Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Oh Romantic Comedy, Why Are You Such A Sucky Genre?

gavin and i were talking about rom-coms tonight (a genre that he is NOT a fan of). we had a bit of a tiff about what actually constitutes a romantic comedy and what doesn't. in light of our argument (and the fact that we found no resolution) i decided to put it to all of you...
i've come up with a list (or four) of rom-coms. the first is a list of movies that i think are undeniably rom-coms, ones that i actually think are good (and why). the second is rom-coms that are most certainly rom-coms and most certainly suck. thirdly, rom-coms that are and that are good in that cracky sort of way. the fourth is the heart of the debate. movies that are awesome, but are they actually romantic comedies? you'll see why it's even up for debate when i come to them.
let's start with a few ground rules. all of these films are contemporary. i decided not to go back into those older films like 'bringing up baby' because i felt like maybe a lot of people haven't seen them and well, because i wanted to talk about modern film and it's my blog so i do what i like, damn it.
come to think of it, that's the only ground rule. i'm sure you'll notice that there are some films that i've just totally left out (i don't want to talk about 'pretty woman', i just don't) but you'll either have to comment about how you feel that it was horrible for me to have left it out or you'll have to just suck it up. now that i've yelled at everyone, let's begin...

romantic comedies that we KNOW are romantic comedies and that we love...
1. 4 weddings and a funeral-- ok, so this one may be a little trite (and we can hold it singularly responsible for inflicting hugh grant on the world- god help us!) but i still think that it holds up as a good rom-com. most of the characters are pretty fantastic (and SO bloody english!) and there are some quite good laughs and it fits the formula (boy meets girl, boy falls for girl, boy gets girl, boy loses girl, boy wins girl back). the people are pretty and everyone is happy in the end. there are tears (i defy you to not sniffle at least a little when john hannah reads wh auden's 'funeral blues' over the coffin of his partner) and laughs and happy endings. way to go, richard curtis. we'll be talking with you again soon.

2. coming to america- oh, i bet you forgot about this one, didn't you? it's not one that you think of right away but it IS a rom-com. again, totally fits the formula (boy meets girl, falls for girl, girl starts falling for boy, boy loses girl, girl decides to move to africa to marry the boy after all). this is from back in the day when eddie murphy was actually funny and not such a douche.

3. groundhog day- so, andie mcdowel (sp), we meet again... this movie is a classic. how can you say it's not? bill murray is beautiful (as he so often is. i would like to say here that 'rushmore' would totally be a candidate for one of those maybe/maybe not rom-coms but it's not on my list... i now kind of wish that it was) and the story is great. it's touching and sad and funny and fits our aforementioned formula in it's own day repeating itself way.
oh, and i've always wanted to do this if i get pulled over and i know i'm going to jail anyway (i wouldn't though-- robin and i talk about this a lot)

4. joe vs the volcano- ah, a rom-com from the people who made all of the rom-coms that people think are good but aren't. tom hanks and meg ryan deliver an actually funny film in this one (remember when tom hanks was funny? yeah, it was a looooong time ago but it's back there). it's not people who've never met yet somehow fall in love 'sleepless in seatle' and it's not oh so crappy 'you've got mail'. it's quirky, it's touching and it has its tongue firmly planted in its cheek. if you haven't seen this one, you should. if you have, think about it again and i'm sure you'll be running to blockbuster.

5. ghost town- i actually love this movie. it didn't do very well in theaters and i'm not totally sure why. it's very ricky gervais (maybe people just don't buy his as a romantic lead, i dunno). it's funny and it's sweet and you actually believe that tea leone (and let's be real, she's WAY out of ricky's league) would fall for him. if you like ricky (the office, extras) then you'll like this movie. there are just no two ways about it. it's a bit metaphysical but whatever, that adds to the fun. at its heart it's just a sweet movie about a jackass who falls for the great girl and has to win her over (again-- boy falls for girl, boy sort of gets girl, boy loses girl, boy wins girl back). it follows the formula but allows the comedic genius in ricky gervais to really shine.
so, i was just looking around youtube for clips from this movie to put up and i realized something. maybe it didn't do so well because it's TOTALLY not billed as a rom-com. it's billed as this weird movie that's all about ricky gervais talking to a dead greg kinear (who is also pretty damn funny). too bad the marketing let this film down. in the end, all i could find was the stupid trailer but i suppose it's better than nothing.

6. love actually- so, we've come back around to richard curtis (who wrote 4 weddings). this one was actually his directorial debut. i think that the jury's out for a lot of people about this movie but i really liked it. although some of the cast bothers me (seriously, richard, step AWAY from hugh grant!) i think that some of the actors in it are marvelous (alan rickman, emma thompson, liam neeson, colin firth, chiwetel ejifor...) and the movie really is quite well done. it's got that curtis mix of love and laughs and heartbreak. i also kind of love the fact that it's a bunch of little love stories all going on at once. it's sort of the rom-com version of six degrees of separation. even if you don't like one of the mini-story lines just wait a hot second and you'll be in the middle of another one. also, i like that it's christmasy (i don't know why). and, come on, any film in which colin firth ends up jumping into a lake can't be all bad.

7. dan in real life- this movie took me totally by surprise when i saw it. i didn't even know about it until it was already on dvd (maybe it never made it to theaters, i don't know). i saw that it was steve carell (who i love) and so just went with it. then i got the lovely surprise that is juliette binoche. dane cook is in it, too but he really isn't that bad (i usually dislike him intensely). it's just such a sweet and funny movie and it has a pretty spectacular soundtrack by sondre lerche. this is one of those that you just have to see. i can tell you about the plot but it won't do it justice. like 'little miss sunshine' this movie proves that steve carell is more than just a goofball. again, all i could find is the preview but i think it's worth watching.

i think we should move on to rom-coms that we love because they're so bad (but we still love them)
1. just my luck- there are a number of reasons that i love this movie (although it really is SO bad). i kind of love lindsey lohan even though i don't know why, they filmed it in nola (shot to look like new york) and our very own meeg is not only an extra but he can actually be seen in a number of scenes (awesome). let's just call it what it is though. it's crack. it's probably killing your brain cells but it's good fun anyway. i tried to locate the meeg clip on youtube but couldn't. if you do watch this movie wait for the scene when she's going into the art gallery and stare straight ahead to the people already there. you will see meeg standing there in the distance. keep an eye out during the gallery scene because he pops up a few times. yey meeg!

2. kate & leopold- meeg and i like to talk about this movie sometimes. it's yet another meg ryan masterpiece in which she falls in love with a duke who has come forward from the 19th century (hugh jackman). yeah, so the movie is pretty crappy all around and maybe it's only cracky goodness for people like meeg and myself who love the fact that hugh jackman's character is based on an actual person. we enjoy sitting around talking about the inaccuracies in the character and plot line based on what we know about the real guy. if you kind of love/hate historical inaccuracy then this will be a great watch for you. if you don't care about that stuff then maybe skip this one because jackman is awkward and ryan is shrill. the fun is in the ridiculousness of it all.

3. she's all that- ah, i love it when they take a pretty girl, slap glasses on her and make out that she's awkward and ugly (and you know that the scene in which they take off her glasses and put her in some nice clothes and, hey presto! she's hot, is coming). maybe it's not really THIS movie that i love but the whole ugly duckling (who we all can plainly see isn't actually ugly) is for some reason turned into a swan corner of the rom-com market. again, the ridiculousness is what makes it good (and bad).

