The Monday Mess – When I moan about U.S. food, I moan – 4 Dec 2012

Once upon a time I lived in a quaint old place, old enough to have history. Oh hang on, I opened with this line a few posts ago. Anyhoo, said place wasn’t the greatest place for food until loads of europeans, and people from Bangladesh moved in, bringing good food with them. Spoiled with this, and the Brits ability to make decent snack chocolate, moving to the US provided some, we shall call them “annoyances”.  Your average American who is more tuned into simple, easy to understand food and beverages, like Hamburger, Cola, Burrito and Hamburger just doesn’t see what they are missing. Um I used a variation of that line a few weeks ago also. But joking aside, where I live in Southern California is good for a lot of foods, and most of it good. There is choice and plenty of it. But I am a Brit, and I do need to find something to moan about, because I sure cannot moan about the weather here. Furthermore, my grievance is more to do with snack foods than meal foods, but I kind of liked that intro so I kept it. On the snack front, and using an inappropriate metaphor in line with the introduction, here is a few “choice cuts”:

Avoid this thing or use it as a frisbee.(image courtesy of microsoft clipart)

Avoid this thing or use it as a frisbee.
(image courtesy of microsoft clipart)

  • Pretzels – In one of my sons books, Sesame Street’s Cookie monster is out of cookies and goes on the hunt for some. Big Bird offers him some Pretzels, and rightly so, Cookie monster complains about them being too salty. I always have to add the line “Uurgh, Pretzels are the worlds most overrated snack”. What? Best teach them early eh? Unless they are the tiny pretzels they serve on the Virgin Atlantic flights from Heathrow to LAX, those are the exception to the rule. But otherwise, what a piece of crud. I cannot think of a single redeeming quality on those large ones, having neither good flavour, or texture, and erm, taste. Cover them in chocolate? I say why? I now also say, Big Bird is not to be trusted.
  • Cheese – This is where I know I’ve been out of the UK too long when the cheese is starting to grow on me. We complain the US cheese is tasteless, which it mainly is, but that is because they prefer their cheese to be creamy with a vague hint of cheese. The Brits prefer cheese to taste of something. Sharp cheese in the US. About as sharp as a rubber door stop.
  • Salted Caramel – Me I love caramel and toffee. I f**kin love it. (Thats two “O”s there). Here, what is the obsession with adding salt to it? If I wanted salt I would add it. Caramel is supposed to be sweet. And while we are on the subject, why does toffee always have to arrive with nuts on it? I don’t mind nuts, I would just like some toffee without it from time to time.
  • Fudge – Something else I love but slightly ruined in the US by it adding chocolate to the mix. Now chocolate with many things, except Pretzels obviously, is a good thing. Fudge, it just doesn’t mix like it should. The fudge has its own taste, it can live without chocolate. But then it is also somewhat ruined as described in my next point.
  • Chocolate – Generally speaking, US chocolate is pretty ropey. Hershey chocolate has a slight waxy texture, a slight soapy taste. Licensed Cadbury’s chocolate isn’t bad but not quite the same, I cannot put my finger on why. But it isn’t called chocolate here because of some rule I don’t recall, or have no wish to look up on google, about what ingredients are considered to be chocolate. Still I am addicted to Cadburys Creme eggs, and partial to a bit of the old “fruit and nut”. Oh, Trader Joe’s caramel chocolate bars aren’t bad either.

And this being monday, annoyance in Nonet:

If I were religious, I would ask

for a cheese with a mature taste

or chocolate that does not

taste like washing dishes

or caramel not

been seaside dipped

I’m not. Still

pretzels

no

And that concludes my tongue in cheek wishes for this week.

Have a nice week, and tune in at a later date, for the next brainsplats blog post.

Lexicon word of the day: rollick.

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The Monday Mess – Odd English slang part 1 – 26 Nov 2012

Once upon a time I lived in a quaint old place, old enough to have history. The island has a surprising amount of different regional accents, given the size of it, most likely somewhat unintelligible to your average American who is more tuned into simple, easy to understand terms, like Hamburger, Cola, and taxes. Anyhoo, I digress, said place has some interesting slang terms which might sound a bit odd if you’ve never heard them before. Here is a selection:

But what does it mean?
(Click to see)

