Thursday, March 26, 2009

Par for the Course

Tonight, I am getting on a plane to head to warmer climes for a brief respite from the misery of the NY "spring" that we are enduring. There are several things about this trip noteworthy only for their utter typicality at my inability to have a holiday properly:
  • My head is spinning from my blocked sinuses that have somehow, magically perhaps, been unblocked until the day I go on holiday.
  • We are going to a warm, sunny place with a pool. That should be enough but, instead, we are going to a music festival which will involve late nights and far too expensive drinks. So when I get back on Sunday I will be just as exhausted as I am now.
  • I have packed too many books in the vain hope that I will read them all but will instead read half of one, feel guilty and it will hurt my back to lug them all around.
BUT: I am not taking ANY work with me. Blackberry, yes. Papers, laptop - no. Just no. In that much I will break the cycle.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The FuckItList

There is a meme going around the internet, thanks to the glorious Michael Ian Black, on what you do NOT need to do before you die - like an Anti-Bucket List. This is a work in progress, but...
  • Run a marathon or do a Triathlon - honestly, 10K would do, I do want to do that, but...
  • Own The Joshua Tree or, indeed, any U2 album
  • Eat a Twinkie, RingDing or anything made by Hershey's 
  • Learn to love camping (I'm not alone in this, apparently)
  • Watch American Idol or Survivor or another episode of Grey's Anatomy
  • Give up on George Clooney becoming my poolboy
  • Watch The Queen - as much as I admire Helen Mirren,* there is just no need for me to revisit that period of history.
  • Get into Ice Hockey
  • Eat at Long John Silver or Red Lobster or an all-you-can-eat-Sushi buffet - something about the thought of cheap fish really makes me feel ill
  • Read any Ayn Rand 

* The acting and physical appearance of, not attitudes on rape, obviously.

Friday, March 20, 2009


The last week has been a little hellish, workwise. I'm really not a morning person, and I've had to be here earlier almost every day, and have stayed late, too. The morning thing has been horrid - I have had to set the alarm 45 minutes earlier every day, and have left the house about 1 hour earlier every day.

This is not to say I've been getting up early, by any stretch of the imagination. The secretary who sits by me gets up around 5.15 to exercise before leaving the house at 7 - a time at which I've usually been asleep, although this week I've been indulging my final snooze for the morning. But for me, it's been really rather early and horrible. People always bisect the population into morning and evening, and I'm neither type. I'm sleepy in the mornings, and sleepy at night - it just depends on what I've been doing for the past few days as to whether I'm zonked by 7 or sprightly and up at 9 on the weekends. I don't need to sleep until 11, but I like sleeping until 9. My brain really cannot handle working past 11 at night, but it can sit up until 3 watching tv, playing guitar hero, reading, or being out and about dancing. It's all... contextual.

I've often read those articles that state that you should get up at the same time every day, and I've understood that they're probably a good idea. Nonetheless, I have always ignored them as being really not applicable or desirable for my lifestyle. This morning, however, I noticed that getting up that early was unpleasant but not as bad as usual. I'm still a bit sluggish and resentful, but it's not as bad. Usually I struggle to get myself to the pool before work, but this morning, I was there, swam, got breakfast and then to my desk by 9.30 without too much pain. That's not bad, for me.

Am I turning over a new leaf? Fat chance. But it really has been remarkable to feel a transformation this week. Me and the alarm clock shall venture forth into next week and see what happens.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Sunday Selection: Pre-Emptive Strike

I'm at work, it's late on Saturday, and although I'm not desperately sorry for myself (I'm doing something quite exciting - hold back the laughter, please), I am going to be here all tomorrow and, so, I'm starting Genius with something bemoaning the grind and working for The Man: The Magnificent Seven by The Clash. This song has become my go-to for jukeboxes, making me extremely predictable (my other obligatory tune being Roxanne), but I can't help it - love it so. I also love the Clash for their sheer variety of sounds, influences, and progression. I know we're not supposed to like the later stuff but tough - I do.
  1. A Forest - The Cure.
  2. Pale Shelter - Tears for Fears.
  3. Monkey Gone to Heaven - Pixies.
  4. Wordy Rappinghood - Jacques Lu Cont.
  5. Town Called Malice - The Jam.
  6. Fool's Gold - The Stone Roses.
  7. The Killing Moon - Echo & The Bunnymen
  8. Girls & Boys - Blur
  9. Johnny Come Home - The Fine Young Cannibals
  10. House of Jealous Lovers - The Rapture.
And a mighty fine playlist it is, too!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Beautiful Friendship