4. just one of the guys- this is sort of a classic (and perhaps the quintessential girl posing as boy falls for another boy and then has to reveal that she's actually a girl rom-com). i think that everyone's probably seen this one since it was made in the 80s. it really is so bad (and the bad guy from the karate kid is in it) but it's cracktacular. i also love how nobody can tell that the 'boy' is CLEARLY a girl (although maybe this one pulls of the maleness the best. amanda bines doesn't do as well in that soccer movie that she made).

i think it's about time that we turn our attention to some just out and out BAD rom-coms. these are the ones that give all other rom-coms a bad name
1. you've got mail- i thought that i'd start with this one since you'd think that it would be good. it stars two of the people who were in one of the 'good' rom-coms, meg ryan and tom hanks but that doesn't help it at all. oh yeah, greg kinear was in it, too (and parker posey, come to think of it). ugh, whatever, no amount of good actors is going to make this film anything but what it is-- sucky. it was an attempt to rekindle the magic (if you can call it that) of 'sleepless in seatle'. this is like the movie i'm going to mention next in that they clearly just picked up any script and thought maybe it would do well just because it was hanks and ryan reunited. instead it's a hollow shell of a film. i don't like the characters and even the actors seem not to as they all phone in their performances. really, this is one to be missed.

2. runaway bride- this is the other reunion film that i was talking about. repairing richard gere and julia roberts after 'pretty woman'. it doesn't seem like they did too much work looking for a script though and came up with some bullshit. seriously, gere and roberts fall in love after they've known each other for like 3 days. it's crap. i hate it when that happens. an attraction is one thing, saying you're going to get married after a week is just a recipe for divorce. this movie was so bad that it hurts my brain to think about it.

3. 27 dresses- oh, katherine heigl, how i loathe you. do we really have to talk about why this is an awful movie? girl who loves weddings ends up having to plan the wedding of her dream man to her own sister >gasp<. as she does so some aspiring journalist stuck in the wedding announcements section decides to covertly do a piece on her. they fall in love but his editor publishes the awful piece about her anyway, blah blah blah. oh, it's just so awful. who the hell loves weddings so much that they volunteer to be bride's maids in 27 weddings?!? who even knows that many people who are getting married?! it's ridiculous and the only person in the cast i even like is james marsden (shame on you, james, for even making this crapfest of a movie!).

4. the ugly truth- katherine heigl strikes again (and this time she brings gerard butler down with her). admittedly, gerry boy does himself no favors in this film. this is another one in which it took me 20 minutes to figure out where the hell this guy is meant to be from. is he american? is he scottish? was he born in scotland and maybe lived there for 10 or so years and then moved to america so his accent is just super diluted? who the hell knows. gerry, just use your own accent! it's really lovely and you CAN'T do an american one, i don't care what they keep telling you. it's wrong, just wrong. heigl's character is super high maintenance and bitchy and butler's is crass and a bit of a prick. so, we like them when they get together and sort of mellow each other out? no, we don't. why? because we've spent so much of the movie disliking them that we couldn't care less what happens and sort of wish that they would both just die at the end. that being said, gerry is nice to look at so we'll have a clip (he really does say everything he can to make people gasp in this clip. seriously-- did you have to say 'vag'? we knew what you were going for. totally not needed.)

i could go on about bad rom-coms but i won't waste your time (or mine). we all know what they are, we all know that sandra bullock and/or hugh grant are in most of them and we know how to avoid them. now, i'd like to move on to the last part of my post-- rom-coms that i'm not really sure are even rom-coms (but i think are AMAZING pieces of cinematic art).

1. eternal sunshine of the spotless mind- who knew jim carey could be in a movie and NOT pull ridiculous faces and act like an idiot? i didn't, but i can see how it would take genius like charlie kaufman (who also wrote 'adaptation' and 'being john malcovich') to do it. kate winslet is lovely and the rest of the cast are great even though i have mixed feelings about some of them (that's right, kirsten dunst, i'm looking at you). i'm not even going to being trying to explain the plot of this movie. if you've seen it then you'll understand why. i could do it but that's an entry unto itself. if you haven't seen it, you MUST. it's beautiful. it's sad and funny and touching and experimental and not trite or contrived at all. it's one of those movies that you'll see more than once and that'll stick with you long after the dvd is over.

2. wristcutters, a love story-- i didn't see this one coming (although i should have. patrick fugit seems to have pretty flawless taste- and tom waits is in it, too). i rented it once and never watched it. then one day it came on tv and i did. i loved it. it's about this kid (patrick fugit) who kills himself when his girlfriend breaks up with him. he ends up in this dim pseudo-reality where suicides live out eternity. they work, they have apartments-- it's just like the real world only far more depressing (no one can smile, they just don't have the ability). he finds out one day that the girl he killed himself over committed suicide shortly after he did and he sets out on a roadtrip with this crazy guy he meets to find her. along the way they meet shannon sossamon (sp) who is looking for 'the people in charge' because she maintains she's there on accident, she didn't kill herself. along the way the run into all kinds of crazy, cool people (tom waits) and they listen to some excellent music (gogol bordello). since most of you probably haven't seen it, i won't say anymore but i really do think this is one of those movies that deserves to be on this list. it's well imagined, well acted, funny, weird, touching and makes you not want to kill yourself. i'd say that's something you always want out of a movie.

3. science of sleep- yeah, gael garcia bernal can pretty much do no wrong. mix him up in with a weird love story set in paris/his dream world (which he can't distinguish from reality most of the time) and i can't get enough of this film. it's hard to say what it's really about other than a guy who is mexican/french who falls in love with his french neighbor. the crazy loveliness of it comes in because he's a dreamer-- literally. he sleeps and has these insanely vivid dreams. he can never tell what part of his life is real and what is the dream. it's simply magical. i also love that it's weirdly tri-lingual. sometimes they're speaking in french but bernal's character's french is really bad so sometimes it's in english (and others it's in spanish).
sidebar- while looking for the trailer on youtube i found out that the guy who directed this also did 'eternal sunshine' totally makes sense.

4. waitress- this is another one that took me by surprise. not least because i don't like what's her face (the chick from 'felicity'). it took a long time for me to come around to watching this one but when i finally did i thought it was amazing. it sort of reminds me of 'pushing daisies' because the felicity chick is a pie-maker. it's hard to actually call this a romantic comedy though because it's not the sort of happy ending that you'd expect from one (granted, 'eternal sunshine' and 'science of sleep' don't have very cut and dry happy endings, either'). i'm still going to shove this one in that category though. it's funny and bizarre (not as bizarre as the other films on this list) and the best parts are when she's making up pies. i love the names she gives them (like 'bad babby pie' when she finds out she's pregnant with her horrible husband's baby). it's one of those films that wasn't promoted well. it's a shame, too because it really deserves to be on everyone's favorites list.

5. amelie- possibly my favorite movie ever. how can you NOT love this movie? jeunet is a genius ('city of the lost children', 'delicatessen', 'a very long engagement'), the cast is wonderful (audrey tautou alone makes any movie worth watching) and the story really is magical. i love everything about this movie, from the green tint to paris uber-romanticized to the whimsical way everyone is introduced with things they like and don't like (the narration is brilliant). i'm sure that everyone has seen this film already, it was so terribly popular when it came out (and for good reason). i love the little games that amelie plays and the way her imagination sets the tone for the entire film. it's so very french, so very funny, so very sad and so very beautiful. it's everything that a romantic comedy (?) should be. if you haven't seen it then that's a crime, if you have then you should probably see it again. it'll make you want to run away to paris and fall in love.

ok kids, i think that's about enough from me. i'm sure you're tired of thinking about rom-coms anyway. i hope that this has a least inspired you to go out and see a few feel good films that may or may not actually be romantic comedies. happy falling in love!