  • how’s your father – Something I heard my old man say a few times when I was younger, and he was referring to other people. Well hopefully not my mother and him. It means getting your leg over, or er, giving her one, you know, sex. According to the Urban Dictionary its origin can be traced back to several places, but it is basically about covering up the deed with polite language. I would often hear it as a teen in the context of “I think they went for a bit of how’s your father”.
  • “getting your leg over – See above. It’s about having your way with a lady. The phrasing would imply more that it is for a male conversation.
  • “feel a right tit” – Not literally to feel a woman’s right breast, which was once taken that way when I used it to comment on Mr Faulkner’s blog. Or on this T-shirt link here. It is more along the lines of “I felt like a complete idiot” or more slang like “I felt a right idiot”.
  • Taking a slash – Not whipping your knife out, and thrusting it across a smooth surface causing a tear, but actually to whip something else out, no thrusting required, in order to relieve oneself. Yes it means you are off to urinate.
  • “bloody nora” – is one I still like a lot now. Where I grew up you would sometimes hear the variation “Chuffing Nora“. It is used in a situation where something bad is happening but not panic / really awful bad. Like a pile of papers you have stood up three times, slides down again. You deal with it in a relative calmness, like the whole thing is a joke, hence “bloody nora”. You could also use it when someone is asking you to do something for the 15th time as a way to register some annoyance, without making it a big deal, and more of a joke. An interesting explanation on the potential origins of the phrase can be found here.

And this being monday I have to try cram it into some form of poetry. This week Nonet:

Bloody nora! I felt a right tit

Looked at her, said How’s your father?

she said he’s in hospital

that aint good then, said I

no leg over then

so off I went

to take a

big long

slash

And that concludes a short story of a caring individual. Well I crammed all the phrases in so “jobs a good un”

Have a nice week, and tune in somewhen further down it for the next brainsplats blog post.

Lexicon word of the day: ameliorate.

The Monday Mess – The irony of good music – 19 Nov 2012

YupWelcome to the Monday mess, where this Monday we shall, mainly because I had most of this written, and I didn’t want to start anything else, via the medium of a small essay, take a flying look at the irony of good music. Will you still love me tomorrow?

I do not know this woman, she is just appreciating the irony of good music.
(Image courtesy of Morguefile.com)

In times gone by, that being the time before it was easy to get music off the internet and download individual tracks, the single used to be the selling point, and often the introduction to a new album. Originally the album was just a collection of tracks used to get more money from the consumer. Then Artists like the Beatles, The Beach boys, The Who, and many, many more utilised it for larger artistic statements. Record companies realised early on that they could make bigger profits from the album. Artistic statements aside, the album needed to be made, it needed to be sold, and some singles from the album was the way to sell it. Problem is, this often leads to albums with some good singles and some filler. Early Stones or Who anyone? The reality is there are good albums and bad ones. Singles are or were, not always a good indicator of how good the album is, or was. But unless you read reviews you had nothing else to go on other than the singles. Another problem is a good album does not always have good singles, or singles that catch on. Those albums might not get heard much no matter how good they are. Love’s “Forever Changes” being one example which has become a cult classic over time, and is genuinely a great album.

Of course this is the scenario in very general terms. Bands often built an audience through touring or word of mouth. But the point I’m getting at is a single is not always an indicator of how good an album is. The same tracks aside, you could almost say the two are unrelated. You could easily miss a lot of good music, and easily build up a collection of dross. The irony of good music, is that unless you get proper access to it, and a time to explore it, then you could easily not even discover it. Let me explain a little further.

Often good music or great music is layered, or the quality is not always fully apparent on the first listen or two. It takes our brain a couple of listens to decode it before the qualities begin to shine through. A quick listen on the radio isn’t going to get you that. But from the radio, that is what most people want. We more often need something that is catchy, that has the hooks that pull you in straight away. So receiving music that way, is mostly only a certain type of music. In most instances, anyway. That explains why when you buy an album, even one you soon come to love, it does not sound too impressive in the first listen or two. Unless of course it is full of catchy pop hooks. I cannot remember the amount of times I have bought albums and then had to give them a few days of plays to bed into my mind before deciding whether I really liked it or not.

Generally though, even if you don’t buy a lot of music, you will have some variety of taste. You might have been exposed to it from your parents, family or friends. You might be exposed to it through some constant radio listening, or certain tv shows. There will usually be something that didn’t grab you instantly but crept up on you over time. And there will be the opposite, something that stuck in straight away and sounded brilliant. But after a few plays that initial buzz has worn off. It’s ok but not that amazing. Then a few listens later and it is starting to do your head in. A simple truth in music is that writing music which is catchy, and stays with you, and maybe even reveals more detail over time, is difficult. Some are lucky to put together a good one on the fly, but repeating it? Not so easy. You see the irony of most good music is that it takes some time to grow on you, and reveal itself. It’s like a good friend, more just keeps on coming, even if the way you met was nothing special.

