Sunday, October 31, 2010

“Because We Actually Went American High School!” - Me

I hope you aren’t reading this post and thinking that it’s going to be Halloween related. Sorry to disappoint, but I am giving you an advanced warning. We’re still on last weekend people…

Since my first paper for my film class was due on Wednesday last week, I tried rather unsuccessfully to lock myself in my room and write until all of my homework was completed. That weekend was probably the most boring weekend I’ve ever spent in London, consisting of nothing more than sleep, TV watching, and attempts at writing. The only highlight was going out to see a movie with Laura and Matt on Saturday night. We saw, Easy A, which if you haven’t seen, is highly entertaining. There are many differences between London and America, but the movie going experience, something I value greatly, was almost the same. I say almost because they got a few key ingredients wrong.

Number One, hot buttery popcorn is not a concept known to the Brits. They offer both salty and toffee popcorn at the theatre, but when we asked if they had a butter flavor or better yet, a pump of butter on the side so we can add as much greasy deliciousness till our hearts exploded, they looked at us like we were crazy. As if no one ever thought that adding butter to salted popcorn would be amazing. This explains how when I bought microwave popcorn over here, they had separate salted and butter flavors. I just don’t understand why these things just aren’t automatically mixed! Number Two, stadium seating has not been thought necessary when you have a big screen. While this is WRONG, I lucked out this time by not having a tall person sit in front of me. Number Three, there are no ‘pre-flix’ slides or annoying reels before the movie starts, but once it does, they have about 5-10 minutes of plain commercials followed by 5-10 minutes of trailers. About the same as in the States I guess, but it just felt like foreverrrr over here. Number Four, and my personal favorite, they don’t have the G, PG, PG-13, R, NC-17 system, they have a completely different system all together. Before the movie starts, they have a slide come up that has four signatures of important high up people saying that they approve this movie, it has a BBFC stamp, and then what age and up can view this as devised by the British Board of Film Classification. Turns out PG-13 roughly translates to 12. Huh, interesting… Is it sad I find this slide intriguing and curious and did more research on this topic? They have six classifications as well but theirs are, U: suitable for all, PG: Parental Guidance 12A/12: Not suitable for someone under 12 without Parental Guidance, 15: Suitable only for 15 years or over 18: suitable only for adults and R18: only shown in specially licensed cinemas (like NC-17 basically)

The best part of the movie was the fact that for the first time in my life, I was apart of those loud people in the theater. Seriously, why were the British people not laughing? If they were, Matt, Laura and I overpowered them easily. After one particularly funny scene, Laura turned to me and asked why we were the only ones laughing. “Because we actually went to American high school!” After seeing all the British school kids parade around town after 5 during the week, you can tell there are some obvious differences in school behavior. I guess that’s why I’ve been asked several times if our schooling is just like it is in the movies. (My favorite is their obsession with American College life, haha) Not exactly, but closer than y’alls will ever be.

Monday I got to stay at work for the entire day due to the fact that my film class wasn’t meeting because of our paper. Ben thought was skipping at first, but fear not, I legitimately didn’t have class. That day was extremely important as Ben and Josh were going to BBC 3 to Pitch ‘The Best’ so naturally, they weren’t really there for the better part of the day. Who do they put in charge of us interns, but Wicksey who gives us a survey to fill out entitled “I AM VERY SORRY” with all caps and everything. Our survey was really more of a ‘come up with an idea for X/what’s your favorite thing that’s been done with Y’ type of thing. Haha, turns out the Brits are looking for TV shows centered around food. Well now, being an American and having a whole TV channel dedicated to food, it’s hard for me to come up with a concept that hasn’t already been done in some form or fashion. But apparently, Wicksey didn’t know we had a food channel. He thought it was absurd and thought the whole channel was nothing more than people standing up and cooking. When I started talking about shows like “Ace of Cakes” that confused him even more. “So they bake a cake every week? And you see the process?” Oh dear, how do you explain? Worse yet is when I tried to show him clips to let the show explain itself, all of the footage is copyrighted and won’t play due to the fact that we’re in a different country.

When he asked for a fusion between game and reality show, I asked him if he meant something like “Cash Cab” to which I got a very puzzled look. You don’t have Cash Cab? You don’t even know what Cash Cab is? That I was able to youtube and he was amazed by the idea and started asking me all these questions like “did he memorize all those questions or is he reading something” and “how many cameras did they use for this” and “what happens if someone gets in and they’re in a hurry and don’t want to play?” I don’t work on the show, Ben Wicks, just watch the clip and be amazed!

When I showed up to work the following day, we started off with a breakfast meeting at Jack’s, the café down the street. Well this was different. Josh was teasing me again, but this time about the menu:

JOSH: I think I’m going to get the Yankee.

ME: Just the Yankee? Not the Yankee Doodle Dandy?

JOSH: I don’t want the Doodle Dandy, it’s too much food. I just want the Yankee. Does that offend you?

ME: No, because a ‘yankee’ is something different in the States, specially if you’re from the South.

JOSH: I’ve heard that. What does it mean?

ME: Well a ‘yankee’ is a word that people in the south like to use to describe a Northerner. But it’s derogatory. You kinda only use it when you’re making fun of someone.

JOSH: So I shouldn’t say you’re a real yank?

ME: No.

JOSH: Ok, yankee.

I give up. We ended up discussing and finalizing the layout of the Blah show, but this lead me to two conclusions. 1.) The final layout was what I was imagining the whole time and I guess I should have made my opinion clearer, thus solving the ‘problem’ sooner and propelling me to good intern status but I was confused as to what they were originally imagining because of reason number 2.) The Brits love panel shows! I was explaining this later realization to Wicksey later on who agreed with my wisdomosity.

