england

Mulligatawny Soup: Where It Originated and How to Make It

One of the more flavorful (and seemingly bizarre) soup recipes, this Indian dish has many variations. Here’s our favorite.

British colonists in India insisted on a soup course — and mulligatawny was born

British colonists in India insisted on a soup course — and mulligatawny was born

The British aren’t known for their culinary skills. Sure, they can whip up a myriad of delicious cakes, as The Great British Baking Show has taught us. But when it comes to meals, the Brits are about as bland as can be. My Welsh grandmother once told me, “The only spices you need are salt and pepper.” I disagreed, and with the rise of curry shops around England, the British seem to have come around as well. It’s strange to me that a country that colonized so many parts of the world took so long to add bold flavors to its cuisine.

When you try mulligatawny soup, there’s no denying it’s an unexpected but delicious blending of British and Indian culinary styles.

 

The Origins of Mulligatawny Soup

Indian meals are traditionally served all at once, the containers placed in the center of the table, family-style, with everyone digging in and helping themselves to the shared dishes.

During the British Raj, between 1858 and 1947, when the sun never set on the British Empire, the fussy British colonists and soldiers refused to alter their way of dining, which I’m sure they felt was much more civilized. And that included a soup course.

Well, there wasn’t really an Indian soup, per se, so the servants would water down one of their occupiers’ favorite dishes, milagu tannir, which translates to “pepper water” in Tamil, a southern Indian dialect. (One source says the dish was molegoo tunes, a broth drunk by poor Sri Lankans.) The British never seemed to worry about pronouncing things incorrectly, and they garbled the dish until it came out mulligatawny, as it’s known today.

The colonists brought mulligatawny back to Britain, where it’s a staple on pub menus, though the recipe varies widely. We’re partial to the version my mom makes.

 

Ingredients

  • 2-3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked, cooled and shredded
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2½ cups onion, chopped
  • 3 large Granny Smith apples, diced
  • 1 small can diced green chilies
  • 2 cups carrots, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup heavy cream
     
Apples, curry, carrots, garam masala, chicken, green chilies and onions all come together in a surprisingly cohesive and delicious meal

Apples, curry, carrots, garam masala, chicken, green chilies and onions all come together in a surprisingly cohesive and delicious meal

Preparation

Put oil and butter in a skillet until it melts.

Sauté onion for 4-5 minutes.

Add garlic, sautéing for 2 minutes.

Add the rest of the ingredients to a large pot, except the heavy cream. Cover and simmer.

Ladle out some of the warm liquid and slowly add the heavy cream while stirring. This will help prevent the cream from curdling. Add it back to the pot and cover.

Simmer for at least an hour. The longer the better.

Serve with fresh parsley (and a dollop of sour cream if you’d like).

 

Back in the day, the heavy cream was coconut milk, so feel free to substitute that.

The original recipe also called for a potato (peeled and chopped), but the Shirl swaps this out for another apple. You can’t tell the difference, she says, and she likes the added sweetness. –Wally

British Slang That Confuses Americans

That chav you were snogging is such a wanker. I thought he was a poofTer but he got her up the duff. Learn what this means and other British expressions!

 

I must have a thing for British nannies. I collected two of them as good friends in my first years in Chicago: edgy and artsy Heather and the sassy, glam party girl Jo.

There were definitely some communication issues between me and my new mates — like mixing up snog and shag (there’s quite a difference between kissing someone and having sex with them).

For instance, it took me a while to realize that whenever a Brit said they were pissed, they actually meant drunk and not upset.

And then there’s wally, my name, which turns out to be an insult in Britain. It’s what you call someone’s who’s silly or inept. Heck, maybe it’s accurate after all.

Here are a few of my favorites British slang terms that you might want to add to your vocabulary.


Alright?: What’s up?

Like our expression, you don’t have to actually answer the question. People don’t really care if you’re alright or what is up. Responding, “Alright” right back to them is common, or you can just offer up another greeting.


Bender: Gay guy

The term is offensive, but I’m not sure if it’s as bad as calling someone a fag. I assume it comes from the idea of bending over. Not to be confused with what we call a bender in the States — an extensive alcoholic binge.

 

On the blob: On the rag, having your period

This disgusting term was one of Heather’s favorites. It’s funny that Americans focus on the product (rag meaning tampon or pad, one imagines), while the Brits have evoked a vivid image of the blood and uterine lining that come out during that time of the month.

Bollocks: Testicles; nonsense

I guess it’s like us seeing something ridiculous and yelling out, “Balls!”


Bugger: To butt-fuck

This word gets used in a variety of expressions, from telling someone to “bugger off” (go away) to a person who knows “bugger all” (nothing).

 

Chat up: to flirt

A guy at a bar might see a girl and say he’s going to “chat her up.”

Chav: Britain’s version of white trash

Chavs are label whores, wearing designer sportswear (sometimes just the knockoffs). They’re known for being loud and obnoxious. Chavs can be hot, in a trashy way.

 

Chuffed: Pleased

I don’t know why, but I always thought this meant upset. Maybe cuz it’s a mix of “chafed” and “huff.” Turns out it’s the opposite, though. Being chuffed’s a good thing.


Cock up: Mess up

No, this isn’t a term for an erection. You might say you really cocked something up.


Cracking: Excellent

We might not want something that’s cracked, but the Brits think it’s a desirable state.


Daft: Silly, foolish

Guess this gives new meaning to the band Daft Punk.


Up the duff: Pregnant

What’s odd is that a duff is a flour pudding boiled or steamed in a cloth bag. Coincidence?

