Saturday, February 22, 2014

Cockles And Mussels, Alive, Alive, Oh

Having seen the weather report in our area for last weekend (a month's worth of rain in 48 hours), and having failed to remember to plan anything for a trip to Prague (remembering stuff is not StereoNinja's forte and my ongoing depression battle is fucking with memory type things - I'm feeling quite a bit better by the way), StereoNinja and I decided on a last minute escape to Dublin for the weekend. (It's a good thing we did - while the flooding did not return to the levels it was at when our only road got swallowed by the Thames, we found out from neighbors that the power was out to the island from late Friday morning until Sunday afternoon. Everything in our house from the oven to the the heating is electric. It would have been like camping and as previously explained I do not camp.) And I'm kind of in love with it now.

I had never been to Dublin before, and StereoNinja had never managed to go there while also having a good time. Since I really don't know a lot about Ireland, I didn't have any real expectations of what it would be like. What it is like is awesome. Without travelling anywhere else on the Earth I haven't already been, I will say with total confidence that Dublin has the friendliest cab drivers in the world. Seriously, apart from one or two guys (we took cabs EVERYWHERE because we decided to escape rain by going someplace that was also pissing down rain because we're imbeciles) every cab driver wanted to know all about us and what brought us to Dublin, professed to adore America, gave informal city tours complete with history about buildings (which sometimes have no windows because England used to tax windows so they just built them without any because fuck you), gave solicited and unsolicited advice on what we should see and where we should drink, and generally rounded fares down to avoid anyone have to deal with coins which I thought was great because I despise them.

I was a bit worried before we got on the plane about whether there would be anything for me to eat there. Since I don't like potatoes, and the stereotype of Ireland is that everything is made out of potatoes there, I was somewhat concerned that I might starve to death. This turned out to be entirely unfounded. The restaurants in Dublin are universally spectacular, based on the fact that every time one of us said "Do you want to just go in here?" the food there was so good I had to be restrained from humping it. Maybe the best Italian restaurant I've ever been to in my life was in Dublin (amaretto tiramisu you guys. AMARETTO TIRAMISU). We went to a french place for lunch and I loved it, and if you remember I wouldn't eat much of anything when I was in actual France.

We also partook of Dublin's many museums. Recommended for nerds: The Science Gallery at Trinity College, currently running the "Fail Better" exhibit - a collection of inventions that didn't work, but which led to advances in science or some other positive contribution. Recommended for sheer hilarity: The Ireland Natural History Museum, which seems to basically be a room full of taxidermied animals of varying age, quality, and disrepair. The fucking massive extinct deer skeletons near the entrance are singularly impressive. The basking shark hanging from the ceiling, if I'm being kind, has probably seen better days. To be fair to the museum, the upper and lower floors of it are currently closed, but on the other hand it is severely lacking in any information on the animals apart from their name.
Deer: huge; impressive.
Basking shark: c'mon, man.

Our first cab driver, upon hearing that we wanted to go hear some real Irish music, directed us to the Brazen Head, which is self described as the oldest pub in Ireland. It was described by the cab driver as "nearly a thousand years old". It's actually a little over 900 years old, but I suppose "nearly a thousand" is correct depending on where you're rounding from. We met a nice German kid there, but did not meet the Brazilians who were also in the house. I know they were there because of the gregarious and extremely drunk Irishman who kept shouting at them, "BRAZIL? BRAZIL? THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING IN DUBLIN ALL THE WAY FROM BRAZIL?" There was a little group in the corner playing, who unfortunately had a broken amplifier and were therefore mostly drowned out by the noise from the table of vapid, oblivious women who were all talking at once AS LOUD AS POSSIBLE and failed to notice either the music or the collective death stare of literally everyone else in the room. That was until an enterprising guy at the next table started a shushing campaign that grew until the ENTIRE pub would hiss at them every time they got out of hand.

