Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Easter Update

Well that was fun.

Actually, it was a rather nice week, just exhausting. My future mother in law has a golden retriever-like desire to please, and the energy to match. The woman never stops moving. Just being in a room with her wears you out. Mom and the FIL (Father In Law, obv) got on fine, and never stopped talking. Not for one minute. The conversation flowed like the Ganges, without repetition, deviation, or hesitation.*

The worst part of the weekend was the drive up, which took twice as long as it normally does thanks to holiday traffic and was a very grumpy and miserable experience for the Pirate, who was driving.

The rest of the weekend went by in a blur of sight-seeing and food. The MIL does not. stop. cooking. Ever. And you're not allowed to finish a meal. She's constantly pushing more food in your face and insisting you eat more. The woman doesn't take 'no' for an answer. We sat at the dining table for 3 meals a day. Breakfast was croissants, fruit, cereal, coffee, tea, toast, yogurt, toast, cereal, jam, eggs, and juice. Lunch was a hot meal, and came with dessert! Then there was tea, which naturally involved cakes. Then there was dinner, which came with another dessert!

We'll be living on steamed veggies and brown rice for the rest of the week.

Oh, and the in-laws STILL don't let Pirate and me sleep in the same room, which sucks. I'll give the mater credit for this much: she orchestrated it so we could have some time alone in the house together, which was really really nice. We seriously needed that. We used the time to play video games (Medieval Total War) and finish the model of Stone Henge I started at Christmas. And to mess my hair up, naturally.

But there were no explosive rows. Only a strained awkwardness when it became apparent during conversation that FIL doesn't believe in global climate change, and believes that if it is happening there's nothing we can do about it so there's no reason for him to give up his Jag and 2 Aston Martins. Tosser.

Now the mater and I are working full time at wedding planning. Finding shoes has become the crisis du jour.

*that's a Radio4 joke. See how sophisticated** I've become?

**middle class

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Wesolego Alleluja!

Off to the in-laws with my mom to celebrate Easter. Pirate and I are picking her up at the airport tomorrow (Good Friday) and heading oop north. This is going to be interesting.

Full report on Tuesday. In the meantime, enjoy the Peep show.

Warning: Crucifixion may be bad for your health

The Filipino government is urging people to practice crucifixion as safely as possible.

Um, Oh-kaaaaaay.

I have no idea what to make of this story. On the one hand, it's sick and weird that people do this at all, let alone volunteer for fun. Humanity is in a fucking dismal state if there are people in the world who think this has any positive effect.

On the other hand, the slant of this article is utterly fucking hysterical. Don't forget to sanitize your whips, everyone!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

M.E. Special Report: Dick Cheney

We interrupt the usual inane babblings about insignificant personal minutae to bring you this special update: Dick Cheney, the President of Vice in the USA, has flatly stated that he does not care what the American people think. Following is a brief transcript of Cheney being interviewed on 'Good Morning America:'

CHENEY: On the security front, I think there’s a general consensus that we’ve made major progress, that the surge has worked. That’s been a major success.

RADDATZ: Two-third of Americans say it’s not worth fighting.


RADDATZ So? You don’t care what the American people think?

CHENEY: No. I think you cannot be blown off course by the fluctuations in the public opinion polls.

Click the link. Watch the video. And then send the link to EVERYONE YOU KNOW. Maybe finally this will be the straw that breaks the proverbial camel's back and generates among the American public the political will to impeach the sunuvabitch.

Here I am!

I know I need to work on my finishes. They're not strong enough and my recovery is crap (I'm starting up the slide slowly and accelerating toward the catch. That should be the other way around.) Also I'm not squaring up my blades soon enough. That said, it's not too shabby.

Monday, March 17, 2008

American food that I miss in the UK

Miracle Whip. I've learned to tolerate mayo, but it just doesn't have that tangy zip, ya know?

Root beer. Good root beer. Real root beer. This root beer.

And Vernor's, naturally.

