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Archive for the ‘Cultural differences’ Category

March of the Pensioners
Narrated by Morgan Freeman (of course)

Each day, a truly remarkable journey takes place. Dozens of elderly women — likely awake since before dawn — don their supportive bathing costumes, abandon the security of their single-level homes, and make the long trek to the YMCA for their life-changing morning ritual: water aerobics (i.e., boot camp).

The goal? To stave off or reverse the damage done by a penchant for butter and sedentary living.

These be-grayed specimens tumble into the water of the indoor pool, nattering incessantly about ungrateful and noisy offspring.

1950s perms encased in swim caps, liver-spotted skin cleansed by the chlorine — their leathery haunches strain to move through the water.

Intrepid cultural anthropologist and writer Beth C. — also a lover of butter — attempted to infiltrate their ranks.

The pack was immediately suspicious of this young whippersnapper. (“Young” is relative.)

The alpha female tried to warn her off with a series of loud barks. Beth responded with barks of her own, indicating she would not be intimidated.

Resolute, indomitable, driven by the overpowering urge to rediscover her long-lost abs, she was determined to stand her ground.

The journey was hazardous as the women eyed her as a predatory threat.

Yet, after many long weeks of delicate maneuvering, Beth finally was accepted into the pack. They greeted her by name. Asked about her recent vacation. Swapped phone numbers.

Beth felt vindicated. Acknowledged. And (thankfully) streamlined.

Her magical journey will continue three times a week as she becomes further enmeshed in the pack’s routine.

 

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Dear Readers:

You know how excited I get when I have a guest post. Today, I’m pleased to present one from Disgruntled Danny, a lovely-despite-the-moniker person I met while pursuing my passion for a particular U.K. band.

He’s pissed about the lack of road repairs in Chell Heath, the borough he’s called home for 12 years.

Here he is, in rare form. Enjoy!
Beth

 

“Harry Pothole and the Tarmac of Terror” and other tales
Guest post by Daniel Harrowven

Misery, frustration and disappointment. For most British people these are our default settings, but on a Friday morning in early May these emotions were amplified.

The reason? I had just read the results of the local government elections and, as feared, my local councillor had been re-elected.

For the last nine years, since my councillor was first voted into office, Chell has gone from being “a little bit rough” to a town that can now offer visitors an experience akin to Kabul circa 2003.

How did this happen?

Chell Heath is a Safe Seat. Many of the families in the area have lived here for generations and they always vote for the same political party. They are afraid of change. As long as nothing improves, they can continue to blame all their problems on former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. (She was forced out of office in 1990 and has done nothing at all since 2013 on account of her being dead.)

I was inspired to act whilst driving home one evening. Listening to the latest CD by Jesse’s Divide, I suddenly felt my spine shatter, thumbs dislocate and the CD skip, causing me to wonder whether I had suffered a brief blackout.

No.

I had driven over one of Chell Heath’s impressive (and growing) number of potholes.

Danny recreates his death-defying drive.

In mainland Europe and the U.S.A., drivers drive on the right of the road.

In the U.K., drivers drive on the left of the road.

In Chell Heath, we drive on what is left of the road.

The following day, I went back to the pothole and had my long-suffering wife photograph me pretending to punch the pothole.

Disgruntled Danny, Superhero

I posted the photo to my Facebook wall and the Facebook page of my local council.

And became an Internet troll.

Lately, my trolling has taken the form of movie treatments and posters fitting the pothole agenda.

 

Here’s a medley:

 

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How much of a stir has this trolling caused within the council? Have I been asked to remove the posts? Been offered a meeting to discuss my grievances?

No.

I have had no response whatsoever.

Not even a “Sod off and bother someone else.”

But one person did take notice. Rathi Pragasam, the woman who ran against my councillor — the woman for whom I voted — found my pothole series amusing. So it came to pass (that sounds a bit biblical!) that Rathi visited me recently to discuss my rantings.

To be clear, she is not elected, has no power or authority in the ward, but within 24 hours she had contacted parliament (WTF!), arranged funding, and now the potholes are due to be repaired in the coming weeks.

All more than anyone on the council did.

I understand that there will always be bigger problems than some holes in the road, but little victories make life slightly more bearable.

And writing this has been a joy, because for 40 minutes I, a British person, have not had to talk about Brexit.

 

 

 

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Dear Vegans,

God bless you, every one. How do you manage to find things to eat every day?

I’m sure things have gotten slightly easier for you (as more and more people make the choice), but it certainly is a challenge to find food that is completely free from animal products.

Eddie and I are hosting friends next month, one of whom is one of you. I’ve been road-testing recipes: shepherd’s pie, chickpea and avocado wraps, tamales, etc.

Japanese gyoza nearly was the death of me, though.

It’s one of my favorite things to make, thanks to the excellent tutelage of my friend Miwa.

However, I usually buy the pre-made skins from the Asian market down the road. It makes life so much easier.

But said skins have eggs.

Ruh roh, Raggy.