We also checked out the Guinness Storehouse, home of all things Guinness. For those of you Americans who have been to the Budweiser brewery in St. Louis, just, no. The Storehouse makes that place look like a miniaturized Lego model of a brewery, it is that massive. Additionally, when you get up to the top where your free pint of Guinness awaits you, not only do they take the time and care to draw you a lovely shamrock in your foam, but the 360 degree windows that make up the walls of the room give you an aerial view of the entirety of Dublin and beyond, all the way to the mountains in one directions and all the way to the sea in another. Of course, I used the opportunity to text Cap and taunt him because I am an asshole sister.
Enjoy your beer, insignificant speck of a human.

Dublin, with its abundant cabs, myriad of pubs, river flowing through it, cool stuff to do, nice people, great food and many college students, reminded me quite a lot of Chicago. Except for this one thing that happened that made me realize how spoiled Americans are. Because one thing we have precious little of in America is domestic terrorism. When bombs go off at the Boston Marathon or Oklahoma City or the Atlanta Olympics, they are weird, isolated things that shock us because it is not a thing that happens in America, so infrequently in fact that we don't even think about it and take that for granted. Meanwhile, in Dublin, in our first cab on the way to the hotel, the very friendly cab driver/tour guide/historian said to us, "This is a great area right here. It used to have statues absolutely everywhere, on all these corners. But of course the IRA blew them all up." And he said it with such casual resignation, because stuff used to blow up there - a lot - and that was his normal. So, you know, be aware of how lucky you are and shit, because you could think that all your statues blowing up is normal.

ANYBUTT, I fucking LOVED Dublin, as evidenced by everything that came out of my mouth while we were there was prefaced by "Next time we come, we should..." and that's just not something I typically say because I am of the television generation and easily bored. You should totally go there if you like doing things that are fun and/or being around nice people. You should probably also be okay with a bit of rain and own an umbrella.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Shove It, Popeye

 I am sitting on the counter in the kitchen. StereoNinja is about to fry some spinach because everything he eats is gross.

Me: I guess I should help you or move. I'm practically sitting on the spinach.

StereoNinja: You look like you'd rather sit on it than eat it.

Me: Well it looks more comfortable than delicious.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Drownin' In The Rain, We're Drownin' In The Rain

Remember when I said the water was receding? Well it's now worse than it was when it crested the last time. Lake Titicacao is indistinguishable from the river and it's all flowing so fast that we've been watching ducks go by backwards since they aren't strong enough to swim upstream or even stay in one place. Also rain is forecast in my town for at least the next five days. The only road out of the island is impassable by anything other than a monster truck, and conversations with other islanders about what we can do about it amounted to "Yeah, you're pretty much screwed." Being as my car is roughly the size of half a semi-truck tire, I'm effectively stranded in my house, conveniently (?) during reading week, meaning I don't have to swim to the station to catch a train to London for class, so I've got that going for me. StereoNinja bought us both waders today, which I put on to try them for size and am now still wearing them. I told StereoNinja it was for safety:

me: I'm leaving these on.
StereoNinja: You're going to just wear them around the house?
me: Well, in a couple of hours the water might be in the house.

But really it's just because I'm pretending to be a fisherman. I'm trapped, don't judge my methods of entertaining myself.

I'd like to point out that the last time it rained this much in England, my country didn't even exist yet. Speaking of my country, sorry about all the snow there most of you, and for those of you in California, if you can figure out a way to get this water over to you, you're more than welcome to have it.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Are You Ready To Explain Some Football?

Last night was my first Super Bowl in exile, and I have to say, seriously, what the fuck. But let me back up a bit.

I had managed to get excited about the Super Bowl in a way that I hadn't gotten excited about Christmas or my birthday. And I prepared for it as well: I dressed up in all the NFL branded clothing that I own, I made Rice Krispie treats shaped like footballs, and I drank an enormous amount of caffeine so I could make it to kickoff at ELEVEN FUCKING THIRTY local time. I commandeered StereoNinja and his teenage daughter to watch it with me because all my other friends have "jobs to go to in the morning" or some shit, and we all ate a cheeseball I had made, despite them both eyeing it with suspicion at first because no one here has ever seen a cheeseball before. StereoNinja had watched some of the Seattle game with me two weeks ago, and so at least had basic concepts figured out like downs and field goals; his daughter had no experience and insisted the game was called "handegg".

