Category Archives: celebrities

5 signs today that it’s time to go interlude

  1. Bryan is still sick. He got the flu the day we landed here over 5 years ago. It’s full circle. Buh-bye.
  2. It was snowing on and off all day today. No accumulation and sometimes it would just last for a minute. But still. This is like the 18th time this winter. In London! It just feels like the Apocalypse is coming or something.
  3. Two businessmen sitting at the next table from Simon and me at Giraffe each ate an entire hamburger with a fork and knife. I’m just done.
  4. After an afternoon session at our favorite indoor soft play today, I took the boys for a snack at the cafe in the leisure centre. Gwyneth Paltrow was with her kids and some other kids at the table next to me the entire time we were there. But, I’ve already seen her. It’s time to head back to a place where I have only seen Jay-Z once.
  5. And this is the most divine sign of all: When I was in Boots this morning and I was buying a few things, I put in my Advantage card like I always do and the clerk actually exclaimed “You have enough points!” It’s been a loooong time since that has happened and it has to mean something. I have used up my Boots points. Our work here is done.

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oh, wait, there were celebrities in town

It turns out the BAFTAs were last night. Oops. How there was a film awards show and a bunch of Hollywood people in town near me and I didn’t know about it in advance is humiliating. I am not on my game.

The weather has been so horrendous yesterday and today I can just imagine all the LA-based Hollywood starlets (most whom it appears flew in only for 24 hours) giving the big middle finder to London and being all like “why do you have to be so in character all. the. tiiiiiime, Great Britain?” Oh the whingeing.

This, from The Telegraph:

Baftas fashion: Deep freeze hits Baftas red carpet

The great British weather did its best to ruin the Baftas red carpet fashion, but a few sunny spells prevailed.

The Hollywood stars brave enough to migrate to London from the Californian sunshine for last night’s Bafta Awards had no need for the kind of strict no-nudity dress code imposed upon attendees of the Grammys. As the drizzle over Covent Garden’s Royal Opera House turned to snow, it was more a question of how many clothes the red carpet starlets could get away with wearing, than how few.

Bryan saw Amy Adams leaving the Covent Garden Hotel this morning and Faye saw her approximately one hour later in WH Smith in Heathrow. Now if I can just get one of you stateside to meet her at LAX it will be an accidental stalker trifecta.

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Update 2pm: Bryan had a Sarah Jessica Parker sighting. His company would have their annual off-site at the Bafta hotel the day after the Baftas.

 

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gung hay fat choy

Happy Chinese New Year of the Snake. Snake! It’s not Rat, so there’s that.

We absolutely intended to head to the super fun, exciting parade ending in Chinatown and then the all-day festivities in Trafalgar Square. I have actually wanted to go every year we lived here and this year we finally decided to do it and even stepped outside the house with good intentions. Plus, I knew a trip to Chinatown meant I could stock up on packaged ramen.

But the weather was so dreadful – so rainy, cold and raw – we decided instead to go to John Lewis were the kids could at least play with some toys Made in China. According to Bryan.

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At least Melissa took the kids to Chinatown the other day and today we had family dim sum dinner at Royal China. It’s kind of an institution and I can’t believe it took us this long to go. Nothing like waiting until their busiest day of the year.

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Otherwise the past few days have had a coincidental starring-actors-of-Wreck-It Ralph theme. Matt was able to get tickets to see John Reilly and Friends Thursday night – a beautiful acoustic show in the lovely St-Giles-in-the-Fields church in Soho comprising John C Reilly and his two band mates covering old bluegrass and country songs.

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They are all incredibly talented and the show was produced by the very cool Black Cab Sessions, so check out John Reilly and Friends on it:

Then Saturday day we went to a 4 year-old birthday party and we got the little girl a toy with Vanellope (voiced by Sarah Silverman) on it.

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Then Saturday night we went with the Trumbells to see Sarah Silverman at the Bloomsbury Theatre. (Are you catching all these tie-ins with the Disney movie premiere in London?) She definitely killed it, and me. Better than when we saw her early on in our London life. And we weren’t alone in feeling that way. This, from The Times:

She opened with a rape joke and ended by singing a stream of C-words. But in between Sarah Silverman went a good way towards atoning for her last British appearance, a notorious Hammersmith Apollo gig in 2008 at which she performed barely 50 minutes of mostly old material and then reacted with startled petulance when the audience wanted more from her.

I like how she infuses a lot of her off-the-cuff stand-up with actual messages she wants to deliver about feminist and being a strong woman. In a shocking turn of events though, Bryan and I got in not one, but two altercations with strangers at the show. I am never on my guard in London because in so many ways it is the antithesis of New York. There is so little confrontation here generally. The details are not important (also they might all be my fault), but Bryan definitely called a guy a d*ck twice to his face. My baby’s gotta get back to Gotham.