So I went to the vegan section of Whole Foods (aka Whole Paycheck). I found wonton skins, which will do in a pinch. Checked ingredients list to be safe.

So those wouldn’t work. I went to two other granola-people stores. No luck. In fact, one helpful cashier checked his supplier’s site to see if vegan wonton/gyoza/dumpling/potsticker wrappers existed. They don’t, apparently.

Back at home, I decided to make my own.

Oh yes, I did.

And that’s how I found myself up to my eyebrows in brown rice and tapioca flour yesterday afternoon.

I don’t have photos of the process because my hands were covered in flour for hours. I do have an image of the (uncooked) finished product:

As for the taste, I’d say they closely resembled my usual recipe. A little off, but not by much.

If anything, this little experiment has made me aware of just how many animal products we consume daily — even when we don’t think we are consuming any.

Wishing you all the best, and hoping you continue to have more and better options,
Beth

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Dear Loyal (?) Readers:

Want to peek into how my mind works? Here you go:

I read a news story about a guy who swallowed a garden slug on a dare and died. (To be clear, it was eight years later from a disease the slug had called RAT LUNGWORM — gross — but still).

So naturally, I thought of that “What are little boys made of?” poem:

What are little boys made of?
Snips and snails and puppy dog tails.
That’s what little boys are made of!
What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice and all things nice.
That’s what little girls are made of!

And then I started thinking about what I would be made of (hint: It ain’t sugar and all that). And because I’m a little addicted to TV, here’s a guide to me in shows:

Two parts “Jersey Shore Family Vacation (Truth is stranger than fiction. It’s why I became a journalist.)
Two parts “The Amazing Race (I love to travel, and I’m competitive. I would sell a kidney to be on that show.)
One part “Chopped (I like to cook, and I have a pantry full of odd things from the Buford Highway Farmers Market.)
One part “Oddities(This captures my bad taxidermy obsession.)
A large helping of “Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce (Because, you know.)
A pinch of “Naked Attraction (I often work blue in non-work situations. I also love Brits. As you know.)
A dash of “Haunting of Hill House (Gore? Jump scares? True crime? I’m in.)

I don’t know, Michael. I don’t know.

Anyway, if you continue to be amused by what crosses my mind and comes out on the page, please subscribe to this blog. If you do already, thanks!

Yours in slugs, lungworm and guidos,
Beth

 

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Dear Trish,

The family and I are in Arizona because of you, my long-time blog cast member. This is not my kind of place, and I can’t believe you willingly came to live here.

The pilot told us the temperature as we were landing: 102 degrees. That’s not hospitable for human life.

When we walked out of the Phoenix airport, a furnace blast nearly killed me on the spot. Remember that guy whose face melted in “Raiders of the Lost Ark?” Like that.

Stop with that “at least it is a dry heat” crap. It’s a hot heat. So hot. Hotter than Kid Rock’s “So Hott.” Satan’s sunroom hot. Like I crawled into a pizza oven hot.

We drove to Sedona in air-conditioned comfort — thank God — but the poor Chevy Cruze did struggle.

You know what we saw on the way? Dirt.

Dust.

Cacti.

Cacti giving us the finger.

Who lives here voluntarily? What the HECK, Trish!?

You are paler than I am. How can you stand it?

I’ve put my lily-white skin in peril for you. You know I wouldn’t miss your big day, even though you and Irv did decide to get married on the same date Eddie and I did. You date hog, you.

Well, at least we spent our anniversary doing something fun. Sedona turns out to be one lovely spot in this godforsaken land. Thanks for choosing it as the final destination.

And you clean up nice, so there’s that.

As much as I’m complaining here, you know we would not have missed your big day.

Love you, and congratulations!
Beth

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Dear Friends:

I’ve always been fascinated by astrology. You probably could have guessed this, but I’m a Sagittarius. A textbook Sagittarius.

A boss I had in college ran my chart, and shared with me that I have Virgo rising. That explained so much: my touch of OCD, Type A personality, mad copyediting skilz, obsession with my calendar.

I recently started following Astro Poets on Twitter* – an account that makes me laugh regularly. Consider that the inspiration for the following list.

Signs of the Zodiac and my feelings about people born under them:

Aries (March 21-April 19)
This is probably the best match for me. Nothing I do scares/worries an Aries. Eddie, Brian, Hannah – all Aries.

Taurus (April 20-May 20)
Ruh roh, Raggy. Danger, Will Robinson. Males and females of this sign mystify me. I am routinely bothered by their stubbornness and tendency to be passive aggressive (except Petra who is the most straightforward person I know — must have a Sag rising). My dad was a Taurus. (Hey there, daddy issues!)

Gemini (May 21-June 20)
I don’t think I know any female Geminis (out yourself in the comments if I’m wrong), but I dig the dudes. I dated one in college, and we are still friends. (He is the one who reminded me about my Tommy Stinson experience.) Johnny Depp is a Gemini. I’m sure we would be “friends.” Gideon is a Gemini. We get along swimmingly.

