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Mad Scientess Jane Expat

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Media-laden social weekend [20050117|11:16]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
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Saturday morning Marco and I got up and went to pick up a package from my parents. It consisted mostly of four boxes of Cracklin Oat Bran and three packages of Oreos, neither of which you can get here. Okay, you can buy Oreos but they taste absolutely wrong. There were also four toothbrushes in the package, because my parents are subtle like that.

After dropping off our loot at home, we headed for Borough Market. This is becoming a semi-regular weekend event for us. We didn't eat breakfast so that we'd be super-hungry by the time we got our bacon bubble-and-squeak on a roll, with some coffee from Monmouth, which, if you're a coffee snob, is the place in Central London to get your beans. We loaded up on ingredients and spent the rest of the day cooking until Ian and Anna came over. We drank mojitos and ate Spanish cheese and guacamole and salsa and a venison roast and Puerto Rican rice and beans. I made banana pecan bread and we had that with ice cream and melted chocolate for dessert. In an effort to promote British-American cultural exchange, we watched Office Space, which was a big hit, and a few episodes of Aqua Teen Hunger Force, which, er, wasn't. Anna, who's an avid reader, had never seen the BBC production of Neverwhere so we put that on as well.

Marco made banana and Crunchy Nut pancakes for brunch on Sunday. Ian and Anna hit Camden Market while we tackled the aftermath of the previous night's debauchery. When they got back, the B-A cultural exchange continued with a viewing of two episodes from the first season of Spooks. I have to say to all my American friends who like television, you need to be watching this show. Holy shit, it's good. For the most part, I find I don't have to devote my full attention to television shows. I can have them on and be doing other things and not miss anything vital. This show blew me away. It's completely absorbing, it's smart, it's unashamed to take scathing shots at current events and politics, and it's funny. Watch It. (Oh, and don't read the IMDB message board unless you want to run into some major spoilers. Hissss.) The pirate-lady in the Santa hat commands you.

Last night, we met up with one of my Filipino cousins for some awesome Thai food at a new restaurant in Soho. She lives in London at the moment, working as a lead artist on some fairly major movie projects - I'll just note that she was in New Zealand for a couple of years before relocating to London. We haven't seen each other for about ten years and I don't think either of us owns a photograph of the other. The last time I saw her was my first year in college at USC. It's amazing how much alike we are, considering that we've evolved separately. As soon as we saw her in the crowded streets near Covent Garden, Marco recognized her. She was wearing a funky grey hat, black Docs and a long black coat, and peering impatiently up and down the street. Although I went into science and she's an art geek, we have more in common than I could have hoped. I think we'll be seeing each other often.
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Comments:
From: capitalflash
2005-01-17 12:08 (UTC)
hmmm. because of the difference in time between the oreos i was sent and the oreos i've bought myself in the u.k, i really can't remember a difference, but i'll take your word for it. but i assure you that there is a world of biscuits out there that will ensure you won't go crazy over it.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2005-01-17 12:15 (UTC)
Oh, I don't really miss Oreos. I am very happy with range of available biscuits here, particularly almond thins. Mmm. Almond thins.

Marco, on the other hand, is pretty addicted to Oreos.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2005-01-17 17:58 (UTC)
I think it was just a little too stupid for them. So, yeah. The giant wad of scarcely intelligible meat.
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[User Picture]From: elleclectic
2005-01-17 16:38 (UTC)
Cracklin' Oat Bran is the weirdest cereal. No has ever heard of it, but it's so freakin' tasty. I adore it!
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2005-01-17 17:56 (UTC)
It's also way expensive. Marco describes it as "oatmeal cookies in milk," which I think is about right.
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[User Picture]From: elleclectic
2005-01-17 18:23 (UTC)
Yeah, I agree... That is a pretty good description. It always amazed me, too, how you can pour in a tiny bit of cereal and a gallon of milk and all that cracklin' goodness just soaks it up!
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[User Picture]From: katyakoshka
2005-01-18 01:54 (UTC)
Yeesh. One more reminder that I live in the wrong city, and probably the wrong country (I'm so bad at being American a lot of the time, I realize).

V. cool about your cousin. I have a second cousin (in either Swansea or London -- don't ask why I'm confused) with whom I'd probably have a similar connection, even though we've never met: The gal has an MLIS (or equiv.), and used to sport a pink mohawk. Also, we look v. similar.