Monday, November 30, 2009

what's up with that?

yo, i really have no idea what's up with my lack of posting lately. the last few posts (which were ages ago) were lame, just youtubed nonsense. such a blog post cop-out. can't think of something- -let someone else do the talking.
i would love to say that i have something really interesting that i want to school everyone about, but that would just be a blatant lie. so, what's been on my mind lately? NOTHING. for the last few minutes i've been thinking about how i want an invite to google wave and that i should have taken my friend up on it when it was offered to me a few weeks ago. i didn't know what it was (i still don't, really) and i declined. now i'm digging on the idea of having it, even if i'm not going to use it, and i want it. i'm very impressed that google has managed to create something and make me want it without even telling me what it is. kudos. that's some good stuff you're layin' down, g-men.
other than my 15 minute long g-wave frenzy, i got nuthin'. thanksgiving was non-existent (you know, because there were no pilgrims or native americans in scotland). that totally makes me think about christina ricci in addams family values and that kind of fantastic thanksgiving play scene
which then makes me think about how christina ricci went from this...
to this...

and that freaks me out.
yeah, so... thanksgiving. that went by and nothing happened. now it's almost december and everybody's talking about christmas and what-not. this would be a really good time for me to get a job since all of the shops are looking for christmas help. i sent off my application for my national insurance number and am just waiting (and waiting) to get it back so that i can't start a' lookin'.
i'll keep you posted on any jobs/job related awesome discounts on cool stuff that might come up. i think that it's going to be a pretty rough holiday season. i'm going to miss my family and friends a lot. i'm trying to convince gavin that paris is the best place to spend new years (or hogamany in edinburgh at the very least-- we'll talk about how they call it hogamany here and why at some later date).
oh, i went to the dentist today. had a cavity. thought british dental care was going to be barbaric. was wrong, wasn't that bad. have a doctor's appointment wednesday... this is how exciting my life is (sigh).
i have been writing, although i hit a bit of a stumbling block and had to backtrack and rewrite a bunch of stuff. ah well, it was bound to happen. think i'm getting close to the end of the new novel now (barring anymore stumbling blocks). i think that this one will actually be more market friendly. while i'm shopping this one out i'm going to rework the first one so that maybe SOMEDAY someone will buy the damn thing from me and let somebody else read it (fingers crossed).
hmm, what else is going on? i suppose that's it, really. i'm uber excited about the saints this season. having said that, i've probably just jinxed them for tonight's game. for right now though, at this very second in time (which i am going to freeze forever with this post) the SAINTS are 10-0. lemme hear ya say, "who dat?!"

so, we'll be watching the game come 1:30am. wishing that we could be back in nola watching it with all of our peeps.
i must say that i'm loving this arctic winter, though. ffffreezing, yes, but i can't get enough. i think we're going to get a christmas tree next week. it might even snow. i guess that's about all i've got. i promise to be good and write more soon (and more often).
for now-- thanks for stopping by, happy monday, roll on december and tom brady throws like a girl (a little girl with ribbons in her hair) GEAUX SAINTS!!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

When all else fails I know that I can always count on Dara.

this isn't to say that anything is actually failing, things are going pretty well actually. i just wanted to give a little shout out to my new pal, dara o'brien. he's the host of 'mock the week' and he's fecking hilarious. check him out...

Friday, September 25, 2009

Newsflash: Britain sends frantic Facebook message to the US: "I thought you said we were BFFs. I still love you, do you still love me?"

Ahhh, every politico and news corespondent here in Britain is in a flutter over the perceived 'snubbing' of Prime Minister Gordon Brown by Obama at the G20 in Pittsburgh (by the way, can someone PLEASE fill me in on WHY THE HELL THEY WOULD HOLD THE G20 IN PITTSBURGH?!). there has been endless news coverage and speculation about the demise of the 'special relationship' between the uk and us. in keeping with its role as the 'needier' of the two friends (i can totally relate to that) britain has been showing its true colo(u)rs by endlessly speculating that 'the united states just doesn't love us like they used to'. desperate for validation and some sort of reassurance from the us that their status as first on the list of 'top friends' the bbc and other news agencies are doing all they can to assure the worried populace that the states really does need britain almost as much as britain needs the us (if it weren't for us all of their military actions would actually be unilateral! we're the only ones that allow them to say they were multilateral! they need us!). a lot of the reassurance being offered by the bbc is falling on deaf ears, though. the people know that now that america has obama that they might not need the uk to be BFFs anymore. obama's popular enough in europe (and really everywhere OTHER than the us) to have his pick of new BFFs. seriously, britain is worried. in response america is assuring britain that they'll always have a 'special relationship' and that maybe it's just time to see what it's like to spend a little time apart ("it's not like we kicked you off the bowling team!"). adding that, "it's not you, it's us", america has slightly deferred but not squelched the fingernail biting nervousness of the people of britain ("ok, but you're going to call us this weekend, right? wait, was that a yes? well, i'll call you if i haven't heard from you by sunday, ok? is that ok? wait... where are you going?!?!").
here's gordon brown looking longingly at obama for a hint that they're still BFFs... poor Gordon.

go to http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8272061.stm to see gordon brown insist that BFF means FOREVER (or click on the title of this entry to go directly to the video)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Easiest Hard Game Show In The UK

ok, so there's this game show here called, 'eggheads'. in it, a group of five contestants (a team of people who all know each other somehow) are pitted against these 5 people (same ones every week) who are somehow the best quiz show contestants in british history. one of them won 'who wants to be a millionaire', one of them (the most impressive one) won some show called '15 to 1' (which is now off the air but was apparently really, really hard) no less than 3 times, one of them won brain of britain... and that's not all they've won. let's just say that these five people have a score of quiz/game show wins between them (some of them amazingly impressive). so, the thing is that there's a preliminary part in which there's a specific area of knowledge (like arts and books or science). one of the contestants picks an 'egghead' to go up against in a head to head. they answer three multiple choice questions each. if, at the end of that, they are tied, it goes to sudden death in which the questions are no longer multiple choice. this is usually where the contestants lose to their chosen 'egghead'. whomever loses the head to head is knocked off. this happens four times until they come down to the last person (who does not do a head to head). this is when the show moves into the 'general knowledge' section. the remaining team members (those who didn't get knocked off in their head to heads) sit at the table and are allowed to confer on the questions asked. i've seen episodes where it's all 5 eggheads against one poor soul. i've also seen ones where people manage to knock off some of the eggheads (although it's rare for more than one or two eggheads to get knocked off). anyway, it's played the same way as the head to heads-- three multiple choice questions and then sudden death. the prize for the show is 1,000 pounds but every time a team loses that money rolls over to the next show. the one gavin and i just watched had a prize of 73,000 pounds.
thing is, i want to go on this with my hand-picked team (i'm looking at you here-- gavin, meeg, richard and allyson). i think we can do it. they are after all, not unbeatable...