 

I’m easy: I’m flexible, I’ll do what whatever

In the United States, this would be stating that you’re a slut. In Britain, it means you’re a go-with-the-flow kind of person.

Fag: Cigarette

When someone wants a fag, it’s good to know what they’re asking for.

 

Fagged: Tired

Maybe it’s cuz gays are so dramatic all the time, it’s exhausting. (Though it probably has more to do with the concept of the “fag end,” or the very end of something.)

Fancy dress: Costume

If you get invited to a fancy dress party, they’re really saying to wear a costume. Weird, I know. How is dressing like a sexy nurse being “fancy”?


Fanny: Pussy, vagina

This one really cracks those Brits up. We say fanny for butt (though it’s not very common anymore). But we do talk about fanny packs when we travel — which is like saying you’re going to wear your pussy pack.


Fit: Hot, good-looking

It doesn’t necessarily mean the person is in good shape, but maybe that just goes with the territory.


Get off: Have sex

It sounds crass when you say it that way. But when you get off with someone, you’ve gotten lucky.


Gutted: Disappointed, upset

Just like a flayed fish, I guess.


Jammy: Lucky

This doesn’t mean you’re slathered in strawberry preserves — unless that’s your idea of good luck.

 

Jumper: Sweater

In the U.S., a girl might wear a little dress we call a jumper, but the word has another connotation in England.

 

Kerfuffle: Commotion, fuss

This is a popular expression from one of our favorite sketch comedy shows, Little Britain. The characters always seem to be getting into a right kerfuffle.

Knackered: Extremely tired

Jo always seemed to be “bloody knackered.” I didn’t dub her the Rock ’n’ Roll Nanny for nuthin’.

 

Knob: Penis, jerk, idiot, dork

We call someone who’s a jerk a dick, but knob seems to be a more general insult for anyone you don’t like.

 

Prat: Dumbass, idiot

Don’t feel like one if you don’t know this word. But it’s always nice to know when you’re being insulted.

Pissed: Drunk

When you’re pissed in America, you’re really upset about something. In Britain, you’ve just had too much to drink.


Pissing around, pissing about: Wasting time, acting immature

No, it doesn’t mean urinating in a circle.


Taking the piss (out of someone): Making fun of someone

Oh boy, this one was an odd one to hear. I have no idea why removing someone’s urine would translate to teasing, but every language has its bizarre expressions.

Poof, poofter: Fag, male homosexual

Usually used to describe someone overly effeminate.

 

On the pull: Trying to get laid

Guess you’re trying to lure someone in.


Quid: Pound

We’re talking currency here, folks. It’s the equivalent of how we call a dollar a buck in the U.S.


Read: Major in

I read English in college, so I had to read a lot of English literature. It sounds weird to me that you can read business, medicine, law or the like.


Made redundant: Get laid off

The American expression just doesn’t seem as brutal as the British one. It’s like, Sorry, you’re no longer useful; you’re superfluous. That’s just kicking someone when they’re down.

Shag: Fuck

Don’t confuse this with snog. Brits can shag on a shag carpet.

 

Get shirty: Be annoyed, in a bad mood

I wonder what about being like this particular article of clothing translates to a foul mood.


Slag: Slut, promiscuous person

Slag is a byproduct of the smelting process. Maybe the connotation with people is that they’re castoffs. 

 

Slag someone off: To bitch someone out, criticize

If your significant other is always slagging you off, they’re not worth your time.

Go for a slash, have a slash: To take a piss

Not sure what the connection to slashing is, but this is a colorful phrase Duke and I have adopted.

 

Snog: To kiss

Keep in mind that snogging isn’t shagging. The definitions I found online add an element of cuddling to this verb.

 

Tosser: Idiot

This is literally a guy who masturbates. Not sure why that got equated with a general insult.


Trainers: Tennis shoes, sneakers

The British word probably makes more sense than ours. I mean, how many people actually play tennis or sneak around in their gym shoes?

 

Trolleyed: Wasted, very drunk

We have these trolleys in Chicago that you can rent for the night and get drunk on. Though somehow I don’t think that’s the origin of this word.

 

Twee: Too stinkin’ cute

Listen to She & Him or go to Anthropologie to experience this word in action. I like to mix American slang with British to say something is totes twee.

 

Wanker: Jerk, dick, asshole

Again, like tosser, this is someone who jerks off. And again, why is that an insult? I mean, let he who is without sin cast the first stone, etc., etc. –Wally

The Monsters of "Supernatural," Season 2, Episodes 7-9

What is a banshee? How can you make a deal with the Devil like Robert Johnson? Hellhounds (black dogs), Roanoke, goofer dust and death omens all get covered in this roundup.

An illustration from The English Dance of Death, drawn by William Combe. I’d say a skeleton lounging in front of your fireplace is a pretty strong death omen

S2E7: “The Usual Suspects”

Monster: Death omen

Where it’s from: All over the world

Description: This particular figure is pale, with dark red eyes and a slit throat. In his typically eloquent fashion, Dean describes the death omen as “Casper the Bloodthirsty Ghost.”

La Belle Dame Sans Merci, or The Banshee by Henry Meynell Rheam, 1901

In Irish folklore, a banshee is a female spirit, and when people hear her horrific wail (one tradition holds that it can actually break glass), they know someone will soon die.

What it does: Like the banshee, death omens foretell that someone will perish in the near future.

