Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Ocean Filter

It is interesting what does and does not make it over the Atlantic and what has been filtered out for one reason or another. I've talked about the one way language barrier before (caused by American movies and TV showing all over the world, the reverse not being true so I don't know a lot of British slang.) But there is a lot of stuff I can talk about for American culture that everyone understands until there is just some hole and my joke will deadpan. Then I get the look. Of course, if I'm not sure if they have heard of something and they have I also get that same look.
I was watching TV with some of the British students and they had never heard of the movie "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" but have heard of the band "Save Ferris". (They also were truly disturbed when they saw Cameron in the movie saying "Hey batter, batter, batter, swing batter". I had to explain that was normal to say at a Baseball game and was not Turrets.)
Besides the odd movie that has slipped through I have noticed that the coverage of American culture is a recent phenomenon so shows like Gilligan island got a blank stare from everyone. Since they get the shows but not the commercials I find that references I make to commercials leave the biggest holes. I was trying to explain the Pillsbury dough boy, which to me, makes perfect cultural sense. That is until I catch myself saying that poking a little white thing and making him laugh will help sell pastries.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

End of term boat trip

They talked me into making the flyer for the party for the end of the term. We had decided to have it on a boat that make a 3 hour tour up and down the Thames river. I thought it was obvious but no one had heard of Gilligans island but I couldn't resist. I added a picture of the minnow on the party flyer, even if only the two other Americans and one Canadian were the only ones to get the joke.
So these party barges (or disco boats) are pretty regular things for London. They all pretty much look the same and have to have really low roofs to go under all the bridges. This meant if I didn't want to lean my head to one side I had to spend a lot of time outside, which is fine since I was taking pictures anyway.
I got to see the Parliament building and Big Ben. The MI5 and MI6 headquarters (Think British versions of the FBI and CIA respectively) are both on the water which seems kind of weird when you want to keep secrets. Going under the Tower bridge was interesting. It is just as decoratively painted underneath as it is on top.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patricks Day

I've been told that for Ireland St. Patrick's Day is a national holiday so the streets are littered with passed out bodies. My friends that are Irish here though didn't feel that the level of partying was even worth the effort so they actually did less than most of the other students. Other things I learned: saying St. Patty's day is not OK but St. Paddy Day is.
Wearing green for the day is not a part of the culture here. I'm guessing it's because of the fight over Northern Ireland and the British side is orange for that fight. That being said an excuse to drink is not passed up so St. Patrick's Day is heavily celebrated here. Of course since St. Patrick is the saint for Ireland the drink of the day is Guinness. The big traditional thing to wear here for St. Patrick's Day is the hat. Now normally I am told that you are given the hat when buying four pints of Guinness. However this year, as long as you donated two pounds to the charity you got the hat. Which I was happy about since I wouldn't have got the hat otherwise. My friend however had it all planned out a little to well of which chains of pubs gave which kind of hats (Yes, pubs are franchises here like McDonald's which dictates which ales are served.) and how in previous years that he had drunk 8 pints to get both kinds of hats (The Guinness top hat, and a clover leprechaun hat.)

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Pancake Day

So the tradition for the day before the start of Lent is called Pancake day. New Orleans has Mardi Gras, Rio De Janeiro has Carival, here they eat pancakes. Instead of trying to get all the sin out before starting Lent the tradition here is to get rid of all the food that can't be eaten during Lent and would spoil. (Apparently that just magically just happens to be the ingredients for pancakes.)
Now British pancakes are what I think of as a crepe. We had a gathering in the village hall and a few people including me had a try at flipping them in the pan. Sweet and savory toppings were presented (lots of different kinds of chocolate sprinkles, fruit, golden syrup - basically corn syrup but made from sugar, lemon juice, sugar, cheese, and ham) Of course by the end of the night people were mixing the ham and chocolate on their pancakes.