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Archive for the ‘Cultural differences’ Category

Dear Brits:

Yes, I still love you. One of the things I like best, as you know, is your way with words.

While I was all up in your environs recently, I spent some time shopping. Let’s discuss what I found. It’s a little … odd.

“Cloudy” lemonade does not sound appetizing. Can you just stick with the standard noun?

Strong and punchy describes a boxer, not a cheese.

I appreciate that you are trying to get folks excited about the cheese, but I’m not sure I want “citrus hints” in my “zesty and crumbly” cheese.

This just sounds gross.

I get that the place is called “Moose Coffee,” but perhaps it would be best to remove the “moose” modifier for “flavoured & specialty teas” and “natural juice.” I don’t want moose-flavored anything, to be honest.

Now THIS is genius. It’s just a tremendous write-up. Good shout!

Thank you for all the joy you unwittingly provide.

Love and sloppy, wet and squirty American kisses,
Beth

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Dear Ca Phe Viet (that’s clever, btw),

In America, businesses typically have one focus. The Container Store sells containers. Publix sells groceries. Popeye’s sells (fight-inducing) chicken.

Not you.

I visited your Manchester establishment because you had a half-star rating higher than the other Vietnamese restaurant within walking distance.

Little did I know I would get so much bang for my buck.

I had no idea I’d be able to shop for Asian specialties from the comfort of my chair while slurping up savory Ph. How handy!

See, when I walked up, I thought these three awnings represented three distinct shops.

But no. I could eat lunch, do my grocery shopping AND buy a mobile phone/change my service.

You know what I was surprised I couldn’t get? A glass of water. You know, like regular water with ice in it.

When I asked for water, the server blinked a few times like she was trying to process the word. Then she brought me a mug of hot water.

But I guess you’re great at multitasking: selling calling plans, restocking sriracha, putting the kettle on.

So thanks for forcing me to try new things, such as hot water as a beverage with hot soup. Like you, I’ve branched out.

Kính thư,
Beth

* Thanks, Rick Ross.

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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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