I love black cats…but some cultures believe them to be harbingers of death — especially if one meows at midnight

Death Omens

In this episode, the printer keeps repeating the name Dana Schulps. That’s creepy, but here’s a shortened list of some famous death omens, according to Superstition Dictionary:

  • A black cat meowing at midnight
  • Bees swarming a rotten tree (there will be a death in the family owning or living on the property within a year)
  • A bird entering the bedroom of a sick person and landing on the bedpost
  • A pigeon flying against the window
  • A sparrow attacking another swallow and throwing it from its nest near a home (a son will be born and a daughter will die)
  • An owl hooting in a tree right above your head (a relative or friend of yours will die within a year)
  • A dog persistently howling under your window
  • A mouse running over your foot
  • A white rabbit crossing your path
  • A cow giving birth to twin calves
  • A cedar tree you have planted dying in your yard
  • A peach tree blooming early
  • A clock striking 13
  • A portrait falling off the wall
  • A rainbow over a house (sounds more gay than scary, to be honest)
  • Seeing your shadow without a head on New Year’s Eve

How to defeat it: At first the boys think this is a vengeful spirit. In true Winchester Brothers fashion, Sam says, “We have to salt and burn her bones. It’s the only way to put her spirit to rest.” To which guest star Linda Blair, famous for her head-turning performance in The Exorcist, replies, “Of course it is.”

Thing is, why would a vengeful spirit lead Blair to her remains? Turns out it’s not a vengeful spirit after all. As a death omen, she wants to warn people, and she’s finally at rest once the murderer is killed.

You certainly don’t want to be a victim of a hellhound attack

S2E8: “Crossroad Blues”

Monster: Black dog or hellhound

Where it’s from: England and Scotland

The Black Dog of Newgate has haunted the prison for 400 years, appearing before executions

Description: They’re larger than your average pooch and are covered in shaggy black fur, though some reports say they can have white, spotted or brown fur as well. Glowing red eyes, long fangs and saliva reeking of sulfur complete the look.

Sam describes them as “demonic pitbulls.”

“I bet they could hump the crap out of your leg,” Dean adds

What it does: Hellhounds collect souls that are due in payment for deals made with the Devil. One man wanted to be an overnight musical success. This calls to mind Robert Johnson, who is said to have made just such a deal. He supposedly came across Satan at a crossroads and offered to sell his soul in return for becoming an amazing bluesman. He went on to write and perform some popular songs, including “Cross Roads Blues,” “Me and the Devil Blues” and “Hellhound on My Trail.” But he died mysteriously, choking on his own blood, at age 27 (like Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin and others) in 1938.

The blues musician Robert Johnson is one of the most famous people (Faust aside) to sell his soul to the Devil

With another person they’re investigating, Dean wants to know why the man made a pact with a demon: “What’d you ask for anyway, Evan? Never need Viagra? Bowl a perfect game?”

“My wife,’ Evan says.

“Gettin’ the girl,” Dean nods. “Well, that’s worth a trip to Hell for."

You can supposedly get your heart’s desire if you make a pact with the Devil — but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea

How to Sell Your Soul to the Devil

If you’d like to make a deal with the Devil (and we really can’t recommend doing so), here’s how to do so.

Plant yarrow flowers in the corners of a crossroads to summon the Big Guy.

Get a tin box and fill with the bones of a black cat, graveyard dirt and a picture of yourself.

“That’s Deep South hoodoo stuff,” Dean says.

How to defeat it: Sam and Dean think one of the people they visit has grabbed the wrong shaker (those boys are completely obsessed with salt). But the man made no mistake. He’s keeping away demons with another hoodoo trick: goofer dust.

Be warned that the goofer dust will affect anyone who steps onto it. Victims will develop a chronic illness that may result in death.


Goofer Dust Recipe

This recipe comes from Raven Conspiracy:

  • Sulfur
  • Salt
  • Skin or head of a venomous snake, dried and ground
  • Black pepper
  • Graveyard dirt

Optional ingredients:

  • Red pepper
  • Ground bones
  • Ground insects
  • Sage
  • Mullein
  • Anvil dust

 

Here’s another version, this one from SpellsOfMagic.com:

  • Graveyard dirt
  • Black salt
  • Ground sulfur
  • Snake skin
  • Magnetic sand

Optional ingredients:

  • Dried pigeon feces
  • Ground insects
  • Powdered bones
  • Black pepper

Sounds like there’s some leeway with the recipe. Mix what ingredients you can find together. But be sure not to touch the powder after you’ve made it.

Sprinkle it in a place where you know your target will definitely walk onto it. Be warned that the goofer dust will affect anyone who steps onto it. Victims will develop a chronic illness that may result in death.

 

If you regret having made a satanic pact, use a Devil’s Trap to ensnare the demon or devil and strike a deal by threatening to exorcise it.

 

S2E9: “Croatoan”

Monster: Demonic virus

Where it’s from: the United States

Description: There’s a telltale sulfuric residue in the virus.

What it does: Those infected turn murderous. They’re also fond of spreading the love: The virus is passed by by blood to blood contact. The infected like to cut themselves and then slice open their victim so they can drip blood into the wound.

The boys find a reference to the Lost Colony of Roanoke (it was also a theme in American Horror Story: Roanoke). The colony was founded by Sir Walter Raleigh in 1585 in what is now North Carolina. Five years later, all 115 or so settlers had vanished mysteriously — the only clue being the word “Croatoan” carved into a fencepost. The Croatoan were an Indian tribe, though Daddy Winchester had a theory that it’s the name of a demon also known as Deva, or Resheph, associated with pestilence.

That’s Resheph off to the right, the personification of plague. He’s hanging out with his friends Min (the fertility god with the big boner) and Qetesh (the goddess of fertility and sexual ecstacy)

How to defeat it: You’ve got to kill those infected. Guns work. And Molotov cocktails would do the trick, too, one imagines, as the Winchester boys were planning.