Monday, August 31, 2009

What Are They Thinking?!?!?

this isn't as bad as iggy pop selling car insurance but still... alice, what are you thinking?!?!

at least stephen fry only does voice overs but... PET INSURANCE?!?!?!?!? oh, stephen... for shame!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Star of the 2009 World Championships in Berlin

i know what you're thinking. you're thinking that i'm going to say that the star of 2009 world championships is none other than usain bolt. with his charisma and non-stop world record breaking he is a draw no matter where he goes or what he does (which is always something spectacular). after his stunning time in the 100 meter sprint-- here he is standing next to his jaw-dropping 9.58 second time-- he went ahead to break his own world record time in the 200 meter and then contribute to the jamacain team's gold medal in the relay. already one of the best sprinters the world has ever seen, bolt is the man of the minute.
but bolt IS NOT the star that i am here to tell you about. the real star of the 2009 world championships in berlin is none other than... Berlino the bear, the mascot of this year's world championships. he is the talk of the athletic community. he is there on the sidelines with every winning athlete, hamming it up for the cameras, whipping the crowd into a frenzy, causing a stir with every camera crew that passes him (letting gold medal winning athletes walk right on by as they focus in their little crazy cameras on this utterly adorable, totally entertaining man in a bear costume).
here is the bear in the, um, fuzz, sharing the moment with one mr. bolt, making front pages world-wide by joining bolt in his customary celebration salute.
later, he ran a race with bolt (he is one of bolt's biggest fans... under his berlin 2009 number tag he wears another one that reads, 'ich bein ien bolt'), again making headlines around the world.

berlino is friends with many of the other athletes, as well, though. he's very chummy with bolt but has no shortage of friends in all other areas of athletics. here he is being lifted by the gold medal discuss champion...
i won't shame him by publishing a picture of him dropping the world champion, melanie walker, as he carried her on his back in celebration of her win. she has commented that she could see that he was clearly running towards a baracade and wasn't sure that he could see it (which he clearly didn't-- evidenced by the fact that he ran smack into it) but that even when he knocked into it, fell onto his back and onto her (he could have seriously hurt her but she was just fine and as he helped her up she laughed and continued to celebrate her 400m gold medal run) she loved every second of it.

even given that little blunder our friend berlino the bear has made this year's world championships something to truly remember. yeah, yeah, we'll all remember bolt and his spectacular speed but i think that what we'll all take away from these world championships is a new little fuzzy friend, one that will hold a place in our hearts forever. we love you, berlino. you really are the star. Ich bein ein Berlino!!

ps- and if you're thinking that it would be oh so cute to get a little Berlino momento for yourself, you're out of luck. they have sold out worldwide. time to resort to ebay, kids!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The NHS, American Health Care and the Inane Attempts to Compare Them

