NFL International Series at Wembley

American Football has gained quite a large UK following in recent years and the NFL sure haven’t missed an opportunity to cash in on fans across the pond. Wembley Stadium has been home to the NFL International Series since 2007. The NFL was in London for three games this year, with the Dallas Cowboys vs. Jacksonville Jaguars match on Sunday, 9 November, 2014 being the final game for the year.

The match began with national anthems and a poppy memorial. The game on remembrance Sunday marked the centennial of the First World War. G was lucky to get tickets, which cost a small fortune. But since he’s a huge Dallas fan, I guess it was money well spent, and he got a nice seat right next to the press box!

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Here’s a quick rundown of what you might expect to pay for a Sunday night NFL game in London:

  • £140 for the ticket
  • £75 #29 Murray jersey
  • £10 for programme
  • £4 for coke
  • £10 for coffee and burger

I was shocked by the cost of the ticket, but apparently it’s comparable to that of ticket prices for good seats in the US.

Although I have little to no interest in American Football (unless the San Francisco 49ers are playing the Baltimore Ravens in the Superbowl), I’m happy that G got a chance to see his favourite team in the flesh. Apparently, BoJo confirmed in 2013 that plans were underway to get a London NFL team. It might make for some interesting games in future if it actually goes through.

Is That Really Ai Weiwei?!

Many of you probably know Ai Weiwei as a highly influential Chinese contemporary artist, noted for his architecture, photography, film, and his openly critical stance on democracy and human rights in China. So you can understand my surprise when G told me Ai Weiwei had joined the likes of Ban Ki-moon (Secretary-General of the United Nations), Boris Johnson and David Cameron who have all ridden the Gangam wave (groan). I know, I know…not that again!

When I first saw the video I thought it was yet another parody of Psy’s Gangnam Style. Surely that couldn’t be the man himself! But as Huffington Post UK has confirmed, it really is him! I’m not quite sure what to make of it — but as Sam Parker has said, “perhaps by remaking the global internet hit of the moment he is hoping to draw further attention to internet censorship in the People’s Republic of China, where raunchy pop videos extolling materialism are generally frowned upon.”  It hasn’t gone viral yet like Eton Style, but who knows…it just might?

Have You Got Eton Style?

Have you ever disliked something so much you end up talking about it all the time, to the point where you’re not even sure if you love or hate it anymore? Well that’s sort of how things are with me for South Korean rapper (if you can even call him that) Psy’s insanely annoying song Gangnam Style, which apparently Prime Minister David Cameron and London Mayor Boris Johnson are also fans of. There’s no escape — it’s literally everywhere I turn!

I still can’t believe that was the first K-pop song to break through the Western music market. And there seems to be no end to it, from tube signs to friends making their own parodies and even the poshest of pupils remaking the song into their very own Eton Style! The Eton video went viral on YouTube after only a day of being uploaded, gaining a whopping 43,326 views. It made me cringe, just like the original did but for different reasons. That said, I liked that I could actually understand it and the lyrics were quite funny (and spot on).

“We may awkward, frustrated, lonely and insecure (hey), yes insecure (hey),  We’re not too social, can’t talk to women, although we try (hey), we’re just too shy (hey),
If you approach us then we’ll just break down and cry.”

If I was forced to choose which one I ‘liked’ more (rather, hated less), I’d have to say Eton Style. Posh or not, they really are no different than your average teenager. Okay, well they could work on their dance skills a bit more — painful but entertaining to watch!

It’s A Bird…It’s A Plane…It’s Super Mayor!

Boris Johnson is really starting to grow on me. Not only does he think eggs are the food of the devil, he gives great rallying speeches and now he’s gone and gotten himself stuck on a zip wire! I can’t think of any other Mayor of London that would have even considered the idea so he gets extra points from me there. Click here for additional video coverage from ITV news and some even funnier footage from the Daily Mail.

Another London 2012 Fuck-Up

On a completely different note (to my earlier post), London 2012 has been off to a blundering start, yet it hasn’t dampened the spirits of London mayor Boris Johnson or Olympic fans in Hyde Park.

Thanks for the brilliant speech BoJo, but are you sure we’re ready? Perhaps someone could please explain how the South Korean flag was mistaken for the North Korean flag in Wednesday’s embarrassing flag incident? I know people make mistakes, but these days it’s pretty difficult to mix up country flags with Google around. I suppose if I were North Korean I wouldn’t find it the least bit funny, but at least they got the Korean bit right and didn’t put up, erm, a Japanese flag. Harsh, but true!

In any case, I’m happy to see that Sepcsavers has taken advantage of the situation and put out a great advert in the Metro. It’s always better to find humour in an awkward situation than to get your knickers in a tighter twist.

