London Thames Architecture Tour

Last Saturday C. and I had tickets to an architecture tour along the Thames.  Even though the warm, sunny weather we’d been having disappeared and our winter coats, hats, and gloves were out again I was still excited. Whole days in London with C. are rare so I really enjoyed sharing his city with him. C. has all the photo credits. My hands stayed in warm gloves the entire time we were on the boat so were not at all photo-ready.

Tour starts near the London Eye.

Sorry about how dark these are. When it’s cloudy in London, it’s really cloudy.

Big Ben.

I learned two more British pronunciations on this tour. Baroque is pronounced “barok” and “quay” is pronounced “key.”

Houses of Parliament. You can't see the gold detail in the photo, but it was nice to see it close up. Quite stunning.

Millbank Tower

View from Altitude 360 in Millbank Tower, December 2010

The night views of the Thames on a clear night are my favorite and most magical moments in the city. I’d discovered Whistler’s Nocturnes in the Freer-Sackler Galleries in D.C. A much different river in his day, but the ethereal quality remains.

One more--I took this in 2009 the first time I came to London. The sunset was gorgeous that night.

St. George's Wharf

The tour guide told us that this series of slick, greenish buildings has many harsh critics.  She also said that the structures have been likened to “three massive owls,” and she really went out on a limb by confessing that she found them “quite jolly, actually.” I have to agree, although I don’t think the word “jolly” has ever come to mind. I’ve often admired the wharf from the train.

St. George's Wharf detail

MI6 Building--British Secret Service.

Where rich people live

The now empty Battersea Power Station, an iconic London site.

Didn't get a name for these but have admired these from the train too.

Battersea Park Buddha

Freezing for architecture

Very cool building but couldn't hear the name of this one. Too windy.

Vauxhall Bridge Detail

Lion protected from all the changes made to the banks during the 1940's London Fair. Everything else was built up around the lion and people protested to save it.

View of Big Ben on return

Royal Festival Hall. Very pretty at night all lit up but not so exciting during the day.

In a nearby building, the Southbank Centre, there are tables with excellent views and the Saison Poetry Centre Library, a huge auditorium with musical shows, readings, talks, etc. The annual T.S. Eliot readings are there–great venue and event if you’d like to get a taste of the current British poetry world. I’ve enjoyed hanging out at Southbank on a number of occasions.

The famous OXO tower and building.

At night the Art Deco tower lights up with a red OXO. Oxo is an English company that makes beef stock cubes and the like. They requested a permit for an Oxo ad but were turned down.  On the Thames, advertising was banned. However, in a “coincidence,” architect Albert Moore created a design that included the letters o, x, and o. They got their ad after all.

Unilever House

Didn't catch the name of this one unfortunately

Cool art deco spot.

The Globe

A guy singing in the water for passersby. Brrrr.

I don't know the name of this building but it's one of my favorites.

Hay's Galleria

Tower Bridge and ship. London Bridge itself is dull and ordinary, missable. Tower Bridge, however, is one of the most iconic of the many bridges of the Thames.

Tower Bridge at night. I took this in 2009 the first time I came to London. C. and I had just met and he took me on a walk along the Thames.

The Shard--soon to be another staple in the London skyline. The glass is treated so that it changes with the weather and light.

Small view of St. Paul's Cathedral. Also gorgeous at night.

HMS Belfast

Tower Bridge

Where the mayor and other civil servants work

The More London area toward the east end of the Thames. An especially modern section.

Tower Bridge detail

Another one of my industrial favorites. Love the glass balconies.

View from Greenwich observatory

Does Greenwich have a Waterstones? Unfortunately for C., the answer is yes. Great way to end the day, in a comfy leather chair with a pile of books on my lap.

Borough Market, Whitstable, a Vineyard. The question of context.

Right now I’m in transition. We don’t know exactly when I’ll head back, but it will probably be in about a month. C. will hopefully follow a few months later. With a ton of things to get done but no definitive deadlines I’m a bit at loose ends.

The visa process (for C.) is another uncertainty. The website seems to be a wonderful source of misinformation, so any time I want to get completely freaked out, I can always go there an find ten reasons why our plans will get messed up.

We’re working with someone at C.’s work though, and fortunately after a brief call to the guy today, I feel so much better. And grateful that we’re not alone in the process.

But back to the Things to Do Before Leaving the UK List. Borough Market was at the top.