And rock on her working on LOTR (I am right, right?).
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2005-01-18 09:37 (UTC)
The thing about London is that it is not a very fun city to live in if you don't make a fairly decent salary. Everything here is hideously expensive, even if you, say, buy ingredients from scratch rather than going out to eat. Rent, food, goods, services, you name it, it is overpriced. For instance, I had to buy a pair of nail scissors after arriving here. The cheapest ones I could find cost £8. At the current exchange rate, that's $16. And you get that kind of sticker shock every day. I'm not saying you shouldn't move, but I would say, think hard before coming to London as a student. I would recommend going somewhere else in England (or Scotland, or Ireland) unless you can afford London, otherwise you won't be able to enjoy it properly.

Yes, she worked on LotR. I'm not being more specific because she has an IMDB page and I'm not sure how she feels about being mentioned in my LJ. We haven't had that conversation yet. ;-)
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[User Picture]From: katyakoshka
2005-01-18 20:16 (UTC)
Oh, I've already considered that. I do have relatives in Liverpool and Swansea. Between those cities and other non-London universities, I'm sure I could find a situation more amenable to student subsistence. ;P

Understandable.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2005-01-18 09:56 (UTC)

Oh, and.

I thought of myself as an "atypical American" when I moved here. But what I've learned is, while I may not be a typical American - I'm not loud, I'm not fat, I dress well, I've had a decent education and I'm socially liberal - I'm sure as hell not British, either.
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[User Picture]From: katyakoshka
2005-01-18 20:30 (UTC)

Re: Oh, and.

I do have some points in my favor: British grandparents, Canadian relatives, and a mom raised by the former with the latter. Yesterday, I was talking to two coworkers, and both very American, said that they really couldn't get the humor of Monty Python. This seemed strange to me. But there is a strong British influence in my upbringing, all the same. Weird combination of Texas tough, Brit stiff upper lip, and Left Coast liberalism. However, my grandmother counts moving to Canada and away from tea-over-coffee as a reward in the change of continents. I did realize, last year, that most of the music I listen to comes from British or British-oriented-origin artists. And I'm horribly underread in Americans (though the non-genre 20th century as a whole tends to suffer from neglect on my part).

There'd be culture shock anyhow, but I do have relatives in the UK as well as friends of varying degrees (LJ friends, mostly -- though I don't count you and Marco as only online friends, as you should know).

Oh, and my cousin? In Swansea. Wales! Wales! Though parking's crap there, which is why my great-aunt & her daughter didn't leave Liverpool. Need to email aunt Susan for addy of cousin. :)
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[User Picture]From: hunterxtc
2005-01-18 04:19 (UTC)
I love reading "the London posts." You sound so happy and alive (not that you weren't here in the States)...

I am curious... you've been there for a few months now... what do you find to be the biggest contrast between there and here, and what do you find to be most similar?
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2005-01-18 10:08 (UTC)
I would say that I think the biggest contrast is work-related. British people expect a lot from their employers. They expect a measure of job security, they expect decent pay, they expect benefits and most of all, they expect time off. The workers believe they have rights, and they are not afraid to fight for them, whether they're merely complaining or taking more drastic measures, like going on strike. I think Americans, on the other hand, generally expect to be fucked over by their employers (and, increasingly, their government). We are pleasantly surprised when we're offered benefits and time off. These things have become luxury items to us.

What's most similar, in London at least, is the increasing conglomeration of businesses into corporate chains. Many of the pubs, the restaurants, the grocery stores and the coffee shops are no longer independently run.
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[User Picture]From: enterlinemedia
2005-01-18 05:30 (UTC)
I have watched SPOOKS. It is known in the USA as MI-5 (since Spooks is some little known racial slur I have never heard of- I have always thought a spook is a spy). I'm waiting for a tape of the last 4 episodes of season 3 (from a friend). A&E in the USA has started airing season 3 (which loses 15 minutes out of each episode to fit in commericals since Spooks/MI-5 is a 60 minutes show without ads in the UK).

Definitely MI-5/SPOOKS is great stuff (better than 24 or ALIAS). They are making a fourth season of episodes.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2005-01-18 09:41 (UTC)
Yeah, I saw that it was called MI-5 on the IMDB page. I always thought of a spook as a spy myself, too. I heard about the hack job cuts that were made to the episodes for airing in the US. That just boggles my mind. Every minute of the uncut episodes is packed with goodness. If they wanted to air it with ads in the US, why didn't they schedule an hour and half for each episode instead of making a mess out of the show?

Marco and I are trying to catch up on DVD so when season four airs we can watch it with our friends. :-D
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[User Picture]From: enterlinemedia
2005-01-18 19:34 (UTC)
I agree about the edits. A&E would have been wiser to air the show in a 90 minute slot. You have at least 6-8 months to watch the first three seasons (26 hour long episodes in total) before season 4 debuts. I'm waiting for the new Doctor Who series myself.
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