Friday, June 30, 2006

Nos 19, 20, and 33: The Elvii Trilogy

19) Viva Las Vegas: Elvis Presley

One of my top five Elvis songs, this song is great for driving and getting ready early in the morning when you sleep through your alarm. And it reminds me of a great weekend I spent with Tom back in our golden years in the west.

20) Elvis Presley Blues: Gillian Welch

I’m still going to get that folklore degree in Elvis. And this song explains why.

33) Kid About It: Elvis Costello & The Attractions

One summer evening in 1982, I was watching the David Letterman show. Elvis Costello was one of the guests, and he sang “Man out of Time” and “Kid About It” and my permanent love affair with his music was born. This is still my favorite EC song from my favorite album.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Totally Excellent Band Name No.1

Flaming Lips

Intersting, complex, and totally rockin' band, with the good sense to select an equally excellent name.

Number 13

13) Angie Baby: Helen Reddy

This creepy song has fascinated me from childhood. The crazy girl is locked in her room and lures young men in with her dancing, then traps them in her radio. Much better than the one where there’s an adulterous double murder in Georgia.

Number 1

1) Groove Is In the Heart: Deee-Lite

This is your standard ass-thumping groove song to get things moving. When I lived in Seattle, my friends and I used to have dinner every Sunday night. We’d even invite strangers if we wanted to get to know them better. And when dinner was through, we’d put this song on and boogie something fierce while we washed the dishes.

And so it begins...

It's here. Term 2. I am on my way out the door in about 10 minutes to meet my teammates Justin and Simon for a beer and quick review of our course prep for this week. Tomorrow at 8 we start with Project Management. I have my first test on Wednesday and we build a fake warehouse in a simulation exercise on Thursday.

Don't you wish you were me?

I just keep telling myself...riches and power, riches and power. Retirement income. Cool holidays with my friends and family. Financial security and a cool apartment. A dachshund to push down kiddie slides onto unsuspecting passers-by, and a dog walker to help me out when I'm at work. Tom and Georgie to keep house and cook for me. Five years from now, this will all be a memory and I'll be reaping benefits.

But today I'd rather watch The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

Go away, smiley guy

Somewhere to the west of me, there lives a smiley guy. He is probably about 50 (though with English aging that could mean he's actually 35,) and he and his wife go walking past my house regularly, probably on the way to the local pub or the one-stop for milk or something. And every single time he passes my window, he looks in to see what I'm doing.

I'm not much of a drape puller. I'm never doing anything that neighbours shouldn't see, at least not in the living room. And I like the sunshine and the air, so I like the whole open-window, open-curtains thing. But smiley guy is going to change my policy.

Seriously, on a Sunday that guy will look in at least six times in the course of the afternoon. And if he catches my eye he doesn't look away, he doesn't wave, he just continues to stare in my window.

That ain't right. Go away, smiley guy.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Dumb Band Name No. 1


Pete Doherty is bad on his own, but add this dumb name to a band and he needs to be destroyed. How do you think a name like that up?

I am so not cool.

Number 34

34) Just Like Betty Page: The Jazz Butcher Conspiracy

“You have me, as far as I can see, roped and trussed just like dear Betty Page…” Either it’s kinky or sweet. But it’s definitely a Quirky Love Song.

Number 23

23) Walk This Way: Run-DMC

Ben once asked me to name my favorite song of all time. And while there are many artists and albums I prefer, if I’m honest this is actually it. There’s never a time I don’t want to hear it, I always sing along, and it makes me happy. I’m keen on both this and the original, but this one is my preferred version.

Things to do in Iowa

One month from today, I will be in my hometown in Iowa. I'm really looking forward to the trip. There is multi-faceted truth to the phrase, "Iowa is a great place to be FROM." Not pretending for a second that I enjoyed my childhood (or more specifically my teenage years,) in the midwestern heartland, but now that I am safely far away I miss it now and again. It's not just my family that I miss, it's the whole slow-paced, small town ethos. Here are just a few of the things I intend to do when I am in Iowa.