It also helps to be immune, like Sam. –Wally

I bet they could hump the crap out of your leg.
— Dean Winchester

The Strange History of Valentine’s Day

From Lupercalia, where young men whipped eager women in the streets of ancient Rome, to St. Valentine’s secret weddings.

Valentine's Day wasn't always about cupids and hearts — or even love

Valentine’s Day is much more than just conversation hearts, boxes of chocolates, flowers and cards. There are some downright outlandish origins to this holiday.

After the flagellation ceremony, men would draw women’s names from an urn — and that would be their sexual partner for the year

Valentine’s Day dates back to a couple of Roman festivals.

The Romans celebrated two ritual festivals that formed the foundation for the holiday we know as Valentine’s Day. Februalia was a purification rite, which occurred on February 14 and gave the month of February its name. It was later combined with Lupercalia, which took place on February 15.

Valentine’s Day as we know it began with an unusual Roman fertility rite

The crazed men, nude save for a goatskin loincloth, would take the hides of slain animals cut into strips and flagellate the women of the village in hopes of bestowing fertility.

This someecard points out just how strange Lupercalia was

Lupercalia involved some bizarre practices, including beating women with animal pelts.

For this affair, young Roman men would congregate in the Lupercal, the sacred cave in the mountains where Romulus and Remus, the twins who suckled the she-wolf Lupa, were supposedly reared. Romulus would later found Rome and sacrifice Remus, but that’s another story.

The Luperci, the Brotherhood of the Wolf, would sacrifice a dog for purity and a goat for fertility.

Ancient Romans believed being whipped by blood-soaked animal skins would help you get knocked up

The crazed men, nude save for a goatskin loincloth, would take the hides of the slain animals that had been cut into strips and flagellate the women of the village in hopes of bestowing fertility.

 

Saint Valentine has become the patron saint of love

Valentine was also the patron saint of epileptics

Saint Valentine performed secret marriages when the institution was outlawed.

In this painting by David Teniers III, Valentine receives a rosary from the Virgin Mary

During the 3rd century CE, Roman Emperor Claudius II, wanting to increase the size and strength of his military empire, saw marriage as an obstacle. He believed that men were unwilling to fight due to their strong attachment to their wives and families. In an effort to circumvent this, he forbade all future marriages and engagements.

Whether Valentine was a bishop or priest has been lost to history, but he began performing clandestine ceremonies. He was soon discovered and imprisoned for his betrayal.

His legend is associated with having sent a note to his jailer’s daughter on the eve of his execution, signed, “From Your Valentine.” No historical evidence exists to back the authenticity of this myth, though.

Valentine was beheaded, died a martyr and in death was elevated to the patron saint of love.

The skull of Saint Valentine resides in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin in Rome, Italy

Pope Gelasius I used an ingenious sleight of hand, merging the pagan Lupercalia with the feast of Saint Valentine into a single holiday celebrated on February 14.

 

The Cadbury boys found a way to extract a delicious byproduct of cocoa — what we know know and love as chocolate

Cadbury created the first chocolate candies — and the first heart-shaped box of chocolates.

One of the first heart-shaped box of chocolates

In 1882, John Cadbury, an English proprietor and founder of the Cadbury candy empire, opened a tea and coffee shop in Bournville, Birmingham, England. His shop also sold drinking chocolate, which he prepared using a mortar and pestle. This was a luxury item even among the upper class. The resulting beverage was coarse and grainy but popular.

A vintage ad for Cadbury chocolate

Cadbury’s sons Richard and George visited the Van Houten factory in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, which specialized in the manufacture of cocoa powder. The brothers integrated this method into their manufacturing facility. The process allowed them to extract pure cocoa butter from pressing cocoa beans and adding sugar, reducing its bitter taste. Cadbury used this byproduct to produce several varieties of “eating chocolates.”

The retail division of the business was passed on to Richard in 1861, who recognized a great marketing opportunity and revolutionized sales by packaging Cadbury chocolates in the world’s first heart-shaped box for Valentine’s Day. The box could be kept and used to store mementos after the chocolates had been eaten.

 

Victorians began the tradition of sending valentines — some of which were downright cruel.

Do you remember making a mailbox to hold your cards and exchanging valentines with your classmates in elementary school, or perhaps receiving a pink or red carnation in high school? I did accrue a fair amount of cards through my formative years, though I do remember wishing I would get a carnation from a secret admirer.

Valentines pre-date Hallmark and were the preferred token to celebrate romantic love by the prudish 19th century Victorians in England. The first mass-market cards were introduced then, and the penny post made it possible to send them easily and inexpensively.

Plus, you could send notes anonymously, something the Victorians prized. This allowed them not only to exchange serious or humorous cards but downright mean-spirited ones as well, aptly called vinegar valentines.

“Senders would use the anonymity of the card to comment on the inappropriate behavior of a couple or the distasteful political views of a feminist friend,” Slate writes. “Women seemed to be the targets of many of the surviving examples, but balding men, pretentious artists and poets, and smelly fat guys made appearances as well.”

So the next time you send a valentine to a loved one, think about how whipped women, a beheaded saint and mean, anonymous cards are all part of this holiday. –Duke

A Very Merry, Kinda Scary Vintage Christmas

13 of the strangest vintage Christmas cards that don’t quite bring good tidings to you and your kin.

