Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I'm skinny as hell...a milestone!

I've reached a milestone that I may never achieve again in my life: My belts are too big for me! It came to the point where last night, I borrowed a hammer and nail from my housemate Bradley so I could nail in a couple of extra holes in my belts so they would actually serve some purpose...waist size dropping in parallel proportions to the stock market!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Snippets from a month in transition...

NOTE: THESE POSTS ARE IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER BUT WERE WRITTEN THROUGHOUT THE PAST MONTH WITH THE MOST RECENT AT THE BOTTOM...

UKTV vs. USTV - A SUBJECTIVE ANALYSIS...

I've had time for it to sink in now. And I'm probably going to piss a lot of you off: BRITISH TV SUCKS, plain and simple. Yes, this is a sweeping generalization, but I will explain my thesis, if you let me.

1. American TV is the standard - all other TV around the world must conform to this standard.

2. Pacing: British "award-winning" dramas like Skins and Shameless have TERRIBLE pacing, and quite frankly, outside of a narrow British audience, will never find universal appeal. These shows wouldn't even make it out of the pilot phase in America - guaranteed.

3. Any British show that's good gets picked up by America...From American Idol to Who Wants to Be a Millionaire to The Office to Life on Mars: If it's good, we will buy it and we will adapt it...it won't necessarily work, but we'll surely give it our best shots.

4. Brits love American humor (Friends and The Simpsons fuel your damn economy like Vodka/Red Bull fuels my dance moves)...but the love is not returned. We don't watch your shows in their original form, if we ever watch them at all...



LIVE FROM NEW YORK

I've always been funny. This isn't arrogance, just a plain and simple fact that was first made public in 3rd grade when I made my classmate laugh so hard that the cheese fondue we were cooking (we were completing a unit about Switzerland....random, I know, and off-shore nameless bank accounts were never discussed...making such lessons all the more useless) sprayed out of her nose, inciting a near riot in class and resulting in detentions for both me and my victim. But in England, I'm not funny - at least not in the same way I am here in the States. Sure, I can drop one-liners that people appreciate , but it's not with the same vigour. People understand quirkiness in the UK, but don't value its comedic charm. But it's not me that's most funny, it's the situations I find myself in while in America that generally don't happen in England...In the 48 hours I've been home, the following has happened:

1. At the mall, I was told I couldn't pay for shoes on my own unless I had a salesman to help me, even though the salesman fetched and then handed me shoes but then abandoned me before I was even able to try them on.

2. I was able to nail an impression of the lone waiter at my favorite Italian restaurant reciting the daily specials in the voice of of the guy in The Princess Bride who does the whole thing with the wine goblets. A baby arugula salad in a pesto sauce with fresh peppers and grilled shrimp (pause) - no cream....why the fuck would there be cream in a salad?

OK, I've gotten ahead of myself....maybe the situations here are more humorous because of their familiarity....and if I'd grown up in England, the same incidents would be funny, not frustrating.



LIVE FROM TEL AVIV

Ben Gurion Airport has free wireless. I can't complain. Life is good. My morning started with a walk along the beach, and lunch with my cousin who is coincidentally also in town...I'm headed back to the dreariness of England in 20 minutes, making me very, very sad. I have a new favorite Israeli eatery: Sushi2Go - a brilliant concept in its speed, effectiveness, and overall quality. I even brought a boatload of sushi to the airport with me that I just finished consuming. Last night's dinner was at Moses - the home of the best hamburger's in the Middle East and a tangy homemade Tabasco sauce that is to die for. And today's shopping on Shenkin Street is unparalleled in New York, London, or LA as the number of unique shops (read: not chain stores) is never ending. Tel Aviv is swinging with life these days - make it a place to visit soon.


MORSELS OF WISDOM
DIET CHANGES I MADE IN 2007 RESULTING IN A NET LOSS OF 20 POUNDS...

The Discovery Channel has launched a new series about coping with life's everyday dilemmas and difficult situations, so people don't expose themselves to preventable injuries or death. I'd like to take staying fit to a more micro level: During the past year, I began to take my well-being very seriously, and I'd like to share with you ten nutrition tips that have enabled me to live a healthier lifestyle. Since arriving in the UK on September 3rd, I've dropped between fifteen and twenty pounds (I think that's 1 stone, but I haven't got that far yet)...Here's how I did it:



Riding the Culinary Roller Coaster...

