Here kiddy, kiddy, kiddy.

There is a little known fact that American children are made of glass.

It’s true; they’re such delicate little snowflakes that the mere thought of them near danger results in the country childproofing everything!

Think of the children!”

I’d rather not; you can get arrested for that shit.

Nothing demonstrates this more than the roads outside schools. There are big signs indicating a ‘School Zone’ with yellow lights that, when flashing, indicate you must slow down to the speed limit shown on the sign.

The Police are VERY vigilant of this I’ve been told.  After all, “Think of the children!

school_zone

These speed limits vary from 25 mph all the way down to ‘Get out of your car and push it‘, and start about 30 miles outside the ‘School Zone’.  “Think of the children!

At face value this is a great idea, but I have never EVER seen an unsupervised child cross the street outside a school. This isn’t The Goonies.  In fact, I’ve never even SEEN a child outside a school when the lights are flashing.

Ever.

Oh, wait, that’s not true.  I have seen kids outside when the school kicks out.

Hundreds of little miracles, hands firmly held by their parents or being loaded into cages.  At these times there are Lollipop men/women (crossing guards) walking out into the street, slowing and stopping the traffic.  These people make the flashing signs redundant.

Take a look at this..

This is a Google street view of the school I actually attended as a 7 year old boy in England, with a school I go past regularly here in Vegas (and the inspiration for this post).

skoolsukusa

Anyone for Frogger?

Back in my day (insert Yorkshire accent here) you left school and crossed the street between parked cars by looking both ways before doing so.  It was called ‘common sense’, or ‘not wanting to be splattered by an oncoming car’.  The speed limit was (and still is) 30 mph.  It’s slow enough to stop if a child runs out, and fast enough to speed up if a child runs out.  We like choices.

But in America we have to drive 15 mph in case, god forbid, an unattended child should run out of the school, across the vast car park (parking lot), past the planters and shrubs and onto the wide open road that has no parked cars obstructing them from view.

Seriously, I could be doing 70 mph and see these little angels coming.

I’d have to work really hard to actually hit one. Believe me, I’ve tried.

Those fuckers are fast.

In this mollycoddling nation of snowflakes and participation trophies, the little lambs are never let out of the sight of their parents who usher them from the school building to their oversized SUVs like a celebrity leaving a nightclub.

papped

So why do we all have to slow down from a measly 35 mph to an awkward kiddy-fiddling kerb crawl?  I get nervous when I have to drive by a school slowly, especially with only one hand on the wheel.

10 to 2.

Eyes straight.

But seriously, where is that healthy respect for traffic we all had growing up?  What happened to looking both ways when crossing the road?  Where is the Green Cross Code?

People need to ‘Stop‘, ‘Look‘ and ‘Listen‘.

Instead they ‘Don’t Stop‘, ‘Don’t Look‘ and ‘Sue‘.

In every country in the world, pedestrians need to watch out for oncoming traffic…but in America, traffic has to watch out for oncoming pedestrians. It’s ridiculous!  I know I’ve touched on this before, but it baffles me how backward this is.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big advocate for road safety…..but not as much as I am for natural selection.

Here kiddy, kiddy, kiddy.

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No offense. Oh….wait….

As some of you will know, the over-censorship of media and entertainment in America really pisses me off.

I’m not a child.  I can handle the word ‘fuck’ in a movie filled with uncensored (and apparently child friendly) blood, gore, guts and violence.

Well, this morning as I drove into work I heard censorship on the radio that pushed censorship (and me) to the next level.

It happened during the song, ‘I Write Sins Not Tragedies’ by Panic At The Disco; it’s a great song with an incredibly catchy chorus.

The beginning of that chorus goes:

‘I chime in with a “Haven’t you people ever heard of closing the goddamn door?!”

No, it’s much better to face these kinds of things with a sense of poise and rationality’.

Guess which word was censored?

Yep, that’s right, the word ‘Goddamn’ was censored. The irony of that second line of lyrics was most definitely lost here.

I love this song, but the joy of singing along was ruined.

You see, in America religion is a big deal and it’s so easy to offend people.  I knew this was the case before coming in, but I had no idea it was this bad.  The phrase “went to church” comes up in more conversations than I’m comfortable with and a lot of my new friends here in the States are very religious.

