Sunday, 30 December 2007

Life in a northern town, er, latitude


I may be in the south of England, but this latitude is fairly far north. Days are mighty short this time of year. This is a view of the Kennet Canal at 7:45 a.m. this morning. Yahoo! weather says sunrise was at 8:09 a.m. By 4:03 p.m. it will be nightfall. It's all part of life in a northerly latitude. In contrast, the summer days can be quite long. According to BBC Weather, "In the north of Scotland in midsummer the day is eighteen hours long and twilight lasts all night." Wow.

Thursday, 27 December 2007

Brits dig consumerism, too

Man oh man was it a zoo out there today. I went out with the hubby intending to buy a little pink Christmas tree for next year. A tad tacky, but in a totally fabulous way. The crowds were thick as people picked up wrapping paper and ornaments for next year, and shiny holiday goods were getting picked through pretty fast. There went my hopes of trying to wait for things to get marked down again before buying.

In the end we got a 5-foot shiny purple tree from Marks and Spencers for 12 pounds instead of the little pink one. It's kinda cool in a tack-tastic way. Awesome. And probably way too big for our place. Eh, who cares, at least I got in my shot at shopping with the post-Christmas bargain-hunting masses.

Ho Ho Holiday viewing

Some thoughts on my holiday viewing of TV and movies (which was sparse):

Christmas Eve: Taped Ella Enchanted in the afternoon to watch that night with the spousal unit. I thought it would be something light and silly with a sweet ending for us to watch, and it was. It was completely inconsequential, but nice light fare for the holidays -- once we got past wondering what dark things could befall poor Ella if she ever ran into a pushy flirt in a bar who would never expect a woman to actually do the rude things he was slurring over his beer (she was bound to be obedient).

Christmas Day: Taped the Dr. Who special but haven't watched it yet. Watched Love Actually, which I had seen part of before, but never the whole thing. Turns out it sucks actually. And I really hope our Christmas dinner guests didn't follow my advice to watch it that night as a holiday film, as the nudity, cursing, and couple of bleak story lines would make them wonder what my concept of a holiday film is. Not that those aspects of the film bothered me (the bad script topped that list), but our guests wouldn't have appreciated such scenes in a Christmas flick. And did anyone else notice that the film was oddly weight obsessed? Everyone kept saying Natalie, the chick who worked for the PM, was fat. I think the joke was supposed to be that she was not fat, but the joke just didn't work. Why was it funny to say she's fat when she wasn't? So that any woman in the audience her size or bigger would feel bad? For that matter, why would it be funny to call her fat if she *was* fat? Then the rock star kept calling his manager chubby. Which was true, but why was that funny? Why was childish name-calling among adults part of a feel-good holiday film? Then the dad made fun of the overweight sister of the cute Portuguese waitress. Again, why was it funny? No real attempt at humor was made. Some writer for this film had a complex or something. Or just wasn't a terribly good writer, as was made obvious by 90 percent of the crap in this steaming pile of dog poo of a movie. Don't get me wrong, lots of things made it bad, but the weight thing just stuck out because it was so mean and unfunny. And because I freakin' hate movies that try to make all women feel bad by stressing that a woman who is average-sized or only slightly overweight is a huge fat cow (screw you, Bridget Jones Diary!).

Boxing Day: Watched the Christmas episode of To The Manor Bowen. I've really enjoyed this show following a designer and his family as they remodel a country home. This final episode in the series was a bit of a let-down because it was largely a clip show, but that's why it's good to film it first and then fast-forward. Then we watched the movie The Lives of Others. Wonderful film. One could even argue it as appropriate for the holidays, as there was sacrifice and redemption. Sort of. I'm not sure how to describe it, but it was the best movie I've seen in awhile.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

He ain't crazy, he's my husband

Today is my one-year wedding anniversary. My hubby's been with me through good times and lots of bad (meaning my knee problems and surgery early in the relationship that might have scared off a wimp). In honor of the event, I'm sharing a few of his words of (questionable) wisdom. I've taken to jotting down some of his funnier comments -- and the ones that would sound just awful taken out of the context of knowing his sense of humor!

Here, now, some memorable quotes from my darling husband:

"I only torment because I love. I'm like the Phantom of the Opera." --probably said after a tickle attack

"Once you get started with this cleaning business, there's no end to it." --after I tried to get him to help straighten up the place

"From now on, we're not buying anything unless it comes from the 99P store." --after he discovered the store and bought a couple of bags of mostly junk. He hasn't been back since.

"I love you more than a kitten loves string." --that's just him being sweet

"I'm not lazy, I have chronic fatigue syndrome." --said when he was being lazy

"You can't read that, it contains adult materials." --teasing which evolved after he learned I don't like movies that are too violent or gross

"Later I'm going to have you write an essay on obedience." --he thinks that's a funny joke, and I get to hear some variation of it at least once a day. It's usually followed by an unprintable comment from me.

Monday, 17 December 2007

Housework is fascinating ... in print, anyway

I'm not sure what it says about me that I find "The Housewife's Handbook" to be a real page-turner. I think what it reveals is not that I'm all domestic and love reading about cleaning, but rather that I'm so clueless about all things domestic that I'm surprised and amazed by the tips in this book.