  • Go for a run to the gravel pit each morning
  • Ride bikes with KC in Lanesboro
  • Eat Mexican food at Sabor Latino 2
  • Go to Walmart and buy toiletries. (I know this is evil, but I LOVE Walmart in Decorah. It's full of rednecks and Hasidim. How often do you get to see those folks mingle? Plus you can't buy Ban roll-on here)
  • Buy corn from the back of a truck at the Kum and Go
  • Sit on my folks' deck and read Yes Man and The Undercover Economist
  • Beat my Mom at Scrabble (yes, Mom, that's a throw down)
  • Catch up with El Ben
  • Dance the schottische at Nordic Fest
  • Eat warm lefse made in the JC Penney, or wherever they're making it this year

Oh! The fun I will have!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


I totally believe that Rush Limbaugh would need Viagra for physiological reasons. But I just can't imagine the scenario where he'd actually have a reason to take it. Eeewww.

Conan should see this

There is a new girl at work. She looks exactly like one of the pictures from "If They Mated." Her forehead is at least as big as the rest of her face, her eyes are wide-set and squinty, and her mouth is crooked. She seems like a nice kid, and I feel terrible that when I sit in meetings with her I can't concentrate because I'm trying to make sense of her facial proportions.

She's not long-waisted, though, so she's not a total freak.

Missing Larry Aldrich

Today I am missing my friend Larry Aldrich.

I have three of his woodcuts on the wall. They're from an alphabet block series he did about ten years ago. I have "T is for Trike," "E is for Effigy," and "D is for Dog." (Which should actually be titled "D is for terrifying-Dog-with-sharp-growly-teeth," but never mind.) I always arrange them to spell TED for some reason. Next time I hang them I think I'll mix them up and spell DTE.

Larry and his partner, Will, live in West Seattle. He has dachshunds. He has tatoos about eating chicken soup with rice. He is a plant guru, and can make any plant I've been trying to kill grow like you wouldn't believe. Larry has the most memorable laugh I've ever heard. I never get to see him any more, what since I live 7000 miles away now. This is not good.

Here are my two favourite Larry jokes:

1) Did you hear about the restaurant on the moon? Great food, no atmosphere.
2) So a horse walks into a bar, and the bartender says, "Hey, buddy, why the long face?"

Long live Larry Aldrich.

Canadians are Creepy

Okay, not ALL Canadians are creepy. In fact, most of them I quite like. But there are some weirdos wandering the Great White North, and they keep finding my site.

First they were looking for the "hot granny legs."

Now today, someone from Quebec is googling "torture chamber unsuitable for wheelchairs."

Mind you, they did find my site from that search. But I just reported it. I didn't think it up.

Monday, June 26, 2006


There are like a hundred of them in my back garden. They're on the brick garden wall, the slab outside my door, the living room window, even on the little angel that sits on one of the wall supports. It's like I'm farming them.

I wonder...are garden snails actually tasty or do they need to be cultivated in some formal manner? How does one cook a snail? Is it like a lobster that goes screaming into the water? Do you steam them like mussels?

There's gotta be a use for the little rat bastards.

We Dance like Wham

After stumbling upon the Top 10 Irish Artists at Ten the other night, I added VH1 classic to my favourites on my quick scan. I've taken to stopping regularly for shows like "The 80's at Eight" and "The Nineties at Nine." It's a sick and horrid fascination, really. I can't get enough of the shoulder pads and the big hair, not to mention that groovy synth keyboard and drum machine. It's actually been a bit of an insight into my aging soul. Tonight alone, I have come to the following realisations:

1) It's in the title....we dance like Wham!. We don't want to, but we do. Mind you, they weren't always the "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go" boppers...just saw the "Young Guns" video, and they did a bit of thrashing in that one. But they're still not cool. Dancing like Wham! is not something we want to do. Better than spinning like Deadhead chicks, but still. Time to learn some new steps.
2) The Pet Shop Boys sucked. And I think that when you thought it was a woman singing, "Since you've been away, I've been hanging around...." was just one of them dressed up like a woman and singing falsetto.
3) Fame was a stupid movie.
4) That A-Ha video for "Take on Me" is oddly compelling even though the song isn't.
5) Adam Ant was a total ponce.
6) If the sound was off on your TV, how long would you have to watch Coldplay before you knew it was them? How about Guns and Roses?
7) This whole British fascination with bad remakes of songs that should never have been made in the first place is not a new thing.
8) Duran Duran was not dorky in 1982. I wonder what happened?
9) David Byrne is one wacky-looking dude.
10) The Red Hot Chili Peppers are seriously foxy. Every last one of them.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Niagara Falls