The Brits eat up panel shows like we eat up talk shows. For some reason, our version of talk shows by giving someone a few comfy chairs/couches and asking them to interview someone famous compiled with a musical interlude from another guest and little quirky scenes doesn’t work over here. But you give these people four celebrities in a room and make them talk about random stuff and they want more! Can you remember the last surviving successful panel show in American TV History? Wasn’t it Hollywood Squares from the 1970s? (and don’t you dare mention that crappy one that came out last season called Marriage Ref.) I find it utterly fascinating that the two shows just don’t jive well with the opposite audience. Wicksey agreed with British sigma of the silliness of American talk shows, and while I agree we have too many, they’re funny! Conan on the Tonight Show? Ellen? And who doesn’t love to watch Oprah’s favorite things? That’s the best show she puts out all year! But this is from a man whos entire Producing career comes from generating British Panel shows. It’s baffling. I just don’t get it. But I’d love to study this! Can I create my own class??

I left work at 2 as usual but with the notion that I’d see everyone in just a few hours. That’s right, Tuesday we went on a Work Outing! About two weeks ago, Ben asked if I was doing anything on a Tuesday evenig. While somewhat creepy, I couldn’t honestly say that I was, but he still wouldn’t tell me what we were doing. All I knew was that we were going to see some show on the Southbank to get development ideas. Pshh, I’m in! All I have to do is sit through this stupid intern class and write the second half of my paper first. I highly considered skipping this class to write, and part of me wishes I did. We spent the whole time writing goals. Can you believe this? I’m 20 years old and having a class on goal setting. I think I know how to do this. You could have just said go write some goals and explain them instead of wasting and hour and half of my life talking about how to set goals and the reason we need them. So instead I wrote my goals in about 10 minutes and chatted with J about Halloween and Thanksgiving plans.

Turns out the show we’re going to is called La Soiree. When I looked it up online, it said it’s located in a tent set up behind the National Theatre. Oh that’s helpful. So off I go to find the group and several phone calls with Mr. Ben Crompton later, I find him, Wicksey, Sarah, and Georgie enjoying the last of their sushi at a restaurant down the street. Next thing I know Ben has placed a beer in front of me and Wicksey and I are in a conversation about couples. The couple sitting next to us were obviously not in a very loving mood and acting all icily towards each other. This lead to a ‘how’s your girlfriend/ my friend and his crazy girlfriend/ I once dated this girl’ type of talk. Haha, the more I talk to Wicksey, the more I like him. Shortly after that, Josh showed up and we made our way to find Paul and the big tent.

This show was unlike anything I’d seen live before. It’s like a mini Cirque de Soleil, but less weird and much smaller. Still all the same, I loved it. There was a man named Captain Frodo who was a contortionist and who every time he tried to get his body to bend some other way, I hid myself in Georgie saying ‘I don’t want to watch. I don’t want to watch’ while really kind of watching. The whole time Georgie’s just kinda patting my head saying, ‘Yes, it’s quite scary, isn’t it?’ There was also this crazy hoola-hoop lady on roller skates which was quite cool. And then there were the ‘English Gents’ who come up on stage dressed in suits with bowler hats and umbrellas and end up doing ridiculous balancing acts with each other (and when they’re done, they rip off their clothes to reveal Union Jack undies, haha). The best bit though was a man named David O’Mer aka ‘Bath Boy’ who literally sits in a bathtub full of water and then does all these ridiculous acrobatic aerial stunts on these ribbons hanging from the ceiling. Of course he’s incredibly fit and drenched in water and you know all the women in the audience were just drooling. Ben was sitting there whispering, “I feel a bit gay. Oi, no I don’t, look at Josh!” And then we turned to look at Josh, who’s mesmerized by the whole thing and can’t take his eyes off the man. Hahaha, love it. After the show, they had these booklets set out on a table and I caught Ben taking more than one. I just snuck up behind him and said “Go ahead and take more, it’s the American way!” Well, he thought it was funny.

As we were walking towards Waterloo, Josh wouldn’t hush up about his upcoming ‘Holiday’. Apparently he needed to use up all of his vacation time before Christmas so he’s going to Barcelona for his friend’s 30th birthday. He also laughed at me when I wished him a fun vacation.

JOSH: Did you just say vay-ca-tion?

ME: Oh sorry *puts on fake accent* Holiday. You know, you’re gonna miss me when I leave, you’re going to have no one to tease.

JOSH: Sure I will, I’ll have Sarah.

SARAH: Oh, shut up.

As I was asking him if he had his lispy Spanish accent all ready for Barcelona, this lead to a ‘you must know how to speak Spanish’ conversation. Umm, no, no I do not, but I can understand everything y’all are trying to say. This also reminded me of Dia de Los Muertos, something I’m sure the British and (probably even the Spaniards since it’s a Mexican holiday, right?) do not celebrate. I asked Josh to bring me some Pan Dulce or Pan de Muerto but he just gave me a weird look. Yeah, I guess I’m going to have to explain that one too…




  1. Beer is nasty.
    Pan dulce/pan de muertos is yummy.

  2. No buttery popcorn? I just don’t understand how they can not put butter on their popcorn! Ok- gotta love the different movie rating system though. Although I must admit when I first read it I thought 'U' said “un-suitable for all” haha

    Thank you so much for having the ‘Yankee’ conversation with a Brit! You have unknowingly fulfilled one of the items on my Bucket List. I’ve always wanted them to call me a Yankee so I can say “No I’m not! I’m from the south!”