The Thrill Is Gone

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Oh boy is it gone. I have, for years, gone on and on in the pages of this blog about my personal anglophilia, a love of all things British.

Perhaps it’s time to invoke the saying “familiarity breeds contempt” as it applies to my waning interest in the sovereign subjects of the Queen.

Oh, I suppose those oddball Brits will find their way back into my good graces, but it may take a while. The reason you haven’t seen a lot of my words around these pages and the reason I had the great fortune to travel to Dublin and then to Amsterdam over the past months was due to a very large project that is rapidly boiling along at my place of employment.

One of the main reasons I was hired to work for this joint was my previous international experience. My current employers don’t do a lot of that and what it takes to become a world player is quite substantial, so this project is been groundbreaking in many ways.

We’re far from over, but we’re getting there. I have been cooped up in conference rooms in three countries and participated in many video conferences with a group of very standard issue British citizens. And they are starting to wear me quite thin.

That fun little lilting British accent starts to grate the nerves after ten hours of intense negotiations.

That cheeky sense of humor makes you want to punch a wall.

That squishy style of confrontation makes you long for a Clint Eastwood style smack across the chops.

When I went to Britain two years ago, I delighted in every moment I was there. The food, the sights, the people, the everything! Even inspecting all of the coins and bills felt so dear to me.

Well, that was fun, but the fun’s worn off.

I now see the good people of Britain in a much different light. I once heard that “moaning (the British term for complaining) is the national pastime.” And that wasn’t even a joke. The ability to complain about everything from the idiosyncrasies of residents of other countries (a much beloved pastime) to the temperature of the water from a water cooler (not making that up) is an art, a sport and a hobby. All the whining gets to an American soul after a while.

I know Americans are often viewed as being far too friendly and upbeat, and I’ve been known to gripe with the best of them, but sometimes you just want to have a moment where every little thing is simply going to be all right.

You know who really ruined the Brits for me? The Irish. At this moment I can hear the screams and howls of my UK colleagues. They have told me, repeatedly, that the Irish are boring. Pretty standard opinion.

The Irish are anything but boring. They are the most cheerful, upbeat, hilarious people. Take a long gander at Irish history, look at the waves and waves of hellfire and damnation they have endured. Including the most recent thirty years!

Look at the strife, the upset, the horrors they have baked into their DNA. And then tip a pint and laugh your ass off, because the good people of Ireland won’t complain. They’ll laugh about their own misery, joke about their pain.

So maybe my Anglophilia is now Irishphilia? Yes, I did just make up that word, why do you ask?

In the time I spent in Dublin I found all of the things I liked about England with none of the complaining. And a cracking good sense of humor.

Maybe what happened is the Irish stole my love for the Brits and did so with charm and a gleam in the eye. The reserved, closed in, afraid to be embarrassed, must complain even when having fun British suddenly look, well, dare I say? Boring.

Take me back to Ireland, I still have some fun to attend to there!

Or, perhaps, let me finish my big project and back away from these fine British citizens for a while. Time and distance may make my heart grow fonder.

(The irony is not lost on me that I spent almost 700 words complaining about people who complain.)








Image found here




Who Is -phile’ing Who Here?

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As long time readers of the blog are aware, last year my very multi-national job had me on the phone at all hours of the day with coworkers and suppliers across the globe.

While I have always enjoyed dealing with people from every country around the world, I do have a certain affinity for the good people of Britain. One might even call me an Anglophile. Oh yes, visiting the motherland last year felt so right, like coming home. My ear always perks up to the sound of a good British accent and over this past Fourth of July weekend, I found myself maudlin remembering how I’d spent last year’s fourth by the Thames.

I changed jobs in January and I now work for a very, very American centric institution. Doing business with other countries is rather, ahem, foreign to my coworkers.

To be honest, my global background is part of the reason I was hired, but in moving to this job, I had to let go of my dreams of further global travel. It was a tradeoff I was quite willing to make in order to salvage any auspices of a work-life balance.

So imagine my delight when, yesterday morning, I had a call scheduled with a counterpart in Cambridge, UK.

And not just a call, but Skype video call. Big fun.

I smiled broadly to hear my very British counterpart discuss important matters of business. I giggled to myself at “Cheers, Karen!” when I’d made a useful point. And as the nice gentleman spoke, I found my eyes drifting over his shoulder and looking through the windows of his office and out to the green hills just beyond.

Oh England! How I miss you!

And maybe England misses me too, you know? Because damn, I am the one who walked away, and look, here it is again, loitering about, hoping to get my attention. We were only apart for a scant six months.

Cheers, Britain. We’ll be together again someday. Hopefully soon.





The Thames, taken just one year ago from the Westminster Bridge. *sigh*




Photo Copyright 2012, Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons license in the right column of this page. Photo taken with an iPhone4s and the Camera+ app.




The Supreme Court of Monty Python

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Blog post written for and on behalf of The Good Man.
_________________


Late last week we all got the news that the Supreme Court had handed down their opinions regarding both the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California’s Prop 8. There was much news coverage all around as same sex couples are now allowed to marry and receive federal benefits.

As in any Supreme Court case, there is the majority opinion and the dissenting opinion. Each must be written up as a point of record.

In the instance of DOMA, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion and it was Justice Antonin Scalia who wrote up the dissenting opinion. I actually made it a point to read Justice Scalia’s opinion as I was interested to hear what points he might make in his dissenting case.