This Saturday started off like any other. Got up, made coffee, sat and stared. Turned on the tv for Saturday Kitchen. Suddenly I heard a gusher outside. Thinking it was raining, I looked out the window wondering how something this powerful could just blow out of nowhere...I'd known it was overcast but it didn't look stormy.

But it wasn't raining.

Through the fog of morning, I remembered the last tenant, Amy, saying that one of the oddities of English plumbing involved water flowing into the garden from a pipe in the back wall near the roof. And I remembered Amy saying this was bad, but didn't remember the cause or what to do.

Sure enough, it was like there was a hose on full blast pouring from the attic. Panic.

Kat thought it was the hot water tank being too full, so we tried to drain the hot water. We did, but the water kept flowing. So she called her dad, and he explained that there is a tank in the loft that has a ball-apparatus (like a toilet tank) to keep the water level from getting to high, and if the ball floats too high the tank overflows out this pipe. Furthermore, this is officially a plumbing emergency, so we needed to get someone out ASAP.

Okay. First step, call the plumber's insurance that my landlord has since he lives abroad. It covers all sorts of things, but does not cover this. The kid on the phone was nice enough, though, and I was short with him when he kept me on the line asking questions about where I'm from and how I like the UK after we'd established a) this was an emergency and b) he could not send someone to solve it.

Tried two more plumbers in the yellow pages before I found one to come out and fix it. £130 later things are back to normal.

Can I just say that public utilities and plumbing/heating are the single worst part of living abroad? Nothing is set up the same so you don't know how things work, what they do and don't do, and what is happening if something goes wrong. The process of dealing with service procedures and general logistics is different as well. And no one seems to have a sense of urgency once they hear my accent..Theyy are all curious about me and why I'm here, bless them, but could I just once call a 0800 number and not get grilled about being an American? I just want my toilet to flush, thanks.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Secrets of the Site Meter

Canadians are still looking for some granny love, and now I've pissed off a bunch of Cypriots who are looking for information on their country.

And people google "flight attendant" a lot.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Term 2

One week from tomorrow I am back to school.

I hate to admit that I'm looking forward to it, even though it's going to be shedloads of work. Here are the scintillating subjects I'll be discussing in the coming months:

Project Management
Supply Chain and Logistics
Strategic Management
People Management
Managing Information Technologies
Financial Management

You'll also get an earful of my learning team dynamics, of which I'm sure there will be many. One of my new teammates hugs me and showers me with kisses when he's drunk. Considering I sometimes flinch when my closest friends touch me, you can imagine how well this goes over.

Oh, the fun we will have!

Red Lobster

No, CPman, this is not an invitation to an all you can eat Crab Feast with a few delicious buttergarlicbiscuits on the side. This is what I resemble after a day in the English sun.

It was our filming day for my Harry Potter movie today. The day started out with some threatening clouds and some wind, so we figured we were safe. None of us put on the sunscreen we normally would, what with the heavy cloud cover and all. The sky eventually cleared, but I guess we were pretty wrapped up in our scenes because we never noticed.

So now my right arm is excessively burned, to the point that bending it is painful. My left arm is less so, but still a bit red. I have a red v on my chest and will have to make all my shirts match it for a few weeks. Anything too low cut will look silly now.

Have you noticed that sunburned skin shows the wrinkles more? I need to moisturize tonight. I hope that these unsightly wrinkles go away and that I have not somehow entered the English aging time warp. I don't want to look 50 on my 40th birthday.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Top 10 Irish Artists

Whilst flipping through channels tonight to avoid the Desperate Housewives finale and that bloody World Cup, I decided to stop for a little VH1. They're doing the top 10 Irish artists at 10. So I'm watching videos of Irish singers and bands while I blog and surf tonight.