This is something I have tended to find out when they casually mention going to church or they post something ‘God-ish’ on Facebook.  When this happens I get a real sense of dread because I have to think back over every conversation we’ve ever had.

Did I say something blasphemous or offensive?

Have I made jokes about God or Jesus?

Did I sacrifice that goat in front of them?

In fact, not 10 minutes ago, this very subject came up at work (not instigated by me, I hasten to add) and one of my colleagues said, “I swear a lot.  I use ‘Fuck’, ‘Shit’, ‘Asshole’ and all that, but if I use GD or JC, then you KNOW I’m pissed!”.

It took me a moment to figure out what she meant by GD and JC.  She couldn’t even bring herself to say the words.

To her, saying ‘God Damn’ or ‘Jesus Christ’ is worse than saying ‘Fuck’.

What the Goddamn?

Is it me, or does that seem a bit fucked…er, I mean, ‘Jesus-Christed’ up?  This would go some way towards explaining why the word ‘Goddamn’ was edited out of the song this morning.

A few months ago I said ‘Goddamn it’ at work and got told to watch my language.  I couldn’t believe it.  I was being scolded like a 7 year old by a woman I have heard swear numerous times.

I’ve even started to replace “Oh my God” with “Oh my goodness”.  I hate that I’ve started doing this.

But people here are way too sensitive, and the entertainment business knows this.  Out of fear of being sued,they’re pandering to the masses by censoring the shit out of television.

Unless the customer is paying for it of course.

Netflix anyone?

Nothing on Netflix is censored and I hear it’s a popular service[1].

So, is America OK with bad language, blasphemy and sexual content when they’re charged a premium?  Apparently so.

My wife pays a yearly subscription for something called XM radio in her car.  It’s pricey, but there’s little to no censorship.  It really expands the selection of music they play as they can air otherwise unplayable tracks and, being a premium service, there are no Goddamn, Jesus Christing commercials.

When it comes to TV, the UK have it right with censorship.  Everything is the same as the US until 9pm.  Well, I SAY it’s the same, but that’s not strictly true; they don’t play violent action movies on a Sunday afternoon when kids can see it.  But apparently it’s OK for kids to see heads being chopped off and people being riddled with bullets, as long as there’s no sign of a nipple or someone saying ‘Goddamn it’.

violent tv kids

At 9pm (or the ‘watershed’ as it’s called) it is assumed that your delicate little snowflakes are all tucked up in bed.  After that, it’s the parents’ responsibility to manage what their kids watch.

At 9pm, all bets are off.  The only word that is bleeped out is the word ‘Cunt’.

Sorry; ‘the C word’.

After 9pm, TV is for adults and if you’re easily offended, change the channel.

blasphemy

 

[1] Sarcasm, in case you didn’t realise it.

Wishing the Mile High Club was an actual bat!

A week or so ago my wife and I took a trip to Venice.  In lieu of our upcoming move to Las Vegas we felt it wise to visit some places in Europe while they were still pretty close by (and a lot cheaper!)

Plus, as we are moving to sin city, I thought it was a good idea she see what Venice REALLY looks like, rather than basing her ideas on The Venetian hotel on the strip.  We’d already visited Paris the year before and she’s already been to New York, so the only one left – that the Las Vegas strip had ripped off – was Venice.

And before you mention The Luxor, friends of mine have been to Cairo and apparently it’s a shithole; so fuck that.

Anyway, I want to tell you about our trip.

But, Headinablender isn’t a travel blog, nor will it ever be unless something weird, wonderful or funny happens.  I’m not about to go on and on about the beautiful canals, the crippling expensive food and drink, the amazing architecture or the overpriced gondolas driven (driven? Is that right?) by uninterested Italians with an oar in one hand and their phone in the other.

No, i’m talking about our actual experience of getting there and back; literally ‘the trip’.

There are certain moments in life when you realise you’re now ‘a proper grown up’  These include hosting a dinner party, paying rent/mortgage, choosing curtains and, in the case of our trip, checking in at an airport.