1. Goodbye white bread, hello whole wheat bread - I'm now a multigrain superstar.
2. I also switched from typical pasta to whole-wheat pasta, but I'm still getting used to the flavor – the trick is to cook the whole-wheat pasta for a while, as when it's too al dente, it tastes like cardboard.
3. I now add pesto sauce to everything...it's delicious, give the green stuff a shot, and use it as a substitute for less healthy creamy pasta toppings.
4. Egg Yolks are good for you: There's no need to throw them away, especially if you don't have cholesterol problems. These yellow monsters have as many nutrients as a multivitamin.
5. Throw out your vegetable oil and use Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO as celebrity chef Rachael Ray says)...and invest in a 1-calorie cooking spray to prepare your pans.
6. Why use catsup when you can use tomato sauce? I add it to everything from chicken and steak to eggs and potatoes and it's so much healthier.
7. You don't need to add salt to everything: Half the time you don't taste it anyway. More and more studies are showing the dangers of consuming too much salt.
8. Switch to low-fat cheese. In a blind taste test, would you ever know the difference between the healthy and high-fat options?
9. Yogurt is a great snack and helps you lose weight – add some nuts to it for some nutritious crunch.
10. For the alcoholics out there: Why waste 100 calories on soda or sugar-filled juice as a mixer with your vodka? Scotch on the rocks with a splash of water is the way to go.

The Viva Revolution Series...

VIVA REVOLUTION...THE FIRST

Sometimes I do silly things. I decided, three days ago, on a whim, because I was bored at the moment, to find a bartending job in Norwich. Within hours, I was interviewing at Mambo Jambo Mexican Restaurant (completely lacking anything authentic)...and I was told by the owner to start the next evening. What should be noted is that I had to DUMB DOWN my CV to apply for this job, otherwise, I would likely appear overqualified. Goodbye internships. Goodbye awards. Goodbye Bachelor's degree. I'm just a working man, plain and simple - highlighting the "private parties" (read: keggers) I coordinated during college and my time in Dublin when I was 18 working at Bruxelles of Harry Street...at first the Michael Buble music at Mambo Jambo was alright - but I didn't like that I was promised a staff meal and then told "we just stopped doing staff meals yesterday because of abuses..." - talk about abuse: I would have eaten my dog (if I had one) halfway through my shift because I was so hungry. I actually resorted to stealing, yes STEALING raw potatoes out of a bin (who knows how long they were there? I learned the drinks and the methods quickly enough - that wasn't the problem...what I didn't like was the 2-hour long cleanup session. That just didn't feel right...there's a lot of cheap labor around, why not hire them, rather than use me who's half dead at the end of an 8 hour shift...the night ended on a high note as the asst. manager (34-years-old and single) awkwardly flirted with me to the point where she did my job for me and mopped my section of the floor and proceeded to enjoy me spraying water on her from a sink...I figured by the end of the night I'd have her spread eagle on the bar...didn't happen, but then came tonight...

VIVA REVOLUTION...THE SECOND

Tonight, I arrive at the restaurant at 4:50 - a mere 300 seconds late. I negotiated last night to have a staff meal because I was coming straight from school...by the time it was served to me, it was 5:05, and then I was scolded at 5:08 for not being ready to work at 5:05. Nonetheless, there were no customers until 6 anyway. I soon found out that I was not working alone tonight. Sam, who'd been there for three months but was quitting on Saturday would be there to assist me as the "new guy." I soon learned from Sam that he was a "sales executive" (read: USED CAR SALESMAN) by day, and hoped to earn additional money and keep himself busy by bartending at night. I immediately said to Sam: How the hell have you lasted this long listening to that horrid rendition of Happy Birthday they play 20 times per night (this is no exaggeration, Mambo Jambo is the epitome of Norwich Birthday celebrations...god knows why?) And 2, which may be most important, how do you tolerate the fat that they have 4 CDs always on repeat: Michael Buble, Robbie Williams, and two different "Latin" mixes, one of which features the Macarena...Well, Sam wants to live in a luxury 4 bedroom townhouse and that's why he works 100 hours a week at two jobs...but clearly he was a tool and couldn't bring home a lady if his life depended on it...perhaps the worst thing for me as a bartender is annoying orderers - for example, people who say one drink, you get it for them, they say another drink, you get it for them, they say another drink - you keep hoping this cycle will end, but it never does. In fact, rather than order multiple drinks at once (because I am most certainly capable of pouring a Kronenberg and a Foster's simultaneously - crazy, I know) - they keep harassing you like this non-stop....and damn it, hire a barback...why should I be lugging cases up four flights of stairs mid-shift and also cleaning and restocking glassware every five minutes...I saw quite clearly in the "staff room" - the staff have an awkward amount of personal items up there, some of which I wish I'd never seen - a sign that said "no mobile phones while on your shift" and chose to ignore this rule...what if there was an emergency? when this Romanian waitress - again, hitting on me in the least subtle of ways (and I must admit, it was actually working until she mentioned the five worst letters in the English language - she had a C-H-I-L-D...and my buttons were switched off immediately) - mentioned that I was a rebel for completely ignoring the cell phone rule, I told her - I've started many a workplace revolution, and that's why I'm hear, to organize the labor, build a red army, galvanize you to freedom, and then be on my merry way back to New York.