Here are the things I've learned thus far:

  • Van Morrison is funny-looking.
  • So is Bob Geldolf, though now that he's Sir Bob and has that air of philanthropic altruism about him he's pretty sexy.
  • Sinead O'Connor looked better without hair. She's a pretty girl, though, and unlike that Shania Twain she doesn't wear too much makeup or dress like a prostitute.
  • U2 have aged a lot. And Bono's put on weight but gotten a better haircut. And the Edge looks really bored in the video for Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For. And Tim Park really did look like Adam Clayton in college. But he kind of looked like Larry Mullen, Jr., too. (I know, Mark. Any woman with hormones and all that.) Oh. And their music is pretty fabulous, too, even though I don't like to admit it.
  • I don't much care for Enya.
  • I do, however, love the Pogues, and if you're the lucky recipient of my 40@40 in July you will learn to love them, too.
  • But that Shane McGowan. Talk about hitting all the branches on the ugly tree, bless him. (And he's not even visibly drunk in this photo.)

Tips for Flying No. 2: Befriend the Flight Attendant

Flight attendants can make or break your flying experience, so be very nice to them. If they approach you with conversational overtures, make small talk and tell them how excited you are to be going to their home country. Don't mention their clown-like makeup or their crazy-blonde-hair-with-black-roots that looks like they've been doing somersaults in a vat of rubber balloons. If they like you, your seat pocket will look like this:

And that was just the first round.

They might even invite you to their house for a barbecue. But if they ask for your phone number don't give it to them. They will actually call you to see when you're coming over.

Dancing by the Sea

This is the view from my lanai last weekend. I looked at it a lot, most of the time while dancing to tunes on my iPod. I distinctly remember a raucous boogie to Soul City by SCOTS and a bit of jamming to Weapon of Choice when I tried to do a Christopher Walkin off one of the chairs. I decided it was best not to, though, as I would likely have thrown myself from the balcony by accident and that's never a good idea. Safety first, I always say. So I switched to some Barry White to tone it down a bit.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


I'm her Gay BBF. I have incredible power over her.

- From Notorious with Tori Spelling

CPman reminded me of this tonight while we were doing a little friendly cyberstalking, and I remembered I that I don't think I ever posted this link that my friend Tim sent me awhile ago.

True Romance

I caught you a delicious bass. Wanna play me?

That Napoleon, he's a smoothie.

The Trellis

I no longer look like a hillbilly. This morning, the handyman showed up around eight and trimmed the roses so he could remove it. We now have highly pruned bushes instead. Hoping that the hedgehog isn't going to move to greener pastures.

Oh. And in a delightful twist of post-modern fate, my handyman's name is actually Andy. He's not as charming as our friend from BBC America, but he lets me call him Handy Andy anyway so I'll settle for that.

Go England (yawn)

For you Americans, there is a thing happening in Germany right now called the World Cup. It's like the Olympics, except it's all about football. (That's what you colonists call "soccer," FYI.) Everywhere else in the world, people are riveted to their televisions watching it. (You might be able to find it on your cable or satellite tv channels somewhere in the high 200's.)

So sorry. I condescend. It's my new thing. I'm going to try out being an arrogant expat. I've decided that I'm adapting an "I'm cooler than you" tone from this point forward when I speak of my life abroad. It will make it less noticeable when I say things like "tinned to-mah-tos, " "put it in the bin," or "bloody hell." Because I'm bracing myself for the heaploads of poo you'll be shoveling my way about my Iowan-via-London accent when I'm home next month.

Back to the World Cup. These people are NUTS. Everything stops for the damn football games. While the England games are certainly the most popular, people will watch absolutely anything. They're drunker than usual at the pubs, and you're regularly asked who you're supporting...and the answer had best be "England" or they'll report you to the Home Office.

Most of the year the St. George's flag, traditionally the flag for England (not the UK), is used as code for the white supremacist/anti-immigrant movement. But now that the World Cup is here, it is being used as the rallypoint for England. (In the World Cup, Scotland and Northern Ireland have their independence.) It's not quite as bad as the US having a Klan mascot dancing on the sidelines and leading the Wave, but it's close.

