ASK Musings

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Entertainment Archive



August 2010





June 2010



US v England – With the diplomats involved, it gets witty

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From the

Ambassadors bet on USA-England World Cup match

Page last updated at 21:45 GMT, Tuesday, 8 June 2010 22:45 UK

 The US ambassador in London will buy his counterpart a steak if England wins

Diplomats in London and Washington have raised the stakes over Saturday's US-England World Cup clash by wagering a meal over the game's outcome.

The bet was brokered in cables between aides to US Ambassador Louis Susman and UK Ambassador Sir Nigel Sheinwald.

"We will understand if you decline, given the outcome of the last such encounter," a US aide wrote, referring to the US defeat of England in 1950.

A UK aide said Sir Nigel took his steak like that win – "somewhat rare".

'Generous nation'

"Even for such an exceptionally optimistic nation as the United States, I am struck by the confidence with which your ambassador proposes this wager," Martin Longden, press secretary to Sir Nigel, wrote to Philip Breeden of the US embassy in London in an exchange first reported by

"It is testament, I assume, to the generosity of your great nation, since the British ambassador does not anticipate paying out."

Mr Breeden replied: "It is true that our soccer (a fine English word we have kindly preserved for you) history is not as long and illustrious as yours.

"However, as your generals noted during World War II, we have a unique capability for quickly identifying and advancing talent."

British embassy staff, their families and some US acquaintances will be watching the game on a big-screen television at the embassy in Washington.

Roughly one quarter of the embassy staff are American nationals, "so it should make for a lively crowd", an embassy official told the BBC.

"We're not doing anything more grand," the official said. "We'll leave that to the final."



May 2010



Mmm. Potato Crisps

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I’ll call them ‘crisps’ for now just because I’m in England and that’s what they call it.

Anyway, Walkers is doing this promotion timed to the World Cup (although they aren’t technically sponsors) where they introduce 15 new flavors, one for each of 15 countries. Yesterday on a picnic I had a chance to try a few:

Spain’s Chicken Paella – Interesting, with a strong bell pepper finish
Italy’s Spaghetti Bolognese – Odd. Crunch spaghetti? Just odd.
USA’s Cheeseburger – SO GOOD. I could eat a full-size bag all by myself
Australia’s BBQ Kangaroo – Not good. It didn’t taste like what I think of as BBQ.
French Garlic Baguette – Like boursin cheese in crisp form

There are ten other flavors for me to taste, including:

Wales Rarebit
Argentina Flame Grilled Steak
Brazil Salsa
Netherlands Edam Cheese
England Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding
Germany Bratwurst Sausage
Ireland Stew
Japan Teriyaki Chicken
Scotland Haggis
South Africa Sweet Chutney

I really want to taste the Salsa and Teriyaki Chicken Flavors. I think I’ll pass on Haggis.

You can learn more about it here.



October 2009



Salted Caramel Truffles. Yes please.

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Friday night I visited another of the museums that stays open late. Suzanne and I met up at the Victoria and Albert museum. That place is crazy. It’s in a gorgeous building, and is a bit of a cluster in terms of artifacts. We spent about an hour there and only saw three exhibits – well, two and a half. There was one temporary exhibition we saw, and it was adequately creepy: Telling Tales. The fashion and jewelry sections were also amazing.

Yesterday Becky and I went to the Chocolate Unwrapped event, which is part of Chocolate Week. For a fee we got to taste loads of amazing artisinal chocolate. The Paul Wayne Gregory Salted Caramel Truffles were some of the most amazing things I’ve ever tasted . . . aside from these crazy good lemon-filled dark chocolates I tried later on. Really, only one stand was a bit of a miss; the rest were indulgent and ridiculous. I know I’ll probably eat a Cadbury bar later this week or next, but man. It’s so fun to be reminded of the really wonderful flavors that are out there. Sesame and lime milk chocolate candies, dark-chocolate quince treats, rich and gooey brownies.

Yeah, it was good. Really, really good. So good that I walked the 3 1/2 miles back to my apartment to try to burn off at least one of the truffles. Oh man.

Today I ran off a few more, as I participated in the Royal Parks Half Marathon. It was a great course, and I hit my personal best (2:05 and change) but am feeling really tuckered out. I raised money for Brainstrust; if you still haven’t given but want to, there’s still time! Just post a comment and I’ll e-mail you the link to donate.

Week two starts tomorrow . . . hopefully my legs will allow me to get to campus.



May 2009





May 2009





June 2008



Brain Droppings

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My alarm went off this morning to NPR, as it usually does. The first sentence that greeted me? “George Carlin, legendary comedian, has died at the age of 71.”

His book, “Brain Droppings,” is one of my favorites. It is the kind of book that I’ll pick up, open to any page, and laugh out loud. Or nod in agreement. He was great at pointing out common errors in grammar, or stupid turns of phrase. And so, in honor of him, here are a few choice sections.

“If something in the future is canceled, what is canceled? What has really happened? Something that didn’t occur yet is now never going to occur at all. Does that qualify as an event?”

“I know I’m fighting a losing battle with this one, but I refuse to surrender: Collapsing a building with explosives is not an implosion. An implosion is a very specific scientific phenomenon. The collapsing of a building with explosives is the collapsing of a building with explosives. The explosives explode, and the building collapses inwardly. That is not an implosion. It is an inward collapsing of a building, following a series of smaller explosions designed to make it collapse inwardly. Period.”

“A scary dream makes your heart beat faster. Why doesn’t the part of your brain that controls your heartbeat realize that another part of your brain is making the whole thing up? Don’t these people communicate?”

“You know what you never see? A really interesting set of twins.”

“Some people see things that are and ask, Why? Some people dream of things that never were and ask, Why not? Some people have to go to work and don’t have time for all that.”