Monday, February 13, 2006

MarathonMum Roundup

There's lots going on at MarathonMum headquarters, which is why the posts have been less than frequent lately. Here's a quick roundup of all the things going on with me right now:

1. British Real Estate Transactions: Having bought and sold a house in the U.S., I can say the following with authority: The British real estate system is downright bizarre. We are in the midst of trying to sell our flat and buy another house (just down the street from this one). The important thing for my American fans to realize is nothing is definite until you get to the pre-closing, which is called the exchange, and happens about a week before the closing (called the completion). Consequently, you get to experience a new kind of hell, like we are at the moment, when you are days away from the exchange and the buyer wants some major last-minute concessions. We've already packed boxes and mentally moved into our new house and now it might not happen at all. Things are much more guaranteed in the U.S.: once your offer is accepted and you've placed your deposit, which happens three days after the offer is put in, it's much less likely that the transaction won't occur. I hate British real estate laws, I really do. We're trying to stay positive about everything at the moment, but it could easily go either way.

2. Running: I have been running, albeit not nearly as frequently as when I was training for the marathon. Last week I actually voluntarily did a hill workout, even though I have no races planned at the moment for the spring. Greenwich Park is great for hillwork, you can't believe the variety of hills from which to choose. Anyway, I was starting up one of the more perpendicular ones, when another bloke was starting as well. "Do you want to do them together?" Now, MarathonMum fans will know that I really hate running with anyone else, but I thought why not. When we finished the first one, he said, "Wow, you're really strong!" and then we went on to do four more. At the end I was ready to pass out and throw up simulataneously. Good times, let me tell you.

3. Go Nova! My alma mater, Villanova University, is currently ranked fourth in collegiate basketball in the U.S. Yeah!! They're having one of their best seasons ever. They're playing so well, I'm tempted to fly back and see a game, but of course, I have to contend with British Real Estate Laws and the possibility of moving. Tonight, Villanova plays Connecticut, who are ranked No. 1, so it'll be a Battle of the Titans. I'm trying to figure out if I can watch the game via the Internet, but I'm not really sure that I have the stamina necessary to start watching at 1 a.m. and stay up until 3 a.m. I might just have to read the recap tomorrow and cheer in my sleep.

4. Chicken Little: MarathonMum's family went out in force to see Chicken Little over the weekend. It got positive reviews all around, though Nicholas thought it was, "A little bit scary."

5. Finally, to all my family and friends who are buried under two feet of snow on the East Coast, remember the final rule: Have fun!

Monday, February 06, 2006

Steelers Win!

The Pittsburgh Steelers became Super Bowl champions Sunday night after beating the Seattle Seahawks 21-10.

But the win raises the inevitable question: If two Steelers fans shout victoriously in London, will anyone hear them?

The victory seems somewhat hollow today because there's no one else locally with whom we can celebrate our joy. That's the funny thing about sports teams victories: part of the fun is the community elation that comes along with any wins. You can dissect the game's every play with friends and conclude, "We won!" You can stop the postman and ask him what he thought of the game. You can look at the front page of every newspaper and see pictures of the game, and then read miles of copy in the sports section exploring every possible angle of the contest. You may even be able to smile at strangers, knowing they're happy too. Not being able to do any of those things makes the win a little less fun.

Don't get me wrong. I'm thrilled the team got its fifth Super Bowl ring I just wish we weren't so "G.U." (geographically undesirable) today.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Go Steelers!

Tonight is the Super Bowl in the U.S.

For my non-American readers, I might as well have just typed, "Xslkdhj lkjrt goiu Lkjerg Bpoer in the U.S."

Despite the American's media annual insistence that there is a global audience of many millions of people watching the American football game, it's just not so. Here in the U.K., there's a few freaks (read: Us) who are very excited about the matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Seattle Seahawks, but we are firmly in the minority.

To wit: Yesterday I had to drop something off at my friend's house. We were discussing what we were doing this weekend, and I told her we were staying up late to watch the Super Bowl on Sunday. "Is that baseball?" she asked.

Let's face it, it's tough being a Steelers fan living abroad. When we talk about Big Ben, our friends think we're talking about a timepiece, not a quarterback. When we bemoan that it may be the last season for the Bus, they think we're talking about a vehicle that is red and double decker.

Nevertheless, Tim and I will be up late in our Steelers T-shirts ready to root our team to victory.

Here we go, Steelers, here we go!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Happy Ground Hog Day

Happy Ground Hog Day!

Today is an important day on the calendar, because this is the day we find out if we will have an early spring or six more weeks of winter. This forecast will be done not by the Farmer's Almanac, the BBC or even the Weather Channel, but instead by a groundhog named Phil who lives in Pennsylvania.

This odd American holiday seems all the more strange when you have to explain it to your six-year-old son. It's one thing to be indoctrinated to the idea by your kindly second grade teacher Mrs. Feno and your classmates seem to think it makes all the sense in the world, but it's another thing entirely when you have to explain it, on your own, without the support of the local popular media to do so.

Sadly for us, Phil has told us today that we will have six more weeks of winter. I still don't know if the groundhog's progrostinations extend to the U.K. I hope not.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

"Brokeback Mountain" and Me

I went to see the critically acclaimed, Oscar-nominated Brokeback Mountain today.

Am I allowed to say I didn't like it very much?

OK, the scenery was beautiful, even though most of it was filmed in Alberta, Canada and not in Wyoming, U.S. I though Heath Ledger did a fine job, even if he did spend a lot of the time mumbling. I thought the overall portrayal of the love story between the two cowboys was well done.

But overall, I have to say.... Eh. (As in, "Eh, I can take it or leave it.")

Somehow all the nice bits didn't come together, for me, to make a really great film. I think it's a classic example of loads of people telling you what a great movie/book/television show/play it was, only to find the product didn't really reflect the culmulative effect of all those positive reviews.

(On a personal note, I now have seen a nominated Best Supporting Actor for two years running. Last year, I saw Clive Owen (and walked just behind him!) when we went to see "The Producers." I saw Jake Gyllenhaall-- before he was really famous-- in the West End several years ago when he starred in "This is Our Youth.")

I read the original story in the New Yorker and liked it very much, but I'm not sure that they needed to make a movie out of it.