Posts Tagged ‘UK’

Two Blondes Go to a Movie: Happy-Go-Lucky

February 2, 2009

Two Blondes review a movie and mostly ramble about themselves.

ALISON SAYS:

I really wanted to like Happy-Go-Lucky.  Sally Hawkins seemed so cute and offbeat at the Golden Globes.  I’ve read some raving reviews for the film, but I hate to say, I wasn’t too impressed.  For about the first hour, I kept taking sideward glances at Jessica to see if she was as unimpressed as I was.  She didn’t seem overly involved in the flight of Poppy either.  My mom (who joined us to watch the film) had fallen asleep, probably from a combination of wine, jetlag and from the fact that she found the film boring as well.

I’m not saying I hated it or disliked it immensely.  It just didn’t grab me.  Maybe it was too British, though I do love British people and films.  Maybe Hawkins’ cuteness was too offbeat for me.  I can’t put my finger on it exactly.  There were parts I liked and things I related to in the film, but other than that, I felt an almost blahness in response to watching it.

LA Viewers: Wait for the DVD.

Translation for non-LA natives: Netflix, baby!

JESSICA SAYS:

When we sat down to watch Happy-Go-Lucky, I told Alison, “I have a confession.  I have no idea what this movie is going to be about.”  When the end credits rolled, I turned to her and again said, “I have no idea what the plot of that movie was.  Do you think it had a plot?”  (Long pause.)  We both answered, “Mmmm, not really.”


I thought this movie was…perplexing.  I was genuinely charmed by Sally Hawkins’ character, Poppy, but what makes it perplexing to me is this:  if you enjoyed watching something, but it had no plot does that mean is was good or bad?  Is having a plot central to any story’s success?  Mr. Oldvader, my high school AP English literature teacher says yes.  Happy-Go-Lucky definitely has a theme, and it happens to be a theme I quite liked:  happiness is a decision you make for yourself.*  Poppy is a perpetual optimist, not because life has been nothing but kind to her, but rather because she chooses to see everything as a glass half-full.  It’s just…where was the story?

After staring at the cursor blinking here, in the spot where I’m supposed to say whether or not I recommend this movie for about ten minutes, I’ve decided to recommend it like so:  Add it to your Netflix/Blockbuster queue; not at the top, but on there somewhere, and some Saturday afternoon curl up on the couch with a cup of tea (obviously it has to be tea; Happy-Go-Lucky is v. British) and see what you think.  Maybe you will see a plot where I didn’t, but at the very least, maybe this will inspire some self-reflection in you.  It did for me.

*Alison agrees with me on this, despite finding the movie a little blah.  She did like that idea and theme in the movie.

Two Blondes Go Shopping: Ikea

December 13, 2008

Two Blondes review a store and ramble about themselves.

Alison says:

Ikea is one of my favorite stores, except for going on a Sunday afternoon.  Then it becomes hell on earth.  But other than that, it’s a delight. You can wander for hours wondering what kind of person you would be if you had a new living room, or how you would definitely become organized with a new Expedit desk.  And no matter how hard our economy’s downfall is hitting you, you can still find something you can afford, be it a $200 couch or a $3.49 pot lid holder or a $7 stuffed blue giraffe (it’s awesome).  But the most affordable thing is the food.  And by affordable I mean financially, not calorie wise.  It is not the kind of food to trim the waist line, but hopefully you spent enough time walking in circles through mock living rooms, kitchens, etc. that you’ll burn off any calories you ingest.

I decided to go try the cinnamon bun.  It seemed like a good way to go to try and recover from an open bar holiday party the night before.  The cinnamon bun was yummy, but a little on the dry side.  It doesn’t have that doughy mushiness that one has come to expect after the spread of the chain Cinnabon. But luckily a soda doesn’t cost much more than a stamp, so that helped wash it down.  After our shopping adventures (i.e. aimless wandering interrupted only by “Oh, I could really use….), I went for a $1 yogurt and it was creamily delicious and a perfect way to end our time at Ikea.

Another reason I love Ikea (aside from their many, many products and funny names) is that I’ve heard the owner of Ikea still drives a beat up Volvo to work.  This is a guy who has surpassed Bill Gates in terms of wealth, but still has the good sense and character to drive an old Volvo.  You gotta respect that.

Jessica says:

Oprah has this section in her magazine where she asks interesting people, “What do you know for sure?” (http://www.oprah.com/slideshow/omagazine/200811_omag_for_sure).  I like to come up with different answers so I’m prepared for the day when Oprah and I bump into each other, become instant friends, and she asks me–of course after we have talked for hours about our favorite books, philosophy, politics, etc.  Here is what I know for sure today, Oprah, the English make really crappy hot dogs.