Speaking of the dark city, he was there on business all last week. I said “did it make you excited to move back?” and he said “I forgot how dirty and loud it was.” #cantwait

I may think there is very little confrontation in the UK but that doesn’t mean the pleasantness is all genuine. My brother Josh is trying to upset me and sent me this interesting article about how Pret A Manger (my favorite fast food on Earth) forces behavioral norms on its staff through mystery shopper reviews and a unique bonus scheme. Essentially arguing that “emotional labor” (people being forced as part of their jobs to be incredibly warm and happy towards customers) as a growing trend in the workforce is bad. Wait, what? How about you be fake nice to me and I keep buying your wares, mmmkay. Glad we could settle that.

Finally, America f*ck yeah. Tesco announced several months ago it was dedicating store space to special sections of American products. And now it’s all available on-line. Two Americans forwarded me the email within a 5-second span. It is kind of life changing.

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Filed under a bunch of boring stuff, celebrities, culture clash, food, friends, holidays, london, music - HA!, photos, product placement, weather

HRH the prince of wales

Fact: A lot of British people do not know what the terms Babymama or Babydaddy mean.

It’s just so hard living here sometimes.

I was at brunch with a few American girls last weekend and we were talking about celebrity sightings. And I was complaining that because we don’t know a lot of British celebrities, especially at the lower rungs of “celebrity”, we don’t have the volume we would maybe elsewhere.

And then, just three days later, Bryan came inches from Price Charles. Bryan happened to be by the Farringdon tube stop in late morning Wednesday when he saw the Prince, the Duchess of Cornwall, and a gaggle of media. Our amazing 18th century iPhones have a camera delay so although Bryan was facing the Prince directly, the hamsters inside his phone could only catch the back of Charles’ head (on the left).

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See it? See?

It turns out, they were by Farringdon to ride the Metropolitan tube line one stop to Kings Cross to commemorate 150 years of The Underground. It’s fun that that was the original line and those some of the original stations, as we both have spent years taking those trains that direction almost daily. Both of us work(ed) right by Farringdon. Charles managed to ride the tube for three minutes, for the first time in 33 years. He’s no Jay-Z but he managed to only look half-terrified he was contracting bed bugs from the seat. Tally ho!

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the tail-end of the year of the dragon

Hi, everyone (reading this)! Happy 2013! If your New Year’s resolution was to read more really long not-that-interesting blog posts, then … you’re welcome.

Our Christmastime/Winterpalooza was really nice. So many people skip town that London gets really quiet and peaceful almost. Luckily our Aussie friends stayed and so we had Christmas Eve lunch with them at – where else – Wagamama. And Greg came to visit the weekend right before the holiday and it was great to have him for like the 5th time or something. In his honor, we all made the terrible decision to order Papa John’s late one night. This bad American pizza does not improve on other continents. And did you know they charge extra for the garlic dipping sauce now?

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IMG_2546We bought this beautiful Winterpalooza tree this year but after just a few days, it completely dried out. Watering is not my forte- I think because I am Jewish and therefore ill-equipped in holiday decoration management. So it looked a little Charlie Brown-ish for about a week or so, but that did not dampen the pure elation and joy that little kids bring to Christmas. I feel like Jonah is at that sweet spot age: old enough to know about all the secular aspects of Christmas lore, old enough to fervently and excitedly believe in Santa Claus, and old enough to get ridiculously excited over every detail, like seeing a picture of a snowman or leaving carrots out for the reindeer, but NOT old enough to be greedy nor understand quantity, volume and monetary value when it comes to gifts. He gets as excited over a jar of bubbles as his much-requested Mike the Knight toy. We really enjoyed one of our last years before our kids start asking for iPads and mobile phones and gaming systems and cold, hard cash for bail. We also got Jonah into Elf – a win for everyone.

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Even though this was not our first rodeo, it had somehow escaped us that Boxing Day is like the biggest, craziest shopping day in the nation (and what’s with the 1/2 price perfume thing??). So when Bryan set out to exchange a shirt at Zara, I got some desperate SOS messages on my phone- in one of them he said in the store “It looked like God threw up human beings”. The possibilities for that visual have delighted me for days on end.

Bryan’s office was closed through the new year so we basically had our first ever, true Staycation. London was pretty much overcast and rainy almost every single day of it, but we did not let that deter us. We visited the:

Horniman Museum

IMG_2635Horniman is a private collection of natural history, musical instruments, photographs etc. on a huge family-friendly expanse in South London and I had been wanting to go for a while. We really enjoyed it, and the bonus at the very end were the views to central London.

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V&A Museum of Childhood

IMG_2651This is another museum I had been wanting to check out for ages. It was so engaging and good for kids and adults alike, that we ended up there twice in a two-week span. It’s a collection of child-related toys, objects, and clothing from the 1600s to modern times, as well as containing numerous fun activity stations for kids like a sand pit, climbing frame, arts & crafts, robots, light show etc. So basically while the urchins were distracted, Bryan could absolutely FREAK OUT about seeing an intact Tyco electric racing set (no seriously, that is him looking longingly at it) and I could exclaim victory when finally coming across a Jem and the Holograms doll.

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And it reminded me I had the Heart Family too!

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And I am drooling for this vintage Maclaren. Wish they still made the pattern.

