Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Still More Adventures In English As A Second Language

During my church volunteer stint recently, I was chatting with the pastoral assistant (she does much more than that, including serving as the chief caretaker for Greg, but we'll just go with her title for now) about her duties as chaplain at a nearby Catholic girls' high school. She mentioned one of her duties was coordinating the school's "peer mentoring" program.

With her non-rhotic accent, however, I had a terrible time understanding what she was talking about. To my rhotic ears, I heard her saying one of two things initially: "pee mentoring" (a strange proposition, since most high schoolers ought to be potty trained) or "P.M. entering" (again, a strange proposition since most high schoolers are ready for all-day school).

On her third repetition, I finally understood what she was talking about.

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Friday, November 14, 2008

An Extra Special Message From Steve Guttenberg

And while we're at it ....

And in other panto news, Huggy Bear is doing a Snow White panto show in Catford.

EDITED: Hat tip to Mrs. W's colleague who pointed this out to us.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Return Of Sky One

Recessions tend to do amazing things. Even two egos as huge as Richard Branson and Rupert Murdoch can bury the hatchet when the economy turns south. This all is good news for the Werbenmanjensen household, which just finished 90 minutes of Simpsons watching thanks to the return of Sky One.

Now we've been getting by (*sigh*) with the reruns on Channel 4 (home of the Gay-O-Meter), but it just feels, I don't know, right, to see a Simpsons that's been aired in the United States in the last two weeks.

I feel whole again.

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That's Pants

Yes, a British English expression for something that's really bad, or your underwear. Annie Mole, as usual, has spotlighted the Pants Day, a version of the No Pants days on mass transit in several American cities. As Annie notes, going without "pants" in Britain can get you arrested, hence the name variation.

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Friday, November 07, 2008

Friday Catblogging

If you say "President Obama" in Greg's presence, he starts purring. It helps if you're petting him, however.

-- Post From My iPhone

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A Sarasota Stockbroker Sums It Up

In an interview with the BBC (natch): "I want a better America and a better world, and I'm willing to pay a little more in taxes for that. A new America is being born."

I couldn't have said it better myself. And this was a guy who voted for Bush in 2000.

Our long national nightmare is over

BBC finally calls Ohio for Obama. GOPers in Virginia say it's not looking good for them there, and Florida isn't either.

The cava has been uncorked in the Werbenmanjensen household.

That Smell

It smells like victory ... and cava.

-- Post From My iPhone

Ohio for Obama?

Fox News calls the key state for Obama. Yes, I said Fox.

BBC commentator: "Remember, we haven't called it. ABC hasn't called it. Fox isn't good enough."

Hee hee.

Jesse Jackson on the Beeb

Talking about how Barack is an agent of change. A different tone from these comments.

And I can't help but think of this when I hear him talk:

Quote of the moment

"The fish rots from the head." -- Democratic strategist Jennifer Palmieri on BBC, when asked if Barack Obama ran his campaign like a "control freak." Her answer was ultimately no, because he couldn't have run a successful campaign that way.

The Big Potato

This is how the lead BBC commentator just described the state of Pennsylvania and its significance to the election. Hmm.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Where Do Network Anchors Go When They Retire?

Ted Koppel is on the BBC election coverage, along with Larry Sabato from UVa as the token Americans.

-- Post From My iPhone

Preview of tomorrow's London newspaper front pages

The serious papers --
Guardian: America's Historic Verdict (photo of Obama voting)
Independent: The History Man (with Obama head shot)
Telegraph (I think): Obama takes his place in history
Times: History beckons as US goes to polls in record numbers
Daily Express (a paper that advertises that it's still only 40p): A New World Dawns
Financial Times: Some photo montage and opaque copy (nothing new there)

And the tabloids --
Daily Star: Yanks Very Much! (Next to scantily clad Abby Clancy "in thigh high boots")
Mirror: Gobama!
Sun (Britain's biggest circulation newspaper): Obarmy Army

And this gem, when talking with amazement about Americans waiting in line to vote: "This is a nation of fast food and low attention spans."

All courtesy of the Beeb.

From The Annals Of Silly Interviews

Comes the BBC interview of Rupert Murdoch. He can't vote, and I think it's clear what he thinks.

-- Post From My iPhone

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More from the Beeb

They are showing a montage of highlights from the campaigns, and the soundtrack is Jump by the Pointer Sisters. A great song, IMHO, but couldn't we unearth something more recent than the Reagan administration?

At least they're not playing this.

BBC reports on U.S. election

From the Chicago park where Obama's victory party will be, after interviewing people waiting in queues to get in: Well, I didn't write it down fast enough, but basically, it was something like, These people will be utterly devastated if change doesn't come.

From the McCain camp: "They're not confident, just hopeful."

Some Truths About Football

Since I had an earlier cranky post about football, I couldn't help but be blown away by the accuracy of the best-ever cultural analysis about the relative popularity of "soccer football" in Britain and "American football" in America over at The Septic's Companion, formerly known as the English2American dictionary.

Go buy his book, or at least a beer for him. Without knowing it, he's been a great contributor to our blog. Go Web2.0!

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Gonna Lay Down My Sword And Shield

The United States has Veterans Day. Britain has Remembrance Day. Unlike the U.S. holiday, Remembrance Day is not a government holiday--everybody goes to work if it's a weekday. But it's in your face nonetheless in the form of plastic poppies growing like weeds on lapels and collars, purchased for the price of a chugger contribution to the Royal British Legion.

While watching football over the weekend, I noticed that no less than 100 percent of the studio commentators for one match were wearing plastic poppies. As an experiment, I just turned on BBC News 24 this moment, and both of the on-screen anchors were wearing plastic poppies. If you walk down a given city street this time of year, you will notice that at least half of the people you see are wearing the poppies. (The always clever Time Out London, in its "Lies To Tell Tourists" column a couple of years ago, urged Londoners to tell tourists that any person wearing a plastic poppy had actually killed a German in combat.)

But I won't.

I have the greatest respect for veterans and their sacrifices. I do like to know that people who come back from war with physical, psychological or emotional wounds are taken care of. I will give money to the cause. And I'm aware of the cultural significance of the Flandrian poppy in reference to the horror of World War I. But I won't wear the poppy. I guess I resent the overtones of it--the suggestion that if I don't wear the poppy I'm somehow disrespectful of veterans. And to me, the poppy remains a symbol of war, rather than the peace we should hope for. Give me a Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament peace symbol any day.

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