I also went to a Sussex vineyard (thanks Groupon!), the Yayoi Kusama show at Tate Modern, and to a new seaside town for me—Whitstable—for a walk and to see some short plays.

St. Paul’s from Tate Modern lawn on an unseasonably warm day.

Borough Market loaf. This is bigger than my head. Sad day for the gluten-free visitor.

Nut bread? C’mon. You’re killing me here.

No kitchen should be without goose fat.

Gorgeous views as one’s walking around the markets.

Uber brownies! I would like a badge for not getting one for C. and sneaking a bite with a handful of gluten-ease pills.

Yes!

A bit wilted but still pretty.

Figs.

Still life.

Being a sort of tourist for a year and a half is starting to feel weird.  I’m not quite as excited about the amazing historical thing I’m touring or which fantastic garden or cultural site I visit. Instead I’d like to just have a normal day where I get dressed, go to work, and do something tangible, whether it’s frustrating, exhausting, or productive, and then come home to a place that feels like home. Wanting this makes me feel guilty and dull.

Sometimes there’s the sense of killing time, which can happen anywhere.

Spring in Whitstable.

Whitstable castle, built in 1700’s.

Sun!

Coast.

Last weekend, C.’s two pals and I walked around the town of Hastings after doing the vineyard thing. I expected a big site for the Battle of Hastings (1066! English language changed forever!), but I was told that there’s a town called Battle where they do reenactments, and that’s where the official marker is. Instead there were just some signs basically describing what happened in 1066, who the Normans were, etc.

What was funny was that at the tasting our guide razzed on the French for a while until this lone woman with a classic French accent said “Excuse me Monsieur, but I am French and I do not agree,” about the quality of French wine, and the rest of the afternoon went on in this manner. She was joking and so was he, sort of, but sort of not.

I can’t remember where, but I heard someone say, weeks before, that the closer you get to Hastings the more they hate the French. Well, I wonder if this French woman knew that the wine tasting she was going to was in Hastings.

One of the guide’s jokes about the French even worked the Americans in. (The American in the story was loud.)  Two for one special!

After the tasting we had a walk along the coast and then a nice meal at Pomegranate (killer risotto). Then mini-golf which was fun but freezing.  We chose “Pirate Golf” which involved various water-spirting holes.  It was after dark by the sea. I had clothes for weather about twenty degrees warmer.

“Is getting wet…avoidable?” I asked the ticket guy, in what I thought would be the least likely manner to invite a snarky remark.

“Well you can look at see where the cement is wet and then not stand there,” he replied.

Sheesh.

But back to my point about the outing. I loved being in the vineyard on such a warm sunny day and learning about how they grow their grapes. (The guide was especially interesting and is retired, having previously spent decades working in the lost luggage room at Gatwick airport. I’d say the guy deserves a few free bottles.)

So while I certainly can’t complain about the day, I started getting into a funk during mini-golf which was weird with skulls lighting up and saying pirate-ey things to us about how poor our shots were.

There was this sense of frivolity without the context of work so I kind of felt like it wasn’t deserved or appropriate or something.

Wine in the making.

I know that most people my age would kill to have so few obligations, and so in that regard, I am fortunate. But all told, I would say the hardest thing about being an expat or a trailing spouse is not knowing how long you’re staying or what you’re doing to do next. The problem of context.

Without a clear role and a sense of rootedness and community, context kind of drops out. “Fun” things can feel strange.

And of course there’s a bit too much time for rumination in the middle of a transition. I’m wondering when exploration becomes indulgent. When it is wise? How do we know which “games” are childish and which are childlike?

When is it necessary to leave behind the pursuit of exhilaration, of newness, and fully accept the quotidian, as that too brings a type of joy?  I’m guessing there’s no right answer to any of it.

Hastings coast, dusk.

First Visit to the US

Being back in the US after being gone a year and a half was intense. I was fortunate to get to do so much and see so many friends all at once, coast to coast and all points in between. The AWP conference in Chicago offered a nice meeting point for some Richmond (VA) connections.

I also had a job to do. I needed to scope out possibilities for our recently discussed move back. We’re still gathering information, but we’re headed in the NYC direction. C.’s on his way to finalizing some things on his end for his office transfer. I’ve started looking for work, albeit with a bit of wariness. Hopefully this search will be a bit less frustrating as I won’t have to learn so many new tricks as a relatively old dog.

Snowy Nova Scotia (?) from the plane on a bright sunny day

Only 18 seats taken on our flight over! The benefits of flying on a Tuesday afternoon. Everyone had a whole row to him or herself--ahhh....

