Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Bad-Tempered Ladybird

And other English (U.K.) absurdities.

Wandering through a bookstore in town today, I came across this little wonder:

For any of my (numerous) non-American readers, this must not seem odd at all. Why, this is what the classic Eric Carle book was always called, right? Wrong! Here, for everyone's amusement and enlightenment, is the original (U.S.) cover.

Now, I know that lots of things undergo name changes when traveling across the Atlantic (e.g. The Boat That Rocked [U.K.] becomes Pirate Radio [U.S. and far more awesome/to the point]*), but is the word "grouchy" so unfamiliar to U.K. and Irish audiences that it had to be changed? Because, let's be honest, calling him bad-tempered just takes all the fun out of it. He's not bad by nature, he's just upset because there are not enough aphids to eat and no one ever taught him how to share! But he learns his lesson. It was probably just the food rage getting to him, anyway.

I'm not even going to go into the fact that the animal in question is a bug and not a bird.

I suppose in the land of wheelie bins (rolling garbage cans), rubbish (garbage-- why do we have so much disagreement on this topic?), and prams (strollers-- for babies, this time, not trash), I should simply come to expect this kind of mucky logic. But I'm not going down without a fight.

Further to my point:

This Indian-language (not sure which one) version of the book also features the original title. Just sayin'. Majority rules.

*This, however, is not as bad or inexplicable as the French changing the titles of Step Up 1 & 2 to Sexy Dance 1 & 2. It's still English. I guess the French count themselves more familiar with the term sexy...

Monday, January 11, 2010

Life imitating children's stories

Ireland has run out of salt.

I read a story when I was a child, oddly part of a compilation of Christmas tales, called I Love You More Than Salt. The premise (as I vaguely remember it) was that a widower king (aren't they always wifeless?) asks his three daughters to prove their love by telling him what they could do without if it meant still having him around.*

The first daughter said something along the lines of, "I love you more than silver." Acceptable.

The second followed with, "I love you more than gold." Awesome. King Dad loves this.

Then, daughter number three--the quiet, reflective one--answers, "I love you more than salt."

The King is not pleased. Salt?! When she could have said rubies or diamonds?!

Anyhow, some kind of banishment occurs, blah blah blah, magic spell, kingdom is deprived of salt, everyone is like, "Oh, our already bland medieval food is now even blander!" The King admits his fault and the daughter (along with the salt) is returned.

Moral of the story? Salt is good.

Over in these parts, we're not suffering from that kind of a shortage. Oh no. Our food is as salted (albeit potato-y) as ever; it's the weather that's caused the problem.

Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, I witnessed the routine shutting down of every functioning system and person in town due to inclement weather. The first sighting of a snowflake; the threatened accumulation of up to 1/4 of an inch of snow; the dreaded overnight freeze: any of these things would have schools closing early, opening late or not at all, people holed up in their houses for fear of driving or walking, and newscasters spouting hyperbole about "Arctic Blasts." Of course, in recent years, with climate changes becoming more and more evident, my little hometown has experience some severe winter madness-- and they still don't know how to deal with it.

Ireland is in the same boat.

A small country used to rain, overcast skies, and-- um, rain, Ireland was ill-prepared for the snow and ice that has hit the ground in medium force (maybe 2 to 3 inches) in the last week. In fact, the recent "chill" affecting the region is so unprecedented that the entire country's road grit and salt supply has been exhausted. I kid you not. Apparently, hardware and grocery stores have also come up dry as people have been trying to tackle the problem individually, and that supply is soon to run out.

So, what does this mean for Ireland? And more importantly, what does it mean for me, the average pedestrian? It means that only the main (and I do mean main) roads are free of ice, and only the sidewalks in town centres have been salted. When we had a rental car last week, the GD nearly spun out trying to get up the road to our apartment.

It means that I fell hard on the sidewalk while I was walking into town today, and then nearly fell again in the road while crossing the street. Luckily I'm not aged or frail, because if I was, I'd probably have shattered my knee and be in hospital now, causing crazy work overloads in orthopedics, where the GD is employed at the moment.

So, yes, this weather is unprecedented, Ireland (and World), but guess what? It's not getting any better from here. So take a page from Minnesota's book and invest in some snowplows, and please, for the love of god, bring back the salt!

*The premise sounds really selfish on the king's part, and I'm pretty sure it was, but I think there was also some further point to all of this which I am now forgetting.

In moderation.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Hello, Sligo

The plumber laughed at me when he saw me assembling the new bookcase with a screwdriver: "I'd wager you'll be at dat all day. You need an electric drill for dat!"

Well, it only took me half a day! My right arm got a much-needed workout, and now we have a place to store our books and CDs. In our old apartment, they were stacked on the fireplace. We didn't have room for extra furniture.

We're in Sligo, and it's not even a terrible place. In fact, it's pretty beautiful. We found a gloriously large 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom, 2-story townhouse (staircase!) for less that we were paying in Dublin for our 1-bedroom, 1-bathroom, 1-living room + kitchen-closet apartment. The town is, of course, much smaller than Dublin, but I'm liking that at the moment. The youth are calmer, the centre is quainter, and the junkies are non-existent. I feel safe walking alone at night, and the weather has been unusually cool and crisp (as opposed to dark and rainy) with a sprinkling of snow, which makes me feel like I'm living in an idyllic snowglobe land.

We are settling in with the GD back at work and me trying to make work for myself. Comedy tour pending.