And if you survived that, or just skimmed over it, here is the same argument in “Nonet”:

To your ears, I do not sound like much

but I don’t give it up like that

I’ll tease, and let you taste it

draw you in, be your muse

wonder wat you missed

listen again

soon I will

grow on 

you

So with that, I’m signing off.

Have a nice week, and tune in somewhen further down it for the next brainsplats blog post.

Lexicon word of the day: etymology.

The Monday Mess – Mysteries of Monday revealed – 12 Nov 2012

(Image courtesy of Microsoft Clip Art)

Once upon a time a music fan called Elliot, would look forward to Mondays because that was the day new music came out. He could wander down the local music store, and browse the new single and album releases. It was fun, at least for a music fan. Now most of these stores have closed, and he moved to the US where for seemingly inexplicable reasons, music comes out on a Tuesday. Monday you have a lot to answer for. Sadly that is not your only crime. I believe you are responsible for the following mysteries:

    • Why Mondays are depressing – Because it is the start of the working week for most people. Time stuck in an office, time stuck in a factory, time stuck in a shop, time stuck some place. See where I’m going? Sure you pay the bills, but wouldn’t you much rather be at home crashed out on the couch eating chocolate and watching the best that cable tv has to offer? For my writing friends, you can replace that last bit about the couch with “sat at a desk, staring at a laptop screen, tapping away at the keys worrying about word counts”.
    • Why Monday is too tired – You spend weekend with your family or friends, or doing something interesting or fun, trying to put off the fact that Monday is coming. You expend too much energy, and / or get too little sleep. Or your couple of days on the sofa is over. Time to get up and do something again. But you just don’t want to…
    • Why Monday is too long to the weekend – Assuming you work the standard Monday to Friday, or maybe even including Saturday, Monday is the furthest point from your time off doing something you want to. Unless you prefer being at work to being not at work, in which case, you need to take a serious look at your life.
    • Why monday is responsible for your life disappearing – Because you spend all week waiting for the week to fly by so you can enjoy the weekend. Then the weekend moves even faster. So the cycle starts again. Before you know it, you woke up in March thinking it will be Easter soon, and actually its almost Christmas. Your child, just a few months old is now almost two. You are wondering where your life has gone. Then it’s Monday and you want to see the weekend again.

You would think I don’t like my job wouldn’t you? Actually it is not bad, but would I still rather be at home with wifey and child? Answer: Watch out for Monday. If you look over your right shoulder, it is there at the back somewhere sniggering at you.

Nonet, Tanka? This week “Monday” in three Haiku

Poke me in the eye
or prod me with a sharp stick
please not be Monday

Where once we were young
we were never growing old
then Monday did come

The finger beckons
new musical gift for me
lost in sands of time

Although on the other hand, it does bring with it the Monday mess.

Have a nice week, and tune in somewhen further down it for the next brainsplats blog post.

Lexicon word of the day: Quincunx.

The Monday Mess – The having a day off, sort of, post – 29 Oct 2012

Yup, that’s right, you read it correctly. I’m having the day off in a blogging sense. Well sort of. I have other things to do this weekend. I’m keeping the post short. Here is a nonet about it. Don’t worry, you will be quickly on your way:

(Image Source: Microsoft Clip art)

“Nonet” to you, lets get on with it, to me:

One final time, I’m too lazy to delete it, Nonet = Nine lines, first line with nine syllables and dropping a syllable each line until the final ninth line has only one. The prompt, see above:

Yeah, whatever! Nothing much to say

time is short, having off today

best not stick around for long

the door will soon be closed

bye bye monday mess

don’t get attached

it’s only

a day

off

So with that, I’m signing off.

Have a nice week, and tune in somewhen further down it for the next brainsplats blog post.

Lexicon word of the day: Qanat.

The Monday Mess – My wife the nice character killer – 22 Oct 2012

YupMonday again and what better time than now to discuss a problem. Why monday instead of um, Friday? Because I can, and this is the Monday mess. And this is a mess. A mess of unusual proportions.

See I love my wife, as you might hope and expect, but pssst, quiet now, she has a little problem. See it all started a few months ago…

You better watch out.
(Image Source: Microsoft Clip art)

One sunday evening we settled down to a sunday drama show, in this instance the brilliant “Breaking Bad”. There was a particular character that she was very fond of. I don’t want to name the character, for possible spoiler reasons for anyone who hasn’t seen the latest season yet (see I’m good that way). But let us just say now, that said character did not make it to the end of the season. Was my wife impressed, no. Does a character you like end up being killed off? From time to time yes (for me, Michael Pitt’s character in last seasons “Boardwalk Empire”, which annoys me so much I break my spoiler rule), so no big deal. Most of the time.