We lucked out that the New York office needed C. to come in in early Feb., so I tagged along and visited possible places for us to live when we move.  In between studying train lines, doing a million Google distance searches to train stations and rejoicing in my reunion with Kombucha tea, I managed to score a free ticket to the David Letterman show.

I got in trouble for this actually. We were in line but technically inside the Ed Sullivan Theater. "No Photography!" the girl said and pointed to the sign.

It was sweeps week, so there were all sorts of antics like going to a new savory pie shop in the neighborhood. The big guest was Denzel Washington. I spent the entirety of the show (fourth row, dead center!) terrified that my loaner phone would go off. I felt like I’d turned it off but my phone in London took me forever to get used to. I sometimes thought it would be off but it wasn’t. And the loaner phone was new and unfamiliar. Thankfully nothing happened and Dave didn’t make fun of me on live television. With an unfortunate haircut. Whew.  I sat next to a woman from Wisconsin who was traveling alone in business and we clapped loudly as we were instructed to do, and avoided making the “Whoooo!” sound. (Seriously, no “Whooing!” allowed. Just enthusiastic clapping and cheering. There were about ten interns standing in front of us before the show providing examples of good clapping.)

In our New York hotel home virtually scouting out commuter towns. My dogs were barking after hours of pounding the no-so-metaphorical pavement.

The High Line, NYC. Old railway tracks now outdoor gallery, hang out zone, and architecture tour.

Great, even on a cold day in Feb.

Can't wait to go back in summertime.

C. and I want to live outside the city as he’s always done, so we’ve been researching Jersey. A friend of a friend took me on a driving tour of towns around New Brunswick, and then I took a bunch of trips out with C. and without, meeting real estate agents. (They all seem to rent through agents there, I don’t know why.)  One agent was so hyper that she flew to one appointment while I waited in the office and then the other agent had to leave. They locked me in for about 45 minutes which was not fun! Needless to say we’re not going with them. The next two agents we met were much nicer.

One apartment in a nearby Jersey town has a view of Manhattan from the living room window.

Gorgeous light in this one but a teeny kitchen, creaky floors and someone above.

Our new North Jersey main street...?

A lot of attic apartments in big Victorians. Have lived in a bunch of these over the years.

Neither C. nor I are excited about small apartment living, but we hope to be able to get a little house in Jersey after a while. I’m freaking out about the closets more than anything.  We’ve finally got the standing wardrobe situation here down to a manageable system, and most things have homes.  Going back to two tiny closets for the whole place is going to be a challenge. Plus tiny kitchen.

C. then went back to London for two weeks while I continued on my way, heading to California for a week to see my dear friend M. and her family, thanks to a crazy cheap CHI>SFO ticket.

But first I went to the Chicago ‘burbs to see my most excellent pal Chris and her crew of two kids and senior kitty, who, I’m sure, was fully sick of me by the time I left:

Gene! Love affair spanning 10+ years.

Getting to meet my friend’s 15 mo. old daughter, N., was a highlight of the trip and I already can’t wait to see her again. I’d met Chris’ son when he was 9 months old but now he’s 2 and a half and calls me “Taro.”  He’s really fun and outgoing. When I arrived I got out the little toys I’d been gathering for a few months, and we first tried out some glow sticks. These were too fun. When you bent them, they turned from clear to bright neon, and you could snap them together to make huge multi-colored hoops that we spun on our arms in the dark. We danced like maniacs to music on their porch with the new toys. I gave Gene a pink glow-stick necklace and he trudged around with it on for a while. I am the cat whisperer.

Then to my friend’s in CA.  I’d never been to Monterey Bay. Insanely gorgeous.

Point Lobos, Monterey Bay. One of those places in California that doesn't quite seem real, it's so perfectly beautiful.

When not to take a photo, that is the question.

My friend from IL, B., also happened to be in CA, so we did a little thrift shopping in Monterey. I found a killer Nikita camo jacket for four bucks. B & I used to thrift shop hard in Chicago and other spots way back in the eighties, so it was kinda funny to find ourselves rummaging around again so many years later.

C. and I met up again in Chicago and he roamed the streets while I conferenced.

Downtown Chicago. C. took this.

After another stop at Chris’ where C. got to hang with the kids (and read Dr. Seuss to them in a very stiff accent, which was hilarious), we had a week to kill since we didn’t need to scout towns in Jersey again.  We spent a few days in Galena, IL, a cool little town near the Mississippi preserved, nearly, from the 1800’s steamboat days. Off season, it was cheap and we practically had the place to ourselves.