For instance, I never knew that you shouldn't wash knives in the dishwasher, I just thought our dishwasher sucks because it makes weird spots on the knives. I never really used a dishwasher before this past year because, although my apartments had them, I didn't need them because washing one fork used to eat a frozen dinner really didn't constitute a full load. I started cooking a little once I got married, and my escapades learning to make a decent meal are another story.

I also never knew what to do when the garbage disposal started to stink (though I recently figured out on my own that grinding up orange peels solved the problem), how to remove stains from tea pots, or how to unblock a drain without using a costly store-bought product. I was so fascinated by what I was learning that I kept reading tips out to my husband, who feared I was going around the bend. I've found several useful tips, and I'm only at page 53. I stopped reading because now I want to own a copy so I can highlight interesting bits -- this book is from the library. I plan to order my own copy soon.

And that, my friends, is a definite sign that I'm not a kid anymore. Party time is over. But never fear, I'm not quite ready for a subscription to Martha Stewart's magazine, either. I want to know how to get rid of weird stains and smells, not create radish roses. I still hate housework and will do the minimum required to feel comfortable in my home, so no worries about my moving to Stepford. Now if only I could find a book that would do the cleaning itself ...

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Jerks, please hide your nationality

Why do some Americans act rude and shallow and make us all look bad? I guess that's because people who are rude and shallow come off that way. And because being outrageous gets more people to read (and talk about) your stupid, full-of-holes column. Oops, I think I'm helping publicize a moron! Oh well, I had to, just to say, "Please don't judge us all by one obnoxious bad egg, um-kay?"

Friday, 14 December 2007

Ouch! What's up with commercials?

The above photo is from a TV commercial here where a woman falls down, slamming her knee painfully into the floor. It's for a company that will file a lawsuit for you. It hurts to even watch this ad, particularly given my knee problems.

Lots of commercials in this country seem to be a bit graphic when it comes to showing painful-looking things. Like the commercials that show car accidents, or a child laying lifeless in the street, or a teenager playing around and getting hit by a car. I've learned when to sense danger coming in an ad. If someone is in a car or in the street and there doesn't seem to be a point to the commercial, watch out! They're likely to slam their head into the windshield without a second's notice. It's a bit much for me!

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Idiots

Apparently, the cool new thing for young women to do is post pictures of themselves being drunk and stupid to a Facebook group. These genius college chicks often include their full name and where they go to school. This is why employers Google applicants. And also why some animals eat their young.

Monday, 10 December 2007

Saturday, 8 December 2007

"Oh, good grief"

That's what my husband said when I told him that tonight in clubs in Reading police will be doing random drug testing. They'll use a high tech device that costs £40,000 to detect traces of drugs on one's hands. If you're caught drug-handed, as it were, you won't be arrested but will be banned from the club -- for one night. Ohh, scary, that'll convince people to stop using drugs!

Seriously, all that will happen is people who get busted will move on to another club. I doubt there are many of the testing machines, and there may only be one. It will be used in several clubs, but I'm guessing the cops will move from place to place -- so once you've been caught at one club, move on to another club before the police get there (as it sounds like they will be testing before you get in the club). Or it will just convince those who lack the imagination to have a good night without using drugs to wait until they get in the club to take drugs and fry more of their precious few remaining brain cells.

And so what if you don't use drugs and you get into the club? Why, then you'll drink a dozen pints or alcopops and act stupid! You'll throw up, fall down, bust your head, get in a fight or have sex with someone that would normally repulse you. Thank goodness your traditional fun night out won't be affected by that silly drug machine! Thank goodness you still don't have to be smart enough to be able to have fun without obliterating your senses! And thank goodness you won't have to be bothered by those idiots who act stupid because of drugs. You can party in the assurance that all the stupid behavior around you is due to excessive alcohol consumption, and you'll know all is right with the world.

Of course not everyone drinks themselves senseless when they go out, but I think a problem remains with those who do, even when you take drugs out of the equation. With all the problems of excessive drinking, from health to crime, you'd think there'd be more campaigns encouraging people to drink moderately. That seems to be a sacred cow no one wants to butcher.

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Gloomy winter


This is what it looked like at 3:30 in the afternoon. By 4:15 p.m. it was full-on nightfall. It's strange to see darkness fall so early in the day, whereas in D.C. it was probably 5:30 or so before winter nights became ... well, winter nights.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Harlan Ellison rocks

Harlan Ellison is hilarious. Who knew? Apparently enough people knew to make a documentary on him, Dreams With Sharp Teeth. Thanks to The Medium is Not Enough TV blog for calling my attention to this riotously funny interview. I may have to actually read one of his books one day.



Sunday, 2 December 2007

Macho tissues for macho men

Are you a big, strong he-man who would decimate a normal tissue with one good blow of the nose? Is normal Kleenex too small, too week, too delicate? Are you sick of girly Kleenex?

Then try Kleenex for Men. It's the paper-product equivalent of what you'd get if John Wayne and Bruce Lee had a baby. Which they would never do, since they're not little girly men using little girly tissues. Hooah!

P.S. I bought this product, and it has yet to stop my husband from keeping a roll of rough Tesco value toilet paper in the living room for wiping his nose. That's a hardcore macho man.