I remember going to the airport when I was a kid and just following my parents around while they organised tickets, passports and luggage.  It was just a thing they did until it was time for all of us to sit on the plane.  I never considered the effort that had been put in before we’d even got to the airport.

The thing is, no-one pulls you aside at school and shows you how to book a holiday, you just ‘wing it’.  Nowadays it’s pretty much all done online.  There seem to be two types of holiday companies; those you’ve heard of, and those who are cheaper. Either way, you select your holiday, type in some stuff, pay some money and it’s done.  Apparently.

No tickets, no paperwork.  That’s it.

Then you find out you have to go to the airline’s website and enter your passport information and pay extra if you want to take a suitcase.

Still no tickets or paperwork.  Just faith that all will be OK when you get to the airport.

So, when we arrived at the check in desk and the clerk took our passports, checked us in, took our luggage and handed us our boarding passes, I felt like a proper grown up.

I felt like turning to an imaginary 5 year old me and winking, but I decided against it as I didn’t want to appear twitchy or weird and I wanted to actually be allowed on the flight.

franco wink

Anyway, fast forward to the departure gate.

We were walking down the tunnel to the plane and there were a lot of people in front of us, and more coming in behind us, including one couple who had a little boy that kept running up and down the tunnel.

“Elliott!  Elliot!  Come back here darling.  Elliott!  Elliott!”

His name was Elliott.

After we (and a lot of our fellow passengers) had enduring Elliott’s delightful stomping and kicking of our hand luggage, shins and patience, we finally boarded the plane.

Then, after waiting an eternity for people to put their hand luggage in the overhead lockers and actually sit their fucking arses down, we took our seats and relaxed.

This relaxation was short lived as, sat noisily behind us, was Elliott and his fucking family, comprising of mummy, daddy and younger sister Imogen.  How did we know their names? It was all…..we fucking heard…..for the duration…..of the fucking……flight.

Mostly from ‘Daddy’

“Elliott, try not to kick the seat in front”

(my wife’s seat; Elliott was playing a very dangerous game)

“Elliot, please sit down”

“Elliott, please let Imogen look out the window”

“Elliott, please stop crying.  Look out the window, can you see the clouds?”

“Imogen, please stop crying.  Look out the window, can you see the clouds?”

“Imogen, let Elliott have a go with the colouring book”

“Elliott, please don’t throw the pens on the floor”

“Elliot, please try not to kick the seat in front”

(this was a popular one.  Notice the word ‘try’)

“No Elliott, you can’t sit by the window now, we’re about to land.  No, please stop crying”

And then, once we’d landed and taxi’d to the gate, we were treated to this moment of absolute fucking lunacy…..

“We’re here!  I’m going to get you an ice cream for being such a good boy”

You had to be shitting me!

Once the ‘Fasten Seat Belt’ sign had been switched off we stood up and joined the rest of the plane, who had already stood up a long time ago, to retrieve our bag from the overhead locker.

baseball riot

This was my opportunity to turn around and get a proper look at these people who had made our two hour flight feel like ten.

The parents looked like death.  Gaunt, tired and dead behind the eyes.  They almost looked grey; drained of all the colour in their lives by the little prick jumping up and down on their laps.

So that made me feel better.

To be honest, the best part of the flight was shortly after the wheels had hit the tarmac.

We were sat over the wing, so as the plane was still hurtling down the runway we were able to see part of the wing lift up; creating more drag and slowing the plane.

I smiled, turned to my wife and said “Flaps”.

Ryan Reynolds grin

We both laughed.

It was all we could do not to strangle (H)Elliott with his seatbelt.

Speaking of seatbelts, have you noticed the crew walk up and down the plane to ensure you’ve fastened it, and THEN show the demonstration of how to fasten your seatbelt?  It seems as redundant as showing a pregnant woman how to lose her virginity.

Anyway, we left our woes at baggage claim and went on the have a great time in Venice. What a beautiful city.  If you ever get the chance to go, go. Photos don’t do it any justice, it truly is stunning.

Venice

By the end of our stay we were looking forward to our flight home.  We had chosen a late night flight to ensure we got as much time in Venice as possible and we could also enjoy a nice sleep on the plane.

Yeah, that didn’t happen.