ok, check it. i don't know exactly what's being said in the american (undoubtedly right-wing) media about the nhs over here in britain. all i know is that a) a tory mp went on american television bashing the nhs and b) that there are some americans who are (without any knowledge about how the system here ACTUALLY works) bashing the nhs and somehow saying that obama is going to create the same situation in the states.
let's start with the most asinine of all of the parts of this story/controversy...
-obama creating a nationalized health care system in the united states.
let's get real, here, people. this is never going to happen. if you live in the states you are NEVER going to have what is essentially socialized health care. he might be talking about insurance coverage for everyone or access to medicine for everyone but he is NOT talking about setting up a comprehensive system in which the vast majority of the population get their health care from a tax payer funded nationalized scheme. i think that we all know this. americans have always had this knee-jerk aversion to the notion of anything even remotely resembling 'socialism' and every politicain knows this. something like the NHS would NEVER happen in the states. no politician would attempt it and it's not even what obama's proposing... so why the hell are americans attacking the nhs? it has nothing to do with you, your health care system, the way things are going to be or the way people want things to be. it's none of your business, frankly, and you're pissing off the closest allies you have. shut the fuck up and deal with the situation (if it's one you don't like) in a reasonable and legitimate way. use rational arguments, don't start picking on a system that's so remote to what is being proposed that you can't even see it (oh, and while i'm at it, don't criticize what you don't understand).
-that jackass tory mp
first of all, this guy is a conservative politician. remember that, over here, the liberals are (for now) in power. their government is crumbling underneath them and the tories are on the warpath. they're attacking everything they can get their hands on. this mp, though, overstepped the mark. the leader of his party, david cameron, has denounced this politician's statements and has said that the tory party fully stands behind the nhs as a viable and productive system. also, there IS private health care here in the uk. you don't HAVE to be a part of the nhs system if you can afford not to be. if you think for one second that ANY of the tory mps actually use the nhs then you are sadly mistaken. they, like american politicians, are privy to health care that the rest of us can't afford and will never see. it's just the way things are. the more money you have, the better health care you get. it's the same in the states. it's the same the world over. get used to it. it's here to stay.
-american bashing of the nhs and the way the nhs actually is
i've been in this country and have availed myself of the services of the nhs for 5 months now. this by no means makes me an expert on the system (i think a trip to the emergency room would be necessary to do that and i'm doing my utmost to avoid that particular scenario). i do, however, have first hand knowledge of how many different aspects of the system works. i will give all of you a little inside information... the nhs is by no means perfect but the nhs is actually a good system in many ways. when i first arrived here in the uk, i went down to my local health centre, filled out two pieces of paper, was seen by a nurse (to get my vitals for my chart) and within 10 minutes of stepping through the door was in the system. i made an appointment with a doctor to talk about medication and things that i needed/would need in the near future. i DID NOT have to wait a month for an appointment. in fact, i got an appointment 3 days later. one issue i do take with the nhs is that each 'regular' doctor's appointment is for 10 minutes and 10 minutes only. if you need further care you have to make a special appointment during which the doctor can see you for a longer period of time. i had to tell the doctor what i needed, give her a run-down of what i could recall of my medical history (since i don't have a comprehensive chart from any one GP- thanks, katrina) and discuss what i felt like i was going to need in the future- all in 10 minutes. if you have a cold and some other complaint, you have to hurry and discuss all of your symptoms/issues with the doctor in a relatively short period of time. i'm not used to this. i'm used to being in the states where i was, admittedly, one of the lucky ones. although i didn't have health insurance for years, my father is a doctor and therefore has many colleagues who saw me without charging me (my ob/gyn never charged me and i saw her for about 12 years). i had the privilege of having access to some of the best medical care and i could sit and talk to my doctors about what i felt was wrong for as long as i felt i needed to. having said that, i haven't had any issues with the curtailed time that i get to spend with the doctor. i have found that if you get straight to the point, you usually don't need more than 10 minutes. if blood work or exams of other sorts are needed, they are ordered and a nurse takes your blood (or whatever) and you're called back to discuss what the results were and what should happen from there. in my opinion, if you have a laundry list of problems that is going to take you more than 10 minutes to recount then perhaps it's the hospital you should be going to and not your local gp.
my other issues with the nhs are few, but important (i think). i take great issue with the fact that they only offer gynecological exams once every three years (unless you've recently had an abnormal result, in which case you are treated once every 6 months-- just like in the states). it is standard practice in the states to have one annually. there is a reason for this. things like hpv and the spread of cervical cancer are NOT things that take more than 3 years. you can go in, have a clean result, develop a papaloma and that can actually morph into stage 5 (which is cervical cancer) within 3 years. the time delay between routine checkups within the nhs system is dangerously long. on the flip-side, in the states, if you want an exam of this sort you are going to pay for it. when i DID have insurance, they wouldn't pay for my annual exam because it was 'preventative' and therefore not really necessary (admittedly, that insurance plan was horrible). if you don't have insurance, the money to pay out of pocket for it or a doctor whose husband went to medical school with your dad you won't even get an exam every three years... you won't get one at all. these aren't things that are offered at the free clinic or even charity hospital (when it was up and running-- thanks again, katrina). here in the uk you CAN pay a private doc to give you an annual exam if you can afford it (just like in the states). so really my complaint is a little insane. it amounts to the fact that they're not offering me a free exam annually (when i only got free exams in the states because i was one of the VERY fortunate few-- VERY, VERY few who have weird connections within the medical community).
my other complaint about the nhs has to do with their psychological care scheme. i have to preface this with the fact that this has to be taken with a grain of salt because in the states there is little to no access to free psychological care. unless you're being locked away by the state (which means you're going to a prison-like state-run mental care facility) you don't have the option of going to therapy and the state will foot the bill. in fact, most health insurance plans in no way cover the cost of psychological care. if you live in the states and you're fucked in the head (which, let's be honest here, we all are) you're paying out of pocket for any help you might be getting. so, to my complaint... there is nhs psych care here but it is limited. it's not like in the states where i saw my psychotherapist once every three weeks/month for an hour a session (at $165 a pop). here, you see a therapist for about 20 minutes once every two months or so. it's not enough time to get comfortable enough to start talking about issues that you might be having and it's certainly not enough time for the doctor to assess your situation and come up with an accurate diagnosis/treatment plan. i also have to say that they are loathe to treat certain psychological ailments in the same way that they do in the states. in the states, the doctors throw anti-anxiety medication at any anxiety related affliction. they have no qualms with leaving people on meds like valium and xanax for decades. here, it's not the done thing. they don't like putting people on things like benzos (the class of drugs that valium and xanax fall under). it's the addictive nature of them that they don't like. they will, however give you mood-altering drugs (and leave you on them for extended periods of time) that actually alter the chemical composition/the way your brain responds to hormones, etc being released into it-- like serotonin inhibitors. this to me makes no sense at all. they would rather actually mess with the way your brain functions than get you addicted to a medication that you can later be weaned off of. while they're doing this, they don't really give you adequate therapy to treat the underlying problem. it's a big mess and i don't think that it solves any one's problems. then again, you CAN go private and pay (again, about $200 per session) to see a therapist who will be more than happy to keep you on addictive substances and meet with you for an hour every three weeks if you can afford it. hence the grain of salt. the free psych care that you can get isn't really adequate and seems to me to be ill-informed of the dangers of certain psych meds. on the other hand there actually IS free psych care. that's at least a step further than we've made it in the states.
as for the rest of the nhs (like hospital visits, etc), i can only give you second-hand information. my mother in law was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was in her mid twenties (scary, i know). she had a lumpectomy and further treatment (also, take note of the fact that this was 25 years ago, when treatments like this were nowhere near as advanced as they are now-- sorry for essentially giving your age away there, laura) and she has been cancer free since. i also recall once when gavin had to go to the emergency room not long after his first visit to see me in new orleans. he was back here in scotland, scoffed down some undercooked asparagus and got it lodged in his esophageal passage-- causing great pain, discomfort and difficulty drawing a full breath. his parents took him to the hospital and even though the emergency room knew it wasn't something so pressing as a heart attack he was taken directly in and seen to (in fact, he had to stay the night). he was told that he would have to have some operation in which they'd enlarge this passage down to his stomach as his was quite narrow and this would continue to happen (of course, before he could have the operation he came for a brief visit to see me in new orleans which just happened to turn into a wedding and almost 3 years of living in the states). he hasn't gone back for the procedure, but if/when he does it, like the night he spent in the hospital and like his mother's treatment for breast cancer, it will be paid for by the nhs. these are good things. you would never get free cancer treatment in the states (unless some charity took you under its wing) and you would certainly never spend the night in the emergency room thanks to asparagus and not get charged (ok, maybe when we had charity hospital but that's gone now. these options are no longer available-- don't make me mention you again, katrina).
so, all in all i have to say that i DON'T think that the nhs is a perfect system. it has its faults and flaws. i also have to say that i think it's an exceedingly valuable service that helps people and saves lives. the fact that we don't have anything even remotely like it in the states is not to our benefit, but to our detriment. yeah, it's all well and good for glenn beck to say that the nhs sucks. he HAS fabulous health insurance, i'm sure. what about all of the people who can't afford it? oh yeah, i forgot, he doesn't care about them. it's easy to criticize when it's not your ass on the line, when you're not the one who is hesitant to go to the hospital when you know you need to (may i briefly site the brilliant lilo film, 'i know who killed me' here by saying, "hospitals are for rich people") for fear of the exorbitant bill that will come your way. people like o'reiley and beck can throw stones all they want. they don't live in glass houses. they live in fortified mansions. for all of you who are sitting in front of your televisions nodding along with what they are saying take a second and realize that these people are NOT like you. these people are millionaires. these people can afford health insurance, they can afford the best health care in the world. they talk all day long about being just like you but they're NOT. they are part of the financial elite.
so, next time your chest starts to hurt think about whether or not you can afford the thousands it's going to cost you to go to the hospital, think about the fact that you don't have that money to spend, think about the fact that glenn beck does, think about the fact that if you were here you wouldn't be thinking about money-- you'd be on your way to the hospital right now-- and then criticize the nhs.
one can only hope that one day in the us people who live below the poverty line will be able to complain that they had to wait an hour to get their broken arm seen to for free rather than not at all.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

All The Witty Banter That's Fit To Print (or, erm... watch)

i have to say that for as much crap television as there is here in the UK (about the same amount, if not more, depending on your feelings about antiques and auctions, as there is in the States) there are a few shows that i had never seen before that are quite funny.
the best of these (i feel) are the panel shows that deal with things like general information (in the case of 'QI', hosted by the one and only stephen fry) and weekly news (in the case of 'mock the week', hosted by some guy's whose name i forget and who isn't really all that funny). these are now my two favorite of this type of show.
'QI' (again, hosted by stephen fry) is a sort of quiz show that covers a dizzying array of knowledge and information. each episode has a panel of four comedians (alan davies of 'johnathan creek' fame is a permanent panelist and bill bailey of 'black books' fame is a regular participant). mr fry holds court in each episode and asks the panelists questions to which very few people actually know the answer. of course, they're all set up to lead into witty banter flying across the table from comedian to comedian to fry to comedian, and so forth. i would say that only a scant bit of information is actually revealed in each show thanks to the number of jokes and how far they can spiral out of control. points are awarded and deducted on some arbitrary scale that i have yet to work out (other than the fact that it is known that alan davies WILL score the lowest amount of points in each episode as he either knows fuck all or is always willing to sacrifice the correct answers for the sake of the joke (i have yet to work that one out)). the shows can be watched on any number of bittorent things or on iplayer on the bbc website or bits can be seen on youtube, although bits hardly do the show justice. having said that, here is a bit that i thought was funny. i've seen the whole of this episode and i must say that it was a particularly funny one...

now, to 'mock the week'... it's a show that deals with different newsworthy topics that have happened in the week preceding the show. it has two teams of three comedians with that host guy whose name i don't know sitting in the middle. again, the points are awarded pretty arbitrarily but it's quite the same in that the questions lead more to banter than to actually uncovering the facts (although those do come out in the end). there are some regulars on the show, but i only know the name of one of them, frankie boyle, a glaswegian comedian who i think is ridiculously hilarious now that i've seen him on this show. again, the shows can be found in the usual places. here's a taste from youtube...

and just because i know you found him to be hilarious in that clip, here's a little taste of my new man frankie boyle's stand-up...

