasonably sure it's BS. Sadly, another entity that sells items on Cafe Press is actually real. Beth, Alex, it's our old friend Dave! For those of you not familiar with the Devastating One, I suggest you check it out. Especially the thong. Bubah3000 out!

22 January 2006

Eye for an Eye

I know I should really stop reading Saudi Arabia's Arab News daily but I just can't help it. Afterall, I had many fun, interesting and amusing conversations with people following my post on The Paper Cup Incident and that has only encouraged this bad behavior.

Today's gem is titled
"Assault Victim Spares Assailant's Eye," and the topic is just what you think it is.

Apparently, a Saudi "got into an altercation over payment" with the Indian-born foreign worker pumping his gas. The fight got physical, and a few weeks later, the Saudi started having problems with his vision. His "assailant" was charged with causing his "blindness" and sentenced to having his eye REMOVED. Luckily, the "victim" granted him a pardon and he gets to keep his eye.

The Arab News interviewed a number of Indian nationals living in The Kingdom:


“This is definitely a humanitarian act. We all know that Saudis are known for their goodwill and kindness, and this is just one more example of the magnanimity of Saudis. This also shows the special regard Saudis have for India and Indians. In Naushad’s case the media in both countries should be congratulated for highlighting the issue,” said Dr. Abdullah Moopen, a psychiatrist with Al-Abeer Polyclinic.

An accountant at a steel mill, a hospital administrator and a manager at an advertising agency were interviewed as well. It's unclear what, if any, relation these people have to the case, other than being Indian, but their quotes are all variations on the theme of: "Saudis are kind and we love being here."

I suppose the reporter couldn't use quotes like, "I have a good job. Please don't set me up on some trumped-up charge and take any of my organs or limbs. I mean, I have a nice life. Money actually DOES grow on trees here, did you know that? I love Saudi Arabia. Seriously. I want to stay and keep my body intact if possible."

Does this seem like propaganda to you? Maybe, just maybe, since it comes on the eve of
King Abdullah's trip to India. I wonder if the "victim" got an oilwell as a "gift" recently?



Fires, Friends and Fun


A huge thank you to Rachel for including me and Sus in her birthday celebration last night. And to Lee, Clare, Ruth, Sam, John and Nick for being so warm and friendly and making me feel so welcome in London. And of course, to Margie in absentia -- you were missed and we're all thinking about you! -- for introducing me to such great people.

We had a fantastic dinner at CVO Firevault. A very cool place downstairs from a fireplace showroom. Check it out here. And also check out their fireplaces... If I had 3300 GBP and somewhere to put something like this, I would definitely buy one!

Dinner, drinks and conversation were great. We then headed to a club for cocktails and dancing until at least 2:30 am. This place was great, with one of my favorite parts being the painting of an old couple wearing Burberry scarves and hats hanging on the wall next to the second floor bar. It's a blurry photo, (it was dark and I was using my phone to take the picture) but you get the gist... Too funny.

Susanne, Rachel, Clare and I tore it up on the dancefloor. Nowhere else have I heard Kanye West to 50 Cent to Basement Jaxx to Michael Jackson to Fatboy Slim mixed on the floor, but somehow it worked. (Maybe it was the champagne + wine + martini + mojito combo, but whatever...) And huge thanks to Clare for taking control with the DJ -- we saw a noticeable improvement every time she got involved.

All in all, a great night and a great experience topped off by a fabulous pub brunch this morning. I could get used to this.

Stop Calculating

OK, so I don't know if I should continue calculating the GBP:USD exchange rate in my head.

Susanne came to visit from Copenhagen this weekend, and we had a great time. On Saturday, we went to lunch and shopping on The King's Road. Excellent sales and really really fun.

So I decided to stop calculating the hell out of every purchase and just buy things that seemed "reasonable" and fun. I actually "needed" a few things, so thought I should buy those things and not worry too much as long as the prices "seemed about right."

I had a great day shopping and didn't really overdo. But later, when I started doing the math, I realized what I paid for things... And it wasn't TERRIBLE, but it was more than I thought. Still, I don't want to be paralyzed by the weakness of the dollar while I am here. What's a girl to do? On the upside, other than the pants I bought at FCUK, most items can't be purchased in the US. (and in my defense, even the FCUK stock seems to be different in the UK than on Newbury Street)

Comments providing justification for shopping freely welcome...