I started out thinking I’d collect a bunch of charming vintage Christmas cards for this post. And while I found some cute images of eager children, kind Santas and snow-covered winter wonderlands, they just weren’t doing it for me. They didn’t begin to compare to the creepy excellence of vintage Halloween cards or the Yuletide greetings from that devilish Krampus.

And then I came across an old Christmas card that depicted the cheerful sentiment of a man getting mauled to death by a polar bear.

Given that I’m more likely to be on Santa’s naughty than nice list, I knew I had found my theme: Christmas cards that have a bizarre bent.

Given that I’m more likely to be on Santa’s naughty than nice list, I knew I had found my theme: Christmas cards that have a bizarre bent. As I searched around online, I grew more and more confounded. What the heck does a dead robin have to do with a merry Christmas? What’s up with that frog who stabbed and robbed his compatriot? What is that thing in the pot — and why does the cook have a bird’s head? Why are those oysters so sad? And who gave that little doggie a rifle?!

Here are the 14 weirdest vintage Christmas cards I could find.

Wishing you a weird and wonderful Christmas! –Wally

More Takes on What the World Thinks About a Trump Presidency

Is there any country that’s pleased with the results of the 2016 U.S. presidential election? (Besides Russia, that is.)

Donald Trump is pumped he won the U.S. presidential election. But how does the rest of the world feel?

Americans are perhaps more divided than we’ve ever been since the Civil War. Donald Trump won the electoral college and therefore the presidency — despite the fact that more people actually voted for Hillary Clinton.

But what does the rest of the world think about President-elect Trump? I reached out to friends who live abroad or who have family in foreign countries. Read Part 1 of their responses here.

The reactions kept coming in. Here’s Part 2. –Wally


Donovan and Kate, Americans living in Qatar

Regarding the local view of That Horrible Thing That Happened:

The initial reaction in Qatar was probably the same as everywhere else: shock. Everyone here went to bed Tuesday night (Doha time) assuming to wake up to a Hillary presidency, and then…that.

Georgetown University Qatar had an Election Morning celebration, featuring the U.S. ambassador and all kinds of red, white and blue décor. She stayed long enough to realize that Trump would win, and the embassy released a tight-lipped statement saying that they would serve the next president as expected; you could hear the tears in the press release.

Several of the universities here had emergency community meetings to address student fears; these are, after all, schools rooted in the U.S. with students here who have been told they won’t be allowed to travel to the U.S.

From an expat perspective, the kind of person who would live in Qatar is not the kind of person who believes the Trump view of the world, and especially the Muslim world, so the last week has been essentially a funeral out here. All we’ve tried to do is ensure that all our coworkers, friends, etc., understand that we’re on their side, and that tens of millions of Americans are, too.

We’ll wake up tomorrow to the call to prayer, and as is tradition, Donovan will have his morning beer in his underwear while hundreds of Muslims pray beneath us. Is that not the ideal we should strive for?

 

RELATED: The Best and Worst Parts of Living in Qatar


Alan from Spain

Showman: That’s the first idea that comes to me when I hear Donald Trump’s name. Probably because I have seen him and his family since I was a kid on E! television or because the first image that comes to my mind is Trump firing people on a TV show where he was “the boss.” He was not nice from what I remember — he is not nice from what he had said on his political campaign.

His campaign was one of the biggest broadcasted shows ever. People that have followed it have been a total part of it: lovers and haters, critics and passionate homophobic-racist-misogynists.

Half of the United States supports Trump, while the other half hates what he stands for

In Spain, we have this kind of political behavior and media. It starts being like soccer or football…Red vs. Blue, yelling at each other without listening a word. Passionate hooligans.

For some of us, the idea of a “politician” like Trump seems like a joke. But it makes sense when you realize that there are governments that are not supporting education. Education is the base of the society, and when you segregate people for their origin since they were born, cut the spending for public schools and teachers, and don’t allow people to have real opportunities to grow, there will be a Donald Trump yelling in representation of “everyone else.”

People in the USA seem to be mad. But without asking questions or trying to figure out what is happening with their system, they blame the disadvantaged — those who are trying to survive in a society that exploits their work and undervalues their skills.

Maybe things will change, when in some circles they start realizing that having a black-skinned president does not make your country less racist.


Heather from England

Basically we have had the same response as the level-headed Americans. It’s a worry for us. But we are still reeling from our own stupid decision about Brexit back in June.

This meme circulated after the U.S. election of Donald Trump and draws a connection between the racism/isolationism/nationalism of the alt-right and Brexit voters.

On the plus side, there have been some lovely shots of the new first lady in a furry bikini on the front pages of the tabloids!


Lynn from Guam

I think Guam’s polls were 75% for Clinton. So most people on Guam favored her over Trump.

The doctor I worked with followed the campaign closely and was in favor of Trump: a businessman who made some bad business decisions, while Clinton was an unethical person who damaged computer systems after a subpoena was served.

There are no protests on Guam at this time against Trump as president of the USA. Our governor is full of support for him and hopes to have a valuable presence with him.

The same doctor says, no they won’t impeach him because he is making fast adjustments (i.e., not eliminating the Affordable Care Act but using parts of it.)

There is a movement that says that the USA is not concerned about the island. We are brown-skinned people who would not weigh in with Trump.

I have not heard about predictions for the next four years. In my mind is great uncertainty: fear of global war, human suffering, lack of food and huge immigration.

Perhaps I should focus on hope, joy, harmony and peace that is here and now. I am not in Syria or Africa and we live a very good life because of Uncle Sam.

Humanity is global, so I can only pray for all people to have the quality of life that I am able to enjoy.


Ivo, a Bulgarian living in the United States

In Bulgaria we are mostly for the Democrats, for Hillary.