What I got was a blast of vitriol, indignation and sarcasm.

My favorite line in the whole piece, however, was this:

“As I have said, the real rationale of today’s opinion, whatever disappearing trail of its legalistic argle-bargle one chooses to follow…”


Did he…did a Justice of the Supreme Court of these United States just use the term “argle-bargle”? Is that for real?

I looked around and confirmed in several spots that indeed, yes, the term argle-bargle is now a part of the legal and constitutional history of our country.

Wow.

So of course I immediately sent this over to The Good Man. We are both big fans of the television show Boston Legal which often featured a doddering old judge (played to perfection by Shelly Berman) who would use terms like “stop all this jibber-jabber” and then proclaim “I am the decider!”




So good they made a meme


But it was The Good Man who reached even farther back into the folds of his brain and pulled out an audio recording he remembered from his youth.

On an album entitled “Monty Python’s Previous Record” released in 1972, there is a track named “Teach Yourself Heath”.

In the track, the Python crew mocks the accent style of British conservative Prime Minister Edward Heath. This would be something akin to the Saturday Night Live tradition of sending up the US President.

Click here to give it a listen if you wish. It’s at about the 3:22 mark (for reasons unknown this clip is subtitled in Spanish):



In the clip, the phrase argy-bargy is used. A short Google search shows that argy-bargy is a rather low-brow bit of British slang used to describe a lively discussion or vigorous dispute.

So this begs the question: Did Justice Scalia really use modified British pub slang in his dissenting arguments?

and

Is he just a big ol’ Monty Python nerd?

Either way, it’s pretty fascinating. Usually American politicians tend to shy away from anything British, especially anything relating to British politics.

As we get very near the day of celebrating our independence from the King of England, Justice Scalia went all Monty Python. (Do you think he has his own funny walk under that robe?)

Wow.

‘Merica! With a British twang.







Judge Robert Sanders photo found here and Monty Python photo found here.




Once Again, The Brits Are Kicking Our Lexiconic Butts

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As a certified lover of words, I always patiently await the annual “word of the year” results.

The word of the year is often made up, a new entry to the lexicon, and relates to the popular culture of the previous year.

Previous winners have been things like hanging chad and nukular.

This year seemed ripe with contenders. Gangham style comes to mind. Fracking. 47 percent.

So today I was a little disappointed to learn the word of the year for the US, as determined by Oxford Dictionaries is: gif

Good lord. That’s not a new word. That’s been around forever and I am not sure it was used any more this year than in the past.

So then I checked with SFGate who do their own poll and selection. Their choice this year is fiscal cliff.

*sigh*

Lame.

Then I noticed that Oxford also lists a UK word of the year. That word for 2012 is: omnishambles

Coined by the writers of the satirical television programme The Thick Of It, an omnishambles is a situation that has been comprehensively mismanaged, and is characterized by a string of blunders and miscalculations.


I like their word better. Much better.

I think I’m going to adopt it.







Image from IBN Live.com.




Met A Childhood Friend

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Was sorting through all of the photos from my recent trip to New York when I found a set that I wanted to share. In fact I’d meant to share this a couple weeks back but I just got lost in the back-to-the-real-world on top of the hectic pace of the hellidays.

One of the days that The Good Man and I were in New York, I requested the chance to spend a few hours in the New York Public Library as I was still rap-tap-tapping away at my NaNoWriMo.

The Good Man indulged me and I had some time to sit in the Great Room and write, which was both fun and inspiring and is something I will never forget. The Good Man went exploring as I worked because there is much to see in that amazing library.

That was when The Good Man stumbled across something interesting. It turns out that in the basement of the NYPL, there is a children’s books section, and in that area there is a display case containing several stuffed animals, but not just any stuffed animals.

In the case are the original stuffed friends that were the inspiration for Winnie-the-Pooh. These toys belonged to Christopher Robin Milne, the author’s son.

The toys were brought to the United States in 1947 and remained with the publisher of A.A. Milne’s books, which then donated the stuffed animals to the New York Public Library in 1987.

In this photo, from left to right, is Lottie the Otter who shows up in a more modern Winnie the Pooh book sanctioned by the Milne estate. Then we have Tigger, Kanga in the back, the small Piglet, then Eeyore and finally on the far right, the man himself Winnie-the-Pooh.



This photo is Copyright 2012, Karen Fayeth


Turns out the stuffed bear was bought at Harrods in London as a present for Christopher Robin’s first birthday.

It also seems that this stuffed bear is named Edward. Who knew that ol’ Winnie-the-Pooh was really a very posh Brit bear? I did not.




This photo is Copyright 2012, Karen Fayeth


This Winnie-the-Pooh looks much different from the Disney-i-fied version that we all are used to. This Mr. Pooh has very kind eyes and a pettable nose.

But still no pants.



This photo is Copyright 2012, Karen Fayeth


I was pretty excited after seeing the original Pooh gang. It was like meeting a group of celebrities.

As a writer it was pretty cool to see how inspiration can turn into a rich and beloved story.

Combined with a marathon writing session and then seeing Charles Dickens’ pen and inkwell, it was quite a happy literary day for this little ol’ writer.




All photos Copyright 2012, Karen Fayeth and subject to the Creative Commons in the right column of this page. Taken with an iPhone5 and the Camera+ app.




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