Then off to central IL to visit relatives. Hadn’t seen some in over five years so it was great to get down there!  Got to meet my uncle’s new dog Bruiser and C. took part in one of his favorite pastimes: target shooting. I think he and my uncle will get along just fine.

So, what’s the verdict then?  All my friends had the same question for C.: Are you excited? Meaning the prospect of moving to the US and working in NY. At first his answer was uncertain, but as we traveled around he seemed to get a bit used to the idea. He’s threatening to do a BPRB version of his own called Dull Gray Long Underwear from our new New Jersey haunt.

I’ll leave you, for now, with C.’s Zoolander imitation.

Is there more to life than being really, really ridiculously good-looking?

Possible move back to the US

With a bit of trepidation and a lot of research to do, we are looking into an opportunity to move back to the US.  I’m excited at the prospect of driving, going to Target (will shamelessly admit this), and eating out without feeling like we’ve broken the bank, not to mention being able to see friends more easily.  We’re realistic though.  While C. will have work, the state we’ll probably move to has massive hiring freezes for teachers.  People can’t even get sub jobs, y’all.  I’m trying to be positive. Isn’t everybody?

The next few weeks will involve queries, the continued processing (hopefully) of C.’s spousal US visa request, and, if we’re lucky, maybe a bit more clarity on where we’re headed.  Since I don’t know where we’ll be living in the coming months and I’m busy with research, I’m not looking for work at this time.  It’s strange to have no idea where we’ll be, and what I’ll be doing.

On a visa note, those of you who may have gone through this wonderful process may have had experiences like ours where we filled out the immigrant petition form and they sent a different form back (we hadn’t even been led online to the right one) *graded* in angry red pen.

First US Spousal Visa attempt: FAIL.

I doubt that processing visa applications is fun. As much as I loathe filing out confusing forms, I can’t imagine reading them all day.

A bit of the ‘ole vitamin D always helps.  The other day I met my friend T. in London at the British Museum.  The sun was warm enough at noon to sit on the steps and just bathe in it for about ten minutes.  What a slice of heaven.  And on a London note, if you can do go see the Exhibit on Hajj–Journey to Mecca.  It was incredible and I’ll be thinking on it for some time.

My main concern about being able to move is the house.  Not a good time to be selling.  One young couple who viewed it was looking to move from London as they said things were getting too violent where they were.  I could honestly tell them that most of the violence in the immediate radius is post-pub brawling, so hopefully we’ll get more potentials like those two.

I might be on a brief hiatus while I’m mentally reviewing our options but will post from time to time.  Cheers for reading!

Cologne & Dusseldorf Architecture

Post II on the Germany trip.

Besides the Christmas markets, which were incredible, Cologne and Dusseldorf are legendary for their architecture.  Having only a few days in each city, we stayed out of museums and I took a million pictures, stopping only when my fingers became frozen from the cold.  We especially enjoyed a glass of wine in the Belgian Quarter, which had tons of lovely restaurants, bars, and shops.

Lovely old city section of town

Lucked out with a bit of sun.

Think this is a Kathe Kollwitz sculpture on fountain.

Cool church

So many roof gardens in Cologne. Love it.

Local choo-choo that stops at all Christmas markets


Can't get enough of this shot

Dusk requires a whole new set.

Love that Dutch influence--Stepped Gables

Lights in the chic & magical Belgian Quarter


Rathaus, or City Hall--oldest functioning building of its kind in Germany

Art museum and back of cathedral

Art Museum at Dusk

Would take a lot of this to kill me.

Cathedral

View of a Christmas market from top of cathedral--long climb to top was well worth it!

View from top of cathedral

Gerhard Richter's pixellated window. Love the merging of medieval and modern.

Gorgeous window display

Art Deco Detail

And finally, a bit of fun:

Costume shop took up an entire block.

Truly something for everyone.

If you still can't find what you're looking for, there's always the Sex & Gay Center.

Dusseldorf

We weren’t as taken with Dusseldorf perhaps because it seemed to have a large seasonal area with cafés, restaurants and shops near the river that were all closed.  So it sort of felt, in some neighborhoods, like we were there off-season.  The Christmas markets were also nicer in Cologne.  Dusseldorf did seem to have more nightlife, so if one was college-age this town might be more fun at night, esp in the summer months.