And as long as we're on the subject of pop, Faygo. Espeically Redpop. Yes, ''red" is a flavor.

And distilled white vinegar. Despite being made by Heinz, and despite Heinz food products being all over the UK like tattoos on sailors, they don't sell their distilled white vinegar here. (I know because I asked them.) I can't describe to you what it tastes like, but it's not wine vinegar and it's not cider vinegar, or malt vinegar. It's unlike anything else, and in most cases you can't substitute anything else. I may never eat coleslaw again ('specially since the second ingred in the dressing is Miracle Whip! Double screwed!).

And why do Campbell's use different recipes for their UK soups???? I know it's nasty canned soup, but damnit I grew up eating tomato soup, and if it's good enough for Andy Warhol...
(it's also the base for the sauce for my grandmother's gallumpki recipe, another old family favorite I may never be able to make again, and it kills me that my kids won't grow up eating them for Christmas dinner every year. :o(

Oreos. Enough said.

And graham crackers. Digestive biscuits are similar, but they really aren't the same.

Grape-flavored anything. Everything here that's purple is blackcurrent flavored, even the skittles! How wrong is that!
Especially grape jelly. On a grilled bagel. With cream cheese. Oh my god you have no idea. And on PB&J. Grape is always the best on PB&J.

And speaking of bagels, good bagels would be lovely, if they could be had here. You don't have bagels in England, you have round bread. It's different. Trust me. If Einstein Bros. were to open a shop in London they'd make a killing.

And speaking of bagels, why do you not have pumpernickel??? ANYTHING???? You're closer to Germany than America is, so why is there no pumpernickel bread here???

And you'd think that in a country with enough Polish immigrants for the BNP to whinge about them at every fucking opportunity I could get a decent loaf of rye bread. You would think that, but you'd be wrong.

Speaking of Polish food, you people wouldn't know a decent dill pickle if it walked up and raped you.

Bacon. Even what you call "streaky bacon" isn't the same. It's got to be something in the curing process, because when I cook English bacon the fat turns all hard and white and rubbery. It doesn't melt away at all. Gross! How am I supposed to get bacon drippings for recipes??? (Once I was in a shop where the girl at the check-out was German, and we spent 10 minutes bitching with each other about how crap the bread and bacon in England are. At least I'm not alone. *sigh*)

Proper pizza. Real, sloppy pizza with a soft crust (as opposed to the matzah bread that passes for pizza crust in this godforsaken land), globs of spicey tomato sauce oozing all over (NOT the ketchup you people use. One word: OREGANO), and heaps of mozarella cheeze (now hear this: CHEDDAR CHEESE DOES NOT BELONG ON PIZZA!)

Getting back to the peanut butter issue, there is a decided paucity of peanut butter in the UK. Jars of it, sure no problem. But could I lay hands on a Reeses peanut butter cup if my life depended on it? Doubtful. Ditto Reeses Pieces. Ditto peanut butter Twixt.

And that's just the processed, packaged food. Let's move on to produce, shall we?

Basically during the month of August I go nuts for want to of decent produce. I grew up in an agricultural state, eating (despite what you may think based on the above diatribe) a lot of fresh fruit and veggies. Come summer time we'd go to the farm market in town, about a mile and half walk, and buy all sorts of yummy, fresh stuff that had been picked that morning by, *gasp!* the same people that grew it!!

These are some of things I miss the most...

First of all, my esteemed British readers should be aware of something: Corn on the cob should NEVER, EVER, EVER, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, be sold pre-shucked and packaged in shrink wrap on foam trays. This is wrong. This is evil. This is the devil's work. If you can't buy sweetcorn that looks like this, you should not buy it at all. Period.

Ripe tomatoes. It just doesn't get hot enough here for good tomatoes, even in the greenhouses.

Ditto the peaches.

Blueberries. They're available, but at about 15 times the cost of back home. A blueberry pie here sets me back about $20 or more. Wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong.