Cancer (June 21-July 22)
Two of my closest friends – one from high school (Julia) and one from college (36-hour Tina) – are Cancers. Frequent partner in crime René is a Cancer. My mom was a Cancer. (Can you imagine? A Taurus and a Cancer trying to parent a Sagittarius? I was like a zoo exhibit to them.) One thing though: Don’t ever get on a Cancer’s bad side.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22)
They can be arrogant (for good reason), but I always get along well with Leos.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22)
The workaholic sign (right, Sophia and Patty-poo?). They love them some calendar invites. Thanks to my Virgo rising, I get it.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22)
We get along like gangbusters then … crickets. I’ve gotten sudden radio silence from both men and women. Then weeks, months, sometimes years later, we’re back on, and I’m still bewildered. Libra women are masters of the silent treatment.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21)
Scorpio is to me as catnip is to cats. Longest-term boyfriend? Scorpio. Adam Ant? Scorpio. Emma Stone (on whom I have a girl crush)? Scorpio. Like Libras, they can do silent treatment. Flurry of communication, then dead air.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21)
Interestingly enough, the men of this sign can be troublesome for me because we may be too much alike. Dominic is a fellow Sag, and every day brings a new friction point. The women, though? Different story. Fast friendships that last forever. (Hey Khaki and Kim!)

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 19)
I love male Capricorns. I dated a Capricorn, and we are still friends. They always have a fantastic sense of humor and like to push the envelope just as much as I do. No surprise that The Royce, my Savannah BFF, is a goat. Female Capricorns tend to hate me. I think I’m too much for them.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 18)
Two close female friends are Aquarians. I bond with one over volleyball and the other over Duran Duran. An ex is an Aquarian, and he’s a great human. Very funny. All good.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20)
Another catnip sign. Pisces men are completely irresistible to me. My longest-running crush in grade/high school was a Pisces. Every one I’ve known has been an artist of some sort. They tend to be awful about consistent (read: normal) written communication (text, email, social media), which drives me crazy. My friend Edgar — a painter (the fine artist kind, not the house kind) — is a Pisces. This is what his phone looks like usually.

The women in my life who are this sign are fantastic, and I love them all. They are good electronic communicators.

As a Sag, I’m blunt by nature. I certainly don’t want to upset anyone. These obviously are generalities. And, of course, I don’t know the zodiac sign of many people I interact with every day.

So tell me your sign in the comments. We’ll either laugh knowingly or be surprised.

And if you are a male Pisces or a Scorpio, send photos privately so I can admire you from a distance.

Just kidding.

Maybe.

(Eh, I know your communication style, so I don’t have to worry.)

Yours in pseudoscience,
The Archer

*All images in this post attributed to that account.

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Dear British TV Producers:

It’s like you know me — like you are developing stuff just for me. As I’ve mentioned before, there is nothing that makes me happier than an evening of British TV.

Last time I visited, I became addicted to “Naked Attraction.” That still is on the list, but I watched new shows too this time:

The Only Way is Essex
Kind of like an upmarket “Jersey Shore.” Nothing happens in any episode, though.

Love Island
Like the “Dating Game” got it on with “Big Brother.” Again, nothing seemed to happen except folks hated on Dr. Alex.

8 out of 10 Cats
Game show? Talk show? Hard to tell.

Would I Lie to You
To Tell the Truth” meets Jimmy Fallon’s “Two Truths and a Lie.” I’m a fan of David Mitchell (with his beard, of course), so that led to …

Peep Show
What an odd show. It’s a little like “The Office” with a dash of “Spaced.”

“Peep Show” Mitchell (aka Austin Powers) vs. Lying Mitchell. Am I wrong?

Mock the Week
The Daily Show” with “Real Time with Bill Maher.”

Friday Night Dinner
A sitcom where two adult sons come home each Friday for dinner with Mom and Dad. I wanted to murder the idiot sons.

Four in a Bed
Innkeepers visit and rate each others’ establishments to “win.” Insults and hard feelings ensue. Who brings a UV light to check the toilets before staying at a B&B?

Who is America?
Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest venture. As if I’m not embarrassed enough. How can I explain two sitting Republican congressmen, Dana Rohrabacher (California) and Joe Wilson (South Carolina), wanting to arm toddlers? I can’t. I’m going to tell people I’m Canadian.

And “Naked Attraction.” I just can’t get enough. Hannah* found me watching it while I was eating breakfast. What can I say? I like to start the day off right.

In fact, I’m a little jealous of host Anna Richardson’s job. In what other career path could you utter these memorable phrases?

You’ve seen everything they’ve got to give you. What’s your choice?

You have quite a pair of balls on you. That’s quite a pouch.

How do you feel? You’ve got six vaginas staring you in the face.

Not very many. That’s for sure.

Keep up the good work,
Beth

*Friend with whom I stayed on the trip. She and her husband Dave love to introduce me to new shows.

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