Thursday, February 3, 2011

How Do You Describe a Graham Cracker?

Greetings, readers!

First of all, I got my ticket to Wales! Yay! I was especially happy about it because I bought mine literally a minute or so before the trip completely sold out. I'm pretty jazzed to go to the land of Dylan Thomas, besides only having read a few of his things... but I did see a play and a movie about him! Does that count?

Today has been full of interesting and fun little tidbits... I learned a few new English words/phrases and taught my English classmate some as well. Our teacher stepped out of class today for a second, so we were all chatting and all of a sudden, one of the girls, Emily, says, "Okay, I have to ask you guys this- what is a graham cracker?" All three Americans stared first at her, then at each other. "Do you really not have graham crackers here?" I asked. They're such a staple of... everything, from childhood up, that I never considered that they might be an exclusively American thing. She shook her head. We tried to explain what it was, but it was really hard. I mean, how do you describe a graham cracker? It's difficult to find the words to talk about something you've never explained before because everyone always knew what it was.
Eventually, we ended up saying that it was sort of a cross between a regular cracker and a cookie ("biscuit"), but they were confused, saying that a cracker is supposed to be "savoury." I have no idea what "savoury" is supposed to mean. I've seen it on boxes of crackers and stuff, but I assumed that that was just a synonym for "tasty" or something. Apparently not.

So one of my American classmates, Tracy, asked, "Well, if you don't have graham crackers, what do you make s'mores out of?" More stares. "Please tell me that you guys eat s'mores." A short silence, then Heidi said, "...I've seen them on t.v." Now it was our turn to stare before declaring that introductions between the English and s'mores must be made.
But this led to further intrigue. "We could just make them in the microwave," I said. "But nothing is the same as making them over a campfire." Funny looks from the English classmates. "Do you guys go camping a lot in America? Like... outside?"
"And do you make a fire all the time? Even in the summer?"
"Especially in the summer!"
"How much food do you bring?"
"Enough for the whole time, it's just not fancy."
"And how long do you stay out there, a day or two?"
"Sometimes a week or two."
"But... why?"

Now, I'm thinking that perhaps there are people in the UK who go camping once in awhile, but I could be wrong. Perhaps my classmates are in the majority who think that we Americans are weird for desiring to spend a week or more sleeping in a tent and cooking our food like pioneers.

Another inquiry was what a Twinkie was. Another hard thing to describe (without simply saying "gross.") We ended up saying it was sponge cake with cream in the middle. They were also pretty enthusiastic about Pop Tarts, which seem to be a rarity; when they do crop up, they're in limited flavors (Tracy asked if perhaps they had s'more flavored ones.)

It's so funny that there are little differences like that that turn out to be not so little at all. Can you imagine your life without graham crackers? I don't even eat them regularly, but I'd certainly be at a loss when wanting to eat s'mores (yeah... picture life without s'mores. Looks pretty bleak, doesn't it? :p)

While we were working on a group project today, we were giving our pictures funny headings like "I Lovez You Anywayz", "No More Eyeballs For You", and "Everyone Hates Soranzo" (all of which pertain to 'Tis Pity She's a Whore), Emily wrote on top of one, "Up the Duff." This is apparently a slang term for being pregnant. They asked us Americans if we said that and we answered that the closest thing was had was "bun in the oven."
I don't know if I've mentioned it, but in addition to the English and American students in my class, we also have a German girl, Ilka. She studies English (along with other things), and her English is amazing. Emily asked her if German had any colloquialisms like "bun in the oven"/"up the duff." Ilka responded that there is, in fact, a German phrase that essentially translates to "meatloaf in the oven," which we all thought was hysterical.

Something else that provided a good deal of humor was my explanation of how my theatre class played a warm-up game. In the game we were playing, you pass around a clap with a certain "word" or noise. They mixed up their version a little bit and needed something that would send someone's gesture back to them. I suggested that we do what my classes do, which is making a sound like a "wrong answer" buzzer on a game show. They could not stop laughing at the sound and couldn't seem to bring themselves to make it when we were playing the game. That's another thing I've never questioned because every theatre group I've gone to in the past eight or so years has done it like I demonstrated, so no one ever found that sound funny.

In this class, my group also performed that piece I mentioned last week, with the conglomeration of Beatles music, recitation of Shakespeare, a scene from 'Tis Pity, a ton of Post-its, lines from Titanic, and German songs, among many, many other things. I was a little worried about showing it, to be honest. I wasn't sure if we had worked it out enough and thought perhaps we would emulate the Wooster group a little too much (they tend to figure that if they know what they're doing, it doesn't matter if anyone else does... which kind of defeats the purpose of a performance group.) However, when we finished, our teacher exclaimed over it- she loved it! Apparently, the presentation would have been acceptable to show for an exam- whoa. Our classmates seemed to like it, as well, so yay!

Two more observations: many times, instead of agreeing with "yeah" or "exactly" or whatever, a lot of the English will just give an affirming, "Mm." I always noticed this in British movies, but it really is a common thing here. Also, I stopped in a show repair place a few days ago to get some leather protector for my Oxfords (things of beauty, they are... but I need to spray them to keep them that way), and when I paid for it, the man at the counter said, "Ta, love." I've read about this expression and I was ridiculously excited to actually hear it said (basically, it means "thank you." "Cheers" is more commonly heard.)

The shoe place was a stop on my way back from Samuel French, which is the company that distribute a good percentage of all plays. I've always wanted to go to an actual Samuel French store (ah, the odd dreams of an actor.) The one in New York is just a warehouse; you can't actually buy anything there, so I was excited to go to this one. It was surprisingly small, with only one or two copies of any given play that they happened to find. It's actually probably a step or two below the Drama Bookshop in New York in terms of space and material. However, I found all but one or two of the plays I had on my list and got a few more for good measure. Really, I only stopped buying because I had a limited amount of money in my wallet, as I hadn't planned to go there that day.
One of the plays I got was so good that I read it all yesterday; I couldn't put it down. I read it while I was cooking, waiting for the tube, on the tube, before and during intermission of The Invisible Man... it's amazing. I've just been reading scenes from it all day today (I may also have been reading it out loud while making dinner.)

The Invisible Man was another show I didn't want to see. It was a good show- a little silly for my taste (it was part musical and a little farce-y at times.) Again, the casts' resumes are incredible. The youngest woman in the cast, who I thought must be close to my age, is either older or just really got a head start- her credits are astonishing. She was the original lead in Well, a play that I love, and I would have just been impressed by that, but she's also been on national tours, on several tv shows, and a movie... and hers was one of the shortest resumes.

I think that's enough for today. I'll tell you more stories later. Tonight for me: unsupervised rehearsal, perhaps embarrassing myself in a belly dancing class with Adrienne and Emmie, and then Sense and Sensibility with the same two!


Anonymous said...

That is funny, but it is indeed hard to describe a graham cracker. and not knowing what s'mores are??? the poor dears. LOL

I wonder what childhood favorites they do not even have an inkling about and vice a versa?

Glad you got your ticket for Wales. I am sure it will be a great trip.

Of course you went to the Samuel French book store... I didn't even know there was one there... good thing your money was limited or you might need a suitcase just to bring those back. :0)


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