19 January 2006

Yacht Rock

Shout out to Dave Watkins and his fabulous wife, Sue Lorenson, for alerting me to this. If a Dan Fogelberg melody makes you double over in hysterics, or you think Christopher Cross is the anti-Christ, or you just love the idea of tooling on self-important bad 70s "rockers" this is for you!

Start at the bottom with episode one and work your way to episode five. The whole series should take less than 30 minutes.

Enjoy!

The Irony of the Mid East

Within 24 hours, I read two news stories that blow my mind when you look at them together:

Suicide and Sesame Street: New children's TV show brought to you by the letter V, the number 72 and Hamas

Suicide Bomber strikes in central Tel Aviv. May all the victims have a full and speedy recovery from their injuries.

Does anyone else ever just feel TIRED of all this? It's just a bizarro world where the NY Times can un-ironically run these stories two days in a row.

And I wish I could just continue to write about Canadians and Germans, and make Sprocket and David Hasselhoff jokes. But instead, the reality of a very bad situation that isn't getting any better has to intrude. And something tells me that Uncle Hamzi of Hamas/Sesame Street isn't going to make things any better...

Insane TV redux

Futurama and Charmed don't seem so bad after seeing the following in German:

Law & Order
Law & Order SVU
ER
The Golden Globes (with constant commentary/ translation in German playing over the English soundtrack.)


Dinner in Dusseldorf

If you're a vegetarian, prepare to have a frustrating time ordering dinner in Dusseldorf.

About 15 of us went to dinner at this great place, and I was the only non-meat-eater. Our waitress was direct from central casting -- "get me an efficient middle-aged German waitress ASAP!" She was great. The minute I drank my last sip of beer, she appeared next to me with a new one. And even guessed when I might want some water... (Luckily, I figured out what she meant when she said, "wasser?")

Other than that, though, we had no common language skills, so imagine how fun it was to try and tell her that I didn't eat meat, when their entire menu (even salads!) was meat-based. The two of us played a mean game of charades for a few minutes, before a German-speaker at the table offered some help. And then I sat back and hoped for the best. After about 20 minutes, I got a huge plate of three different (meatless) salads and a gigantic baked potato stuffed with sour cream and fresh chives. Some of the meat eaters at my table were actually jealous!

Good thing I was only there for a couple of days, though, or I think my food luck would not have continued...

17 January 2006

Re: Dusseldorf

Just received this message via email from one of my friends (am protecting his/her identity to protect him/her from angry emails from Germanophiles):

"Pick me up a duffelbag in Dusseldorf. Just head over to Hans and Franz
market, they have everything "


LOL. Classic.

Sprockets

So I'm in Dusseldorf for my first-ever trip to Germany. I'm here on business, and have to be honest and say that I never actually thought I would travel to Germany. It's just not been of interest to me. And while I know that its not good to harbor bad feelings, I don't feel great about the country, the excellent movie by Israeli director Eytan Fox -- Walk on Water -- notwithstanding.

So it was definitely weird getting off the plane -- in part because usually in other countries to which I've traveled in Europe, I have at least some working knowledge of the language. I can read French and know generally what it means, and even say some basic things. I can make myself understood (and even delight old people with my effort) in Spanish and Italian. But here, I've got nothing. Not a word of German, I don't think. In fact, I mistook a carpark payment station for an ATM. The people around me as I swore and banged on the machine were quite amused (I can only hope that I'm not the first idiot to make that mistake!)

Some other tidbits (and I've only been here about two hours!):

My taxi driver had on a shirt that said, "Can I lick it?"

Apparently, you can watch ER dubbed in German and pretty much understand everything that is going on

Trying to order a Caesar salad from room service and asking for "no bacon" apparently means, "add chicken instead." I don't know why this is.

"Italian food" in my German hotel blows. (unless you like egg noodles and oven-burnt cherry tomatoes with Muenster cheese)

Eurythmics

I always forget how much I actually like Eurythmics... until I leave the U.S. Everywhere other than in America, you hear Eurythmics quite a lot. For example, I have been sitting in a Starbucks doing work for the last three hours, and they have been playing what is clearly a Eurythmics Greatest Hits mix. (multiple times during this three hour period) And you know what? I think I'll pop across the street to the Virgin Megastore and buy it!