We had the ONLY drunk person on the plane sat behind us, sprawled out across three seats kicking us both in the back for the entire flight whilst he snored like a baboon being sawn in half.  We lost count the number of times the cabin crew had to show him how to use the seatbelt.

If anyone needed to pay attention to the safety brief and seltbelt demonstration, it was this guy.  Mind you, he was having problems blinking both eyes together so it’s unlikely he’ll be able to successfully operate a life jacket.

Silver lining.

Also, we were lucky enough to have three incredibly noisy Italian kids on the row behind him who were the ONLY people on the plane making a noise; everyone else was sleeping.

This is the reason they don’t allow guns on planes.

Still, two amusing things happened during our stay in Venice that i’d like to share with you.

My wife really wanted a new purse/bag, so I said I’d buy her one.  Big mistake.

I was dragged into almost every bag store in Venice, and when you consider that shops in Venice only sell either Bags, Gloves or Masks (yes, masks)…..that’s a lot of fucking shops.

I noticed a lot of the bags had ‘Vera Pelle’ written on them.  Never heard of her.  This designer was everywhere!

vera pelle

My wife pointed out that ‘Vera Pelle’ means ‘Real Leather’ in Italian.  I could be forgiven for my mistake, but i’m half Italian!

Twat.

And the second funny thing was this:

ARS Liquid

Nuff said.

The cinema ‘experience’ (Part 2)

Following on from Part 1, here is the second category in why the cinema experience isn’t that great.

 2. The People

I can tolerate the extortionate prices of the food and over-iced drinks. I can even tolerate the uncomfortably stained and sticky seats.  It’s the people I have issues with. I could write shitloads about the people, but there’s only a finite amount of storage on the internet so I’ll break it down into categories.

Talkers

Why are you talking through the film? You’ve chosen and paid money to watch this film, so sit down, shut up and fucking watch it.  Are you so incapable of not spewing utter bollocks for 2 measly hours of the day?  If you can’t shut up, get out.

cinema talking

I have to go out on a limb here and include children and babies in this section. I realise it’s not their fault as they have yet to adopt social cinema etiquette, but come on!  If your baby is screaming and crying, take them outside.

They’re clearly not happy being in a dark noisy room surrounded by strangers.  After all, I’m not.

Take them outside. What are you doing in the cinema with a baby anyway? Either leave them with a sitter/friend/stranger or catch the film in a few months on Netflix.  It’s not fair on the baby and it’s not fair on me, er, I mean us.

As far as kids are concerned, have a word with them beforehand about not talking or at the very least gag your little treasures.

I’m joking of course, but there is a degree of responsibility here on the parents. When the child is asking “Daddy, what’s Shrek doing?  Daddy?  Daddy?   Why is Shrek shouting at Donkey, Daddy?  Daddy?  DADDY?  DADDY!?”, maybe consider quietly answering them, followed by a discreet “Shh, watch the film” rather than just ignoring them.

cinema shouting child

You might be able to tolerate their incessant babbling and running up and down the rows, but we can’t.

Kick my chair again you little bastard, I dare you.

Texters/Facebook fiends

I hate this above everything. Get off your phone!  If you’re doing it behind me, that’s ok (unless you haven’t muted the beeping/clicking sounds when you type), but anywhere else means I get a bright light in my face which can be as distracting as a punch in yours.

punch face

What is so important that you absolutely MUST send a message to someone or check your news feed RIGHT NOW? Then, when they’ve missed massive chunks of the film, they become a ‘talker’ and have to ask their friend what they’ve missed.

If I were the friend I would lie about it.

And punch them in the dick.

Or the vagina.

(I don’t want to appear sexist).

Loud eaters

Admittedly the cinema is somewhat responsible for a majority of this, but not entirely.

Firstly it seems ALL food packaging in the cinema is required to exceed the decibel level of a jet engine. It’s like bubble wrap being driven over slowly with a steamroller that launches fireworks and ball bearings out of its exhaust pipe, in a room with a lot of echo, during an earthquake.

loud noises

Secondly it seems that most people wait for a really quiet moment in the film to rummage shoulder deep into their popcorn, taking ages to grab a fistful to stuff in their stupid fat mouths.