We have a prime minister, Boyko Borissov, who reminds me of Trump. He is very frank and authoritative. He was actually the bodyguard of the old communist president who ruled for 45 or so years.


Angie, an American living in China

It is hard to give a good answer to what people think about Trump, as I think you are asking about how locals, meaning a typical Chinese person, feels about the elections, and I don’t think they know/care much. My ayi (housekeeper) hasn’t said anything about it.

The day of the elections at school were interesting, however, but I don’t think representative. The students were obsessed with the elections, and it was hard to get anything else done that day. They seemed to be legitimately surprised at the outcomes, as were the teachers here. I am still at a loss as to how this happened. 

I don’t know any teachers here that were pro-Trump, but there may have been some in hiding. The students we teach are from families who chose to send their kids to a liberal school and have plans to send their kids out of the country for university. These kids have been taught by us teachers, so not surprising they were surprised at the outcome, too. For them it seems like a question of discrimination. One student, a Chinese girl in 10th grade, was worrying about where she was going to go to college now. Some of my 12th graders have voiced concerns about going to the U.S. next year for university. In all honesty, I don’t know if I will be keen to send my daughter Fatima to the U.S. in three years for school.

This election puts China in a position to potentially rule the South China Sea. Some policies are starting to be put in place to limit foreigners and Western education here, so we will see how that goes.

 

RELATED: The Truth About Living in China


BONUS! Nicolás, an editor from Spain, presented us with his take. Trouble is, neither Duke nor I speak Spanish fluently. That being said, we can get the gist, and he seems to put quite a bit of blame on Hillary and her supporters for the rise of Trump.

 

Tal vez, no hayan entendido nada: Hillary, todas esas Hillary políticamente correctas de “izquierda,” les han arruinado literalmente la vida a esa gente (principalmente del interior, pobre, blanco y aislado), liberalizando la economía al extremo y entregándoles a las corporaciones todo lo que han pedido.

Esa gente, ahora trabaja en Walmart de mierda con horarios infinitos, sin derechos y están envenenados de comer basura porque no pueden permitirse alimentarse a base de otra cosa, gracias a que políticos como Hillary subvencionan la industria alimenticia tecnificada en detrimento de industrias rurales.

El americano rural y clase media está desapareciendo.

Los Hillary (su marido, sin ir más lejos), han quitado todo tipo de regulaciones sobre el mercado de valores (Ley Glass-Steagall) que finalmente ha creado una burbuja para tragarlo todo y quedarse con las casas de quienes no han podido pagar sus hipotecas infladas. Han sido los Hillary quienes han contribuido, como nadie, a la deslocalización de empresas que afectan, sobre todo, a la clase media de ciudades del interior. Han sido los Hillary, de Estados Unidos y el mundo, quienes siguen pariendo monstruos por el hartazgo y la traición que ellos mismos representan...

Fue Hillary, por cierto, quien con su aparato Demócrata amañado frenó las aspiraciones de Bernie Sanders, el único que podía parar este desastre.

Ahora díganme: ¿Qué parte del triunfo de Trump no entienden?

 

RELATED: Learn These Spanish Curse Words to Make Your Conversations More Colorful

The Ups and Downs of Running a Somerset Inn

The Bowlish House, a gem of Georgian architecture near Bath and Wells, honors the past, while the English village of Shepton Mallet marches into the modern era.

The Bowlish House in the village of Shepton Mallet is a beautiful inn and wedding venue

 

I met Len and Martin many years ago when they were living in a three flat they owned in Evanston, Illinois that they had lovingly restored. Their home, on the top floor, was tastefully appointed with a mix of traditional furnishings and antiques (Martin ran an antique business, which I briefly worked for, and Len ran the Chicago Children's Memorial White Elephant Resale Shop).

According to Len, the property was haunted, particularly the front entrance hall and basement. “I never saw the bearded man who walked up and down the front stairs, but others did. In the basement, you would get an occasional sighting of a woman in 1920s dress. You always knew when she was around, as the scent of patchouli was in the air.”

The Bowlish House’s drawing room was featured in the compelling BBC series “Broadchurch.”

Len and I caught up recently and it was not a complete surprise to discover that he and Martin had moved to the U.K. and purchased the Bowlish House, a storied historic guesthouse in the town of Shepton Mallet. The drawing room was featured in the compelling BBC series Broadchurch. –Duke

You don’t have to be staying at the Bowlish House to enjoy tea or a drink in the Georgian Room, modeled after an English country house

What led you to the village of Shepton Mallet?

When we first moved to Britain, we tried to find jobs that we thought would be satisfactory, but what we were used to does not exist. So we decided to either run a pub or an inn. After looking for a year, we found the Bowlish House listed on an online real estate site. It was the right size and also the right price.

 

How’d the town get its unusual name?
The town got its name from two brothers, Roger and Robert Mallet (pronounced “mal-lay”) who fought with William the Conqueror when the Normans invaded England in 1066. Shepton is an old word for a sheep enclosure. All the money here was made in the woolen trade.

One of the bedrooms at the Bowlish House

How did you decide to start a B&B?
We actually bought the business that was up and running, though not doing well. We then set to turning it around, which has been quite successful. However, the downside is that the amount of maintenance required on a 300-year-old house is shocking.

 

Did you renovate at all?

We are continuously working on the house to upgrade it and also to bring back the look of a country house in the 18th century.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner are available in the Cape Cod Room at the Bowlish House, where diners can enjoy panoramic views of the gardens

Are there any fun local traditions?

Unfortunately, the most popular local activity seems to be getting drunk and brawling on the high street, with an occasional bit of Morris dancing thrown in.