There are so many great things about Casablanca that I do not really know where to begin.* We watched it again last night, aptly drinking a bottle of champagne to celebrate TOH's acceptance of gainful employment - not something to be sniffed at in the current economic climes (hereinafter - and I mean ad nauseum on the blog - CEC). I say aptly because that's all they seem to do. Here are just a few of my favourite things about this movie:
  • They drink champagne ALL THE TIME. The only time characters don't drink champagne is when they're drinking brandy or whiskey. The bit where Rick decides to down his remaining bottles so that the Germans can't get them when they invade Paris - genius. Inspiring me to ensure we always have a bottle in the fridge.
  • Claude Rains. How on earth that man did not win Best Supporting Actor, I do not know - proof that the Oscars made horrific errors of judgment even back then. I own, I have not seen The More The Merrier, and have nothing against Charles Coburn, but... how on earth any performance could be greater than Rains' portrayal of Captain Renault, I do not know. I love the way he seems so convivial, debonair, and then you get glimpses of just how willing he is to abuse his power or to go with the Nazis to save his own neck. Yet you still love him. By far the best character in the movie - he gets about 75% of the best lines, I reckon (and not linens, as I originally typed). Oh, and he was born in Camberwell - South East London represent!
  • When Ilsa asks Sam to play that song, I always think of Naked Gun: 2 1/2 (watch from about 3m 24 s in) and it makes me giggle. And then the song makes me sniffle.
  • I cry, almost every time, when they play the Marseillaise, although it also tickled TOH and I greatly last night to imagine what effect God Save The Queen would have on Rick's Bar. Not quite the same stirring call to action, one imagines.
  • It's much, much, much funnier than I remember thinking when I first watched it. I thought it was pretty good, but mostly a weepy. The one-liners are spectacular and keep coming, and it's just so sharp and funny. Makes me weep to think of the modern day equivalents - he's just not that into you? Easy target, I know, but still.
  • Pursuant to the last point - it gets better every time I watch it. There's the ambiguity of Ilsa's character (I'm much gentler and understanding her in my old age than I was when I was younger), the humour, the tearjerking bits, the unbelievable cast - Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet, two old foils for Bogart after The Maltese Falcon, another glorious movie. Sigh.
Cross-posted at Ill Read, with a few minor alterations.
* NOTE: There are potential spoilers in this post. Although you don't really deserve spoiler notice if you haven't seen Casablanca, because it is one of the greatest films of all time.

Monday, March 09, 2009


Jezebel has a good post about the weirdness of celebrity-hate sites on the internet, and how they do often reflect and become misogynistic. And they don't mean Perez (ugh), but sites dedicated to one celebrity (or phenomenon, in the case of the anti-Twilight sites) - the SJP ones seem particularly unpleasant.

And yet. The post has an effect other than its intent, I imagine. I now, of course, have another blog obsession. makes me extremely happy.

Thursday, March 05, 2009


I've been trying to curtail the rage-infested posts recently, but sometimes you can't avoid them. Reported in several blogs and news outlets:

"We consider this murder."—Marcio Miranda, a lawyer for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Olinda and Recife in northeastern Brazil, after a judge granted access to an abortion to a nine-year-old girl carrying twins after being raped by her stepfather.

The Archbishop of Brazil is to excommunicate all those who "helped her," including her mother. It's consistent, at least, with the awfulness of their position, but I do so hope that at least includes the stepfather who raped and impregnated - let's repeat it - HIS NINE YEAR OLD STEPDAUGHTER.

Words defy me.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009


I read this really interesting post today at Shakesville about the who gets to be "immigrants" or "expats."* I really have experienced that good immigrant, bad immigrant dichotomy (with Liss's post assuming that "expat" is good, "immigrant" is bad). All the time I lived in Spain, there would be a lot of grousing about immigrants, which is, admittedly, a relatively new phenomenon (compared obviously with here and the UK to a certain extent - we're talking last 20 years rather than 50-400). When I would point out that I was, too, an immigrant, I'd get some variant on "oh, they're not like you, you're different/fine."

It would drive me mad. Do you point out that the cheap food, the amazing new buildings, the nannies, these are all underpinned by the immigrant class that they're so willing to dismiss/scorn/denigrate? Is it even worth it, when the response is so often "yes, but they're thieves/immoral / dirty/blah blah blah."

I would never, ever, ever use the term "expat" to describe myself. My aversion is based on the involuntary shudders of horror at the connotations the word has for me, those of sweaty Englishmen on the southern Spanish coast who refuse to speak Spanish, only eat baked beans, and refuse to take part in la vida there. That is, it's based on snobbery. At least in part. But the other part is that I see immigration as integration - you contribute to the economy, society and culture, you become part of that country, even if it's temporary. I met an expat when I lived in Barcelona who had spent her entire life in Spain, yet spoke virtually no Spanish. It makes no sense to me. Expats, to me, are simply those who want their own lives, their own culture and society, just with better weather/lower taxes. They go for the jobs and nothing else. People rail at Mexican and other American immigrants taking American jobs, but it's not that - they come here not just for work but to build a better future for their families and their kids, whether at home or in the States. For some, it is the dream of being estadounidense, for others it's being able to send their kids to decent schools and clothe and feed extended families.