We did find a gorgeous church though–St. Lambertus, or the “church with a crooked steeple.”   Inside we found objects from a number of eras:

St. Lambertus

Vintage Confessional

Gorgeous windows--20th cent

Tons of whole trees brought in for Nativity-in-progress

More Stepped Gables in the Old City

I seem to have a thing for ironwork.

Bed in Dusseldorf equipped with rubber duckies.

Scary. But I wanted to keep it. Are Christmas rubber duckies like the minibar...tempting but to be avoided?

Is it just me or does this duckie look like he's in the middle of a hold-up?

Two random notes about this Germany trip–we noticed that few locals had their cell phones glued to their ears as they do in most other cities.  Anyone know why this is?   No one walking down the street gabbing away.

Second, we flipped through the TV and indulged in a few American shows in true German form.  One was Extreme Home Makeover, and the German attempt at the crack-hyper Ty Pennington was outrageous and just wrong.  “Hoarders” was called “Der Messy-Chaos,” which is my new nickname.  (Am not a hoarder but do tend towards stacks of books and notebooks everywhere.)   Last–Lord of the Rings and Malcolm in the Middle.  The mom in MitM, in German, is equally as terrifying as an Orc in German.  Not advised right before bedtime!  Thank goodness for the rubber duckies. I’m sure they protect against German-Speaking Orcs.

Auf Wiederschen, and Germany I hope to see you again soon!


German Christmas Markets

In lieu of birthday and Christmas presents for each other (both of our b-days are in December), C. & I took a short trip to Germany.

The Rhine

Cologne Aldstadt or Old City

On the way to the markets

A bit of ironwork

Christmas tree as sentinel.

In Cologne, it's Christmas on top of cranes too. Lights as well? But of course!

Tree waiting for DeCaprio? Fortunately, there was no Celine Dion soundtrack.

Arrival at markets with sausage in hand.

Old timey music man

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. No, really. A lot. It's Über-Christmas.

Potato fritters with cranberry & applesauce. Paradise.

Best gingerbread house ever.

So many Santas. So little time.

Day two:

Lunch on a stick.

A gluten-intolerant girl can dream.

The best dish ever. Potato dumplings, arugula, parmesan and sun dried tomatoes.

The Massive Kölner Dom

And around town…in between markets, a bit of window shopping.  Impressive displays everywhere.

As I have a million other pics I’d love to share, I’ll add a post in a bit just on Cologne to share some of the splendid architecture and add a few musings about the city itself.

Thanks, people (and trees) of Cologne for such a wonderful time!

American Humor Vs. British Humour

Brits are famous for their bone-dry wit, and the contrast between American and British humor seems to be a popular topic. I’ve addressed it briefly in other posts, but a further consideration of humor seems warranted, and I’m also going to explore the ever-popular charge that Americans don’t have a sense of irony.  (I found Simon Pegg’s piece after I wrote mine and am very happy to see that I’m not alone in my conclusions.)

First, I’ll toss out a number of varieties of humor, and briefly cover the difficulty of translating one culture’s humor to another.  Types of humor: dry, clever/lofty, slapstick, deadpan, satirical, theatrical/dramatic, absurd, self-deprecating, dark/black, silly/goofy.

Humor is tough to translate culturally.  I could offer many examples of this, but the one I remember most is a story about a German woman that I used to work with at a US public library.  She spoke perfect English, and she often appeared to me as stereotypically German–stoic, serious, well-read and orderly about her work. She was tough to talk to because she just wasn’t a chatty person, and I don’t consider myself that chatty, but in comparison I looked like a sorority girl. Sometimes I would try to make a joke with her but always they fell flat, and she would give me this look like she was worried for me.

Anyway, one day she came up to me all excited and she was smiling–I had never seen her face lit up like that. I realized that in the two years I’d worked with her, I’d never seen her teeth before.  She was holding a Dave Eggers book (H.B.W.O.S.G.) and on the back flap photo was a shot of the author with a dog, accompanying a brief biography and at the end, “This is not his dog.”  This sent my co-worker into spasms of laughter.  I thought it was funny too but not dying of laughter funny.  Still, I was glad she’d found something to make her day, and I thought about how lonely it must be to not be able to be German-funny with us at work.

And at the same time, I myself was American, but there were many instances in which I wanted to make a joke at work but couldn’t because my sense of humor was too dry or dark for a lot of my co-workers.

Which brings me to my point, which is that American humor is varied, even though there probably is a banal, Stars & Stripes generic stereotype.

