Sunday, 27 January 2008

Windy Baw

So, just last week, the question was put to me whether there is ever any communication confusion between myself and E due to accents, vocabulary etc. My answer was that it was mostly misunderstanding on my own part due to the rapidity with which the Welsh accent can be dispatched.

However, an incident has occurred which makes me feel less like I need either a hearing aid (which I might) or a translator.

As we all know, E is a rugby fan. He is not very much a football/soccer fan. His term for football/soccer is 'Wendy Ball', as in 'Oh, there is no need to go there; they are just showing the Wendy Ball.' (meaning, 'for sissies', or other gamist points of view) The other day, as my poor feetsies were pitiful from the wrinkled-up inside soles of my boots and I needed a short rest, we went into a pub, and when E returned to the table, I said, 'Well, sorry we had to come in here.. they are showing the Wendy Ball...' To which E replied in genuine confusion, 'What?'

Conversation continued thus:
A: 'The Wendy Ball...?'
E: 'Windy Baw?????'
A: 'Yeah. The Wendy Ball...' (with slight rise in intonation as to question sanity)
E: 'Windy Baw' (with slight downtone as to question sanity)
A: 'Yes. You know, Wendy Ball!'
E: 'What is Windy Baw?'
A: 'Ummmm....' (points at t.v.)
E: 'Ooohhh! Wehhhhhndeee Bawllllll' (with far-too-exaggerated vowels)
A: 'Well, yeah! That is what I said....' (with a 'y' in sayudd just for emphasis)

We shall push forward in our linguistic efforts.

Wee shore weeyull, shuggah!

Monday, 21 January 2008

Armadillos in Amarillo

That song is still here...

That 'Is This the Way to Amarillo' song. It has been in every pantomime I have been to so far, this year's rendition involving a ship called the HMS Armadillo. (You can just guess where this took us -- a clapping, singing, swaying mayhem. That is where. I am so ashamed.) I cannot seem to get away from it, and my protestations have caused people to tell me this is a British song. My instincts are all against this being true, but Clem and Eamonn are very proud to call me wrong. They do relent that an American wrote it (Neil Sedaka), but put their lower jaws out in a rather prideful way that a Tony Christie released it first in 1971.

Wikipedia says this song 'remains generally unknown in the United States' -- but I remember listening to it on KWKH in the '70s and there are a few of you out there who remember this, so help me! Was this some random British bloke singing about losing Marie in Amarillo? Fie, I say, FIE!

This is all very distressing.

On another, perhaps more realistic, distressing note (in a positive way. Is this the chemical imbalance coming out?), Charlie Wilson's War was very enjoyable this evening. It is the second movie involving Afghanistan which I have seen in the past two weeks (the other being The Kite Runner). I shall have to investigate some history now (since I wasn't the most aware child from 1987-oh, two Thursdays ago), but it is a shame that the US went in and 'changed the world' and then 'f---ed up the end game.' It is interesting to me, although my claim to fame is not as a global analyst, that the same thing might happen again and we might eff off out of where we have 'saved' (if indeed we want to use the verb, since we really don't know what the hecks is happening -- good or bad.)... Just not sure. But Philip Seymour Hoffman does continue to impress me, in a begrudging sort of way.

And for those who have not seen The Kite Runner, your pitiful little problems in life will seem as important as they truly are when you see this (and I am about to start the book, as there are lots of things left out apparently). While the main character irritated the bejeezus out of me for most of the movie, it was entirely relvant to his character and later decisions. Very poignant for us comfortable US children of the '70s.

Saturday, 12 January 2008

No Pants 2k8

Just about now, my illustrious and creative Cousine L. is roaming through NYC with no pants, and I am so proud! If only I were there (and 20 pounds thinner), we could make family history. Or infamy. And that would make us giggle!

Today is the 7th Annual No Pants! Subway Ride, and this year, there are 10 locations participating.
NOTE: This is 'pants' in the American sense, Dawny :)

Requirements for participation are:
1) Willingness to take pants off on subway
2) Ability to keep straight face about it (this would be the part where I might falter)

Not to objectivise L., but rumour has it she will have black boyshort underpants on.

Buttermilk and barns

My reason for dawdling in getting blogging in the new year is that I am in denial that it has actually begun. However, I am very much looking forward to writing dates this year, as 8 is one of my favourite digits to write. (Hello, my name is Amrie, and I like to do drawerings of numbers... were you looking at my bum?)