RUSTLE RUSTLE RUSTLE!!!!

CRUNCH! CRUNCH! CRUNCH! CRUNCH!

SLUUUUURRRRP!!!

RUSTLE RUSTLE RUSTLE!!!!

CRUNCH! CRUNCH! CRUNCH! CRUNCH!

Can someone get this prick a nosebag?

Or me a gun?

twitchy eye

Seat etiquette

Don’t kick the back of my chair, or any chair in my row that’s bolted to mine.

Even if you’re gently tapping the back of the seat without realising it, don’t think I won’t gently tap your face with my fist without you realising it too.

Also, if you choose to sit with a space either side of you, don’t act like the victim and get all reluctant and huffy when my wife and I ask you to move over.  Do you seriously expect us to share popcorn across you?

We’re still going to hold hands.

And kiss.

That’s happening.

awkward

Last In, First Out

What are you doing turning up 20 minutes into the film?

Considering there’s usually half an hour of adverts and trailers/previews, that’s pretty fucking late to be strolling in. Did you forget what time the film was on? Was it a last minute decision?

And now that you’re here, please feel free to take a further 20 minutes to decide where you want to sit, preferably half way up the aisle so you can block the view of those who WERE on time.

Sit.

The fuck.

Down.

Oh, you need me to get up so you can get past my legs?  Of course mate, no problem; I wasn’t doing anything anyway.  No, no, it didn’t hurt when you trod on my foot.  It’s fine; adds to the whole experience.

late cinema

Then, when the film ends and the director’s name appears on the screen, most people are up out of their seats and already halfway to the exit.

This makes sense if the film was truly over, but with some films there are extra scenes during the credits.  However, the people who have already started leaving still continue to leave!

Fine with me.

It means I can finally let out that fart I’ve been holding in.

Aaaaah…..

fart cinema

To be concluded…

iSplat

I’m stuck on a packed train just outside East Croydon with a 3G signal going up and down like a local girl’s knickers.

Luckily I’ve been here about 45mins because apparently someone got hit by a train earlier today.

I’ve got another hour of this at least. Joy joy joy!! (claps hands excitedly until blood is drawn)

I can understand getting hit by a car or a boat because they could come from any direction, but a train is pretty much on rails if I’m not mistaken, and therefore it’s easy to predict where they might be coming from; left, or right.

I don’t mean to speak ill of the dead or the seriously injured, but….

Twat.

In addition to all this, the woman next to me is talking VERY LOUDLY TO HER CHILDREN ON THE PHONE AND SAYING THAT “MUMMY WILL BE HOME SOON” AND THEY NEED TO “STOP BEING SAD”. She’s actually said this about 37 times.

She’s just asked her child where her monkey is, and if they’ve warmed it up.

Strange…when I do that it’s frowned upon.

Now she’s trying to connect to them via facetime on her iPad. That will be amazing; to hear her whiny kids first hand. I mean, she’s talking to them on the phone… so why do it on the iPad for all of us to experience?

Oh, 38 times.

She’s also just told her fucking offspring that she’s going to the dentist to get her gold tooth replaced.

Classy.

The woman opposite me is reading her book, resting her head on her very, very clenched fist.

Oh look, facetime has connected.

Now she’s talking to them on her phone AND waving at them on her iPad.  What is the purpose of that?

39 times.  Right that’s it.

Today there will be more than one train fatality.

iSplat

Pardon? Speak up….

As I settle down in my train seat, ready for the five and a half hour journey from Penzance to London, imagine my joy when a chavvy couple with the loudest and whiniest kids in the world sit 3 rows in front of me.

I’m such a fucking lucky bastard, I really am.

He resembles a shaved rat in a bomber jacket and baseball cap, complete with a neck tattoo and an eyebrow piercing. A gold ring of course.

She has lank, greasy hair pulled back so tight she looks like she’s suddenly sat on a upturned plug…all the time.  Her clothing is way too tight for her ‘size’ which means her leggings elastic and struggling bra strap leave her resembling 3 bagels stacked on top of each other…. or are they ring doughnuts?

Probably doughnuts.