So to summarize:
Eurythmics = good
Futurama = bad
Canadians = rising in estimation

(this post is for you, Timmy W!)

In a normal world

In a normal world, this story, headlined "Palestinians seek Israeli investments," would make sense. Neighbors. Collaborative economies. Economic growth combatting jihad. I get it. After all, for as long as I can remember, Palestinians worked in Israel in all kinds of jobs until things went south.

But that's the point. Nowhere in this article does it mention, for example, that QASSAM ROCKETS ARE BEING FIRED FROM PA TERRITORY INTO ISRAEL EVERY DAY.

Perhaps next week, Israel will be asked to invest in Iran's nuclear research. And someone somewhere will say that if Israel just does that, then President Crazy will call off the holocaust conference, call Israel a "great neighbor" and the two countries will co-sponsor
Purim festivals every year.

16 January 2006

I Stand Corrected

in regard to reality TV shows from the US. Apparently, Wife Swap started in the UK first, and was exported to the US. So here they show both -- Wife Swap UK and Wife Swap US. I don't know how I feel about that. But I do stand by my issues with Quantum Leap, Miami Ink and the other shows mentioned on this blog.

15 January 2006

Holocaust Conference -- WTF?

OK, perhaps I'm crazy, but it is unbelievable to me that in the year 2006, we are seeing news stories about a conference to examine the "scientific and historical facts of the holocaust."

That's right, the crazy loon in charge of Iran, who I would wager is even more of an embarassment to the majority of Iranian people than W is to many of us in the US, announced plans to hold a conference to discuss what he calls the myth of the Holocaust. And his friends in the Muslim Brotherhood, and imams running mosques in Queens, NY agree with him.

This is where it gets scary, people. Its been easy to dismiss him up until now. I mean, he's clearly crazy. But read the news reports. And listen to the deafening silence. He's upping the ante and no one is doing much to stop him. Except maybe the empty threats of maybe not letting Iran play in the World Cup.

I can imagine the "scholars" President Crazy will invite to participate in this event. Hey, maybe the Palestinian Authority's own Mahmoud Abbas can come present his PhD thesis on the subject. And he'd be the moderate one. He only thinks the numbers are exaggerated... The other speakers will likely say its all a lie.

This shit is scary, and I can only hope that the the US is reporting a bit more outrage about this, because in the UK, all I'm getting is some factual reports of the fact that this conference is going to take place. SCARY.

Oh, Canada!

Last time I went out on the town with Margie in London, we were saddled with an incredibly boring and self-important Canadian guy who Margie had met earlier. (She used to have a problem with being too kind to annoying people, but she's working on it... admitting it is the first step!) So when we were making plans before going out last night, our watchwords were "No Canadians!" -- code for let's not waste our valuable fun time talking to people who aren't interesting.

So you can see where this is going... Almost EVERYONE we talked to last night was Canadian. (Or a friend of a Canadian, as in the example of the incredibly foxy Croat.) And all of them were from Vancouver. Even as we were walking down Fulham Road looking for a taxi, the other people walking down the street behind us were from Vancouver, too. I had no idea Vancouver was a feeder city for London, but apparently it is. Good times.

So we hereby publicly renounce our vow of "No more Canadians" -- especially since we plan on befriending the Canadian bartender at Cactus Blue, who made us the best drinks we have ever had. (and gave us good shopping tips! and had cool friends. and tirelessly searched for Margie's gloves after she lost them. and was just generally a very nice guy.)

In fact, we're planning on memorizing their drink menu for Bethapalooza this year... I had something called "The Hustler" which consisted of gin, fresh passionfruit juice (with an actual passionfruit in the glass!), and basil (I think, its all a bit hazy at this point). And Margie's drink, whose name I have totally forgotten, consisted of lemon vodka, vanilla vodka and muddled lemons. They were fantastic!

UPDATE: Margie informs me that her drink was called a "vpod"

14 January 2006

IM Xchange of the Day

My friends and I are oh-so-amusing. Sometimes unintentionally. Here's an example.