What this country needs is more buttermilk. Buttermilk is only sold in these 1/2 pint non-resealable containers and is really too thick to be drunk, this probably being the reason that acquaintances recoil in horror at the mention that one might miss drinking buttermilk. These poor souls don't know what they are missing -- mmmm, mmm, good! (This reaction also extends to my fellow Americans in the office, although they are from questionable locales of Ohio and Oregon, where buttermilk drinking appears to be punishable by law.) I am going to go with the thickness of the buttermilk being the justifiable reason that my New Year cornbread stuck to the pan. Other NYD fare included a sort of soupey-type concoction with peas and lentils made with left over phea-duck-en from Christmas. Eamonn has informed me that one is meant to put baking soda in when cooking cabbage -- is this true?

The 3000-piece puzzle of Venice on Ascention Day has been abandoned after the holly-day. It was a bit of an ambitious task and when one has a fairly tiny floor to begin with, it becomes slightly annoying to have the odd puzzle piece stuck to the bottom of your foot.

Working for an educational institution is really quite nice at the holiday time, since you get an actual holiday, instead of an unreasonable teaser of paid leave (i.e., Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day only). This allowed me to completely ruin my body clock and find it horrible challenging to emerge into the early dark cold on 2 January. But we don't like to complain :)

During the holiday period of telly advertising, which on the positive side, does not begin in earnest nearly as obnoxiously early as in the US (I mean, August is really too ridiculous to be able to appreciate carols), I made an observation of linguistic interest. For shops that are trying to target the 'sensible' shopper, producers use Scottish accents. Morrison's is the one that springs to mind because their ads are still on post-holiday, but there are others. Yorkshire accents are used for adverts for things that are homey and cosy. It is just interesting to note. I find that I am starting to be able to pick these things up, and it is cool to notice one's ear-volution. titter

And now, on to the barn topic (which is really not the actual subject, but for alliterative purposes, you know...).

For several years now, I have been wrinkly-nosed about farmed chicken (and I know the issue extends to other meats as well), after reading an enlightening article in The New Yorker, which unfortunately was then misplaced and which I have been completely unable to locate since. The memorable parts of this article were the conditions in which chickens 'live' and the effects that antibiotics and growth hormones are having on the hormonal composition of society as a whole, most notably, early puberty and complications arising from this.

The chicken industry was highlighted in The Independent and other media over the past week or so, and Jamie Oliver (aka, The Naked Chef to my BBC America-viewer readers) hosted a disturbing and informative show last evening, Jamie's Fowl Dinners. It was grim and even worse than the images I already had regarding farming and how conditions are driven by consumer demand for ever cheaper meat -- I mean, do you really think that a whole chicken that is £2.50 is going to be anything that you want to put into your body?

Pound for pound, chicken that we eat is cheaper than some dog food. Something is terrifically awry here...

He brought in actual machinery and live chickens and demonstrated most of the aspects of life and death -- including:
* gassing on live television of male chicks, since they are no use in egg production
* slaughtering a chicken through electrocution and bleeding it out through its mouth
* MRM production (this means 'mechanically recovered meat') -- this is done using the carcasses of egg-laying chickens after they have reached their prime, generally a year (the average lifespan of a normal chicken is 8-10 years).
After the breasts are cut off for use in those lovely ready-made microwave meals, the legs are cut off for exportation to Europe, and the feet and necks are cut off for exportation to China, the carcasses are put into a huge vat, after which they are pressed with a multi-ton weight to squish out all that can be squished through sausage tube holes in the bottom, to create a 'paste-like and batter-like meat product', according to Wikipedia. This is used to make various things like hotdogs and other processed foods. yum. My personal habit is to avoid anything that uses a food or beverage noun followed by the word 'product' -- blech!

A few salient facts for people who don't want to have to go and read about it:
* lifespan of a meat-bred chicken: 38 days (from chick to slaughter weight)
* price per chicken that a farmer gets for a meat-bred chicken: 3 pence
* broken eggs are made into separate consumables known as 'wet egg' products (there is that 'product' word again), including the delectable-looking long egg. ewww

I must work hard so as to be able to afford my own personal organic farm... and I am really quite serious. I shall also make my own buttermilk and have you all 'round for dinner.