Ready to lose all faith in the people you thought you could count on?

from mca being the man to iggy pop officially, totally and completely selling out...

Sunday, July 26, 2009

I Was So Right To Love MCA

i've had a thing for MCA (adam yauch) of the beastie boys since... well, since i've known who the beastie boys are. i always felt that he was super cool and down to earth (and alway thought that he was super sexy). he was my a number one celeb crush when i was about 17-18 years old.
as it happens, adam has been diagnosed with cancer and, as a result, the beastie boys have to postpone the release of their album and some shows that they had scheduled. in this thing i found in which he sits down with ad-rock to tell the fans what's going on he actually apologizes for having cancer and putting people out. i knew that my gut feeling about him was right. nothing but gentlemanly style and grace and humility with this one. get better soon, adam. we'll be thinking about you.
here's the announcement they made for anyone who wants to see it...

Friday, July 10, 2009

just so that you're forewarned...

so, gavin gave me my birthday present early because we have some things coming up that i wanted to use it for...
it's a camcorder. there's some chip thing that goes in it that i'm waiting for (it should be here today). it's the memory card (this is the only reason that this post doesn't include my weird whatever it is that i decide to video).
so, just so that you know (so that you can either keep an eye on this spot or avoid it at all costs-- depending upon your opinion on this) that soon i am going to start posting actual videoed rants or weird movies that i decide to make with my new toy. i can't wait! it's going to be so much fun and the crack will now be never-ending. ohh, nicole is going viral. watch out!!
kisses to all
x n

Thursday, July 2, 2009

over you

for someone who doesn't even read this blog.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Open Letter to Angelina Jolie...

Angie (may i call you angie? i've heard that people do...),

ok, so here's the deal. i'm going to come clean. i know i've said some really rough things about you in past posts. i've criticized just about everything that there is to criticize (even things that are, admittedly, totally irrelevant and just mean). call me a bitter bastard, i suppose. i'd like to start things anew with you, if you'll allow that. i'm not going to go back and say that i liked 'the changeling'. i'm sorry, i just can't. but, i understand why you'd want to make the film and who wouldn't want to act with malcovich? i did really like you in 'gia', i've always maintained that. i actually liked, 'hackers', too, in a cracky kind of way. i can even appreciate what you were going for with 'a mighty heart' (although i maintain that, just as constructive criticism, in the scene when you break down, she would have been yelling in her native tongue. when we're in that state we revert to what we know best. you yelled in english. it's a minor point and i'm pretty sure that i am the only person who picked up on that because it was a well acted scene). so, whether i like your movies or not aside, your probably pretty cool and i shouldn't have a go at you because of that. i have denied you credit for things done well because of things that i thought weren't so good but that's simply a matter of personal taste and i shouldn't have criticized you personally for it.
there's another thing that i have to say that i'm sorry for. this one you can thank my friend joseph for... i have, in the past, been a 'team jen' kind of person. i can't help but feel bad for her. i've had my heart broken (haven't we all) and i sympathize with what it must be like to try to get over your ex when you can't escape images of him being happy with someone else. that being said, i've also agreed with woody and his, 'the heart wants what it wants' statement. i think that that is very true. if you note, i did comment on one particular post in which i blamed the whole breakup of that marriage on you that perhaps i was wrong and that brad is now happy where he wasn't before...essentially i had rethought and semi-retracted my statements. so, joseph opened my mind to the fact and thought that it really had nothing to do with you (the breakup, that is). you two fell in love and he made the choice to leave his wife. you didn't force him to, i'm sure he's strong willed and not a malleable piece of clay that you just took and bent to your will. i will give him far more credit than that. i do think that you can bend men to your will, but i think that that's more of a compliment than a criticism. it means that they find you sexy and interesting and alluring... these are good things.
i've also taken a jab at your un work, i know... that one was probably the worst. i said that you spread yourself too thin when it came to that and didn't come out of the areas you visited and spread the word about what you saw there. can i really judge that, though? maybe that's not your intention when you go to these places. perhaps you know that the world knows about the problems in cambodia and africa, etc and that you're there for the people themselves and to shine a brief light on those individuals. i still think that perhaps you should talk more about what you saw when you were there when you get back (although perhaps you do and the media simply chooses to focus more on speculation on the state of your relationship and your womb than what you have to say about poverty-stricken and war-torn countries. i don't know).
anyway, to sum up... i'm sorry for being so harsh on you. makes me feel very tabloidy and maybe (i'm not fessing to this, JUST saying MAYBE, i'm a little but envious of the fact that you're a year older than i am, you have success in your chosen field-- whereas i'm still struggling at best--, you got to kiss gerry butler-- a fact that i will just have to remain green with envy about-- and that you have many opportunities that i wish i had.
PERHAPS my vitriol was far less about you and far more about me. i'm generally not the kind of person who lets jealousy in or who lets it turn into anger but maybe i did this time. for that, i'm sorry).
i will even go so far as to admit that i understand why you wouldn't want to go into whole foods while everyone else was there. i'm sure you've been mobbed a million times and i would probably take measures to ensure that i didn't have to endure that, as well.
that's it really. i hope that we can make up and that you can understand why i've said some of the things i've said and forgive the parts that were just unnecessarily mean. you've never done anything to me, and i don't know what really goes on in your persona
l life. maybe i should let my sympathy for jen and the tabloid press do less thinking for me when it comes to you and think for myself. when it comes down to it i actually kind of think that i would think you were pretty damn cool if we were to meet.
i can't imagine what it must be like to live in the bubble that you live in. i would hate to have people constantly criticizing my every move or spewing negativity in my direction when they really have no idea what it's like to live my life. i feel guilty to have been a part of that. you do put positivity out into the world and that's to be commended, not criticized.
hope you can accept my olive branch...
i'll even go and watch 'salt' with an open mind.
take care,

ps- i am totally jealous of your tats, that i WILL fess up to.

Monday, June 22, 2009

My new obsession...

ok, so there are so many things that are different here in the UK (but we knew that that was going to be the case, yes?). there are also so many things that are the same, though. the grocery stores are essentially the same (other than the fact that we have no whole foods and that they sell things like, 'bovril', which is like gravy that you drink as far as i can tell-- oh, and don't even get me started on the many flavors of 'crips'... things like 'fish and chips' and 'cajun squirrel'). yes, they do drive on the wrong side of the road AND the wrong side of the car. yes, they're weird and don't have guns (but that's a good thing). but so many things are the same... there's coke AND pepsi and all of the fads and television shows that come from the states make their way over here.so, we come to why i've even brought this up...i have been known, in my time, to buy a magazine or two when the mood strikes and the magazine looks interesting. and while they DO have the same magazines (although, of course, they have some that we don't and vice-versa) they're the british versions. this is not the big news, though. the big news is that magazines here aren't just magazines!! magazines here invariably come with some sort of bonus extra that doesn't cost you any more. all of them have free gifts (and i'm not talking samples of perfume that you have to tear out and then apply to yourself by rubbing paper on your body!). they come with PROPER free stuff... bags, books, toiletry cases, make-up, toys, cds, guitar pics... every type of magazine has its own type of surprise free gift (the lamest is the 2 for 1 deal wherein you get 'hello' and 'cosmo' for the price of one-- but still!!! that's something you would never see in the states!!). every time i walk into a shop i MUST scan the shelves for what's on the go with even the crappiest of mags.
here are some examples that i found on the shelves just this month...
my fave! red (which is an ok mag) with this really cool free 'beauty' bag in it (i got the one that is black with white thistles on it-- it's really cool and i would have paid the 3 pounds just for the bag!)
i don't remember what mag this was but it came with a free (nice) beach bag that says, 'i heart urban outfitters' on it
even the kids get toys. a free dinosaur thingy.
ok, kind of lame... the two in one pack of bazzar and hello
maire clair with a free book (lots of them have free books but i won't post more than this one)
glamour with free...mascara, i think it was