Fast forward to um, perhaps a week or so later (but it might have been the next day), and watching “Hell on wheels”. There is another character my wife is growing fond of. The show is set in the “Old West”, surely not much can happen there right? So what happens? The character takes gets captured for crimes committed and has to take a bullet as punishment. And that is the end of that. Hmm, that seems a bit of a coincidence. Oh well never mind.  There is another character in the same show she can like instead. A loveable Irish chap (well he was a racist thug in the first season, but season 2 seems to have conveniently forgotten that, so now he is likeable). And what happens to him? No sooner than my wife starts liking him, then he kills himself. That’s right, he did it to himself. I don’t think he knew my wife liked him, I think in the show it was for a separate reason. At least I think.

Oh and if you watch the recent “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” don’t get too attached to that Gorilla. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

Well never mind “The Walking dead” is back. My wife likes Hershel. Nothing can happen to him in a show like this right? Well something did. Actually at the time of writing, he is still alive. But for how much longer? Now I’m worried for the characters I like in other shows. What if my wife starts liking them too?

“Nonet” or not Nonet? That is the question. And below, the answer:

Last weeks one was interesting, so here is another attempt. Nonet = Nine lines, first line with nine syllables and dropping a syllable each line until the final ninth line has only one. The prompt, see above:

Once upon a time, far far away

a nice character came to be

bringing much joy to many

till the reaper appeared

my wife’s smiling face

Don’t get attached

that one will

end up

dead

We’ve come to an agreement now. My wife will be shut in the closet whilst a show I like is on. And no putting your ear to the door either.

Good job my wife has a sense of humour. Love you Mrs Brainsplats 🙂

Have a nice week, and tune in somewhen further down it for the next brainsplats blog post.

Lexicon word of the day: aberrant .

The Monday Mess – 15 Oct 2012

Boom! This Monday, “My week in Haiku” is taking a break in favour of a this similar but new thing which I shall call for now “The Monday mess“. I’m calling it this so I can chuck a bit of whatever in. Why the change? Because I am a bit bored of the other thing and I fancied a change. “The Monday mess” can be a bit of whatever I want to throw in, and nothing specific. Writing without boundaries? Yeah right, so in the spirit of the old thing, let’s start with a bit of news:

Umm, cannot think of much actually… Umm I got a new iPad cover with bluetooth keyboard. It is fab for typing stuff with, or quicker than me on the screen anyway, and um….

moving swiftly on then…

Three things that ought to be simple, but are actually difficult to explain:

  1. There is a couple who live further up our street who share the same first name. Not literally of course, one doesn’t borrow it when a friend pops round and wants to address them. It is merely the same first name. That must have made it easy to remember when they met. The name could be Lesley. It isn’t, but for these purposes let’s assume it is. The question is, how come when we’re in our house and I see them walking down the street, I can only remember one of their names? I say to my wife, “there is Lesley and whatever his wife’s called”. She replies “That’s Lesley. They are both called Lesley. I wonder if they call each other Les and Lesley?”. I go get a snack instead of replying, and forget about it until next time.
  2. How is it that when I type on the ipad screen, I seem to grow an extra pair of thumbs? They’re not even any use. I can’t climb trees of anything with them. They just stop me typing quickly. I had to get a bluetooth keyboard for typing blog stuff. What is the point of those? And why does the width of my fingers increase when typing on the iPhone screen?
  3. White socks. Um why do far two many American men wear white socks with, you know, everything. Black trousers, great. White socks, check. Why do it? Who knows. Do their women not tell them they are not color coordinated like mine does. Or do they ignore them? – Sunny day, lets wear some shorts. How about some nice white socks to cover your legs with. Oh man, what is this country coming to?

If you see this thing, avoid it…
(image from morgueFile – click to be taken there)

Without Haiku there is instead “Nonet”:

Which I borrowed for an attempt from my good friend Writers Digest. Nine lines, first line with nine syllables and dropping a syllable each line until the final ninth line has only one. Well it has got to be worth a go. And for that I need a prompt. In a stupid attempt to look clever, I am going to use the three things mentioned above. Ho hum, so here we go:

I see, but do not know, two Leslies

as I thumb at my ipad’s keys

What is his name? What is hers?

Why can I not type it?

or decipher it?

Perhaps the shorts

Green. But socks

they are

white!

Yup, and that is it. Have a nice week, and tune in somewhen further down it for the next brainsplats blog post.

Lexicon word of the day: Is taking the day off. No it isn’t try – roustabout.