Dear So-and-so, January doldrums edition

Dear BBC,

Thank you for giving me a much needed laugh with your very straight and serious piece about the TV show Glee (I watched all 13 existing episodes while in America recently). Best excerpts from the BBC piece:

“They are uniquely American,” says Peter Ling, professor of American Studies at Nottingham University.

Can I have that job? I think I’m (over) qualified. Surely giving quotes to the BBC about what makes something “American” is easier than what I actually do all day. And I’m guessing he gets paid quite a pretty sum for that job since “professor” here means something more exalted than it means in America.

The irony is that glee actually began in Britain, around the 1700s, according to historians.

Ah, the requisite “claim the original idea” line. Never like the Brits to allow any American success story to take place without trying to grab credit.

One factor that could explain why this touchstone of American culture is all but unheard of in Britain is America’s focus on competition. Glee isn’t just about the joy of singing – many show choirs compete at national level.

Right. Britain’s obsession with league tables for anything and everything and the fact that you can bet on anything and everything at one of several bookmaker shops along the high street are clear indications that Britain has no interest in competition.

I love Puck.

Glee-ful, NFAH


Dear book publisher,

I swear, absolutely swear, that I will get that editorial work done this weekend. I have no idea why it is taking so long. Well, actually that’s not true, it’s tedious as hell and I’m ornery about doing it and really tired of looking at these same 350 pages for over two years of various versions. But regardless, expect things on your desk Monday morning.

Being an editor is totally unglamorous, NFAH


Dear self,

When, oh when, are you going to learn to stop saying you’ll do things that you know are a good idea but you don’t actually want to do, such that you get to the time and date and have to cancel at the last minute because you’re completely out of bandwidth to do things that are a good idea because of the many thousands of other things you actually have to do?

Get a grip. Learn a lesson. And start saying NO more often.

I keep trying to tell you this and you’re not listening, NFAH


Dear Barclaycard,

I am completely speechless at the fact that you have just upgraded me to a platinum credit card all of two years after I had to fight so hard to get any credit card at all. WTF?

British banking is a puzzle, NFAH


Dear Apple,

It’s amazing that you are generating so much buzz with this whole “will they or won’t they” tablet thing. But I have to admit, I’m a devoted Mac-head with desktops and laptops both at home and at work plus an iPhone and two iPods and actually I have no idea what a person would do with a “Tablet” so I have no interest. Sorry.

And oh yes I love my (shockingly non-Mac) Kindle, NFAH


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11 responses to “Dear So-and-so, January doldrums edition

  1. I have never thought of the link between betting and being competitive. I wonder if you’re right. You’ve given me something else to ponder. That’s why I love your blog.

    League tables. We all hate them, though, don’t we? Or do you think it’s a love-hate relationship?

  2. Not From Around Here wrote:
    “Never like the Brits to allow any American success story to take place without trying to grab credit.”

    Yup, we do it just to annoy you lot. It works a treat almost every time, just like it has here!

  3. Speaking as an assistant professor of American Studies at a different institution, I assure you that you are by no means qualified for his job.

  4. So uniquely American..like its a bad thing or am I reading that wrong.

    I am a total Gleek. 🙂

  5. Merry is right. “American Studies” is essentially what used to be called American history before the 1960’s, when they realized how important it was to expand beyond dates and famous leaders/generals and add in sociology, cultural anthropology, etc., information relevant to how the broader masses of people actually lived, adding “connections” to the previous biographical approaches.

    There is a lot of expertise required there, as much as for any post-secondary faculty post.

  6. Pingback: Dear So-and-So, My American Friends edition « Not From Around Here

  7. Oh wow — there was quite an uproar here. I must admit, I was also giggling at the BBC article. I’m from Ohio — where “Glee” is supposedly set — and there just aren’t Glee clubs. The BBC article made it seem like Glee clubs are everywhere and choir competitions were just another part of American life. It left me giggling because in the US, Glee is seen as a quirky absurdity and is so popular because it AMPLIFIES high-school life in the US — not directly MIRRORING it. It resonates not because of Glee club’s cometitive nature — but because the comedy is heartfelt and each and every person watching it can remember being an alienated teenage in a high-school full of social tiers. I thought the BBC “expert” on American culture really had it over-serious and at points just plain (hilariously) wrong.

  8. Just to be pedantic (I’ve lived in the UK long enough to acquire said skill) – I’m from Ohio too and our school did have a glee-ish club, although it was called a show choir. They did a revue once a year and occasionally competed in competitions. Complete with sequined cumberbunds and puffy sleeves. (FYI, I graduated in ’98, not the based-on-fashion-expected ’80-something!)

    I’ve neither seen the movie nor read the BBC article, but just wanted to chuck in my 2p.

    What I can do is take the conversation a slightly different direction – another uniquely American thing that I got to enjoy exposing some Brits to. As we watched “Zombieland” and references to 8th grade dances were made, it crushed me to realize that this was an entire society that had never felt that hand-on-shoulders, light-must-pass-in-between, sway-awkwadly right of passage! Poor lost souls! 🙂

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