DahabSunset (12:53:37 PM): trying to
decide what to wear to dinner tonight.

DahabSunset (12:53:59 PM): have headache and dont care that much. but have to look good in case meet future husband or man who will get me pregnant

a13xa9dr1a (1:04:20 PM): Oh jesus mother mary and josef. Wear magic ass pants

DahabSunset (1:05:23 PM): lol. ok, crazy. green magic ass pants, or dragon on leg magic ass pants?

a13xa9dr1a (1:05:56 PM): Dragon on leg

DahabSunset (1:06:46 PM): yes. could be good. and low maintenance. pair with black shirt and be done with it. just have to fuck around with hair and some makeup. extra 30 mins on couch. excellent

Glossary:
DahabSunset = me
A13xa9dr1a = Alex
magic ass pants = pants that make my butt look good

12 January 2006

No Jesusland for Robertson

Pat Robertson's commentary on Sharon's stroke being "retribution" has cost him his Christian theme park in Israel. Even his "apology" isn't helping him, though. Earlier this year, Robertson announced plans to build an evangelical Christian destination in Northern Israel, encompassing many sites historically linked to Jesus's life. And Israel was going to donate the land and the infrastructure, anticipating up to $1.5B additional in tourism revenues each year.

The whole thing felt wrong then, and it feels even more wrong now. I mean, it's not like Robertson doesn't think Israelis aren't going to be consumed in hellfire like the rest of the sinners when JC comes back. And while the Israeli government is unwilling to proceed with Robertson, they do want to go ahead with "other investors."

Now, I know that Israel is holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims. And I get that during the intifada, Christian Pilgrims kept the tourism industry going when American Jews were afraid to travel there. (Although I would argue most real Christian Pilgrims who visit these sites would prefer to see them as they are, rather than featuring a Loaves and Fishes Foodcourt)

Does the government of Israel never learn? The people behind big evangelical projects like this don't give a shit about Israel, except in the ways that its existence helps drive their own agenda, or allows them to talk about prophecies. Robertson was just crazy enough to show it. His replacements in this scheme won't make the mistake of tipping their hands like he did.

Corporate Apartments...


... have pluses and minuses. The pluses include daily maid service, a fabulous location right near Regent's Park, a gym and sauna right downstairs, a concierge, and the ability to order room service whenever I am feeling lazy. (More on the likelihood of me doing this often below...)

The minuses are worthy of a bit more detail. I just noticed that I have the same picture hanging over my bed and in a random corner of my living room. Ain't it a beauty? Now, I knew more than to expect cutting-edge decor in a corporate apartment, but at LEAST they could throw some variety into the boring prints they hung around the place. Or, apparently not...

Also, my kitchen isn't great. It consists of a toaster, a kettle, a coffee maker, a sink and a dorm fridge and two burners. Now, if I was planning on subsisting on a diet of ramen noodles, beer, kraft macaroni and cheese and toast, this would be fine. Instead, I find myself living on a diet of soup, pasta, yogurt, coffee, tea, fruit and toast. And bad Indian restaurants.

The maid service is both a blessing and a curse. I work from home, and most mornings so far, they have cleaned my room first thing in the morning while I was at the gym or out getting coffee. Well, this morning they didn't come during that time, so I figured that when they did show up, I'd take a break from work and pop out and buy some groceries (i.e., more bread, some new varieties of tea, soup).

When the housekeeping staff showed up at 11:15, I headed out to the store, figuring that with all the places they have to clean, it would take 25-30 minutes max, plus they clean every day. I came back with my groceries -- and they weren't done. I put them away and felt wildly uncomfortable while they did an absolutely amazing job, spending more than an hour on my place. While I appreciated this, it was somewhat uncomfortable... So I called down to the concierge and requested that my maid service be scheduled for 8:00 am every day.

Sounds a bit bratty now that I see it in writing...

Yeccchhh!

News on Jolie-Pitt Baby.
File this under I used to love them, but now I hate them.