Yet, I can’t help thinking that had they started the games after the Opening Ceremony we may have been able to avoid the flag blunder. Just maybe? It simply doesn’t feel right to start the games before the official ceremony. I appreciate that the LOCOG have a lot on their plate, but they kind of did have four years to plan this.

Which brings me to today’s Olympics gaffe at Lord’s, which may not entirely be the fault of the LOCOG.  But perhaps the wording on the official archery event site could have been clearer and stated that it would be CLOSED to the public, instead of leaving room for confusion. And I’m sorry archery fans, but you ought to know better than to purchase tickets from an unofficial website.

That’s all for this week’s London 2012 blunders. I hope there won’t be many more to come! And with that, I’ll leave you on a lighter note with one last little gaffe involving Jeremy Hunt and an Olympic bell disco remix.  Enjoy!

Bizarre Smelly Foods: What’s Your Favourite?

Every culture has its own version of smelly (but often tasty) food. We have our smelly cheese. Others have naturally pungent fruit, such as durian (you either love it or hate it – I can barely stomach it). I like to try a bit of everything, especially when I’m abroad and I’ve had more than my share of pongy delights. But I’m not sure I’ll have the courage to add hákarl (fermented shark) to the list on our upcoming trip to Iceland. Just look at Ian Wright! He looks like he can barely stomach it.

Although not nearly as bad as ‘rancid’ shark, I thought I’d introduce you to some of my favourite smelly foods. What are some of yours? I’d be keen on trying them so please feel free to share!
  • Stinky tofu (臭豆腐) – Yes, that’s what it’s literally called in Chinese and you can smell it a mile away. But don’t be fooled by the strong odour (a bit like toilet), as it tastes nothing like it smells. It’s popular in Taiwan and is usually served deep fried, often drizzled in sauce and topped with sour pickled vegetables.
  • Natto (納豆) – This is a traditional Japanese food made from fermented soybeans.  It’s got a very sticky/gooey/slimy consistency so it might look a bit off putting, in addition to having a raw fermented smell.  It’s not as pungent as stinky tofu and has a rather nutty taste. I usually mix it with a touch of soy sauce and karashi (a type of mustard) and have it over rice. Natto is also rich in vitamin K2 so it’s good for you, too!
  • Kimchi (김치) – One of my all time favourites is a traditional fermented Korean dish, usually spicy and made with napa cabbage, radish or cucumber.  It’s very garlicky so your fridge can quickly start smelling a bit pongy, but I find if you wrap your jar of kimchi in a plastic bag it usually keep the odours from oozing out. Kimchi is fabulous with rice, in soups, fried rice or stir fried with thinly sliced pork (jae yook bokum, aka 豚キムチ in Japanese).
  • Century egg (皮蛋) – These preserved eggs really aren’t that smelly, though they kind of taste how they smell.  I quite like the creamy dark yolk and the consistency of the clear gelatinous outer layer that was once the egg white.  Somehow I’m able to ignore the odour of sulphur and ammonia.  I like my century eggs Taiwanese style with a bit of soy sauce and parsley with fresh silken tofu or with rice porridge (century egg and lean pork congee – I think it’s originally a Cantonese dish). Even London mayor Boris Johnson has given century eggs a try.  Well, he sort of wusses out toward the end.

Who You Should Have Voted For

The 2012 London mayoral election is underway and as usual the race has boiled down to Tories vs. Labour, or in this case Boris Johnson vs. Ken Livingstone. I’m not here to spout statistics or promote one candidate over another, but I do hope that nobody votes for British National Party mayoral candidate Carlos Cortiglia.  In a word, he’s mental (as is the rest of the BNP).  If you do, then chances are we can’t be friends.

Sadly, I’m not sure I can endorse Ken either and it’s not because I’ve been influenced by groups like Not Again Ken.  But it’s his whole take on the situation, as quoted in the Telegraph:

“Well, the simple, brutal fact that Jonathan’s got to face is Boris and myself are the two front runners. It’s no good saying you don’t want Boris, you don’t want me. Like everybody else he’s just got to make a choice.”

I disagree that anyone should have to settle for the lesser of two evils, as Livingstone seems to be implying here. I don’t think anyone should be forced to vote for the front runners in any election if they don’t agree with what a candidate stands for.  There are more than just two options.

According to my ‘political adviser’ if all goes according to plan today, UKIP (offering a truly ‘Fresh Choice for London’) could become UK’s third party.  I wouldn’t be surprised, considering so many people are tired of the ongoing blunders made by the current government. Many young people interested in civil liberties have joined UKIP.  Even my friend who was a long time Labour supporter left the party to join them.  In essence, UKIP could potentially cause the Tories to lose the next general election.

In case you’re still undecided (well the polls have now closed) or are new to politics, here is your best guide to the elections.