Fancy another? (to be sure, so it is…)

St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner, so naturally everyone at work is starting to wear green, drink green beer, and eat Lucky Charms (or whatever it is that Americans think the Irish actually do). In fact, some people have been wearing kilts and playing traditional Irish music including ‘Scotland The Brave’.

I shit you not.

I don’t think they realise that Scotland and Ireland aren’t the same place.

Anyway, during this morning’s drive into work, I had the radio on as usual and I was listening to a show called ‘Mercedes in the morning’ in which Mercedes – a woman, not a car – and her co-host, JC (not jeebus christ, just a metro-male called….well….JC) were talking about St. Patrick’s Day and all the fun and frivolity that goes with it.

Hey, by the way, did you know the mascot of Ireland is the Leprechaun? I didn’t! I wrongly thought it was a type of hat wearing fairy from Irish folklore and NOT something used to sell god awful cereal to sugar addicted snowflakes! In fact, I was so taken aback that they called it a mascot that I contemplated calling into their show and correcting them, but then I realised that profanity – an ACTUAL Irish tradition – isn’t really tolerated in the US, let alone live on air. So instead I decided to smile, shake my head disapprovingly and mutter lots of Irish traditions under my breath.

And by ‘under my breath‘, I meant ‘out loud, with the windows down, scaring other drivers‘.

But I digress.

Mercedes said there was a recent study regarding the number of drink-related injuries on St. Partick’s Day.

Really, a study?

She then went on to say that the maximum amount of drinks typically imbibed before some sort of injury occurs is 8 drinks for men and 6 drinks for women.

‘Fair enough’, I thought to myself.

It was at this point that Mercedes exclaimed, “8 drinks?? Who can drink 8 drinks?? I get to 3 drinks and I’m feeling all woozy!“. Then JC said proudly that he would occasionally knock back 8 drinks in his younger ‘party‘ days.

Fuck me, 8 drinks is what you consume at home BEFORE you head out on the piss!

In fact, my friend and I used to polish off a 12 pack of beers EACH on the sofa, and then get all miserable when we ran out.

Maybe if the US reduced their drinking age back down to 18 (yes, it was once 18), they could build up their tolerance sooner and keep up with us expats who are desperate for drinking buddies who can go the distance.

And get a fucking round in, from time to time.

Cheers!

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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.

The customer is(n’t) always (b)right

You know when you call a company and the automated voice explains that your call may be recorded for training and quality purposes?  Well, I’m the person who listens to those calls.

Here is an interaction between one of our sales team (let’s call her Sandy) and a female customer.

 

Woman   “I’m interested in getting some information about a holiday to Dubai”

Sandy     “Let me check that for you, what date are you looking to travel?”

Woman   “I can’t hear you very well, you’re very faint”

Sandy     “Ok, give me one second”

 

* loud and crackly sounds of a telephone headset being furiously fumbled with and adjusted*

 

Sandy     “Is that better?”

Woman   “Yes that’s a bit better”

Sandy     “Oh lovely, ok so what dates….”

 

*interrupted by the customer*

 

Woman   “No, I still can’t hear you that well”

 

*fumble, crackle, fumble*

 

Sandy     “How’s that?”

Woman   “You’re still quite faint”

 

*fumble, fumble, crackle, fumble*

 

Sandy     “OK, IS THAT ANY BETTER?” (She’s almost shouting now)

Woman   “Yes, that’s a bit better”

Sandy     “OK GREAT, SO WHAT DATES….”

 

*interrupted by the customer*

 

Woman   “Hang on, I’ll just turn my radio down”

 

Proof that stupidity still lives amongst us.

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Who would’ve thought? It figures…

I was talking to one of the guys at work this morning about music.  I told him I was currently listening to Alanis Morissette’s ‘Jagged Little Pill’ album.  This resulted in an awkward pause in the conversation, followed by a look from him that implied I’d grown a vagina.

“Really?” he said.

“Of course” I replied, “It has to rate up there as one of the top 10 albums of all time”

“Hmm, I only know that one song of hers” he continued.

“Which one’s that?”

“That one that made her famous”

Well, at least he wasn’t being vague.

I then proceeded to hum a few tunes from the album, all of which resulted in a “oh, I know that one!”

10 seconds later Alanis Morissette came on the radio.

Isn’t that Ironic, don’t you think?

alanis1

Dress for less? I doubt it…

Yesterday I had the joys of going dress shopping with my girlfriend to find something for tonight’s New Year celebrations.  To be honest, I didn’t really mind as I needed to buy a shirt for myself, or at least something smarter than a t-shirt and jeans.
 
Fortunately for us the entire town and surrounded villages had decided to do the same thing.  This made the experience all the more exciting and enjoyable.  Oh how we adore shopping with hundreds and hundreds of people.
 
There were a few things I observed whilst swimming through the crowds and punching my way through chavs, children and slow walking couples…
 
1. The January sales were most definitely on, with posters promising ‘Up To 70% off’, but in reality nothing seemed to be discounted more than 20%.  I know that legally these stores have to sell some items at 70% off, but I failed to find them.  Maybe I wasn’t looking in the right places, like maternity clothing or guns and ammo.
 
2. The sales areas seem to take up half the floor space of every clothes shop; festooned with posters and hanging boards offering massive discounts.  It’s only to be expected.  In fact, this is the reason why you couldn’t slide a credit card between people as they jostle and fight for discounted items you wouldn’t be seen dead in at regular prices.  That said, the menswear departments in these stores have a sale area as large as one rail.
 
Yes…ONE rail. 
 