There are St. George's flags hanging from every window and balcony, in pubs and shop windows, and on every car in England. As my housemate Kat says, they'd shove it up the dog's arse when they're taking it for a walk if they thought it could still do its business. Here's a car in the parking lot at work. ('s a creepy Citroen, which is noteable for it's egglike that high style, or what?)

Or how about this? It's our vending machine in the kitchen at work.

I passed a car in the Tesco lot the other day that had an actual flag in the back window, four flying flags (one on each door), and another window painted on each of the back seat side windows. That guy shouldn't be allowed on the road, but if he'd passed a police car they would have honked their support for the team.

I've never been a joiner and I'm not going to start now. So I'm rooting for Argentina and South Korea, and anyone who's playing England.

I can't commit to Germany, though. That would get me killed.

Tips for Flying No. 1: Feign Sleeping

When you're a half an hour into a four hour flight and you see this:

it's best to feign sleep, preferably with an eye mask so that it won't see your eyes flicker. But whatever you do, do NOT make eye contact, smile, or say anything that sounds like "peekaboo."

Monday, June 19, 2006

Evil Eye

On the plane back from Cyprus, my friend Mel was sitting next to a guy who had a scary Cypriot granny in front of him. She had preternatural red hair and was a seat recliner, taking up as much personal space on the crowded plane as she possibly could.

It started when the guy next to Mel accidentally bumped her seatback when he was putting his dinner tray on his lap. The granny turned around and glared. He smiled a little apology, but when he went to remove the tray he bumped her again. This resulted in prolonged glaring.

But when he inadvertently pushed on the seatback as he was getting up to use the toilet, the granny sat up, glared, and did some sort of spitting/hissing thing and said something that sounded awful in Greek.

We hope he had a safe ride home. And if not, perhaps I should take Evil Eye lessons and begin using them instead of diplomacy when dealing with our Office Satan. (Today it got made at us when we challenged a budget that was too low. It was practically like watching The Exorcist, I tell you.)

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Back from Cyprus

You see a lot of this on the beaches there. I'll do a proper entry soon.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

My Hedgehog

I have a hedgehog. This is proof that I now live in Europe. Because if I lived in Minneapolis, the only hedgehog I could have is one from a pet store. But I have one living in my garden.

This is what a hedgehog looks like. I'm adding this picture so that you will
know, as you probably live in America and have never seen one. But I, I live in EUROPE, so I see them every day now. They're like foxes and pheasants. Everywhere you look, there's one popping out of a shrub. Ho hum.

My hedgehog is quite useful. He eats grubs and insects and other pests. I think he's actually here to take care of my spider problem, which is fine by me. I have a snail invasion right now, too, and so I think he might be feasting on l'escargot for special occasions. I would leave a little dish of garlic butter out for him, but hedgehogs are lactose intolerant. And since they suffer from cancer and fatty liver disease, I wouldn't want to contribute by feeding him bad things.

Hedgehogs make lots of noise, so occasionally you'll hear grunting/growling outside, punctuated by a snort or two. This is much better than the tone-deaf parrot.

I think the hedgehog is lucky. I think that if I rub him I will get a wish. But those spikes might make it a little difficult.

Today's Episode of the Simpsons

It's the one where they go to London, Homer rear-ends the Queen, and he gets put in the Tower of London as a prisoner.

Those Crazy Bushies

How about them Bushies. If it's not the President making fun of blind guys, it's Barty and the Snowster making their own Stooges movie.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Secrets of the Site Meter

My Site Meter tells me how many of you are visiting my blog each day, when you visit, how you find me, and roughly where my visitors come from. (I don't know who you are, though, as I don't subscribe to the service that gives me that detail.)

This week my site meter is telling me that Canadians are pervy for old ladies. Five, yes FIVE Canadians (primarily Ottawa and Toronto-based ones, FYI) have googled some version of "hot, sexy granny legs" and found my site.

I fear they were disappointed. So I've decided to throw them a bone....