a teen mag with free nail care kit
a teen mag with free lip gloss

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Open letter to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Mahmoud (i assume it's ok to call you that?),

we need to talk... what the hell are you doing? you know, it's not as if your country has all that great of a reputation globally, anyway, and now you're just making it worse. we can all see what you've done, what's going on. don't even make me go into the whole thing about the fact that the Ayatollah is backing you and not the people of Iran. we know that you're engaged in wide-spread voter fraud and tampering with the election results. we can all see the differences between the way the results of this election were called as opposed to every other election EVER in your country. why you gotta go and make your country look so much worse than it already does? what is it with you and oppressing your own people? they're dying in the streets because they DON'T want you! is it going to take a full scale revolution and a total collapse of the government for you to see this? i'm afraid that it just might (or maybe i'm happy that it just might). for the sake of maintaining the TYPE of government you want in your country, fess up to what you've done and let the real results of the election be known. otherwise, you're going to end up on the recieving end of a bunch of angry and armed mobs that are going to overthrow your whole way of life. maybe it's time for that though. maybe it's a good thing you're such a blind dick.

yours sincerely,

Friday, June 12, 2009

British to English Dictionary Time!!!

ok, so i've learned a couple of new things since i've been here (vocab wise) and i thought that some of you might be interested in some of them. just going to prattle off a list. if there are any that you know and can think of that i've left out, please comment me with them!

nae- no
aye- yes
tae- to
wee- little
ken- know
winge- whine
to have your tea- to eat dinner
washing- laundry
crisps- chips
chips- fries
ye- you
tak- take
o- of
frae- from
wi- with
wan- one
aboot- well, obviously about
fags- cigarettes
ma- my
bairn- child
fur- for
hauf- half
gienin- giving
oot- out
huv- have
dug- dog
oot- out
auld- old
whit- what
aw- all
oor- our
sma'- small
e'er- ever
gaun- go on
yersel- yourself
hud- had
awfy- awfully
ah- I
masel- myslef
aff- off
hus- has
goat- got
gie- give
telt- told
wance- once
sae- so
yer- your
hunner- hundred
pound note- paper money
tenner- ten pound 'note'
quid- pound
juice- soda (anything that's not water, coffee, tea or actual juice!)
pram- baby carriage
guid- good
sma- small

ok, that's all i can think of off the cuff... i'll add some more later as they come to me!!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Is This Shit Following Me Or Something?

i know that it's been ages since i last posted and much has happened since then. i left my beloved new orleans (which is actually one reason that i haven't written- i wasn't quite sure what to do with 'from the streets of katrinaville' when i was no longer actually ON those streets. i can't change the web address- that i know of- and from the streets of aberdeen just doesn't sound right). i think that since i've been here for about a month now (and because i can say with all certainty that my heart still remains very much rooted in new orleans) that there's no problem with me posting here as I am from the streets of k-ville and no relocation will change my feelings for my birthplace.
so i'll give a quick run-down just for those of you who are interested and need filling in (although this isn't really what this post is about).
the last weeks in new orleans were pretty hectic. i worked until the 31st of march, we made sure we got our last paychecks, moved out of our apartment, hung out with as many friends as possible, made sure we were packed and had all of our money, etc together and set off around the 9th (i think) to drive from nola to washington, d
c. in the last week or so of being in new orleans i caught some strain of the flu that was so horrid and hard to shake that if you now told me it had been swine flu i would not question you on the diagnosis. gavin got it first and then gave it to me so i was actually more sick towards the end than he was. i didn't even get out of bed for the last three days. i stayed in my brother's apartment and attempted to sleep off my raging fever. anyway, the day came when i knew we had to leave regardless of how i felt and so off we drove. we stopped in atlanta even though we were meant to see lovely liz in greenville. i was too ill and the weather too bad to go any further the first night. we then drove through to my brother's in dc. rather than see lovely meeg or even go see any of the things that i had wanted to (the cherry blossom trees were in bloom) i stayed in and slept in yet another brother's apartment trying to shake the never-ending fever (and somehow i had totally lost my voice along the way). we stayed for t
wo days and then my brother drove us to new york so that we could catch the boat. once more, we didn't get to see lovely suzie as we were only in brooklyn for enough time to unload the car, give scott a hug and go check in to get on the boat. i spent the first 3 days not leaving the cabin. just too sick. he explored plenty while i slept. we ventured out a little in the last two days but i still wasn't feeling very well. we met his parents in southampton, drove up as far as blackpool (which is a whole different post) for the night and then completed our journey the next day, finally arriving in ellon.
now i've been here for almost a month (and no, i haven't seen the loch ness monster- in fact, i haven't even seen loch ness) and have done surprisingly little. the first week was a wash. i had to sleep to fully recuperate, we had to unpack, there were so many loads of clothes to wash that it's kind of unbelievable, etc. then began the task of organising the mundane-- i had to get a bank account (a painful process that took over a week), register
with the national health service, make sure that my address has been changed properly with folks like the irs, etc. i have done some sight-seeing and venturing out but, again, that's for another post.
what i really want to talk about is that fact that it seems like, since i've been here, i've somehow brought with me from the states an infection. shockingly, it's not even the flu that plagued me for so long- it's a political one. just as i was thinking to myself, 'ok, i can leave the states now, obama has it under control, i don't have to worry anymore' i come to a country that i felt had always had a more solid, socialist leaning, competent (ish) political system. the W virus that i brought with me though has spread to whitehall and is cracking that very government at its roots. there's now talk of totally re-hauling parliament as the scandals that are breaking on a daily basis are unearthing corruption and gross mis-use of public funds (and g
eneral fuckery) on a level that can only put down to something like the W virus.
so, here's a basic rundown just so that you know a bit about how it works so that you can know a bit about why it's falling apart...
in the UK there are districts. each district has an elected official that is an MP (a member of parliament). these mps all sit in the house of commons, which is effectively the same thing as congress if the house and senate sat together and yelled and jeered at one another openly and a lot (which is actually really entertaining- watch 'prime minister's questions' on c-span if you haven't or want to see hilarious political posturing and just good old fashioned british comedy). thing is that here in the UK, party affiliation means A LOT more than it does in the states (if you can believe that). mps ALWAYS vote with their party, th
ey DO NOT cross party lines in any vote on any proposed legislation. the country votes as to which party will have the most mps in the house and from that party rises the prime minister (who isn't really directly elected in the way that we elect the president). there isn't so much a set term for the prime minister as there are 'general elections' which either confirm that the country still stands behind the party that is presently in power or demands that another party assume control and then their head buffoon becomes pm. labour had always been the liberal party and the conservatives were, well, the conservatives. thanks largely to tony blaaauuughhhh and his lap-doggery with W the labour government has become more and more conservative and the liberal democratic party has pretty much taken their place and the actual liberal party in the house. nonetheless, labour is still in power (although it se
ems that there will be an inevitable shift from that in the next general election). the prime minister MUST call a general election under a number of different circumstances- but let's not get into that now. let's just say that he doesn't have to right now- mr. gordon brown (who is scottish, by the way) has about another year to sit around and continue to fuck things up until he has to put it to the vote and risk allowing his party to be ousted as the controlling party.
so, here's the BIG problem... in trying to fix the faltering economy (as all governments are trying to do) it has recently come to light that mps are given what are essentially expense accounts. only thing is, they aren't expense accounts because all they really have to do is hand in receipts, etc and they are just given the money they claim. they can claim money to pay for second homes (the logic behind this is that they have to live in the district that they represent but must also be present in london to sit in the house, therefore they have to have two actual residences) and the upkeep thereof. this is just bloody insane as they are all paid
well enough to afford flats in london or in their districts without pulling from the public purse to pay for them. it's also crazy because not one of them uses this nonsense responsibly. they use this second home allowance on crazy extravagant homes with lavish grounds and claim tens of thousands of pounds annually on such fuckery as pond maintenance. even mps that represent districts that are virtually walking distance from the actual house claim second homes, a fact that is controversial and astounding. what makes all of this even better is that none of this was supposed to come to light. it's all covered by official secrets and while the public knew that there were expense accounts, they had no idea how much the mps were spending or what they were spending it on. now it's all been revealed and it comes as no surprise that people are livid. at the same time that all parties are calling for cut backs in spending on
health care and public services, these VERY SAME people are using tax money because their hedges at their second homes are just way too out of control and a landscaper is needed ASAP, lest things really get nuts. at a time when unemployment is out of control (i've only JUST found a job working in a pub and i only got that because i know someone who works there) so more people are forced to rely on government assistance to pay for frivolous things like rent and food mps feel that they are being victimised because last week they said that they were going to have to really cut back on helping people pay for potatoes and thi
s week are being yelled at for using enough tax-payer money to give everyone in the country enough potatoes to last until the end of the century to pay the mortgage on their 2 million pound second home that's an hour's drive from their 4 million pound first ones.
and SERIOUSLY these mps are really on the defensive. not in an, 'i'm so sorry, that was really stupid and irresponsible of me' sort of way but in an 'i didn't do anything wrong! why are you yelling at me? i need that house and couldn't just let the duck pond remain untended, could i?' sort of way. can you imagine how outraged the american public would be if they found out that hillary had used tax money to buy a couple of houses, furnish
them, make sure the grounds remained immaculate, paid staff to clean and cook, paid the utilities and then used even more of it to shuffle herself and her hubby between the houses and washington? the woman would be brought into the town center and stoned to death. here, the mps are being all self-righteous and unapologetic.
so, the public is furious and now everybody's saying that there needs to be a total re-haul of the way the government works. the speaker of the house of commons has already been forced to step down as a result of all of this (a position that that he had held for decades and the first time that that's happened in living memory). they're actually talk
ing about making the system more like the american system, whereby each mp is elected partially because of party affiliation and partially because they are the lesser of all possible evils. they're also talking about making it so that mps actually have individual votes in the house so that each one truly represents his/her constituency rather than just voting with the party. it is not possible at present for an mp to vote across party lines. it just can't happen and they somehow think that this is the only way that anything will ever get done. if that were the case, nothing would EVER get done in washington... oh wait, my bad.
so yea, i get here and within a month corruption and ineptitude become the order of the day in whitehall. awesome.
i can only hope that i also brought with me a little bit of the obama luck and that this means that reforms will shortly be the order of the day. maybe get this place cleaned up a little.
for now, keep your eye out for updates (don't worry, next post will be lovely and light-hearted-- and soon-- i promise). i'll let you know how we're getting on here on the streets of her majesty's kingdom of great britain and northern ireland...
damn, that one REALLY doesn't work.

