Thursday, July 07, 2005

Great Britain...Fuck Yeah...

It's been a rough day in Merry Olde Londontown, unfortunately. As I'm sure you've heard, 37 people are dead and 700 wounded following a coordinated attack on the London Underground and a city bus. An al-Qaeda affiliate group is apparently responsible, and even though I tend to take a peaceful, non-violent, anti-war stance on this blog, allow me to just say that the actual terrorists, the guys who really are pulling off these bombings, are major assholes that I wish we could hunt down and exterminate quickly.

Regrettably, the world doesn't work that way. And these guys might have been suiciders anyway, which means they already took themselves out and there ain't too much more we can do.

What we shouldn't do, of course, is go on Fox News and immediately declare that these bombings were a force for good, because they demonstrate the neccessity of Bush's aggressive Middle East policies.
That's what Brian Kilmeade did.

And he [British Prime Minister Tony Blair] made the statement, clearly shaken, but clearly determined. This is his second address in the last hour. First to the people of London, and now at the G8 summit, where their topic Number 1 --believe it or not-- was global warming, the second was African aid. And that was the first time since 9-11 when they should know, and they do know now, that terrorism should be Number 1. But it's important for them all to be together. I think that works to our advantage, in the Western world's advantage, for people to experience something like this together, just 500 miles from where the attacks have happened.

Awwww....Isn't that sweet? Brian thinks the bombings were good because, hey, they brought us all together. And isn't the abstract spirit of togetherness and brotherhood between England and the United States in the face of worldwide terror more important than 737 ruined lives? (Not to mention the ruined lives of the friends and family of the dead and gravely wounded, which surely numbers in the thousands).

Now, if only terrorists would bomb the fuck out of Al Franken and Michael Moore, Bush could get some goddamn stuff done! I mean, has it ever been more obvious that the hard-right neoconservatives and the crazy Islamic fundie nutjobs are really on the same side? They both want to see this war escalate. Every new calamity is good news! It will rally more people to their cause!

But Brian Kilmeade's astonishingly callous analysis isn't really the point of this post. Over at Second Breakfast, they're attempting to raise the spirits of Britons everywhere by recounting all the various and sundry awesome shit that has come out of their country. And being something of an Anglophile myself, I just couldn't resist.

So here are some of my favorite things to come out of Great Britain, in no particular order:

Monty Python

Only the greatest comedy troupe of all time! John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, Graham Chapman and Eric Idle helped to forge the modern concept of absurdist humor with their deft blend of bawdy slapstick and sophisticated, satirical wit. Their show, "Flying Circus," changed television and their films, particularly Monty Python and the Holy Grail, rank among the most brilliant comedies of all time.


Who doesn't like a nice blueberry scone? They're freaking delicious, even if you don't take afternoon tea. It's, like, 90% butter or something crazy like that. What have Americans created that's even close to a pastry this good? Muffins? Too sweet and cakey. Biscuits? Too mealy and thick. Cornbread? Shut the hell up, that's nothing like a scone.

Scones were created in Scotland. To this day, there is even debate about what the name means...some think it was named after the so-called Stone of Destiny, where the Kings of Scotland were crowned. Others think it's a variation on the Dutch word "schoonbrot," which roughly translates to "beautiful bread."

Funny Hats

The Brits are responsible for some of histories most hilarious hats. Here is just a small sample:

Well, it's good for golfing, then, innit? Doesn't at all look like a pair of boxer shorts has sprung to life and attacked this man's head.

They dress their cops up like this. How is that supposed to be in any way threatening to criminals? They might as well be wearing propeller beanies.

Okay, fine, so you knew that one was coming. Big deal. It's still a funny hat...

James Joyce, William Shakespeare, Douglas Adams, JRR Tolkein

Just to name a few...

The Third Man

There are so so very many terrific British films. Lawrence of Arabia was another one I was tempted to mention. But this one might very well be my favorite. (It wasn't actually filmed in England, nor is the cast British, but the director Carol Reed was, so it counts, dammit!) Just a fabulously odd, semi-comic noir with maybe the greatest Orson Welles performance of all time.

The British Invasion

Does this one really need an explanation? British bands in the 60's totally rocked way harder than most American bands. Many still do. Like...


I'm not here...this isn't happening...

The Phrase "Bob's Your Uncle"

This amusing colloquialism means "all will be well," in particular that the method to obtain a desired outcome will be easy. For example, "If you want to rent a video, just head over to Laser Blazer, fill out a simple form and Bob's your uncle."

It's kind of a handy phrase, as well as being really strange-sounding and obscure for most Americans, which only enhances its usefulness.

The origin likely dates back to the appointment of Arthur Balfour in 1887 to the position of Chief Secretary of Ireland. His uncle was Lord Salisbury (whose full name was Robert Cecil), and members of the British public assumed the young and inexperienced (and unpopular) Balfour only got the job because of nepotism, because "Bob" was in fact "his uncle." Ironically, Balour wound up being considered highly successful at oppressing the Irish, earning him the eventual nickname "Bloody Balfour."

By the by, the Salisbury steak is NOT named for Robert Cecil Salisbury, but for British doctor J.H. Salisbury, who in the late 1800's gained noteriety for suggesting to his patients that they eat beef three times a day.

The Office

Just about the perfect sitcom. Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant are geniuses. If you haven't yet discovered this BBC delight, it's on DVD, so get off your ass. And don't just watch the American version, because while it's somewhat better than I expected, it doesn't even begin to compare with the original.

James Bond

Couldn't have a list of cool British stuff without the big guy, 007 himself, James Bond. And there's the ultimate incarnation of Bond, Scotsman Sean Connery. The essence of cinematic coolness.


Horsey said...

Yeah, Douglas Adams is one of the wisest, funniest men to have ever been created by the union of sperm and egg. But you forgot to mention Oxford's Richard Dawkins, who single handedly keeps the religious pussies of Retardation at bay with his erections of
Scientific might.

But fucking scones! WTF is wrong with you cracker-head! Have you ever eaten a donut? I don't mean that old-world, "we fried mama's left over cake dough in the deep frier and look what we got", shit. I mean that corporate, big-company chain shit. Krispy Kreme! That shit is so good that it's disgusting. I can eat 12 of them in a sitting, and the pleasure is so intense that it literally seeps out of my every orifice.

But lets not fight ever again.

Lons said...

Like cornbread, I considered Krispy Kreme's phenomenal fried product to be significantly different from scones so as to not count.

But, yeah, they are somewhat unnaturally delicious.

Boyd McKendrick said...

Don't forget Cockney slang, you old bacardi breezer.

berns said...

Purposefully not mentioning The Beatles? Incredible...