Why would someone would label someone else one of these two things. It's simple class snobbery. We (the hypothetical, not me) hate the peasants, but the educated folks, they can come over here all they want. It's fear of a grasping, swarming underclass that lives in a way we don't understand. Whereas the white upper middle classes, they're so like us. You can hear it in the language - flooding, invaded, overwhelmed, "those people." They find poor people utterly infra dig. and graceless in general - they are embarrassed and ashamed of their own compatriots who are poor, so what chance is there for these highly visible people - visible targets because they speak differently and are darker skinned, in general. Yet, invisibly, the poor people grow and harvest our food, they tend to our children for only $200 a month (we wouldn't want it interfering with spending sprees at J. Crew or on a meal), they bring us food, they wash our dishes, mow our lawns, and do everything else that makes America so great - not the Americas, obviously, but the US of A.** In contrast, someone who could be educated at home, but elects not to, there is an elegance and element of liberty and freedom to that that we understand.

For me, I've always assumed that it's an obvious choice you make as to whether you're an expat or an immigrant, at least in mindset. Sadly, in terms of labelling, it is generally only those of (white) European descent who get the privilege of labelling themselves, rather than being labelled.

* Update: This is actually an entire series. On the term "illegal," read this. On the arrest of Ingmar Guandique, read this (the post that started the series).

** Note: This bitter tirade also applies to the UK and our complete ingratitude and ignorance about immigrants and "asylum seekers." I'm not just getting at the US - I'm getting at the people who think like this, wherever they are.

Monday, March 02, 2009

2009: February's Update

  1. Use this blog as a forum for really thinking about what I have resolved to do and actively maintain my resolutions, monthly. Not working thus far. Oops. Real effort in March.

  2. Lower the body fat.This is actively going wrong for me. a) We just got new scales, and they appear to have a different measuring system because I went from 27%, roughly, to 29% in a week, which is just highly unlikely given I went to the gym three times and was pretty healthy that week.* b) I am now up to 30.3%. So by whatever measuring scales we're using, I'm going the wrong way. It's been a pretty monstrous few weeks, here there and everywhere, and so I've been terrible at eating well and getting to the gym. I've been indulging in eating to make up for lack of alcohol, and am paying the price. But it starts again today - back on the weightlifting tip and getting some good, lower fat eating done.

  3. Run a 10k with TOH by the end of the year. Not called a physio. Will do this week. On pain of death - not cake.

  4. Have one night a week where TOH and I sit in the house but do not turn on the tv. Not happened at all. Instead, I've been consoling myself with TV while TOH has been jetting here there and everywhere. Starts this week!

  5. Read at least six books from the Observer 100. I did indeed! I read The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers. It's a book that was published in 1903 and is considered a precursor to the spy genre of people like Deighton, Le Carre et al. It also apparently predicts some methods of attack by the German navy during the Great War. It was terribly technical about yachting - not my favourite idea - but I did genuinely enjoy it, and it was terribly tense toward the end. I like spy books, but I'm not sure why this should go in rather than The Spy Who Came in from the Cold - one of my all-time favourites and an absolutely spectacular spy novel - other than it being the first. And that's not really sufficient to support its entry, I don't think. Next: a biggie - Anna Karenina. Ulp. I'm only 8 of 8 requests, so it shouldn't be long.

  6. Watch at least twelve movies from the IMDB top 100. Well, we've not managed that because, again, barely been home. But tonight am going to suggest one. Honest.

  7. Not go onto the internet for recreation until midday every day. I've been utterly terrible at this, but started afresh today and (other than the cricket score, which I can get passively) have been very good. It's definitely worth it.

  8. Cook a new recipe twice a month AND (to make different from last year) recount the successes/failures on the blog. Nada. Nothing. See above for lame excuses as to why.

  9. Eat one piece of fruit a day every day I'm at work. Actually stuck to this, and enjoyed it!

  10. Win a game of squash! I seem to have regressed a little, just in time for the squash ladder to start. Ulp. Going to get killed, despite being in the bottom group. Ugh. Still, onwards and upwards!
* The scales also appear to be not the most reliable, given that we did the weigh-in this morning and I went up 3lb in the space of 2 mins. And I had not just eaten a ton of hot dogs in that time. Hmm.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Sunday Selector: The Rueful Version

Yes, I am rueful, because my head hurts like mad from not enough sleep and too much booze for a recently detoxed young lady. I don't have the strength to type up stuff about the songs today, but I'm feeling the need for mellowness and ease, so I'm starting with One Night Stand by The Aloof. Not exactly the situation I'm in, but a reflection of making bad choices involving alcohol. Awesome.
  1. Day One - Deadly Avenger.
  2. Spellbound - Rae & Christian.
  3. Offshore - Chicane
  4. Little Fluffy Clouds - The Orb.
  5. Stars - Dubstar.
  6. Cups - Underworld.
  7. Since I Left You - The Avalanches
  8. The Weekend Starts Here - Fatboy Slim
  9. Protection - Massive Attack.
  10. Belfast - Orbital.
Any mix that has both Belfast and protection is guaranteed to make me feel better about the world.