What? That wasn't what you were looking for? Sorry. My bad.

(By the way, can I just say that it's unbelievable what people will put on the internet? Note to self: when using Google images, be very careful what you ask for. Pleh.)

Big Love is my new favourite show

As many of you know, mormon-watching is one of my hobbies. My friend Tom and I have visited many a Mormon temple and chatted with the visitor centre guides. We've sat through the 20-foot Jesus telling us the story of the Book of Mormon. We've toured the complex in Salt Lake City, we've researched the celestial underpants, and Tom has even toured a temple before it was sealed and consecrated. In fact, I think he's toured two of them. We've even joked about joining up so we can get on the inside and see how kooky it really is. (There are lots of things you just can't do if you're not actually Mormon.)

Many of you have found this a strange hobby, and dismissed it as one of the oddities that no one but Tom and Mindy really understand. Well, HBO understands. And they created Big Love to feed our need for the oddest of the odd in the Mormon world.

To be fair, this is NOT about your standard LDS Mormons who lead normal lives (except for that marrying their dead relatives to each other business.) No, these Mormons are fringe Mormons. The ones that give the LDS folks a bad name...the polygamist fundamentalists who have been disowned by the church.

They just started airing this here in the UK, and it's OUTSTANDING. It has all the excellent writing and drama/humour of your standard HBO show, but with all sorts of insider references to the things that us mormon-watchers love. I tell you, for me it's like Antiques Roadshow to an antique collector or FoodTV to an amateur chef. This is so exciting I can hardly explain.

Oh. One more thing. Against all popular wisdom, I love that Tom Hanks and am not afraid who knows it. He's smart, funny, and likeable, and even though he has made a career of making blockbuster films that pander to the masses, I've always known in my heart that he's really a cool guy who's working the system. And who'd have guessed...Tom Hanks is one of the executive producers of Big Love. Now I have my proof.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Arguments against gay marriage

One of my latest blogfinds is Lean Left. The writer is witty, smart, and makes some fine points.

Here's where he said what I'm thinking about this whole gay marriage hullabaloo.

Oh. And another good blogfind through my friend Tom is The Official Site of Grant Miller. He cracks me up. He reminds me of my friend Larry Aldrich for some reason. Not sure why. Here's a link to his gay marriage post. I'm adding him to the right, as Tom says I get a pony if I do. I wonder if that includes shipping?

For you Gordon Ramsey Lovers

I know that many of you have discovered Gordon Ramsey and the wonders of GR's Kitchen Nightmares. We're years ahead of you in our Gordon worship. Our new fix starts next week. Tune in for updates on The F Word.

I'm sure he'll use it a lot.

The calm before the storm

It's been a relaxing couple of weeks. Without school pressures, I've been slowly catching up on the things that I've meant to do in the last few months. I won't get it all done before the next session starts, but I have a lot of time after that to do some of my to-dos, as well.

The builder finally showed up to fix my oven (broken since Easter) and replace my hob (the stovetop thing.) This meant I could finally unpack my better pans and bin the non-stick ones that had coating flaking off, as the new hob won't warp my pans with its extra hot burners. The trellis out front, which I had propped up to prevent looking like a hillbilly, has now fallen again and won't prop anymore. The nice man is going to have to come back to fix that now.

Saw The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants this weekend, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Also watched The Sure Thing, which I also enjoyed though it's a pretty stupid movie I wouldn't like if I didn't remember it from childhood. These are courtesy of LoveFilm, which appears to be Netflix's Eurodivision...even the envelopes look the same. Yippee!! I've missed my Netflix.

It's been sunny and way too warm. Hard to sleep, actually. There's not even a cool spot on the pillow these nights. Hate that.

Had to color my hair, as the grey roots betray my actual age. It's gone a bit darker than anticipated. With the curl in my hair and the dark brown color, it kind of looks like when I was in college and got the "ee-ee-ee-euh" perm on the flat rods and then dyed it black. That's probably the most notable/notorious version of my hair ever, since it has a nickname. (Second place is probably the vibrant red dye-job I got in MSP that got me comments from the waitress and ridicule from Tim Commers when she asked where I'd gotten it done.) So it might not be ideal that I'm equating this hair to that hair. Hoping it tames down. Am trying to hold out until next month on the haircut front, as don't trust anyone other than Amy to cut my hair when it's this long.