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Windsor Castle

IMG_2725Who knew when we spontaneously decided to finally visit the castle and charming town, we would be sharing the train with 9,000 die-hard rugby fans going to a match at Twickenham. Decked out in their gear and drinking and carrying on, no one could believe we didn’t want to alight at Twickenham. Yes, we were the only people left on the train after that. I have never felt so American. The day was very rainy and there were lots of people queueing and crowded in at the castle and there was the obligatory welcome audio message from Prince Charles (his posh/congested accent grates), but the castle was totally worth the visit. Pretty spectacular actually. We couldn’t take pictures inside, but managed a few in the pub afterwards. It looked pretty similar to the Queen’s State Apartments.

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Science Museum

IMG_2785I take the kids to the Science Museum all the time, but it was fun to go with Bryan and have more time there and also on a day when over a school break so the place was teeming with families. There is a lot I have never even explored there and it just solidified for me again that it’s one of the most amazing museums we have ever been to. Jonah always loves the space shuttle and astronauts and planes and this time we took the kids to an IMAX 3-D. It was Simon’s first ever movie and he wouldn’t wear the special glasses, so I guess sorry about the vertigo, my toddler. There was also a bubble show every half hour that I have to admit even I was pretty into. But no matter how many cool things to see and do, nothing can ever compete in the eyes of a little kid with the water feature and toy boats in the playroom in the basement. It is a mass of young children going ape-shit with excitement and equally with paranoid horror that someone might steal their boat. It’s a frenzy, a free-for-all, a total and utter scene of toddler/preschooler crack-addled chaos. And the parents all just hover around trying to take pictures and break up gang fights.

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Our New Year’s was low-key and IMHO, perfect. We went out for dinner, had a dance party at home (to Jonah, the elevator scene in Gangnam Style has not jumped the shark) and then Bryan and I stayed up to watch the British chat shows where things happen like celebrities do shots of Jager through the nipples on an ice bust of Alan Carr, play games like “Who would you shag?” and pummel a piñata of Boris Johnson – thus reminding us this is not American TV.

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The fireworks looked incredible and I didn’t feel bad passing out at 12:15. My inspiration came from the hilarious Albert Burneko in Deadspin:

One of the things that changes when you become a haggard, grayfaced grownup is how you spend New Year’s Eve. When you were a hip, attractive, energetic young person, you spent the night traipsing between crowded, noisy bars, meeting interesting people and talking excitedly about your plans for the future, and your whole goddamn life was like a sexy neon-lit music video, and you were immune from consequences, and, God, you were just the fucking worst. Now you’re old, and the overwhelming odds are that you’ll spend the evening at a similarly old friend’s home with fellow exhausted parents, desperately fighting to stay awake so you can feel if only for a fleeting moment as though your entire life were not the property of your job and/or kids.

And if I couldn’t love Waitrose more, they were selling Jell-o shots for New Year’s.

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OH and how about the Redskins?! Since the Jets are the embarrassment of the League right now (but read Bryan’s blog anyway), I think it’s fine for us to dig into the roots on my side of the family for once and Hail Victory. Both my brothers will be traversing the country this coming weekend for the playoff game, and Jonah and Simon will be wearing burgundy and gold.

I also wanted to thank so many of you for helping make my dad’s book so highly ranked in several Amazon best-seller categories. I was blown away by how many friends of ours contacted us to let us know they had bought copies – sometimes multiple – to gift to someone for Christmas or Hanukkah. It means a great deal to my father, who is passionate about history and writing. And it means a great deal to me to know you would support my family that way.

It’s going to be a good 2013, right? A time of renewal and hope and courage and I am sure the US Congress won’t do anything to depress us. That would never happen. Plus, Baby Kimye is coming. And Royal Baby. And I am getting a new niece or nephew!!! That’s the most important one: the baby coming straight out of Seattle and into my heart. Yeah, 2013.

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Filed under beautiful joy too, celebrities, culture i guess, family, fiscal responsibility, holidays, london, photos, politics...sike!, royals, sports, tv, weather

proudest daughter ever for all time forevermore

My dad’s (the one and only Ronald Utt) book – Ships of Oak, Guns of Iron: The War of 1812 and the Forging of the American Navy – was officially released this week! I have been jumping out of my skin with happiness for him. I know how hard he worked on this book, and all the research and editing and long hours involved. My copy should be arriving to me any minute and I will start on it without haste. It looks pretty light and easy, right?

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Only for my dad will I read historical nonfiction and something not yet on my Kindle.

If you still need that perfect holiday gift for a history lover, a never-ending student of the world, or someone who desperately needs a sturdy doorstop (Dad, sales are sales), buy your copy today at all the huge chains where books are sold. Summer even saw this display at Costco!

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In such rarefied company. And Summer went that extra mile and propped it up. LYLAS!

I can even put in a good word with the author to get your copy signed. I sort of know the guy.

Also, I am the proudest ever daughter of my mom who does 50 billion praise-worthy things a millisecond. The most recent one being that she was Freshly Pressed on WordPress and also that she had my father inscribe her copy of his book to “his favorite ex-wife.” Divorce humor… HAHAHAHAHAHA. It’s so funny it hurts.

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