And finally, apples! The English are very proud of their apples, but the varieties available here are really, really limited. And they're all very sweet. The stores carry braeburn, gala, and cox varieties, and that's about it. You can get granny smiths (which I like for cooking) and bramelys (which the English like for cooking), but you can't get any tart red varieties. Come fall i'd cut my ear off for half a peck of northern spys or ida reds or jonathans or cortlands. mmmm, cortlands...
(Pirate has already agreed that we will be growing our own apples from older, more antique varieties, before they hybridized them for maximum fucking sugar content and they really did keep the doctor away. Maybe they still do, but brace yourself for a trip to the dentist instead! Blech.)

And lastly, while we're on the subject of apples, I MISS CIDER!!! You can get fabulous hard cider over here, and that's great. But you can't get fresh cider. It doesn't exist. I want fresh, unpasteurized, oxidized cider. In gallon jugs.
Fortunately, Pirate has agreed that once our trees are producing, we can invest in a small, one-man cider press. Whee!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

I promised you hot hot penguin luuuuurve...

...and here it is!


(Ok, I admit it's fairly short. By the time we got the camera out they were nearly

done. Still, it's cute, no?)

This is a dassie. It's a wee elephant with sticky feet. I took this photo -- we were that close! This is on top of Table Mountain. We took a cable car to get up there. In the fog. It were wicked cool.

(Sorry about the lack of vid. Youtube for some reason won't upload the damn thing. Shame. Anyway, you'll have to make due with the photo.)

Here is the fog:

And here's me!!!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Movie Review: The Bank Job

It was a heist flick. It had Jason Statham. So naturally, I was expecting something along the lines of Snatch or Lock Stock and 2 Smokin'.


Snatch and Lock Stock are both great heist flicks. They're gorey as all fuck, but it's so over the top they're like live-action cartoons. It's fake. You can laugh it off.

The Bank Job is nothing like. It's based on a true story, the infamous Lloyds break-in of 1971. The robbery was never solved. The details of how the robbery was committed are pretty true to form, but the details of who was involved, what was their motive, and what did they find in the vault are nearly complete speculation.

The thing is, because it's based on a real event, they didn't camp it up. It's dark. And it's grim. Very grim.

I spent a good deal of the film with my hands over my ears and my head in my lap. I just don't need images of a man having the flesh sandblasted off his feet in my head, thank you very much. Pirate and I have a new system: when I pull into my shell during the most gruesome bits, he strokes the hair on my head until it's safe for me to come out again.

If grizzly violence and realistic torture don't bother you, I can highly recommend this flick. For the rest of you: skip it.

Overall rating: 2 1/4 mangled corpses

Thursday, March 13, 2008

It's time now for...


I promise that I will get the video of the penguin sex off Pirate as soon as possible and post it up here. It's ace. (The couple above aren't actually in the throes; they're just napping. Possibly after he was done he didn't bother to roll off before he fell asleep. She doesn't seem to mind, though. I don't either.)

Friday, March 07, 2008

Dark Lord of the Sith (Efrica)

Okay, here we go. Sorry I haven't gotten around to telling you about my trip yet. I've been catching up on work/rowing/etc.

Speaking of work, I'm at the office, so I can't upload any photos with this post, but I will do that soon. I'll also put up the videos of me being baptized into Pirate's cricket club and the hot hot penguin horniness ass soon as I get them off Pirate's computer.

We had a good time. There were some great moments and not so great moments, but on balance it was a good laugh.

The cricket went well. Mostly. We won 2 out of 7, lost 4, and tied one. Only one of the matches that we could really could/should have been won. The others were essentially carnage. The match that tied was incredibly exciting, and converted me into a proper cricket nutter.

We played at some beautiful fields in and around Capetown, including Stellenbosch, Groot Drakenstein (it sounds scary but tranlates to Greater Ducksberg, which is not scary), and Constantia, the prettiest of them all. Wherever we played we were surrounded by trees, mountains, and vineyards, and the sun shined every day.