In H&M the sales posters and livery stopped at the menswear section!  How is that fair?  To be honest, New Look did have two full rails of sale clothing, but there are only so many peach coloured paisley shirts and green jumpers with leather elbow patches a man can take.  And forget looking for a shirt in these stores; it’s all jumpers, jackets and t-shirts.  If you want a shirt you have go to somewhere like Burtons and buy a shirt at full price.
 
Which I did.
 
3. Finding a dress that my girlfriend liked was an undertaking as she isn’t built like a skinny 12 year old boy.  This means that 90% of dresses don’t fit.  She is in no way fat or unsightly, but instead is cursed with lovely curves and things called ‘boobs’ (which seems alien to most high street designers).  This meant that finding a dress that suited her figure was difficult.  Thankfully when she found a dress she liked it was in every size except hers.  Oh how we laughed each and every time that happened.  In fact, we were pretty much laughing all day long.
 
On the rare occasion we did find a dress she liked, AND it was the right size, we then ventured to the fitting rooms.  This in itself should be an easy affair, but the queues are longer than the Post Office on pension day and the location of these curtained cubicles are questionable.
 
You see, the fitting rooms are always located right next to the lingerie section of the store.  This means that, whilst my girlfriend is trying on her potential purchases, I’m stood amongst the bras and panties looking like some kind of dribbling pervert.  There’s nothing more awkward than having a woman say “excuse me” because I’m obscuring the intimate lingerie she’d like to look at, or getting those looks from women who clearly want to peruse the underwear  I’m sat next to.  I suppose they feel a bit self conscious about looking through the thongs and g-strings that are inches from my face.
 
Maybe I should’ve started thumbing through the bras, occasionally holding one up against me as if I’m buying them for myself.  Then again, I’d rather not be arrested this close to new year.
 
So instead I do the only thing I can do to disassociate myself from the whole debacle; pretend to be texting. 
 
Which leads me to my next point…
 
4.  It’s interesting to see what blokes do outside the fitting rooms whilst waiting for their other halves to appear wearing something they don’t want to be told their bum looks big in.  The activity of choice is play with their phones, be it Angry Birds, texting, surfing the web for Blu-rays or blogging about shopping with the missus.  A lot of us share that knowing look of camaraderie whilst stood there holding several shopping bags, a coat, scarf and a handbag; none of which belongs to us.  On one occasion I saw a guy sitting there, between the bras and the shoes, reading a Wolverine comic book.  Here’s a bloke who knows he’s there for the long haul.
 
Kudos.
 
5. Lastly, the in-store music.  It seems there is an agreement to play the same CD or radio station throughout every single shop in town.  No comedy comment here or smarmy quip.  Just stop it.
 
Stop it now.
 
So all in all, a long afternoon spent traipsing around hot and stuffy shops full of idiots and pushchairs.
 
Oh, and she didn’t buy anything; instead deciding to put something together with what she already has at home.  And then, upon returning home, remembering she’d bought a dress the week before that would be perfect.
 
C’est la vie.
 
I’m sure whatever she wears she’ll look fabulous in it.  And if she doesn’t, I’ll be too drunk tonight to care.
 
Have a great New Year people!!

You snooze you lose.

This morning I did that rare thing of waking up a whole minute before my alarm went off. This instantly sent a rush of mixed feelings through me.

On one hand I’m as chuffed as chips that my body clock is so cool it can tell when I’m supposed to be getting up. If it had a voice it would casually lean over to me and smugly say “who needs a clock when I’m this good?”, but it can’t…so I’ll shut up.

On the other hand I’m deprived of that gorgeous sensation when you realise you’ve got hours left of sleep and can snuggle back into your warm pillow and rejoin your old maths teacher and her pet unicorn, Alan, as they try and navigate through your old school (which looks suspiciously like your place of work) en route to finding the washing machine that will finally clean the chicken you’re hoping to cook for dinner when Michael Jackson comes to visit.

(Dreams; they make no sense. They’re daft and ridiculous, and yet we don’t question or challenge them, despite most if us being intelligent and rationally minded individuals. No, instead we just blindly go with it. A lot like watching TOWIE really).

So I was a bit annoyed laying there in bed looking at my alarm clock as I knew that going back to sleep wasn’t an option. In 60 seconds or less I was about to be ripped from ‘Operation Chickenwash’ by some twat on the radio trying to be funny.

Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. (This minute is taking longer than usual)

And there it was. The loud and unfunny drivel from some mindless fool blaring out of my clock radio to remind me I had another exciting day in the office before the weekend.

I reach over, fumble a bit and -click-

The snooze button.

Aaaaaaaah, that’s better. See you in 9 minutes sucker.

By the way, why is it 9 minutes? Why not 10…or 8? I think it originated in Germany:

Klaus – “It is time to get up out of ze bed Hans”
Hans – “But I vant to sleep longer”
Klaus – “Ok, shall I vake you in a few minutes?”
Hans – “Nein”

I could be wrong of course…

But that said, I am the king of the snooze button, the lord of lazy, the duke of…well you get what I mean. At weekends I’ve been known to snooze for up to 4 hours. I love it. I can’t get enough of it. If only I could put a snooze button on people…that would be nice. Maybe I’ll have the word ‘snooze’ tattooed on my knuckles. At least I’ll get 9 minutes peace.

I then start doing that thing where I tell myself when I’m going to get up. It’s usually on one of the 5 minute intervals; for example…I’ll get up at quarter past. But then I accidentally snooze till 16 minutes past. Do I get straight up as promised? Do I fuck! Now I tell myself I’m going to get up at 20 past. But then the song on the radio is one of my favourites, so I’ll get up AFTER its finished and captain twat is back. Oh, but by then it’s 22 minutes past. Ok, I’ll get up at half past.

I was late leaving the house today.