Wednesday, April 29

So that's that

Did the whole "Becoming an American" thing today.

I'll start with the good stuff. It was great to see people being sworn in who had obviously escaped shitty regimes and third-world struggles. But enough of the Belgians, let's cut to the chase.

Despite being processed in Boston, I had to go to Worcester for the swearing in ceremony. My take? Distribution of wealth. I figure Worcester made $5k on parking alone.

If you want to kill a bunch of dirty foreign immigrants (as I was before the ceremony) then just show up at the swearing in ceremony. It's clearly posted on the notice board of the Mechanics Hall, and there is no security.

So 536 applicants and their guests formed a long wavy line down Main Street, and slowly (one hour) filed in. Apparently, EVERYONE completed their forms incorrectly. Hmpf? We all filled it in incorrectly? Maybe it's poorly written?

A flash of my Alien Registration Card later (I'll miss being an alien), I was handed a tiny US flag and an envelope by a school-child, and congratulated. Thanks school-child.

Next we were led into a big concert hall with crazily uncomfortable seats. I was sat next a demure woman from the Dominican Republic and a chatty old lady from Indonesia.

And that was it for an hour or so. Intermittently, staff from Homeland Security, would walk to the microphone and butcher the names of foreigners who had not registered correctly. We were also told that the judge would be here, "shortly".

Said judge showed up 1.5 hours late. And after a quick chat he listed the 97 countries from which the new Americans were culled. I found it funny that some people cheered when their country of birth was named. Guys you just gave up the right to be Albanian, Kazakh or a Sierra Leone-ian (sic).

So we were all sworn in collectively. I think we just guessed that we were supposed to raise our right hand.

Next up, a guy who did not know the Pledge of Allegiance, led 536 other people, who also did not know it, in a mumbled rendition.

Guests were then asked to leave so that the new Americans could get their Certificates. My glee at receiving a Certificate (I think the last one I got was for swimming 25 meters as a 9 year old) was short-lived. The guests all wanted to take photos, so we waited 20 minutes for them to leave ... before we were led out one row at a time. This took another hour. During the WHOLE event they played rousing Sousa marches. After 3 hours ... you've had an assful.

Certificate in hand, Anne and I did a very American thing. Ate lunch in a chain restaurant.

So the day was a combination of different feelings. People are congratulating me which is only natural, but I did this purely for legal reasons. No, the US does not allow Dual Citizenship, but the UK does, so at least over there I'm still British. I'll have 2 passports like a spy! But I was happy for the people who did this for a better way of life. Of those 97 countries I think I would only want to live in about 5 of them (6 if you include Belgium .. but only the Flemish part).

The event was terribly organized and made the "How wonderful America is" platitudes appear quite empty, but like I said, if you're living here instead of Chechnya, then you can probably put up with 5 hours of Sousa and administrative incompetence in Worcester.

Here's a picture of the lovely Mechanics Hall where it all went down.

Sunday, April 26

Bauhaus and Burritos

So today is our 13th Wedding Anniversary, and what better way to celebrate than a walk around the Walter Gropius house in Lincoln, MA.

Gropius and the Bauhaus school were the origin of the minimalist movement. Granted his house looks a bit 70's now, but that's because the 70's were obsessed with making the future look kitschy.

The house is awesome, but the angular lines look so out of place among sprawling pine trees and other shapes of nature.

Afterwards we took a long walk around Cambridge Fresh Pond in the 85°F heat. And with a healthy thirst developed we finished off with Mexican food and beers at Jose's on Sherman St in North Cambridge.

Finally, here's a shot from our wedding. I love this one because the original print aged. It really was just 13 years ago.

Saturday, April 25


I'm sure I remember reading a science book that said that the optimum sleep pattern for a human is a rotating 4 hours asleep, followed by 4 hours awake.

I came close to this today, and let me tell you I feel like shit.

Friday was a crappy day at work, and as I drove home I managed to talk Anne into dinner and cocktails. I fell into bed before 10, but by 1am I was awake and thinking of work.

At 2am I found myself driving to the office. With work finished by 8, I drove home in a sleepy stupor. Side note. Even in this state I found Dunkin' Donuts coffee to be fucking dreadful.

Managed to stay awake until noon and then fell into the most shallow of sleeps for the next 4. It's now 8pm, and my eyelids are fighting to stay up.


Friday, April 24

Crap jobs

Ricky Gervais on Inside the Actors Studio
What job would you not like to perform?
The guy who wanks off horses

I've always found Weatherman to be a douche job. Pointless twats the lot of them.

And this week I added Court Illustrator to the list.
Yeah, no photographer allowed but we'll let this guy with a sketch pad and a couple of 2Bs scribble away.

Sunday, April 19

The White House is Black ...

... Now we've got to take the radio back.

Is my favorite current song lyric.

It's nonsensical fun, and ties in with the photo mailer from Robyn Twomey that I've had taped to my desk for the past few months.

Sorry for the crappy reproduction (courtesy of iPhone), but these photos are brilliant!

Love the crazy look on this woman's face. Oh yes he did.

SWA's in graffiti-style Obama T-Shirts

Hell Yeah!

Photos. Robyn Twomey.

