I know I’m one to talk, seeing as it’s nearly two years since hit pause on this blog without a goodbye. (Hey, I’m still in New York, and much to my own surprise, I am still culture shocked.)

But what’s with all the reruns? Why, in the middle of every TV series, is it OK to just chuck on an old episode (of Glee, say, like tonight’s rerun of last November’s sectionals episode), without so much as a warning? If it’s because they need to catch up with the shooting schedule, do they really only work that out on the night itself?

Because here’s what happens: you curl up on the sofa, ready to shut down higher brain function for an hour with the latest Grey’s Anatomy/House/Bones/Good Wife etc, and what do you get? Disappointment. And then, if you’re me, you get a bit cross. Read the rest of this entry »

Because God forbid the bumper gets used as a bumper

Because God forbid the bumper gets used as a bumper

We’ve already had subway tickets made out of Lego – sorry, Legos. It was therefore only a matter of time before we got the rest of New York:

Classic example of toy that no child would ever actually ask for but Wallpaper-buying parents wouldnt mind having in their architect-designed house

Classic example of toy that no child would ever actually ask for but Wallpaper-buying parents wouldn't mind having in their architect-designed house

Mind you, I’d be quite happy to have the forthcoming Empire State Building kit for my next birthday. As long as I got a proper present as well. And some plasters (sorry, bandaids, keep doing that) for the sore fingers that will inevitably ensue when attempting to pry apart two bricks that mistakenly get stuck together.


For the child who has everything, comes the “perfect gift for every young Catholic athlete“, handily also a “wonderful way to reinforce Jesus “as friend” in everyday activities”. And if you’re thinking what I’m thinking, I’ll meet you in hell.

Some more fun (at only $21.95) for you:

Yes, they play soccer here. Sorry, football

Yes, they play soccer here. Sorry, football

Number 21 is in trouble

Number 21 is in trouble

By the way, “Many customers have requested these Jesus Sport Statues depicting children other than Caucasian and playing other sports; we have expressed these requests to manufacturers and importers. When and if other statues are available, CatholicShopper.com will carry them.” So there.

Ta v much to McIver the elder.

The latest texting acronym to be seen on phones across America? The delicately put, all purpose get-out, “ite”. (And no, it’s not like saying “uck”, nsfw-style.)

It stands for In This Economy – as in:

wd lv 2 cm 4 dnnr w u at the waverly, bt ite…

Which, loosely translated, means:

What kind of freakish 2005 throwback are you, you insensitive, still-employed scumbag?

Seriously, I know that obviously he didn’t write this himself, but this is comedy gold:

Hard to pick a favourite line, but the one about Dick Cheney’s memoirs (How to Shoot Friends and Interrogate People) comes pretty high up the list. Or maybe it’s the one about completing his next 100 days in 72. And then on the 73rd, he’ll rest. Or maybe it’s the one about Hillary coming back from Mexico and giving him a kiss.

Anyone who watched the West Wing knows that American politics is full to the rafters with zillions of rituals and customs that even the European political systems, centuries more in the making, don’t even dent. But the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, where the press and media come to be feted with comedy speeches by the President and others, is a particular favourite of mine.

Forget Gordon Brown or David Cameron – is there even a single member of the British political classes who could deliver their lines this well? We’ve got one of the most combative parlimentary systems in the world (Prime Minister’s Questions shocks Americans), but for a British politician to take such obvious pleasure in puncturing their own image… I can’t imagine it for an instant.

A Rod takes a swing (thats Madonnas steroid-loving former squeeze to you)

A Rod takes a swing (that's Madonna's steroid-loving former squeeze to you)

This week, we went to see the New York Yankees play, er, no wait it’s coming to me, the Tampa Bay… Rays. Anyway, off we go on the B train all the way up the enormous new stadium in the Bronx, and here’s me expecting to find tons of material for this blog, but what do I get? Almost no surprises at all.

Because if you’ve seen any American telly or movies at all, hardly any of it comes as news. From Sex and the City, I know it’s all about drinking beer rather than watching a game. From Seinfeld and When Harry Met Sally, I know about the hot dog and popcorn sellers who come to your seat. And from every baseball movie I ever watched as a kid (Major League, Field of Dreams and that one with Susan Sarandon), I remember the little organ jingles they play when you’re sitting around waiting for something, anything, to happen.

(Not being a big sports fan, I wasn’t prepared for everyone to stand up at the beginning, Yankee cap on heart, and sing the national anthem. I stood, out of peer pressure, but self-consciously put my hands in my pockets, out of Britishness.)

One surreal ritual I didn’t know about? At one point during the game, when the guys come out to rake the grit smooth, the sound system chirps up with YMCA, and at each chorus, the rakers pause to do the dance. And everyone loves it. They also love the big screen instructions to clap in time to other bits of music, and no one seems to mind the unending advertising in every pause in the game. When you stop noticing the ads, it’s all over, right?

Really? I mean, really?

Really? I mean, really?

And this, posted in the ladies at a New York university:

Is it unreasonable to expect a student of college-level to know how to wash their hands?

Is it unreasonable to expect a student of college-level to know how to wash their hands?

After seven months in this country, I’ve finally got round to sorting out some health insurance. Not that it’s quite kicked in yet – if I get hit by a bus before May 1st, I could very easily max out both my credit cards, use up all my savings, and still be paying off the debt for years to come.

Actually, I’m more likely to get hit by a fire engine, since they’re way more common than buses in this city – so common, in fact, that there aren’t enough fires or cats in trees to go round. This means that there is genuinely a policy to send one along every time someone needs an ambulance, which also, for some peculiar reason, are run by the fire department. Yep, doesn’t make sense to me either.

Anyway, so in a couple of weeks time, I’ll be paying $150.11 a month for the privilege of not ending up in debt should I end up in hospital. But that doesn’t cover anything else. If I wanted to have proper health insurance, where I could see a doctor in a non-emergency – say, if I had a virus that required antibiotics, or I needed a smear test – then I would not be covered. To be fully covered for that kind of thing, including prescriptions, I’d need to pay $752.63. Per month. I am not exaggerating.

Which means that it’s actually cheaper to fly home and see my GP. Carbon footprint be damned…

There are many excellent reasons to live in America. There are also many uniquely British things you come to miss. Like intelligent, serious news, that occasionally deigns to present, say, the Palestinian’s point of view. Or maybe anything that’s happening outside of the USA and Israel.

That is why we pay an extra $20 a month to get cable TV, which is the only way you can get BBC News America here.

But disastrously, it’s presented by the smuggest man your brain could conjure up: Matt Frei, that gorgeous creature pictured above. He is incapable of resisting a cheap quip, right in the middle of a serious debate. He is, in short, an egomaniac, and one who thinks he’s miles above the competition. Mention his name to any Brit (or Irish) expat in this country and I guarantee that they will start spitting with rage.

Might John Humphrys like a transfer to Washington? Please?