The pregame show was that we didn't get a real pregame show. What we got was some Irish guy I've been told is called Colin Murray and is famous for something, and a very uncomfortable looking and disinterested Terrell Davis, whose name Channel 4 managed to misspell. My best guess is that Colin Murray has never seen an American football game before in his life, and I spent the hour before kickoff screaming things at the tv like "FIELD! IT'S CALLED A FIELD." and "NO YOUR HEADSET ISN'T WEIRD THAT'S JUST HOW THEY ARE BECAUSE IT'S A FOOTBALL GAME". Even StereoNinja was annoyed, and displayed his recently gained knowledge: "Yeah. It's not called a pitch goal, it's called a FIELD goal. And why does he keep touching everybody?" because he was, Colin Murray that is, touching his co-presenters on the arm or the shoulder with an an uncomfortable degree of frequency. Meanwhile whatever he was saying was so confusing, Terrell Davis stopped listening to him and and started absentmindedly picking at the edge of the table on live television.

And then the game started. I'm assuming many of you saw the start of the game, and potentially the rest of it, so I don't need to tell you what a clusterfuck that was for Denver from LITERALLY THE FIRST PLAY OF THE GAME. What I did have to do was begin my companions' American football education by trying to explain what a safety is because of course I did. I also had to explain a shotgun formation because I had previously told StereoNinja in great detail and with extensive demonstrations how the quarterback lines up under center, which was not at all an exercise in crotch grabbing disguised as sports education SHUT UP. And throughout the game I was struggling to justify to StereoNinja my belief that Peyton Manning is the greatest quarterback of our time, AND that the mistakes he was making were not always his fault because the offensive line apparently decided not to play. Based on that game I wouldn't have believed me either.

It was actually kind of fun explaining things that it hadn't occurred to me would need explaining because I've just been watching it all my life. Like how a false start works:

StereoNinja: What happened?
me: False start. That guy jumped.
StereoNinja: WHAT? He barely even flinched!
me: I know. Doesn't matter. You can't move until the ball is snapped.
StereoNinja: What about that guy? That guy is moving. And that other guy is moving too!
me: Oh, right. Some of the players are allowed to move. But not the ones on the line of scrimmage.
StereoNinja: On what?
me: Um, on the blue line.

and flags and timeouts:

StereoNinja: Someone threw their gloves on the field.
me: No they didn't.
StereoNinja: Then what are those yellow things?
me: A penalty flag. The officials throw them when there's a penalty.
StereoNinja: Why?
me: .....because that's how they do it.
StereoNinja: Penalty?
me: No.
StereoNinja: But they threw that red thing.
me: That's a challenge flag. The coaches throw them when they want to dispute the call on the field. Um, but you can only do it a few times. Also if you get it wrong they take one of your timeouts.
SN daughter: What's a timeout?
me: It's so you can stop the clock. You get three per half.
SN daughter: But the clock is already stopped.
me: No, the play clock not the game clock.
SN daughter: What?
me: Um.

I did get some amusing help from StereoNinja with explaining the game to his daughter, such as first down: "Do you see that yellow line? That's how far the ball has to go. Also that line isn't really on the field." and she did seem to grasp what was happening overall as evidenced by this comment: "The oranges suck. The catchy man can't even catch it."

We stayed up for the halftime show for some reason where I learned that Bruno Mars can play the drums and thinks he's James Brown and the Red Hot Chili Peppers still can't afford to buy shirts apparently. But by then it was 1:30 in the morning and it didn't appear the game was going to be a contest of any sort so we just went to bed. So my first Super Bowl in exile probably could have been better, but I certainly was having a better time than Peyton Manning was.