I often hear that “Americans have no sense of irony.”  This might be true of many, but I guess I hate to be lumped in with this group.  Irony, especially in the stalwart Midwestern town where I grew up, probably saved my sanity.  I will never forget finding Mad Magazine when I was about seven or eight, and thinking “Wow–there are others like me.”  I loved Tex Avery cartoons, comic books, and any other artform that utilized irony and satire.

With the advent of Sesame Street, a whole generation was introduced to an irreverent sensibility at an early age. Granted, this wasn’t the height of sophistication, but watching clips while a nanny in my twenties, I was surprised at all of the jokes for adults.  There’s Kermit the Frog’s News Flash on Sesame Street, the weird parody of an orange performing Carmen’s “L’Amour” on the kitchen countertop.  Not to mention all the inside political and cultural jokes on The Muppet Show.

After the muppets and Mad Magazine, there was Saturday Night Live. SNL rides the shirt-tails of genius sketch comedy like Monty Python, and no one, including myself, would ever question the brilliant delivery of comedy actors like John Cleese.  Still, SNL covers quite a few kinds of humor, and much of it is ironic. Maybe there is a difference, though, in a British sense of irony and an American one?   British humor does sharper and often more clever than mainstream American humor, but non-mainstream American humor can be quite sharp as well.

SNL is one of the biggest icons of humor in America, and it’s sort of been a touchstone, one of those rare pleasures that spans the ages.  I’ve been watching SNL since I was in middle school, if not earlier, and  it’s thrilling that such a show has survived since the 70’s and has given so many talents a start in the business.

The notion of characters comes to mind, American literature and film being very character-driven in the context of the “individual.”   Has this influenced the American vs. British sense of humor?  Would Molly Shannon have created Mary Catherine Gallagher if she’d been born a Brit?  Sally O’Mally?   Would Chris Farley have created his motivational speaker Matt Foley who warns of “living in a van, down by the river”?

Something that an English media studies teacher once said to me about American vs. British culture also comes to mind.  He said that in British coming of age films, the challenge is about figuring out how to fit into the rest of the society.  In other words, existing with the group.  On the other hand, American coming of age films deal with the individual and identity–who is that person on his or her own, and how that person can be authentic.

Does this affect our sense of humor?   It must.

American humor is often irreverent, perhaps as a necessary antidote to American earnestness.  To start, there’s  The Onion, The Colbert Report, and Bill Maher.  There are plenty of other examples of American irreverence (The Simpsons), and the American political/cultural divide offers no end to opportunities to lambast the religious right-wing.  Irreverence is something we share with the Brits, I think, even if it happens for different reasons.

There’s a lot to love about British humor, and I’ve known plenty of Americans who prefer it.  One of my favorite British sketches is The Ministry of Silly Walks.  To an outsider, this is a comment on the British sense of tradition and  doing things in the right way, especially as opposed to the American notion, which would be to find a new, more individual way to do something.  Since living in the UK I’ve also discovered Mock the Week, which I love, even though I don’t always get the references.

When my husband and I first starting dating, he shared The Oatmeal with me, and hyperboleandahalf.com.  30 Rock, Modern Family, SNL, and movies like The Wedding Crasher also provided common ground.  Darker comedy like Zach Galifianakis and Arrested Development works for both of us, but I don’t share my husband’s appreciation of British sitcoms like Only Fools and Horses, probably as I didn’t grow up with them.  My husband also doesn’t get Seinfeld at all, which still amazes me.  “It’s not about anything,” he says.  (Yes–exactly!)  What is it about that show that doesn’t cross the US/UK divide?  Are there other Brits who like it?

Blackadder Goes Forth is hilarious, and we’re both also fans of Whose Line is It Anyway, which began as a British improv show and then the US followed with a version hosted by Drew Carey.

One thing I’ve noticed about humor is that the sense of being self-deprecating for men seems different.  There doesn’t seem to be a “Don’t Emasculate Me” button in England.  I was shocked the first time I heard jokes that would be considered very emasculating, especially in regard to couples, and an invitation by my husband for me to join in.   I’ve also heard guys make comments about men vs. women (such as joking about men being useless except for their contributions to procreation) that would be viewed as pathetic in the US.

I realize that I’ve only just grazed the surface here.  There are so many different other worlds to explore–Welsh humor, Irish humor, African-American humor, Jewish American….  What we find funny, though, is a wonderful lens in which to view our cultures.

Favorite examples of British or American humor anyone?  …Anyone?

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