I know this because you get weird cravings for the foods of home when you live abroad; things you would never really be that excited about, if they were readily available to you.  Occasionally I would get hot dog cravings when I lived in the UK (as well as macaroni and cheese made from the orange powder mix and that pink strawberry cake from the box).  My first year living in England, I decided to throw a Fourth of July party and set about gathering all the necessary equipment:  fireworks – check (after a brief trip to a store filled with bongs, roach clips, and various tie-dyed things where the proprietor told us about a rave we should totally come to that night), Budweiser – check, hamburgers – check, hot dogs – uh oh.  I had concerns about what passes as ‘hot dogs’ in England from an earlier experience I’ll explain in a second, but H assured me Sainsbury’s would have them.  I searched the refrigerated sausage section and saw none.  When I told my
friend, H, they didn’t have any she said, “Oh no, hot dogs wouldn’t be in this isle, they’re over here…”  She led me to the canned food isle and I knew this could not be good.  H pointed at a tall tin can with a generic-looking label ‘HOT DOGS.’  I tried to explain to her that there was no possible way those were hot dogs, but I think she just thought I was being a food snob (or as much of a food snob as you can be over meat scraps encased in synthetic animal intestine).  I refused to buy whatever was in that can.

My first experience with English hot dogs happened months earlier during what was also my first Ikea experience.  About a week after moving in with my flatmates in Bristol, we trekked out to Ikea.  By the time we made it through the maze of the store, I was starving.  When my flatmate suggested we get some hot dogs from the snack bar I was confused why a furniture store would have a snack bar, but that was quickly replaced with delight when I noticed the price.  If memory serves, they were about 25p (about $.50).  I’m in!  Then I ate one, or rather took two bites of one.  It tasted like sawdust encased in plastic.  V. v. disappointing.  At the time I assumed that all Ikea hot dogs tasted as such.  Not true.  That’s just all English hot dogs.

To get back to what I’m supposed to be talking about here, my review of Ikea:

Alison and I, in a slightly hungover state (we are suckers for free alcohol), decided it was a swell idea to get in a little Ikea Christmas shopping Sunday morning.  I have a studio apartment and need space-saving kitchen and office furniture.  However, because we might have been a smidgen hungover, we required sustenance before we could muster the energy for any shopping.  As it turns out, the Ikea hot dogs in the US are good (and still cheap).  The cinnamon rolls were not so good.  I think they had been sitting out too long because when I tried to tear off a piece, it would crumble in my hand.  Cinnamon rolls are supposed to be soft and gooey.  Of course, in the state I was in, that didn’t stop me from finishing mine.

My Ikea tip #1 is if you are going on the weekend, go before noon, otherwise there are so many people there even the fun of trying to pronounce words with umlauts is not enough to make it worth the trouble.

Tip #2 – beware the super-cheap siren that is the Ikea kitchen accessories section.  You might think, “Oh yay!  Funny shaped ice trays!  And they’re only $.25,” but remember–you have an ice maker and don’t need ice cube trays.

I love that Ikea has maps posted throughout the store directing you to follow the one pathway in and out.  It feels like you’re on a treasure hunt.  I walked in and out of every show room declaring I wanted everything in it (even the children’s rooms).

On the Ikea furniture I would say the best qualities are the simple Swedish design and reasonable prices; the worst bit is that every piece ‘requires some assembly.’

I recommend Ikea if you need cheap, simply designed furnishings or enjoy umlauts, but only before noon.

I’d like to introduce you to Jessica…

September 6, 2008

Jessica grew up in a handful of small towns in Missouri. To clarify exactly how small—we’re talking about one stoplight towns where everybody knows your business and a swimming pool at the end of a gravel road counts as a ‘country club’—the kind of place where you’re only referred to by your family name. She would spend her entire life being known as, “one of the Cope girls.”

She started her performing career at her parents’ dinner parties, performing such classics as, “I’m a Little Teacup,” and, “Little Bunny Foo Foo.” In second grade she went on to star as the title character in, “Perky’s Christmas,” a heartwarming tale of the only robin at the birth of Jesus. She did her own choreography for her solo ‘ballet’ number (she basically just spun around the stage for 2:30 minutes).

Jessica started to read at age four (although her mother claims she just memorized the book and did not actually ‘read’ it). She ‘published’ her first book, Amy and the Crocodile, at age five (she wrote it on construction paper and sewed the pages together). It won her, what she is still positive is only the first of many awards, the Young Author’s award for the state of Missouri. She even did her own illustrations.

In junior high and high school, she managed the impressive balancing act of being both in the gifted class and captain of the cheerleading squad. She attended summer camp for the so-called ‘gifted’ students where she came up with the ingenious idea of dying her hair with cherry Kool-Aid. In fact, it was six packets of cherry Kool-Aid and about a teaspoon of water to create a paste. It turns out Sassy magazine lied when they said it would wash out in six to seven shampoos. That is the first and last time she ever colored her hair.

Jessica graduated from the University of Missouri with her BA in communication after being enrolled for seven years. Communication was her fifth major. She then inhabited a cubicle at an advertising and marketing agency in Saint Louis for three years until her soul was almost entirely sucked from her body. Her salvation came when she decided that since her friends kept telling her how funny she was, they must be right and she should totally quit her job and become a ‘filmmaker.’ Surprisingly, considering 2/3 of her time at the University of Missouri she didn’t actually attend her classes (even on exam days) she was accepted to the University of Bristol in England in the MA in Film and TV Production program(me – that’s how they spell it). Subsequently, she became know as, “That blonde American girl.” When her visa expired, she moved to Los Angeles, where she now lives in a very tiny studio apartment.

n522856110_1446873_32