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Saturday, March 22, 2014

And now for something completely different....

Gee, it helps if you remember to post things in a timely manner....It also is hard to concentrate when you have a Bean  running around your house. A Bean who constantly is yelling Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! There is only so much 'mommy did you know that... (a backhoe, a feller buncher, a hydraulic cylinder, a recycling truck...)'  I can take before I start to get a twitch.

Ok, Ok. So people have been clamoring for a new blog entry. Well, maybe not clamoring, but a handful of my family and friends have been wondering what we've been up to since the great vomitous trip into London. I can sum it up in one word: Olympics, baby! Ok that's two words, but the 'baby' is just for flair.  The Olympics and the weather has been craptastic and we haven't wanted to slog around in the hurricane force winds and driving rain.

The XXII Olympic games gave me the unique opportunity to witness different media coverage and cheer for athletes from the UK and the US. (I am still mad about the performance of the 'Flying Tomato'.) I am all too familiar with the Vaseline smiles from the overly perky and fabulously groomed talking heads who usually commentate the events. Not the case here. I rarely saw any reporter on camera, but their behind the camera commentary was truly brilliant. They talked about the sport at hand, and the past athletes who won fabulously or crashed terrifically at past Olympics. The comments they made were not always nice, probably true, but, that is also a attribute of the Brits. I thought I was one for not sugar-coating my thoughts. The Brits have perfected this skill. When there was a break in coverage for events, instead of turning it over to the 'talking heads' the camera held fast to the Zamboni cleaning the rink in the interim.

There is minimal background presented about the athletes or their personal lives. You don't get to see where Jenny Jones grew up or the facility where she trains. You don't get to meet her mother or father and listen to them talk on and on about how committed she was to her sport. Nope. Well, that's not entirely true. When she won the gold for Women's Slopestyle Snowboarding her mom (and dad) forced their way through the crowd to their daughter, ignoring the part where a live interview was taking place. Her mom hugged and cried and spoke on (and on) about how proud they were before finally acknowledging the camera and interviewer.Then, (and I love this part) 'mom' wiped her eyes and said, "is this live?" The reporter said, "yes", and Mrs. Jones simply responded, "Oh my, and here I am just praddling on!" Did she leave straight away? Nope. Not with out getting a final hug and waiving to the camera like a celebrity as she retreated behind the barrier. Awesome. But my point is the Brits take on reporting the Olympics is much like how they approach life. Just get on with it. I found it refreshing.

My only regret is that I cannot find a snip of Clare Balding reporting from crowd side where some performers were dancing in traditional Russian dress. As she was 'sending it back to (you)', she said, "Blah, blah blah fantastic Russian dancers having so much fun...I may join them." Then deadpan, "No, I don't have the moves. Back to you, Bob." Classic. (You might have had to be there...)

These people do love some curling. I think I understand the game now. It tickled me to see these very demure ladies, faces like thunder in fierce concentration, scream like banshees when the curling stone needed a bit of adjustment. The hall would be dead silent upon release of the curling stone then a blood-curdling, "PUULLLLLLLL!" At least I think that was was they were yelling. It may have been "HAAAAAARD!"

I cannot go on with out mentioning the Russian Police Choir. I walked into the living room just in time to hear the last of Tom Jones' "Sex Bomb". Whaaaa? Then only to find out during a phone call with my Mom in Law there was more??? Oh joy! They rocked Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" and also Adele's "Skyfall". I will say again, whaaaaa??? This may have been the highlight of the Olympics for me.

Speaking of TV, the commercials are totally different than in the US. First of all, there are no, none, zilch, zero, nada commercials for any prescription drugs. Vitamins? Yes. But there are no adverts for depression, cholesterol, diabetes or even 'male performance and enhancement' drugs. There are very few commercials for fast food here, either. The only fast food commercials that spring to mind are ones for KFC. All the rest of the foodie commercials are for their supermarkets, which show tasty meals and families getting together for dinnertime. They also have adverts for frozen or convenience meals. Here is one of my favs for Rustlers insta-meals.

Some of their commercials are baffling. It takes me until the very end to figure out what its for and then I usually look at the Hubs and say, "Are you kidding me? That had nothing to do with banking." I also now realize why British people usually do not have credit card debt. Would you take out a credit card with a 1057% APR??? No that's not a typo and that's not the highest rate I've seen. There are also 'instant' loans that will fund within one hour, but you'll pay a 2057% interest rate. The good news is you can pay it back in installments or have your kneecaps smashed with a lead pipe. Your choice.

There are a lot of US celebrities who have commercials here. I doubt they would allow such adverts in the States. Just to name a few: George Clooney (coffee) Bruce Willis (Sky TV) Harrison Ford (Sky Movies) Julie Roberts (some perfume - I can not get past the dopey expression on her face), Kevin Bacon (4G) and my all time favorite: Snoop Dog. (Snoop Lion?) When you watch this you will understand my perplexity (what the...) and amusement (this is beyond awesome). While it's no surprise that Celebs think it's much cooler to have commercials in other countries because we've all seen the 'Worlds Greatest Commercial' specials on TV, it's cool to actually see them everyday. Just one last commercial featuring Usain Bolt and the oh-so-cool-I'd-like-to-buy-him-a-beer Richard Branson.

If you like a bit of gambling - of any type - then come to England. The majority of adverts are for some type of gambling: post code lottery, bingo, games of chance - you name it, they have a app for your pleasure. They also have scratchers and regular old lottery.  These ads take up a lot of space. Oh and pet insurance. Crazy about some pet insurance.

Don't despair, they do have some ads which are similar to ours. Namely, personal injury lawyers. Ewan McGregor does a commercial for world aid (Bosnia maybe? - I'm just looking at him). There are a lot of charity adverts, but mostly for animals. And children. But mostly animals. You can adopt a tiger, a donkey, snow leopard, or join the Oxfam cause and buy a donkey or cow for a needy family. Which helps children and animals so everyone wins!

My last comment about useless observations about British television is commercial breaks. Believe it or not, most of the time you can watch an entire program without commercials or there will be a bank of commercials, say 6 minutes worth, in the middle of a program. That's plenty of time to go toilet, pop some popcorn or get a drink of water, put a load from the washer to the dryer, load your crock pot....well you get the picture. And after having the ability to pause live TV, I may never be able to watch normal TV again. I have caught myself, several times, trying to fast forward live TV.

Now that Spring has sprung, we intend to get out and check more items off our 'UK Bucket List'. Stonehenge and Avebury are next to tick off. The bikes all have new tires and we're raring to go.

But for now, I am quietly counting down the days until I board the plane and head home for a much-anticipated visit. The family is looking forward to seeing us - and by "us" I mean the Bean. Ha ha! I know where I stand, people - and I'm ok with that.

Until next time.....I will leave you with two more fabulous commercials:

"Malcom" (my title)


Sing it Kitty

I will apologize in advance for the infectious tune. Enjoy!!!

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