 

What is there to do in town?

The town is minute and suffers the same fate of most rural English villages have: the shopping mall. All the little shops are gone and have been replaced by Chinese takeaways. It is much better to drive 10 minutes to the city of Wells. Farther afield are Bath and Bristol, which are worth a visit.

 

What’s Bath like?

Bath is second only to London where style, fashion and the arts are concerned. Lots of beautiful and occasionally quirky architecture, interesting museums and nice restaurants. It is also very expensive to live there. I like going there when I need to reconnect with my inner city persona.

 

Any interesting or funny stories about guests or running the inn?
Yes there are stories — most are gross or indecent or both, though.

 

What’s the most charming part of British village life?

Nice pubs, when you come across them. Market days, some of the antiques shops, castles and gardens and the most amazing wildlife. You can see foxes and hedgehogs in the wild. I’m not too wild about the giant slugs, though. Some of the smells are not so good, particularly from the pig farms.

 

Has Brexit affected you at all?

It’s too early to tell about Brexit. The pound has certainly dropped, but it is a benefit to me, as my pensions are in U.S. dollars (yes, I am that old), so I get more than I did a few months ago.

 

And what the heck do Brits think about Trump?

The Donald is considered a huge joke here.There is a sort of horror and amusement regarding him and his politics. There is absolutely no way that any politician here would ever get away the stuff he does. Another aside is that is any politician here started in about their religion, it would be total political suicide.

Guy Fawkes Day / Bonfire Night: A Bizarre British Holiday

The British remember, remember the 5th of November. But who exactly was Guy Fawkes — and why do kids burn his effigy?

Bonfire Night can be a bit scary — a time when Brits burn effigies and, apparently, even crosses

To the outsider, November 5, Bonfire Night or Guy Fawkes Day, can seem horrifying. I mean, who wouldn’t be creeped out by children creating effigies of Fawkes as well as the Pope — and then throwing them atop bonfires and cheering as they burn?

Here’s the story behind this bizarre British holiday.

The authorities had quite the execution planned for the traitor. They were going to lop off his testicles and cut his stomach open so he could watch his own guts spill out.

 

It goes back to the British struggle between Catholics and Protestants.

King James I, despite having a Catholic mother, Mary Queen of Scots, who was executed, continued the persecution of Catholics begun by his predecessor, Queen Elizabeth I. In 1604, he condemned Catholicism as superstition and ordered all priests to leave the country. The next year, 13 young men decided to take violent action in protest.

Guy (who preferred to be called Guido) Fawkes and his cohorts in the Gunpowder Plot. There were two Wrights involved, though hopefully they weren’t related to me

Guy Fawkes wasn’t the leader of the terrorists.

A man named Robert Catesby led the group, devising the plan: blow up the Houses of Parliament and kill the king — and hopefully throw in the next in line, the Prince of Wales and some members of Parliament.

“In the meantime, as Fawkes escaped by boat across the River Thames, his fellow conspirators would start an uprising in the English Midlands, kidnap James’ daughter Elizabeth, install her as a puppet queen and eventually marry her off to a Catholic, thereby restoring the Catholic monarchy,” the History channel reports.

 

The plot involved 36 barrels of gunpowder — which, it turns out, wouldn’t have done much.

The gunpowder was placed in the cellar below the House of Lords. In theory, it could have blown Parliament to bits. But some experts think it had decayed to such a state it might not have fully ignited, according to The Telegraph.

 

And he wasn’t even born Catholic.

While his maternal grandparents were Catholic, Fawkes’ parents were Protestant. But after his dad died, his mom remarried a Catholic when Fawkes was 8. He converted to the faith when he was a teenager.

An effigy of Guy Fawkes before it’s burned on Bonfire Night in England

One member of the group seems to have betrayed the plot.

Some of the rebels started to realize that innocents — and even those sympathetic to their cause — would be what we today call “collateral damage” and began having second thoughts. There’s a theory that someone in the gang sent a letter detailing what would become known as the Gunfire Plot to Lord Monteagle.

The letter eventually found its way to the king.

 

Guy Fawkes was caught red-handed.

The reason Fawkes is the best-known British traitor is that the poor sucker was in the cellar when the king’s forces raided. He must’ve drawn the short straw, for it was his job to light the explosives.

Incidentally, that cellar no longer exists. It was part of the 1834 fire that destroyed much of the medieval structure.

Every year at the opening of session, the yeoman of the guard checks to make sure there aren’t any conspirators plotting in the cellars. “This has become more of a tradition than a serious anti-terrorist precaution,” The Telegraph writes.

Bonfire Night celebrations take place in front of Windsor Castle in this illustration from 1776

The tradition of lighting a bonfire began that very night.

The people celebrated the king’s escape by lighting bonfires. Nowadays, the tradition continues, along with setting off fireworks and burning effigies of Guy Fawkes, the Pope and sometimes politicians (Trump, anyone?) and celebrities.

“In 1677, an elaborate Pope effigy was burned with live cats in its stomach, so their cries would symbolize the sound of the devil whispering in the Pope’s ear,” according to Vox.

 

Fawkes wasn't actually executed.

The authorities had quite the execution planned for the traitor. They were going to lop off his testicles and cut his stomach open so he could watch his own guts spill out before his eyes, The Telegraph reports.

But Fawkes foiled them. He leapt to his death, dying from a broken neck.

 

That didn’t stop them from chopping him into pieces.