Found a positively jammin' recipe for hot and sour soup, which means I don't need chinese takeaway anymore because really that's what I want when I crave chinese food here. (the rest of it is crap.)

Didn't make it to London, but will before school. Instead I went to Brighton and walked the pier and the waterfront. Brighton rocks.

Have reviewed my homework for next term, and it's a bit overwhelming. I started my Project Management stuff this weekend, and will hope to have everything caught up before the 30th when I start class.

My friend Susan is going to be here for the month of July. I won't have much time with her, as she is on a professional education programme and will be travelling the UK all month, and the beginning/end of her trip overlaps with school and my own holiday. But I'm going to have dinner with her in London some night early on, and will meet her in Nottingham one Saturday night, as well. Very pleased to see her.

Looks like my lodger will stay through the summer. Visits can commence after that.

I've figured out how to get my parents to visit England. In May 2008, I'm going to walk through graduation for my MBA. Since I skipped my Luther graduation, this will be their chance to beam with pride at my academic accomplishments. (To be truthful, Luther wouldn't have been that even if I'd walked...)

The Harry Potter film is progressing. We're taking kind of a Benny Hill angle to the script.

Going to Cyprus this weekend. Very excited. Must buy sunscreen.

The kind of partisan insult that is okay to say

John Bolton always looks like he's about to belch in photographs.

Evil Ann and other happenings

Everywhere you look these days someone is saying that Ann Coulter is evil. Unless, of course, you listen only to people in the Bush administration, in which case they're saying the truth hurts. Give me a break. It's mean-spirited nasty crap said to rally the base and to polarise the nation, and everyone who's ever supported her is responsible for this.

And they're just as evil as she is if they don't stand up for what's right here.

I want to hear someone affiliated with the Bush or Cheney camps say that she's well out of line. I want to hear them say that she's a sensationalising nitwit, and they disagree totally with what she's saying. Members of Congress don't count on this one...they've already flown the Bush coop in hopes of winning their campaigns in November. I want George Bush, Dick Cheney, or someone directly affiliated with them to say that Ann Coulter does not speak for them. I want to hear them apologise on her behalf, and tell the 9/11 widows (and all decent Americans) that it won't happen again.

Ann Coulter, darling of the Wacko Right and freakishly skinny pterodactyl-looking bonebag, has made a name for herself saying objectionable things. She's called me and my ilk every name in the book, questioned our intelligence, questioned our patriotism, suggested we're godless heathens doomed to hell, equated us to Al Qaida, you name it. And although I find her repugnant, I figured she has a right to free speech and all, and as an ACLU supporting, tree-hugging, granola-eating, commie-pinko liberal I have to take some mean-spirited ribbing from the Right since I get a snicker from Air America Radio and have enjoyed my share of Bush-bashing. Heck, we even named a few cocktails after him and some of his annoying mis-statements...the Evildoer had staying power, but the Architecture Fancy Machine was a little too complex and we forgot the ratio. But I'm with the crowds on this...she's gone too far, and now she needs to be stopped.

9/11 Widows. Their name says it all...before their husbands were killed in the terrorist attacks of 9/11, they weren't political operatives, they just lived in New Jersey. Their lives were changed by the bombing of the WTC, and when they saw the Wacko Right politicise and manipulate the public while stonewalling attempts to determine what exactly happened and how we could prevent this from happening again, they BECAME political.

I guess you could argue they've profited from the attacks, assuming that you call a giant insurance/reparation settlement profit. Personally I'm betting they'd rather have their husbands, but I'm sure that Ann thinks that's naive. (Surprising that's not reversed, what since she represents the side with the Family Values.)

And their profit value is nothing when you compare it to the money that evil witch has made politicising 9/11 to support the Bush Administration and vilifying their opponents.

This is not a big deal about nothing. This is offensive, reprehensible bullshit. I want an apology, I want her disowned, and I want it now.