And what’s with the decibel levels here? Do they live next to a runway? Are they used to communicating through glass? The kids are very loud (and did I mention whiny?),the dad (debatable) is loud, but the mum…well, she’s talking to ratman at the same volume we reserve for nightclubs, complete with the occasional spit missiles associated with talking at such force.  The windows are actually shaking and I swear I just spotted a crack appear.

The old couple next to me have turned their hearing aids OFF.

I’ve tried to drown them out with my headphones, but they keep slipping out of my bleeding ears.

Zzzzzz….huh?

This morning I overslept.

In fact, I woke up precisely 57 minutes later than I’m supposed to leave the house. This was not a good start to my day.  

I opened my eyes, realised it was 7:57am and bolted upright in bed to utter my first word of the day;  

“Shit!”  

I promptly followed this with “shit shit shit” and “how the fuck did that happen?”; although why I didn’t just ‘think’ it is beyond me as my girlfriend had already gone to work at 5am and I was alone. There was no one there to appreciate my BAFTA winning performance of a guy who’s going to be seriously late for work.  

But was I to blame? Well this is the weird part.  

I checked the alarm settings on my clocks (yes, clocks; plural) and they were both set correctly. I thought that maybe I’d snoozed them to death, but they were still showing as having not actually ‘gone off’ yet, despite them being set for 6am and 6:05am. Strange.  

Maybe fate has something in store for me today.  Or maybe fate has prevented me from some disaster that would’ve befallen me had I followed my usual morning routine. Maybe the headline ‘commuter snaps and beats man to death with his own hands, repeatedly screaming “stop hitting yourself!”‘ will never get printed.  

These are all things I pondered in the shower whilst I washed myself at speeds unmeasured by today’s technology. My arms were a virtual blur and the water was turning to a fine mist.  

I was most annoyed when, whilst drying myself at the same speed and causing my towel to catch fire twice, I heard one of my Judas alarm clocks kick off from the bedroom.  

You have got to be shitting me.  

I managed to leave the house at 8:30am which was pretty good and briskly walked to the bus stop that would take me to the train station which would take me to the tube station that would get me to work.

I decided not to walk to my usual station this morning because it’s snowing, there are no direct trains after 8:44am and my new shoes are tearing my heels an new asshole each. So a bus into the main station in town it is.  

Right now fate wasn’t impressing me.  

The roads were gridlocked due to last minute car commuters and school runs, which meant that my bus was painfully late. If only there wasn’t one adult and one child per car we may have got moving a little quicker. The words ‘car pool’ came to mind. Mind you, so did ”common sense’ and ‘birth control’.  

The bus finally arrived and it was packed solid with children screaming and crying, and these small pockets of adults ignoring them desperately (who I later learned are referred to as parents).  In fact the only adults keeping an eye on the children were the non parents who had looks of trepidation and self righteous judgement in equal measures.  

When one of these ‘parents’ decided to talk to their cherubs it was clear how much love they had for their offspring, particularly one woman who was missing a few teeth, some patches of hair, some brain cells and who was clearly a Spandau Ballet fan; “Oi Hadley! (yes, Hadley) Oi Hadley, will you and Jayden sit down and shut up!”.  

Loving.  

But for authenticity its important to point out that certain words were pronounced differently;  
Down = pronounced Dayan
Shut = pronounced Shart  

It was not only her, but her mother who basically looked like an older and fatter version, with a few more stains on her velour tracksuit…and a beard.  

Usually this bus is so blissfully empty and quiet.  

Fate was starting to piss me off.  

I got to the station, boarded a train and prepared for the utter fuckwit that will inevitably sit opposite me.

It took three stops until he got on with a female friend. I knew it was just a friend because, well…he would only have women as friends if you know what I mean.   He looked like a cross between Wally from ‘Where’s Wally?’ and Doctor Who himself Matt Smith. Add to this an extremely plummy voice and ridiculous little round glasses. He also talked really loud with his equally plummy ‘friend’ and was quite abrupt and intrusive in his questions and statements. I dont think he had any malice, he just didn’t have any etiquette filters. This was confirmed when he started going through her phone.  

Maybe we should publish a new book called ‘Where’s Wanker?’. It would be quite easy though as he finds you.  

Fate, you can kiss my asshole…all three of them.