Sunday, April 12

Kitchen Appliance Update

I twisted Anne's arm last week and got this bad boy. Bagels toasted to perfection this morning. Let's hear it for British Award Winning Design!

Meanwhile, the Japanese microwave is on the fritz. I guess 9 years was a good run.

Today, we did the 'douse everything in vinegar' spring clean thing. Included in the acid spray was our ever reliable Mr Coffee. I'm hoping my coffee doesn't taste like cheap wine.

Wednesday, April 8


Kid draws 60ft cock on parents' roof.
I guess this story made it to the American networks this week.

See the original link here.

Tuesday, April 7

Items of Note

Took a quick trip to New York today to see my niece Rachel. She was on a literary trip from the UK. Great Gatsby walk, Death of a Salesman tour etc. Why wouldn't they read Catcher in the Rye? Oh well.

Latex Gloves
I was waiting in South Station to board the train and noticed a woman with a coffee and magazine (the always disappointing Star magazine). She proceeded to take latex gloves out of her briefcase. Pulls them on, and continues to sip and read. Odd. Not because she might have allergies or a disorder, but that she chose to do it mid beverage.

Calling all Nerds
The woman sat next to me on the train was so painfully awkward. She reminded me of Kristen Schaal's even geekier younger sister. She was reading a comic book about Palestine, while listening to (I shit you not), Mike + the Mechanics. Her dress was trying to say vintage, but was more thrift store with armpit stains, huge white belt, jingly ear-rings and a terrible wavy hair problem. In other words ... adorable.

Washington Square Park
Is where Rachel asked me to meet her. All I can say is that NYU makes me feel old. I felt like a fashion-less pensioner, among all of the bohemian students (and drug dealers and old time chess players).

Great Burger. Better Shake
Headed back up to midtown to the NY Times building. On the corner there by the Port Authority is Schnipper's. I recommend the Peanut Butter Milk Shake. I could have sipped on those until my body composition was 90% Peanut Butter.

Would your brother like a hat?
Tried talking Rachel into buying a hipster H&M hat for my nephew Chris. "No", was the quote.

Spring Fresh
Is there a fouler smell than the toilets at Penn Station? It's like a hobo sitting on your face on a hot summer day.

Why does the train take so long?
And so back to Boston. 3 and 3/4 hours seems about an hour too long. I can drive home in quicker time. Pah!

Saturday, April 4

The Citizenship Test

So yes. I took my test at the same time a guy in Upstate New York was shooting similar people. In Boston, you have to go through a metal detector, and indeed the guy in front of me had a knife.

But let's focus on the positive, or better yet the inane.

I aced my Civics Test. No wrong answers. I felt like a smug student who'd just won a Gold Run on Blockbusters*. Next I had to read a sentence. Nailed. It. And then I had to write, Lincoln was President during the Civil War. Look at me everybody. Writing Shit!

* I will be forever a teenage Englishman of the 80s.

Next I went to a big ol' room of people waiting for the next round. This was where the crazies sat, including.

1. Guy in a Cosa Nostra sweatshirt (not the Jeffrey Sebelia range)
2. Guy in a "Thy will be judged" religious sweatshirt
3. Chick in a Frida Kahlo T-Shirt. Awesome painter, but also a Communist sympathizer, and a sexual partner of Trotsky

But the pièce de résistance was the Indian guy wearing a 9.11 T-Shirt. Showing the Twin Towers on fire, with the inscription "Never Forget". Patriotic I suppose. Also his name was Anil, which the Immigration Officer insisted on pronouncing Anal.

I was eventually called into my interview by a guy named Eric, who proceeded to ask me if I had been a Nazi, Communist, Racist, Bigamist, Criminal or Liar. To mix it up, in the middle of a bunch of Questions that require the simple answer of "No", he asked if I had respect for the Constitution. What a tricky trickster. Expecting potential new Americans to have better powers of attention than 'Regular Americans'.

So I was approved and walked back to the crazy room, where CNN were reporting about the gunman going batshit at THE SAME KIND OF FACILITY in New York. (I need to write a separate piece on this phenomenon)

Waiting for the final rubber stamping, I noticed this guy. I fucking love a big shoe.

Finally I was told of the End-of-April swearing-in ceremony. In Worcester?? My favorite part of this official government literature is to inform participants that the ceremony begins at 10.30. Lasts 4 hours, and I quote "You should therefore eat a healthy breakfast".

Speaking of food, on getting back to work I was thrown an impromptu party. Ice cream from a client. Chocolate Cake with Blue Icing (thanks Beck), and a 40oz bottle of Budweiser (thanks Nulty).

Thursday, April 2

Hope I still have it

I'll start with a little self-congratulatory back-slap.

As a kid, I don't remember revising all that much for exams, or being bogged down with homework either ... and yet I got straight 'A's.

"Whoopie-Doo!!!", you say?

Well on Friday I take the U.S. citizenship test.

And I have yet to study the text.

This is not borne out of my childhood genius. It is simple laziness.

I have tested Anne, friends and colleagues with the citizenship questions. And I have exposed them as impostors. Not one single American among them as far as I can tell.

And you only need to score 60%.