Good entry by John Kerry on the Huffington Post.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

My Directorial Debut

We're doing a team building at work for our July annual meeting, and it's a doozie. We're having a film festival.

They've divided the company up into 10 teams, and assigned us each a movie. Our task is to create a 5 minute film version of our designated blockbuster hit. I've been selected to direct Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I haven't seen this one yet, so I need to spend time in the next few days watching it and deciding what scenes will help me get the point across. There are nine of us on the team and we have to find time in the next few weeks to script, storyboard, cast, rehearse, and film an hour of footage, and then after my week of grad school in early July I spend a day in the editing room taking our best takes and adding special effects, credits, etc.

I have no idea how to start. Do you? Please email me with creative thoughts/wishes. I need all the help I can get.

In the meantime, I keep watching these for inspiration.

Monday, June 05, 2006

The best day EV-AH!

Yesterday was the dawn of a new age, one that was a long time coming, and that was welcomed with a mighty huzzah!

It started out not so great. The neighbours were in the back garden working pretty early in the day, blaring bad 70's and 80's pop through their open windows. How bad, you ask? I'm talking Never-Been-To-Me, Billy-Don't-Be-A-Hero, Lady-In-Red bad. And it was made worse by the increasingly inebriated men singing along.

"Alack and alas, woe is me," I was thinking.

But then I looked outside. Colonel Bogey's cage was being dismantled. The Parrot is G-O-N-E gone.


Grammar Tip

I've encountered the same grammar error three times today, so as a public service announcement I thought I'd do a little refresher session for my readers to be sure you won't inadvertently make the same mistake when you're out in the world.

Then vs. Than.....

"Then" is an adjective or adverb, and indicates time, sequence, or consequence. It can also be a noun, but that's not when most people misuse it.

"Than" is a conjunction that functions either as a comparative between two adjectives/adverbs or to indicate preference. It can actually be used as a preposition, as well.

Used in a sentence: If you have bad grammar, then people will think you're a moron. I'd rather be respected than considered an idiot.

Try reversing them: If you have bad grammar, than people will think you're a moron. I'd rather be respected then considered an idiot.

The first sentence doesn't change meaning so much as it proves my point. The second sentence, well, it means something entirely different, and you could get your wish if you don't remember this little lesson when you're corresponding with strangers.

Next time....The Great Lying/Laying controversy, plus a bonus feature on The Dark Side of Spellcheckers!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

English Grannies

I love English Grannies. I see them when I'm in villages usually. They're walking to the shops. They're working in their gardens. They're tending the local church or rolling a cartful of veg back from the allotments. They stop and look at you as you drive/walk past. For instance, today I was driving to school to drop off my paper, and on my way I passed a covey of Grannies clustered outside a little pub in North Crawley, talking about something very important I'm sure.

There seems to be an official English Granny uniform. It is anchored by a cotton blouse with a lace collar, a knife pleat skirt (usually plaid) that falls sensibly below the knee so one needn't cross one's legs when sitting, support hose in serviceable beige, and a pair of sturdy brown oxford shoes, usually with a boxy, separate heel. The rest of the ensemble varies depending upon the purpose. If they're at church giving tours to people who drop by to look at the Norman architecture, they wear a little vest over the blouse. If they're walking to the shops or tea, they wear a mac and carry a sensible handbag and an umbrella. If they're on their daily constitutional, they'll switch to a barn jacket and maybe a little waterproof cap with a brim. If it's summertime, they'll drop the jacket in favour of a cardigan sweater. All hair is grey. Length can vary...I've seen sensibly cropped, and I've seen longer hair that's tightly wrapped in a bun, but it's always neat and tidy.

EGs know what's going on. Need directions? Ask a Granny. Want a bite for lunch? The Granny will tell you where to go. In fact, she might look at you and know instinctively that you need a cuppa and stop you to remind you to sort yourself out. Sometimes I want to invite them to join me, but you just KNOW that they've got a brown betty with a crocheted tea cosy sitting on the counter next to the PG Tips, and probably a luscious bakewell tart covered in plastic filmwrap waiting on the kitchen table. Wouldn't want to mess with that magic.