11 January 2006

Davey comes to town

London is known for its Indian restaurants. So, when one of my oldest friends, Dave (aka Puff Laddie), came to town on my second night here, we wandered around looking for a place to eat, figuring we'd just pick an Indian restaurant that "looked good." When we passed one that appeared really busy, I figured we couldn't go wrong.

Apparently, I was mistaken. That's a picture of Dave making a face in the restaurant after I sent the samosas back because they were FROZEN in the middle. I wandered into the only bad Indian restaurant in London. Are you surprised?

Apparently, this restaurant buys their samosas at Tesco or Sainsbury's. (do you like I how I'm suddenly casually dropping the names of British supermarkets, rather than saying "Stop & Shop or Shaw's"??! Impressive, no? I'm practically a local now after two and a half days. I also managed to take the tube, a train and a bus to Reading at rush hour while still jetlagged... I mean, really, I should be issued a UK passport at this point.)

And instead of being horrified when I mentioned that they were frozen, the waiter worldlessly took the plate away. About 20 minutes later, he (also wordlessly) brought us another plate. These were so "well-warmed" that they were actually impossible to eat.

I made a game out of gnawing on them when my boss called me during the dinner and I had to pretend to be totally focused on the conversation while trying to keep Dave amused. Apparently, my attempts at biting into the samosas sounded like mm-hmms, yeses, and other signs of assent to my boss and he never guessed that I was playing around with stone-like appetizers and making faces with my friend.

Despite the bad food (now I know where NOT to go for dinner), Dave and I had a good time catching up. Even though he lives in NY, and I usually live in Boston, this was the first time we had seen each other in well over a year. Apparently he'll need to schedule additional business trips if we're going to stay in touch regularly. Although next time we won't go to dinner at 9 pm, since we couldn't find a place to have an after-dinner drink when we got out of Chez Frozen Food... amazingly, we stayed more than two hours despite the horrible experience. Must have been the company.

Insane TV

Since I am now working from "home" -- when I'm not traveling -- I've quickly learned that working in silence is totally distracting. As a result, I leave the TV on for background noise while I'm working. I've looked up a couple of times to see unbelievable crap on the TV. Below, please find a list of American shows I would NEVER watch in the US that I happened to notice were playing in the background:

  • Golden Girls
  • Quantum Leap (multiple times a day, I think!)
  • Columbo
  • Murder, She Wrote
  • According to Jim (I was not even aware of this show's existence before arriving in London)
  • That weird cartoon show that happens in the year 3000 (I have no idea what it is called)
  • Charmed

On the plus side, I have caught one show (at night) that I love and I would never watch in the US, because they'd never have it in the US (except maybe on PBS at a totally odd time). Its called Balderdash and Piffle (a fabulous show name that would never get by the network suits in the US!) and is co-produced by the BBC and the Oxford English Dictionary. Basically, OED staff travel the UK and bring ordinary people into the act in order to research the origins and first uses of words in order to add them to the dictionary. Its fantastic. Was totally depressed when it was over on Monday night. If it does show up on PBS in the US, I highly recommend it. You can also learn more about it here.

UPDATE -- Shout out to Alex for remembering the name of the future cartoon show -- Futurama. She also added, "holy shit, people over there must think we're idiots."

08 January 2006

Quick "I've Arrived" Post

I made it to London. Quick highlights before I go get some sleep...

My taxi driver was obsessed with my height (no easy discussion to have for 40 minutes when I know how tall I am in feet, not meters... or shall I say metREs) Seriously, he wanted to talk about my height for the WHOLE RIDE -- and I'm not that tall. He even asked if I was "in sport." (Stop laughing, Alex!) His parting words as he was driving away: "Other women must be envious of your height. It looks great on you. Just beautiful!" WTF?

Billboards for American TV Shows on the road b/w Heathrow and London -- Miami Ink and Wife Swap. Are you kidding me? Will have to develop an indeterminate accent so people don't think I'm American, considering that based on these two shows, people will think that everyone in the US is one of the following:
1) an evangelical Christian that home schools their children (and possibly raises llamas)
2) an atheist that parties with their children and lets them run around like wild animals
3) a tattoo artists with a foul mouth
4) the type of person that wants a tattoo of their dead cat, or a complete recreation of The Last Supper tattooed across their back, or a new tattoo to cover up the picture of their ex-boyfriend across their ass

And I have a fashion question. Why is it that Burberry aficionados in the US wear those plaid "country outfits" (sorry Beth!) but in London, the Burberry store has an orange patent leather trench coat in the window? Do they keep all the good stuff for themselves and laugh at Americans wearing the boring stuff they send over to the US?

