owlfish: (Fishy Circumstances)
posted by [personal profile] owlfish at 11:03pm on 01/11/2015 under ,
My sister tells me that telling jokes to earn one's treat for Halloween is a Des Moines thing. People in the DC area don't do it. Really?

[Poll #2026710]
owlfish: (Feast)
posted by [personal profile] owlfish at 05:13pm on 07/07/2015 under ,
The first few times Grouting was sent forth from a child's birthday party with a slice of cake wrapped up in a paper napkin, I assumed it was an oversight. They'd forgotten to bring wax paper or tin foil or whatever for wrapping the slice of decorated sponge cake.

But no. Clearly this is ensconced tradition. With a single exception where the grandmother made sure we were all offered cake to eat at the birthday party itself, Grouting has consistently been sent away from her cohort's parties with cake wrapped in a paper napkin.

I knew about being sent off with slices of fruit cake from weddings, but fruit cake lasts in a way that sponge - especially iced sponge which sticks to paper napkins - does not. Marzipan holds up better than the frequently-encountered buttercream on birthday cakes.

This is a baffling tradition to someone who'd rather just eat the cake at the party when it's fresh. Unless a gift bag with bonus paper+cake is excavated promptly, it goes rapidly stale, and is already sticky. And it's really easy to forgot to do it promptly if, for whatever reason, one's offspring is not inclined to lead the way on doing so that particular day.

How long as this been a tradition in England or further afield? And WHY?
owlfish: (Fishy Circumstances)
posted by [personal profile] owlfish at 11:09pm on 10/01/2013 under
Overheard at the library today, mother to c. 3 year old daughter: "Go get some books. But not all pink ones!"

[Poll #1889546]
owlfish: (Default)
I was always a bit hazy on the circumstances under which "to wean" meant what. It's a good thing I've figured this out early and avoided confusing too many people as a result.

In Britain, one weans on to solids by introducing them.
In the US, one weans from any residual breastmilk or formula consumption, eliminating them from diet.

Two very different ends of the same spectrum.

P.S. Here's a headline from the BBC that only makes sense if one is focusing on the introduction of solids end of the spectrum: Weaning before six months 'may help breastfed babies'
owlfish: (Laptop with wireless mouse)
posted by [personal profile] owlfish at 11:02pm on 26/02/2012 under ,
[Poll #1822056]

This poll is thanks to a question that [livejournal.com profile] geesepalace asked me about British vs. US usage.
owlfish: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] owlfish at 09:33pm on 22/12/2011 under , ,
A few clarifications, following up on yesterday's poll.

[Poll #1805188]

Also on the subject of language recently: C wasn't familiar with the phrase "to phone in a performance". [livejournal.com profile] major_clanger assures me it's an Americanism.

I'd never encountered "the subject in hand" before, only "the subject at hand"; yet, from online discussions, the former is apparently much more widespread and more multinational than the latter.
owlfish: (Default)
Brass tacks
I learned a new idiom! "getting down to brass tacks" Never having heard it before, I naturally assumed it was an English Englishism, but this page tells me that it was first attested in Texas in 1863.

[Poll #1784154]

Whale-the-synonym
It suddenly struck me last week that "whale" as a synonym for human fatness, along with "blubber", seemed distinctly American to me (as opposed to British). True?

Midway
At dinner last week after her BSFA interview, Jo Fletcher wondered what a midway ride was. We settled on a "fair ride" as the closest easy translation.

Then this week, I read Drop Dead, Gorgeous (thanks to impulse library browsing), a large swathe of which takes place at an Iowa State Fair fairground which really does not resemble the original. For example: what main building? And if you had a large fairground designed to host tens, if not hundreds of thousands of people, would you keep it closed 50 weeks a year if you could possibly use it a fair number of other weeks of the year for other events? By the time our main characters have done an incoherent tour of various farflung bits of the grounds, they could have been out of an exit many times over; but they were waiting for "the" exit.

Also, and more relevantly, the well-known really-tall slide is no indication at all that they are on the midway. Because it isn't.
owlfish: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] owlfish at 11:34pm on 05/09/2011 under
I have finished really-rather-poor book with the telegram. It featured some spectactularly hilarious info-dumps, so good I may yet share one with you before I return this to the library. But it was also clearly written by someone who was not British. (The author is American.)

At one point, the heroine spots a suspicious person going into a chemists. So she follows that person in and, to look busy while listening in, browses the magazines.

In American and Canadian drug stores, magazines are ubiquitous. It's one of the basic places to go and buy a magazine.

In the UK? Chemists don't stock magazines. The only time I have seen them there have been in giant Boots, Boots so large they are mini-department stores with an electronics section, books, and stationary.

Have you ever seen magazines for sale in a normal chemists in the UK?
owlfish: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] owlfish at 12:26am on 29/08/2011 under
Some of the most visible wonders of the aftermath Jack Layton's death were the chalkings in Nathan Phillips Square, and their outpourings of admiration, grief, and hope.

One person who linked to it observed that this would never happen in Britain. He was thinking it in the context of no politician being sufficiently loved and admired; but I thought it in a different way.

No one chalks here. The sidewalks are too narrow or busy and it is too closely associated with grafitti=vandalism. I am certain I read an article the other year about children out drawing on sidewalks who were fined for public vandalism.

Are there even ever chalkings at British universities to advertise events? I do not remember them offhand; certainly not the way my US undergraduate institution was, the paved paths periodically alive with student government campaigns and a capella concert announcements. The university near where I grew up had yearly chalking competitions, an entire street pedestrianized and densely, elaborately drawn on down its length by competing artists and teams. I spent hours as a child drawing in chalk on the sidewalk in front of the house, transient artwork which faded with passing storms.
owlfish: (Feast)
posted by [personal profile] owlfish at 01:32pm on 11/02/2011 under , ,
I really meant it about my local Sainsbury. Not a can or jar of baby sweet corn in sight on the return trip either.

Today I was at Morrison's, which has a much, much larger preserved vegetable section. There on the top shelf, above all the canned kernels, I found them. They were labeled "baby cobs".

I've spent my life thinking that cobs were what what kernels of corn grew on. I wouldn't want to eat them without the kernels. That's why it's called "corn on the cob". Corn. And cob.

So I'm not sure what to make of these tins of "baby cobs", word-wise. It's true, they only have nascent kernels, so perhaps they are more baby cob than they are corn.




I'm going to a food event tomorrow. i've been thinking of it as a day-conference, but it really isn't. It involves book readings, rants, burlesque performers, a cocktail bar, history, forecasts, promotion of good causes, historical table etiquette, and cabaret music. Each performer only has fifteen minutes. And then there's lunch.

It's sold out now. Should I have told you about it when you still had time to book tickets? (I don't say this to taunt. I really don't always think ahead as to how some of you might want to do these things.)

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