Friday, March 20, 2009

In Memoriam: Natasha Richardson

loved her, love her sister, love her mom, love her husband.
i even liked her in 'maid in manhattan'. now that's saying something.
my greatest sympathy and condolences go out to her family and friends (and especially her kids).

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Open Letter to New Orleans

i almost don't know what to say to you. we've been together for so long that i really do feel as if you're a part of me. i now know that i'll be leaving you soon. don't worry, i'll come back to visit and you'll always be with me, no matter where i go.
i worry about you so often. every summer i'll be watching and hoping that nothing comes your way to harm you. i'll keep up with my charities, etc from scotland. i'm even keeping this post as 'from the streets of katrinaville' because i feel that, no matter where i am, my heart is here. i'll miss your oak trees and your festivals. i'll miss your food and your music. i'll miss your heart and personality.
take care of my family and friends while i'm gone, please. keep them safe.
stay in touch. i know i will.
love always,

Monday, March 16, 2009

Visa Approval Email

i got an email saying that my visa's been approved. approved. approved. approved.
i got my approval
that means we'll be on the boat on time
and we don't have to spend more money
i got my approval email... i should get the actual visa in the mail in a couple of days.
APPROVAL!!!!!!!!! :)
thank you visa clearance officer!!
i love you,

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Brad Pitt reminds Washington that New Orleans still exists

i have to give it to you brad, you're still coming through for us...
while i have to admit that i'm sick of seeing pics of st ang running around in wigs in dc making her new film, 'salt', i have to say that you have opted to use your time hanging in dc with your baby momma for a good cause.
for those of you who don't know, brad is in washington right now (with angie, who's making some movie... i'm sure you've seen the wonked out pics). he has met with nancy pelosi and other dem leaders to try to gain some support from washington for his 'make it right' program here in new orleans. way to bring it to the top, brad! i know that you were going grass roots for a long time and that's fab but we all know that DC has totally forgotten about us (not that they don't have some other pretty weighty issues to deal with now). with the economy as it is, it's getting even harder here than it was before so brad decided to take it to the top and get the government involved (as we can all agree that they haven't really noticed us since sometime around the 28th of august, 2005).
way to go, brad!! push 'make it right', let them know we're here, we still need help and make them do your bidding (well, everyone else does-- why would the senate be any different?). seriously, way to keep on keeping on!
all the best,

ps-- i just read that he's even been granted an audience with obama himself to talk about new orleans. rock it, brad. bush might not care about black people but something tells me that obama does. good luck!
pps-- i read some thing online about an interview in which they asked anniston about brad (did you really expect anything different?) and she apparently said that she was, 'way over him'. ok, jenn. we believe you. suuuuuuure we do. and you didn't look nervous at the oscars while angie was looking up and laughing at you and your stuttering, stumbling speach, either.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Open Letter to the Visa Clearance Officer at the British Consulate in L.A.

Dear Mr/Ms/Miss/Mrs Visa Clearance Officer,

hey! how are you doing? i was just writing to see how you are and to see what's been up. you know, you first heard from me a little more than a month ago and we've really fallen out of touch since then. i don't think that we're not talking because you're mad at me. i can't really see how you would be. i gave you everything you asked for. you know that gavs and i are a real couple (if the 400 pictures didn't prove it, i don't know what will). you guys said that it would be 3 to 4 weeks tops. we're over that time period now and i'm getting a little (ok, a lot) worried that maybe we've fallen out for some reason. if i did something to upset you, just let me know and i'll fix it. if not, could you please do me a HUGE favor and approve my visa? it would really help me out (and save me from losing my already tenuous grip on reality). thanks, i appreciate it.hope you're well and that you have a good weekend (oh, if you could tell me today-- before the weekend-- that would allow me to really relax A LOT and enjoy my weekend like you wouldn't believe. just in case... i thought i'd mention). anyway, thanks again.