One of the favorite ways of disposing of the bodies of those who were executed was a practice known as drawn and quartering. It’s a bit like it sounds: The body was divided into four parts. Fawkes’ mutilated corpse was sent to “the four corners of the kingdom” — to teach would-be traitors a lesson, one would imagine.

 

King James admired Fawkes.

Before his suicide, Fawkes was tortured for two days straight, refusing to admit his part in the Gunpowder Plot. At one point, he was asked why they had so much gunpowder and he replied, “To blow you Scotch beggars back to your native mountains.”

He eventually caved, but lasted long enough to have the monarch say he was impressed by his “Roman resolution.”

 

Guy preferred to be called Guido.

He felt the Italian variant of his name better suited a Catholic. In fact, when he was forced to sign a document admitting his role in the Gunpowder Plot, he signed it Guido Fawkes.

This is one of the more horrific effigies created for Guy Fawkes Day

Children wheeled around their effigy, begging for “a penny for the Guy.”

As they went along, they’d sing this song, which dates back to around 19870:

 

The Fifth of November
 

Remember, remember! 
The fifth of November, 
The Gunpowder treason and plot; 
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!


Guy Fawkes and his companions
Did the scheme contrive, 
To blow the King and Parliament
All up alive. 
Threescore barrels, laid below, 
To prove old England’s overthrow. 
But, by God’s providence, him they catch, 
With a dark lantern, lighting a match! 
A stick and a stake
For King James’s sake! 
 

If you won’t give me one, 
I’ll take two, 
The better for me, 
And the worse for you. 
A rope, a rope, to hang the Pope, 
A penn’orth of cheese to choke him, 
A pint of beer to wash it down, 
And a jolly good fire to burn him. 
 

Holloa, boys! holloa, boys! make the bells ring! 
Holloa, boys! holloa boys! God save the King! 
Hip, hip, hooor-r-r-ray!

A scene from Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta graphic novel

Guy Fawkes masks have swept the world, as seen in this group in Vienna, Austria

Popular culture has referenced Fawkes.

The masks in the graphic novel and movie V for Vendetta feature Guy Fawkes. The masks have become the go-to for the hacker group Anonymous.

Dumbledore’s phoenix, Fawkes, from an exhibit on The Making of Harry Potter

And in the Harry Potter books, Headmaster Dumbledore’s phoenix is named Fawkes for its propensity to spontaneously combust. (Don’t worry — phoenixes always rise from the ashes.) –Wally


The Strange History of Halloween

Ever wondered why we carve pumpkins, dress up in costumes and go trick-or-treating? Learn the pagan origins of Samhain, when spirits roam the Earth and we can see into the future.

Halloween is the best time to cast divination spells

Halloween: You love it or you hate it.

Our office manager dreads Halloween. She’s religious and sees it as an evil night, when devils and witches and demons and ghouls literally roam the streets.

That, of course, is why many of us love it. It’s a chance to become someone else for a night. To embrace our dark (or sexy) sides.

To the pre-Christian Celts of Western Europe, it was referred to as Samhain (actually pronounced “sow-en”) — a term still used by Wiccans. It’s the one day of the year when the veil between this world and the next is at its thinnest.

Halloween has its dark side — but it can also be a time of good luck

That means it’s the ideal opportunity to try to glimpse into the future. Divination spells work best on All Hallow’s E’en.

Young women would try to glimpse their future lover’s face in the mirror on Halloween night

Witchy Ways

If you want to get into the Samhain spirit, try these spells: 

Contact a Deceased Loved One
See a Vision of Your True Love

Witches, black cats and jack-o’-lanterns have become associated with Halloween

But it also means that ghosts and other unpleasant wraiths have the opportunity to invade the world of the living once darkness falls. People felt they had to protect themselves.

How did these origins lead to our traditions of carving pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns, dressing up in costumes and asking for candy with thinly veiled threats of mischief? What’s the history of Halloween, our strangest holiday?

Here’s an infographic I wrote (and the talented Kevin LeVick designed) for a website that’s sadly now defunct. –Wally

 

Victorian Post-Mortem Photography: WTF Were They Thinking?

Memento mori: Victorian death photos were to die for in the mid-1800s.

It sounds utterly creepy, morbid and unthinkable to us now. But during the Victorian era, posing with the corpse of your child or another deceased family member was a way to honor the recently departed.

It was a time when children ran a high risk of dying before the age of 5. “Victorian nurseries were plagued by measles, diphtheria, scarlet fever, rubella — all of which could be fatal,” the BBC reports.

Corpses lean back in chairs, tools used to prop up the bodies are hidden as best they can be, children look like they’re only sleeping, open eyes were drawn on later.

A lot of people could only afford to have one family portrait, and the death of a loved one was often what sparked the decision. The rapidly rotting corpse of a child prompted many parents to decide it was time to pull the trigger, so to speak. Time, literally, was of the essence. It was now or never.

Death photography was part of the memento mori trend, from a Latin phrase meaning, “remember you will die.”

Looking through the (creepy) photos, you’ll note some of the tricks the photographers employed, according to ViralNova: Corpses lean back in chairs, tools used to prop up the bodies are hidden as best they can be, children look like they’re only sleeping, open eyes were drawn on later.

Keep in mind that these photos were taken with long exposures. The living tend to fidget a bit, making their portraits a bit blurry sometimes — while the dead person comes out crisp and clear. 

Can you imagine patiently posing for a picture with your dead child in your lap?

The trend only started losing popularity once healthcare improved, meaning less people died in childhood, and photography became more accessible. At some point, people must have thought, “Gee, this is kind of fucked up.” –Wally

Sources: BBC, Gizmodo, Mdolla, Oddee and ViralNova