VIVA REVOLUTION...THE THIRD (CONCLUSION)

Once my torturous evening of placing fresh bottles in the fridge and mopping floors came to an end, I was told to speak with "Jo" the assistant manager whom I almost mounted the night before...speaking with a higher up is never a good sign...i mean, I'd done my job properly - albeit with a few slip-ups - one time I didn't pour J2O into a proper J2O glass, using a generic glass instead (sue me!) and I refused to relinquish my cell phone while on shift (not like I used it in the midst of taking orders, but only during moments of complete calm)...but still, I was called in to see the big guns...I sensed trouble, immediately. I was told "Thank you for your trial run, we'll let you know next week if you have the job. We've got some others trying out for the position this week. Just fill out this form and we'll pay you as casual labor for two nights work." What? I wasn't hired for the job permanently? This shocked me beyond belief. Temporary hire? Casual labor? Trial period? All news to me! "Nobody told you that this was jut a trial period?" Absolutely not! I demanded to speak with the owner (not the one who hired me)...and politely I informed him about this miscommunication...he shook my hand and said goodnight....effectively ending my short-lived career as a Mexican restaurant bartender...oh well, the food was shit anyway and while a few of the waitresses were nice, the work consisted more of cleaner/busboy/occasional barman detail rather than the advertised "bartender" position...They gave me 66 quid but none of the "shared tips." At least I can give them a bad review in the UEA Concrete (little do they know that I'm the Food & Drink Editor...)...and then my vengeful heart will be eternally warmed.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Morsels back again, check it and direct and let's begin!

It's been quite some time Morse fans, but I have returned...blogging on the road is no simple task, and when it comes down to working for the £ or working for free, well, let's just say I'm a sellout...but let's make up for lost time:

THE GOLDEN GLOBES NEED PROZAC...WHAT A DEPRESSING CEREMONY!

The normally glamorous (and debaucherous) ceremonies and accompanying parties to celebrate the Golden Globes have, because of the Writer's Guild Strike, been reduced to a mere press conference with a bunch of foreign reporters (like those from the Hindustan Times) miserably clapping on que while they are hopelessly dreaming about over-the-top after-parties that would have been...bumping lines with Lindsay Lohan, smoking chronic with Snoop, and observing Mel Gibson becoming boisterously intoxicated. Kudos to Atonement for grabbing top honors, but seriously, how much would it suck if you were an up and coming star and you couldn't even publicly celebrate your win because you fear you'll be blackballed from ever working in the industry again by a few nerdy writers? (Note: I am a nerdy writer, and I assure you that if I headed this Guild, I wouldn't penalize people for partying on an award's night. So remember, in a few years, vote Stephen "Sidney Morsels" Morse to be your next WGA West President.)

HOLLYWOOD POLITICS

Since the McCain-Feingold bipartisan campaign finance reform bill from a few years ago, individuals have been limited to donating $2,300 to an individual candidate during the primary election season and an additional $2,300 during the general election. The web site Opensecrets.org enables you, me, and everyone we know to track the monetary campaign donations of any American who has contributed to a political campaign or party - whether they donated $1 or have contributed the maximum amount of money...well, Hollywood has been quite generous to the 2008 Presidential candidates, and this is before the stars hit the campaign trail... Obviously the overwhelming majority of cash is going to Democrats - hence the Hollywood Liberal designation....Someone affiliated with Chris Dodd's campaign must havetons of Hollywood connections because he's been the recipient of tons of Hollywood cash - or the stars have second homes in Connecticut...I noticed Paul Simon dropped the maximum $4,600 for Dodd, and then also noticed via Wikipedia that Dodd dated Carrie Fisher (Simon's first wife) for a time...Adam Sandler supports GOP Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels hedged his bets between Dodd and current GOP frontrunner John McCain...other than that, the GOP isn't being helped too much by the celebrosphere.

SHOPPING SPREE

W
hile shopping at the Chappelfield Mall in Norwich, I noticed something: Prices were down, down, down! As I was perusing a sale rack, some little bugger saddled up beside me and said to his mate, "My aunt bought me that shirt for Christmas but didn't give it to me until yesterday. It's only five quid. I knew she was poor as hell." He just about hit the nail on the head in terms of analyzing the price, but not necessarily his aunt's economic status. Auntie Aunt may not be poor, but simply intelligent. If one could hold out for a mere two weeks after Christmas, they would get five or ten times the value for their money. That's what I did this year, (call me narcissistic, but I love to be pampered, and I love myself) as today was my first annual 20 Days After Christmas Shopping Spree. I purchased a coat for a mere £10 - down from £70. I liked one sweater at H&M so much that I bought two of them - at only £5 each. And rummaging through a bin of items on sale for £1 at Top Man resulted in two miraculous finds: 1 belt and a fanny pack (or bum bag as you people over here call them) - and yes, I am a fashionisto, and I will make the bum bag this spring's hottest accessory. Was discovering this brilliant-value-gold-mine worth the wait? Yout betcha!