Off to sleep now. I have to unpack in the morning, and by the way, they have got to be kidding me with the closet in my room. 8 hangers total. Seriously, I'm here for a 3 month minimum and they think I can hang all of my clothes on 8 hangers?! Will need to talk to someone about that!

07 January 2006

Crazy Trip Feedback


I leave for London in the morning. I've gotten all kinds of interesting feedback/commentary/requests surrounding my trip.

Almost every woman over the age of 45 I have spoken with about my trip has told me that they "just know I'll meet my husband there." Not that I would be upset if they were right, but its interesting to note that its a unanimous prediction. ("Well you haven't been successful in America, so maybe the Euros will like you better!")

Almost everyone has asked if I'm going to drive in the UK and whether I'm going to take driving lessons to learn how to drive on the "wrong" side of the road. (BTW, the answer is no.)

About 50 percent of people asked if I would begin calling car trunks "boots," apartments "flats," and elevators "lifts." As a corollary to this, I would say 80% of people have pre-emptively accused me of developing a Madonna-like faux accent, as if they're expecting me to come back with one. I would imagine that nothing annoys the British more than an American with an affected British accent.

Once it was decided that I was going, my boss started telling me he had to "use the loo" everytime he had to go to the bathroom. I don't want him telling me that in American, much less English!

A friend of mine, who lives in London, told me that "we'll have to take a trip to Duabi together." I tried to explain to her that they're not likely to let me in.

But perhaps most interesting is the request I got to bring back bouillon cubes for one of my co-workers. Apparently, in the UK, they make bouillon cubes in odd flavors like "roasted red pepper," etc. I'm apparently supposed to comb the supermarkets for these things. A preliminary google search has not turned up anything, but I will obviously keep you all updated on my search.

I'm sure the concierge in my building will be able to help on this one... although I may wait until I've been there for a few weeks before asking. I don't want to be labeled "crazy bouillon chick" my first week in the building... Afterall, he may tell the other residents, and I don't want my future husband thinking I have some broth fetish before we even get to know each other!

Positive Energy to Sharon

I never expected to feel the way I do about Ariel Sharon. I certainly never expected to start crying when I heard he had had a stroke. And I find myself following the news constantly... (in fact, I fly to London tomorrow and find it maddening that I'll be on a plane for hours with no access to up-to-the-minute news like you can get on the Internet.)

Tonight, Yediot Ahronot (www.ynetnews.com) has a headline that states, "PM will likely survive." I don't know how I feel about the way the news is being handled. Earlier this week, Condi cancels a trip "in case she has to go to Jerusalem." (subtext being: in case she has to go to a funeral.) Now he will "likely survive." Something about this speculation just isn't sitting right with me. And the fact that speculation is news is just another example of this need to constantly update the story... (probably to feed news junkies like me.)

I understood the news media's need to speculate on who would take power if Sharon didn't survive. Now that it is fairly clear that he won't be able to resume his duties as Prime Minister, that discussion isn't really necessary. And I just don't like people playing with karma and talking about whether someone's going to live or die.

In any case, I hope that tonight brings Mr. Sharon more rest and recuperation. I hope he knows how much positive energy is being sent in his direction and that his commitment to Israel is being returned to him in people's thoughts.

Satire News Wrap-Up

I know, I know, its the world's best kept secret, but Pat Robertson apparently suffers from a "condition" that makes him insane. So, that explains why he sees fit to tell the world that Ariel Sharon is being punished, just like New York in 2001 and New Orleans this past year. But apparently, some are taking action in an attempt to make him "shut the hell up."

And according to
this item, Kate Burton is "clinically insane." That explains that one! Although I can't help but wonder why the Times of London, BBC and The Guardian aren't pursuing the story of her kidnapper being arrested and then let go, with the same zeal they seemed to want to cover the fact that she "understands" her kidnappers and plans to go back to Gaza soon. More news on this here.