Except the day we went up Table Mountain. And that was ok with me. Everyone else was bummed about the fog/cloud cover because they couldn't see the grand views, but I liked it. The mountain has all kinds of wierd plantlife and rock formations, and the fog shroud made it feel like I was walking on an alien planet.

The wildlife was great. I bought a bird guide the first day there and spent a good chunk of the tour twitching. I saw
African Sacred Ibises,
hedada Ibises, cattle egrets,
red-winged starlings (much more spectacular when seen in flight),
egyptian geese (and geeselings!), all manner of sea birds,
cape white-eyes,
cape batises,
a ground woodpecker (i don't understand either),
spur-winged geese,
a juvenal black-crowned night heron (that one was a bitch to indentify),
speckled pigeons,
laughing doves (well, heard more than saw; that was the first ever species i was able to positively identify by call alone),
pied kingfishers,
LOADS of guineafowl (look at that animal and try to claim it has any other reason for living than being food for other things. I mean, it's all meat and NO BRAIN to speak of!),
a flock of cape canaries,
several nesting pairs of greater striped swallows (who LOVE to nest under the eaves of cricket clubhouses, which are ideally situated next to cricket pitches, which are ideal for catching lunch of the 6-legged flying variety),
barn swallows (if there are barn swallows, are there barn spits as well?),
a sunbird that i can't find a picture of,
african darters (which are fun because they swim with their bodies below water with only their necks sticking up, so they look like little Loch Ness Monsters),
ostriches (though i saw these more on restaurant menus than anywhere else, and they are delishous!)
and most importantly, PENGUINS!!!

The birding kept me well occupied, and i spent most of the trip with my binos around my neck. even so, i had probably a dozen sightings of things that i was unable to identify. maddening.

i'll put up some of my own photos of the penguins next week. more to come!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

No, I'm not married yet

(You may resume breathing now, Nations.)

We had a great time in South Africa. I will tell you all about it tomorrow, but right now I am tired, and kind of tired of talking about it because I just spent 3 hours on the phone with my mom telling her all about it.

I'm feeling much better having had a mental break from all the wedding stuff. It's about to hit me in the head again full force, but at least I'm rested and I've had a chance to gird my loins. or something.

Here is something to make you happy, though: we bought my wedding ring! and here it is:

White gold, filigree all around, and 21 tiny, tiny diamonds to make it sparkle. Gold and diamonds both being cheap in SA, and the awesome buying power of the English pound on our side, we got a great deal on it. And it's perfect, and exactly what i wanted.

We still haven't picked out Pirate's ring yet. That's going to be a whole 'nother project. Silly sot has no idea what he wants, just that it has to be unusual.

Also, here is the meme that Da Nator hit me with:

1. Grab the nearest book of 123 pages or more.
2. Open it to page 123.
3. Find the first 5 sentences and write them down.
4. Then invite 5 friends to do the same.

So here are mine:

"Indeed, she also accepts lines with even less regular alliteration, such as 305, which she considers to be metrically satisfactory because of its alliterative linkage with both the previous and the following lines (304 alliterates on /b/ and the final stave of 305 (besekes) echoes this; 306 alliterates on /a/ and the second stave of 305 (Arthure) anticipates this):

Thane the burelyche beryn of Bretayne the lyttyll
Counsayles Sir Arthure and of hym besekys
To ansuere the alyenes wyth austeren wordes (304-306)

Or take, for example, the couplet found at 4151-2:

He es eldare than I and ende sall we bothen
He sall ferkke be-fore and I sall come aftyre

Hamel's note to this couplet reads: 'The alliterative pattern of these two lines is aa:ax/bb:xa; no emendation is necessary.' "

Look, I'm at my computer. Where I work. The nearest book was one I'm currently using in my research, which at the moment is a metrical study of Chaucer's "Book of the Duchess." The above exerpt is from "Studies in the Metre of Alliterative Verse" by Ad Putter (my supervisor), Judith Jefferson, and Myra Stokes, c. 2007.

Tagging: Miss Melville, Annie Rhiannon, Big Dave, Michael, and Murph.